Jez Hellard and the Djukella Orchestra - Direct from the Shire

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Top  Upcoming Gigs
October 4th Thu
8:00pm - 10:00pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Nottingham University
October 5th Fri
7:30pm - 10:00pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Songs from the Curate`s Lounge, Long Buckby
2019 May 18th Sat
8:00pm - 10:30pm
Jez Hellard & The Djukella Orchestra
Glenbuchat Hall, Strathdon

Top  50 metres of sheet-ce without a window...

After two days trapped in a frigid seafront car park (ice-rink) by a fifty metre incline of sheet ice, harried by the howling east wind and running out of food, scavenging frozen twigs from a skip in lieu of firewood and gaffer-taping towels over the van’s more profound draughts, it was deeply liberating to get out busking yesterday in the nascent spring sunshine.

There weren’t many folks out and about, and the keen wind eventually drove me away, but those who were interested seemed generous, I was treated to lunch and a latté by Broadstairs songstress, Siena Holihan’s delightful mother (whose name sadly escapes me) and had a fine time talking guitar, painting and poetry with the nattily moustachioed Vito.

Some helpful soul decided to smash in the side window of the van last week which didn’t really help in the blizzard, but my bodged wooden window seems to have made it through the storm. Again, gaffer tape is the most marvellous thing. At the height of it the entire van was sealed in a shroud of frozen rain, with vast icicles curved by the wind, extending all the way to the ground.

The “Beast from the East” was certainly a sight to behold, from all angles. After the longest (and perhaps prettiest) journey I’ve ever made for a single show, I just made it back to Kent before all became impassible, and thankfully escaped a 20 hour stretch on the M20 as some had to endure.

Fresh from the delights of Piotr Jordan’s dazzling ensemble, Dunajska Kapelje at Balabam, Tottenham’s sweetest new venue, I’d driven through the night towards Northamptonshire, but the roads were closed and on the diversion I ended up rescuing a very distraught and shivering woman, braving the cold in t-shirt and jeans (whose car had died in a stench of burned out clutch) and driving her to St Ives (Cambridgeshire, not Cornwall - don’t worry, I’m not that mental) before heading to Wellingborough and catching a few hours’ kip.

In the morning I picked up Nye and we were blessed with a four hour journey south and west, bathing lizard-like in the winter-sun behind the windscreen as the wind howled outside. Via Brackley for ferrules and a bow, Stonehenge for a traffic-jam and a fine view, and Glastonbury, to find the friend we’d come to visit was nowhere to be seen (turns out the dog had escaped and all was hubbub and calamity in distant fields until he was found) then quick-smart up and over the Mendips to for the most astonishing reveal of the Chew Valley at sunset and the cosy welcome of East Harptree Village Hall.

Owain and Sue of Village Hall Gigs had teamed up with Taz of The June Apples to put on James’ Chewing the Fat show in a venue none of us had played before, and it turned out to be a corker. Thanks to all who worked their socks off to fill the place, to everyone who came for such a warm welcome, to the aforementioned June Apples for a beautiful opening set, and to Seamus, Dominic, Nye and James for a fine concert.

Just after dawn I was woken by the bustle of village ladies arriving in preparation for the next event, so I skedaddled for a gloriously precarious, sunbathed but frost-bitten drive along the very spine of the Mendip Hills to Sue and Owain’s place in Priston to retrieve Nye and enjoy a leisurely breakfast, thanks to the beneficence of Sue and her freshly baked croissants.

We managed to pop back to Glastonbury and catch everyone we`d missed the day before ending up in Bristol to meet up with Theo, Jess, Baz and Rachel for a fine pub roast.

On our way back across the country to drop Nye in Wellingborough and hoss it down to Kent before the storm hit, we took a wee detour up the Ridgeway to the Uffington White Horse and were blessed with the finest views of all, seeing the anvil storm-heads of the impending tempest lined up against a clear blue sky to the east.

Again, the beauty was best enjoyed from behind the windscreen, out of the biting wind, and we soon thought it wise to get back on the road and beat the snow. My deepest thanks to the weather forecasters who kept me well-informed.

This weekend, we`ll be taking the svelt and streamlined Djukella Orchestra back down to legendary music/pastie/paleontology venue, The Square & Compass in Worth Matravers to play on Saturday night. If you`re anywhere near the south coast, come and join us. If you`ve never been there, you are surely missing out.

Posted: 8th Mar 2018 | Contact