Sunday, July 29, 2012

A Gold Medal of a Gig!

Well, I thought I had to tell you about our weekend of gigs. I know there's some other little event going on in London and elsewhere but somehow it hasn't quite reached Walkford (although I did watch the archery this morning before going down to Mudeford Arts Festival!) So, firstly, the Quicksilver Mail on Friday - hmmm, it WAS the Olympic Opening Ceremony so big thanks to our audience - the only other 10 people in the country NOT glued to the telly watching it! Even so, we still managed to have a good time and it was lovely to see Chris and Sarah (they're a party by themselves!) and a lovely couple who first saw us playing in the rain in Ilchester on Jubilee weekend! Just shows a gig is never wasted. Then the next day, Sat 28th, Alan and I were due to play our song Mudeford Mood for the opening ceremony of Mudeford Arts Festival. However, the Puppet Show cancelled so we filled in - no strings attached! and ended up doing two very impromptu acoustic sets which we really loved and took the opportunity to try out a brand new song (I'm Gorgeous - Gok Wan Told Me So - honestly that is its title!). Went down well too! It was a really lovely festival - very colourful and quirky rather like Mudeford and the sun shone the whole weekend. Then, just time for a quick cuppa, before leaping in the car to go to one of our favourite venues - the wondrous Barge Inn, Honeystreet near Pewsey. Now this is our sort of venue: beautiful setting, wonderfully eccentric, friendly, warm, great atmosphere and serves a great pint! If you've not been, hitch your caravan or pack your tent or hire a barge and moor up alongside and spend the weekend - it is just a little bit special. As soon as we got there, we sensed we were in for a fabulous night. We were greeted like friends - lots of comments like ' Oh no it's you lot that means I'll never make it to work tomorrow!' and hugs and kisses all round from loads of people who'd pitched up to see us and also loads of people who were there camping for the weekend and didn't know us at all. Well, from the first note of our first song, they were with us. They danced, they sang, they listened intently to our mellow songs, and threw themselves around wildly to our lively stuff (of which there is plenty!). When we sang Mudeford Mood we told them about the proposed development plans (met with huge boos) then we invited them to join our protest should the plans be passed (huge cheers - some left to go and make banners). We had people standing on chairs and tables to see us, hanging through windows, it was just how an amazing gig should be. And the guys were on FIRE! Fantastic playing and really upping it for the crowd. You can last a lifetime on a gig like that! Returned home about 2.30 in the morning - poor Keith still had another 40 minutes drive home from us but he was on a high so probably flew home - had a celebratory glass of wine and finished up the remnants of the boys' pasta; then up bright-eyed and bushy tailed (I jest) - dragged ourselves out of bed to crawl down to Mudeford Quay for the second day of the Arts Festival because our son's band - Mothership - a full on rock band - were doing a 30 minute very rare acoustic set. And they were just as good stripped down and acoustic with their songs laid bare as they are when they're giving it the full and mighty power performance. Shows the strength of their songs that they still work in this format and also shows their versatility as a band. Check out their fb page . There was a slight gap in the proceedings. Tony doing the sound asked Alan and me if we'd like to do a few songs to fill in. As we collapsed in a crumpled heap at the thought, I think he got his answer! A very good weekend. Come on Team GB! Love to all Charlie xxxx

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Wednesday, September 07, 2011

What a Week: From Steam to Drama!

Where does the time go? Only a week ago today we'd loaded the caravan and were off to the Great Dorset Steam Fair. We were going to the GDSF earlier than usual because our son's band Mothership were making their debut playing on the main outdoor stage. All was going to plan. We were only an hour late leaving home (which by our standards is pretty much on time!). Rosie the Caravan was all packed. We had all the Mothership instruments in our car and Josh was following behind in his car bringing his drum kit. So far, so good...Well, somewhere out in the middle of nowhere between Verwood and the Steam Fair we clipped a kerb. Instant caravan flat tyre. After much heaving and scrabbling round for a jack and getting the legs down whilst looking at the watch and thinking 'Josh has to be on stage in less than two hours' we put the spare on. Flat. Remembered that we'd left the portable tyre pump at home. Come on, we're musicians and songwriters. We can't be practical and organised as well! Our only option was to abandon Rosie and get Josh plus Mothership gear to the Steam Fair. There was only one suitable place to leave her - outside the gates of a nearby stately home. Now, those of you who have had the dubious pleasure of meeting our caravan, know that she's not exactly in pristine condition! Just as we were about to leap into the car to get on our way, the lady of the manor, in a rather spanking 4 x 4 arrived, wanting to know what we were doing. I think she thought we were the start of a cavalcade of travellers who were going to set up camp there! Anyway, once we'd explained about the rock band, the steam fair and the fact that we were definitely coming back for Rosie as she had all the wine in her, she was very reasonable and almost sympathetic! We arrived at GDSF a little flustered but in good time. The rest of Mothership were already there and we had a fabulous afternoon. They played brilliantly on this huge stage to a modest-sized but extremely appreciative audience. One guy bought two CDs - one to play and one which he asked the boys to sign and which he was going to keep for posterity as he thought it might be worth a bit in a few years time! Now there's a man with a good sense of investment! The boys went down so well that they were asked to play a second slot, opening the evening gigs for Rat Race and The Beat. In between sets, we'd planned to put the tents up but once we'd opened the wine, the stella and the bread and cheese that idea sort of went out the window. Word of advice to all campers: DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PUT UP YOUR TENT IN THE DARK AFTER SEVERAL GLASSES OF WINE!.... Anyway, fast forward to Friday when the State of Undress gang arrived. There was about 12 of us plus dogs. All in our tents and caravans together. We were almost a village! Cannot think of a better way to spend the last weekend of the summer holidays than at the Steam Fair with friends! Must put in a special word for Steve who cooked for us all magnificently the whole weekend and has now become our official On-Tour Catering Manager! Add to that, two great days of gigs. We played on the Saturday in the Shires Arms which was a new stage for us. We weren't quite sure how that would work as, in the past, it had been very much a country-music venue. But do you know what? We had a fabulous time - especially in the evening when the place just rocked. It was wonderful to see so many Undressers in the audience for both gigs. A smaller stage than the folk marquee but the more intimate venue really suited us. Made it much easier for me to tart about amongst the audience!! And we had great feedback from the organisers. Then the following day at our old home, the Folk Marquee. We love the Sunday lunchtime slot. Everyone's completely shattered after a week at the Fair and it's just really mellow and chilled. Lovely to see some of our Steamer Friends too - PK, Charly, Heather - (State of Undress is of course officially endorsed by S.O.D.E.M - the Society of Drivers and Engine Men!)- Then hanging out outside Rosie with Ronni, Sal, Steve, Kim and Pete waiting for all the traffic to die down before attempting a move. Oh, and taking the tents down is loads easier than putting them up - even in a gale-force wind. Kim has the perfect solution for stopping your tent from blowing away - just throw yourself full-length flat out on top of it. Marvellous! If you're smutty, sticky, sweaty, dusty and downright dirty ... well, you've obviously been at the Great Dorset Steam Fair. Love it!
One day to recover and then off to the National Theatre to play for their Watch This Space series of free concerts. What a great night we had! We ended up playing on their lovely Foyer stage as the weather was too blustery and wet to be outside. This meant we had to do a much more mellow set and Keith played African drum and cajon rather than the big kit. But it's really nice to play stripped down like that occasionally. Amazingly, as we were setting up and sound checking, a woman came over to us and said: 'I saw you playing at the Old Gaffers Festival on the Isle of Wight!'. They'd come up from the Island for an evening of culture at the NT and there we were! This kept our record intact that at every gig we've played this year from Cornwall to Scotland at least one person in the audience has seen us before! We needn't have worried however as several wonderful Undressers turned up to support us: Rose and Drew who we'd first met in Cornwall; Mary and gang who we'd first met at The Beggars Fair in Romsey; and my dear friend and Colleague Ray Barker who has come to pretty much every gig we've ever played in London! But in addition, there were literally hundreds of people who sat and listened. We had a fantastic response from a really listening audience. It was one of the most satisfying gigs we've done. We celebrated with a kebab on the way home - Appetite , 184 Chiswick High Road - highly recommended! Huge thanks and the warmest of wishes to everyone who has shared this last week or so with us from the organisers to the audience. It's you who make this whole mad music thing worthwhile! Keep on rockin' and steamin'! love Charlie


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Jerry's Gig: Result!

Hello wondrous people!

You raised an incredible £1001.52!!

What can we say? What an amazing night. The atmosphere was electric and you are all just the best audience any band could have! Thank you so much for your support of this special event, many of you travelling a great distance to be part of it. We loved every moment of playing for you.

We have so many people to thank, we're not quite sure where to start but we'll have a go:

First of all - a big thank you to Ian of Ye Olde George Inn for the use of his lovely courtyard room and to his team for looking after us all so well.

To the fabulous Hobos Morris side for the fun start to the evening - what a great surprise for Diane!

To all those who so generously donated raffle prizes:
Alan Cackett, of Maverick Magazine; Sean McGhee of R2 Rock n Reel; Sarah Meaden of Angelic Jewellery; Julian Hubbock of the Great Dorset Steam Fair; Julie Hearn author of Follow Me Down; Show of Hands; Liz Windett; Gary Theobold of The Regent Centre; Ian of YOGI; Adrian Collis of Thoroughbred Music and Billy Bragg.

To our dear friend Ronni who was on ticket and raffle prize duty all night so hardly saw the gig at all. (But she did party til 4 in the morning so she made up for it afterwards!)

To all those who were unable to come to the gig but who sent us donations and who were there with us in spirit.

Finally, last but never, ever least - you, our audience, for giving us the best night ever!

We hope we'll see you soon.

Warmest Dorset wishes to each and every one of you.

Charlie, Alan, Jerry, Malcolm and Keith xxxxx
State of Undress

Monday, July 11, 2011


Hello world! Well, how good can a weekend of gigs get? We played at the lovely Teign House Inn, Christow, Devon on Friday night for their beer and music festival. What a fun evening that was. And one of the friendliest pubs to be found anywhere with a great landlord, Pete. Beautiful setting with camping available on site. We played in an old army tent - great sound and atmosphere. Then Saturday night at The Beggars Fair. Just brilliant. What an audience! Some of them started arriving at 5.30pm saying 'Well, we wanted to be sure of a good place!'. You could hardly move in the The Abbey Hotel for the crowd and the heat but it was a scorching night in every way! We LOVE The Beggars Fair. Please keep inviting us! Then, possibly one of our most unexpectedly pleasurable gigs of the year so far at Dorchester Arts on Sunday for their new Sunday Sessions. Tiny little venue all whitewashed and soft lighting with just a great vibe. This is a new venture for Dorchester Arts and to be honest we thought we'd be lucky to get a few people through the door. But, John Bullock and team had done a great job promoting it and the place was packed. The organisers had to rush off and print more tickets and I don't think you could have comfortably got any more people in! This was a very different gig for us. Very stripped down and mellow with Keith on African drum and cajon and no big kit. Well, the audience was so palpably warm towards us from the offset. And we started off really mellow and laid-back, playing many songs that we don't always get chance to do and a real mixture of some of our older material and some brand new songs from our forthcoming album. Of course, we did include lots of our up-tempo, numbers like Hangman's Daughter, When Will We be Married?; Rock it! etc but we also did Song For a Boy; Alice and Follow Me Down with Malcolm doing some lovely twiddly acoustic guitar. And it did kind of end up a bit of a party! For a mellow, stripped down, acoustic gig it was quite bonkers by the end with the audience clapping along madly to the Raggle Taggle Gypsy and singing This Time with huge gusto then stamping their feet and thumping the table for more! Every second of playing for such an appreciative audience was a joy. Bands like us need venues like that. So, people, if you're anywhere in the Dorchester area get along there and support it! Going to sit in the sun now with a cuppa tea and enjoy the after glow! xx


Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Oh Ireland, we so enjoyed the craic!

Hello all you lovely people. Sorry not to have been online sooner to let you know all about our wondrous trip across the water to the Emerald Isle. Truth be told, it's taken me a couple of days to get my breath back!! So, we left bright and early - about 6.00am Wednesday morning in the band van from Malcolm's; picked Jerry up en route and started our excited journey to play at the Tall Ships Race Festival. Weather was clement; the roads were clear; and we arrived at our ferry port with nearly two hours to spare. 'Oh' says I ' We could have had another hour in bed!' Just as well we didn't as we were actually at the wrong ferry port! Mass panic; screech of the brakes; and we drove for another 25/30 miles from Fishguard to Pembroke!! Arrived just in time to join the queue waiting to board! Lovely smooth crossing. Wasn't seasick once - result! Checked in with the Tall Ships Festival office in Waterford and finally arrived at our accommodation in the student Hall of Residence about 9.00pm. Wine, food, more wine, bed. The following day, after a little mooch round Waterford, we caught up with our friends Eric and Sue who had flown over for the event. Eric complete with camera and tripod to capture more footage of us for his documentary DVD. Then back in the van to drive to Cork where we were due to play at the renowned Crane Lane Theatre. Now, you know what they say - the best laid plans of mice and men and all of that - and the venue had looked absolutely gorgeous on their website - all dark wood, velvet, striped satin and chandeliers - and I'd been told that people travelled for miles to come there and that they were known for their late night music. Now, I was the one that booked this gig and agreed to play from midnight - 2.00am which meant travelling back from Cork to Waterford at 3 in the morning. So understandably, I was a little apprehensive as we drove along. Supposing I'd dragged the band out all this way, depriving us of our beauty sleep ( I know, I know , these days it takes more than sleep!) only to play to a couple of drunks singing Danny Boy in the corner? But, oh my! What a gig! The place was absolutely packed - maybe 300, 400 people - and it was even more fabulous than we'd expected with bunting and fairy lights and candles in glass jars and what's more they loved us. They danced, they joined in with our songs, they shook their eggs, they rattled their tambourines, they jumped on stage and kissed us, the manager upped our fee 'cos we'd put on such a good night, we had free beer - all in all, well worth it. And we acquired near legendary status in the Hall of Residence as we were the last band in, stumbling through the doors at 5 in the morning as dawn was breaking! Then our first day at the Tall Ships Race Festival. What glorious creatures those ships are! So graceful and elegant, you can see why people say that ships have souls. Everyone so warm and friendly. We were playing on the North Wharf Stage on the far side of the river. The setting was lovely but at early teatime on Friday there weren't that many people around and we were a little disappointed. Still, we played really well with great energy and all the notes in the right place. Our friends Alan and Julie Vincent arrived (they'd flown over as well) and Alan was suitably dressed in a SoU teeshirt. But, if we were honest, it hadn't quite lived up to our expectations. However, Alan V had good news. He'd managed to blag enough tickets for us all to get in to see The Waterboys. A great way to round off the day. Next day, Saturday, and the sun was shining, the sky was blue and we were all set to hit Waterford once more. We thought we'd try and take in some culture - Malcolm and Liz, Eric and Sue did very well and went round the Waterford Crystal Factory. The nearest Jerry, Keith, Alan and I got to culture was some Guinness in Geoff's Bar listening to the Gypsy Jazz Band! Well, it was too hot to walk any further...Then, we'd promised Eric that we'd do some filming with him down by the Tall Ships. We thought the best we'd manage, would be a couple of shots down on the quay with the ships in the background. But dressed in all our gigging finery and brandishing Eric's media business card, we found ourselves on the deck of a beautiful ship from Norway 'Sorlandet'. We played and sang 'Plenty More Fish in the Sea' positioned amongst the rigging, and the wheel, with a sparkling sea behind us and an appreciative crowd below us. What a brilliant way to spend the afternoon. Then, it was off to do our second and final Festival gig still on the North Wharf Stage but at 8.15pm. Clashing with the headline band Sharon Shannon so we were expecting an even smaller audience than the day before. But how wrong can you be! We had a FABULOUS audience and from the first note of the first song they were with us all the way! And didn't we rock that wharf! The fellas were on fire. Jerry broke a string in The Hangman's Daughter, our final song of the set, but still managed to do a storming end on three strings! I tell you, you can live forever on a weekend like that! We had set off on the Wednesday under a cloud knowing we were going without some very special people who should have been with us. But we did Dorset proud! So huge thanks to everyone who made this trip possible, who saw us off from England and welcomed us into Ireland; who sent us on our way in both directions with the warmest of wishes. We will be back!

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

To All Undressers Everywhere!

One of the great things that we've noticed over the past few months is no matter where we've played - even in Scotland and Cornwall - we've yet to be at a gig where there isn't at least one person who's seen us before! It's just so encouraging and what's so heart-warming, too, is that people have sometimes travelled a long way for one of our gigs. So to Eric and Sue who drove up from Christchurch to film us at Tan Hill Inn, miles away from anywhere, spectacular, remote, breathtakingly beautiful and full of extraordinary people and to lovely, wonderful 'Norvern Git', Malcolm, who came up there from Leeds to bring us home-made pork pies, to the Steamers who we'd met at Strawberries and Steam last year and who were on holiday in Looe; Angela and Tony who paid us a 'surprise visit' to Boscastle; to Ronnie, Gail and their friends in Berwick; to Chris who came back early from Belgium when he heard we had a gig at the Fox and Hounds, yesterday - the warmth of the welcome at both Christchurch on Saturday night and Wroughton on Sunday was wonderful - just like playing to a load of your mates; to the half a dozen lovely fellas in Andover who'd seen us either at The Beggars Fair or The Great Dorset Fair or at the Queen Charlotte (and that must be at least two years ago) and said 'We've been waiting and waiting for you to come back to this area...' - to all those wonderful Undressers who turn out for us time after time in all weathers , and to those who are busy making arrangements to get to Ireland to see us at the Tall Ships Race Festival, we send you our love and thanks! Keep on shakin'!! Charlie xx


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Spellbinding Weekend in Cornwall....

What a weekend!I have to say, touring the country with State of Undress, we've stayed in some amazing places and met some extraordinary people none more so than this weekend. We spent Easter weekend playing three gigs in Cornwall and staying 3 nights in the flat above the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle! What a place this is. A little white-washed old stone building right on the harbour side; a wooden stand outside where visiting witches can leave their broomsticks; a metal ring in the wall for tethering your 'familiar' whilst you have a brew; then in the flat, touches of magic and mysticism everywhere from the huge green cauldron in the corner of the sitting room to the pentangle soap holder in the bathroom. Having said all that, the vibe in the flat was friendly and welcoming and cosy as we all slept in one big room. Well, I say slept, I definitely heard some strange noises off in the early hours but there was no way I was going to investigate ...! But,if you're ever in Cornwall, the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle is definitely worth a visit. Fascinating, a little macabre at times, but so informative and everything beautifully presented, paying tribute to and offering insights into our ancient folkloric traditions. It also houses the largest collection of books, letters and other documents on witchcraft and folklore in the world. Thought we'd lost Malcolm in the library permanently. He was completely engrossed. I think he was looking for a spell to bring us fame and fortune! Still, enough of the Tourism promotion bit - and no, I'm not on commission! - and back to music! We had one half-decent gig, one completely rubbish gig, and one mega-fantastic gig! The best thing about our gig on Friday was a surprise visit from two of our favourite Undressers. Couldn't believe it when I walked out of the flat and there, standing on the quayside, were Tony and Angela! I thought they must have been magicked there!Well, what could we do but have a glass of wine to celebrate? They joined us at the gig later and even though we had a very small but select audience we had a fun time, met some more great people including Jack and Faye who run a beautiful little B & B just along the harbour from the museum and who really loved our music. Tony and Angela came back to the flat for yet more wine after the gig and joined us for breakfast the following morning - was lovely just to spend some time with them and the rest of the band in such incredible surroundings. We'll pass over the Saturday night gig other than to say we really thought we'd gone through the stage of gigging in venues where they don't have the courtesy to switch off the multiple screens whilst the band is playing! Best thing about Saturday night was my friend Katie arriving bearing gifts of chocolate for all the band! Just what we needed! And so, on to Sunday and the beautiful sea-side town of Looe with its sparkling harbour and narrow, winding streets. We had a good feeling the moment we walked into the pub - The Ship Inn. Just a great atmosphere. The bar manager said they'd had lots of interest in the gig and people had been popping in and phoning about it over the past few days which was really encouraging. And sure enough, the place was packed! We played one of our best gigs ever and just brought the place down. The audience was brilliant. So warm and responsive. We had a group of little children who danced and twirled their skirts; another guy said his aged grandmother was almost jigging - the liveliest he'd seen her in years. I always said we had broad appeal! The organisers of the Looe Festival were there and booked us on the spot; oh, and just loads of lovely comments and hugs and kisses all round. Wonderful. Wonderful. The sort of gig that makes this whole mad music thing worthwhile!Perhaps Malcolm did find a spell...?
Here's wishing magic and music to all.

State of Undress