We politely asked Bristol blues-country-rocker Elles Bailey if she'd be interested in sharing her experiences on the road with us, she said yes. That's what happens when you ask nicely. These are her notes from a long tour, covering Leeds, Skegness, burgers, dog poo and sharing beds.
The glamour, the excitement, a dream come true......
Great - Both Zak (our bass man) and I have stepped in dog poo whist packing the van. What a great start to a 34 date tour!!
When touring I often get asked my favourite place I've travelled to, and my worse. Honestly I don't really know, as we often arrive in the dark and then leave in the dark. I'm sure this will sound familiar with touring artists. This first gig is no different.
It's a three hour drive from Bristol, in rain and mist - and a standard January journey - to The Tipsy Toad in Matlock, a cosy yet vibey venue that's only been open five weeks. And we are the first band. Thankfully it's a full house - amazing crowd and lovely team working there! Ok... so after the dog poo incident tour is looking up!
I'm always blown away by the hospitality and the generosity of the folks that put us musicians up when we are on the road. Massive shout out to Lyn (& Mike) for promoting the show, and putting us up (aka putting up with us) for the night and well into the next day. So after being spoilt rotten with cooked breakfasts, lunch and home comforts ... we are on the windy road again, heading north to Harrogate whist enjoying the beautiful sunset across the peaks.
Harrogate is a beautiful town, easy to tell even though we arrive, as usual, in the dark and have a wander around before heading to the venue (The Blues Bar) to get some food before the show. An exceedingly tasty burger I must say (spoilt). Sadly we have a very poorly Joe (our guitar man) who can't eat his, so Zak and Rich make the most of the food going begging. But like the trooper he is, the show must go on. It was a totally full house, I had to fight my way to the stage and the crowd was electric! A great night had by all.... well almost all, Joe just about survived it :-) After packing down the gear we headed into Leeds to stay at The Duck and Drake - our next venue! Hit the sack at 1.30 and bonus - I got a room to myself .... the boys are sharing!
I decide to stay in bed until... midday! Oh the bliss of a lazy morning whilst on tour. I do get really tired so I try and make sure I get a good nights rest. The boys are already up and about, taking in Leeds. So I finally get up and find them. Basically we just hang out taking in the beautiful multi-cultural town of Leeds. Thankfully Joe is feeling much better and back to his usual jokey self. I'm in desperate need of a hat having stupidly left all of mine in Bristol (a hat is a Bailey stage staple) but I manage to pick one up for a £1! Bargain!!! Being on tour is about living on as little money as possible - having to buy a hat for stage, when I have perfectly good ones at home - really is an unnecessary expense. But a pound... that's the ultimate bargain and now I have another hat to add to the collection.
We head back just as it's getting dark to get fed and ready for the show. Soundcheck all done and it's another night of fighting my way to the stage! All I can say is the north definitely know how to party. Another great crowd! Thank you Leeds.
So today's the day - it's time to go to Butlins! Another lazy morning for us all and we don't get on the road until almost two. We arrive in Skegness just after four and as usual it's getting dark... too late for any kind of "ooo I made to the beach" selfies or what not.
We head into the main arena, and I see a huge stage... What I think is the main stage... with a jam packed audience and a cracking band rocking out! I then see the big sign saying "Introducing stage" and realise that in fact this is where we are playing - spot on.
There's enough time before we play to take in the festival and say hi to some folks. Especially nice to meet Christine, the Editor from Blues Matters and Paul, Editor of Blues in Britain. We've talked a lot but never actually met so great to put friendly faces to the names.
7pm and we get on stage - not gonna lie- I love a big stage... It's great being able to really rock out! The Skeggy crowd are on fire, even though it's Sunday and they have already been partying for three days straight! But it's only a 45 min set so after teaching everyone how to sing my final track 'Howlin Wolf' it's time to finish, pack down, sign some CDs (yes they still exist even in this digital world) and hit the tarmac.
We get back on the road for the long drive home. Just outside of Lincoln we manage to see some golden M's glowing in the distance... yep you know what I'm talking about, and we stop to get dinner. Zak steps in dog poo as he gets out of the van! LOL!
It's a healthy lifestyle touring - a quick burger (Joe/Zak/Rich) another burger (Joe - he's definitely feeling better) a few chicken nuggets (sharing) , one Mcflurry (Me) and some clean shoes (Zak) and then we are back on the road again. We get back to Bristol at 1.45. In the morning. First leg of the tour done. Thank you Matlock, Harrogate, Leeds and Skegness, it's been a blast!
Tomorrow it's rehearsal time as we have a date with Bob Harris for an #UnderTheAppleTree session.
You can find out more about Elles and her music on her website: http://www.ellesbailey.com/