I picked Martin up at Luton and we whizzed up to the Rose and Crown in Chesterfield, which was a mistake, as that wasn't where we were playing. The Rose and Crown in Chesterfield is a pub straight out of the Wild West, full of grumpy sheriffs and with defiant smokers lining the bar, peeling cream-painted walls finishing the despondent scene.
A series of panic-stricken phone calls and texts later found us at the Rose and Crown in Barlborough, a friendly pub in an old building with a genial, smiling manager and Pete Shields anxiously pacing up and down outside, waiting for us. After a nanosecond, we were in full flow. I really enjoyed this gig; the sadness has left my voice and I could enjoy playing again. Mike and June were there, with their daughter Laura; it was a listening audience, and Martin did a fantastic gig for them which was a mixture of new songs (he forgot the words for some of them but it didn't matter), some very deft fingerpicking, and his more poignant Daintees songs at the request of one of the barmen and several audience members.
He did a very funny version of All I Do the Whole Night Through is Dream of You that involved his impersonation of a gentleman who hasn't used the hand-drier after going to the bathroom drying their hands on their jeans, punctuating the song at regular intervals.
We stayed at Pete's and told ghost stories until the small hours, and visited his mum's charity shop the next morning, which is a hub of the village social scene run by two Geordie twin sisters making cups of tea for anyone popping in looking for baby clothes or lampshades. I was much taken by a Ken doll, but it's hair was a bit too punky so I left it there for another punter.
We left Chesterfield with a box of rhubarb, chard, parsley, lettuce seedlings and honey, brought along by Adrian, who has arranged a gig in his allotment later this year.
Last night's gig-ette was at the Perseverance, Spring Voices, arranged by Ingrid Andrew and featuring poets, music, drama. It was another one I really enjoyed playing: I played a smiley-face set and people seemed to really like it; Martin accompanied me on guitar. My favourite act of the night was Amy, otherwise known as Acton Belle, who played simplified versions of 1970s mainstream pop hits by artists like Herman's Hermits. We went to the Sea Shell for fish'n'chips and took her with us for some onion rings. She spoonerised: Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Sh*t, which I misheard as Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Fish and Chips.
Luckily, she got the name right in her set (with a quick glance over at me and Martin!). She sings in a Bolton accent. Her first song was There's a Kind of Hush, and I thought of the first sheet music I ever bought, Love Grows Where My Rosemary Goes, and how I hadn't really realised at the age of 14 that so much of what I liked about the record was the extras in the arrangement.
But Amy had picked her songs wisely and they cam across really well. Later, she showed me the verses written on her hand in biro and told me she had dreamed she was listening to a Beatles song on the radio and woke up and realised that it was an original Amy-song. I told her about dreaming Dreaming of You and having to wake up and write it down before I forgot it.
There was an exceptionally dark and dry poet from Liverpool whose name escapes me but he was very funny in bite-size bursts, the way poetry works best live I think. He didn't crack a smile the whole evening!
Foolish Girl came all the way from Stevenage on her immaculate yellow motorbike; the rotters at Westminster Parking Control gave her a parking ticket. Never have wanted to stuff a parking ticket where the sun don't shine so much before in my life!
Anyway, that's it for now. I have a cup of tea here at perfect drinking temperature and I don't want it to drop even half a degree further.