Marylene Coutret has been a professional photographer for many years and I have had the fortune of her capturing shots of my shows in France and New Zealand. Last night she attended my final show in France before I head to Germany. Below are some of her images she captured during my performance.
You can find evidence of her great ability as well as documentation and blogs about her long reaching hikes round the world. She will shortly be embarking on her most ambitious trek yet as she will span the great heights of Nepal during it’s winter season. This 5 month hike will take great courage and I wish her all the best as well as thank her for the time taken to capture and send me the images below.
Please check out her work aside from the photos posted here.
Following the completion of my UK dates I have decided to hit the road out in Europe Early.
Some amazing experiences have already been had driving around the continent and I was overjoyed to perform at Le Grattoir in Gerardmer as well as performing at the Ramène ta Graine Fest in Xonrupt Longemer.
I also had the fortune of sharing the stage with ‘Nonox’ who is a young talented beatboxer.
Check out our unplanned rendition of my tune ‘Pish’ (with a bit of freestyle thrown in).
I plan to continue travelling round France for the next couple of weeks before my 1st shows kick off in Germany:
Normally when touring the South West of England I like to spend a fair bulk of time in all of the Counties.
However for this years trip I am left with just one show in Devon while there are 10+ shows in the neighbouring County of Cornwall.
However the singular show that there is in Devon will be a special event for sure as it is a charity fundraiser for A Festival I played at some years back called Dodd Stock.
The Fundraiser will take place at Brixham Theatre this Friday 30th June 2017.
Doddstock Festival will be held on Sunday August 13th 2017 at Brixham Rugby Club from midday.
The Doddstock committee was formed by Emily Howard in 2007 named in memory of Julius Dodd, who lost his life at the age of 24 in a motorbike accident. Julius was a talented local musician who loved music festivals and dreamt of organising his own festival. Doddstock aims to be one day of peace, love, art, and music. Showcasing the finest of local musicians and artists, feeling the community spirit, with lots of family friendly fun.
Having only just left a week before I return to my home City to Play in West London in a Church no less.
Returning home after such a short stint on the road definitely has its benefits. 1st of all I realised quite quickly that I had forgotten a great number of things and as the tour rolled along it occurred to me what I needed. So playing so close to home enabled me to collect various bits and bobs.
Anyway back to the playing. My show was in possibly the most picturesque of all venues and the crew were wonderful that night. Also the show was a part of a bigger event called the Hanwell Hootie.
I was blown away by the number of amazing stages across this small part of West London. It proudly boasts to be the largest free one day fest London has to offer. Once my set was done I had a chance to catch many amazing bands.
Speaking of which I shared the billing with a great band called Chile who had elements of the Knife and the XX to their sound.
For my set it was a real rush on and off affair but with the help of the technicians I managed to go out with my full rig.
Please see below an audience recording of unreleased tune ‘Here is Where it is’.
There are also some shots of me performing taken by the lovely people at West London & Middlesex Twitter Page:
Many months of touring begins with a smattering of shows firstly around Essex before I head to London.
Southend kicks things off and despite competing with a boxing match in the pub I am happy to make much chaotic noise and just over joyed to be playing again.
Being the 1st show of the tour many of the tunes played are making their live debut and to be airing them at all is a joyful din.
Kudos to Iain for booking me and Davey Hal (the support act for the night).
Onwards I headed to Cosmic Puffin Fest:
Had to scale down the rig because it was quick change over so it was all pre 2013 material for that one and then the following night was an all out acoustic show in Billericay. Slowly I’m becoming more comfortable at the piano and a couple of piano only tunes made the set that night.
Following a couple of days parked in the pub car park I moved onto performing in Chelmsford. the Venue was called the Basement and the space was awesome as were the staff.
Some great sets from the supports groups and I braved debuting another newbie. One I’ve been piecing together for months. Work in progress title of ‘The Downfall’ please hear a clip of rehearsal of it from here:
Final show of the Essex run was in Basildon. It was a full rig mega session and I was overjoyed to play a stormer. The audience were really on board and following my departure from the stage I was met with many a friendly face.
We’ve all had to make long MEGA journeys from time to time and as I’ve ventured round the continent I have become very aware of one big difference between how the transit traveller in Europe is treated compared to the very same in the UK.
Basically it all boils down to one major factor: Time allowed to stop and park for!!!!!
When missioning back from the final trek of a 5 month tour round Europe I crossed overnight from mainland Europe Va Calaise to Dover. I was exhausted from hours of driving and the time spent on the ferry only made me more sleepy. Despite a coffee I decided the final 2 hours back to London would have to wait and I pulled into the 1st services I saw and slept in the tour van for 3 hours. Feeling a little recharged I made my way back to the capital arriving at my destination about 4 am.
About a week later I received a letter stating that I was parked over the limit at the English service station and was fined £60??? I did protest this and the fine was dropped. However I did hear from a friend that the fine was unlawful and they have to refund all appeals regardless of reason and the fines themselves are issued only in the hope that whomever receives them pays without appeal. A surefire filter system that must from time to time result in them getting their gold. If one does nothing the fine increases.
Anyway I am firstly writing this blog to warn folks of the above but also to dwell on the sadness it fills me to learn of coming from a country where most service stations take opportunistic steps to penalise the weary traveller. Surely for the sake of logic and safety the pit stop that is a service station should allow anyone feeling the need to rest the chance to do so. Weather they be venturing for work holiday or simply by nature the journeyman or woman is allowed not even enough for a night of purgatory sleep from a to b. Most places allow just 2 hours which for some isn’t even enough time to nod off. I just just returned from months of parking up close to the facilities of many random locations all allowing me the time I needed to refresh.
Title says it all really. Many months of time spent either living in a van or brief stays in places at the hospitality of others. (Thank you to you if you’re reading this – you know who you are).
70 shows across UK, France, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Poland, Czech Rep, Germany and the Netherlands.
Over 20,000 miles driven through valleys and over ridges. The Swiss and Austrian mountains were especially epic.
The tour started in the UK in Late June and finished back in the UK in Mid November. I was lucky to have little trouble with my tour van ‘Udo’; Only really once when the brakes nearly failed me on a mountain path while driving south in Italy. I was significantly worried but fortunately despite needing to use the fire hydrant to stop smoke coming from the tyres, I was able to get towed to a garage and change the pads.
Musically most of the shows were solo but every once in a while I would share the stage with a guest. Alain in France (above) and Zuzia in Poland (below) spring to mind.
Probably the most prestigious show of the run was at the Blue Balls festival in Switzerland where I shared the days billing with Damien Rice.
A rare glimpse for me into and overground music world. Nice to play to so many people.
And the least prestigious (in theory) were the intimate experiences of playing peoples house concerts (there were 3 on the tour). But to be welcomed into somebodies world for them to share your art with their friends and family is nothing but an honour.
My final shows in Mainland Europe were in the Netherlands with the help of a great guy called Thomas Bruger. I had some Dutch press too talking about my European run ending.
Once the 3 months of concerts around mainland Europe were finished I returned to the UK and continued the touring. Unfortunately I had 5 or my 40 UK dates cancelled which was F**king frustrating to be honest. I booked them all before I begun the tour and in the intervening months various bookings at many venues were changed or simply cancelled. What was most frustrating was that ALL the venues would not bother to contact me to let me know. As far as they were concerned I could just arrive and be disappointed. This remains a total nightmare for me and is pretty much something that remains prominently a UK problem.
Despite this I was able to keep busy and turn a profit on the UK side of things and the European side. A large amount of this had to do with selling my CD’s and Vinyl LP’s. All of which can of course be ordered from here:
Digital from Here: https://stuartoconnor.bandcamp.com/
This years touring also saw the Re-release of 2 albums which had previously been sold out.‘Go’ and ‘Bright’ were re-issued on CD.
Touring remains a sometimes stressful and often challenging way to get my music out there. Many folks I’m sure achieve the kind of success that commercially surpasses mine without leaving there computer. But for me to focus my time on spreading my music by being a Facebook warrior seems like I would be missing a major point. To tour is to literally follow where the music takes me and in my short 10 years on the road it has allowed me to circle the globe 5 times. I can be sure I have learnt more by logging out and looking up. This way has given me a wealth of experience which was otherwise alien to be and has sent me creatively in directions I would never have considered. In one of my final shows of the tour a well known producer came to me and bought a vinyl stating that he deeply respects what I do because I am a true touring musician. This deeply moved me coming from someone with such a wealth of the touring/music world.
As always my awareness of my missioning possibilities is that is has only happened because of so many. The selfless who help me in so many ways. Wonderful people who extend a hand and offer accommodation or utilities or encouragement or food or guidance or knowledge or support in any way.
Thank you. From the bottom of my over-entitled stubborn-as-hell heart. THANK YOU.