I made it home last week after my stays in Chicago, Memphis and Nashville, followed by two book-readings in Germany (left over from last year). The US trip was full of surprises and good experiences, particularly at the Folk Alliance, which, Â though daunting at first (a gigantic hotel, full to bursting with singer-songwriters and acoustic bands, all doing their damndest to get noticed), proved to be a good experience and I came away with solid offers for shows in 2013 Â and an invitation to play in Calgary, Canada later this year.
Thanks to my good friend Steve Garvan, I arrived in Nashville in good time for my book reading at Phonoluxe. Sunday afternoon was not an ideal time for an event, but we got a ‘Critic’s Pick’ in the Nashville Scene and a good-sized audience, which included several friends of Nicky’s. The only thing missing was the package of books I’d sent by priority post from Chicago, which the US Post Office sent to Lafayette, Louisiana, for reasons known only to them. They arrived the day before I left town! Big thank you to Mike Smyth and Jeff Knutson for doing such a great job of publicising and hosting the book event.
It was great to catch up with friends such as the Tashians (parents Barry & Holly and son Daniel with his wife and new baby), Dan & Linda Penn and Â Bill Lloyd. Bill accompanied me on a day-trip to Muscle Shoals, Alabama to pay a studio visit to Spooner Oldham, David Hood, Jimmy Johnson and others of the ‘old guard’, who were recording with a young Swiss songwriter. After paying a visit to the original studio on Jackson Highway and a brilliant lunch in the Southland Cafe, I ended up contributing a harmonica to one track, so I’ve officially recorded in Muscle Shoals – not bad for a Brit!
I had to leave Nashville after just 3 days as I had a Friday book reading near Berlin in Neuruppin. My brilliant plan to fly via Dallas direct to Frankfurt came undone when our plane was delayed four hours due to brake problems. I made it to the Hotel venue in Neuruppin with 45 minutes to spare and no sleep! After a weekend to recover I had a second reading in Ansbach, South Germany where the tiny Kaspar Hauser Bookshop had sold 35 copies of the Nicky Hopkins book due to the enthusiasm of the owner, Richard.
I flew back to London from Munich (nearly missing another plane due to some unfortunate soul throwing himself under a train) and caught up again with Daniel Tashian, who was finishing up a short UK tour with his band the Silver Seas at the Garage in Islington. They played a great show and I was able to personally thank Mark Ellen (from magazine ‘The Word’) afterwards, for all the nice things he said about the Nicky book.
After a studio session playing two harmonica tracks for Blues Band guitarist Dave Kelly, I made it home in time for supper and woke up with a streaming cold, no doubt from too many plane rides. 328 e-mails to catch up on…
Hope all is well for everyone out there in cyber world and thanks for all the positive comments on the new-look website,