On Friday night I loaded up the car and headed to Islington to play for the Stuart Low Trust. They have Friday night socials in a church hall off the High Road that welcome people with mental health issues with a plate of food, a cup of tea and an evening event. Sometimes it's a talk, sometimes it's music, and occasionally, a comedian (John Hegley, for instance).
I have not only played ther myself before but I've also taken a bunch of students from the University of the East to try out their songs in front of a discerning and sometimes critical audience.
The set up is very basic. I had to leave my own sound gear in the car because I got there so late due to an accident but the cobbled-together guitar practice amps did the trick and everyone seemed to get along with at least some of the songs. It's such a nice event because the audience chats to you between songs, and you can ask them want sort of song they'd like to listen to. Informality- that's the trick.
Yesterday afternoon Martin flew down from Inverness and I roadied for him. We drove over to The Hat Club, a small and cosy room in the Beaconsfield Squash Club which was crammed with people. Martin played an eclectic set punctuated by some very funny stories; he played the very beautiful Synergy as well as a gorgeous version of Lilac Tree. There was a mixture of seasoned Daintees fans and people who had no idea who he was in the audience, and he won them all over, row by row, until the room was one big warm grin. The crowd were incredibly friendly and sat and talked with us both as we waited to start; they were as well heeled as the previous night's audience weren't, but both nights had a warmth and intimacy that made me feel very glad to work at this level.