After a glorious Saturday off, our Coffee House Tour resumed for a second week – this time t’up North. But not before a couple of London based gigs in Camden and Hackney to say ta-ta to ‘The Big Smoke’ for a week.
DAY 6: CAMDEN / HACKNEY
Sunday 11th March was the start of our second week of the Coffee House Tour. It was also Mother’s Day – so my mum and nan joined the party along with my dad. We started the day in Miller & Carter – I wasn’t singing there, but us Crandon’s like a good steak. Plus I get an employee discount…bargain.
Back to the tour, our first venue was called Pamban Chai & Coffee House in good old Camden Market. We set up and started playing – the sound was great along with the sound guy. This was such a lovely gig. The place was packed with families, the doors were open as it was a nice day, people were crowding in the streets and dancing and looking through the window, everybody had their phones out filming. This was my first gig in Camden and the vibe was incredible – they really do love their music over there.
From one trendy town to another, our next venue was the Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney. We turned up and we were very confused. A vintage clothes shop with a mini bar at the back, we dragged our gear through trying not to knock anything over. We were told that the Coffee House Sessions were upstairs. Upstairs was empty, tiny, cold, dusty and strange with a few rails of clothes but a pretty cool stage. We were very early so we set up our gear and voted to sit in a nearby pub until the gig.
We headed for ‘The Cock Tavern’ on Mare Street. ‘The Cock’ was dirty and smelt weird. We had craft beer and pork scratchings – the scratchings were good, the beer was debatable. But there was something quite charming about ‘The Cock’ and we felt pretty settled there. Although we couldn’t bring ourselves to buy a pickled egg.
By the time we got back to the Paper Dress the upstairs had been transformed. It’s amazing what some sexy lighting and a big old disco ball can do.
The room was intimate and the crowd was intense but supportive. I felt so comfortable at this gig and loved every second. And most all, my mum and nan loved it. The compares of the evening were fabulous, they run the whole night and interact with freestyle rap (in which I got a mention…TWICE!). Made. My. Night. Noteworthy Open Mic – check em out below…
Sunday 11th March, Mother’s Day in Camden and Hackney – what a great day.
DAY 7: NOTTINGHAM / LOUGHBOROUGH
Day 7 was the start of our week away from home and we began at the University of Nottingham.
How was Notts? Well, it was 12 o’clock on a Monday morning, maybe the students were hungover.
Loughborough – a little better. At least I got some mild applauses here, but still a fair few resting bitch faces.
The best part of this day was our journey to Keele. We’d booked to stay the night near Keele University to save an early journey in the morning. After an hour’s rainy car ride we arrived at the Clayton Lodge Hotel. We slowly pulled into the driveway. We sat in silence and stared at the hotel. I know we were all thinking the same thing…
‘What. The. Fuck.’
This is the only hotel I’ve ever been in where the receptionist insists on photocopying everybody’s ID. The lobby was pretty snazzy looking, HOWEVER, in the room; the leather on the bed headboards were distressed (I hate to think why), the bath’s arse was falling apart, there was mould in all the nooks and crannies, there was a window in front of the toilet so whilst on the toilet you could see the car park…and the car park could see you. And last but not least, the shower was nice and freezing. It was hilarious.
In desperation to spend as little time as possible in this hotel, we spent as much time as possible in the local pub – which was lovely. Booze, lasagne, pool and darts, it was a top notch night.
DAY 8: KEELE / LIVERPOOL
Keele – pretty quiet. Although we had a handsome full English breakfast for £2. Shout out to the punk rocker sound guy Steve who liked my cover of 4 Non Blondes ‘What’s Up’.
Liverpool – hard work. Which was a shame as I was really looking forward to this one. This was the gig where I learnt that for the two weeks that I was on this tour, lecturers were on strike. Therefore students weren’t turning up to uni, and the ones who were were stressed about dissertations and stuff, fair do’s. So thank you very much lecturers.
I was supposed to have a media session after this gig but they didn’t turn up.
Our options were to sit around and wait incase they did make an appearance, or go into the city of Liverpool and do touristy stuff. We chose the latter.
Me and Harry agreed that this was our favourite night of the tour, Liverpool is proper good. Of course we went to The Cavern which was the dog’s bollocks. I know it’s a replica of the original since the real Cavern Club was knocked down years ago, however they’ve done a bloody good job. It’s just so cool there. The vibe is insane. They even had a Ken Dodd memorial photo – he’d only died the day before. What a great place.
I passed me pals on the way to the Mersey…
The Mersey at sunset was beautiful…
We stopped in some other bars, the music scene up there is great. And to top off our Liverpool adventures, we finished with a Nando’s. Perfection.
Like the night before, we made our way to our next city in – Huddersfield. We quickly checked into our hotel (it was a normal hotel this time) and decided to go for a nightcap in pub which was ‘just up the road’ they said. ‘Only a walk away’ they said. The pub was about a mile away…uphill. I was struggling. Harry is a tall lad, he has longer legs than me. But I’ll always persevere when there’s a pub at the end of the tunnel.
By the time we reached the pub the place was empty and the lady behind the bar said that they were closing in 15 minutes. But after some sweet talking we managed to bag ourselves a lock in with the bar staff. Successful night. Amazing what a few free CD’s can do.
DAY 9: HUDDERSFIELD / BRADFORD
We turned up at Huddersfield and we greeted by the sweet smell of a full English breakfast. We thought we’d set up first and then treat ourselves to a fry up – we were starving. We met the sound team who were great, and we were set up in about 15/20 minutes. We then made our way to the canteen, all excited. Then the dinner lady said, “Sorry, we stopped serving breakfast about 15/20 minutes ago.” That’s enough to ruin your day.
But it got better because the gig was great.
Really fun crowd, lots of filming and interaction. Plus the media was great – here’s the interview…
Next was Bradford. This was probably one of my most favourite gigs of the tour. Yeah it was pretty quiet but everybody was so engaged. I think this uni was most prepared and put in the most effort for the Coffee House Sessions. They had chairs set out facing the stage, a camera set up with a live Facebook stream going, a photographer, really handy sound team/crew, great stage and sound system, and a really impressive radio studio for the interview afterwards. Plus I managed to sell some of my new EP’s. Thumbs up for Bradford.
We spent the night in Newcastle. We didn’t go full out ‘Geordie Shore’ style, just a nice chill-out meal with a bottle of red…or two.
DAY 10: NEWCASTLE / NORTHUMBRIA / YORK
Our last day of the tour…
Newcastle – well, it was early, it was rainy, perhaps everyone had a heavy night #wonkywednesdays
But I had a really fun interview with Megan Smith, probably my favourite media session of the tour…
Northumbria was better. It was a really nice bar and was packed out with cool looking people. The funny part was that the horse racing was on telly (since when were youngsters into horse racing? Maybe inventive ways to pay of their student loans!) so every now and then there’d be a roar of boisterous cheering. I thought they were cheering at me, but soon realised that they were cheering at the horses. Soon enough I joined in.
On the way from Northumbria to York we thought it would be a good idea to check out the ‘Angel Of The North’. It wasn’t a good idea. It was a very bad idea. The weather was horrendous.
We quickly took a photo, got soaked in the process and ran back to the car. The winds then made a beeline for my umbrella and it was at that point when I nearly took off…
Last stop was York. We wanted to go out with a bang. I’d say we went out with a mild sizzle as opposed to a bang. There was a headbanger in the crowd, she was getting way too into our acoustic set. The sound team definitely gave it there best shot, you’d have thought they were rigging up an orchestra as opposed to a duo. But we definitely had a laugh.
We finished the tour in absolute style – we went to Wetherspoons.
All in all the Coffee House Tour was an experience and a half! It was stressful at times trying to establish where the gigs were actually taking place in the uni’s. It was good planning that we headed off to the next morning’s uni town and stayed locally to avoid a big rush and early start every morning. It was also a little stressful opening each show without having a proper introduction before hand. That may have helped engage an audience from the start as opposed to gauging if the crowd were ‘up for it’ half way through a short set. All in all we gained some social media following and interaction from audience and SU media teams, which is what the tour was all about. Would I do it again? On the bigger stages maybe with my full band. I’d like to give a good uni audience a taste of what my big brassy band sounds like live.