Dear readers, we just returned from a thoroughly delightful No Direction Home Festival.
Returning at 7pm on Monday, straight to a Sons of Noel and Adrian practice and then up again early today and I am ready to pass out. I am going to try to get my thoughts down before the moment passes and I collapse into an exhausted coma.
Laish and our merry gang took a van and drove through torrential rain for about 7 hours on the Friday (cheers Dan), arriving just in time to catch the end of Warren Ellis and co kicking their way through an awesome Dirty Three set. Austra made me smile a lot of a lot. And at about 1.30am I noticed the time, put my drink down, stopped yelling at everything with excitement, and took myself to my deflated camp bed and forced myself to sleep. Big day to follow!
Awake a bit too early, we got the breakfast going with our team and had a hearty camp fry up. Drove over to the main stage and began the preparations. Everyone was incredibly helpful, friendly, professional and generally put us at ease. Emma I think made a friend for life with the main sound man.
Our moment came and the rain came to join us. You can tell I’m nervous – my chat gives it away. I stay relatively quiet between songs and occasionally say unconnected words. But the set felt good. Martha, Patrick, Emma and Dan all rocked it as hard as possible and I put in as much as I ever have. The sound was satisfying and loud and the response from the wet hundreds was very positive. We all felt very blessed to be there on that incredible stage. We were playing and they were listening and they could have been taking shelter in a big tent and eating a nice pie.
The Saturday night got very silly indeed. I’ve already said too much.
Sunday however. The sun came out and so did my hat. Everyone was smiling. We took ourselves for a Rough Trade shop live session and immediately sold out of all of our stock. Laish cd levels are now dangerously low.
The festival itself was the friendliest and cleanest I have encountered. Real respect for the site, the music and the musicians. Longer sets, great sound quality, amazing ales and food, plenty of time to just do nothing or go for a wander round the lake. The sets were timed with minimal clashes. I also got to witness and grin my way through these highlights in no particular order: David Thomas Broughton, Slow Club, Mikal Cronin, Father John Misty, Richard Hawley, Joe Gideon and the Shark, Rachael Dadd, Trembling Bells, Liz Green, Other Lives….and definitely more. I missed loads of the good stuff too, like the Wave Pictures dammit. It’s inevitable.
At that point I was participating at the Boat House Stage for a songwriting Q&A. Quite a surreal experience answering questions about songwriting. Discussing the lyrics to songs feels counter intuitive and who knows what goes on when you’re bashing a song into shape. There are no rules. Anyway, it was fun. I felt quite important for ten minutes.
I made my final appearance at the festival solo to about 30 people on the campfire secret stage at 3am on the Sunday night/Monday morning, no doubt noticeably drunk. Again, they didn’t all walk away in disgust so I’m hoping they were enjoying it as much as I was.
I then found the secret free bar at about 4am and made my final mistakes of the weekend.
The drive back was painful and today is hard work. But it was all worth it.
Here’s to next year…
PS Look to your right. We have gigs coming up in London and more to come. You should come.