Tales from the Rails 6: the many sheep and the uphill struggle

It’s an uphill struggle. Glasgow and in general. I’ve caught a cold and am feeling groggy in the sunlight; the suitcase feels heavy, as does my guitar and my head. This feels surreal, the crass slopes of the city, the New York like grid, the concrete, the flyover and the uniformed girls, playing tag on a fenced off green – it must be recess time in school. I’ve never been to Glasgow and I’ve never seen these sights, but in their absurdity and unfamiliarity I feel I’m revisiting, or catching up with them rather than discovering. I believe that all perceptions, stories and knowledge already exists, that we’re merely experiencing them subjectively and linearly and only in a higher state of consciousness (to which I guess a concoction of paracetamol, sleep deprivation and sunshine can lead!) can you see the whole, from a truer perspective. One day all these odd and isolated images will come together and make beautiful sense. Glasgow is small, but it feels vast as I walk from the west end to central station. Every time I finish heaving my stuff up another one of those ridiculous hills I pause and look back to take in the view. This is not what I expected. That’s not bad at all, just not what I thought I’d be seeing and feeling.

Let’s get back to more earthly matters. Yesterday I played at Bar Bloc and I was nervous about my voice, which left me on Sunday ironically just after it felt so strong and reliable at the gig in Cheltenham. I really want to do my best and feel like there’s not much point playing in new places if you’re not going to be your best. I arrive at the venue early and have some food and lots of water and coffee. I walk around the corner to leave my guitar behind the bar and see a poster advertising Laura Meyer’s show, dating back pretty much exactly a year ago. She’s a dear friend of mine from New York, now based in LA and it’s little coincidences like this that make the world seem tiny and impossible to feel lonely in. Things pick up as the promoter and other musicians file in – all upbeat and friendly. I enjoy watching the other acts, especially Bethany Tayler James and her super cool guitarist Sarah (although they actually play a cover of “Roxanne” – wahh!!) and then around 10:30, it’s my turn to take to the stage. Glasgow is by far the rowdiest audience of this tour, although they cheer and clap so loudly it almost makes up for the fact that they chat through the songs. It’s funny, I can always tell which words and notes grab peoples attention and pull them away from their conversations, even if only for a minute. My voice does best during “Some kind of Creature” and “It’s All over now, baby blue”, I feel I pulled through and did the best I could under the circumstances. Special thanks to Stephen from ‘Slash the Seats’ for coming along (great to finally meet you!) and to Graeme for hosting a great night for the ‘this silent forest’ CD! Hope to be back to play a set when I’m back at full strength – see you all again soon!

So, I’ve actually learnt lots, like the fact that I like Glasgow (it has the same kind of gritty-pretty as Berlin), I’ll always catch colds and will just have to do my best and that there are a lot of sheep between Preston and Glasgow, I mean a lot.

Next stop will be Birmingham for a show at “The Soak” and then Coventry for my home away from home “Kasbah” with a gig at Big City Radio in between!

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