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QRD #28, January 2005
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John Ostrander interview
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Rivulets Tour Diary
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Nathan from Rivulets was kind enough to document a week in the life of a solo musician on tour for us.  Away we go....

January 18, 2005

Whew! Touring on your own is stressful! I tend to forget how much so. On the train from Coventry to London, where I’ll stay with Tracy tonight, then off to Exeter tomorrow. 

Need to remember to get England-only rail book with all connections, etc. 

My body aches. So much crap to carry around. I loathe stuff! Grr… Food diary:

01/15 Chicago to London. Some pasta with steamed vegetables and a tiny bit of tomato sauce on the plane. Banana and juice in the morning. Screaming baby kicking the back of my seat all through the night. Red wine and sleeping pills helped some but kept me groggy all the next day.

01/16 London. Rolls and hummus at Matt’s. Later, a greasy vegetarian buffet at a Chinese place called Tai! Loads of fake meats, noodles, etc. Nearly everything fried. Good tea though, green. Matt buys dinner as my card is not working here for some reason. Later I am able to pay him back, after selling CDs at the show and getting some money from Paul. Not paid for the show, but Paul was generous so I don’t bring it up.

01/17 Wake up at a different Paul’s. He takes photos for Matt’s magazine, Comes with a Smile. Lovely flat. Paul gets a good deal on it as he houses and looks after a disabled man. Toast with jam and tea. Paul seems to think it strange I don’t want milk in my tea. Lots of toast. Don’t think I can eat it all when he brings it out, but I do. 

At the Tin Angel, meet Richard and the others there. Tiny place, loud music overhead, but kind people. They feed me a mushrooms and pesto grilled sandwich and a pint of Tiger. After dropping things off and having tea at Rich’s, he and I and another guy named Paul (I think) go out to a pub nearby. The first one is closed for remodeling, but they are in a brightly lit room out back singing karaoke. We leave for a different pub, closer to Rich’s but apparently rougher. I like it fine.

Lasagna and garlic bread upon return to the house. There’s TVP in the lasagna which fools me, so I have to ask to make sure it is veg. It is. Really nice people. Love music. Especially rootsy, Americana stuff.

01/18 Coventry. Tea this morning. No-one home, so I take time responding to messages and having a nice long shower. Beginning to throw away dirty clothes I no longer want rather than packing them around all over creation. The pack gets smaller and more manageable this way too. Hopefully CDs will continue to sell. 

Veg pasty, heated, at the train station. Some citrus soda and tea on the train. Oh, and some thick-cut salt and vinegar chips / crisps which impress until I discover the insidious MSG in the ingredients list. 

Lots of people talking on cell phones on this train. People can’t stand to be by themselves, can they?

The train just stopped and they made an announcement that there are children on the tracks ahead, throwing rocks at the trains. So, we’re waiting for the police to come get them. Random violence seems popular here. 

01/19 On train to Exeter. Missed the one from Waterloo and had to come up to Paddington. OK now. Spicy Asian noodles and vegetables for dinner last night. Green tea and chocolate cake with faintly detectable wasabi in the frosting. Coffee and a cookie this morning at an Italian café by Tracy’s. Dinner was with her last night too, also Magumi, sweet Japanese girl who is Tracy’s flat mate. Tracy tells me she is phasing Dreamy out, which makes me sad, but I understand. We stay up looking through the NME and trying to find bands we actually know or care about. Espresso with soy milk at the station just now.

01/20 On train from Exeter to Coventry. Yesterday afternoon: Marmite (!) crisps at the bar, then later a small piece of Stilton and broccoli quiche (thankfully more cheese and vegetables than egg) with chips / fries. Drank two litres of water before the show. In the pub downstairs and all through the streets are eager, painted sports fans. And I thought Americans were the only ones who painted themselves up for games. 

Ended up being moved to the opening slot as the promoter reasons “it makes more sense”. I.E. Have the solo guy (who has multiple releases out and a five-year touring history) open for two UK rock bands that are on their first regional tours with perhaps their very first single in tow. Insanity. And so, endlessly frustrating.

Can’t escape the notion that placing someone in an opening slot for two unknown bands essentially says to the audience “This is not important”. Naturally most of them talk right through the set. 

Cheese and onion pasty and tea at the station this a.m. Oh, really bland veg burger after the show last night. They had all sorts of condiments but wouldn’t tell me what they were. Me: “What have you got?” Guy behind the counter: “What do you want?” After about three rounds of this I settle for ketchup.

Reason for the sports fans: There was a big match on, Exeter vs. Man U. Some guy kicked silly outside the food shop. Looked delirious, and like his arm was broken.

01/21 Lost my pen this day, so I’ll have to try and remember… The show at Tin Angel was great. People interested and attentive and saying hi after the show. I’m tired of carrying all these CDs so I’m selling them to people for whatever they’ve got. Seems to work well. Richard is a saint and I hope Cov keeps supporting him and the Tin Angel. From what they tell me it’s a bit of a shining gem in angry Coventry.

Take the train to Manchester, where Bernie picks me up from the station. She is super nice and knows or knew all these people from the Manc music scene who I grew up adoring. She makes a wonderful veg curry, pita and hummus. Lots of tea. I am getting used to the milk in the tea, long as there’s plenty of sugar.

The show is upstairs from the oldest, most labyrinthine pub I’ve ever been to. Lots more people show than expected which is nice, and I think most of them like it OK. It’s always hard to tell. But the few I do talk to are so kind and the promoters really have their hearts in it, which is lovely. Some nice folks there.

01/22 Get up at 5 to catch the train to Heathrow. The first couple of hors go well, then there is a body on the track (this seems to happen often!) and they make everyone get off in Birmingham. They route me through Reading, then a coach from there to Heathrow, which causes me to miss my flight. 

After lots of walking between counters and wrangling answers out of the staff, they put me on the next flight to Chicago. I drink loads more water before getting on the plane, and eat some Ritter Sport bar with hazelnuts. Can’t really remember what else. It’s been a long week and sitting still on a plane for six hours sounds just about perfect. Huge storm in Chicago which delays most flights but not ours. 

Since I am on a different plane they don’t have me down for a veg meal, but the steward guy comes back with a spare lasagna and says “Here’s one extra, just for you.” Lots of juice on the plane, and water. One cup of tea but no alcohol. I already feel and smell like I’ve been sitting in pubs for a week. Good night.