(Some Parts…) – A Slight Return

For those of you who don’t read the Austin Chronicle religiously, you might have missed a series I penned for our favorite weekly paper while on the road last year. I wanted to share the installments with you here, at long last.

BettySoo writes from the road again, this time in London

(Oct 4, 2011)

Guest blogger BettySoo blogged for the Austin Chronicle during her European tour, which took her across Italy, the Netherlands, and Germany this spring. She returns for one more, from the UK.

After a long day’s travels, Doug and I each arrived (separately) at London’s Heathrow Airport, where our friends Roger and Kate were awaiting us with beautifully painted welcome posters. Of course, the airport had my flight listed going into a different terminal.

Sam Baker and BettySoo, photo by Richard Webb

We completely missed one another and the beautiful grand welcome, but we eventually met up outside, on our way to picking up the rental car.Roger West, a true Londoner, was kind enough to pick up the keys and whisk us from the airport so we could start getting used to English traffic patterns (left turn roundabouts are everywhere!). I first met Roger and Kate in Austin, as he visits several times a year to record music or perform or make videos. His music is quirky and fun, and he himself is an extremely thoughtful and generous host and friend. He volunteered to be our London driver and host, and Doug and I were lucky to be in such capable, caring hands.

We had one day to rest, then we were off to Buckingham for our first show. Unlike most of our North American friends who tour here, Doug and I decided to forego hiring a driver/tour manager and to drive ourselves around England and Scotland. Needless to say, it can get a little stressful driving on the right side of the car on the left side of the road, particularly on small country lanes where there is only room for one car, and there is a double-decker bus coming straight at you. But you get used to it.

When we got to the Radcliffe Centre, we were amazed to see we were playing in a very old meeting hall (that looks like an old church), connected to a hospital that was built in the 1400s. The show was a treat. It was actually kind of a mini-reunion and anniversary of sorts. Doug and I were opening the show for Sam Baker, one of my favorite songwriters and a dear friend I hadn’t seen in a couple months. We had a great time, singing songs together and joking with Chip Dolan (who is traveling with Sam and has recently discovered his own deep love for cappuccino) over dinner.

It’s a treat when your first show on a tour goes well. It’s another treat to run into friends from home when you’re far away. And it’s another treat to be surprised by other familiar faces, but it’s especially lovely when all these things somehow come together in one night, and they did, when Po’Girl, who was slated to play the next night at the Radcliffe appeared just in time to jump up on stage for the encore. I had met and become friends with Po’Girl exactly one year before, when we were teaching at the Sisters Folk Festival’s Americana Song Academy in Oregon, so it felt magical that our first time seeing one another again was here, one year later, on stage singing with Sam.

Of course, any time away from Austin creates a tug in my heart for home, but nights like this help me feel my home comes with me, even as I travel.

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