Live at the BRFM Vault
We set off in convoy for our gig at Brynmawr Radio. Me and Mike with the guitars leading the way and Marcus with the double bass (‘my mistress’ as he calls her with a characteristic wicked twinkle) bringing up the rear. It may seem ridiculous to behave like a wild west wagon train when going such a short distance but there was some uncertainty about which roundabout, and which industrial estate, and a lot of turning maps around upside down and side on. I didn’t say anything, hell I’m a girl what do I know about map reading?
Anyway...the boys were right to have convoyed up because we did a little tour of roundabouts and then arrived in the right industrial estate but couldn’t find the radio station. The only clue was the two ladies having a nifty fag who said ‘S’over b’there butty!’ Unit number 23 had no sign except for one saying to keep the door closed and keep the pollen out. For a moment I thought the situation had all the hallmarks of a comedy disaster “we had a gig on the radio but we couldn’t find the studio...” but when we pushed open the pollen notice double door, we entered an Alladin’s cave of music. Posters and CDs lined the walls of a windowless warren of offices and little studios. We were in the right place! But would Olly, coming on his own all the way from Hay and not in any sort of convoy find it? We fretted. And five minutes later Olly breezed in calmly,
“How did you find it?” we asked, amazed
Olly, 21 and sensible just looked at us as if we’d landed from Mars (or the mid 18th century) and said
So with Pangolin, Featuring Olly Lewis all assembled we were ready to set up. Brynmawr radio couldn’t have been nicer, everyone smiled, everyone was pleased to see us. And then they showed us into the studio where we’d be playing. I’m not sure what I expected, a cupboard with one microphone I think, because that’s what you get in BBC regional radio studios (the one in Taunton that I used to do interviews from was above a chippy) but what we got was a proper sized stage, proper mics, and individually supplied fold back. We had lots of time for sound checks and run throughs while the crew set up cameras to film us (!!!) and everyone made us feel very very welcome.
I have to admit that I get nervous. I do lots of performing in my proper job and my pulse rate doesn’t go up at all, but singing is different. Fluffing a note is somehow the most personally humiliating thing a human can do. And fluffing a first note is SO easy. I’m acutely aware with Pangolin that everyone else in the band has played loads of gigs but before this last year the only audience I’ve sung to is a small flock of sheep. But Brynmawrs warmth and welcome was so fantastic that my nerves weren’t as bad as I expected. We all felt really at ease and supported. So when the ‘two minutes to on air’ announcement came (what I used to call the ‘beam me up Scotty’ moment when I did live telly) we were all actually looking forward to playing.
A quick interview with Dan and a migration across the studio floor through cable spiderweb and we were off. We’d picked some of our favourites, ‘Levi’ , ‘Eight More Miles’ ‘Leaving Eden ‘and ‘Across the Borderline’ for starters. Things we’d enjoy playing and that would warm us all up and shed the nerves. The boys of course all played brilliantly with Mike’s voice as always sounding great - he never sings a wrong note, not ever. It was treat to be performing with such professional sound and to be able to hear all the instruments so well.
I still cant get over the delight of singing with instruments, Marcus’ double base holding up my voice like a cushion, Mike’s guitar and banjo weaving and blending with it and Ollys fabulous slide, soaring over the top. I think we did a pretty good job. I really enjoyed it - especially singing ‘Leaving Eden’ and on my folk home territory “Parting Glass”.
The songs went out unmixed or at least just mixed on the hoof, and Brynmawr did a great job, but we’ll be going back in soon to do a proper mix and edit so we have a polished version to put on the website so you can hear it and see us play - (watch out for me going cross eyes looking at my mic so as to avoid staring at myself on the studio monitor).
Thanks to everyone at Brynmawr for a fab time. Hope to see you all again soon. And thanks to Mike, Marcus and Olly. It’s a privilege guys, especially the roundabout touring.