I have to go back to March 2014 when I started planning my first DIY UK tour, for about two weeks with a few stop gaps across the south of England in September 2014. A festival date to start off the tour would/could fund part of the trip and I would have to call on favours of friends to stop overnight between shows. What was the key in this, is to make sure my shows weren’t too far away from a certain base. A 50 odd mile radius between them from a certain point seemed like a good distance. You’ll find out why shortly, but apart from a Bristol to London, then out to Kent trip which was unavoidable, (where I created a second ‘base’) I stuck to this idea’s principles.
A problem first arose when I started the tour. One of the venues on the latter stages of the tour (one of the first that I booked 5-6 months previous) their replies and correspondence was becoming non-existent. It turned out the promoter of the venue had left and simply hadn’t replied to acts. After a few phone calls I made sure the show was still on and convinced the venue to let me sleep in the place or I would be homeless for the night. The people running it were very helpful and kind, but I got the feeling it was hard for them.
The following day after this gig, I find the venue of the night has been closed down. For some time. So I travel from the place I was instead to Brighton. How I had planned this tour was a cluster of shows in the S.East and the S.West. A ‘base’ in Exeter with a ‘base’ in Brighton with friends where I could stop for a day or two extra if really needed.
After the tour was over I had time to reflect on what I could have done better in preparation. I came to the conclusion that there was little else I could have done. The UK transport system is one of the main obstacles, and one of the major reasons of my 50 mile radius from a ‘base’ idea. You must pre-book train tickets three months in advance to get the deals, at irregular times, and possibly not the ones you need. If a gig fell through (generally within the last couple of weeks leading up to performance) the pre-booked train ticket wouldn’t be of any use. Paying an extra tenner on the day is not too bad to make sure you have your gig. Car sharing websites are possible too, though you would have to keep a regular eye on who is driving where and when in advance and leading up to departure. Coaches like National Express and Megabus are favourites with musicians but only go to certain destinations. It is preferable to orchestrate a tour around a ‘base’, ideally a place with good transport links to a number of venues, to basically cover yourself, and to make sure you don’t book so many pre-booked coaches and trains that you’ll have spent £££ months before your tour starts. Remember too, that early-midweek gigs are the hardest to find so a comfortable, welcoming environment you can stay a night or three is essential if you’re going to maintain your tour. And unless you’re teetotal or have a low metabolism, you’ll have to buy plenty of food and a few drinks along the way too.
Here is my upcoming UK tour. Keeping with the same principles, and having the privilege of a tour partner who is performing and driving on shows 12th, 14th, 18th – 22nd, I’m sure there’ll be a couple of new obstacles to overcome which in my next blog after this will be looking back at the tour.
Mar 06 New Hellfire Club, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Mar 07 Forest Cafe Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Mar 08 Wee Folk Club Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Mar 12 The Dolphin Wellington, United Kingdom
Mar 14 Lord Nelson Brighton, United Kingdom
Mar 15 Odd Bar Manchester, United Kingdom
Mar 18 The Sun Inn Llangollen, United Kingdom
Mar 19 The Robert Gillow Lancaster, United Kingdom
Mar 20 Fox & Goose Hebden Bridge, United Kingdom
Mar 21 Unity Folk Festival Wakefield, United Kingdom
Mar 22 Tallulah’s Bedale, United Kingdom
Mar 28 The Grove Inn Leeds, United Kingdom
Mar 29 Bilsdale Folk @ Blackwell Ox Carlton, United Kingdom
Event page for shows: https://www.facebook.com/events/546330698837322/