First of all, Josh’s progress in the Hobbit has stalled—I think he’s read one page since the last post. This isn’t for lack of trying; he’s picked the book up four times but hasn’t been able to make any progress.
We all woke up at Owl’s around 9 am and ate some banana bread with butter. The weather is just like Portland in the spring: pissing rain, grey, nasty. The show last night was great, but the bass was almost unplayable due to high action and string tension, so Owl and I went to Thwaites, the string instrument shop near Owl’s flat and apparently one of the best in the world, to get it sorted out. The luthier, a tall, broad man named Chris, met with me while I told him the issues. They were very busy, but Chris agreed to spend a few hours getting the bass playable before we had to head out of town up to the Small World Festival. We left Chris to his work and headed back to Owl’s flat. Josh and I went for a quick 30-minute run while Kenny and Cory worked on booking and press kits. We made BLTs with tons of spinach for lunch and washed up. Around 3 pm, we made our way back to Thwaites string shop to pick up the bass and grab some odds and ends before heading to Kent to play the Small World Festival.
The Small World Festival is a kind of dark and creepy hippy festival, although I can’t say I know a whole lot about it, because we were only there for about four hours. There were about 1200 attendees, and the primary activities included tromping in the mud, sitting next to wood fires, smoking pot and doing all kinds of other drugs. We hung out at the tent that belonged to Spacegirl and Poet Tree Man. Spacegirl set us up with a true English tea service with scones. We listened to some poetry; spoken word poetry seemed to be what Spacegirl’s tent was all about. Played a fun set at midnight—lots of trippers. The set raged until 1:30, then we had to hit the road back to Owl’s flat.
After about two hours of sleep at Owl’s flat, we had to head out to BBC London for the taping of Loose Ends. Clive Anderson—Americans will probably remember him as the host from the show Whose Line is it Anyway?—was the host of the show. We got a quick sound check and then sat in the office with all of the other guests, which made up a pretty impressive lineup:
-Sheila Ferguson of the ’70s soul group the Three Degrees.
-Barry Miles, author and British counterculture expert. He was close friends with Allen Ginsberg and reportedly gave Paul McCartney his first pot brownie.
-John Crace, author of the book Vertigo, detailing his life as an obsessed Tottenham Hotspur fan.
-Wayne Thallon, director of the film A Spanking in Paradise.
-Other Lives, a great band from Stillwater, Oklahoma, wrapping up a three-month tour of the UK. They have also toured with Bon Iver.
This was a huge radio slot for us. Apparently the show goes out to a million and a half people. Pretty good exposure if you ask us. We took a quick photo with Clive after the show and had to turn down his tradition of taking everyone on the show out to the pub for a drink, because we had to hit the road to for Brighton.
Brighton is a fairly large town on the South Coast of the country. When we arrived, it was swarming with people enjoying the holiday. It’s a bit like Santa Monica, just a bit colder and windier. The venue we played was called the Haunt, which seemed to be basically a rock club, complete with a lighting tech, fog machine and the works. The shows in Brighton are put on by a couple of dudes known as Drifter Promotions, who gave us a rider of crisps, sausage rolls and whiskey and expect us to drink a fifth while on stage (which we were forced to oblige, of course). We have a friend there who’s name is John, but we call Etienne for no particular reason, who is from Eugene and always brings us Eugeney type delights. We said hi to Andy and Kate, whose wedding we are playing next summer. The show was really fun—the most rock n roll one so far—and afterwards we said our goodbyes and jetted off to a party in a barn near Lewes, just outside of Brighton. There was gumbo and some huge whole crabs, homemade ginger beer and ginger wine, the most insane chocolate cake ever and a little music. We jammed some old time tunes for an hour or so and then went to bed upstairs on mattresses covered with mouse shit.
We woke up after a kind of a rough night’s sleep in the barn (the party raged on with some pretty cheesy dance music after we went upstairs to bed) and jetted off to the Purbeck Folk Festival. It’s a smallish festival—no more than a few thousand on a farm of some sort, I guess in Purbeck. We rushed through crazy tiny rural English roads to get there, only to be informed that, due to a miscommunication, they had slotted us earlier than we had said we were available, and we had already missed our slot. But after a short negotiation, Owl had us sorted out, which was great. After being at Small World and now at this festival, it became clear that there is something deeply satisfying to the English psyche about gathering in somewhat pre-civilized conditions—sooty, open, unattended fires seem to be the norm, as is urinating in either troughs or, in the case of Purbeck, on some spread-out hay. Despite having missed our scheduled set, there was a big crowd to see us, and it went really well. We sold CDs and then ran off to our second gig that day at the Square and Compass.