A lazy Sunday. 7 hours on the train, from Valence in the East of France to Winterthur in the North of Switzerland. It is a long time on the train but infinitely preferable to driving, especially as it was through the alps with such views as cannot be described.
I’d played in Winterthur before last summer at a hippy festival and had a great reception. It was a Sunday night but still a good crowd out.
It was the same routine as every other night though. You arrive at the venue about 6 o’clock. Say your hellos then do a quick soundcheck. I’m one of the fastest in the business because a) I only have an acoustic guitar, and b) I’m easily pleased.
After that you eat. Either in the bar or a buy-out. It was the latter last night. They offered me a pizza but I pleased malnutrition and got 15 CHF to go to a nearby restaurant where the food was very good.
Then you have two or three hours to kill before the show starts. If there is wifi I can do booking, otherwise I read, practice songs, or, as a last resort, talk to people. Then with half an hour to go I do my vocal warm-ups in the cellar or a quiet back room, singing a long to Roger Love a vocal coach. I leave it to the last minute because it’s boring, but necessary. I lose my voice if I don’t do it. You should do it first thing in the morning I suppose but I can’t bring myself to find the time.
So then you play the show. One or two sets of 45 minutes, depending on the place. It was two last night. It was good to play in front of a crowd that spoke good English, after the blank faces in Italy, Spain and France. I have a mixture of serious, funny, upbeat and slow songs which I mix up to keep them entertained, with plenty of talking inbetween the songs as this is the most interesting bit.
After the show I go round with the mailing list to get people’s addresses and with CDs. If you just stand at the bar people are usually too shy to come up to you and you miss out.
Then it’s one or two hours after that I can get to bed. Less if it’s a band apartment above the venue or a nearby hotel, a lot more if I’m staying with the owner and he has to stay until the place closes.
That’s pretty much the routine. The names, faces and places change but the rest remains the same.