Stroud, The Prince Albert & Sam Shepard

Why, hello there.  Haven’t spoken to you in a while.  Just thought I’d say hi and let you know some of the more interesting things we’ve been up to lately.

After trading the crushing monotony of London for a life resembling real life in Gloucestershire, Anna and I have finally settled in.  The Stroud area, where we’ve made our home, is an old industrial hub of the Cotswolds, making it less posh than other Cotswold towns, and also quite a bit more gritty and interesting.  Its 40,000 (or so) inhabitants are as varied as any city I’ve been to; so as well as Wurzels and Fred Wests, you also find coffee experts, brilliant anarchist letter-press artists and poets, dozens of young bands, old beardy legends, my favourite brewery in the Cotswolds — and the greatest farmers’ market that just about takes over the entire pedestrian-friendly town every Saturday.

When we first arrived, I was skint and in need of a beer.  Hence, I arrived at The Prince Albert pub, on Rodborough Hill.  From experience, I’ve learned that playing music is the best way to make friends, and if you’re skint it’s also a good way to get people to buy you beers.  When I rocked up to the Albert’s open mic night, I killed a few birds with one stone.  Between songs, I admitted to the audience my need of work; when I got off stage, three people offered.

The Prince Albert has become a kind of Mecca for other London expats seeking clean air and cheaper rent in the area.  Herons! have been lucky enough to collaborate with some amazing musicians who’ve found themselves situated cosily in the Five Valleys.  Last weekend, we performed at our beloved Albert with cellist and producer/arranger extraordinaire Jo SilverstonEmily Barker also graced us with her dulcet tones, when she, Anna and I brought the set to a finish with a cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash’s “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” — not without trepidation!  As an encore, special guests Vena Portae (Emily Barker & Dom Coyote), joined us on stage to sing “The Old Triangle”, which sounded great with Dom’s wonderful bass harmony.

In other news, I was lucky enough to work with actor Jack Tarlton and director Simon Usher on a short theatre piece entitled Making The Sound Of Loneliness, which explored the work of American poet, playwright and actor Sam Shepard, set to music that I composed for the piece.  The performance used extracts from a large cross-section of Shepard’s prose, and was performed by Jack Tarlton and David Beames.  The performance took place at the Arcola Theatre in Dalston on the 22nd of September as part of the Side Orders festival, courtesy of Actors Touring Company.

Making The Sound Of Loneliness counts as my first musical foray into theatre, and I hope it won’t be the last.  The experience was doubly rewarding for me, as I’d never really heard of Sam Shepard (besides as Patti Smith’s ex-boyfriend); I spent the whole workshopping week being blown away by this great American writer whose whole body of work I can look forward to reading.  Luckily, there is a possibility of Making The Sound Of Loneliness getting a full run in the New Year, so watch this space for more info.

Until next time, keep your chins up this autumn.  Port and Stilton help.

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8 Comments

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8 responses to “Stroud, The Prince Albert & Sam Shepard

  1. You summed up why I love Stroud so much too. Wonderful to play a show with you, it was a corker of a night.

  2. Hi Ben, hi Anna, looking forward to come over (maybe next year) to see you in Stroud. Sounds like a very nice place to live at. Hope you will keep us posted w/r/t Sam Shepard’s work meanwhile! All the best

  3. aoifemc

    Lovely to hear from you again, my dears!

    And what a lovely description of Stroud – makes me even more excited to come and visit you there! Only a few weeks to go 🙂

  4. would you ever get off your arse and do something, for gawds sake!

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