Summer 15

I've just got back from some truly lovely gigs in France. After our first gig, in the north at Festival Het Lindeboom in Loon Plage, a Belgian journalist asked me what the appeal of playing in France was. After some general rambling about being a bit of a francophile I found myself answering quite honestly that  it's always a pleasure to be part of European festivals that welcome local people, showcase music from several countries, are usually free to attend and are almost always cross-generational. I think I shocked myself at the way that answer gave itself to me fully formed. 

It was only during Joe's impromptu solo, as he interacted with a just-post-toddler (read: abandoned dancer) at the front of the crowd during our second gig, in front of just about the whole population of the gorgeous little southern village of Condillac, that the penny really dropped. Apart from full-on-all-nighters like Ortiguiera (where we played to 90,000 revellers at 3am) I can't think of a single gig I've played in continental Europe where it wasn't the case that the local population turned up and enjoyed the festival all together. In Plasencia, in the middle of Spain, in the middle of the night, the audience was literally split 70/30 or so, with teens and young adults partying hard in the main, whilst the older folk and the tiniest children sat genteelly in rows alongside.

Back in France, Franglais pleasantries were exchanged  - more effort than aptitude from both sides - before the village of Condillac swiftly packed up the bar, PA, stage and seating after our gig. Sleeping children were carried off in their parents arms. Octogenarians shuffled quietly home, leaving the sound of crickets ringing out across the valley. I briefly wondered if perhaps the UK could learn a thing or two from the Europeans. I thought of UK rural touring...

Borderline political musings aside, I'm having a hell of a summer. It's turning into a bit of a jazz renaissance for me, with three big band gigs in the space of two months. It's meant more time in the woodshed and that's as devastatingly humbling an experience as ever! But my beautiful new cymbals from the lovely people at Istanbul Agop and some serious time with my favourite old recordings are taking the edge off the old chops burn!  Add to that the usual UFQ (and Folk Ensemble) festival season and I'm so very happy to be playing.

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