Tour – July 1999


The tour became reality following an approach by a UK promoter who liked my work. I knew it wouldn’t make me a million dollars but it allowed me to be seen somewhere other than Australia – whose industry at the time seemed to be about promoting only those few artists signed to a recording deal. Believe me, recording deals are not the utopia they are made out to be (in fact to date I’ve knocked back two!) and it is unfair that many artists who blindly sign their lives (and ‘profits’) away are constantly toted as being the “best” artists around whereas in reality this is not necessarily so. There are many reasons why artists sign deals – and it’s sometimes purely because they WILL.

I knew on this trip I would be placed on equal footing to any signed artist in Australia allowing me to be myself and not be hindered by any preconceptions drawn by the “touring artist’ syndrome. The band was to be myself, Martin (5 string Dobro), brother Rob (Bass) and friend Quentin Fraser (Guitar) but unfortunately for them, Rob and Quentin decided against it – and oh! what a pity. We decided to do the trip over a six week period – allowing us to enjoy some scenery and ‘time out’ between gigs and of course meet up with some old friends, and enjoy it we did.

We arrived in London and took a train to Edinburgh where we spent some time in Scotland with best friend Fran who is currently in the UK on a working trip. Whilst there however we did some interviews on Scottish radio and saw some beautiful sights – including Edinburgh and her castle, Holyrood Palace, St Abbs head (generally sheep and mist were all that was on offer there!) and caught some great music at the Jazz & Blues festival (Quentin eat your heart out!!). Then it was back down to Kent to meet our promoter Alan, my support act (a great young singer Niki Dean, who has a great future ahead of her!) and our guitarist – Rufus Ruffell. Our first gig was in Southport at “Our Lady of Lourdes” Club and they were a great listening audience and considering it was a fairly ‘acoustic’ sound (without a rhythm section) I was surprised that it held their attention so well knowing they were used to hearing a full band. From here we travelled to Harrogate and met Kath and Eric Denny – just two of the great people that made our trip so much fun!. Following a gig in Yorkshire we did a little more sight seeing around the Yorkshire Dales area – Pately bridge, Grassington, Kettlewell (even saw the Scarecrow Festival!), Ayrsgarth Falls then it was back to Scotland to catch our friends Dave and Margaret at the Guildtown Bluegrass Festival where we even did a little unscheduled gig for them! Over the next days it was more interviews and then down to south east England to Morcombe for a spot at “Frontierland” and as it was known more as a Country “& Western” music club, I wasn’t sure how this one would go, but it seems their Cowboy gear didn’t get in the way of enjoying good music and it turned out a good night. We also had a great opportunity to meet the guys from a great English Country Rock band – “Little Rock” here also. Then we got a nice few days sightseeing around the Ripley and Knaresborough area and then down to Stoke-on-Trent” to spend some money in the “Royal Doulton” & “Wedgewood” Factories (whoops!, I just couldn’t help myself!) then off to Wales to spend some days relaxing. Brilliant sights were enjoyed here such as Conwy Castle and Chester Cathedral then along drive down around the Llyn Peninsula. From here we continued to Criccieth and a great trip through the Cambrian Mountains & Snowdonia and down to the Northampton Festival where we really could had done with a band!!, but did the best we could anyway and once again met some great people and artists – including “George Moody and the Country Squires” and visiting Country Singer “Jennifer Weatherly”. Then following a few days in Ireland! – yep!, we did it all! – it was back to London to visit our friend Dave (via Liverpool to check out the Beatles stomping ground, cavern club ‘n all!) and see all the well-known sights of London, Duxford Air museum, Buckingham Palace & the Mewes, Kew Gardens and many other such places down south as the Cottswolds, Stonehenge, White Cliffs of Dover (even popped over to Bruge, Belgium for the day to buy some Belgium chocolate,…and why not!!). Then it was north again for gigs at Skegby and Chesterfield, sightseeing in and around York and then on to the Yorkshire Dales Festival where we were treated to much American Civil War re-enactments and festiivities and the like! – a real education!. Anyway I guess we had to come home sometime and I can say that apart from the beaches(?), I can thoroughly recommend a trip to the UK to anyone, (but I guess you can’t have everything!). It was a truly great experience, one I will never forget. Thank you to all those who made it possible.

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