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.
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.
So the year has nearly made it’s way through it’s 1st month and I am beginning to find motivation and progress to bounce back from the Apathy that had overcome me.
I played my first show of 2014 in the Netherlands at the request of the lovely people I had met from previous years on the road.
To be invited to be a part of such a performance was the perfect pick me up that I could ask. Truth be told I was feeling low in confidence and such a gesture to bring me out to mainland Europe gave my music a sense of purpose at exactly the most valued of times. I will try not to get defeatist like I so often do.
The joy of returning to the road even briefly will not be taken lightly. I live for this 😀
But as for the immediate future???
Well I need to plan a lot. The tours do not book them selves and although the help that comes is vast and overwhelmingly appreciated I am getting myself back to the place that demands motivation.
First things first. I am in need of a new tour van. ‘Betsy’ who has taken me from Scotland to Poland and to many other places in-between is very much into her twilight years. The breakdown in Berlin last September was the final sign that things needed to change from here.
So the search is on.
As for new material…..Well to be honest there is little. After the MAMMOTH Release of Go Forth Bright Scenic back in 2012 I have been creatively stagnant. But this worries me not. Ideas will flow when they are ready and for now I think it’s a chance to step back from things and allow me to be whoever the prices allows. I am in a fortunate position where by I can embrace the space (so to speak).
I am still in disbelief of what a year I had in 2013. I know I go on but to say it again out loud is important because it all really happened. Just under 200 shows across UK, Netherlands, Germany, France, New Zealand, Japan, Italy, Poland & South Korea. Fucking bonkers frankly!!!!!!!!
I’m stunned. Thanks again to so many who jumped forth to support me. The list is massive.
Andrea & Luca in Italy, Nick in South Korea, Chieko and Shigeru and Wax and Go and Charlie and Justin in Japan. Karin and Geoff and sooooooo many folks in NZ; Thomas and Sonja and Rob in Netherlands, Monika in Poland. Shulfrie folks and Julie & Greta in Germany. Marylene and Panda in France.
Sooo many folks I’m missing I’m sure. So sorry. This list is longer than my brain scan.