Tuesday, 16 April 2013

My Will Oldham Story – part 3

“Man she’s really dragging this story out!” you might be thinking... but it’s amazing how a short trip to West Virginia can feel so epic.

I believe we left off here: After grabbing the guitars from Michael’s West Virginia Hall of Fame, we went to collect Rob and G at the airport.  They schlepped over from Los Angeles; the ice and snow of the Smoky Mountains was a complete culture shock for those California boys.

We were safely shuttled to the city centre where we visited a rockin’ pizza place called Pies and Pints http://www.piesandpints.net/ the guys crashed out because we had a big day to come.

** my pizza did not have meat on it! xx p

The following morning the Culture Centre welcomed us with open arms (and all-you-can-drink coffee).  Because me and Garo live in London and G and Rob live in LA we hadn't played together since the tour in October.  So we jammed in the dressing room for a couple of hours while Calexico http://www.casadecalexico.com soundchecked with all their wonderful warm mariachi brass and crazy percussion pit.  They don’t half put on a show!

I was running around with curlers in my hair trying not to get nervous, that all-you-can-drink coffee wasn't helping the nerves.  

Chatted to those nice chaps from Camper Van Beethoven for a bit... 

...and I got to meet Larry Groce http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Larry_Groce not only is he the lovely presenter of The Mountain Stage, but he was a pop a star in his own rite!  He had a hit with Junk Food Junkie http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLiVeRJTtqo and it was even covered by the Jackson 5 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWEe3IR58lw AND he wrote albums for Disney.  How cool is that?

So we do our gig and it was really great fun to play such a classy big venue, and to see a radio show recorded live and to see all the other performers.  The House Band was off the hook!  And we had the best seat in the house for the rest of the gig, just backstage on the left...In fact you can hear the Mountain Show, on NPR here:

Will Oldham’s set moved me to tears when he did a cover of the Loudon Wainwright song “Screaming Issue.” But I can’t tell you what a fan I am of Will Oldham already anyway... and he had such an intimidating air about him I didn't know how to act.  Rob said I was probably just making that up in my own mind.  Rob is probably right.  Maybe what seemed intimidating about him was just shyness or getting prepared in his own mind for his show to come.  He had very intense eyes and he barely said a word to anyone.  

My anticipation in the weeks building up to the Mountain Stage Session was magnified by how big of a Will Oldham fan I actually am.  I covered his song, ‘Ease down the Road’ on one of my Country Roadshow singles a few years ago.  In my mind I was going to meet him in West Virginia, give him the copy of the (now very rare) single where I covered his song, and he would love it... then we’d be new best friends.  He’d put me on his speed dial (if he even has a speed dial) and I’d be his quirky Kansas City via London gal pal.  We’d tour the world together; he’d sing with me, I’d sing with him.  My friendship fantasy grew and grew... Will Oldham was going to be my new best friend! 

Stay tuned for the final instalment of ‘My Will Oldham Story’
Do you think we are new best friends?  Vote now: yes/no...

Thursday, 11 April 2013

My Will Oldham Story - part 2

Right, so here’s part 2:  We dump our stuff at the Super 8 and go across the street to the grocery store to stock up on supplies.

By supplies I mean the stuff I get homesick for living in England.  I.e. S’mores-flavoured Pop Tarts, lemon meringue chewing gum, Lawry’s Seasoned Salt, Kraft Mac ‘n’ Cheese (yes the kind that comes in a box with the powdered cheese), Jello Pudding (all flavours), Jiffy Corn Bread Mix, a variety of hot sauces, Kool Aid (Black Cherry & Pink Lemonade flavours specifically), Peanut Butter Oreos... you get the picture.

After the big shop, we meet Adam from Mountain Stage and his lovely girlfriend Trish at the Mexican restaurant across the road and we heartily decide it’s ‘margarita-o’clock’ so get stuck in to chips, salsa, and salt-rimmed glasses of tangy lime tequilas.  We ordered extra queso sauce and I daresay we feasted.  

After being awake for 36+ hours we then passed out in a food-booze-queso-induced coma.  I have never slept so well.

The next morning super-sweet Jeff from Mountain Stage collects us to take us to The West Virginia Hall of Fame, it is here we meet Michael who kindly let us use some lovely, vintage guitars and we nosed around his Hall of Fame, which is basically a bunch of super cool West Virginia stuff!  http://www.wvmusichalloffame.com

Michael is also in a band, they’re called The Carpenter Ants http://www.carpenterants.wvmusichalloffame.com/ and wow were they good!  Great musicianship, wonderful singing, and just the kind of gospel-tinged, blues-oriented, riff-led,  country-rock you’d expect at the foot of the Smokies... After the Mountain Stage show we ended up at a The Empty Glass http://www.emptyglass.com where the Carpenter Ants were playing.  The bar girl gave my band free hot dogs which pleased G and Rob muchly!  I spotted there were a couple of girls in that bar that took a shining to my boys but they were obliviously chomping on their freelicious hot dogs... 

Ah!  But I digress, because this happened AFTER the Will Oldham encounter, and that’s why you’re reading this blog right?  Hmm... this is getting pretty long though, so stay tuned for part 3


Friday, 5 April 2013

My Will Oldham Story - part 1

Right, so for those of you who haven't been in the loop you may not be aware of the fact that I now have a 'Will Oldham Story'...

Yes he's a bit of a hero, right?  I mean, he's a strange, warped, twisted hero, but you can't deny he's an indie-rock-underground legend!

So I went to the Mountain Stage, in Charleston West Virginia and this is how the story goes.

Firstly, our flight was cancelled in the middle of the night, luckily I was online checking last minute e-mails before the trip to West Virginia to play NPR's famous Mountain Stage Sessions with an amazing line up!  We'll get to that in a minute.

So we literally hoof it straight to Heathrow at 2:00 AM in hopes they can put us on the next flight.  You see, because our flight was cancelled we would have missed the session!  It was tres stressful!

We hang around Heathrow for hours, fueled by large coffees, on the promise that they will get us on a flight, and they do!  Hurrah!

The flight is turbulent to say the least, there is a serious blizzard brewing below and there were times I wondered if the Mountain Stage was worth risking my life for... When we landed safely I kissed the earth, the terra firma that is my homeland - America awaited me.  We were in the nation's capital city of Washington DC and we had more hours to kill waiting for the 2nd flight.  Much to my delight there were burritos and tortilla soup in terminal C, and I utter the words "there is no place like home."  You see, Mexican food made by a Mexican person is in another league to this British Mexican food we get here in the UK, and that's true even in the airport.

We get on a tiny tiny plane, which requires bundling up and slipping out onto the runway where the salt and grit had melted the ice away in little pathways.

The plane felt like it was made by Playmobil.

We hadn't slept for 24 hours.  The view below was stunning and other-worldly, like a white-dusted, crazy quilt.  I felt like I was floating due to the lack-of-sleep, caffeine-fueled, post-Mexican-food, trance-like state I found myself in.  It was a beautiful way to see the Smokey Mountains, up high in the clouds with snow below.

Adam from the Mountain Stage was there to greet us and he was the epitome of Southern hospitality.  He took us to our Super 8 through the winding, snow-ploughed roads.  He was used to these conditions.  He runs the Mountain Stage dang it, and he's a Mountain Man, a little snow on the zig-zag roads left him nonplussed.

And we were there!  The city of Charleston welcomed us and that's where I'm going to leave you (until the next installment)

Here's a little video about the journey featuring a cover I did of Bonnie Prince Billy's "Ease Down The Road" - please check it out!

And watch this space for Part 2 of the story!