Monday, August 28, 2017

Ohio Is Everywhere (U.K. Tour Diary Part 2)

The next several days in England were more fun than a clown on fire. My family saw the sights and caught a farewell show by one of our favorite bands (The Maccabees) at the Apollo in Manchester. We visited all sorts of English manors and castles, saw cool graffiti and art, historic sites, Medieval churches, ancient burial grounds, and Gothic architecture. We found and devoured more awesome vegan food than we’ve ever had in America. 

The huge lion at Longleat House in Bath, England.

James prays in at a small country church in Southern, England. 

Lizard at 15th century church All Saints Church, Leeds. 

Lizard and Michelle at Chatsworth House, Peak District.

 In London, Bristol, Bath, Manchester, and Leeds the Ohio connections just kept coming! At a street market in Camden a vendor tried to sell me a 21 Pilots shirt (Columbus, Ohio, yes! T-shirt, no thanks). At a vegan cafe in King’s Cross the girl who sold us cupcakes was blithely singing along to “Cannonball” by the Breeders (one of my favorite Dayton bands!). 

  We made a pilgrimage to all of our favorite music related English sites and recreated famous photos by some of our favorites. Here we are at Salford Lads club in Manchester where my favorite Smiths photo was taken.

 All through the trip we kept hearing Ohio greats like Nine Inch Nails, Foo Fighters (Grohl gets a pass because he was born in Warren, Ohio), and The Black Keys. The fantastic Kisa’s in Perth was pumping RJD2’s latest as we ordered our dessert. It seemed like everywhere we went, the world was rocking along with Ohio’s finest. Ohio was everywhere and it felt good.

Lizard poses at the Ziggy shrine at Heddon street in London. 

 That Friday’s gig was at The Green Room in Perth, Scotland, a club known for breaking new acts. We were booked in the big room upstairs in the opening slot. There was a tour with 2 American bands and 1 Belgian band booked for this date when I was trying to secure the gig. The tour manager (a great guy from Glasgow) gave the go ahead for the club booker to add us to the bill, because we were from America and he thought that would make an interesting night of music. We showed up early, grabbed a copy of The Courier, Perth’s big city newspaper, and were excited to find a feature write-up for our performance and our CD review with a photo. 

Perth write-up in The Courier

 Scottish people are very nice and seemed genuinely excited to have us there. A local entertainment and lifestyle website was also doing a piece on our performance. Their affable reporter and photographer met us at the club and bought us a round while conducting the interview. Afterwards they were self-proclaimed fans for life. 

Lizard and James rocking out in Scotland.

 Our opening set was about as close to perfect as we’ve ever performed. We played new songs and old songs with a cover by The Human League thrown in for good measure. The sound was superb and the crowd seemed to hang on every song. I think the fact that we were a stripped down, acoustic duo worked in our favor, piquing the crowd’s interest and holding it for our 9 song set. The crowd topped out at around 75 people and after the show we’d made several new fans who wanted CDs. They were oddly intrigued by our foreign accents. I guess we seemed exotic to their ears. When the other bands’ tour manager got an Earwig shirt, he stripped down on the spot and put it on immediately to show his support. 

 Happy with our set we settled into a comfy booth for the rest of the acts. The other American bands were fun! They were both from L.A. and the headliner (from Belgium) put on an impressive rock show. London had been great but this was by far the best gig of our micro-tour and my personal favorite.

The Green Room, Perth, Scotland.

The next night we were still hoping that our show in Leeds would come through, even though I had not heard back with solid confirmation. The band that was helping us with the gig had been hard to get ahold of and after an initial period of excitement and certainty, seemed like they were leaving us out in the cold.

  I checked with the club and sure enough, we were not on the bill. It looked like a Saturday night with no show for us. So we drove south through Edinburgh back to Leeds, cranked the stereo and sang along to “Your Band Flaked Out On Me” by our hometown heroes The Kyle Sowashes.

“Your band flaked out on me, right when I needed you the most”. 

  All in all, losing the third gig of the tour was not a disappointment. It gave us a free day to explore the English countryside and not stress about having to be anywhere on time. Even though this micro-tour clocked out at just 2 shows, it felt like a real victory. Our song “Silverheels” had been premiered on a U.K. station during our tour, we’d had a few write-ups on U.K. music websites, one glowing show preview in a large Scottish newspaper, we’d made new fans and ultimately fulfilled our rock and roll destiny to “Always leave them wanting more.”

New Earwig fans. 

  We came, we conquered, and we had fun. This micro-tour goes down in the Earwig books as a success. Recently Tony, the tour manager from Glasgow, has contacted me on Facebook to say that he will be on tour this summer with an American band. He wants to meet up with me and talk about bringing the full band back to the U.K. for a proper Earwig tour when the next album comes out. His current tour will be making a stop for a show in, where else, Cincinnati, Ohio.

 For me, it seems that no matter how far away I go…Ohio is everywhere.

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