We continue our guest blog from Ireland’s premier traditional acoustic band Lúnasa (read part 1 here) who have just completed a twelve date tour of the UK. The line–up for this tour features Kevin Crawford and Cillian Vallely on low whistle, uilleann pipes, tin whistles, Tola Custy on fiddle, Trevor Hutchinson on double bass and Shane McGowan on guitar.
Short hop from Cockermouth to Preston and the hotel for the night of our Atkinson Arts Centre, Southport show. For some reason our travel agent/manager Stu rarely has us staying anywhere near the gig itself. He calls it forward planning. We call it backward planning! Once again Trev has been seconded to have a word. Not that it’s going to make any difference. However we have to say the hotel is to be recommended – the Macdonald Tickled Trout in case you’re up that way. We settle in have a little relax and then make our way to soundcheck. VERY nice venue, good gear, lovely meal pearl of a gig. Life is good.
Our hotel location just off the M6 proves to be just perfect for the onward drive down to tonight’s show in Sale. Cheers Stu! Brilliant forward planning. Get into the hotel nice and early, unpack get settled. All very civilized. No dramas so far … a luxurious bus. Easy! We hear there’s a big crowd at the Waterside Arts tonight. One of the best venues on the UK circuit. The gig goes like a dream and we also sell a pile of CDs. Stu says he was mobbed in the interval – always a good sign. We should mention a major factor in the smooth running of this tour is Richie our good pal and sound man. He had the bright idea of bringing our own mixing desk and other bits and pieces. As a result we don’t get the ups and down of different sound systems every night. Sure makes for a happy tour.
On our way to deepest Wales. Once again Stu has done some ‘forward planning’ and we find ourselves staying Llandudno – the gig is in Caernarfon. We won’t name the establishment but this hotel is our accommodation low point of the tour. It’s very big … and very useless. In a word it is shite. On the other hand the gig and venue are extra special. The only downside is the lovely hotel right beside the venue. If only. Trev puts in a call to Stu. No answer. He knows!!!!! We make our way back to our digs. Not a word is spoken in the bus. Sensing spirits need a lift Rich suggests a little settler in the bar before bed. Bad idea. Our very own 2014 version of Fawlty Towers provides ‘entertainment’. Let’s just say we chose our ½ star rooms over the musical massacre taking place in that bar.
Artrix Bromsgrove (main image). A full house and many of them Crawfords, including Kev’s wonderful Mum. Dancer extraordinaire Declan McHale joined us for a tune. Tonight was definitely a tour highlight. The hotel was a short walk away. Booked by the venue. Sensible.
After a morning band business meeting we’re on our way back to Wales. Tonight is St David’s Hall, Cardiff a venue we’ve played and enjoyed many times over the years. Cardiff does us proud. Our UK tour additions Tola and Shane are just getting better and better. Great feeling. Total buzz when it’s all so seamless as tonight. Hotel a short walk away. Booked by the venue. Sensible.
For years we’ve tried to fit the Exeter Phoenix into our UK tours and we couldn’t make it work. The last time we played there was in the very early days of the band. It was worth the wait. The absolute highlight of this tour. A full house. One of those nights when everything worked. What a blast!
Manager Stu’s hometown, Salisbury. Also our last night with Stu as our manager. A big night for us all. A memorable and special night – surely the best indian meal we’ve ever had anywhere in the world; fantastic venue and staff; a complete pleasure of a gig – Shane had such a blast he managed to break a string … twice, two more than on the entire tour; a champagne fuelled surprise party after the show in the dressing room; watch presentation to Stu (when things started to get a bit emotional … in a happy way); finished off with a Lúnasa reminiscences session until the early hours. Oh the fun and dramas we’ve had over those 17 years – much of which must remain within the four walls of the band!
Did we say that Exeter was the highlight? Well, last night it had competition – The Ropetackle Arts Centre, Shoreham. What a pleasant surprise. We’ve never been here before. Sold out. Where did they all come from? Ace of a show. Cheers to everyone who came along. Nights like this make it all worthwhile.
Tola performing at The Ropetackle Arts Centre
The last night of what has to be our best ever and most enjoyable ever UK tour and we played to our biggest crowd of the whole tour – The Apex, Bury St Edmunds. The perfect finale.
A huge thank you to everyone who played a part in making this tour the success it was… our agent Phil at Regent Music; the venues; our publicist Stevie for arranging this blog with Folk Radio UK (and thanks to you FRUK), and most of all the people who pay their money to come out and support us. We appreciate it.
We pack after the Apex show and then drive for 5 hours from one side of the UK to the other to catch our morning ferry from Holyhead. We’re back on Irish soil before midday. Happy to be home … exhausted, but each of us quietly satisfied that our UK Tour was a job well done.
Cheers for reading our blog,
Keep up with the band here: www.lunasa.ie