Mermaid Overseas: Seattle to San Diego

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: Seattle to San Diego, CA

When: 27/05/2015 – 31/05/2015

Lesson: Ocean Beach is better than Pacific Beach

Achievement: Acoustic set in Te Mana Cafe, OB

Lyric: Tripping in America, I fell in love three times

Quote: “You’re doing a great job”

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1. Dolly Parton – Jolene

“Your smile is like a breath of spring, your voice is soft like summer rain and I cannot compete with you Jolene”

I took a short flight to San Diego to complete my USA route. As the only City I chose to return to within the three months, I decided to explore a different area than when visited in March. I found Chris on Couchsurfing and within moments of my arrival at his flat (almost on the beach) he and his housemate Jonah were listening to Jolene. This seemed to take me full circle from the amount of times I sang it in LA, my first stop, and I proceeded to play my cover for them. I have discovered that as soon as I play for new people I meet on my travels I immediately feel at ease and this set me off on the right foot with these 2 fabulous lads.

Another resident of the flat I was overjoyed to meet was Kuzy.

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Me, Chris, Jonah and Kuzy went to Ocean Beach Farmer’s Market for a mooch and some Lasagne. After said Lasagne we walked the 30 seconds distance to the beach to watch the incredible sunset and look out for the “green light” that apparently can be seen sometimes across the water. We’ll say we saw it.

We had some bevvys in their lovely flat playing a silly drinking game which I never got the grasp of and had something to do with predicting the numbers you would roll on a dice and drinking double or something. The 2 beautiful ladies and other flatmates of the apartment joined who are called Nuria and Katie and both wonderful women. More of Chris’s friends including Molly who was soon to be travelling to London and Wednesday who is Chris’s boss at a surf school joined the drinks. We headed to a Reggae night at a bar called Winstons.

The music was good fun and I tried to drink all the drinks but my body and mind were giving up on me after Sasquatch Festival and I wasn’t as lively as I wanted to be. Luckily Chris and Katie had both been partying at a festival the weekend before too and were equally as drained. We headed back after a few boogies and Chris made sausages. A man who makes sausages after a night out is a good man.

2. Frank Sinatra – My Way

“To think I did all that and may I say not in a shy way, Oh no, oh no not me, I did it my way”

Still a little sore headed and festival blued I went for a trusty walk around Ocean Beach during the next day and bumped into Chris’s friend Mateo who I had met the night before and who had meant to share the late night sausages with us but he never got into the apartment after the bar. Mateo grew up in Ocean Beach so took me on a mini tour into a music shop, bead shop, booze shop. We had some beers (illegally) on the street and discussed music. I found listening to his deep insight to life fascinating and he spoke of many songs. I sang briefly for him and he reciprocated singing My Way in Spanish. I soon realised the beers were bottomless and tried to get back to Chris and the crew before the sun went down.

I made it back to the guys and we went to Wonderland (where their theme and logo is a Mermaid) for dinner. A girl was performing solo for the evening and I was eager to ask to play when she took a break but chickened out. We headed back for some more drinks and then Me, Chris, Nuria and Molly went to another Reggae night at a different bar called Gallaghers. A female fronted live band were really entertaining and when they finished we attempted to go to another bar but it had closed. On the way home we passed a musician they all knew who was performing on the street and fabulous.

The drunken snacks continued and just as we made it back to Chris’s flat he and I decided to go get Mac and Cheese and mini whiskey bottles before bed.

3. Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling – The Water

“Now deeper the water I sail and faster the current I’m in, that each night brings the stars and the song in my heart is a tune for the journeyman’s tale”

All festival blues were gone and my mind was back on track as Chris, Kuzy and I took on the morning together. To say thank you for the best of times I was having in Ocean Beach and as I was staying with Chris longer than first arranged I wanted to make dinner for the gang.  In America everyone has a car so the nearest Supermarket was not walk-able. Charming Chris drove me to the Supermarket and we stopped at San Diego University where he is studying on the way as he had a meeting. Me and Kuzy perused the amazing grounds weeing and pooping all over the pristine grass until Chris was finished.

I was uneasy choosing the groceries especially after a few too many Tequila Tecates the night before and unsure of what all 4 of the crew would like. In the sauce isle torn between whether to make tomato or cheesy pasta Chris turned and said “you’re doing a great job” and that was all I needed to feel dazzling once more.

Chris went to work teaching little brats to surf and I went out with Katie and Kuzy to a Kava cafe called Te Mana and to Sunset Cliffs with a couple of her friends. The view was amazing and we saw ickle crabs and Katie knew her shit when it came to marine biology and taught me some good stuff.

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Katie had to work when we got back to the flat but the guys were having their afternoon naps and I prepped the grub. When it was ready Chris, Jonah, Nuria and I dined and listened to a random dinner playlist called Farm to Table we found on Spotify and was surprisingly lovely. This Johnny Flynn and Laura Marling track was featured along with some other gems. I also feel like Chris looks slightly like Johnny Flynn and he also plays guitar and writes.

We were venturing out to Pacific Beach for the party this Friday night even though everyone who lives in OB hates PB. We got good and drunk and headed to a delightful beer bar where you had a wristband and topped up your glass yourself with various different delicious beers after swiping and paying when you left.

Since I had left England I had dreamed of meeting an American hunk called Chad who was going to whisk me away on the adventure of the lifetime but I had not met one the whole three months. This night Molly introduced me to one of her friends called Chad. My heart was thumping and expectations were too high for me to act like a normal human being so unfortunately I only managed one conversation with the chap and it turned out he was kind of German so not the American dream I had created in my imagination. At least I had created the adventure of a lifetime all by myself for the previous three months.

I must have chosen the strongest beers as I was sozzled by the time we went to a different bar which I had coincidentally been to the first time I was in San Diego. I decided I didn’t like being in the same place twice so attempted to head to the beach on my own but luckily Katie rang me and also informed me I was walking in the opposite direction of the beach and we were going home anyway. We also saw the girl who was performing in Wonderland the night before and she said she would have let me play so the lesson is learnt to always ask!

4. Dean Martin – Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime

“Something in your kiss just told me that sometime is now”

I had walked past something in a shop window the day before that had been playing on my mind sporadically since and I decided it was a necessity as a souvenir for these past three months. A Pop Art Aerial lunchbox is what every Mermaid needs. After playing Chris my song ‘Strangle’ and him not knowing that the speech bubble is a quote from the Disney film he asked if I had some fucked up men issues.

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Jonah is a fellow musician and great guitarist and currently finishing off his record with his band. He played me some of his splendid music and we had a mini jam and almost wrote  a complete song together.

Chris took me and Wednesday sailing in the afternoon after they finished work despite the wind being non-existent. On the drive to the harbour Chris put on his only tape which is Dean Martin and told us that his Grandma would listen to this tape on full blast as she drove around. Sailing was bloody great as it’s something I’ve never done and then we got delicious Mexican food.

Pretty exhausted by the time we got home I serenaded Chris, Jonah and Kuzy to sleep with practically every song I’ve ever written which I thoroughly enjoyed and took a rather long time. Once the boys were snoring gently I ran to the shop to buy Margarita goodies for their awakening. It didn’t take much or too may Reese’s cups to have Chris and Jonah on board for heading to PB again to meet Molly and her chums for another boogie. Here are my 2 favourite fellas.

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We went to Local bar, Open bar, Denny’s and an amazing Ice Cream shop where a part-ay was going down. The night ended up with me skinny dipping in the ocean and snuggled on the beach until we realised it was probably a good idea to sleep in a bed.

5. Scissor Sisters – Take Your Mama

“All the girls they seem to like you ’cause you’re handsome, like to talk and a whole lot of fun”

We rolled out of bed and onto Brunch with Andie, a friend of Emy who I was in Tucson with, and her boyfriend (and now fiance) to which me and Chris were over an hour late. We ate well and had Mimosas to begin my final Sunday Funday and last 24 hours in the USA.

After an enthralling brunch we carried on the Mimosa trend with a bottle of Champagne as we gathered the troops to watch me play at Te Mana Cafe in the afternoon. I set up outside and played a set and then we decided to head to Coronado Island with Nuria and her boyfriend. We bought a bottle of rum for this journey too and the song that was constantly on mine and Chris’s lips was Take Your Mama which I haven’t heard for years until the night before from a funny story of Chris and his ex girlfriend. On the car ride we listened to Jonah’s recordings which are fab and I can’t wait to hear them again and see his band perform next time I am back in the States.

We arrived at the gorgeous Coronado and decided to hire bicycles to go around the island. This then led to renting tandems and me and Chris speeding around blasting Take Your Mama out, supping on rum and being 10 times faster than the others.

We took a break at Hotel Del Coronado where I stayed at when I was younger with my parents and remembered alarmingly clearly. As I was a very fat child my memories of coming to America when I was younger was all food related and I recalled an incredible ice cream shop in the hotel which was still there and I had to get some. My drunken athleticism did not let me down as we cycled back and won even though it was in no way a race (but we bloody won).

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Chris and I didn’t want the party to end when we got back from Coronado and attempted the vodka red bulls whilst ordering Dominos and planning on hitting some bars but Katie and Jonah were watching Harry Potter and we were drawn in and eventually fell asleep before the end. God damn Harry Potter as I didn’t want to fall asleep and be leaving in the morning. Such a perfect last 24 hours in USA and I couldn’t have wished to be with better people.

Chris has eventually woken up and is very kindly driving me to the Greyhound station one last time…

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Mermaid Overseas: Sasquatch Festival

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: Sasquatch Festival, George WA

When: 21/05/2015 – 25/05/2015

Lesson: We’re not in France

Achievement ‘Cla’ – a cocktail of red wine and vodka for hydration

Lyric: My body clenches, my thoughts are wasted, I can’t remember the last page when I sussed out what was going on

Quote: “Hey Reed have you got your nasal spray?” / “Wait whut?” / “You look like my sister… and my bassist” / “I think you’d like to see me lose my mind”

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1. Angel Olsen – Stars

“I feel so much at once that I could scream”

Everything ran as smooth as peanut butter (smooth peanut butter) as friends of Will managed to squeeze me, Josh and my gallons of vodka and red wine into their car for the three hour ride from Seattle to George for Sasquatch Festival. I drank a bottle of red and fell asleep the for most part of the journey which came as no surprise to me but perhaps a rude strike to the kind couple escorting me. We arrived to pitch blackness and hundreds of cars setting up camp but I managed to decipher Will’s voice through the excitement and found him and Trevor. They took me to our campsite and I was reunited with Reed, Zsophi and Luben also. Trevor and I sat on the roof of Will’s car looping conversations about Angel Olsen all night until the sun came up to reveal the most beautiful rural surroundings and many flags from various States and Countries around the cars and tents in the Gorge. The surroundings, in my opinion, looked remarkably like France. We recreated Lounge Luben and headed to find the music.

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Due to my Angel obsession Trevor and I planned the whole day to ensure we were in the very front row so she could feel my tears splatter on her toes. We watched The New Pornographers with Will and Reed but sadly missed Gogol Bordello. I fantasized of the different occurrences in which the circumstance could result in Angel and I being best friends and music duo for the rest of eternity and shared these thoughts too freely with Trevor who surprisingly still stood by my side. The weather went quite wild with storms brewing and just as she finally walked to the mic to commence the set announced they had to wait for the weather to pass. I panicked but eventually they kicked off and played an incredible set in which I cried numerous times. I enjoyed her comfort on stage and how she often appeared to be almost laughing at herself mid song. Angel and her female bassist both wore denim jackets and looked like the coolest cats in the USA. After my brother advising I listen to her latest album when I first arrived in America she has been a solid percentage of my soundtrack across my journey and I was overwhelmed with gratitude for every inch of every person I had met and every memory I will never forget.

When we were waiting for my Angel to appear we asked someone to take a photo of us and couldn’t face looking at it in fear of what messes we must look like… but I think we look pretty darn together and great.

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After that ultimate experience of my existence we headed to see half of Little Dragon’s set which was really great too. I managed to catch Paris which is my favourite track and we danced in the darkness until our wee little legs were exhausted. We attempted to watch the headliners Sleater-Kinney but after very little sleep I was propped up against a barrier so headed back to the campsite.

2. Sylvan Esso – H.S.K.T.

“Oh how did I get here? Did it say when I was young?”

Saturday morning came and my pasta dishes were mouldy in the blistering desert heat and the Fud looked less than appetizing so we ate peanut butter jelly sandwiches (my first of many) with vodka tonics and headed into the music once more. The sun was a touch too intense in our lethargic state and Trevor, Zsophi and I lay on a shaded banking staring at one of the stage for a good few hours. Luben had been with us but had set off on a solo mission for the afternoon, which is usually my wandering role at festivals. During this lazing we saw Ryley Walker who I really enjoyed and also unintentionally watched the one band that I decided I would not make an effort to see due to their name being Diarrhea Planet. On a toilet trip I managed to catch Dilated Peoples performing the one song I know by them also which was a bonus.

Diarrhea Planet sounded nothing like I expected and were thoroughly enjoyable. As we headed to a different stage they did a cover of Baba O’Reilly which sounded so alike to The Who me and Trevor were in a state of confusion trying to work out whether we had somehow managed to overlook that The Who  were playing at Sasquatch.

We waded through the crowds to be in a good position for Sylvan Esso who my girl Lottie had introduced me to whilst I had been away. We were fueled with energy as the incredible and sexy Amelia Meath owned the stage and the whole crowd went nuts. From seeing 3 insanely talented female front women within 24 hours I was filled to the brim with inspiration for my own stage performance and eager to run on stage in those moments and grab the mic.

We decided to head back to the campsite to get liquored up for the evening and after a couple of hours headed back to the main stage to see Modest Mouse. I had perhaps a few too many beverages this particular evening and slipped in and out of waves of crazy dancing to my favourite tracks and slumber in the less familiar new album. Still a great gig in my hazed memory.

3. James Blake – Voyeur

“‘Cause I am flawed. Time’s unsure. I should do whatever to make you feel secure”

Mornings were spent rolling out of the scorching sweat filled tent for a few more hours sleep in the shade next to our neighbours’ car before booze and Fud. Whenever our neighbours were watching bands we sneaked under their Gazebo to sit on their chairs and burn a touch less. I also had some delicious multi-coloured fish crackers which filled me with joy.

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The first band we went to see on the Sunday was Milky Chance but we only caught the last 2 tracks, one of them being Stolen Dance which had played a large role in my soundtrack across America since Denver and was a great boogie to start the musical day.

I went for my fill of English accent and saw Kate Tempest who was great. I preferred her spoken word and poetry she did in between songs compared to her actual music but her lyrics are incredible and made me proud to be English. I managed to spend a brief amount of time with my Kiwi whilst watching her which was nice seeming as finding people at this point at the weekend was proving difficult.

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All six of our group reunited for the first time at a performance for the whole weekend when watching St. Vincent. She was an amazing performer and the enjoyment was doubled by us all dancing around together.

Next we headed to Jose Gonsalez as the sun set. I only know two songs and low and behold they were the two tracks we caught! Even from quite far back in the crowd it was beautiful and moving and I’m really glad we saw him. As he finished Trevor and I headed right to the front to be at the barrier for James Blake who has been top of my list of people to see live since I started at Goldsmiths and began spinning the web of lies that he and I are best friends. The wait was worth it as his entire set blew me away.

We ran to see a few Robert Plant tracks which included some Led Zeppelin with his voice still in tact and booming to the huge crowd. We then returned to a different stage to dance our little socks off to SBTRKT which was intense and fantastic also.

After an action packed day full of wonderful music Trevor and I star gazed from the ever so familiar car roof on which we lived and spent a while talking to a fella from Alaska in a tent next to ours. Alaska told me about “the party train” which people were doing during the nights and wrecking peoples tents which he wanted to go and join but I decided against it. We were also told about someone who had got into a car one night and driven over four tents not far from where we were camped. Four people were hospitalized and one in critical condition which was obviously scary and surprising that we hadn’t even heard about it.

4. Ryan Adams – Oh My Sweet Carolina

“Was trying to find me something but I wasn’t sure just what, funny how they say that some things never change”

Day five and we were looking surprisingly healthy aside from the sunburn. We had our usual shade seeking morning booze up before heading to the music and the first band we saw were Future Islands who were really good and on the main stage where you can see the best view of the Gorge. This beautiful gal in the red dress is Zsophi after doing a rolly-polly down the hill.

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I branched off on my own for a while as there were a few of my favourites playing that clashed with everyone elses including Sharon Van Etten and Ryan Adams. Whenever I was referring to any of my artists I only used their first names which makes me sound like a twat but I enjoy it.

Ryan blew my mind. He played the main stage and I was stood quite near the front as he played so many of my favourites and not just the latest album, which was what I thought he would be doing. After missing him in New Orleans and Memphis I was so happy to see him here and cried numerous times including being utterly overwhelmed in Oh My Sweet Carolina. As he listed different cities in the States in his lyrics I remembered myself being in those cities and the amazing memories I have made. He was a lot funnier on stage than the last time I saw him in Manchester when he left the stage as someone requested a Bryan Adams song. I thought of Abi my Mermaid and wonderful friend back in London who shares my adoration for Ryan and how much she would have loved the festival. Every musician I was watching poured ideas for my writing and performance which usually ends up involving Abi when in England so she was a prominent thought in my mind all weekend. I also decided Reed looked like her on the first night.

After the tears and screaming lyrics through his set I settled down as he finished. I asked the guy next to me who was playing next on this stage and he laughed and said “you’re kidding right?” and it turned out everyone surrounding me was only watching my beloved Ryan to be at the front for bloody Kendrick Lamar. I departed immediately to see Sharon who was incredible as always with quite a small crowd which I preferred anyway.

I found the gang watching Tame Impala who were awesome too and also ran past MO singing her Spice Girls cover which is dead good.

5. Hot Chip – One Life Stand 

“I only wanna be your one life stand”

All six of us were back together to watch the closing act of Sasquatch festival and we were truly excited as Hot Chip embraced the stage. One of the best gigs I have ever experienced as we danced and jumped in gratefulness to an unbelievable amount of amazing music across four days. After seeing so many bands which had compiled my soundtrack to my entire travels I thought I was at the peak of happiness until my life was completed with their final track.

Alexis Taylor began singing “I get up in the evening and I ain’t got nothing to say” and I turned gobsmacked to scream at Will and Trevor. The chances of them covering the one Bruce Springsteen song I cover and love as the finale to the festival were minuscule and I could have fainted with elation.

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 Bursting with happiness we headed back to the campsite for the last time and decided to sit in the car to reflect and discuss the weekend’s music and greatness. As if Hot Chip’s Bruce cover was not enough to confirm my sixth sense of controlling music, Will popped in a tape to listen to and fast forwarded randomly to hit play and Dancing in the Dark started playing again. Spooky and amazing shit.

Whilst sat in our family car we watched in the dark as a girl came running to the side of the car and proceeded to lower her trousers and go for a wee. We were yelling out as we realised she had no idea we were in there and witnessing everything but decided she could not hear us as she jumped up and ran off after doing the deed. Reed hopped out the car to test what volume you could hear from the outside and we knew the girl had heard everything we had said and knew we were watching her urinate. We stayed in the car for as long as possible chatting shit until we gave in and faced that we had to get some sleep and that when we awoke it would be home time.

I woke up to Pink Floyd’s “We Don’t Need No Education” still filled with joy and potentially no sobriety even close in the distance. I watched Will and Reed spooning even in the desert heated sauna tent, Luben reading his book outside, Trevor tugging at the grass by the tent door and heard Zsophi commenting on the sadness of so many tents gone. We packed up our belongings and dismantled the tent. I found this hat.

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Myself, Luben, Zsophi and Trevor squeezed in the back of the car as Will drove us home holding hands with Reed and as always chose the perfect music to end the incredible weekend in the blistering sun. As America’s “Horse With No Name” played on the stereo I sat still grinning at how perfect the festival had been and how grateful I was to have met such a great group of people and been a part of such amazing music.

We stopped at a Starbucks and realised how ridiculous we looked and probably smelt but embraced it sat on the floor of a car park attempting to make conversations make sense. We returned to the original Lounge Luben and showered and pampered to feel human again.

Alarmingly we didn’t nap and Trevor, Luben and I joined Adam and Alonzo out for dinner as it was Luben’s last night before moving to Yellowstone. As it was my last night also I played a few songs in the lounge to the beautiful people who had surrounded me for the past 10 days as a perfect musical ending to the best festival I have ever been to.

After a very kind lift from Zsophi to Seattle airport and some emotional goodyes me and Luben are sat eating Burritos waiting for our flights…

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