(I write this from a hotel lobby in Norway, where I am sitting eating ice lollies with the New Order crew. Seriously.)
My life this year feels like that thing in old movies where they show a map with a red dotted line crawling from continent to continent, dragging the protagonist around the globe.
It started when Zeki Çağlar Namlı, famous Turkish bağlama player, asked me to come to Istanbul to play on his TV Show. The whole show was dedicated to my music, which was unexpected – I played a few of my songs, and also improvised with Çağlar and his band, which was an incredible experience.
After I got home, the Passionflower video went BLOOOM, as detailed in the last instalment of my blog. However, because my manager Natasha is so awesome, most of the gigs I’m playing this year were booked ages ago, last year, before the craziness. So now, I was just on TV and have millions of Youtube hits, and I am playing in pubs and clubs around England and Wales. This was all, basically, mental. As anyone who knows me will testify, I am no venue snob and some of my favourite gigs have been in tiny village pubs or dingy basements. And a huge part of the fun was bringing my new fans into this world - the number of times I was asked "Jon! Why the hell are you playing here?" The answer was always "Because this venue is the one who were prepared to book me BEFORE I was on TV!" I would never cancel a gig at these wonderful places.
But yeah, it was mental.
The quintessential moment was on a night with several hundred beautiful people in Swansea, many drunk, going INSANE with excitement. I decided a great challenge for me as an experienced troubadour would be trying to reduce this crowd to pin-drop silence. I unplugged, climbed atop a table and played a song completely acoustically. Complete silence. Mission accomplished! However. I was told afterwards that one man was too drunk and confused to keep himself quiet, so somebody simply punched him in the head, as is the local custom, and knocked him out, and he was dragged by several people – in complete, reverent silence – from the room. I doubt this could happen in many towns. Swansea is SPECIAL.
Alternatively, picture a tiny village pub, rammed with people and tingling with an intense, intimate atmosphere, but with an elderley couple in the corner sitting at their usual table wondering what the hell was going on, and talking loudly about cheese. :)
Next up was a tour of The Netherlands and Belgium…
…which was lovely as always, but this time punctuated by a trip to Lisbon to play and chat on a Portuguese prime time talk show, hosted by the charming and lovely Herman José. I was really freaked out to learn they'd reshceduled the filming just to fit in with my diary, and was really nervous. But when they said I could play the WHOLE of Passionflower - at nearly 7 minutes long - I knew these were my kind of people. Imagine that, some unknown guy on a UK or USA talk-show being allowed to play a SEVEN MINUTE song. The guitar solos are longer than you'd get on The X-Factor!
Walking on-set to the sound of the house band playing a jazzy theme-tune was truly surreal. See for yourself...
OK, my ride to the airport has arrived, so I have to stop writing. Part Two ASAP, where I’ll be dealing with kangaroos, an aboriginal elder and a Polish rockstar with a bottle of whiskey and an urge to share.
Thanks for reading, all comments welcome. :)