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amusing anecdotes

07/11/2011

These are true funny stories about events that really happened to me

 

Kentucky line dancers and dancing nurses
When I worked at Kentucky Music Week in 2005, it was my second time at that festival.  Students from my visit in 2000 requested me to lead another chanting and rhythm session, as they'd enjoyed it on the previous occasion.  Nancy, the festival director, asked me to repeat the session.  However, as there were no rooms available, it was to be held by the hotel pool.  The hotel that weeks was very full, half by dulcimer players and half by cowboys in hats and boots, who were visiting the nearby rodeo.  Upon seeing and hearing our chanting and rhythm session, the cowboys couldn't believe their eyes or ears.  They returned with cameras and videos to record the spectacle.  Eventually and not wanting to be outdone, a number of cowboys started to line dance along the balcony to our pulsing rhythms. The thought of it still makes me smile.


One year I was asked to give an evening talk for a nursing convention at Robinson College, Cambridge.  The talk was to be on the therapeutic benefits of singing.   I prepared my talk, but just in case, I took with me a few percussion instruments and a dulcimer.  Within minutes I realised that these nurses didn't want to hear anther  talk, they'd probably been listening to talks all day.  So I quickly changed tack and started playing some music and invited them to join in with some chanting.  Within seconds, the nurses were on their feet dancing freely around the room.  They clearly needed to stretch their legs and let their hair down.  My client was Chris Johns.  Chris is a well-respected guru in the 'reflective practice' arena and my wife had studied reflective practice under him. (Reflective practice is all about looking back on events and encouraging others to reflect on events and their feelings about them.)  Although the evening went off with a swing, it certainly wasn't what I expected, so I asked Chris at the end if he was happy with my work.  His reply was: "What do you think ?"

 

The tale of the old lady’s mother
One night many years ago I played support to the popular poet John Hegley in Luton Library Theatre. John delivered a very funny set of poetry on the main stage and afterwards I played some folk songs with an acoustic guitar in the lounge/bar area, in an informal cabaret-style presentation. In those days, before I’d recorded any CD albums, I sold cassette tapes of my music and these were available for sale on a table beside where I was playing.

 

During my set, one feeble old lady came forward and purchased a tape. She then hobbled back to her table with the aid of a stick - she must have been 75, at least. Just before she sat down again and with a bent back this lady waived my tape in the air with all the strength she could muster and in a feeble voice she said: “my mother will really enjoy this”

 

The tale of the deaf old lady

Again many years ago I played support to the virtuoso Northumbrian pipe player Kathryn Tickell in St Albans. That night I played some of my electro-acoustic guitar pieces with effects.

 

After the show a frail old lady with a bent back came up to me and prodded me on the chest with her forefinger. “Young man” she said. “Young man” she said again, again prodding my chest. “It’s good to hear someone play some pleasant music on an electric guitar“. I replied with a simple “thank you”, to which she held her the palm of her hand in the air to stop me and said “hold on a minute ...”. She then fumbled around in her shoulder bag and produced an old-fashioned hearing-aid made from an animal horn. She put the sharp end of the horn in her ear and pointed the open funnel end to me and said “pardon?”

 

Tullamore  Festival, Ireland
In 2002 I performed and taught at Tullamore Arts Festival, about fifty miles west of Dublin. On the night of my concert, I met the organiser and we made our way to the venue, the lovely remote Charleville Castle. I expected to get there early to sound check but my client said in an Irish brogue: "we'll be having a Guiness now" so we popped into a pub and chatted to some local musicians. Eight o clock came and went and then nine.  I started to get concerned that we'd be late for the show but I was again told: "we'll be having a Guiness now". And so, eventually, we arrived at the venue and set up. Incredibly, I started my concert at 11.55pm and played in a castle in Ireland at midnight.

 

 Charleville Castle, Tullamore


You may well know of the Irish international super group Planxty, named after the tune type.  Planxty's well-deserved reputation is at least in-part due to the instrumental virtuosity and outstanding vocals of Andy Irvine.  Andy now headlines at major folk festivals as solo act.  In 2002 he rang the Tullamore festival organiser and to see if he could play there again that year.  But he was told: "no, we have Dan Evans this year".

 

Meeting Mick Abrahams
Long before I was professional and before I’d performed very often, I was invited to play guitar at a big charity concert in Luton Library Theatre.  I would represent folk music.  There was a full house that night and the standard of the acts was sky high.  I remember that a professional string quartet was flown up from the South Bank to represent classical music and five young black guys in white suits sang in tight harmony and moved to a precisely choreographed dance routine, representing soul.  I was proud to be part of the show but feeling a little out of my depth.

 
The famous blues guitarist, Mick Abrahams played a tight set on an electric guitar – his music was great and his performance was slick.  Mick used to play with my favorite rock band: Jethro Tull.  The organiser, who liked my guitar playing, must have told him about me back stage.  When I met Mick he shook my hand enthusiastically and said: “Are you Dan Evans? – I’ve heard so much about you – I’m really looking forward to hearing you play”.  I was speechless.

 

Snow
Many, many years ago I wrote a jazzy electro-acoustic guitar piece called ‘Snow’ in the standard guitar tuning, which is recorded on my Spirit Dancing CD.  I normally play guitar in CGCGCE tuning so Snow doesn’t often get an airing - I’d guess that in 20 years Snow has been played less than 10 times.  However on many of these occasions it has snowed, sometimes unexpectedly.  The first time this happened was in Luton’s ’33 Arts Centre’ in the month of May, when the weather is normally mild or warm.  After this odd phenomenon happened a few times, I would make a joke about it when I introduced the piece and, of course, no one believed me.  The last time I performed the piece was at Ealing Guitar Society, I made my joke and it then snowed.  There was a very showy and flamboyant guitarist there that night and he phoned me a few days later.  He told me that when I played my piece Snow it had started to snow outside – and it snowed for 33 hours non-stop and Ealing had the most snow on record for 13 years.  There were several inches of snow outside of his apartment, which is unusual in London.  This gave me a delicious moment.  “You might be great guitarist ...” I said to him “... but I control the elements”.     

 

Spirit Dancing CD

 

Never judge a book by its cover
When I was at university up in Durham I loved the band Pentangle and, in particular, the guitar playing of John Renbourn and Bert Jansch. When John came to give a concert at Durham University Students’ Union, I naturally bought tickets and took a friend. We were enjoying a quiet drink before the show when my friend politely pointed to a man sitting at the bar and said: “Isn’t that your John Renbourn?” I looked over at the somewhat gruff figure and then looked carefully at his hands – they looked like builders hands, big and rough. “Nop, that can’t be him” I said. Of course it was and he played beautifully that night.

 

As a young man living in London, I went with a friend to see one of my favourite bands, Fairport Convention, starting their Farewell Tour in Camden Lock. Again we were enjoying a quiet drink before the show when five older guys walked in and ordered drinks. They were flamboyantly dressed in baggy trousers, bright stripped jackets and wide-brimmed hats. I said to my friend: “I don’t know who they are but they’ve come to the wrong gig”. I had to eat my words when they started playing.

 

Fairport Convention

 

The ISM interview and my English accent in the USA

The highly professional British music organisation, the ISM, ran a short item on my music in their Music Journal magazine in 2009.  The item took the form of an interview and one of the questions was: ‘What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you as a performer?’

 

My reply was as follows: 'I told a long a silly tale at a concert in Indiana a few years ago about how I would go around the English countryside on my motorbike, humming folk songs to the drone of the bike’s engine – they loved the story but the punch-line ‘Dan and machine in perfect harmony’ fell quite flat – I later apologised to the festival director who said: “Dan you could read the telephone directory to us and we’d love it.”



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