I made it to England and back in one piece. The big festival we played there was really wonderful, and the little mini-festival was fun in a more low-key sort of way. Here are some pictures to illustrate the experience.
We flew out of Dulles Airport, which required a six-hour drive from our meeting place in Abingdon, Va. We took off Wednesday night, arriving in London at 10 a.m. the next morning. We had some trouble locating our driver, who was to take us to the hotel, so for a couple hours we made ourselves at home in the middle of the floor in Heathrow's terminal one.
As soon as we got to the hotel, Rachel and I headed straight to the bar to get some lunch. There I enjoyed my very first Guinness of the trip. So what if it was only 9 a.m. in Nashville??
It's often the little differences that delight me the most when traveling abroad. This trip it was the milk that accompanied the tea/coffee tray in the hotel room. Instead of being powdered creamer like in the U.S., or even liquid milk in a little round foil-topped container, it was liquid milk in a tube. How cool!
Friday we played at Fairport's Cropredy Convention. Our driver, Martin Driver, picked us up and took us to the festival. Here we all are:
The stage was, I swear, like four stories tall. Just look at how Buddy and Rachel are dwarfed by it in the picture below. It was closed on three sides, so it was almost like playing indoors.
This was our view from the stage. I think there were about 20,000 people in the audience. I really would have needed a wide-angle lens to capture the whole thing. This is about a quarter of the crowd.
After our set we signed autographs for nearly an hour. In addition to CDs and programs we got to sign funny hats, a pair of rain boots (still on the girl's feet), the playing side of a CD, a beach ball that we had thrown into the crowd, the front of someone's jacket while he was still wearing it, and a twenty pound note (which felt really weird. Is that even legal??) Here's us after the signing in our stage duds:
The next day's gig was at the Face Bar in Reading. A van came and picked us up for the two-hour drive. The mini-festival, called Cold Dog Soup, had five bands. The banjo player from Amy Harrison and the Secondhand Stringband interviewed me for his website. He also brought me beer. (He clearly did his research about how to get on my good side!) I was a bit nervous about getting the beer back home, since I had to check it and it was in glass bottles, but I carefully packed each bottle in a sock and wrapped up the cardboard bottle carrier in a bunch of t-shirts that we'd brought to sell but didn't. All arrived home completely intact, to be enjoyed in the near future.
I met a couple Murphy Method students while there, which was cool. Overall the trip was too short and too busy. We didn't get a chance to see anything but the roads between the airport, hotels, and gigs. I take that back. Rachel and I did walk around Banbury one evening, and we went to see the movie Inception. (Wow.) Hopefully the next trip (whenever that might be) will be at a more leisurely pace. But we met some really nice people and got to play a huge festival, so overall: a success.