Saturday, July 16, 2011


I roadied for Martin yesterday, driving him to deepest Kent for a small private festival organised by a group of people who started off as Grateful Dead fans.
That part of Kent (somewhere east and north of Hastings) is liberally sprinkled with huge and beautiful Elizabethan mansions and cherry farms. Having lived and worked in Sussex in the 1980s, I always feel a little uneasy in these gorgeous English rural villages, which back then hosted small and efficient National Front enclaves.
Who knows what lurks behind the wisteria?
The festival goers, however, were friendly and relaxed. They wandered round with sausages and cider, and watched Martin's set tapping sandalled feet and smiling into their beards (the men, I mean!).
The venerated guitarist and songwriter Nick Harper was there; he is a total gentleman, not only carrying our guitar cases over to the stage for us but also refusing to let a tall and brusque festival organiser interrupt a conversation we were having, making sure we carried on talking despite the interruption. He and Martin have many friends in common and Martin invited him up to play on a couple of songs, which he did with skill and aplomb, locking in straight away to what he was playing. I have learned The Cannonball Rag to accompany him, and we played that and a couple of others together before sitting on a bale of hay and eating festival food under a scented lime tree.
Poor festival-goers, it's chucking it down with rain. I hope it clears up for them later.
And I got home to find that the central heating has broken down again.

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