Blog: Jules’ Summer Juicing Journals (Summer 2010)

Oxford takeaway

12th June 2010 | Juliet

Sometimes in life you just don’t get what you ordered. So I waited and waited (in the takeaway restaurant) and still no food came.

The band were watching the football in the dressing room. “Sit down,” said the waitress.  I obeyed for a bit, and then got bored. “It’s fresh,” assured the owner of this Lebanese a few doors down,  and still I waited. Wandered about a bit, lurking, chatting to the diners, who luckily had every fantastic zingy type food – which they offered – pickled chili here, splash of wine, dab of houmous, foraging here and there, and then suddenly an hour later, the takeaway was ready for take off.

It wasn’t what we ordered, the lamb was  random, but they made do back in the dressing room ‘cos the footie was on and that was all that mattered. World Cup UK-USA score 1-1. But of course you all know that.

Meanwhile, Saul had been locked in on the bus by Mia, his young daughter. Magically she had found the master switch that locked down all the doors. Saul was not only missing, he was captive on the bus. Only one thing for it, to wake the driver from his essential hours and get out and get on the stage.

The show was at an intimate little venue, the O2 Academy, and downstairs the big screen was showing the match. The gig started later than usual, for England anyway, so that the match could be watched by fans (and the band). Dust Motes was the opener, as seen and heard on the new mini-album. So the Oxford audience, you heard it first live.

Meanwhile I was backstage grappling with the new juicer, purchased specially for the summer from the budget of Things Necessary. A lack of carrots meant a new combination was in order, and it went something like this: 2 huge bunches of celery, a ton of apples, and even more generous than usual chunk of ginger root, and then limes…the effect was pale green, pungent and exciting on a warm evening in UK summer in the South… Andy said it was the best juice yet, which was nice. Anyway the task of dismantling and washing the monster juicer was mine, and it took time scrubbing and coaxing it back into its packaging…like a jack-in-a-box that wont stay down.

The encore was gonna be Lullaby and Top of the World, or Sometimes and Laid. The audience got to choose. Cheers were pretty level for both options but as the slower Lullaby combo got a few boos thrown in so Sometimes and Laid won.

There was a lightning aftershow of friends and family running round in the dark yard at the back of the venue trying to find  people.  Then it was a rush to London hotel so the bus driver could get his quota of hours rest in before a sharp start in the morning. It was even more of a rush for the crew to take the gear down and catch that night ferry to Isle of Wight. It was tight but they made it…just.

We clocked in to London hotel in the small hours, looking forward to a quick sleep before heading off for the lunchtime ferry to the Isle of Wight…

Sharing a bed with Status Quo

13th June 2010 | Juliet

Some bands don’t get a tour bus. Some bands have their own bus. Some bands have a bus for each member. Some bands use the same bus all the time. Some bands have favourite bunks. Some bands don’t care. Usually it’s double decker bunks, sometimes it’s triple. Some people like up top, some like to be near the ground.

And today and yesterday, this band has the bus usually used by Status Quo, with its two double bedrooms and private TVs.  A novel situation, a new line up. How to arrange it? Well by now it’s sorted and today, Sunday, Mia’s in the large back lounge. She has taken the biggest bed on board. It’s king-size and the usual residence of Francis Rossi. Mia is settling down to watch Toy Story.  Some of her entourage (family and friends) sit in with her.  But she’s too busy for small talk. The movie is a good one. Saul organises her drinks. She is using a Volvic bottle to sip her milk. This means that there could be a shortage for tea etc but our helpful driver keeps the fridge topped up for her during the weekend.

Downstairs, Ana, Mia’s mother, demonstrates how to use the pineapple cutting machine she has brought me from Portugal.  She cuts the top off and with a deft screwing action produces a whole mass of perfectly formed pineapple. It’s like a miracle.  We are amazed.

After a swift half-hour ferry crossing, a short drive to the festival site follows.

The dressing room is the language lab classroom/Portakabin of Medina School, which now houses leopard skin armchairs and chaise longue and it works. On the wall is a poster explaining why learning German is easy.  There are so many words that overlap, for instance book/buch. That’s supposed to whet the appetite for learning.  Think I will stick to the Greek for now.

There’s an interview with Absolute Radio and a performance of Out To Get You. On the way back to the language labs, Saul’s son Vincent convinces the driver of the golf cart that he can drive (indeed he drove the tour bus only last year), but then he crashes the cart into a fence. No fatalities. No scratches.

Tim goes off into the Big Top to watch Cockney Rebel, one of the first live bands he ever saw. Some of the band are plodding the fields in the sun watching the main stage, others are resting in the language lab. Dave is lifting weights. Mia is flat out on the chaise longue recharging her energies for the show…

I am back in another windowless, strange, bathroom, taking apart the juicer and washing it in a sink that’s too small.  A bloke comes in with his guitar. “Oh I think it’s the ladies,” I say. Anyway he asks if its Ok to warm up and so I get an unplugged guitar recital from someone famous. Music to wash juicers by…

Later as I am hoisting a cheese platter across a field I hear Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da and quite get into that catchy little ska beat. Hmm I wonder about the roots of that song……….must Google it and you may do so too..  But back to my tasks . ..The Long and Winding Road….oh yes, that song…

And before long the band go on stage.  The band launched with Come Home.

Dave describes what happened next.  “Right at the end of the song I heard a bang, and noticed my fan slowing down to stand-still. I thought the cameraman had accidentally kicked the power board for the fan. I noticed Jim taking off his bass. It was a lot more serious than I first thought. My tech Nick told me everything had gone off.  We left the stage to give our techies room to rush about finding the cause of the problem.  After not too long, power was restored and we went on to rebuild the lost momentum.”

Jim put it like this:  “After running out of electric, a 50p was found and off we went . We were a little unsettled by the power cut and I think it took a few songs to get into the swing of things. ‘Sometimes’ and ‘Bells’ helped us find our feet and were followed by The Morning After’s ‘Dust Motes’, a fragile, uncertain beauty. We ramped up the end and finished on ‘Sound’ and ‘Laid’.  Overall a very positive experience.”

And then its back on board the bus to get the ferry in the small hours, back to Portsmouth and on to London. Wake up in north London and gather ourselves to leap out in a place where tour buses cant stop.  Has Vincent made it to school in time we wonder?

Dave and Larry insist I take the out-sized tropical spray of flowers that Vincent brought from the dressing room for his mum. With two suitcases and a bouquet of the rainforest I wished like an Indian god, for an extra pair of arms, or three..

Now we are sitting in the sun outside Euston drinking Illy and waiting for trains.. I have the flowers on the table vaseless, looking like stolen goods, wilting in the early morning London sun.

Back home a week later, the king-sized tropical rainforest bouquet is alive, well, as alive as cut flowers can be, and made it home on two trains. They shed just one orange Bird of Paradise on the table of the Pendolino…

Coming home, I poured some apple juice (from a carton , please note) into the water and they seemed to cheer up. Top tip: flowers like fruit juice in their water…try it…

If Noddy and Big Ears went on tour

17th July 2010 | Juliet

If Noddy and Big Ears went on tour, they would travel in the jolly big red bus we went to Latitude on.  It has a retro feel with lots of leather bouncy seats, and yellow writing on the side saying ‘VIP’ and ‘Touring’…  It’s not like an ordinary bus somehow, and is impossible to date as it has a novelty short number plate.  Rumour has it that Metallica’s crew were on it recently.  Jimmy reckons it belongs to Showaddywaddy…

We settle down to watch Peep Show, Rainbow Rhythms.  And off we all go to Latitude, meeting in London and going to the big park of cultural delights in sunny Suffolk.

Andy is already there for the weekend and loving the festival spirit.

On arrival there is a signing to be done and some of the band go, sit down in a huge tent and say hello to lots of shiny happy people.  We rush down to the lake to catch a taste of Swan Lake on the Lake… We get lost and see nothing but people and fields before it’s time to head back and do things.

“It’s a great gig , one of the best in ages,” says Tim.  He continues, “Festival gigs have so many variables that it’s impossible to be consistent; Is it raining ?  Do the audience know you ? Whats the sound like with no soundcheck ?  Lights ?

“I tend to go for a more conservative set list in these situations.  We had to drop Sit Down as the walking through the audience opener, because the radio mic wouldn’t pick up in the field.

“So we opened with Bubbles and from a minute in I knew we could do no wrong and it would be a great gig. Funny that. You can just feel that everything and everyone is in the right space. One of my favorite festival gigs in years.”

It’s all go, and soon after the performance, Tim is on again… this time to the poetry tent. All aboard we zoom via golf cart to the poetry tent.  Out the back of the tent is John Cooper Clarke having a chat, and we get a view of the lake. It’s beautiful – hot, sunny and green in these fields.

Tim reads some poems for about fifteen minutes.  The subjects vary.  One of them is a story about near drowning and another about the Burning Man Festival. It’s Tim’s first reading like this. There’s a backdrop of pulsing music coming from somewhere else in a field nearby.

Tim says, “The ‘Poetry’ reading was also easy. Didn’t feel nervous at all. Most of my pieces I have written in the last year are mainly autobiographical scenes.

“Because it was my first reading I have no idea how it went for the listeners. I am loving writing at present and will follow where it leads.”

Suddenly it’s all go again; time to leave the site, all aboard the magical red bus which does have bunks and a jolly layout. There’s a bit of snoozing and a bit of wine drinking going on. Two glasses of red wine shoot up in the air as we go over some bumps. Interesting suspension…

Larry has decided to stay at the festival and was last seen heading off with his suitcase on wheels with Ali Hudson and Joe Duddell, to who knows where. Rumour has it he is camping…

The rock ‘n roll yaya of Yoannina [sic]

22nd July 2010 | Juliet

Ioannina (pronounced yo-a-nina) is in northern Greece, and we have a three hour wait in Athens for the connecting flight, our third flight of the day.  It’s a very small plane and it’s a short hop, but eventually we find ourselves, as the evening draws in, at the most beautiful hotel, with deluxe full-size swimming pool, and a Greek feast laid on for everybody – crew, band, promoters, and everyone – two huge tables laid.  There’s food piled high enough for a Greek wedding where the whole town are invited….if only they were… we cant even scratch the surface of this feast…  We eat , sleep, and then it’s a morning of swimming and chilling.

Tim has had a bad neck, possibly quite serious, so I set to work with the wonders of shiatsu.  Things seem to improve.
Then off to soundcheck held in the amazing castle grounds.  Beautiful lake scene in front of the stage, lush gardens and landscapes.  But the air is thick and hot like there is a storm brewing.  The soundcheck is long, and it’s very hot.

Giorgos the organiser takes a few of us for a guided tour of the castle grounds.  We check out the guitar maker who is working on a guitar for Larry, engraved in Greek with the words “play something, anything”…  There are some fantastic black and white photos of the city showing life how it was last century, and a wall lined with photos of all the rock bands who have played here recently…

We go visit the mosque – an amazing ornate building with stunning views of the lake all round, and amazing painted ceiling like a mandala…  We head up the spiral staircase and mooch about up there enjoying the cool of the stone.

Then it’s another feast, served on a long wooden table.  Briam, which is courgettes, potatoes, aubergine and tomatoes cooked for a long time in olive oil. Greek salad, tzatziki, courgette and feta fritters, and some meat things, Greek specials…

In the afternoon, Larry, Saul and Ana, and Giorgos get on a boat headed for the island in the lake. It’s the second largest inhabited island in a lake apparently and is charming. On their way, a huge thunderstorm takes over the skies.  Not boding well for an outdoor gig.  But the skies clear and somehow the bakingness of the heat lets up..

There’s some more swimming action back at the hotel, some Pilates strengthening exercises, and then everyone is ready to go.

The dressing rooms are like caves at the back of the stage. Cool and humid.

The show gets going…there’s some great projections on the castle walls, little films of a dancing figure flickering to the right of the stage.

On the front row, James notice an older lady next to the crash barrier right at the front in front of Jim.  Her head is just peeping over the top.  Smiling throughout, she really gets rocking on Sound.  She’s flanked by young women either side, maybe her relatives.

With the help of the Greek men and security, I get her back stage to meet the band. Turns out she is 82, a widow who lives in the castle grounds.  She has come on her own…NO she did not pay to get in, a gatecrashing granny… And how did she get to the front, I ask her.  She demonstrates with her elbows how she did it….

Giorgos says he knows her; she comes to all the concerts…Whitesnake , Metallica etc …this yaya rocks..

Then the mayor comes into the dressing room, and she arranges the band and the mayor around for a picture…the photographers have arrived.  She has a glass of wine with everyone in the band and shakes their hands. ‘Yamas,’ the glasses are raised…

Minoan snake goddesses and prehistoric teletubbies

24th July 2010 | Juliet

After a short flight on the tiny plane from Ioannina, there’s a long wait in Athens airport.  Then another short hop to Crete. We arrive at Kazantzakis airport, Heraklion, Crete, in early evening.  It is named after the famous Cretan writer and philosopher Nikos Kazantzakis, who is best known outside of Greece for  ‘Zorba the Greek’.

By the time we get to Crete it’s early evening, and we check into the retro-for-real 70’s hotel.  Larry heads straight to the roof-top pool, finds it locked, climbs out his balcony, over the air-conditioning monsters, and still determined, goes skinny dipping.

We crew and band are whisked away for a real Cretan evening, in the village that won an award for its charms.  However due to nightfall, we don’t see its charms.  The restaurant served endless heavy food, best suited to shepherds who haven’t eaten since last Christmas.  A Blumenthalesque brown dish, along the lines of pork with porridge, included.  Anyway there is plenty of Greek salad….

On the way back to Heraklion, we turn off the bus aircon and let mountain air float in… The scent of oregano and thyme takes over.  Yes, we are in Crete.  The largest island in Greece.  The long thin island with the massive mountains right through it…

Next day I wander through town, bright and early, up to Lion Square where the fountains are.  It buzzes at night, but it’s pretty quiet this Saturday morning.  There’s some Cretan music flowing out of the CD shop just behind the hotel, a reminder that despite the Zaras and Diesels of the street, that due to geography, there’s a totally different beat going on around here… check out that Rembetika.

The gig is at the Pankritio sports stadium. A concrete contrast to the rough and rumbling walls of Ioannina Castle. Here, everything is straight line brutalism at its most functional. It’s 40 degrees, the hottest day of the year so far.

After soundcheck, there is another feast laid out on the long tables. Straight up traditional, simple food. Tzatziki, salad, courgette and feta fritters, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed courgette flowers, optional chicken on the grill, and chips… Everyone is happy vegetarians and all…  The lid stays firmly on the juicer’s box.

Later a quick visit to the Archaeological museum to check out the ancient Minoan stuff which is very stylish.  Tim likes the Minoan snake goddess, and goes as far as buying a statue of her. She holds a snake in each hand and seems to have an owl on her head… I like the bloke with the poppy pods antennae sticking out of his head.  A sort of early Teletubby in clay. I make a note to find out more about the Minoans. I know they made good art and liked leaping over bulls and doing gymnastics, and the goddesses wore interesting cut-away gowns, and the frescos show people with avatar-like eyes on the sides of their heads… but the rest is a mystery.

We go for a walk in search of sunglasses, then with yet more fuel required, I remember Loukoulos, the restaurant in the groovy part of town where the tablecloths are white and starched, but the wood oven produces top tastes.

Then the gig.  Andy is wearing a different robe to yesterdays.  Gold/Silver Sun Ra/Moon Ra, who knows?  After the first set Saul went to the mike and led 3,000 Greek fans in a ‘Happy Birthday’ for Larry.  Then they played Alaskan Pipeline … “Two minutes into the song, there was still a bit of tumbleweed going on,” said Larry….”it was a first time playing live.”

Then there’s a choice of two cheesy nightclubs to go to, ‘Envy’ or ‘Desire’.  Said  Larry, “I chose Desire over Envy, as a much more desirable sin.”  There was birthday cake and most of the band and crew were there.  A  long night of drinking and dancing followed, apparently.

I am taking a local bus to the deep South in the morning, across the oregano and thyme scented mountains, to the bluest sea where the wind comes in from Africa…

The morning after… some of the band are heading east to Elounda for a few days…

“A person needs a little madness, or else they never dare cut the rope and be free.” – Kazantzakis

He said, she said

21st August 2010 | Juliet

Back by popular demand, for one night only…  Jim:

“My day started in the Highlands of Scotland, and gale force winds threatened the plane that would take me from Inverness to Gatwick.  The plane did take off, and I didn’t have to resort to plan B; car/train/tube/train/car equals eleven and a half hours.

“We hadn’t played together for four weeks, so an air of unease hung over the dressing room. Creating a set list was particularly fraught.

“But all was good.  We started with ‘Sound’, a beefy heavyweight that thumped its way across the filling field.  The set was sprinkled with new boys and old faves, with ‘Johnny Yen’ getting a rare outing.  The gig ended with a sing a long, a stage invasion, and a good time was had by all.

“We headed off on an overnight bus journey, dropping sleepy bunnies at various warrens.”

Jules, reporting from the field:

Beautiful Days Festival is in Devon.  It’s a long way from London, and there is lots of traffic hold-up and lots of caravans and campers with surf gear/boats etc attached to their vehicles.  Guess they’re heading to the sea and surf lands of the Southwest.

But we are heading to a field.  It’s a very jolly do all round, there are carousels with painted ponies going up and down on whirly poles, tents selling everything you forgot to bring back from India, the scent of incense and bonfires, and lots of smiley people wearing various colourful outfits; there are some wizard-like folk around too with big long beards and velvet cloaks.

Out in the field, there’s a high proportion of children in facepaint and realistic animal masks scampering about, and a tent for tea and sympathy in case it all gets too much.  Some grownups in American Indian headdresses, lots of colour and plenty of dressed up stilt-walkers, …..the old school festival spirit is strong.   Catering is vegetarian/vegan and recycling is clearly marked.  All makes for a good festival eco feeling.

On the hill there’s sheep in the field too.  For them it’s business as usual but with a background beat of reggae coming from somewhere, not sure where.

After dark out in the field there is a spectacular fire show of jugglers twirling fire around their bodies leaping and whirling against the backdrop of two giant wood-weave sculptures (burning man-esque?) of humanoid foxes, one playing the banjo, the other a fiddle.  The band on the main stage is New Model Army and now it’s time for James to get ready and do their set…

All Wizards and Fairies

28th August 2010 | Larry

What a fabulous week-end!  Started late on Thursday night with people congregating at my place well before midnight.  Wine was drunk, Rembetico clips on Youtube were watched and the driver picked us up just after 12 to rendezvous with the shandy drinking Southerners who were lurking at a truck stop on the far flung outskirts of  Manchester.

Woke up in the back of ‘beyondaberdeenshire’ where the height of culture was the church hall cafe!!!

Before we took the stage I witnessed the Peatbog Faeries do their thaang, ‘jock n roll’  . . . . and bloody good fun it was too.  As we left the dressing room the heavens opened and proceeded to firmly dampen the Faerie-enlivened crowd, the poor sods, but as it turned out, nothing could stop these Highland hardnuts from having an absolute blast, and sheltered from the storm we had a blast too.

Overnight to the Solway Firth.

Colourful, chilled, and fancy-dressed to the nines, Solfest was a lovely festival, surrounded as it was by the sea, Cumbrian hills and the Scottish lowlands.  I met up with my step daughters and my four step-grandkids, who had been here since Friday afternoon, camped by a lake in the quiet family field.

The kids delighted in showing me the sights and all the funky drums and other objects that they had crafted that day.  We watched anarchic puppet shows (friends of Mr Diagram’s), the strongest lady in the world, and chilled to some reggae; we walked on stilts, had hay fights and eat our fill of deliciously organic allsorts.

The Saturday night crowd gathered to watch the Wailers stir it up and the stage was set for us.  What a great show it turned out to be.  For me it was the most enjoyable of a summer of magical festival gigs.  We were joined on stage by a veritable rag-bag of madly costumed folk – bananamen, clowns, Bob the rock lobster, and an illuminated, stilted fairy who appeared to be plugged into the national grid.

I waved the bus bye-bye at about 2am and wandered back to the festival, where with family and friends, I laughed, played, danced and indulged through till Monday, when our crusty crowd of contented kids convoyed home through the Lakeland sun to Manchester, where a bath and a comfy bed lay waiting.


Absolute Bingley

4th September 2010 | Larry

It’s Friday and Jim and I are travelling down to London to record an acoustic session for Absolute Radio.  Geoff Lloyd who is a big James fan wanted his ‘Hometime’ audience to hear the new album straight from the horse’s mouth so to speak, a couple of nice versions of Crazy and Dust Motes were highlights for me.  Then back home in time for tea.

Next day and once again we are all assembled at my place to drive en masse across the Pennines to the wilds of Bingley.  We pass the world famous Mumtaz curryhouse in Bradford, whose fans include The Queen, Shilpa Shetty, Amir Khan and Dawn French among many others, my god the size of the place!!  As they have extended it numerous times over the years it has now engulfed almost half of Great Horton Road.  Not long after this we are in leafy Bingley and being told to turn around drive back up the hill and ask ‘H’arthur where to go, Arthur obliges and we wind down a little lane and Myrtle Park opens up before our eyes, and close on 15,000 revelers eating burgers and cold beer (seemingly the only refreshments on offer, not your typical festival!!) are watching Reef in the tree-lined natural amphitheater of the park.

Backstage John Lydon is doing his usual party piece of slagging everyone and everything off including Reef, “they sarnd like the fakkin Doobie bravvers” he proclaims from the open window of his portakabin to anyone within earshot, which, with his vocal chords, is quite a few.  Some wag suggests he goes and sells some more butter and everyone chuckles to themselves.

A challenging set list is produced and we take the stage somewhat early for a festival headliner at 7.40!!!?  Well it is a council run event and they don’t want the peace of sleepy Bingley disturbing much after 9pm for fear of losing votes I guess.  The crowd were fabulous and listened intently to the new stuff and older slow songs (Out To Get You was turned into a mass singalong which amazed us) and then danced with arms aloft to the more familiar tracks.  A great gig all in all and a nice way to round off a fun and festival-filled few months of summer, next stop Florida :-) see you there.



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