Sheffield, England 17 May, 2015

With the bags packed and collected we took a leisurely road trip from Manchester south to Sheffield through lush country side, rolling hills, villages and pastures.

We arrived at the Motorpoint Arena an hour in advance of soundcheck. An en-masse stampede to catering took place for bowls of piping hot smokey bacon and sweet potato soup and cups of tea. Just the thing for a cloudy and cool Sunday afternoon.

Playing Sheffield with Mark is a first in my 20 years or so with the band. However, I did play a club here (The Lead Mine?) back in 2003 with Cerys Matthews. It came about on the heals of the aborted 2003 Ragpicker’s Dream Tour when Mark had a serious motorcycle accident breaking several ribs and his collarbone prior to the start of rehearsals. I had played on an album of Cerys’s called Cockahoop that had just been released on Reprise. Cerys had called prior to me leaving for Mark’s tour to ask if I would be available to do a short tour of the U.K. with her in support of the record. I explained that was about to embark on a long tour with Mark and thanked her, but I couldn’t. We all arrived for our first day of Ragpicker rehearsals and about an hour later heard of Mark’s accident that morning. Clearly there was no going on with the tour and we all turned around and went home. About a week later, with my bags still packed back in Nashville, Cerys called again saying how sorry she was to hear of MK’s accident but as his tour had been cancelled might I still be interested in the U.K. tour with her. It was a case of being all dressed up with nowhere to go and I said yes. Within a few weeks I was back in London and in rehearsals with Cerys. We had a great little three week tour of small theatres, churches, clubs as well a playing Glastonbury. Anyway, that’s how I ended up playing that club here in Sheffield. Apologies for that long backward glance.

Back to the present. Everyone was feeling good after last night’s show in Manchester and we breezed through a few things at soundcheck then followed it up with a second mad dash to catering for supper.. miso marinated salmon… baked chicken with roasted vegetables and brown gravy…. beef wellington. Difficult decisions had to be made. It was a child’s portion of the chicken for me that was simply delicious, falling off the bone. Still, I was experiencing salmon envy of those who ordered that entree.

7:30 on stage tonight so not much time to linger after dinner. As for the show, things are right back on stride, loose and confident, everyone playing so well and it’s still very early days of the tour. Sheffield received us warmly and Romeo in particular.

A runner for a short hop back north to Glasgow where we’ll base for the next two days. Just enough time for a couple of drinks then wheels down. It’s a day off in Glasgow tomorrow and in lieu of the non-existent hotel gym or the horror of the neighbourhood tie-in (see Glasgow posting from the 2011 tour) I will get myself out for a walk about.

So long,