This is great. On July 13, Fatboy Slim played a free concert on the beach here to what may have been as many as 250,000 people - and I was nowhere near Brighton when it happened. I was, in fact, out in a field in Somerset playing a concert of my own.
Yes, Salter Cane has finally emerged from the insularity of its practice room and started playing to the general public. We played our first concert back in June as one of the support bands for Johnny Dowd (who is absolutely fantastic). Somewhat to our surprise, we went down really, really well. As a write this, an article about "alt.country/americana" music - with a picture of us! - is being drawn up for the local event magazine, The Source. A few promoters in town are getting us gigs and telling people they know that we’re really good. All of a sudden, it feels like there’s a teensy-tiny bit of a "buzz" about us - and it’s awesome.
Anyway, thanks to our drummer’s numerous personal contacts, we got a 30-minute spot at a private party out in a field in Somerset last week. It was a day-long affair, with 14 different bands playing from noon to midnight and camping options for those of us to wanted to stay overnight.
The weather was gorgeous, the music was fun, the atmosphere was chilled - it was lovely. And as we sat listening to the band that was on before us, Jeremy leaned over and said to me, laughing, "There’s a woman sitting behind you who looks exactly like Polly Jean Harvey ." I laughed, too, and thought, "Yeah, right" - I mean, okay, she is from around there, but I thought the chances of her showing up at this rather small (100 people or so) private party in the middle of nowhere where my band just happened to be playing were slim to none.
I didn’t make any great effort to turn around and look, but when the band before us finished playing and we all stood up to go and get our instruments and get on stage, I glanced around casually at the people behind me - and felt my knees go weak.
This was not just a woman who looked like PJ Harvey. This was PJ Harvey. I was about to go onstage and play a concert, and PJ Harvey - one of my musical heroes , someone I idolize nearly as much as I idolize Nick Cave - PJ Harvey was sitting in the audience! Aaaggh!
My fellow bandmates were hoping that I hadn’t seen her because they knew that I would freak out. Well, I did freak out a tiny bit, but when we finally got onstage, I just put it out of my head and played and enjoyed myself. Actually, right before we started to play, I managed to convince myself that she had gotten up and left - which maybe would have made me less nervous, but far more disappointed.
But about halfway through our set, I finally got the courage to steal a glance at the audience, and I saw that she was still sitting there…and not paying us the least bit of attention. She was just hanging out, chatting with her friends. That’s fair enough, really, though I guess I was still hoping beyond hope that she would be entranced by our set - not because I thought we’d get a record deal out of it or something, but because I love her music and for some obscure reason, I want her to love ours. As it turned out, the only band she seemed to pay a lot of attention to that day was the band in which one of her old bandmates was playing.
Ah well. We played pretty well, and though I felt that we were a bit too intense and gloomy for such a lovely summer’s day, it was all okay. The day itself was great, the camping was fun and it was very, very nice to be out amongst trees and fields and grass for a change. And even if Polly Jean Harvey wasn’t really paying attention to us, I can take comfort in the fact that 1) our music did actually go into her ears that day, and 2) I have another celebrity sighting to chalk up to my name.
This kind of thing sure never happened to me in Germany, I tell you.