Upon arrival at Taunton I take a walk in the evening sun to stretch my legs and untangle my head after a gruelling 7 hours in the car. Last night I was in Manchester watching Eliza Marshall’s wonderful ‘Freedom To Roam’ – the experience was worth every minute of today’s extended journey. The show opens with a moving documentary featuring an array of well travelled voices that discussed our vital connection to nature and the devasting impact of our disregard for this. Then, once your perspective is sufficiently shifted the 6 musicians take to the stage and journey together through their ‘Rhythms of migration’ –the imbalance we humans have created in the food chain represented with music that stirs your senses and shakes your core.
I don’t always walk before a gig, there are typically things to do, and instruments to set up, but having experienced Eliza’s Freedom to Roam I found myself walking the canal toe path of Taunton. It was just after 5 and it felt like folks were clocking off for the day as the sun sang us her joyous coda. A young couple sat on a bench, both smoking and sharing an intense stare into the middle distance, at least two joggers, a whole family without coats, a woman with a headset and mic at a picnic table laughing on a zoom call – all is well in Taunton!
Back at the venue I’ m greeted by three chaps – John, Chris and Ollie – all smiles and out stretched arms, ready and wiling to help unload my car – I couldn’t believe my luck. “Cheers mate” as we propped open doors and hauled the gear in – John explained he’d spent his 20s and 30s touring Japan and he’d read about my connection with the island. He had a calming energy, the vibe of someone who was content and had found peace in his world.
It’s an early show with a 7:45pm start and two sets. My mind still feels a little turbulent, not racing but as I play in soundcheck I’ve got ants in my pants and can’t finish a song, irrelevant thoughts creep in – unfinished work and future projects that hang in the balance – none of which will help me here, tonight. I check the clock and re-assure myself I have time for yoga. We always have the time and space, provided we choose to look at it like that.
In the dressing room I do exactly that. Within the familiar stretches and shapes I allow myself to let go of the day, 7:45 looms on the horizon like a magic stone I’ll gently place both my feet on and vanish without trace, lost in plain sight.
I think it frustrates some people, and sometimes myself, but I’m not doing this ‘for’ anything. I am just drawn to do this, to play music and perform, and without it I don’t flow, I’m congested and blocked. Just like the trees and wild animals in Eliza’s film, I guess we all need our ‘freedom to roam’. Once I start to play tonight, I happily let go and lose track of time, a lady on the front row starts to sing along, a couple on the left nod in a re-assuring way at the end of the song that leaves me feeling our new connection. We share this. The tiny black box BREWHOUSE theatre blossoms in real time as I share my story written behind the glass. And the stories of others of course – Hany the photographer, Jen Bricker the gymnast, glassworkers, and those Antartica Adventurers. I start to speak of anxiety and everyone seems to understand, I talk about Japanese culture and at the end someone asks: “is it really true about the Robots?”
Post show at the Travelodge the receptionist has pink and green luminous hair matched with a huge smile, as she comments “long day was it?” I feel a little self conscious as I realise I look like I’m crumbling a bit with this tiredness. She senses this and gracefully moves the conversation onto ‘TRUCKFEST’ and how congested the local roads are today.
The room itself is large, plenty of room for yoga and a window that actually opens (you can keep your Radissons!)
A lush bed of green leaves tree engulf the window, so close I imagine I’m in the treehouse I always wanted as a kid, as I drift off up here on the first floor.