Supporting live music, especially unsigned bands, is something we are very passionate about, and fortunately for us, there are many similar minded people who go one step further and actually promote live music events: one such person is called Danny Mayo. In November 2011 Danny organised his first mini-festival and called it ‘Danfest’; headlined by ‘The Tangent’. We were not aware of it’s (Danfest) existence, in fact our first attendance was in 2014 when a local Manchester band (that we supported) was booked to play there. We have been attendees every year since with the exception of 2020 which was cancelled because of Covid.
The event is held at ‘The Musician’, which opened in 2000. It is tucked away in a quiet back street in the heart of Leicester. The Musician claims to be the Midlands premier independent music venue, with live music at least six nights a week. It is small, with a capacity of 220 people and features comfortable seating, full disabled access, easy parking and a selection of real ales; plus the staff are all very friendly and the sound man is very good.
We like Leicester city centre; most of it is pedestrianised, it has two large shopping malls including all the major shops and there are some very good charity shops. With Danfest talking place in late November all the Christmas decorations are up and there is a very good atmosphere. Most years we have stayed in one of the Travelodge hotels, mainly because they were the cheapest - at the end of the day one is just looking for a bed for the night, right? - and it is located just 60 metres from a ‘spoons pub (cheap breakfast and evening meal). However, it is a 20 minute walk to the venue, which is fine during daylight hours, but returning back to the hotel around midnight, one had to walk up the main socialising drag with many pubs and clubs and all their, often drunk, revellers to negotiate; so we had to be alert: to be fair, we have never experienced any problems. The one thing I have not mentioned is the fact that the main shopping/socialising drag is a wind tunnel and last year the temperature dropped below freezing, and combined with a gale force wind, the Saturday night walk back to the hotel was freezing: in fact, we say it was the coldest we have ever been. During the Sunday evening ‘meal break’ i.e. after the afternoon session and before the evening session, we went to a different pub because we wanted to watch the footy (Utd were playing) over the meal, but during the meal we held an executive meeting unanimously voting to abandon plans to attend the evening session (with apologies to the two bands playing) as the hotel was closer than the venue and we really did not fancy another freezing midnight walk back to the hotel (from the venue), and so we headed back to our very toasty hotel room – we had left the heater on full blast.
This year there were no hotel deals to be had: in the past one could normally find a deal, especially if paying the non-refundable advance rate, but not this year. With so many of our gigs getting cancelled over the past two years, some at quite short notice, it is no longer feasible to book these non-refundable rates, so now we wait until the last minute. This year that meant that the Premier Inn - to be honest, although it’s also a budget hotel, it’s a step up from (the now dearer) Travelodge. It’s only 15 minutes to the Musician, it has it’s own (cheaper) car park and whilst there is no Wetherspoons establishment nearby, there is a local Sainsbury's, a Greggs (breakfast baguette in bed!) right opposite, and we had a view of the ‘King Power’ stadium (home of Leicester City) from our room.
This year’s bands included; Quasar, Third Quadrant, Shell Shock, Solstice, Final Coil, The emerald Dawn, the Dame (Netherlands), Haze, Warmrain, and Last Flight to Pluto, but our favourite bands were Ghost of the Machine (https://ghostofthemachineofficial.com/), IT (https://itband.tv/), Tamarisk (https://tamarisk.bandcamp.com/).
Of course, on Friday evening we settled down in anticipation of an entertaining England v USA world cup football match. What a disappointment. We were screaming at the TV from the first minute when Stones (one of England's centre halves for you non football/soccer people) passed the ball sideways to the other England centre half, Maguire who passed it back to Stones, who passed it back to Maguire etc., etc. “Pass the bloody thing forward” I screamed. The pattern of the game was set, England were going to be content to sit back and show no ambition. “Arhh and grrrr”. The idea of football is to score more goals than the opposition, not to bore us all to death. The USA at least tried to score a goal whilst quite easily snubbing out all England's efforts. I was so mad, I had not one, but two, big bowls of cereal with my vodka’s: not good for my diet. Tuesday’s game against Wales was not much better; this time the disappointment would be with their fans as considering Wales needed to win the game, they showed about as much ambition as England did against the USA. They were very poor and England ended up 3-0 winners. The last 16 knockout match against Senegal on Sunday could prove to be very interesting; we shall see.
On the book front, we have our bookmarks, but still no book. I am sorry to say that yet again the publisher is not proving to be very communicative; we have no idea what is going on. The spine design was approved by email last Thursday and since then absolutely nano. Another chasing email will be sent tomorrow; it is all so very disappointing, so much so, we have almost given up: we had hoped to have the book published by the end of October, but only the fairies know when it will be published at the moment. Moan over, it’s time for my evening snifter and to bid you all farewell until next week.
Bye for now