Tour Diary: Long Division Festival, Wakefield, 8th June 2013 : Hi fiving Jeffrey Lewis on the street corner; Megaliths; One Way Systems

We were heading the wrong way down a one way street and everyone was letting rip on their horns to let us know. Thank God it wasn’t busy. I’d hit the road before 8am in order to get up to the Long Division Festival in Wakefield. I’d been up late the night before supporting the Ugly Guys at my local club, the Pink Flamingo. The Guys were like a laid back Commander Cody, Paul Shuttleworth and Vic Collins, formerly of the Kursaal Flyers were in the band. Vic had taught me many a pedal steel lick in my time. Anyway, it was a late one – a lot of friends and a lot of love.

So I was tired, that’s a fact but I had my girl beside me and that means a lot in the directions department. Wakefield was a good four hour drive away from home. It was overcast and dull until we reached Ackworth when the sun came out pretty intense. It seemed a nice town. We reached Wakefield and I got lost on the one way system which caused all the hooting.

I was due to play at a place called the Orangery, which was a beautiful Georgian style single storey house sitting just behind the railway station. It seemed to have once been the abode of a wealthy gentleman, one of only six in Wakefield who could afford a carriage drawn by four horses. It reminded me that capitalism is an old thing indeed.

The stage was being run by my good friends Brett and Tre from Hee Haw Sessions and it was great to see them again. We had arrived early to see Neil McSweeney’s set but upon arrival were drawn in by the booming funk rock that was being smashed out of the empty Drury Lane Library.  Modeliste were showing the festival how to get started and we hung at the back of the room as they broke song after song, like waves, across the audience. We hurried back in time to see Neil, who played a wonderful and engaging set as always.

It was time to go wandering. Myself, the loved one, Neil and his friend Kieran from the band The Shaking Whips headed out into Wakefield town. Neil recounted his time as a Wakefield resident in his student days and we headed further in. There was an air of danger, well to me anyway and I was aware of a nagging possibility that violence may erupt at any time. We ended up around the cathedral, which was beautiful in its little square. We slunk back to the festival, the sun bearing down intense now.

At the Orangery I managed to catch the Dead Flowers set. They weaved some lovely melodies around their guitars and piano and the crowd were digging it. I had put some pedal steel down on their album and it was good to finally meet Ian and chat. A cool guy.

We lazed on the lawn in front of the Orangery a bit more. Laura from the Shaking Whips turned up from a rally in Sheffield. The English Defence League had requested from the Council that they be allowed to hold a commemoration for dead soldiers at the war memorial. Laura said there had been no violence but the EDL had zeig heiled – which seemed a total contradiction in my understanding. I could not see how you could use a Nazi salute to recognise English war dead...on a purely historical and ideological level, it didn’t work, let alone in the current context.

The audience had dwindled by the time The Whips took to the stage but they played a cool form of blues, just overdriven guitar and two vocals. I followed this up with my own set. I felt good about it and I enjoyed.

With pressure off I headed for the Theatre Royal and caught Jeffrey Lewis’s set. I sympathised with the lack of a soundcheck but they played well and were joined by Peter Stampfell from The Holy Modal Rounders. Jeffrey’s ‘Legend of the Fall’ was really good.

The evening was light and we were still wandering around the town centre at 9.45pm in the fading light. After a quick Italian meal we met up with Brett and Tre at a venue called Warehouse 23, to see The Fall. I was thoroughly exhausted and the venue was hot and sweaty with sticky floors. Bouncers were pulling middle aged men out of the crowd and throwing them through the open double doors while Mark E Smith groaned and gesticulated from the stage. It was heavy stuff. We saw it through to the end before heading back to the car.

At night, Wakefield had awoken as a different beast. Women washed about over the streets dressed in bunny suits and roustabouts hung on every street corner enticing the young to enter their clubs and bars. We met Jeffrey Lewis on the corner of the Theatre Royal. We chatted and he asked us what we were doing and where we were going. I think he wanted to hang but we had to sleep. We left him on the corner, baseball cap staring at a pay as you go phone, backpack between his feet.

I gave the Hee Haw guys a lift home to Leeds. Brett and I stayed up until 3am listening to vinyl (Dead Kennedys, German Industrial Electronica etc) and talking about moving to Leeds, the Hacienda in Manchester in the 90s and the survey of megalithic structures across the UK, aided by Julian Cope’s seminal book on the subject....