Ned Luberecki and Stephen Mougin are touring this month in England, and Stephen is sending along a travelogue of their time across the pond. Day 10 finds them visiting the Abbey.
We had plenty of time to get back to the Birmingham area, so we decided to explore Shrewsbury before we left. Wandering through town and checking out the shops, the old churches and finally, the Abbey. It is hundreds of years old and has survived numerous floods. The stained glass is magnificent and the building is simply huge! We had a tour guide who explained the different sections of the construction. The “new” part was from the 16th century, if I remember correctly. One thing that’s a little different over here: there are people buried in the building. Many ornate monuments decorate the Abbey and mark where someone is laid to rest, several of them are full size stone carvings of the person below. It’s like being in a museum, but without the glass!
After a quick bite at a chip shop, we piled in the car and headed down the road. Nedski had a bunch of radio work to do and I had some pre-production work to do on a couple of albums I’m working on, so we headed directly to the hotel and checked in. The Holiday Inn Express chain in England is fairly nice and what we’d expect in the US, except for the European duvets instead of sheets. The breakfast was exactly what you’d expect in one of those places… but that’s another story.
We decided to grab a bite to eat before the gig, so we made our way to the venue to see what was around. The SatNav took us to a residential area, where we asked directions to the actual venue… yikes! We passed a little village on the way in, so we decided to go there for food. There was a promising looking pub, where the food was fine, but took WAY too long! We were a bit late for load-in, but Fishman rig only takes five or ten minutes to setup, so all was fine.
I can only describe the venue as “like a VFW hall” because I think that’s what it really is. They call it the Baulkington War Memorial hall, and the show is run by the Heart of England Bluegrass Association. Special Consensus has played there quite a bit, and apparently I’d played at their old venue when I was here ten years ago. Neat!
We were met at the door by a bass player and his banjo-playing son! All of the shows we’ve played have been for folk clubs, acoustic music fans, and pubs. This was the only one to a completely bluegrass crowd. It’s fun to play for folks who have never heard bluegrass and see their reaction, but it’s also fun to play for people who really understand the music! They were a feisty bunch (I think there were more banjo players than they let on…) and we had a blast!