American band Blues Traveler have a great name, as it is symbolic of what a lot of bands do, traveling with their Blues, even if the name isn’t spelt in the English way…. The Mark Handley and the Bone Idols video above refers to one reason travelling Blues bands can get the Blues.
Reading more of the news on the home page of Blues Matters website right now shows upcoming tours from Joe Satriani/Dan Patlansky (November), Paul Lamb and the Detroit Breakdown (May/June) and Joanne Shaw Taylor (September/October).
Similarly, The Billy Walton Band are in the UK for dates in April/May and again in June. Even as these international tourists come to the UK, the UK persistently sends its Blues exports to Europe, a charge led by the likes of The Cadillac Kings, The Sharpees, and Laurence Jones.
It can be interesting comparing notes on the experiences of bands from different countries while travelling. Recent conversations with US acts suggest a leaning on the part of American audiences not to travel too far, whereas UK audiences from Kent happily head to Yorkshire, and vice versa. So it was possible to see many a familiar face at both the Broadstairs Blues Bash in February and the earlier Great Rock and Blues Festival (Blues Matters stage included) at Skegness in January.
What do musicians need to travel successfully? One of John Mayall‘s tour companions confirmed, “His harmonica’s! He never tours without them, and enough blank set lists for the tour, as he writes new sets out every night and he never plays the same set twice.” John has a very busy 2014 tour schedule, with more dates being added.
Billy Walton is on record as saying his essential tour items are Jack Daniels bourbon and duct tape. Whereas Bill Mead of The Sharpees, who have two travelling songs on recent album Mississippi Thrill, says, “A passport is a big plus! And enough Euros to get though toll roads and to buy diesel!”
Speaking to one veteran performer recently, the rise in parking restrictions – talked about far less than the rise in noise limitations on venues – is an issue for performers. Parking up to unload and finding double yellow lines where there were none before or small parking control vehicles with camera periscopes is hardly ideal for bands who need to move gear and not face fines.
So, even with petrol prices fallen (but creeping back up), it is a tricky time for Blues Travellers. No wonder promoters The Wrinkly Rockers Club are so wrinkly, though thankfully the acts they put on aren’t, notably with Gravesend seeing Virgil and the Accelerators and Loose Moorings on 1st May and The Mentulls and The Rainbreakers on 15th May, all travelling a good deal to play – details here. The Wrinklies big event of the year follows with their Bluesrockfest headlined by Chantel McGregor on 4th July.
Meanwhile, many a Southern UK act will head North this summer, such as The Laura Holland Band and Andy Twyman. Andy says his essential tour items are, “My iPhone, with Jerry Lee Lewis’s discography, and Werthers originals!” Both are to appear at the Great British RnB Festival in Colne. Perhaps the most eclectic choice of tour items goes to Don Craine of The Downliners Sect, who takes, “All the lists from the last few years of sets. You always have an idea of what you want but places and audiences are different and so are set durations. I like to mull these over in hotel rooms, before playing. I also take books – The Rubbaiyat of Omar Khayyam and Aleistair Crowley’s Book Of Lies.”