Ponies, Music & White Sandy Beaches

A very weird thing happens when you’re on tour.  The passage of time seems to shift all over the bloomin place.  There are moments when an hour feels like an eternity.  Other times it feels like seconds.  Then at the end of it you’re left asking yourself; ‘did we really do ALL that in XX amount of days?!’

…which is exactly how I felt after my most recent trip away.  It went a little bit like this:

On Sept 20th I set out on an East Coast tour with Doug and Telisha from Wild Ponies. We played 8 extremely fun shows in 6 different States.

Brooklyn Americana Fest, New York, New Yooooooork

I’ve been to NY a handful of times and this is generally how it makes me feel:

Days 1-4: I absolutely LOVE New York. I love that there’s so much going on and that everything is just go, go, go all the time.

Days 4+: Ok I’ve had enough. I hate that there’s so much going on and that everything is just go, go, go all the time.

I caught a 6am flight out of Austin and a few hours later landed in Newark, NY. I had a taxi driver take me from the airport to Manhattan, where I was staying with D & T.  On this 30min taxi ride through down town, I felt a mixture of intense fear combined with utter amazement that no one was either killed or run over.  The driver seemed to possess Jedi-like powers and was able to make a rather large passenger van shrink down and fit through the tiniest of gaps.  Random people just walked out into the road, seemingly oblivious to any thoughts of self preservation.  Cars, trucks and motorbikes casually pulled out in front of each other at speed, as if they were surrounded by an invisible forcefield preventing anything from simply ploughing straight into them.  The one thing everyone did have in common was driving like they were in some sort of drag race, where you get extra points if you take out pedestrians and other road users.

As we would say in the UK, it was totally bonkers.

And yet, despite all of this – nothing bad happened.  No-one crashed and everything was fine.

How? I’ve absolutely NO idea.

We played 2 shows at the Brooklyn Americana Festival.  First at The Jalopy Theatre and then the second under a railway bridge.

I realise the second venue sounds a little unusual – but it was actually a lot of fun. We played under the Dumbo Archway with trains passing overhead every few minutes.  I absolutely loved it.`

Friendly River Music, Maine

Having spent some time in New York, I couldn’t wait to see some green stuff.  By green stuff I mean trees, fields and birds (Yes I know birds aren’t green…but like me, they enjoy hanging out in green stuff).  I’m an earthy, hippy, outdoorsy kind of gal and my natural habitat is being close to water, plants and wildlife.  It re-charges my batteries and brings me back to centre.

Friendly River Music is one of my FAVOURITE places to play. It’s a live music venue and a freakin music shop, in arse-end-of-no-where Maine surrounded by nothing but nature.

The show was sold out.  The crowd and our hosts John and Charlene (as always) were lovely.  Such a magical night ❤ Can’t wait to go back.

Café 9, Connecticut

We played this venue on the Galax release tour last year.  My memory of this is that our show was a lot of fun and afterwards I went outside to get a bit of fresh air.  I was wearing my Wild Ponies baseball T – which has the band name clearly written across the front of it.  A random male driver with his window fully down drove past me, wolf whistled, pointed in my direction and at the top of his voice yelled out

‘Whoooo! Look at them titties!!’.

I suppose there are some people in the world who would consider this flattering.  I however find it rude, kind of yucky and not ok. My first reaction was to flip the guy off, but as I was wearing a Wild Ponies shirt thought better of it. So I did nothing.  Later in the van I told D & T about what happened and the first thing they said was, ‘I hope you flipped the guy off!’.  So just for future reference, I have been actively encouraged to express my feelings should this happen again.  Thankfully it hasn’t.  Let’s hope it stays that way.

Just like our previous show, this one was also a blast.  However there was no mention of my boobs, just my drumming.  Yay.  Progress.

While we were in Connecticut we wanted to sample some pizza from what has been labelled by many as ‘the best pizza joint in the world’.

That place was Frank Pepe’s Pizza and legend has it that Frank Sinatra himself would regularly stop by and order a clam pizza (Doug did in fact put in an order for clam pizza, you’ll have to ask him what it was like 😉 ).

Frank Pepe’s is a pretty cool place and, as per the legend, the pizza was indeed A-MAZING. Check it out:

2 Days off in Virginia

This is the second year I’ve spent my birthday on the road with D & T.  My birthday eve and birthday were spent with Doug’s lovely family in their equally lovely house in Virginia.

Everyone put in so much time and effort into making the day special ❤ For dinner we had an authentic British meal of Jacket Potatoes with baked beans and cheese.  Doug’s Mum also made a delicious vegetarian soup and desert was a specially made birthday apple crumble which yes, was bloody lovely.

Hurrah and yay 🙂 ❤

Tin Pan, Virginia

I’ve never played at this venue before but it was a lovely space.  Like a little kid I get super excited when I look at old gig posters and see the faces of people I grew up listening to (Joan Osborne, Paula Cole etc) and think to myself ‘they played on this stage!’.

It was awesome to meet a lot of people who saw us playing at the Richmond Folk Festival last year (THAT was fun).

Footlight Theatre, South Carolina

My first ever trip to S. Carolina.  My Mother-in-law is from here and always brags about how awesome it is.  She wasn’t wrong.  It’s very cool (definitely not temperature wise though!).

The theatre was a super characterful place located in the French quarter of Charleston.  There were a TON of historical buildings in that area (from the 1670s), the oldest I’ve seen since moving to the USA.

The show was great, but we had a looooonnnnggg drive ahead of us – as we were playing a live radio show in Tampa, FL at 12pm the following day! 😮

Suncoast Songwriters Weekend, Don CeSar Hotel, Florida 

We made it to the radio show, then travelled onwards towards the Don CeSar hotel – the venue for the Suncoast Songwriters Weekend.  As we drove across a bridge covering a large stretch of water, far off into the distance we could see a HUGE pink building that towered over the land like some sort of giant pink castle.

Surely that’s not where we’re staying? I kept thinking as we got closer and closer.

Yep, it was.

The hotel is absolutely beautiful, and get this – it’s right slap-bang next to the beach!! 😮

The first night I went and sat on the beautiful white sand for a good hour.  I listened to the sound of the waves moving gently back and forth and gazed up at the clear night sky.

While sitting there I recorded this voice memo:

The Don CeSar hotel is by far one of the most magical places I’ve ever stayed ❤ I really hope one day I’ll be lucky enough to go back there.

 

Back to Austin

Sunday I flew back home and that evening got to hear my dear friend Sarah McQuaid play her wonderful music.  She’s from Cornwall (which is right next to Devon in the UK) and is currently on an epic US tour. She very kindly gave me a copy of her new album (which btw is rad, been listening to it in my car since I’ve been home) and I can’t wait to nerd out on her DADGAD guitar book.

All in all, it was an amazing 10 days.

I know.  All that in 10 days.  Like I said earlier: touring = time warp.

I think it’s safe to say that next to my adventures in Norway back in June, this trip will definitely be one of my highlights of 2018.

Thank you so much as always for reading this far 🙂 Appreciate you coming on these adventures with me ❤

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On the Roooaad Agaaaain

Austin TX to Nashville TN to Lansing MI to Livonia MI to Oberlin OH to Columbus OH and back to lovely Austin TX again.

As you may have already guessed, last week I was on the road having a ton of fun playing drums, mando and a smidgin of electric guitar for Wild Ponies.

It was a short run of 4 shows, all of which were extremely awesome.

But before I get stuck into story telling, I have to introduce you to my new friend, Bertie.

Bertie was my lovely drum kit for the week and he did a most excellent job.  On the ride to the house from Nashville airport I asked Doug what kit he had for me, to which he replied – ‘dunno what make it is, something old and weird!’….and Bertie is exactly that, old and weird – just like me.

Show #1 – The Old Town General Store, Lansing, Michigan.

My first time to both Lansing and this super characterful venue. If I could sum up my lovely little home town of Totnes in a single building – this would be it.

The Old Town General Store has a shopping area in the front selling mostly local produce and a lovely courtyard out back where all the live music happens. The shop had lots and lots of hippy stuff – all of which I wanted (I stocked up heavily on organic Kombucha and Michigan bumper stickers) and the courtyard was filled with beautiful and very happy looking flowers of all shapes and sizes.

The sun was shining, people were super into it, hurrah.

Here’s a little video courtesy of the my GoPro…

 

Food Stop – The Whistle Stop Diner, Pleasant Ridge MI

One of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had – it almost beat me! A toasted vege burrito with a side of hash browns, all washed down with a cup of tea – heck yeah.

Show #2 – Trinity House Theatre, Livonia, Michigan.  

The moment I stepped through the front door and saw the stage, I knew this was going to be an amazing show 🙂

I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed connecting with ‘old’ stuff since moving to the US, so it was lovely to walk into a building oozing with so much historic character and charm.

Apparently it use to be a church a while ago.  And so,

**BONUS** – guess what was right slap-bang next to the building?

A freakin’ super old graveyard! 😮

Well, by ‘super old’ I mean American super old (1830s)…but still, these were the oldest stones I’ve seen since moving here 4.5 years ago which was extremely cool.

Most people don’t know that in my ‘spare time’ I do volunteer work for a couple of organisations helping to preserve and document old grave sites in Texas. This includes documenting with photographs, clearing and cleaning stones all over the place and it’s been fascinating to learn about the history of each site.

Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but this was a real treat for me – music, old buildings AND dead people! 😉

The show was packed.  The audience were absolutely lovely and we had a wonderful time. Can’t wait to go back.

Food Stop – Wonder Bar, Milan OH

We stopped for food in a super cute town in Ohio called Milan (pronounced; My-Lan).  The first building we drove past appeared to be a food place called Invention Restaurant.  We all noticed this and agreed it was a rather odd name to call a restaurant.  Once we’d parked up I grabbed my camera and had a bit of a mooch about the town square, at which point I very quickly learned that Milan was the birth place of Thomas Edison.

Ahhhhh, okaaay.

Invention Restaurant.

Light bulb inventing dude.

Got it.

And for those of you who are interested, according to our resident Wiki expert (aka Greg Horne, guitarist, pedal steel and violin player for Wild Ponies) Milan has an annual Melon Festival.

I do think a melon festival could get you into all sorts of trouble if you’re not careful.

‘Look at the size of her melons!’

‘What lovely juicy melons you have!’

Really, the double entendre possibilities are pretty endless.

Anyways..

 

Show #3 – RiverDog, Oberlin, Ohio.

Right out in the arse-end-of-nowhere is an incredibly awesome place called Riverdog. Surrounded by trees, lush green grass and nature, Riverdog (as the name suggests) is right next to the river and there are 4 beautiful doggies who live there.

It’s magical, mystical and marvellous all rolled into one, and I didn’t want to leave.

Riverdog is owned by Terry and Deborah who are both artists.  They spent 5 years renovating the buildings on the property themselves and did a wonderful job.  The main house is an art gallery and studio.  The other is a guest house and coolest of all was the venue for that nights show, which was a converted barn.

Yes. It was freakin rad.

 

Here’s another little video from the second set, the atmosphere was beautiful.  Along with the 100 people sat inside and outside the barn, 4 doggies lay passed out asleep to my right, utterly unmoved by all that was going on around them.

🙂

Show #4 – Natalie’s Coal Fired Pizza, Columbus Ohio.

Two things I look forward to when playing at Natalie’s.

  1. Playing music (well, duh).
  2. Eating their amazing pear salad AND consuming large amounts of their outrageously tasty pizza.  It’s sooooo good.

I played at Natalie’s last year with Wild Ponies on the Galax tour (hence my pizza knowledge) and it was a ton of fun.

(I’m guessing I must’ve been too full of food to take any video or photos this time around 😉 ).

Then the following day we drove back to Nashville and I hopped on a plane to Austin.

For most of the trip the temperatures were between 75-80F and at night it cooled right down (which is what I’m use to being from the UK). It was a (nice) shock to the system when I got off the plane at 11:30pm in Austin to be greeted with 98F heat 😉

Good to be home ❤

I’ll be heading out with the Ponies again in a few weeks, can’t wait 🙂

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It’s all kinda weird. Cool. But weird.

I can’t quite believe the tour has come to an end.

We played 54 shows, in 8 different countries over the course of 12 weeks.

It was pretty darn amazing.

Highlights? There are honestly too many to mention…..but a few that spring to mind are checking out Niagara Falls before our Buffalo show, playing a venue in the UK that was built in 1498,  meeting the oldest tree in Wales, getting to see my brother in Berlin after almost 2 years of not seeing each other, playing a show close to my home town and having my friends in the front row, consuming far to much delicious cheese in Holland, Germany and France…..

…..what else?

Oh and how could I forget – on one of our days off we had a bit of a mooch about in Amsterdam (incorporating the red light district) and got matching Wild Ponies tattoos.

I didn’t make that shit up, I have the tattoo on my ankle to prove it 😉 It wasn’t too painful and looks rather nifty if I do say so myself.

Right now I feel kind of….I dunno….weird.

It’s strange to stop and think about the fact that before the tour I’d only met Doug and Telisha very briefly, and for 12 weeks straight we were in each other’s company almost every day.

Now all of a sudden they’re in Nashville, I’m in Austin….and it’s back to our regular every day lives as if nothing ever happened…..

…..which isn’t bad in any way – it’s just…..weird.

That being said – I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back in lovely Austin.   When I arrived from the UK almost 4 years ago I never, ever thought for one moment that I’d end up feeling so at home here (it’s extremely different to Devon in the UK where I lived for 33 years).  But having visited so many unfamiliar places on the tour, the familiarity of everything Austin provided some much needed warmth and comfort to my rather weary soul.  My fav hang spots, the cool restaurants and bars, my musician friends and their beautiful music…..Austin and me, we’re kinda like two peas in a pod.

Sadly I wont be able to hang here for long.  In about a week I’ll be catching yet another flight to London and spending Xmas in Devon, which is a good thing.  It’s a very good thing….and something I’m extremely grateful for.  I can’t wait to be on my parent’s farm for what will probably be the last time before it’s sold.  This stirs up a real mish-mash of emotions for me.  The best way to describe it is a deep sense of gratitude combined with an equally deep and selfish desire to never leave, because I can’t wrap my head around never being there again.  It’s a uniquely beautiful place that no-one is happy about leaving.

….but more about that another time.

For right now I’ve plenty of shows lined up in Austin before I leave – and I’m going to wade through my hours of Wild Ponies video footage and see if I can put together a montage from the tour.

It’s going to be pretty epic as I filmed pretty much every show 🙂

Thanks as always for reading this far, hope all’s good with you xx

*Wild Ponies Galax Tour* 

USA:
Nashville, TN
Knoxville, TN
Mobile, AL
Austin, TX
Oklahoma City, OK
Kansas City, MO
Chicago, IL
Madison, IN
Ann Arbor, MI
Worthington, OH
Buffalo, NY
Pittsburgh, PA
Hamilton, NY
Nashua, NH
Cornish, ME
New Haven, CT
Cambridge, MA
New York, NY
Washington, DC
Martinsville, VA
Richmond, VA

UK:
Ipswich, England
Lewes, England
London, England
Birmingham, England
Scarborough, England
High Wycombe, England
Bedford, England
Portsmouth, England
Sheffield, England
Essex, England
Plymouth, England
Cardigan, Wales
Nottingham, England
Beverly, England
Garstang, England
Edinburgh, Scotland
Menai Bridge, Wales

Europe:
Oentsjerk, Netherlands
Sing Joosland, Netherlands
Nijmegen, Netherlands
Steenwijk, Netherlands
Norderstedt, Germany
Berlin, Germany
Oldenzaal, Netherlands
The Hague, Netherlands
Saarbrucken, Germany
Oberdorff, France
Mondorf, Luxembourg
Sulzbach, Germany
Saarwellingen, Germany

❤ ❤ ❤