The Wall of Corn (and other stories)

I'm back at London HQ after a raucous, sleepless, music-filled few days down in Cornwall for another leg (toe?) of the ongoing Damp Vagrant UK Tour this summer.

Friday night was one of those last-minute chance happenings that ends up being a great gig followed by a whirlwind of burlesque dancers, gypsy-swing music, cabaret, and dancing in a barn until dawn. I wasn't sure before I turned up on the remote coastal farm whether that little private festival that I'd been booked at just a couple days before was actually going to exist, or whether I'd arrive to find one solitary and very stoned farmer demanding that I perform a private show for him in his barn. Thankfully, it was the total opposite. I resurrected an old version of Peter Green's 'Oh Well' at this gig that I hadn't played for ages, which reminded me how much of a genius that man was.

Saturday I met up with Lampliter in Penryn (oldest town in Cornwall, I'm told) for the show at Miss Peapod's. It was great to return to this fantastic, wind-powered venue on the water's edge; lovely people, brilliant sound (BOOM), and a warm crowd that wasn't afraid to let their best sea-shanty voices bellow out in unison for one of my new songs. The song has one line that is a bit of a nod to the shanty tradition, so in my head that line is sung by a hundred gruff-voiced, sea-beaten old sailors in some low-ceilinged Cornish pub in the early hours. I think we achieved something to this effect that night. Good job, Penryn.

Sunday saw me arrive in the beautiful St Agnes for the final gig of the week, after a pub lunch with wonderful people called Steve, Carmen and Liam Hunt. Had they not kindly offered to drive me the hour through Cornwall to get to St Agnes I would have been train and bus-hopping for god knows how long with all my gear. I am blessed to know such generous folks.

To my great surprise for a Sunday evening the Driftwood Spars was packed and no one seemed to protest or leave when I carried on playing for nearly two hours. The shanty-nod song rattled the roof. I stumbled my way through songs I thought I'd forgotten by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Paul Simon. And the whole thing happening with the sea sighing right there outside the door. Beautiful. Huge thanks go to Marianne Daysh for sorting the gig out and to her and Colin for being so hospitable and letting me rifle through their vast vinyl collection until the early hours.

Next up is Sunrise Celebration this weekend, which I'm looking forward to despite being completely unprepared for - camping gear? Nope. Tent? Nope. Wellington booties? No idea where they've got to. Oh Well. It will all fall into place I'm sure. Now I must go and practice through the set and tweak things around before realising it was fine in the first place and putting everything back to how it was.

Thanks for reading if you made it this far,

John x