Saturday, 10 March 2018

Planes, trains and automobiles

Uzhhorod Castle

Ukraine was a whirlwind. One train journey, two tube rides, two long car journeys and five flights! The concerts went very well and also got a chance to do some sightseeing in the beautiful city of Uzhhorod. It was also nice to revisit Odessa. Not so nice, was the snow! :( Unfortunately I didn’t bring my snow boots so wasn’t able to get around much but at least I have the memories of looking around the city in my first visit there at the end of 2016.

Map showing Uzhhorod's history
The city of Uzhhorod has an extremely complicated and storied history.  It's belonged to several different countries since its birth (including Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union) and although currently part of Ukraine it is only 20km away from the border with Hungary.  There is no longer a working airport so I flew into Hungary and drove across the border (an experience in itself!) and was surprised to learn that many people living there speak Hungarian rather than Ukranian.  Perhaps because of this history, the people are very warm and welcoming and there is a definite cosmopolitan air about the place.

Poster advertising concert outside Ilko Gallery

When I visited Ilko Gallery during the day I saw some interesting art by Pavlo Kerestey 
And then it was transformed that night into a concert venue!

It was a pleasure to perform with Ukranian musicians - Alexey Petuhov Trio

Although the concert was already sold out, more people turned up on the night and they put out extra chairs for an audience that numbered well over the usual 250 capacity.  And I felt especially honoured to received a standing ovation at the end of the night. :)

The trip to Odessa was pretty gruelling - including a 2 hour wait at the border and 2 flights - so we will gloss over that.  Perron No7 jazz club was a wonderful, quirky space with a dedicated jazz audience.  It was lovely to play for such a knowledgeable and discerning audience and I was bowled over by the fact that the owners had created a special cocktail menu for the evening based on the names of my songs!!!   Of course it would have been rude not to, so I sampled a couple of them.  I tried "One More Dance" (inspired by my song from Spellbound Stories) and Delicious (from Delicious Chemistry).  As a lover of cocktails,  it took all my willpower not to try all six of them!

Cocktail menu at Perron No7 jazz club with drinks based on my songs including one called Delicious - and it was!

Here I am in Uzhhorod.

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

Goodbye UK, Hello Ukraine!

Uzhhorod Cathedral

Just for a few days I'll be visiting the picturesque city of Uzhhorod in Western Ukraine and then I'll be making my way through the beautiful, mountainous scenery to revisit historic Odessa.  So looking forward to being back there.  Spent a wonderful New Year's Eve there at an amazing hotel back in 2016.  I'm a little worried about the cold and so will have to make sure to pack my thermals.

The two performances are taking place at ILKO Gallery and then at jazz club Perron No7.  Both gigs are totally sold out and am told they have a jazz hungry audience there so very much looking forward to performing for them with a great local trio led by Alexey Petuhov.

Back in the UK I have gigs coming up in the spring at Royal Albert Hall (as part of their Women and the Hall series), Birmingham Jazz and The Stables in Milton Keynes. 

I'm also working hard on setting up a UK tour for the Autumn with my new project.  I have a feeling it's going to be a very good year. :)