Deepest thanks to all the wonderful souls who’ve joined us for music and merriment over the past month of touring. The catharsis of actually being able to ply our trade for the first time in many months is palpable, show to show, and we’ve been lucky enough to play some truly spectacular venues and events.
Now, for the first time in ages, I have a little moment to reflect, and try to catch up with all the correspondence, bills and forms I’ve let slide, as I tried to remember how one retains sanity, voice, instruments, musicians and sobriety whilst rushing like a mad thing, on the oversubscribed roads of old England, between profound musical experiences. It’s been emotional.
Now the van is nearly cleaned, the laundry washed, dried and folded, and I’m almost ready to set off for tomorrow’s show in Lewisham.
It’s been truly heartening to realise that I still remember how to sing songs to people and play instruments after such a long period of hard labour, developing all the wrong kind of callusses on my hands, but the lifestyle takes a little more practice.
By far the hardest aspect of this particular tour is the juxtaposition of trying to sing positive, inspirational songs to people and keep things light, while spending the rest of the time listening to the slow motion car-crash of our Afghanistani cousins being once more betrayed, deserted and thrown to the wolves by our erstwhile “war on terrr”, while the arms-dealers’ schills loosely termed “governments” of the “free world” loll on sunbeds and compete to disparage each other in media interviews.
It may well be the case, but the perverse spectacle of watching the shrivelled husk of Tony Blair, his marked eye still twitching in vain attempt to blot out all the Iraqi children in his waking dreams, calling Joe Biden an imbecile for admitting defeat and shambollically retreating in shame from the scene of the crime, does beg a few questions, and leaves rather a sour taste in the mouth.
In fact, when our Tony (who feels “the hand of history on his shoulder”) was on the radio for the second time today; in order to take the taste out of my ears, I was inspired to clean all the grot out of the bag of life (where all the useful musical electrical things go, so called, as the alternative “bag of death” had all the drum hardware in it back in the day, and weighed enough to kill an ox) and re-coil all of my cables until my hands were black. At least the bleached and waxed Branson he seems to have become is good for something.
The behaviour of self-described-hard-man and failed foreign secretary, Dominic Raab is so utterly sickening, it makes one grasp around for alternatives amongst the current crop of talent, but when confronted by the reality of that very crop it’s apparent we’re using the wrong vowel.
Gavin Williamson was gallant enough to admit his insistence he had met Marcus Rashford (who would coincidentally make a more than passable Secretary of State for Education) when he’d actually seen a picture of an entirely different person, was an “honest mistake” (for a moron and a racist who likes to keep a spider in a box to scare the girls, one might add), but his performance in his actual job is a woeful sham. Priti Patel is dividing her time between devising ways to thwart international maritime law in an attempt to “humanely” drown desperate people using a wave machine in the sea, and working out how much it might actually cost to ship them to a rock in the middle of the Atlantic for “processing”.
Grant Schatt is presiding over the wanton destruction of ancient woodland from the Chilterns to the Midlands in the name of a 1990s Japanese railway system we were too shortsighted to invest in at the time and he knows perfectly well will never be built, so people can get from Birmingham Airport to London slightly quicker in order to help “The North”. Liz Truss seems to make more sense on Dead Ringers than she does in real life.
The fact that erstwhile medi-tech salesman and all-purpose toe-rag, Matt Hancock has thankfully been allowed to spend more time working on his youtube fame, only opens the door for Sajid Javid to bring the bedside manner of Goldmann Sachs to the Department of Health, much as Robert Jendrick brings his greasy manner and easy corruption to the decidedly uncaring Department of Communities.
Gove has been eerily, and some might say slightly moistly quiet in recent months, save the odd burst of disco dancing, which I expect has some insidious undertones, and anyone who even knows who Oliver Dowden, Robert Buckland, George Useless, Alister Jack and Baroness Evans of Bowes Park actually are should probably seek some kind of councilling.
As for the alternative, the bleatings of Keir Starmer seem far more concerned with chasing Ken Loach out of the Labour Party once and for all (?!) and trying to rekindle the long lost Murdoch love-affair than with opposing any of the nonsense being spouted a mere two-swords’-length in front of him.
Sadly the building is yet to be condemned as the asbestos-riddled anachronism it is, which might leave a little space for in which to form some sort of consensus, among a group of sentient people to try to address aspects of the abject mess we seem to have gotten ourselves into, rather than this incessant schoolboy baying across the baize.
Across the Atlantic, despite the millions of people working for a sustainable alternative to our collapsing systems, I see much the same.
Communities fractured on dialectic lines created by our telephones’ re-enforcement of our existing prejudices. Across the familiar divides of Republican/Democrat, Labour/Tory we’ve had several years now of brand new divisions, equally black and white, which cut right through all the traditional loyalties, then before society has time to adapt to the new paradigm, a new binary argument splits us in two once more on new battle lines until you’re left with only six friends it’s “safe” to talk to.
Whether it’s brexit, environmentalism, trans rights, or whether or for what reason the author of Harry Potter should be crucified, people seem to have lost all empathy. Spending all your time agreeing with people who already agree with you isn’t going to change anything. I thoroughly recommend the general public. And indeed the great outdoors.
Talking of the general public, there may be a few tickets left for our one remaining hall show before I up and skedaddle for the hills. It’s at The Old Town Hall in Bourne, Lincolnshire on Friday September 17th.
Apart from that it’s been an absolute pleasure to spend a few weeks travelling the roads of England, catching up with friends old and new, and sharing what it is we love.
Endless thanks to Nye, Piotr for being endlessly brilliant, the other bands and performers we've been lucky enough to see along the way, including Peter Knight's Gigspanner, Two Man Ting, The Mudd Club, The Langan Band, Hands of the Heron, Ewan Bleach, Fiona Bevan, Adam Beattie, Jake Stephens and Carrie Tree, as well as everyone who has hosted us, from Broadstairs and Cafe 54 on the glorious twelfth via Simon’s Farewell, Fanny’s Meadow, Worth Matravers, Markfield, Cliffe, Into the Wild, Headcorn, Clovelly, Hatch Court, Glastonbury and Priston to last weekend’s glorious reception at The Mount Without in Bristol for such a warm welcome. It's been truly special.
It’s been sad not to be able to get to Scotland, Wales, Cornwall or Germany this time, but we’ll be back as soon as possible.
I shall get to work booking real tours for next year, and do my best to bring this Djukella music to as many places as we can. Please tell at least one music loving friend/family member/colleague/acquaintance about our music, direct them to www.jezhellard.net or send them a song/album/video. It really will be immeasurably helpful.
With much love, and maybe half an hour until I have to hit the road again,