Smiles & Miles Mugshot UK Tour 2017- Part 2

Smiles and Miles Mugshot Tour UK 2017- Part 2

Howdy friends and neighbors. 

Here’s wishing everyone happy holidays and warm days. It’s cold in Nashville tonight as I sit at the keyboard. Sue and I have had some time to sleep late, go on urban hikes and make a greens and beans dinner nearly every week we’ve been back. And as a matter of fact, we’re making it tonight for our friends Kenny and Teresa. Kenny is Kenny Raduazzo who engineered my latest record, Another Life.

Now it is the next morning as Kenny and Teresa showed up, and I didn’t write very much last night. Most of the morning has been attempts to open a spreadsheet that won’t open. I’m still waiting, and so have turned my attention back to my blog. So here goes…

Sue and I left Filey in the morning on Saturday, October 21 to head over to Liverpool for a show at the West Kirby Arts Center. My good friends, Peter and Gabi of The Good Intentions, had recommended the venue, and I’m so glad they did. The venue is a former Unitarian Church and, indeed, the stage was on the pulpit. When we arrived at the Center we were welcomed by Tony who is the director of the arts center. The stage was filled with hay bales, a charming touch, and I spied an acoustic piano behind the bales. I asked Tony if I could use the piano for the show, and he acquiesced. He proceeded to move the hay in order to get the piano into position. I got to perform two songs that evening on his piano, Kings of the Grandstand and Whatever You Do. I love playing the piano and don’t get enough chances to do it. We had a great crowd, and the sound was superb, a really good sounding room.

 Peter, Billy and Gabi in Liverpool Peter, Billy and Gabi in Liverpool

 Billy at the piano on the Wirral at West Kirby Arts Center Billy at the piano on the Wirral at West Kirby Arts Center

Sunday morning we were off back east to stay with Alfred and Sarah in York. Alfred is the fiddler, banjoist, chief songwriter and front person for the King Courgette band. We stayed in York for two days, did some laundry and got to use a tumble dryer at Alfred’s parents house nearby. We had tea, played some music and actually got to dry, really dry our jeans in an hour. Otherwise, it may have taken all night to happen. Thank you to Mick and Jane…

 Mick, Papa Courgette, and Sue in York. Sue is happy because her jeans are dry...very dry...and warm! Mick, Papa Courgette, and Sue in York. Sue is happy because her jeans are dry…very dry…and warm!

Tuesday we were off to Hull not too far away. We were going to the home of Norman and Fiona. The following evening I had an opening slot at the Cottingham Live Back Room with Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby. The gig was super fun. I got to do two opening short sets. Both Cathryn and Brian had their eye on my Martin 2-17, and I had to stay close to it for fear of someone pinching it. Many folks in the room liked the guitar, and there was even talk about offering the guitar for a door prize. Everyone was in agreement except for me and Sue. We still had a lot of touring to do, and my small guitar with a big sound, Moe, was very nervous that night. We finished up and headed back with Moe in tow, and everyone slept well except for those folks that wanted to take Moe home with them.

 Fiona, Sue, Norman and Billy in Hull. Fiona, Sue, Norman and Billy in Hull.

 Brian, Cathryn and Billy at Cottingham.

Brian, Cathryn and Billy at Cottingham.

The next morning, Thursday, October 26 we headed back to York to Alfred and Sarah’s for a show Friday night with the Courgette’s and The Corner Laughers at the Post Office Social Club. The Social Club reminded me of our American Legion Halls like the one in East Nashville off of Gallatin Road. You know the place, front door, front room with bar and back room door, back room with dance floor and performance stage. The room had vibes galore. It was filled with people I didn’t know, and they listened to all of the stories and the songs that they had never heard. An encore at the end with all three acts proved a high energy, toe tapping send off.

Leaving York the next morning for the Lakes reminded me of Maryland, my Maryland. Last year for a break and a field trip Alfred Hickling and I went to a place called Kiplin Hall. Our route out of York this year took us near Kiplin, and here’s why it had me thinking of Baltimore, where I grew up. Kiplin Hall is where George Calvert grew up, Secretary of State for James I and founder of Maryland.  The time for all of that was 1579-1632. When I pulled up to the Jacobean English country house, there in the parking lot was the Maryland flag flying proudly. 

 Billy at Kiplin Hall in 2016. Photo by Alfred Hickling Billy at Kiplin Hall in 2016. Photo by Alfred Hickling

 Billy at Kiplin Hall in 2016. Photo by Alfred Hickling Billy at Kiplin Hall in 2016. Photo by Alfred Hickling

 My summer place at Kiplin Hall. My summer place at Kiplin Hall.

Sue and I traveled across the Yorkshire Dales westbound for Windermere, the home of Peter Rabbit and Beatrix Potter. Our hosts, Annie and John, live in Bowness-on-Windermere and we were able to stay there for five days. It was the first real break of the tour, though I played two shows while there at The Mortal Man in Troutbeck, just north of Windermere. The Mortal Man is a traditional Lake District inn that has been serving fell walkers since the late 1600s. A fell is a dialect word used in north Yorkshire meaning high, uncultivated land. My good friend, John Hawson-singer, writer and guitarist, plays there in the pub nearly every Tuesday for an open sing evening and suggested I try the room out for a concert. I met some good folks there during my two evening stay. Playing in the pub on the second night proved a success. Pub singing in England is the combination of song and/or tune and ale consumption. It truly lifts the spirit whether you partake in the ale or not. The Mortal Man is typical in that the ceilings are low with exposed beams, a stone floor and mahogany everywhere including my guitar. Oh, and also, the ale is superb. Tom T. Hall would have loved the Mortal Man. Good songs, stories and stouts. 

 Sue, Billy, John and Annie at the Lakes. Sue, Billy, John and Annie at the Lakes.

That’s all for now folk’s. It’s time for me to watch an installment or two of David Simon and Ed Burn’s, “The Wire.”  I had mentioned to Sue that I had never seen the series, and the first two seasons on DVD showed up in my Christmas stocking. Better late than never. 

See you in a few weeks with the third and final installment of the Smiles and Miles Mugshot Tour U.K. 2017 blogposts.

Here’s wishing everyone all good things and a happy New Year.

Much Happiness,


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