Saturday 20 January 2018

The day gets underway with a live session and interview with Gerry Kelly on BBC Radio Ulster

NEEDLESS to say we’re starving when we wake up – a two blueberry muffins and a large dram was no substitute for dinner – especially at 1.30am after spending the evening in the hotel bar!

Premier Inn breakfast is good, but we don’t have too much time to hang around. We need to go and get the car and gear and load in at Black Box at 10am. Venue manager Neil is waiting for us a with coffee and I get my gear sorted out. Just after 11am a taxi to takes us to the BBC studios where producer Peter introduces us to presenter Gerry Kelly and the rest of the production team.

After a quick soundcheck we have (more) coffee then just after midday we’re live. Two songs – Got Me Electric and Good Friend Blues and a good chat. Gerry’s a great host and we have a blast before a taxi whisks us back to Black Box for soundcheck.

Engineer Barry has done my sound before and has everything under control well before doors open at 1.30pm. The black guitar’s playing up a bit – think there’s a duff connection in one of the battery boxes, but hopefully it’ll hold out for the show. I’ll get it into the guitar hospital next week.

Fantastic to get a chance to catch up with old school pal Gordon Richardson πŸ™‚

Backstage, I get changed and chill in the dressing room ’til showtime then hit the stage. The place is full and everyone seems out for a good time. A burst string puts the banjo aside ’til the second set and the enthusiasm from the crowd carries on through the afternoon. The black guitar holds out save for a couple of minor dropouts, we have a great time and there’s lots of chat and photos at the merch table after the show. 

Finally I get packed up and we load out just as the artists – Yola Carter and her band – load in for the evening slot.

We drop the car, go for some grub to a place nearby called Yardbird – not bad value and fills a hole, but my ribs are more ‘boiled’ than BBQ!

Back at the hotel we chill for half an hour then go round the corner to Black Box to see Yola Carter and her band. Our intentions to go right back to the hotel after her show…but a couple of bottles of wine and chat see us hang out for a while…then Cara, soundman Barry, festival mainman Sean, Margaret and I all go off to the pub. I think we get back to the hotel around 2am….

With BBC Radio Ulster’s Gerry Kelly

…onstage at Black Box for the Out To Lunch Festival…

Good to see our East Side Blues buddies

…Yola Carter and her band in the evening slot..

Monday 1 August 2016

Maiju, Juuso and Margaret by the Black River

Maiju, Juuso and Margaret by the Black River

AFTER A great night’s sleep and a long lie at Maiju and Juuso’s we have a nice relaxed breakfast and plan our day.

My August eNewsletter went out as scheduled, so I only have a little bit of work to do before we go out for a drive…our plan is to to visit the Black River and maybe catch up with our friends Jukka and Katja – Jukka, of course, is Black River Bluesman πŸ™‚

I fall asleep in the car and wake up in time for a walk and a beer. Jukka and Katja join us for Β drink then suggest we go to their house for something to eat. It’s only a few minutes away.

We enjoy a glass of wine outside then have an amazing meal – salmon, local mushrooms, salad, home-grown potatoes, desert. As we’re leaving Jukka shows me a lovely Gibson guitar which I try out…Margaret decides to do a Facebook Live Stream, Juuso joins in on some kind of weird stringed instrument and Juuka blows the horn of death metal and some trumpet….we have great fun – and a great laugh doing it!

Next stop is Maiju and Juuso’s summer cottage to visit her daughter Ada and husband Kristian. It’s lovely to see them. We hang out for a while then Juuso drives us back to Helsinki.

It’s nearly 11pm and we’re all starting to get a little hungry so Juuso and I go to grab some pizza and we eat, drink and chat….and other late one πŸ™‚

Amazing meal with Jukka and Katja at their home

Amazing meal with Jukka and Katja at their home..Maiju’s not in the pic – she’s behind the camera!



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