Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lonesome Traveller In Bristol.

I had a really nice afternoon and evening in Bristol yesterday. I Arrived at Temple Meads Station at about 3.00 and as I had lots of time on my hands decided to walk into town. I hadn't gone fifty yards when I saw a sign saying 'Book Fair, Here Today'. I went in and inside was the most amazing book fair going on. They had 110 book dealers from all over the country and a restaurant and even a band playing some nice jazzy background music. I was pleased to see some dealers had quite a few books of 50's and 60's counter culture and Beat Generation which I am interested in. I spotted an original American paperback copy of Junky by William Lee (William Burroughs) but when I asked the price it was £250 which was way beyond my means. I did want to buy something though so I bought a First UK edition of Lonesome Traveller by Jack Kerouac. I couldn't really afford it but hey, I was having a nice day out.


Wandering on, I saw that one dealer had some inscribed books by Allen Ginsberg. When I talked to the dealer though the prices again were way beyond my means. The man was really friendly though and we had a chat for a few minutes. He seemed really familiar and I asked him if I had met him before. He smiled wryly and said he didn't think so. When I left he gave me his card. Later on when I looked at the card his name was Neil Pearson and it suddenly came to me where I had seen him before. It was on the telly. He was none other than the  famous actor Neil Pearson of Drop The Dead Donkey, Waterloo Road and lots of other shows. I looked him up on the internet this morning and sure enough there was an article in The Independent about the actor and his passion for rare books.      (See photo)


I spent a happy hour at the fair browsing through the amazing books and wishing I was rich. I could easily have spent £1,000 in there if I had the money. Time was getting on so I hurried on through the bustling streets of Bristol. In Queens Square there was the most incredible market going on with hundreds of vendors selling exotic food and products from all over the world. Finally I reached the harbour. It is Bristol Harbour Festival this weekend so the harbour was crammed with hundreds of boats all decorated with flags and bunting which was quite a spectacular sight. There was also live music. Echo & The Bunnymen were playing but I didn't have time for that.
I was hungry & thirsty now so I had some food and a pint of cider in a harbourside pub. When it got to 6.00 I thought I better get a move on and left the pub. On the waterfront I saw a face from the past. It was Moussa Kouyate. He is a Kora player from Senegal and the last time I saw him was about ten years ago when he was busking on the streets of Bath. On that occasion I bought his CD because the kora is a beautiful instrument to listen to but today I just said hello and listened for a few minutes and gave him some change. What a great guy he is. If you scroll down you can watch Moussa playing the Kora in Bristol.


Finally I arrived at the Colston Hall and I relaxed outside on the piazza with a drink and read my book. Within a few minutes I was joined by an old friend Kev who lives in Bristol and later his partner Ingrid. They weren't going to the concert but it was nice of them to come along and hang out for a while. We chatted about books and music for an hour or so until finally it was showtime. I said cheerio and went inside to catch some of the support act. They were called The Pierce Brothers and came from Australia I think. I only heard about three songs but they sounded like quite good fun. I had a spare ticket because my friend Fred hadn't been able to come so during the interval I asked people outside if anyone wanted a spare ticket but there were no takers. That was a shame to have a ticket go to waste because Lucinda Williams performance was brilliant.

Lucinda came on stage with just a small four piece band including herself. Most people think of her as a country singer but this band rocked !. The young bass player looked like a cross between Sid Vicious and Keith Richard with his spiky hair and he really enjoyed himself all night. The guitarist also played harmonica and he was great. His guitar sounded like Duane Eddy to me at times. Lucinda dedicated the first song to the victims of the terrible outrage in Nice the night before. It was called World Without Tears. The audience applauded and it was really moving. What a nice person Lucinda is. You can see that just by the way she talks to the audience and the roadies etc. The next song was called Protection which was great and reminded me that I had seen Lucinda before. It was at Glastonbury three years ago but on that occasion I was so drunk it was just a blur afterwards.Tonight was a lot better. I must confess that I only actually have one album by Lucinda which is her most famous album Car Wheels On A gravel Road so I didn't recognise all of the songs. She did sing one really moving song about a poet called Frank Stanford I think his name was. I think he was a student of her dad and he took his own life. Crescent City was a really nice song about New Orleans. Drunken Angel was a song I know really well and the audience loved it as well. West Memphis (Arkansas) was a scathing attack on parts of America and not the sort of place I would like to live in. The Ghost Of Highway 20 from a recent album was magnificent. I love the song Lake Charles and so did most of the audience. Are you Alright? I think was the title of the next song and Lucinda thanked all of the band and all of the crew. Bleeding Fingers And Broken Guitar Strings was really great. Boy do this band rock !. The mood changed then to a song where Lucinda had added music to a poem written by her father which was called Dust I think. It was fabulous. Changed The Locks was another great song. Foolishness was a brilliant song and in it Lucinda took the opportunity to give Donald Trump a good lambasting. I don't know why though in England that Americans have to apologise for their politicians. Bonnie Raitt did the same a few weeks ago. We have enough embarrassing moronic politicians of our own as the events of the last 3 weeks have shown. Joy was a fabulous song and the band really took the chance to rock out. They were even doing Led Zeppelin riffs in this, much to the delight of the audience. I think the next song was called  Get Right With God. I can't remember what happened after that because it was the encore and I had put my notebook away and moved right to the front just a few feet away from Lucinda. I know I had a wonderful evening though.

After the show I scurried to the taxi rank and just managed to catch the last train to Westbury with a minute to spare. The train was full of jolly Friday night drunks but I kept myself to myself and read my Lonesome Traveller and arrived back in Westbury in next to no time where a taxi was waiting to take me safely home after a great day. Thank you very much Bristol Harbour Festival, Bristol Book Fair, Neil Pearson, Moussa Kouyate, Kev, Ingrid and most of all Lucinda Williams and her great band for a brilliant day in Bristol.
THE END