Tag Archives: Buckinghamshire

February 11th: Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire

On a rather icy Saturday afternoon, Nicola and I pulled up to a drive in Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, a picturesque area of the world that I’ve often driven through on my way to my parent’s house in Herefordshire but have rarely had an excuse to stop in. We slipped and slid our way down the path to the front door of Cleo Carruthers, our host for the evening’s gig. When I first received an email from Cleo about playing in her living room last October, she was getting ready to move house from Buckinghamshire (my most visited county on this tour!) to Gloucestershire at the end of December and she had warned me that things may be slightly chaotic, but when we arrived, the house had nothing but a homely feel to it and the odd lack of carpet in places, which seemed acceptable for a house just moved in to. No chaos at all! Nic and I set up in the living room and slowly but surely Cleo’s friends arrived, mainly also from Buckinghamshire, until we had a good house full!

With a myriad of different chairs of shapes and sizes crammed into every available space in the living room and a warm fire crackling happily in the hearth, I sat down with my guitar and got playing! Whilst chatting to a few people beforehand, I had established that there were quite a few members of a choir in the audience but I had also heard murmurings of singers ‘not singing tonight’ batted about here and there, which spurred me on: I was determined that I would get them singing. If I could get the crew of a nuclear submarine singing (who in actual fact didn’t need that much encouragement, in the end), then I would get that room alight with the sounds of ‘Go’! I like a challenge.

When it came to it however, my audience took only a little encouragement to get singing and they actually became very competitive when I introduced to them the idea of scoring! They were very keen to beat the highest mark scored so far (straight 9/10s in Prestwood, Bucks) and made a really impressive sound – as such, they definitely pushed themselves into the high end of the score range, but can they beat 27/30? Let’s see…

Volume: 8/10

Enthusiasm: 9/10

Accuracy: 9/10

So close! They just weren’t quite loud enough to rival Prestwood! However, 26/30 is still pretty damn good, and this group certainly had the accuracy and enthusiasm to get the top marks! Nicely done all – I really enjoyed that ‘Go’ sing-a-long.

During the interval, Cleo laid at an amazing food spread, which included the best ham both Nic and I have ever eaten (which reminds me of Liz Lemon’s ‘Ham’ song in 30 Rock… anyone?). I’m not usually a big meat fan, but this was something else. She gave us the recipe so that we could try it ourselves, but anyone who knows me will know that I am an appalling cook (except for sandwiches: I make mind-blowing sandwiches), so it’s probably best that I don’t try it unless I’m hatching a plot to poison someone I don’t like. Be warned if I ever feed you glazed ham…

After my set, the music wasn’t over! Cleo’s friend Ronnie had brought his keyboard with him and played some great covers like ‘On my way to Georgia’ whilst a friend (who annoyingly I’ve forgotten the name of, even though I’m sure he introduced himself to me – sorry!) played some sort of conga drum (my knowledge of drum names is limited) alongside him. It was a really relaxed and friendly evening! I especially enjoyed coming up with innovative new dance moves with Cleo’s younger son Chris, which were then taught to everyone who passed, whether they wanted to dance or not, before Nic and I had to leave to get to our accommodation for the night.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to everyone there for being so friendly and enthusiastic, to Ronnie for his set and to Serena for her tambourine skills, and to Nicola once again for her backing vocal skills! Massive thanks go to Cleo and her sons, Chris and Keiran for hosting and making us feel so welcome! It was also Cleo’s birthday, so happy birthday again! Glad I could be a part of it.

To finish off, here’s ‘The Archives’ from the evening:

Cleo Carruthers (host): Thank you and Nicola again hugely for entertaining us on Saturday night. I have had fantastic feedback about the party and there have been so many positive comments about your gig. It was a very special and amazing evening.

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January 22nd: Chesham, Buckinghamshire

This will have been the second time that I’ve visited Chesham to play on this tour, and the third living room gig in Buckinghamshire! Unlike the others though, this one was an afternoon gig, so it felt a bit odd to be arriving at lunch time to play a gig, and even weirder to leave at 6pm and get home before midnight!

The hosts for the afternoon were Carolyn and Will Arnold, both of whom I met when I played at a venue that I’ve mentioned here before, The Drawingroom in Chesham, last October. I had brought my percussionist, Andy, with me again for this one and once set up with all his percussion-based bits of equipment, we looked around and realised that we had somehow managed to take up most of the living room, so it was lucky that this was also the smallest audience that I’ve played to on this tour! They were 11 strong in number, plus a few very small people (as in children, not dwarves) but this didn’t seem to hamper them much when it came to singing ‘Go’! Here’s their scores:

Olli and Will getting stuck into group one's part in 'Go'

Volume: 6/10

Enthusiasm: 8/10

Accuracy: 7/10

Totalling to 21/30! Nicely done!

I think one of my favourite parts of this gig was little George’s absolute fascination with my guitars – he was one of the very small members of the audience and as we played he became more and more enraptured by my ukulele, possibly with the thought that it was about the right size to look like a normal sized guitar on him, but it was Andy’s Sponge Bob Squarepants shakers that really hit the mark. As soon as he picked them up, George made a beeline for Andy, pointing excitedly at the shakers in a not dissimilar manner to how E.T. pointed to home… I think I might be able guess what he might be getting in his stocking next Christmas! In case you were wondering, here’s what the Sponge Bob shakers look like:

Judging on the reaction the Sponge Bob shakers have got so far, I think these may have to become a permanent fixture at all future gigs.

Andy and I had a great time so thanks very much to everyone there for making the afternoon so enjoyable! Big thanks to Andy for his percussion-ing (probably not a word, but I’ll run with it) and huge thanks to Carolyn and Will for hosting the gig, the lovely buffet-style food in the middle and the flowers at the end as well – thank you!

Safe to say, what with all the gigs I’ve done in Chesham recently, it’s fast approaching the top of my list of  ‘favourite places to play’!

Carolyn Arnold (host): Thanks Lisbee for such a fantastic afternoon, it was a real honour to be able to be a part of your Living Room Tour. One tiny location but huge love for your amazing talent. Look forward to seeing you the next time you’re in Chesham. 

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