Tour Diaries: Elles Bailey - part two; going south
We've been on a trip to the North of England with Elles in part one of her tour diaries, now we're following her south as she gets back on the road.
Today's a big day as we are heading east down the M4 to film and record an "Under the Apple Tree" session for Bob Harris. I'm not gonna lie... my voice is a bit ropey as I have been fighting a bug... but the show must go on! We are recording in the studio, that's under an apple tree in his garden. We arrive to smiles, big welcomes and get invited into the kitchen. Tea arrives from Miles, who records the sessions, and we meet Trudie his mum who is busy planning the AMA-UK award ceremony the following week. Both have spent a lot of time in Nashville and we have quite a few American friends in common so it's great to catch up and I'm immediately feeling way less nervous.
We go down to the studio, get set up and start recording the hardest track we are doing today... the cover... ! We were asked by Miles to record a vintage track that has inspired us, and as I had already decided to play my track 'The Girl Who Owned The Blues' written about Janis Joplin, it made sense to cover a Joplin song! So today we are covering 'Me and Bobby McGee' written by Kris Kristopherson (whose keys player Bobby Wood also played keys on my new album) that was a huge hit for Miss Joplin! Thank God it's not a live session... this is the one we muck up a few times... I get the lyrics wrong, Joe misses a couple of chord changes.... oh dear ... not great when Bob is sitting in the corner having a listen!! But finally get it recorded (4th time lucky) and move onto 'Wildfire', my new single ... this is much easier and after a quick test of levels we get this one down. Then it's onto 'The Girl Who Owned the Blues' with me playing keys. First time lucky ... easy stuff- I mean we do play it a lot though so it should be easy! After the session we head back to the house for more tea and a good chin wag with Bob and Miles. All in all a great session (despite the few false starts on Bobby McGee ) now it's back to Bristol but the traffic's awful. Four hours and one migraine later and we finally get home.
Today I'm in the studio putting some backing vocals on a few new tracks. I'm pretty tired but at least the migraine has gone. Clint Murphy is engineering the session and I have roped my good friend Will Edmunds, co-writer on some of the songs, to sing. The tracks come out great and I'm looking forward to sharing in due course.
Today's the warm up date for the Jo Harman "People We Become" tour in Essex .... and it's sold out! So we head east along the M4 again... (we are gonna be doing this a lot) and after a three and a half hour journey we make it to The New Crawdaddy Club. I'm not gonna lie... I'm slightly nervous, although it's such a privilege to open for someone on their tour it's often more scary than your own tour, as you are playing to a crowd of people who may not know anything about you. We are also playing a stripped back set, with no drums and no room for mistakes.
However this crowd is a lovely bunch, listening, into it, clapping at the right points. High five to Essex! The set goes swimmingly. We stay for all of Jo's show, an eight piece band playing her new album recorded in Nashville and it's totally beautiful. Such a pleasure to be a small part of it! We stay around after, sell loads of merch then head west back home. 3.30am arrival... sleep!
Day six and seven
So over the last year, in between busy touring schedules, I also made writing a priority and have been writing with my mate Will (same Will as above!). To me songs are all about the stories and I'm always trying to hone my writing skills. Will and I decided we should showcase a lot of our new music at The Gallimaufry in Bristol, one of my favourite small venues in Bristol. But as a lot of the tracks haven't been gigged yet... there was a lot of practice needed!
Jan 31st Will comes over to mine and we spend the day working on our harmonies before Joe comes over on the 1st to work on guitar parts.
Feb 1st... the day of the show. All I can say is never practice the day of a gig. Will, Joe and I start rehearsing at 12pm and finish at 7....all totally exhausted before having to play the show. I guess we thought that as we had written the tunes that we would know them well. Well, after seven hours of rehearsal we finally did.
It's always scary playing new music, hoping that the fans will like the tunes. But the Gali always brings in a friendly bunch and the show was a success. I really enjoyed showcasing some new and slightly different songs, stylistically and was great to perform the music we have been working on.
Back on the road opening for Jo Harman and today we are heading south down the M5 to Exeter. I'm even bringing my hubby down to this show aka driver/tour manager/ merch man/ groupie ;)
We arrive around 6pm for soundcheck at The Phoenix and it's a lovely gem of a venue; very much theatre style.
At 7.45 the doors open and folks flock in... it's another full house! Nerves flutter a bit in my stomach as I peak around the curtain at the crowd and take a cheeky picture! 8pm and it's showtime!
All I can say is what a lovely audience, they listened hard, interacted and enjoyed. A pleasure to play for... they even laughed at my bad jokes! Our set ends, there's an interval then Jo performs a blinder of a set; honestly she is a powerhouse and a pleasure to watch. Her show ends and we hang at the merch table. I love this part when you get to meet the people you have played for.
11pm pack down and head for home..... via McDonald's.... oh man tour diet is really not going well! #musttryfindsomeselfcontrol I also got a ride on the pepper pig car by the door of the services....it was underwhelming!
Get home pretty late as usual but have a few days off tour to do some recording! So I'll sign off here and pick back up when we head of to Dorchester.
You can find out more about Elles and her music on her website.