Vixen Of The Violin: The Anna Phoebe Column (No. 20)
This week, Anna Phoebe’s been running around Europe, playing her own shows and also with Roxy Music. She gets a compliment on her washboard playing, and confesses to a teenage crush! Check out all the past columns here.
It seems that autumn has started since I wrote my last column a couple of weeks ago.
London is back to grey – low hanging clouds and miserable dribbly rain.Luckily the rain managed to hold off over the weekend at Weyfest Festival – what a lovely couple of days in the country!
On Saturday night (September 4), I played a gypsy set with guitarist Byron Johnston and
percussionist Louis, which was on the intimate Rustic Stage – so nice playing a seated set with such an attentive audience! The next day I returned with a full-on solo set on the Village Green stage with my new band, complete with drums, tabla, guitar, bass and keys. It’s amazing to me how nervous I get when I’m playing my solo music – I was petrified! I think it must be because I’ve spent so many years playing other people’s music….on one hand you develop extreme confidence in terms of performance and you feed off the praise, but on the other hand, you are always able to distance yourself from the music if you have to.
It’s a win win situation – if people love it, it’s fantastic to feel part of it – and if the reaction isn’t good you can always say it’s not YOUR musi. But when you’re standing fronting your own band playing music you’ve written, there’s NOWHERE to hide. It’s the ultimate in terms of vulnerability….but when it goes well, it’s the ultimate high! Luckily, even with a few technical issues, Sunday’s set went really well. I’m looking forward to the next one!
The Weyfest Festival is near the town of Farnham, in what is termed a Rural Life Centre – it has old cider presses, barns with lots of farm-like things, lots of sheep and even a working steam train! Not the most rock ‘n’ roll of settings, but perfect for the blend of folk/prog/rock music bands that descend for the three day festival (Wishbone Ash, Stranglers, Zombies, etc.). Actually my favourite act was Ric Sanders who has played violin with everyone from Jethro Tull to Robert Plant to Fairport Convention. His jazz/folk style is absolutely brilliant, and his live band of guitar, percussion, violin and vocals was perfect for a Sunday evening in the country! I love watching violinists who inspire me to go home and practice!
The run-up to Weyfest was a busy week. Three Roxy Music shows – Rock En Seine in Paris, a show in Bonn, Germany, and Electric Picnic Festival in Dublin. After a fabulous show in Paris we had a little after party at the exclusive club Le Baron. What a place! A former bordello, it is exactly how you would imagine. A tiny place, all decked out in red velvet with low corner sofas and mirrored walls with little lights. After drinking champagne and dancing until the early hours, I collapsed into bed to be woken the next morning with a huge thirst and the Parisienne sun streaming through my windows.
Our hotel location was incredible – my balcony doors opened up to overlook the Jardin des Tuileries with the Louvre on the left and the Eiffel Tower in the distance on the right! After chocolate croissants and a strong coffee I spent the day off exploring the boutiques and sitting in the Tuileries with my book (Paul Auster’s The Music Of Chance). There’s something about Paris which is really calming and just puts a smile on your face – possibly partly due to the beautiful architecture, but also the way it is designed in straight lines. When you’re standing on the path in front of the Louvre, your eye goes in a straight line through the Jardin des Tuileries, and its numerous fountain, straight to the Place de La Concorde, down the Champs Elysees, with its perfectly symmetrical tree-lined path, to the Arc de Triomphe.
I don’t know why, but there’s something about this straight-lined architecture which makes you breathe a little deeper than normal and gives you the illusion of space and order. It’s the same feeling I get after a day walking around a museum, or after an hour-long massage. It really
has to be the most beautiful city in the world.
Bonn was also a great show, especially since I’d spent the morning catching up with a school friend I hadn’t seen for 11 years. The opening act was none other than the Fun Lovin’ Criminals who played a great set. To get to the stage you had to walk past their dressing room…..let’s just say they had some seriously strong incense burning in there!
Met Huey Morgan from FLC after our show. I was, I admit, a little starstruck, and stupidly told him I’d had a crush on him throughout my teenage years. He told me he was married, but admired my washboard playing – he explained that he has a really good friend who has been playing washboard for years and years and who would love to see it being played in a modern context. Now, I have been complimented on my playing after gigs, but never for my attempt at playing the washboard!
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of that, considering I have been playing violin for 22 years, had been rocking out on the keys for the best part of the show and only stuck the thimbles on my fingers to play washboard for Let’s Stick Together. (And to be honest, I’m not sure how great my timing was) Ah well, a compliment is a compliment – and so I smiled and said thank you. And I did get his email addres,s to send a picture of me and the washboard to his friend!
The next day we flew to Dublin. The Electric Picnic was a fantastic show and one of the biggest yet! Made even better because my mum and friend were in the audience! The Electric Picnic is SUCH a nice festival – some really good bands, and a lovely location – albeit COMPLETELY in the middle of nowhere.
Had Saturday breakfast the next day with my mum and then headed off to the airport to fly back to the UK. I arrived at 4 then went straight to Weyfest!
A much more chilled week coming up, ending with the last Roxy Music gig of the year – we’re playing Bestival this weekend on the Isle Of Wight. Feels strange that it’s all coming to an end after spending summer with all the guys in the band….I’ve really enjoyed it!
Right. I’m off to Cornwall for a few days with boyfriend and dog. Coming back to London on Wednesday night to see my brother play at Koko in Camden. His band Wolf Gang, are supporting a fantastic artist called Janelle Monae. If you’re in London, come down!
Inspiration Track For The Week:
Fun Lovin’ Criminals Scooby Snacks
Tags: Anna Phoebe, Anna Phoebe Column, Byron Johnston, Electric Picnic, Fairport Convention, Fun Lovin' Criminals, Huey Morgan, Janelle Monae, Jethro Tull, Ric Sanders, Robert Plant, Roxy Music, Stranglers, the Zombies, Weyfest, Wishbone Ash], Wolf Gang