Pokey LaFarge Tour Diary, Part One: Conquering the U.K., One Town at a Time

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(Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three are currently touring the U.K. He passed along some thoughts, which you can read below. Part two coming later.)

BILL STREETER
  • Bill Streeter

Thursday 8/5, Big Chill Festival Our first performance of the tour. Big crowd with lots of young people dancing, which was surprising because most people don't usually go off dancing to our music over here. A great way to start the tour.

Highlight: Played on a stage that was solar powered. Also, talks of us coming to this festival as well as Glastonbury Festival next year started immediately after our set as the promoter and booker of the festivals saw our performance.

Friday 8/6. Private Function We had a nice chill time playing for some friends and their wedding anniversary. Some good swing dancing by some folks ensued. 2 for 2 in the dancing category. Not bad!!!

Saturday 8/7 Shoreham, England. Ropetackle Centre Beautiful arts centre. Some great acoustics and great mics. Almost sold out show.

Highlight: I learn the meaning of 'banter' as the English call it. We call it heckling.

Insanely high-quality video of PokeyLaFarge in Shoreham:

Sunday 8/8, Brighton, England. Prince Albert Hall The sun shone brightly on brightly on the shores of Brighton, one of my favorite towns in the world. (Just go see for yourself the 'vacation palace of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.) A bustling little sea port town with lots of eccentricities and color doubled by the fact that this weekend was actually gay pride weekend. Brighton already being 'the gay capital of Britain' had been partying for a week up until this weekend and you could tell. The marine parade was filled with drunken foot traffic that were carelessly pouring into the streets. Quite the spectacle to behold and good views all around. Pretty people with the backdrop of the English channel, (La-Menche the French call it). We parked and walked around on the boardwalk down to the marine harbor where there looked to be a mini circus intermingled with little shops kinda like that of Fisherman's Wharf in San Francisco mixed with a smidgen of Coney Island.

However, our down time along the coast didn't last long as we soon headed back into the town to our accomodations to prepare for preparing for the show. See there is a rest in preparing to go to the venue, then there is the time is takes to prepare for the show. It kind of makes sense. Anyway I sat on the patio of our hotel with a pint and admired the ships bogged down in the mud of the firth, (the mouth of the river that goes out to sea), a few hours away from the tide coming in.

Had a big show that night. Small joint and we sold it out.The sound was impeccable. The room quaint and the crowd lively. We killed it.

Highlight: Ryan sang Stack-O-Lee half way through the show and received the overwhelming adoration of the fans.

Wed 8/11, Topsham, England. The Globe A sleepy little town on the River Exe. Like a town built for little people, you feel like you have to squeeze in between the walls of the streets to walk down (or through them). The same was true for the venue. Twas like we were packed into a gnome's cottage or whiskey still. A great time though as Julian Piper from Acoustic Magazine UK was our promoter. He always does a great job.

Highlight: Walking (tiptoeing) out into the crowd and waking up an old lady after I noticed she had fallen asleep. It was somewhat embarassing for her but everyone had a good laugh. It just goes to show that if you come out to a show and you fall asleep be ready to have someone put you on the spot. You can't let someone sleep through your show. Seriously?

Thurs. 8/12, Pulborough, England. Blue Coconut Club We played this venue on the last date of our last tour over here in January. It was one of the most memorable shows I've had over here. This time was more of the same but this go around it was with a sold out crowd. The energy in the room is something I can't place. Maybe it's the fireplace. Maybe it's the huge room with the big round tables and it inspires me to be a lounge singer back in the day at a jazz club. I don't know what it is but always connect with the crowd there and they help us with a beautiful night.

Highlight: We successfully attempt some new material. Fri. 8/13 West Ashling, England. West Ashling Village Hall The last thing I expected was a sold out show in this small of town near Chicester. People seemed a little scared at first, which is common over here, but they usually come around.

Highlight: The mid-'60s Morris Minor nicknamed 'Moggie' (a precursor to the BMW Mini that you see more prevalently these days) in the parking lot. I desperately wanted the car but atleast have a picture to remember it by.

Sat. 8/14 Nottingham, England. The Maze A place our friends the Wiyos said was one their favorite shows. I'd have to agree. Nottingham a town with some heart and soul in Robin Hood County (seriously that's what it is), but don't mention Robin Hood. People are apparently not to fond of Robin Hood comments. Great promoters there. I cant wait to come back.

Highlight: We got onto the floor for our encore, which we sometimes do, and whipped the folks into a frenzy. Also, thanks are in order for the b-day girl Alice for aiding in us getting the crowd going. I wish we could have a 'lit up' b-day gal/guy at every show. They're always looking to get down and raise a ruckus.

Sun. 8/15 Leicester,England. Summer Sundae Festival This may be my favorite festival gig ever, besides Newport. We were getting ready for the show backstage when we started to hear more and more of a rumble of folks gathering in front of the stage, till I decided finally to sneak a peak through the backstage curtains to see what the fuss was all about. It appeared there was a 1,000 people there to see our set. Soon it was our time. They announced our name and away we went onto the stage. By gawd it was an insane reception. It took my breath away.

Had to get a hold of myself. The fellas were all on point delivering ear smashing solos. Something was in the air while we delivered what I feel was a strong performance. Sold out of our CDs too! I look forward to coming back to the Leicester area next year if not the festival.

Highlight: A good number of folks were singing my tunes. Next time we come back I hope to see more folks singing along.

Pokey LaFarge in Brighton, "Staggerlee"

8/17-8/19: Edinburgh, Scotland. Fringe Festival. Acoustic Music Centre @ St Bride's The capital city of Scotland. Edinburgh Fringe. One of the longest-running and biggest festivals in the world. Beautiful, talented, eccentric, creative types gathered from all over the world. Tis mostly a thespian oriented festival. We were however at St. Bride's acoustic music centre. Was purty fun. Not the best crowds. A lot fun was had though. The Edinburgh castle in the middle of town. The Grassmarket. People watching. We met some wonderful peope there. Go to Edinburgh at least once in your lifetime. You'll want to see it.

Highlight: Going on the underground ghost tour to play a tourist. Being tempted to step into a cursed Wiccan circle that was said to cast a spell on you that uses your greatest weaknesses against you. Didn't do it. I already practically live in a van with a bunch of hygienic deficient men.

We Conquer the Scottish Highlands!!!!!! (Perhaps the 3 most best shows of the tour.)

Fri. 8/20-Findhorn, Scotland. Universal Hall This was truly one of the more original locations for a performance. A commune -- yes a commune! The room we played in was shaped into a huge pentagon with a large glass pentagon on the ceiling that allowed you to see the sky. I swore it was a way for the aliens to beam you to space. The operations on the property were all sustainable. They apparently work to assist the UN in sustainable energy and organic forming for 3 world nations. So as I said an interesting place to be asked to play. But hey, communes need music too. Almost sold this one out as well.

Highlight: The food.

Sat. 8/21-Stornoway, Scotland. An Lanntair After the show in Findhorn we drove to Ullapool. There we were to catch the ferry across open Atlantic Ocean to the Isle of Lewis to play the town of Stornoway. All started out beautifully as we were floating along through the Loch. Conditions at sea were said to be rough but in the Loch it was nice and smooth so I decided to have some fish and chips on the boat. Bad idea cause once I finished my meal we were dumped out into the roller coaster that was the stormy Atlantic Ocean. The only thing in the water was the propeller. I tried to lie down for to go to sleep thinking that I could avoid the seasickness. But it was no use. I lost my lunch.

Still nauseous when we got to the venue I toughed my way through a sound check. I needed to sit down and get some food and water into my body. Thankfully my dreams come true. We had a wonderful meal from the venue's restaurant. I couldn't believe it. They had american soul food. Ribs, fried chicken, mac n' cheese, greens and everything. And man did I have everything along with local mussels. I could taste the sea man. I love it. It was just what I needed.

The show that night was sold out. Everyone was all smiles. Great conversations ensued and a bevy of drink was consumed after the show in the lounge while we sold CDs. I even tried a new gin and fell in love. A British gin called Miller's.

Highlight: Running around with locals after the show from pub to pub in the pouring rain.

Sun. 8/22 Inverness, Scotland. Eden Court Theatre This could have been the best show we've played so far on this trip. The crew who ran this place were very accomodating. We were late coming back to the mainland due to rain and traffic. But they had everything set up once we got there. They were ready in position. The sound check went by very smoothly and soon we were in our dressing room to finally take a breath and get ready for the show in 20 minutes. Was a sold out theatre. The crowd was amazing. Some folks can be quite reserved over here. Not these folks. Dancing, clapping and sweet banter to boot. It included a crowd from young to old. The best kind of crowd. The kids seemed to love it which is always nice.

Highlight: Call back for 3 encores with 3 standng ovations. Can't wait to return to the highlands.

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