Monday, 21 March 2011

UK Jazz Tour - Final Gig 12 - Ipswich Jazz Club

The final gig!  And the last in the run of 4 consecutive nights.  It was great to get to perform with the band for four consecutive nights and felt really relaxed with the material by this time and didn't have to worry about forgetting the lyrics!

Ipswich Jazz Club has been running for many years but this venue is relatively new for them and what a wonderful venue it is.  Well laid out with a bar to the side and quite a lot of space.  It's all run very well too by the excellent volunteers.  Once again we were treated very well the fantastic promoter, Dave.  And also, again the performance was very well attended.  Apart from a couple of the gigs, we've had sell-outs and full houses throughout.  I'm very pleased that so many people came to see us. :-D

The stage (with lovely kitsch "saxophone" light fitting on the left) -
and more photos of the great audience members I met on the night below

Dave on the right and his father, Phil in the white shirt.
Phil was celebrating his birthday that night!
Stephen Foster (MC for the club) who also interviewed me on BBC Radio Suffolk

I had such a great time on the tour and met such lovely people.  I hope the lady I met in Bath wasn't the only one that felt we brought a little bit of joy into their lives - even if just for a short time.  A big thank you to everyone who came out to see us.  I really appreciate the support and hope to see you again sometime!

UK Jazz Tour - Gigs 9, 10 & 11 of 12 - West Country (St Austell Brewery, Be-Bop Club Bristol & Chapel Arts Bath)

Restormel Arts - St Austell Brewery

It was a sunny but very long drive down to Cornwall from London but we were rewarded by the view of this lovely cottage which was our home our viist.  It was such a lovely place with a warming fire - it started to rain heavily as soon as we arrived - and beautiful views.  Sadly we didn't stay too long as we had to leave soon for our soundcheck at the brewery and were up early the next morning to travel to Exeter where we performed a live track for Judi Spiers show on BBC Radio Devon.

The lovely cottage we stayed in

George, Dave & Milo during soundcheck
The Brewery as a great venue - unusual and beautifully quirky.  Apparently their Admiral's Ale was voted as the best bottled beer in the world.  I'm reliably informed by the band that it was very good although I didn't indulge as I'm more of a cocktails lady myself! 

The gig itself went really well and we had a full house.  Phil who runs the Jazz at the Brewery programme for Restormel Arts treated us very well indeed.  It really makes a difference to musicians when we spend so much time travelling to be greeted by a consderate and well-organised promoter.  Even something as small as the offer of a cup of tea on arrival is much appreciated (especially by drummer Milo who is very partial to a nice cup of tea!)

With 2 lovely ladies and more pics of some of the audience members below

The Be-Bop Club Bristol

After our quick visit to the radio station in Exeter we drove straight to Bristol and had a pub lunch.  We then checked into our hotel which was very unuaual in that it was a totally automatic 24-hour hotel where entry to the front door and all rooms was by key code!  No reception staff, nothing.  A bit like a version of those EasyHotels if you've seen one, but we did have proper rooms and bathrooms instead of "pods".  A unusual type of place but I quite liked it really. 

We soundchecked at the club which has its home in the back room of a pub called The Bear.  It had just been renovated to the surprise of Andy who runs the club and there were huge tables in the room instead of the usual small caberet style tables which meant it was a bit of squeeze for everyone to get in!  It's a very small room so it didn't take much to fill the place and there was a lovely atmosphere.  As ever, I met some lovely people in the audience - see pics below.

Demonstrating their superior sense of style and taste by buying a copy of my album. ;-)

Chapel Arts Centre, Bath

We had a bit of a lie-in on Saturday to make up for Friday's early start and then went for brunch in Bristol before setting off to Bath.  What a beautiful place!  I went a bit mad with the camera but don't worry - I've only included a couple here. 
Bath Abbey - stunning

I wondered at first if these were Bath's version of the Barclays
Boris Bikes... but think they were some sort of promo thing

So many buskers on the pedestrianised streets of Bath - felt
like a bit of a cross between Covent Garden and Brighton!

When we first arrived at the venue, I was a bit worried as it was all covered in scaffolding and green baize but it was still business as usual!  It such a wonderful space.  The perfect size for a jazz performance and although there weren't as many people there as I would have liked, because it was arranged with cabaret style tables with candles and the audience were warm and encouraging, there was a lovely ambience.

George, Dave and Milo soundchecking

Shot of the audience taken during the interval

Another lovely lady demonstrating her superior taste!

As she was leaving, a lady came up to thank me saying that when she had arrived that evening she had been feeling very down but listening to us had reminded her of the joys of life.  It really moved me to hear that.  Connecting with people and bringing something positive into their lives is one of the reasons I love performing so much - even if it sounds a bit cheesy!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

UK Jazz Tour - Gigs 7 & 8 of 12 - London & Oxford

I became an honorary Pole on 5th March and it was fabulous!  The Polish hostess for the show at Jazz Cafe POSK in Hammersmith was the gorgeous Mariola and we were even treated to Polish cakes during the interval.  And I've discovered a new favourite drink... Zubrowka aka Bison Grass Vodka!   Absolutely delicious served with chilled apple juice.  And I've heard that you can also serve it over vanilla ice-cream.  Double yum!

With the lovely Mariola

George, Milo and Dave tucking into Polish cakes!
The audience were lovely and although we had to compete at times with a rather noisy birthday party happening in another section of the room, the audience seemed to enjoy themselves and there were lots of happy smiley faces.

Some of the happy smiling faces

Next was a return to Oxford - one of my favourite cities.  Unfortunately I got delayed by an accident on the M40 and although I left London at 4.30pm to get there for 6.45pm, I didn't arrive at the venue until 8.20pm...  Ten minutes before I was due on stage!  Other complications were that I had a call from Milo, the drummer, that day and unfortunately, due to no fault of his own, he was unable to do the gig so we had to get a dep in with very short notice.  Luckily, Charlie Stratford - a local drummer - was available and he acquitted himself extremely well and was a joy to play with!

George, Charlie and Oli
 Joe's Bar & Grill is a another great venue.  It's a shame they don't advertise the music more as with a decor that includes a beautiful chandelier and black and white photos adorning the walls, it has the makings of an excellent jazz club.

Joe's Bar & Grill

Lovely Layla and husband
(And more smiling faces)