September

• (Maud's Travelogue)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tonight we dined with the President of Magdalen College and his wife in Oxford, England after accepting their gracious invitation just before flying to England from New York to perform at The Truck Festival (TRUCK 10) and two promotional concerts at 100 CLUB in London. By the way, Magdalen is pronounced as if it were spelled Maudlin.

Those who attended dinner were Polly and Alan Lis, who we met at the Steventon Village Hall where we did an impromptu performance for a morale boost during the historical floods last July. Polly works with the president of Magdalen College. I mentioned that Garth and I would love a tour inside one of the colleges in Oxford. She discovered the President of Magdalen happens to be a fan of The Band and would like to meet Garth Hudson. So she and he invited us through Edmund and Deborah Bennett (our TRUCK hosts’ parents who we adore).

We pulled up to the main gate in our vehicle and the gate was opened for us to be allowed into St. John’s Quad to park where vehicles are not usually allowed, but put us near the door of the President’s residence.

The President and his wife, David and Heather Clary, came out to greet us. When he came to my door, I asked, “David, what shall I call you? How should I address you?” He said, “David” with a chuckle. “You don’t call me President.” I said, “Great! David it is then! I’m Maud.” He then introduced his wife, Heather. She is a naturally beautiful woman … a lady with special grace.

As we entered the foyer through the arched door, I was impressed with the architectural details of this residence with arches for every window, door and passageway, stone with intricate carved detail everywhere, large Oriental rugs in every room, Richly paneled walls of dark wood, and a grand piano near the front door (I’ll get back to that later).

We were offered drinks while still in the foyer when we noticed a large tapestry woven by Dutch weavers over 500 years ago. It was a gorgeous historical group portrait of King Henry VII and the future King Arthur, who may or may not have ever been in a room together. It is not known for certain. Many people were in the portrait. Then we saw a magnificent bronze bust of C. S. Lewis made by Tolkein’s daughter-in-law, Faith Tolkien. Seemed it could come alive at any moment. Very well done.

We then went to the dining room where we enjoyed a delightful menu: A spicy salad of fresh greens, thin slices of garlic, ginger and cucumber, with chopped peanuts atop. Served with bread and butter along with a beverage of choice that included wine for those who partake of it, bottled water and sparkling water (my favorite). The water bottles were very special with the logo of the school on them. I asked if they were available and no was the answer … only to be consumed there (sigh). Private bottled-on-the-premises water. We were told the cook’s name is Maria and she is certainly appreciated. The main course was perfectly poached salmon in a light sauce served with Chinese pea pods and rice. The flavour was very delicate. For dessert, we enjoyed a true English lemon/lime pudding served hot in individual pots with clotted cream to add as desired.

Dinner included conversation between 8 people about various interesting subjects: First a toast to Edmund and Deborah because they became first-time grandparents just after 10am Friday. Their son, Robin and his wife Megan gave birth to a baby boy with great success. Robin is the originator of the Truck Festival ten years ago and is in the band Goldrush. Garth gave everyone music history and learning technique lessons that enthralled us all. I asked how many people at the table play an instrument. There were no quick answers. I do recall David saying he used to play a guitar long ago and I think one other person (maybe Deborah?) mentioned playing something long ago. I said to Garth, “See that? You’ve been giving lessons to people who aren’t musicians and it seems to be going well.” Not wanting anyone to think I am insulting them, I said that it fascinates me how many non-musicians find such a wealth of knowledge so interesting. I do have a theory that begins with a simple fact that Garth is great to watch as he uses his own pattern of speech with that great voice. And to receive such personal attention and enthusiasm from Garth Hudson is not to be missed. The content of his words are a plus because you can’t help but learn something that can be applied in your own lives whether you are a  musician or not. Well, that’s one of my possible theories.

After dinner we retired to the drawing room where we were greeted with a fire in the carved fireplace, richly dark wood paneled walls, large sofas facing each other flanking the fireplace, and an offer of tea or coffee and a chocolate. I was inclined not to accept anything after such a satisfying dinner, but I am glad Deborah talked me into a lovely cup of peppermint tea and I did accept a scrumptious piece of chocolate. Deborah mentioned her education and I was very impressed by it. Among her varied interests, she knows Latin and presently teaches Greek to thirteen-year-old girls. She knows all the sciences, but chemistry which she desires to accomplish, but hasn’t found any extra time to.  David’s main interest is chemistry and suggested maybe he should tutor her, but she simply has her hands full and could not accept his kind offer (wow). I’d bet that now she is a grandmother she will be much more busy than she already is!

Garth presented our hosts with copies of The Sea To The North and we autographed LIVE at the WOLF for them. Then we were given a CD of Nine Lessons and Carols performed by The Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford, directed by Bill Ives. We were told that Sir Paul McCartney wrote chorales in Latin for the choir there. Don’t remember if it was recorded or not. Seems it would have been.

We were saying our goodbyes and thank yous, put on our coats, and aimed toward the front door after a wonderful evening. Before opening the door our host invited Garth to play the 110-year-old Bechstein grand piano in the foyer. Garth obliged with a magnificent exhibition of his talent and skills. Absolutely inspired! I truly think the spirit of that moment shall remain in those walls forever. I was then asked to sing two particular songs with my shining husband: When I Go Away and It Makes No Difference. The first was a song written by Larry Campbell for The Dixie Hummingbirds’ 70th Anniversary Diamond Jubilee album and of course the second song was in memory of Rick Danko and Richard Manuel and to represent the rest of The Band for our hosts … a fitting end to our visit.

After I was in my seat in the car with door closed and window open, David walked over to me to express his thanks and I asked him if he was glad to come to Oxford after being at Cambridge and he said yes. I asked if he was being treated right. He said, “Of course” with a chuckle. I said, “Well, as long as you’re being treated right then.” We both chuckled as Heather walked up for a gentle hug and we thanked each other for a lovely evening.

Next was a very rare moment: The president of Magdalen College opens the front gate himself with a big handsome smile for us to drive through into the Oxford night and closed it slowly behind us. We drove back to Steventon and prepared for the next day’s Truck Festival.

We hope to return for a tour of the college and another visit with our new friends sometime soon.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Today is the first day of TRUCK10 … the tenth anniversary of the Truck Festival. We were picked up by Noel at 8:30pm to go to the festival grounds at Hill Farm in Steventon, Oxfordshire, England. Garth and I went onstage around 10:45pm to perform one hour and fifty-five minutes for an enthusiastic audience of over 5,000. It was great fun! Click [here] for the setlist.

A FACE FROM MYSPACE

One of our first friends on MySpace, David Geenald drove four hours down to meet us and catch our show tonight. We were thrilled to meet him and took him to our lodgings afterward, where we enjoyed long talks until at least five in the morning. It was a pleasure to finally meet and have the opportunity to visit away from the crowds. We look forward to our next visit and hope it’s soon. Please visit his myspace. We enjoy his writing and his voice is, well, go see for yourself … you like Leonard Cohen, gypsies, lights in the shadow, shadows in the light? Check him out.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Today is the last day of TRUCK10 … Garth and I sneaked into the office to go online and check mail and news and transfer some lyrics, listen to some of the bands, and then sneak back to our lodgings. While in the office we met many people. A lad named James of Nought, One band we met was from Norway called JIM PURVEYOR. We exchanged CDs, but we haven’t had a chance to hear them yet. Our friend Danny George Wilson from Grand Drive (he and his brother Julian are performing with us here and in London) was doing his own set and we joined him for a few rousing songs to close the show! Yeowie Gazowie!!! I sprained my vocal cords!

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Truck Festival was all packed up today. Everyone is happy. The festival has recouped all it’s losses from last July’s floods that postponed the festival until now. A completely successful event for everyone and all profits went to their various charities.

Couldn’t get into Oxford to shop today as planned, so after rescheduling and confirming interviews, Joe Bennett drove Garth and I to Hill Farm again to work alone on our London shows in the late night hours. We changed the set list a bit and split some songs between the two shows so some of the songs would be different for each night. My vocal cords are much, much better now and I am ready for London … can’t wait!

We were handed a nice dinner to eat prepared by Deborah Bennett: Chicken orzo (or something like that) with balsamic hearts of lettuce salad, and cheesecake with fresh delicious raspberries. I remember the strawberries and cream from last July!

I backhanded many mosquitoes tonight and not one seems intimidated yet. Please go away you little devils. Now what in the world are the redeeming qualities of a mosquito? I’ve never known. Wish I had my bug zapper from home. It is like a yellow tennis racket with the mesh made of thin electrified wires that zap your target while you hold the button down. I apologize to all our Buddhist friends, but we feel no guilt, just itchy bites when we swat with a zap. Sorry :^)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Today we tried to locate a place with WI-FI to no avail. Ahhh … the English countryside. I do like to be a little more connected when we’re working. This area would be great for a honeymoon or for respite … a lovely village. There are wonderfully mapped-out walking tours. The people who live here go to the beach to vacation.

Garth did an interview with BBC 2 for the Radcliff/Maconie Show and Tell program. He was asked to pick one song that he felt the strongest about in his life and he selected Blues For The Redboy by Todd Rhodes (1950) which they played after the conclusion of the interview. I am glad to know that it will be archived. I enjoyed what they said about never hearing Garth speak before. The segment began with Cripple Creek and Levon’s wonderful voice. They asked a few questions about the wah-wah pedal, etc. They advertised our two 100Club promotional shows in London on September 26 and 27 without mentioning our two combined backup bands, our opening acts, or any albums. It’s a shame … still Garth sounded great. Try to catch it.

Both singers in Goldrush lost their voices so Garth and I spent quite a while trying to put together an alternative set list that would still work within the planned format of the show and prayed that they would revive after some much needed sleep. Afterall, it’s Robin and Joe Bennett and they just pulled off a weekend festival with hands-on. They’re pretty good at it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Left for London early to do a couple interviews before soundcheck. Edmund Bennett drove us. We always like Edmund’s company and enjoy laughing together.

The first interview was at a small BBC studio at 2:00pm to go live at 2:30 with Robert Elms. As we sat down, we heard the station start playing Danny George Wilson singing one of his songs. The radio suits his voice. His is a joy to sing with in our shows. I had my cane Virgil with me as I usually do and after Danny’s song, “Virgil Caine is the name…” came over the speakers. So our visit began with fun. After Mr. Elms introduced himself, he said that his daughter is named Maud (don’t know if with and “e” or not). Garth has been excellent in all the interviews and was on top of things here too. I mentioned Hirth Martinez, spoke about Daniel Lanois’ film “Here Is What Is,” his album release in the spring, the Truck Festival, and the two bands backing us. I really enjoy Garth’s humor and history during interviews and in the shows. When we finished talking, our host mentioned our album LIVE at the WOLF and played our version of “The Weight.” There were a few fans who had waited hours in front of the studio for autographs. We took our time with them so they would know how special they are and that we appreciated it. I’m not sure how they knew we were going to be there.

We arrived at the 100 Club for our soundcheck to find a couple waiting with patience for Garth’s arrival. They came over from Germany just for the show and the chance to meet Garth. They were terribly sweet and did not speak much English. Garth obliged their request to sign several of their old albums carried gently in a suitcase. They came to the show that started a few hours later. They asked for my autograph on Cds they purchased at the show. They are true Band fans and it looks like they’ve tried to purchase everything they could find over the years. They were sweetie pies.

There were two interviews in our dressing room that was actually the office converted into a dressing room for us: One with a nice gal for the evening news and the other, Clash magazine editor Simon Harper, with a feature in mind. But it cut into our sacred preshow time and we agreed to continue on phone after we go home. Tried to set it for Thursday so there would be enough time, but Mark from Loose Records (Grand Drive’s label) pushed to do all interviews in one day. All-in-all Mark did a nice job of coordinating a few good interviews for Garth.

Okay, now I’ll tell you some about the show tonight. Garth was amazing. I probably always say that … well … because he is! The gentlemen of Goldrush and Grand Drive backing us were delightful and seemed tireless. Both Robin and Joe regained their voices and sang very well. Danny George Wilson and Julian Wilson sang beautifully. I finally figured out how to do the harmony with Julian in certain places in their song “Tell It Like It Is” and it was a pleasure. We all had fun with the Goldrush song “Same Picture.” Our show went well and the audience was swell. We stayed after the show to meet all who wanted to say hello and to sign autographs. Met a few funny characters. There were several people taking notes, one named Garth (don’t know last name) who made funny faces at us as if he was drinking vinegar or something similar. He made the most notes and I expect he didn’t have a friendly thought in his head.

I want to tell you that Piney Gir opened for us tonight. What a firecracker she is on stage… hot doggies… and she’s cute to boot. She does travel around, so catch her if she comes to your town. You’ll be very happy you did … and I do mean HAPPY! :^)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Tonight we were driven to London by Stewart Garden, our Scottish friend. Among a zillion other things, he helped keep track of merchandising. Genevieve Willis who works at Truck offices did some selling of merchandise. The audience picked up free programs left over from the Truck 10 festival for souvenirs. You may recall that there is an article about Garth written by John Niven in the program.

When we arrived at the 100 Club tonight, our opening act was just going on. I could hear the great voice of Romeo from Magic Numbers. We had tremendous fun tonight with our show. Everyone was in fine form. We did a few songs that we didn’t do last night. I should post the set lists for you to see the slight changes. Garth played “Every Time I See The Sun” during the set, accordion too… and of course whenever he dives into another version of Genetic Method, everyone voices express their delight. Garth is a great frontman, telling jokes, singing here and there, and raising the bar for all other musicians every time he plays a solo. He invigorates your own imagination and takes you on an exciting expedition whenever he gives us a peek at some of the music in his mind and soul. Thank you, darling for always being my main source of inspiration and for allowing me the privilege of performing with you.

A gentleman from MOJO magazine came by to interview Garth after the show for a fun little segment in their pages discussing artist’s favorite songs. A five-minute interview that turned into an hour or so of pleasant conversation. I was amused that they hadn’t finished the interview part yet when we had to leave for our long drive back to the countryside. They will pick up where they left off after we return home. I’m sure they will enjoy furthering their conversation… and finishing the interview part also.

Just after midnight, as we were about to depart for homes and various destinations, Joe Bennett started playing the piano and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It had completely slipped my mind that it was my birthday! A toast with champagne for those who partake and my first authentic English fish and chips… yum! I must say that my favorite foods in England have been the fresh-from-the-farm salads that are in abundance during the summer months.

Thank you Jeff for a great two nights at London’s 100 Club and allowing us to become a part of its long and impressive history!

Friday, September 28, 2007

At last we went into Oxford to do a little shopping! I now have a new hat (my birthday hat!) from the Hat Box, made by the Mad Hatter. Well actually I have three new hats. I wanted an all-purpose black hat that would work for rain or snow that would go with anything. There was only one design and it was waxed cotton. The only problem was the bow. I couldn’t imagine a big bow going with anything. I’m not into bows especially. Because the stores were closing, I decided to try it on as a last resort. Lo and behold… it didn’t have a bow attitude! It is a durable black hat that fills the purpose and will last forever and it had just started raining and it was perfect! The other two hats make it so I can look like Miss Marple in a cute hat if I want :^) Love these hats! Nice birthday.

We then went for a sandwich, the lights went on and off and on and off and on and off and on and off the entire time we were eating … psychedelic … and weird! Great salami and brie sandwich with Pelegrini. Grabbed a couple Cornish pasties and sausage pasties for later.

We stopped at a department store then went for the long ride back to Steventon. When we got there we found another delicious home cooked meal left for us that was prepared by our friend Deborah Bennett. Did some packing before going to sleep.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This morning Joe Bennett came to say goodbye, then Edmund Bennett picked us up for the ride to Heathrow airport.

Virgin Airlines set us up with their only wheelchair assistant that knows how to be careful with bumps. He also has a sense of humor and travels to America every year for a battle reenactment between the British and Americans. While our plane was taxiing on the runway readying to take off, it lost all it’s electrical power … all of it!!! I got a bit nervous when the airport denied access for our pilot to re-dock at the terminal and instead was instructed to allow the plane to be towed to a remote location away from the terminal. I wondered what they weren’t telling us. Were they afraid of something, etc. The plane was repaired by their electrical maintenance team and they wouldn’t give us an explanation … ever. Easy flight though. Only one other weird thing … a gal with a Martha’s Vineyard sweatshirt on yelled at me with venom and hate when I asked her if she was looking for her bag. I offered to show her where it was and she snarled that I didn’t need to worry that she wasn’t going to touch my things. Hmmm… gosh, I’m sure glad of that. She must have had it on her mind or something. The poor thing was probably a little in the brain-tilt area after the lights-out scare. I think she wanted off the plane. Our wheelchair assistants were great at JFK. They scooted us through all the checkpoints swiftly… a miracle. Two very nice Latinos. Maybe Garth’s Los Lobos jacket helped (ha)?

We were met by our driver and got a comfortable ride home where our two black cats greeted us.

Nice memories of England. The UNCUT review of London caught what we were feeling there. I think only two people were upset that I wasn’t male and didn’t sing like Rick or Richard. I really wasn’t trying to be them. They stand on their own forever and I like being a woman very much.

We are now crashing into bed to sleep with good dreams. Good night.

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