Tuesday’s a day of rest after the weekend run of gigs, but Wednesday we’re back at it. This time, Ned and I took the quick train ride to Milton Keynes. Yes, we managed to get on the correct train on the first try thank you very much! At the Milton Keynes station, we were met by Hannah Merrington from RGS Entertainment Group. The day’s task was to perform five of Ned’s tunes at the RGS studio in a live session environment with audio and video rolling. Dom Rampello, owner of RGS greeted us, showed us around, then into the studio we went. We moved through the songs quickly, accomplishing each in one take. There were no over-dubs, additional tracking or correction of minor mistakes. This was the real deal... and it went splendidly. You can view the first video HERE.

Ned warming up at RGS Entertainment Group's studio for the live recording session

Ned and I arrived back at London’s Euston Station late afternoon and caught a cab for the ride back to the flat. I don’t know our cabbie’s name. I’ll call him Geoff. So Geoff seemed a nice enough fellow, probably nearing retirement. We soon learned that Geoff had been waiting in the station’s cab queue for an hour. This did not please Geoff and he found no reason to hold his opinions back. With a liberal sprinkling of the "F" word, Geoff proceeded to tell us just how much the Olympics were interfering with his work. Not knowing if Ned and I truly comprehended the degree of his frustration with lane closures and restrictions throughout the city, Geoff accentuated his locution by dropping the unforgivable "C" word when it was time to place blame on the traffic travails. We learned that “that F…ing C Tony Blair” and “that F…ing C David Cameron” were at the top of his list. We were surprised to learn that “that F…ing C George Bush” AND “that F…ing C Obama” are also to blame… blah, blah, blah… something about the economy. With a few “bollocks” bouncing off Geoff’s tongue to help his discourse along, we arrived at the flat somewhat dazed. We agreed with Geoff on two points: (1) we generally don’t like politicians and (2) it’s a good thing Geoff and the missus are going on holiday during the games.

Thursday and Friday were simple enough… a Thursday walkabout with Malcolm from Islington to his place in Crouch End to pick up a piece of gear (a special shout out to Malcolm’s mum, Janet, for the coffee and cakes!), followed by Friday’s trip to Denmark Street with Ned to stop by the guitar shops promoting our upcoming London show.

Saturday morning and it was back to work. The rental car was packed and we headed southwest to Winchester to play the Winchester Science Festival. As the name indicates, this was not a music festival. Rather, it was a gathering of science types where all sorts of current science-related topics were presented and discussed. Ned had been invited to help with a presentation on the science of music. Before the presentation, I had time to have a walkabout to see the Winchester Cathedral, the longest Gothic cathedral in Europe, along with other historic sights typical of England. Did I mention there were tourists in Winchester?

The “String Theory” presentation with Milton and Bridget Mermikides went over very well and, after a break, Ned and I performed an hour long set as part of the evening’s entertainment.

Ned with Bridget and Milton Mermikides presenting the science of music at the Winchester Science Festival

Packed up, we headed for London. Our navigation device, or “SAT NAV” charted our course and we were trusting in its 21st Century technology. But here’s the problem: Our SAT NAV had not been reading the London news about Olympic road restrictions nor had it taken time to have a chat with Geoff. In addition, SAT NAV was not aware of what takes place in the SOHO/West End Districts on a Saturday at midnight. Into the fray we went. The first obstacle was bumper to bumper traffic jams due to road crews getting Olympic lanes painted and otherwise marked. That was the first sixty minutes. The final 30 minutes were spent observing thousands of Saturday night revelers pour out of the bars in the SOHO/West End Districts as we putted along at the pace of a very slow turtle. Let’s just say certain parts of downtown London on a Saturday night are something you have to see to believe. At 2:00 a.m. we’re back at the flat.

Five hours later we were up and getting ready for Sunday’s outing to play at the Upton Blues Festival in Upton upon Severn, near the Welsh border. After a quick stop to pick Malcolm up, we headed out of town and arrived by Upton by noon, the car crammed with the four of us and gear. Something odd happened on Sunday. The clouds cleared and summer arrived in Britain; it was perfect. The festival is billed as Britain’s largest free blues festival and is an event that takes over the entire village with bands playing at multiple venues indoors and outside. We had a few hours to take it all in before hitting our set on the outdoor stage at 4:45. I’ve learned something about “blues” festivals – the acts performing don’t necessarily play anything resembling blues… I’m pretty sure country rock is not blues. I’m also fairly certain songs like “White Wedding” are not blues. In any case, people were out enjoying the day.  Our hour-long set went really well in no small way because the stage soundman, Phil, knew what he was doing and gave us a great mix on stage. Ned, Malcolm and I gelled and it was not missed by the crowd of several hundred.

The band ripping it up at the Upton Blues Festival!

Mission accomplished, we departed Upton and took a side road to the small village of Pershore where we landed at the Angel Inn and Posting House for a proper Sunday dinner. The Angel is one of those “off the map” kind of places you read about in travel magazines; one of the pleasant surprises you’re rewarded with for getting off the beaten track. Well, back on the beaten track and our SAT NAV guides us back home without error. What a weekend.

This past Monday afternoon Ned and I took to the streets and visited the South Bank of the River Thames with 15,000 of our closest tourist friends. While crossing Tower Bridge, there was a din of car horns blaring. The London cabbies were protesting the Olympic road restrictions by clogging traffic on the bridge. Just minutes after we crossed one cabbie jumped off the bridge in protest. He’s fine, it’s a relatively short drop to the Thames, but the police were out in force on the bridge and in the air. We’re still trying to find out if the cabbie’s name was Geoff.

Sightseeing’s never complete in London and Tuesday night was a perfect example. Sandra and I started at St. Paul’s Cathedral and made our way across the Millennium Bridge to the South Bank. Though it was the same area Ned and I were at the day prior, it looks quite different at night. All of the bridges and river cruise boats were lit up.

Tonight’s venture included a fine Italian dinner followed by our “flight” on the London Eye, the 443 foot slow-going ferris wheel on the South Bank. It was spectacular! Tomorrow we begin a second run of four gigs in as many nights.

It's finally SUMMER! A fine day of sightseeing with Ned. Observe Tower Bridge with the Olympic Rings!

We and our closest 20,000 tourist friends agree that the 2012 English summer doesn’t suck… unless you’re a London cabbie named Geoff.

Until next time… Cheers! ~ Todd

1 comment:

  1. Hope Geoff gets back on his meds soon. We even got the news about the cabbies protest!