Friday, March 30, 2012

Girls with Guitars: The Gossip, the excitement, the exhaustion, the drama, and more

Wow, the second leg of the 'More Girls With Guitars' tour is almost over. It has been a great tour but it has also been exhausting and has certainly had it's emotional ups and downs. Davide Floreno (Erja Lyytinen's sideman guitarist) has joined us as tour manager, merch man and driver and of course our special guest in the encores each night.

We started out in Denmark for the first five shows and then flew to Finland. The Danish venues were good fun and we stayed in some beautiful towns. I really enjoyed running in the sunshine by the ocean one morning in Aalborg the day after our show at Cafe Frederiksberg. It was beautiful. Most of the venues in Finland were concert halls, and despite the fact that I'd only ever played 3 shows in Finland before this year we had some lovely big crowds. Also, the award for best food on the tour goes to the Thai restaurant in Helsinki; thank you Davide for taking us!

As you probably figured out from my last blog, Samantha and Denis are the practical jokers on the tour. I usually try my best to stay out of the joking which involves many horrible photo's of band members asleep in the van posted on facebook. Sam got the ultimate revenge on Denis on this leg of the tour though; she signed him up to a sex website for gay men and made him a profile as 'Dirty Denis' stating that he was a sex slave who needed to be punished for not practicing his paradiddles'. Oh my goodness, she crossed the line this time! Denis did not find it funny when he started receiving emails from men who wanted to dominate him. The profile has now been deleted and as far as I know Dirty Denis has forgiven her.

Denis had some bad news from home while we were touring in Finland. He told us he was going to have to leave the tour after our upcoming gig in Gottingen. This was a real shame and didn't leave us with much time to find a replacement. Good fortune was on our side though when I contacted an old friend of mine 'Martin Wright' who drummed, sang and produced for The Rolling Stones 'Ronnie Wood'. We were over the moon when Martin agreed to come to our rescue and with only a few days notice he learnt all our songs and flew in to Germany to meet us.

In the meantime, Sam, Vicky, Denis, Davide and I caught an early flight from Finland to Norway. Having played a late gig in Jarvenpaa the night before we had only had 2 hours sleep and were exhausted. When we arrived at our hotel in Oslo it was still breakfast time and we were told we had to wait a few hours before we could check into our rooms. This was bad news because that day we had two gigs ahead of us, one in Oslo in the afternoon and one in Fetsund that evening. It was already feeling like a very long day and we were all emotional and tired. On top of that, I had some heartbreaking news that one of the orphans I love in Kenya had passed away. I cried myself to sleep on the sofa in the hotel lobby for an hour and then we had to head out to soundcheck for our afternoon gig. The two shows were actually really great; good audiences and the promoters took great care of us. Then, after the second gig of the day we had a late night followed by another very early morning involving a flight back to Copenhagen followed by a seven hour drive to pick up Martin Wright from a German airport. Sam was upset in the van, her poor dog Ginger had died. It really felt like the tour had hit a low point and emotionally we needed a new start. That evening that Martin arrived we said bye bye to Denis who drove home the following morning.

Our first gig with Martin was in Gottingen, Germany. He did a great job. It was really cool for us to play 'Bitch' a Rolling Stones song that we recorded on our Girls With Guitars album with Martin who has performed with both Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger. Martin is really down to earth, sweet and humble and so when you dig and get him talking about all the things he's done in his career and people he's worked with it's just amazing to hear his stories.

After Gottingen we headed to Vienna, Austria. That was a great show and Vienna is one of my favourite cities. Chris Filmore and Meena Cryle (Ruf Records) came out to see us play and Chris and Davide joined us on stage for out encore of Ray Charles' 'Night and Day'. We were just jamming out the song but it felt so good we have played it every night since. On the morning of the show, Martin, Vicky and I took a long walk to the palace and it's gardens in the sunshine. I didn't want to leave, it was just beautiful. Early the next morning before we left Vienna I walked back to the palace to explore some more. I hope I can go back there again soon.

All of our Austrian gigs were in spectacular places with snow topped mountains. Then we had a long drive to Luxembourg, another of my favourite cities, to play at Sang & Klang. That was another really fun show with a really awesome, packed audience. It was great to see my friend Jimmy in Luxembourg too. I'll be back in Luxembourg later this Summer with my own band at The Abbaye.

On March 24th we played one of my most favourite venues 'Muhle Hunziken'. Its hard to explain what this Swiss venue is like; you really have to visit it for yourself, but i shall try: It's like walking into a Grimm's Fairytale. It's like disneyland gone wrong in a cool and spookey way. There's memorabilia and strange antiques and statues everywhere and the place has so much character. The concert was sold out and the audience were a real mixture of men and women, young and old. For me, that was our best performance of the tour so far. We were really in the zone that night and it was so much fun.

The next day we drove from Switzerland to Salzburg, Austria. It was a long drive and I realised I was starting to get sick. My throat hurt and I was so tired. In Salzburg, Martin bought me some ginger and garlic and insisted that if I ate cloves of raw garlic it'd make me feel better. It really worked. So I apologise to anyone who has been near me recently; i know I smell of Garlic but its really keeping me going and helping my voice each night. Now Vicky is sick too and she's joined me with the Garlic eating... Davide doesn't like the van smelling of garlic but I think that's because he is secretly a vampire... He does actually look like a lovable vampire and he kind of talks like a vampire too.

Basel Blues Festival, Switzerland was another highlight of the tour. What a fantastic city. I especially enjoyed jogging by the riverside. Eden Brent opened for us at a fantastic concert hall venue in the city centre. The sound system at that gig was just magical. As a singer, I just love it when the sound system and the natural acoustics of the roomlose yourself in the music; that's what that night was like for me. The next day we all caught trams around the city and went exploring, had cappachino's in the sunshine and did some shopping before driving to our next venue. It felt like we were on holiday; good times!

Tonight we play at The Moonwalker in Aarburg Switzerland. I have played this club a few times before and so I know it'll be a great gig. Tomorrow is the last gig of the European leg in Dietkon and then we fly home. We've been on the road for about a month now and so I am looking forward to seeing friends and family at home but also I'm sad that it's coming to an end so quickly. I love touring with these guys; they've become like family to me.

Big Thank You to all the fans who have come out to support our live show and have bought our CD's. We really appreciate the support you give us and hope you've enjoyed our shows as much as we have enjoyed performing for you. Also a very big thank you to those of you who have supported my projects in Kenya. The money you have put in my donation box will make a big difference to children living in awful poverty in Embu. These children love school, and with your donations we can make sure they have pens, paper, books, water, sports equipment, arts equipment, musical instruments and tuition, and so on... all the things we take for granted in the west that these children would not have without your support. Thank you!