Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hope Springs Eternal

I don't even know where to start to update this thing - all I know is I can't stand the sight of my last post at the top of the page any longer.

We're holed up with our friends Peter, Karen and Daisy in the Norfolk countryside. Like Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow - we're battered, bruised, wounded. Not quite able to face the long drive south.

Ireland was cold. So cold that Eric burned his leg on a space heater, and was then too cold to notice how bad the burn was. He got food poisoning and laryngitis, I had all other manner of complaints. The ambulance, filled with a host of medications, was feeling like its old self again.

Ireland was depressing. Stuck in winter mode. There were unfinished apartment complexes and shopping malls everywhere. All the people in the service jobs are now Polish. Before we left, I'd had some great conversations with Irish journalists - that was almost the only talking with actual Irish people I did. For all the publicity we had, you'd think me and Eric playing was some kind of event - but articles, radio interviews and a TV appearance are not enough. The shows were really badly attended, the promoter so maudlin we ended up consoling him.

The people who did come told us they loved the show. We had some laughs and stayed in a nice hotel in Cork, after rejecting the cold water fleabag they initially sent us to - "But Pete Doherty stayed here!" shouted the desk clerk. When we caught the ferry from Belfast to Stranraer, I found myself writing down the phone number of the entertainment company that booked the onboard entertainment - a woman in her 60s who sang Patsy Cline and a man that whipped the Mother's Day crowd into a frenzy with "Danny Boy". At least you've got a built-in audience on the ferry. As an alternative to playing in a mostly empty club in Cork on a Thursday night, how bad could it be?

Should I be telling you this? I could just as well say we triumphed, that the shows sold out, and the Irish crowds carried us around the towns on their shoulders. Who's going to check? Or I could talk about the food (pizza) or the wonderful friends of Eric's that we stayed with, who train horses and who really made the visit for me.

We stopped off to visit our pal Lindsay Hutton in Scotland. Always relaxing staying with Lindsay. We sat back and waited for him to cue up a nice film for us. Along with a great Cramps collection he had a Fleshtones documentary - I'd just had a great time seeing them in Bergerac before leaving on the tour. In the movie they talked about how hard it was to keep going, playing for small crowds. "Wait a minute," I thought. "In Bergerac, there were probably two hundred people in the audience. At the rate we're going, we'll be lucky to play for that many people on the whole tour." We begged Lindsay to put on a cheerier film, like "Atonement" or "City of God" or something.

Things picked up in England - we started slow in Bristol and Portsmouth but Brighton was full and fun. Birmingham in the Garden Centre was a little odd but there was a line of people waiting in the rain to get in. A Black Country pub gig on Saturday night made Basingstoke last year look like a tea dance - our host Chris and his band were so warm I hardly noticed the drunk people shouting abuse and throwing things at us. I enjoyed playing simply because it was so bizarre and because it mattered to Chris. In the film version, we would've brought the audience around, to where they became hushed and reverent during Don't Ever Change and started swaying and singing Whole Wide World, arms aloft. A few actually did. But mostly they carried on drinking and simulating sex on the pool table.

Ten years ago I'd probably be looking online for haircutting classes or law school applications. But it starts to sink in that I may be too old to start over doing stuff like that. There is that Stena Lines ferry number to try. They take over-50's.

But. We played the first four tracks of our new album for Karen and she loved it - I started getting that hopeful excitement again, that same feeling that keeps me going. Hope or foolishness, or both. We've got a US tour coming together pretty well for June. Some English dates in August. The Garden Centre said they can fit us in again for October. And if we got the Stena ferry job, well we'd end up in Belfast anyway, so...


the fly in the web said...

So....things are getting better....just let it go on like that for your U.K. and U. S. tours and by the4 end of the year your blog will be buzzing with positives.

Anyway, you enjoy what you do...better than having to plug away at something you hate to pay the bills.

Luci said...

you forgot the "Door Step of Filth", surely that was a decriptive highlight! x

Erica M. said...

What's a house concert? That's on your Houston tour, and I'd love to attend.

Also, I wonder why your live blogroll shows my last update was five weeks ago. I talk way more than that. The feed must be broken!

I'll try email to ask you about that Houston concert.

Chris said...

Hi Amy. The problem at The Dolls House was the idiots here don't have the requisite number of functions to enable a deeper understanding of anything beyond Karaoke and Carling. The real problem, truth be told was me. I was greedy enough to ask you to play on a Saturday (to maximize return on outlay) when that meant that the "regular crowd" would be here, when they don't and can't understand. Secondly, I was foolish enough to believe that these people would have enough respect for me to let me have a little back for myself for once.
In the end, THEY don't matter. WE loved you. That's the "WE" that matter. Throughout all my life I have taken chances and reached for the out-of-reach. You and Eric made me very happy and proud. My (so called) friends made me feel ashamed. However. Like you, I have a living to make and in these difficult times I make my living with the money these ungrateful wretches spend each weekend.
Keep believing Amy. You are fabulous.

Bass Man said...

I totally agree with Chris, if you take the Neanderthals out of the equation, the gig was fantastic, and hopefully would have opened up your wonderful songs to a wider audience.

chris46 said...

Dear Amy,
I love what you do and can't wait for the next Thunderbolt show.
My partner, Louise, accused me of being a stalker - especially after the ticket number 1 thing!
I hope the hope continues to spring. Just before Xmas I sat in a cold and dismal barn watching nobody buy any of my prints and look! I'm now in the Wreckless Eric/Amy Rigby collection along with Kevin Coyne!
As for "trouble" at gigs ask Eric about the gig in Loughborough when skinheads pulled down the false ceiling - 1985 I think.
Keep up the great work,
Love from,
Chris (number one fan in Bristol!)

Poppy Robbie said...

hi amy,

is that house concert in houston going to be open to the public? or is it a private shindig?


amy said...

Robbie (and Erica too) - I will ask the Houston host, it would be great to have you both be able to come. I've been kind of lax booking a club gig in Houston - i have to follow up on that.

How could I forgot that detail, Luci?! Staying with you was an oasis,and a highlight of the trip (except us scraping the paint off that guy's car when we were trying to get out of your drive)

The linocut is safely behind the driver's seat in the van Chris46 - anyone who didn't pick up one of your prints was a fool!

It's hard to tell people what they don't want to know Chris, those folks are lucky to have someone like you looking out for them with your pub. The feeling I took away from playing there - and I wish this would have come through more in what I wrote - was a positive one, because you and your band were so wonderful to us, and I knew that there were people there who got into what we were doing,as Bass Man says, without knowing what to expect. Though possibly not a wider audience so much as deeper?

At that same gig, tfitw, a guy came up and said - "I wish I could do what you do. It's freedom!" (but he said it in this amazing Black Country accent). Shame on me for always going to the negative details, but I'm pleased if what you took away from reading the post was things heading in a more positive direction.

Freder Frederson said...


I was at the show in Birmingham. I think I was the only other American, other than you, there. The show was fantastic. If you are back there in October, I will probably be at the front of the line again.

Keep doing what you do. Because as you say--Like Rasputin, you get back up again :)

Your music has helped me through two divorces and a hurricane.

Your number one fan in Ramstein via NOLA,


amy said...

thank you Andy, see you in six or seven (disaster-free)months.

a said...

Hi Amy, Eric, I'm really sorry to have missed the Brighton gig, we were elsewhere. Glad to hear it was a sellout, though. We missed the last one, too, we were in Manchester. And I think by the time you got to Manchester we were back in Brighton. We won't miss the next one, though…

Rosie said...

hard to stop something you've been doing for so many years isn't it.
I too went for an audition on the dreaded ferry in a time of desperation. I was rejected! I dont think the group was properly slap bang in the middle of the road.
Dont do it!
Keep your self respect!
I'm sure you will keep going- there is always a way.
hurrah, the word verification is singen
After my loud cries of retirement and teaching, I am just about to start a project with a jazz funk band. Never say die...

Gavin said...

My wife and I attended 'the garden centre' and having been recently to the NEC we were both of the opinion that the former was preferable. Sure you'd like a few more but the people that see you really appreciate it.

amy said...

Adrian I think we'll be back in both those places in the fall, so hope you can make it then.

Sobering news, Rosie - that that last resort (cruise ship/ferry) might not necessarily accept what we do, even if you think you're tailoring it as bland and MOR as possible - they'd know a fake hack when they see one? I'm glad to hear you're starting up again singing, maybe the teaching gives a new perspective on it all.

Drove by the NEC on our way out of Birmingham Gavin and it didn't look too appealing. Glad you liked the show, it was kind of like one of the house concerts we often do where you set up in a corner of someone's living room and make do with table lamps etc - they always seem to take on a unique atmosphere that make them memorable. (though we hate when they end up on youtube etc - because it's that lack of stage/proper sound & lighting/mystery that make it that much more amazing when you manage to transport people. But it doesn't translate into a 3 minute clip. So, note to audience/hosts - put movie cameras/cellphones away during these shows, or if you must tape please keep it private, for your own personal entertainment. Yes, it's "funny" to see films of myself on youtube standing in mulch singing but in the grand scheme of things it can be belittling and hurtful - these shows are like intimate pacts between performer and audience.)

Jim S said...

Hi Amy,

If you could include me in your Houston house concert request I'd sure appreciate it.

Re cruises - you'll have to change your ways! Not sure if you can go the cheesy cover band route in a convincing manner, although maybe Eric could be a passable Jimmy Buffet clone? Well, on second thought maybe not....


Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,
If it works, would you try fitting in ASBURY LANES in NJ.Great gig last time.Lottsa fun.

Anonymous said...

Hi Amy,
If it works, would you try fitting in ASBURY LANES in NJ.Great gig last time.Lottsa fun.

amy said...

Jim, now I know why I keep teaching Eric the words to "Margaritaville" - makes perfect sense to me!

Asbury Lanes was really fun, Anon. We will possibly have a show in Asbury Park in June, though maybe not at the lanes (got to see what's going on with never seems to be finished)