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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Mermaid Overseas: Savannah to Seattle

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: Savannah to Seattle

When: 15/5/2015 – 20/5/2015

Lesson: Vests are waistcoats and induce wild behaviour and the Starbucks sign is a mermaid

Achievement Open mic in Seattle

Lyric: “Still you sigh and still you cry. You moan, inventing this fight”

Quote “What’s up?” / “Mimosa?” / “Margherita Monday” / “I’m on a 3 month vacation”

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1. The Doobie Brothers – What A Fool Believes

“She musters a smile for his nostalgic tale”

Penny, Sarah and I headed into Savannah for my last day to explore and meet up with Abe, Penny’s son who I last remember running around pools naked in France being bullied by his brother. He is now studying at SCAD which seems like a great University with lots of creative people embracing the pretty city. I enjoy that I’ve managed to visit the three cities that you can drink booze on the street within USA which is Savannah, New Orleans and Las Vegas but it boggles my mind what the kids must be up to if you can’t drink when you’re a student.

I should only ever be shopping for essentials as my purse grows thin but still walked into Bare Minerals on the way into Savannah. Good old America did not let me down as I managed to get a bronzer (a high essential) and a highlighter/blush for $15. This track was playing on the radio as we drove to Savannah from Hilton Head via Bare Minerals and I enjoyed seeing Penny and Sarah bopping around, again reminding me of Annie.

Savannah felt French to me as we wandered in and out of shops although that could have been in the company of Penny, who I spent every summer of my childhood in France with. I remembered I am still a child within as Sarah bought me an ice cream and I chose Blue Moon and Mint Choc chip of fluorescent blue and green colouring. My tongue remained fluorescent as we walked around a furniture shop full of cool items such as tables made from old jet planes. Both Penny and Sarah used to be air hostesses and it sounds like a wonderful life travelling and boozing constantly. I regained maturity meeting Abe and his friends finishing their first year of University and we ate delicious pizza. I happily accepted a whole massive pizza to myself and took it all the way for my midnight snack at Atlanta airport 6 hours later. I was so grateful for a few days of re-cooperation, care and food to send me on another new adventure way over West.

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2. Shaggy – It Wasn’t Me

“Saw me bangin’ on the sofa”

The majority of Americans I have encountered have insisted I should visit Portland and in particular I heard Pablo’s voice expressing how “fucking beautiful the Pacific Northwest” is. Flights from Atlanta across the entire States were expensive and the cheapest was to head to Seattle where I planned to get a bus down to Portland after a couple of nights. Alas, I never made it to Portland but with bloody good reason.

I found Will on couchsurfing sounding passionate about music which naturally drew me in and I sent my spiel insisting a Clare shaped hole in his sofa would be a good move. I can honestly say I have never copy and pasted my couchsurfing pleas and personalise them all to the key parts of the hosts profile which intrigues me. I knew my instincts had drawn me to the right fella as he warned me they were having a party (a “vest party”) that night so if I had a problem with partying I should find somewhere else. This is the best response to a request I could receive.

I arrived to Will, Reed, Trevor, Luben and Adam’s home in Capitol Hill, the best area in Seattle where another couchsurfer was also staying called Josh. Josh made me and Will pasta and we drank red wine and headed to a thrift store to find a vest for the party (a vest is a waistcoat not a 40 year old Yorkshire drunk wifebeater drinking Stella vest but still a bizarre theme for a party). I fell in love with Will’s distinct speaking voice which is too hard to describe but I feel one day everyone will hear when he has his own radio show leaking the best music of the moment, cracking some jolly jokes and grilling artists as they come into the studio to be interviewed. I found my vest – black and gold with coloured beads and looked pretty bloody good.

One of the first things Will told me was that “we don’t have a lot of friends” which would be tragic except for the ones they have are good, good eggs. A 5L red wine bag was mine and Josh’s contribution which was on constant pour through the night including a “slap the bag” event where one would have to slap the bag very hard and have wine poured into their mouth at a violent pace. This reminded me again of a night in France where my friend Briel would do the same to everyone but whilst in the pool and proceeding to dunk us underwater immediately after the wine pour.

The party escalated quickly as soon as Shaggy’s “It Wasn’t Me” embraced the speakers after which Adam and I escaped to hit some bars. I don’t recall this clearly but we apparently went to a couple of bars where I marched in and ordered the usual tequila and tinny. When we eventually got back to the house the party was an episode of Skins in full flow and all round fabulousness by my expectations. No photos were taken of the fateful event but here is me at the beginning pretending to be Ringo.

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3. Filter – Take A Picture

“Could you take a picture? ’cause I won’t remember”

The morning’s hangover was spent trying to find Zsofi, a girl from Budapest’s phone in the aftermath until heading out for brunch which is always lethal when someone (me) will order alcohol and the party will cease to end. Sunday Funday went from the first ordered Mimosa becoming a jug, then becoming homemade mimosas and “I’ve Never” becoming the leading game sat in the sunny “yard” of their house. Myself, Adam, Trevor and Josh formed the dream team during the course of the day powering through and staying highly on form.

Zsofi managed to get us to Golden Gardens beach where the view was beautiful and the party still continued until darkness came and the fires went out. We danced around a drum circle, met more couchsurfers and shared rolled up cigarettes without filters acting as if they were joints. I sat with Will on the sand and he asked me who my favourite music artists were and as I reeled off my top 10 he told me I had just listed the line up of Sasquatch Festival (minus Bruce) which the group were heading to the following weekend.

Will is an excellent music chooser for various situations and as we sped to the beach in his car he blasted out some tunes in the sun. More than once a day I probably had to ask who it was playing as I liked it and wanted to be educated and this Filter track was one on this car ride this glorious Sunday Funday.

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Monday came and the house full of normal adults with jobs dispersed and me and Josh lounged around “Lounge Luben” which is the name of their abode. He gave me guitar lessons and I sung a song he had written during his year of travelling that he was nearing the end of. Luben had returned for Sunday Funday with Alonzo from a camping trip before his last week in the house as Adam was taking his room. I spent the day perusing on a exploratory walk of Seattle seeing all the touristy shit.

4. Angel Olsen – Creator, Destroyer

“Fuck this and everything we’ve done. Fuck you. Fuck you and your lies.”

Will and Reed are a couple who both work at Starbucks, appropriately in Seattle where the the company began. Not surprisingly they hate it and from what I’ve further learned, the company is ridiculous. Reed enlightened me with the hideous knowledge that the Starbucks symbol is actually a Mermaid which appears slightly more obvious on the original Starbucks downtown. A slight deflation for my love of the creature that I am.

They rose for work every day I was there around 5.30AM but still joined Margarita Mondays which resulted in the drunken persuasion (it did not take much, it never does) for me to also attend Sasquatch Festival that weekend. Will’s great gift for sound-tracking situations perfectly was in full throttle as he played everyone throughout the evening who I longed to see live including Angel Olsen, Hot Chip and Ryan Adams who I have seen a few times before but managed to miss in New Orleans and Memphis. This track I had not heard before by Angel and is one of Will’s favourites.

I thought I was lying when I was agreeing to come to the festival but the morning came and with my head screwed on I was on a mission to find a ticket. The ticket was found, the money was spent and the plan was certain. I was sacrificing a non-refundable bus and plane ticket and the time to see Portland but it felt like the right decision.

5. Nick Drake – Pink Moon

“I saw it written and I saw it say pink moon is on it’s way”

I met up with some other couchsurfers I had been in touch with who were also heading to the festival for some drinks including Maddy from New Zealand who I organised to meet up with for some daytime exploring the next day.

Maddy and I had coffee and walked to Pike Place Market seeing some sights before feeling satisfied to hit happy hour. Maddy was a month into her America travels and heading to Canada to work for a year or 2 so quite similar to my plans but me in Australia. Doing a similar route to me but with her own Campervan I was pretty jealous. She’s my kind of gal and I continuously referred to her to the people of Lounge Luben as “my Kiwi”.

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When lazing in the garden during the days with Josh and playing him my music he said he could hear Nick Drake influences in my music which flattered me. His Pink Moon album had been on repeat on the long journey back to the West Coast since falling in love with River Man in New Orleans. I continued to have him as my soundtrack at every opportunity in Washington State’s sun.

That evening I headed back to Lounge Luben to find the journey to the festival was not going to be as smooth as planned and I needed an alternate ride as I did not fit in the car with the crew. This added some stress to my plans but I headed out to play an open mic at a bar nearby and Adam joined me. Adam is from Chicago starting a new chapter in Seattle and loving it so far. As good as my American “valley girl”, as Will calls it, accent is I cannot nail the Midwest one. Adam reminds me a touch of Adam from Girls and a touch of Ross from Friends and is a loveable chap all round. I played a couple of songs and when Adam and I got back to Lounge Luben the lads were whipping up a storm of “fud” (a rice bean mixture) for the festival.

Currently sat looking at a box of pasta and a bunch of bananas and being told it won’t be enough food for a 5 day festival…

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Mermaid Overseas: Nashville to Memphis to Austin to Hilton Head

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: Nashville to Dallas to Austin to Hilton Head

When: 7/5/2015 – 14/5/2015

Lesson: Don’t get 3AM Greyound buses just to save $2

Achievement: West to East coast in 65 days and remaining in one piece

Lyric: I try to slip into pure imagination as tears drop on the dark windowsill

Quote: “$50 to touch it” / “i’m feeling far too sane for a psychedelic festival “

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1. Mac Demarco – Salad Days

“Oh dear, act your age and try another year”

A tipsy me left a tipsy Laura in Nashville as I Ubered to the Greyhound station at 3AM to get a bus to Dallas, changing in Memphis. The vibe of the ever so familiar crowd in the bus station was even more weird than usual and I found myself no longer fascinated by the crazies surrounding me but verging on fed up. The experience definitely felt old as John Frost, aged 40, slumped down next to me as he boarded the bus, reeking of booze and cigarettes (even more than me). As everyone on any means of transport in America feels the need to talk to the person next to them, John Frost slurred stories of his three children of various ethnicity and his journey across from Santa Cruz, where his heart lies. Just as the bus was departing he began asking if I had enough money. Thinking he wanted money I told him I was very poor and having to be frugal until I could work (the truth). He replied that he had a proposition for me when the lights went down. The lights went down and Mr Frost offered me $50 to “touch it”. As flattering as this was I refused and asked he move away from me.

Three hours passed of me attempting to listen to my favourite songs of my soundtrack so far including Mac Demarco but I did not want to tarnish the happy memories these songs give me with the discomfort I felt sat on that bus. Mr Frost was also hammering on my shoulder every five minutes, yanking my earphones out and leaning on my leg as he howled down the phone at some poor being. Numerous offers to “touch it” were heard as I pretended to sleep. As we were approaching Memphis Mr Frost went to the loo, probably to vomit from the booze, and a kind saviour of a soul boy with braids and a trilby hat came and sat next to me saying “fuck this, that guy has to leave you alone”. As happy as this made me, I knew Mr Frost well now and knew he would not settle for this change. As I suspected he returned from the loo and kicked up a scene. “You’re disrespecting this lady so I’m going to sit here” – saviour. “Oh hell no white boy you better get back to your seat, who the hell do you think you are” – Frost. “No man, just go sit in that seat over there, I’m sitting here now” – saviour. “If you interested in the lady, boy, just say… but you ain’t stealin’ my seat! You better know your place” – Frost. The dialogue continued and escalated to the majority of the bus slurring racist abuse at this poor saviour boy until he moved back to his seat without my backing him up which I deeply regret. Threats of death were made and I was glad to learn that once we got to Dallas (Frost left at Memphis) my saviour was still in one angelic piece and I apologised for my lack of input into the scary situation.

I was happy it was all over with and I had arrived in Dallas, eager to see a friendly face and luckily I was staying with my brother’s friend Adam for the night. I hopped on the bus going in the wrong direction and had a free and full tour of downtown by mistake. Dallas seemed really cool as a storm brewed over lots of funky big buildings.

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I made it to Adam and Sarah’s lovely flat in Bishop Art District and we ate some good grub, supped some delicious beer, caught up on the past few years and reminisced on some stories from when we were younger. I couldn’t recall many times I had seen Adam since he was banned from the Kelly household for smoking Marijuana in the garden. I’m sure Paddy would regret his decision if he met the cracking none-stoner Yorkshire man and his wife as they are now. I lounged on their big sofa with their kitty cat and finished the latest Nashville series feeling more connected now I have visited the glorious city.

2. Bruce Springsteen – Glory Days

“She says when she feels like crying she starts laughing thinking about glory days”

At Austin Greyhound station I purchased a bottle of water from a man so overweight he could not stand up. Hearing my accent he began talking about Anthony Hopkins (I am not Welsh) and quoting The Lion in Winter, describing scenes which made him cry.

I fell in love with Austin the moment I arrived at Firehouse hostel to discover it included a bar where the only entrance is through a bookshelf. I supped many beers with four lads with only 2 names between them and I cannot recall what either of those names were so I’ll call them Bob and Nick (X2). Bob 1 was from New Jersey and the first American I have encountered to have a passionate love of Bruce Springsteen. He was even so kind to pass my details onto his friend who works at The Stone Pony and give my music details in hope of having a gig when I make it there next year! 2 fabulous females from The Philippines but living in Utah joined myself, Bob 1, Bob 2, Nick 1 and Nick 2 and they were named Wani and Eira and were up for a good giggle.

The usual hostel group of mixed nationalities hit Rainy Street and then 6th Street to a mixture of bars hearing lots of live music and rap. We danced sipping on Long Island Ice Tea pitchers until the wee hours of the morning.

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The following breakkie I met Alfie who essentially has the life of Rob in High Fidelity. Originally from England he now lives in New Zealand and works in a record shop called Real Groovy Records. This all sounds very dreamy to me and I loved listening to him talk so passionately about so many artists and that he had flown to Austin simply for the Psych Festival. I reviewed the line up and confirmed I would 100% attend the festival the next day, particularly as Mac Demarco was playing.

After much debate I decided a hostel was the most ideal space to dye my hair compared to some lovely Couchsurfing host’s home. One of my least favourite dye sessions resulting in almost all over deep blue and almost an hour scrubbing the shower and walls. Oh well.

I explored Austin in the sun covering a lot of areas, watching live bands and finishing for a rooftop beer in the heat. As I sat down a girl invited me to join her and her cousin for some drinks. They had been drinking for quite a while as many stories were on loop. The girl was called Ryan and claimed that she was Norwegian solely because she has lived there the past few years, despite having a strong American accent. Drinks escalated and I joined her and her cousin Nick to his house in a suburb of Austin where we were joined by his housemate and their adorable dog!

Strangely Anthony Hopkins returned back to a conversational topic as Nick called me Clarice. Nick is only the second person in my life to refer to Silence of the Lambs when choosing my nickname, the first being my sister. This made me smile a lot.

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I was looked after well with endless booze, dog petting and my Uber back to my hostel. I played a mini house show for them on Nick’s guitar minus my capo which resulted in having to change the key of most songs I was singing. I don’t wish to give comment on the impression I got during the evening but there were some periods of suspicious behaviour between the 2 cousins which I certainly would not have with my own cousins but maybe we are the unusual ones in the UK? I still had a thoroughly enjoyable night and as always great to meet Americans actually living in the city I’m visiting.

3. The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger – Animals

“Living in the fishbowl and your mind’s under control”

As planned I spent the Sunday at Levitation Austin Psych Festival. It is such a great and intimate festival and the weather held out with glorious sun which always adds to the event. I Ubered with Alfie, an Aussie girl and Jose from Phoenix. We all crossed and lost paths during the day but I spent most of my time with Reed who I met in Denver and his friends covered in Mylar (foil used in aircrafts).

The music was stunning as I saw 13th Floor Elevators, The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, Flaming Lips and Mac Demarco.

The GOASTT is Sean Lennon’s band as you can hear in his voice and some of his tracks sound massively like John’s. The female, Charlotte Kemp Muhl, was dead cool looking and sounding so sexy throughout their set.

The biggest attraction to getting a ticket was to see Mac Demarco who did not disappoint. He and his band are hilarious when in between tracks and the music was incredible. He crowd surfed smoking a fag and is just a bloody loveable fella.

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I checked out the campsite Reed and his friends were staying in and was pretty impressed as it danced with fairy lights and I wish I had committed to the whole weekend. We also got given some free food and had no idea what it was in the dark, but free food is always good food.

4. Flaming Lips – Do You Realize??

“Do you realise that you have the most beautiful face? Do you realise we’re floating in space? Do you realise that happiness makes you cry? Do you realise that everyone you know someday will die?”

The last band I saw was Flaming Lips of who I had heard impressive stories of their live performances but still did not realise it would be to such an extreme. It was so entertaining to watch the insane light show and the lead singer entering the crowd inside a plastic ball. Every song in the set introduced a new scene and some deeply creative genius behind portraying it. This track was one of the songs I knew the words so we joined together swaying in the Mylar with our arms in the air.

The next day I arrived in rural Austin in severe need of a car after a very expensive Uber as the only means of transport and a 45 minute walk to find any food. I found it a much needed escape from cities and I was reminded of my parents’ house in France where no one would know if you were dead for a good few weeks. Probably not the safest choice for my first Air Bnb but all is well that ends okay. I had a big double bed in a private room and it was bliss. I played guitar for a few hours and wrote in beautiful silence, minus the chickens squawking outside. I fell asleep pretty early compared to my usual routine and woke up around 15 hours later undisturbed. I was obviously in need of a good kip but I felt pretty mortified as the host, Will, assumed I’d left already as he had barely heard 2 words from me.

When I crawled from my lair Will made me eggs and coffee and revealed he was also a Lyft and Uber driver so I would use his car to get to the airport. I used Lyft for the first time with the discounted free ride. On the drive we discussed music in depth as Will is a strings player planning on travelling America in his Uber/Lyft car across cities playing music. Here is his vibe.

I envisage my return to the USA in 2016 now to be a structured tour of house shows utilising the great connections with the musicians and artists I have met along the way. As I have been thinking about this in depth the past couple of weeks, Will told me about a book called “How I Made $25,000 On A 2 Month House Concert Tour” all about organising a tour of house shows and how to fund it. I hate having to think about art as a means to make money but I think this is something I need to get my head around to ensure I can continue doing what I love and making my plans reality for the future.

Another expensive ride to the Airport ended up rejecting my payment through the Lyft app actually leaving me unable to pay with any English account. The second wave of guilt for the week alongside not defending my saviour on the bus. I am assuring myself that Lyft would have to pay Will and that he is not out of pocket but I still must do some good in the world before karma bites me in the bum.

5. Pavarotti – La Boheme

“I am poor but happy. I am rich in poems and love songs”

It was a long journey to Savannah but I made it to embrace the motherly presence of Penny who I’ve known since I was born. We drove straight to the luxury of her home in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I took such pleasure in making salads and the evenings with wine and telly. Conversations with Penny and her best friend Sarah, who was also visiting, were drastically different to the ones I have become used to during the adventure. They sound alarmingly like Annie discussing make up shades in depth and where to shop next, which is a home comfort. Additional to this was learning that they have both fought and beaten cancer in the past 5 years which is incredible and gives me hope for people in my life suffering with family members battling cancer also.

Penny’s beautiful holiday home had a swamp outside which I would most definitely have waded into had she not at the last minute informed me of the alligators swimming among the turtles. Instead I surprised myself by going on 2 bike rides (and actually enjoying them!) down luscious green paths to the beach for a frolic in the waves proud to have made it to the East coast.

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I caught up on booking my route and even more sleep and we watched Moonstruck with Cher which I have never seen and loved! We also watched The Bletchley Circle which was great and the evenings felt so much like home it was slightly disorientating but most likely needed. In Moonstruck they go to the opera to watch La Boheme which is Paddy’s favourite and this also filled me with warmth imagining him ironing his shirts and watching it for the millionth time on Sky.

Sitting looking out at the swamp trying to decipher whether the moving creature is an Alligator or a turtle before heading to Savannah, Georgia for the day tomorrow…

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Mermaid Overseas: New Orleans to Memphis to Nashville

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: New Orleans to Memphis to Nashville

When: 28/5/2015 – 6/5/2015

Lesson: It’s not okay to bring a couchsurfer to a Bachelorette party

Achievement: Playing the Bluebird Cafe, Nashville

Lyric: Pick me up, put me in your box. Pick me up, I will be your luck

Quote: “I control the music” / “and I love him” / “This is who we are right now”

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1. Elvis Presley – Suspicious Mind

“We can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds”

I managed to make it out for some dancing on my last night in New Orleans with a lovely English couple called Josh (from YORK) and Ella who had both witnessed my demise and party machine status well earned during the days before. The group venturing out of India House included Grace dressed as Bat-girl (bizarrely the second Bat-girl I’d met in the past fortnight) and the first South African I’ve ever met named Michael. I marched into the first bar demanding a beer and shot only to violently choke on my Tequila and splutter a scene, failing to live up to the reputation I had been given to these people just beginning their NOLA experience.

As we moved onto other bars we lost Grace which resulted in a bollocking from her when we later returned home. We hung our heads in shame like children and scuttled back to the pool area where I played for Michael before collapsing into an exhausted sleep. Here’s Grace and a fabulous band playing moments before our crime of abandonment was committed.

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I spent one of two nights in Memphis in a bizarre hostel where guests were given chores and everyone was just a tad too smiley with a reminiscence of religion floating around, reminding me of  Ned Flanders. My first hour was sat in a taxi outside the hostel with Joseph my taxi driver. Joseph said he could tell I was Irish because “sometimes you look small… and sometimes you look big”. I was locked in listening to his deep understanding of Zodiac signs and how my Scorpio house was one of sex and religion which was interesting to begin with but soon led to me darting out the car without my change.

I was not staying for long in Memphis so splashed out on the tourist music activities including Sun Studio and Graceland. I thoroughly enjoyed both places, learning new things on subjects I’ve studied in in a lot of detail before. One golden gem of information from Sun Studio was that as Country music did not allow drum kits in the line up, Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line” features a dollar note under the strings on the fret board to create a rhythmic sound which creates the hi-hat sound I’ve believed all my life. Here is one of the microphones that so many greats sung into back in the 1950’s.

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Graceland reduced me to tears hearing so much of Elvis’s life and what a great man he was while walking around his incredible home. “Suspicious Mind” is my favourite track of his and I am now determined to learn some covers of the tracks he sung. I was also alarmed to hear he played at Sun Studio a year before any one actually took him seriously which is always comforting for a struggling artist to hear. Here’s his dope crib.

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2. The Stranglers – Golden Brown

“Golden brown texture like sun, lays me down with my mind she runs”

After a long day of music history I headed to couchsurf at Casey’s house. Memphis born and bred, Casey took me under his wing filling me with vodka, dabs and Mexican food in between some great jamming sessions and film watching. We dined with his group of friends who were all characters from Superbad in my eyes and a great laugh. Casey was obsessed with Snatch and was trying to nail his English accent from quoting the film and mimicking me.

The Superbad crew played me some of their songs that they wrote in a band they were all previously in which was thoroughly enjoyable and I played a few of mine which went down well.

It became apparent that illegal activity was going on in his flat as stoners came and left his flat sporadically during the night, which I did not have a problem with. I slept next to his gun which he did not feel comfortable leaving the house without, which I did not have a problem with. He used a Turtle’s shell as an ashtray after making Turtle soup a few days before. This was not okay.

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Memphis tourism, taxis and drunken generosity did set me back quite a few dollars but Casey gave me a lovely guitar strap for my Taylor and I passed out whilst we watched Into The Wild, both of ours favourite film. I only caught half the film but it I constantly have Eddie Vedder’s soundtrack in my mind as I’ve traveled across the USA, longing to be Alexander Supertramp after watching the film hundreds of times.

3. Journey – Don’t Stop Believin’

“Some will win, some will lose, some were born to sing the blues”

I continued couchsurfing in Nashville where I stayed with Laura who is now a fabulous friend. She is so welcoming and open minded that she brought me with her to her friend’s Bachelorette party but without actually asking the Bachelorette beforehand. We burst into a private room with Karaoke in a swanky bar to find 7 girls in black dresses and fluorescent wigs looking me up and down like Regina George judging Janis Ian as Laura introduced me as “my couchsurfer!”. I was soon asked to leave which I found hilarious but Laura felt ridden with guilt for the Bachelorette and me for misjudging the situation. She’s probably going to be annoyed I’ve published her misjudgment. Soz Laura but I had to relive my American High School experience.

Me and Laura left the party to hit Broadway and have my first Bushwhacker which is a delicious alcoholic milkshake. We went to many bars all with live music and I loved every second. We heard Journey performed three times which would usually offend me but fitted the atmosphere perfectly. I was blown away by some of the talent and harmonies we heard which was highlighted as the night went on with copious amounts of alcohol. We met some guys from Chicago and also ran back into the Bachelorette party later in the night. We signed up for Karaoke but departed back home before being called up to sing. I fell asleep in Laura’s bed which is not really what you’re meant to do when couchsurfing but I don’t think she minded. Here she is.

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Sunday was a slightly rough hangover but in hangovers I find most inspiration for songwriting so sat in the park with my guitar for a while. I had my first Sushi experience which was truly delicious with Laura and her bezzie Meg who is so warm and pretty. They bounce off each other yammering constantly, mainly about boys, which reminded me of me and my girlies Charli and Lottie (if we had taken Ritalin or Speed).

A fantastic weekend was rounded off on a full moon hike with Laura and her friend Michael (dead cute), also a music lover. Managed not to sneak into Laura’s bed for the second night.

4. Barret Strong – Money

“Your money gives me such a thrill, but your money don’t pay my bills”

I went on a big old walk around downtown Nashville in the sun gazing longingly at the cowboy boots in the windows. After watching the cheesy yet wonderful series Nashville earlier this year I headed to join the massive queue to play the open mic night at Bluebird Cafe and pretend that I am Scarlett. I met a Christian Rock musician in the queue and an English couple (Southern fairies) who told me I had an American twang. My worst fear to return without an English accent as so many people have irritated me with begins. I managed to embrace the prestigious stage! I feel it went pretty well to a large audience as I saw Cowboy hats bob in appreciation and hear a girl whisper when I’d finished “oh my God, did she write that?!”

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I went back to join the party and head to Motown Mondays in Five Points. Proper swing dancing was occurring when we arrived which was amazing to watch and I even gave a slight attempt to try some with another of Laura’s friends called Ralph. I drank some “mystery drinks” from the bartender and needless to say was owning the dance floor as the Motown hits blasted out by the end of the night. We were drenched in sweat boogieing to tracks like this one and I dared to scrape my hair on the top of my head. As I did so a guy came up to me to reassure me I looked great with my hair like that and not to worry. Only in America do I constantly feel boosted with confidence.

Another hangover exercised creative songwriting and I wrote a song I’m feeling happy with on Laura’s Ukulele! Here is a demo and it is called “WOOF”.

I went to another open mic in music city at Cafe Coco where the Kooks were playing a gig next door! After my inhuman obsession for my teenage years I felt this was a good sign for my whereabouts for the evening and let my mind run away with thoughts of Luke Pritchard proposing finally after all this time. I met some more musicians and did a CD swap with a guy I really enjoyed called Deno Marquee. Here’s some of his stuff.

This day was Cinco de Mayo so after performing I joined Laura and her mates at Matt’s spectacular house for Mexican food and beers. I had the most fabulous Uber driver on the way who had disco balls and Beyonce booming out the entire way as we boogied. When I arrived at Matt’s there was a power cut and I played to the guests in candlelight which was terribly romantic.

5. Lord Huron – She Lit a Fire

“When last I saw her she was dancing all alone. Perhaps my chance was then, I’ll never know”

Laura introduced me to so many new bands for which I am always so grateful. Two of these bands were Leon Bridges and Lord Huron which she managed to find tickets for playing at the famous Ryman Theatre which was absolutely incredible. We ate some hot chicken which everyone in Nashville had advised I needed to have and it was delicious.

In between acts Ray Lamontagne’s ‘Jolene’ played in the theatre which Laura and I had been discussing and singing the previous day. I proceeded to explain the base idea for this blog of controlling the soundtrack to your life which had striked again in the middle of Nashville. I control the music.

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The gig was fantastic and such an experience to have been in the venue which I now aim to play one day. We were 8 rows from the front and I feel bloody lucky. One particular highlight was the snazzy use of a Theremin.

Afterwards we went for more Bushwhackers and endured some men sitting with us one of which was the real life Schmidt from New Girl.

We carried onto Roberts bar for our last whiskey gingers together where, low and behold, Lord Huron were in the bar too! After much debate we approached the lead singer who is in the middle of a world tour with the band and headed to Brudenell in Leeds! He said it was one of his favourite venues to play and they had specifically asked to play there. I immediately insisted Paddy should go and see them.

Laura has written some songs and played me this song with her lovely voice. It felt refreshing to speak to a female songwriter and to understand her lyrics from the magical stories she shared with me during our time together. Here she is in all her glory being a babe.

Catching a 3AM bus back to Memphis and onto Austin, TX…

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Mermaid Overseas: New Orleans

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: New Orleans

When: 23/4/2015 – 29/4/2015

Lesson: Fucked

Achievement: Fucked

Lyric: You make me know who I am when you’re around

Quote: “Fucked” / “She’s a singer-songwriter and you’re a drug addict” / “I’m all about that” / “Miami” / “Are you going to the hospital or Jazz Fest?” / “what do you mean the witches aren’t working because of the weather? get on your broomstick it’s only a tornado man”

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1. The Animals – House of the Rising Sun

“There is a house in New Orleans they call the Rising Sun”

There is a hostel in New Orleans they call India House and it’s been a ruin of many a poor boy, in Beau I know I’ve won. There is a lot of blanks to fill in for this soundtrack whether that be due to memory loss or that I would not want my Dad to read the content.

I arrived in New Orleans and managed to soak up some culture on an extensive walk in the rain around the French Quarter pausing in a park with the hobos to write some lyrics to reflect my love for Denver. I returned to India House hostel and from then the downward and magnificent spiral began.

This track was everywhere in the blur of watching, listening and performing music during the 5 day massacre and, quite frankly, I could not pin point where and when if my life depended on it. The first gem I met was Beau from Canberra (where I now know is the capital of Australia) who had arrived from 3 weeks in Miami, a city he is head over heels in love with. We purchased our first of many bottles of Vodka and perched with Rick and Jeff who are a hilarious couple from Maryland. Rick is from planet Glutonite (celiac) and shared some delicious snacks as I watched an Irish girl named Kit wolf down some spagbol. It was in this moment that I realised we were born to find one another.

The dream team of myself, Beau and Kit hopped in for the most bizarre car ride around what seemed like the entire of New Orleans and the suburbs with two poor German girls attempting to get to the bus station and the anti-feminist male driving, supping on beers at the wheel and quite clearly having no idea what was going on. We got out the car momentarily as I turned to Kit and asked “did he just piss on his own car?”. Eventually we arrived back at the hostel to polish off more voddy and expand our group before heading to Bourbon and Frenchmen Street to see some live music and be all round wreck-heads.

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photo (17)Have a twinkle while you tinkle in NOLA

The Spotted Cat bar has this piano in the loo which I had a few plays on during my visit. I managed to find Ben, an Aussie I met in San Fran, in the same bar for a catch up before he headed to Mexico. People partnered up and dwindled apart until the wee hours of the morning were spent  with Kit, a homeless guy and Charlie on the Mississippi river. Charlie is an Aussie from Melbourne 11 months into his adventure who scored high on the “most off your tits” scale. It is a funny sight to see someone so tall incoherent and unable to walk.

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2. Nick Drake – Riverman

“Oh how they come and go”

Charlie and I breakfasted on red wine and Supernoodles and we played Gin Rummy with Gitte from Denmark, who was hostel bound with a broken ankle and Luke from Knoxville who wasn’t actually staying at the hostel but joined the parties. I was shit at the card games but we also listened to some great music (Nick Drake) and shared our own songs. Here is Charlie and Luke jamming just before the storm.

I could hear my brother’s voice laying into me as I ranted away about Nick Drake’s latest film “20,000 Days on Earth” and how great it was, only to capture a sober second and click that I was referring to Nick Cave, a mortifying mix up that you are annihilated for in the Kelly family. We also heard some music from Tetsu Mineta and I did a CD swap with him in hope of being big in Japan.

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During the day I believe we made 3 trips to the run down liquor store on the corner, one with Charlie bare foot and incredibly alike to Mowgali. Over the course of the NOLA whirlwind we had “the usual” order of Taaka Vodka bottles and fruity chasers and fruit flavoured voddy for Beau. Here’s Mowgli in the rain probably a couple of bottles of Taaka down.

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All sorts of additions joined and lost the booze infused crew such as Taurean, Peter, Grace and many more all probably there the night before just not to my recollection of points of arrival and departure. We grouped and managed to get the Streetcar down to the French Quarter when Charlie and I bailed and went straight back to the hostel and somehow lost each other in the space of 10 minutes.

3. The Who – Who Are You

“Who are you? Who Who Who Who”

Who are we? Every one of us questioned ourselves as morning came and we tucked into more Taaka and wine preparing for a day in the rain at the Jazz Festival. The air was humid and we were hot messes as we managed to get to the festival eventually, losing some stragglers along the way.

Kit and I managed to catch The Who after slipping and sliding in the mud and love and here’s the photo to prove my attendance, and also my dire yet fabulous state.

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It came to the point where too many people were kindly whispering in my ear, “getting a little late isn’t it?” which translates to “GO HOME LOVE” so I found a magic coach which dropped me right at India House’s door and I hopped in the pool, covered in mud to rediscover Rick who had been avoiding us for 2 days, believing he had done something unforgivable on the first night. This was far from the truth and we floated around in each others embrace as Charlie returned after being taken by the police to hospital for being too drunk, bragging that he had tested negative for HIV.

We believe it was around this hour that Charlie fell down the stairs from the pool and onto a previous wound he had suffered in Ecuador thee weeks earlier. I had also slipped on the wet wood and Rick had cleaned up my bleeding, swollen knee. There was a moment where Charlie, Gitte and I were hobbling in a line down a path and we realised we may never make it out of New Orleans alive.

Charlie quickly returned to Mowgli state and was carried to bed and I was to pass out a close second later. NOLA got the best of us and we missed the night out which was special as it was then my partner in crime Kit’s birthday at midnight! I let her down but kudos to her being an even bigger trooper than me.

4. Nick Cave – Into My Arms

“I would kneel down and ask him not to intervene when it came to you, not to touch a hair on your head, leave you as you are”

It was the Sabbath day, a stormy Sunday, Kit’s 23rd birthday and the day when the serious question was raised – “are you going to the hospital or Jazz Fest?”. Charlie is a Hemophiliac and his fall the night before had resulted in excruciating pain and a bottom cheek double the size of the other. He was shouting out in pain and offering me money to bring him some water but it took me a while to understand the severity of the situation. We still managed to fit in another daytime drink session and a denim photo shoot before we headed to the hospital in the evening.

Here I am with my two favourite people I have met. One thing I have learnt is how I thrive surrounded by other functioning alcoholics. Kit is the Irish, Brunette, brassier version of me. Charlie could be the male parallel to my life from the other side of the world except for he writes blues music about chickens and, as crazy Grace from the hostel told me, I write songs that cut out a section of my soul. Think I’ll start a song about chickens.

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I stayed with Charlie in the hospital listening to more music, Nick Cave’s “Into My Arms” accompanying our old married couple scenario quite fittingly. We watched crappy American TV, shared hospital food and the next day got a wheelchair to get outside for crafty fags. I’m almost certain everyone in the hostel thought we were homeless people looking for a bed for the night as I tottered around in a cropped top and Charlie’s ripped items of clothing covered in bruises and bites. Aside from Charlie being in tremendous amounts of pain, the nurses not giving him strong enough painkillers for hours,  a moaning man post knee surgery named Mack in the same room and doctors entering every 15 minutes, I actually had a fabulous time. The calm after the storm in New Orleans literally and metaphorically from the weekend antics. He also had a lovely window view to watch the tornadoes.

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Everyone in the India House fucked up family was concerned for Charlie. Benoit another musician from Canada kindly drove me to the hospital with Charlie’s bags and told me stories of his NOLA experience including finding his soul-mate which is dead nice, init? They look pretty soul-matey. I don’t really believe in soul-mates but I feel there is a reason I met such a great group of people in New Orleans and I feel blessed to have had such an amazing time and to have survived until the bitter end.

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5. The Cure – Common People

“‘Cause everybody hates a tourist especially one who thinks it’s all such a laugh, yeah and the chip stain’s grease will come out in the bath.”

My true love Kit was the first to depart and the goodbye was devastating for all (but particularly me). Kit, Rick, Jeff, Sarah and I visited the Hurricane Katrina memorial repeating the word “fucked” as we looked at the still apparent ruins. We drank drive through Daiquiris, ate tacos, ran through the buckets of rain and partied briefly on Frenchmen Street. I played some songs in the hostel as more liquor topped us up for the final hurrah.

We went to some bars but my last hours with Kitty-Kat were spent on the street screaming “Common People” and dancing like lunatics. I serenaded her and Jeff and obnoxiously signed a CD for him and Rick to sell when I am famous. Kit did not enjoy the music as much as she said “I thought you were just a mess like me but you had to go and be talented”.

Sarah, another Aussie, was on top form all night and hilarious entertainment along with Beau’s final serenade for Kit. I was heartbroken as we waved goodbye at 5am to our Irish sweetheart but nothing could compare to Beau shouting “I’M GONNA MISS YOU KIT”, chasing the shuttle bus down the street and getting his arm stuck in the door as the bus pulled away into the distance, returning Kit to New York where she is working.

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Mind boggled as to why I am the last man standing in New Orleans as every crackhead companion has departed.. Sat on the Mississippi attempting to write songs reflecting the time of my life…

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Mermaid Overseas: Colorado Springs to Denver

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: Colorado Springs to Denver

When: 17/04/2015 – 22/04/2016

Lesson: How to smoke properly

Achievement: Open mic at Meadow Lark

Lyric: I kiss your ink to taste the sound in your veins

Quote: “You’re cosmic” / “How do ya feel about it, what are your thoughts about it?”

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1. Wild High – Dip

“We may never know each other ’till the end”

I spent a few hours in Colorado Springs where a taxi driver told me his favourite place to visit in the entire United States was his “mom’s” house and a homeless female known as Bat-Girl took a shine to me and attempted to sit next to me on the bus up to Denver. I rudely bolted to a seat on the other side and fell asleep before the engine had turned on.

Magnificent Mimi took me under her wing and into her home. I met her giant group of friends such as Gustavo, Isaac and Austin, who refreshingly enlightened us with passionate and positive views on male birth control. We drove to see their friends’ band Wild High perform at Lost Lake.

There were a few acts on the bill including an electronic musician in a spacesuit rocking the crowd. Wild High were highly entertaining with some incredible songs and stage presence. The guitarist Clay jumped into the crowd near the end of the set and everyone was dancing and having bloody good fun.

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The venue and the warmth of everyone knowing each other, if only by a loose connection, reminded me of The Montague Arms back in Peckham which was lovely. I met so many people that I cannot recall all their names but all seemed like fabulous human beings with whom I want to be best friends with. The lead singer Cody professed his love for his girlfriend on stage as it was turning her birthday at midnight. Pretty much the dream for any girl and I await such an affair at some point with my future husband.

We went for some post gig drinks with Reed at Moon Magnet which is a house/studio bursting with musicians and instruments. I originally was going to stay at Moon Magnet where Mimi commented that I was not ready for that experience, but I believe I would have been in my element.

2. Chromatics – I’m On Fire

“At night I wake up with the sheets soaking wet and a freight train running through the middle of my head”

The night before I arrived in Colorado I sang this song with James in Mesa. We also watched the Bruce video that I hadn’t seen before which is hilariously cheesey. Mimi had Chromatics cover version on in her car as we drove to Coors Brewery for a tour. Here we are before our delicious free beers looking so frickin’ sexy.

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I love this version and it remains on my soundtrack daily. I listened to this as well as Wild High’s album ‘Sdreams’ as I wandered around South Broadway where we had eaten a truly gorgeous brunch earlier with my first ever mimosa (it’s just Bucks Fizz). I came across a book store with a guy playing music to a large crowd of skaters, bleeding all over his banjo as he yelled about how angry at the world he was. Pretty entertaining.

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Isaac came to Mimi’s house and we played some of our songs to each other and this track (reminding me of my bestie Bonnie back in Yorkshire) remained in my mind for a long time as we partied at a Hip Hop night at Meadow Lark. Too many beers and tequilas later I recall being in the boot of a Smart car with Isaac while Gustavo and Shelby sat in the front and I struggle to recall much after that. I have a vague recollection of Brandon (another triplet!) coming over and having shark’s teeth drawn all over his crotch.

3. Milky Chance – Stolen Dance

“Stoned in paradise, shouldn’t talk about it”

I met up with Kiwi laddy Sean (from Vegas) and his friend Michelle in the British Bulldog (i’m really embracing new culture) and then to a Vodka distillery for a fancy cocktail. The barman made me a Slimey Bastard and then acted like a slimey bastard and wouldn’t let me pay for it, insisting that he thought I was super cute. In hindsight I should have tipped him the amount of the drink but my English roots forgot and I jetted off. Oops.

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I returned to Moon Magnet for a late night jam with Reed where I croaked out some tunes, he played some accordion and then we sat back and listened to James Blake loudly. I feel Denver is the American New Cross scene that is going on in London at the moment which I think is pretty darn delightful. I showed Reed some NX artists who I am friends with and adore their sound and he played me the Moon Magnet compilations including his music under the name Decollage.

I got back to Mimi’s with an extensive list of music to listen to, Milky Chance being the best addition to my soundtrack. I love this song and bouncing around cities in the sun to this is sheer bliss. It reminds me of “ONE DAY BABY WE’LL BE OLD”, a track by Wankelmut that people would always put on at parties in London which resulted in my jumping up and down on tables.

4. The Rembrandts – I’ll Be There For You

“Your job’s a joke, you’re broke, your love life’s DOA”

Alarmingly Mimi has only just begun watching Friends so she was hooked during my entire stay, which was no problem with me as I could sit and watch every episode for the 100th time any day. We watched at every available chilling opportunity including mine and Shelby’s return from The Colorado History museum on 420 visiting a 1968 exhibition. I happen to have struck a lot of luck in my whereabouts for holidays such as being with an Irish man on a party beach for St Patrick’s, Easter Sunday in Dolores Park in San Fran and Denver for 420!

Once recovered from the afternoon frolicks I drank red wine with Mimi, Gustavo and Austin at Sputnik which led to Gustavo and I going downtown to meet Brandon and Jeff. We had some spicy vodka shots (I was almost forced to eat a scorpion) and I finally got to listen to Brandon play after hearing many wonderful things. His solo work has me mesmerized but I don’t think it’s available for public consumption (I totally have some tracks). Here is his band Set Sail who stormed Australia and I hope to follow in their footsteps when I get over there.

Gustavo and I skipped the strip club (much to my dismay – still on my bucket list) and went back to the house to eat chocolate cake.

The next night I played Meadowlark’s open mic which resulted in selling some CDs and receiving some incredible compliments. I half jokingly agreed to play the Friends theme song and dedicate it to Mimi but I bottled it and just recorded it for her instead!

So grateful to Mimi, Gustavo, Brandon, Pablo, Sean, Michelle, Ian and Shelby for coming to support me. I also saw Random Temple perform who dedicated a Laura Marling cover to me (not many people know her over here) and I also saw a cracking Ukelele version of Willy Wonka’s ‘Pure Imagination’ which I had been randomly singing to Mimi earlier that day… my superpower to control music is overwhelming. Here Random is, followed by some other snaps of the beautiful people who came.

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5. Kurt Vile – Wakin on a Pretty Daze

“It’s hard to explain my love in this daze”

After the open mic I joined such lads as Pablo, Isaac, Karl and Gustavo at The Spot which led to a quick jam at Moon Magnet which led to red wine with Pablo and Gustavo which led to staying up all night with Pablo and driving into the mountains in the morning sun and snow.

We spoke about a lot of subjects including positive energies being drawn to each other and how this could relate to me not having met too many bad eggs directly on the journey so far due to their negative energy.

This was my favourite 24 hours to date on the adventure and it included driving in Pablo’s car listening to his soundtrack, a lead feature being Kurt Vile. Here he is in the magic (as seen above as Wild High’s bassist)

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Deliriously tired and drunk on goodness, I managed to get to the airport in more than enough time thanks to Pablo who gave me a red nose and sent me on my way.

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Arrived in Houston, Texas with Friends on the telly in the bus station en route to New Orleans, Louisiana…

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Mermaid Overseas: Tucson to Mesa

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: Tucson to Mesa

When: 14/4/2015 – 17/4/2015

Lesson: Never turn down a threesome

Achievement: Open mic at Sky Bar & recording at chez Fair

Lyric: It’s not about the place, it is all about the people

Quote: “Are you Dobby’s mom?!”

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1. Alanis Morisette – You Oughta Know

“It was a slap in the face how quickly I was replaced. Are you thinking of me when you fuck her?”

My friend Mimi who lived in the same block in Halls at Goldsmiths put me in touch with Ashley who lives in Tucson, Arizona who offered me a place to stay during my trip! Ashley is the kindest and most welcoming lady. She told me to let myself in to her home and I chilled in her bohemian apartment with her amazing pooch Dobby! Dobby and I became best friends in a flash.

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When Ashley arrived home from work she made me delicious grub and we got dolled up as she told me of her kareoke go-to which is this Alanis track. It takes me back to car albums from long family holiday journies with me and Loz belting out the aggressive slur. Ashley and I danced and recreated this.

We went to a great gig downtown with a band whose lead singer looked like Harry Potter and I believe were called Halcyonaire. I met her friends Alex, Emy, Lauren and Lexy who are all equally as incredible as Ashley is! It’s amusing to switch from being one of the lads for a week to a group of girls where the conversation more often than not diverges to sex, relationships and the menstrual cycle.

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A guy approached us trying it on and was told he hadn’t got a chance with any of us. He mistook my stupid English politeness to my being interested as he stated he had a chance with me. Need to be a bit more of a bitch.

2. Ezra Furman – My Zero

“I’ve gone away forever, the wrong side of the tracks”

Ashley told me many incredible stories and one was when she went o a small concert and met the musician playing and ended up spending some time with him which resulted in her calling in sick to work the next day and spontaneously going on a road trip to LA and having an incredible adventure with him. This musician was Ezra Furman who I went to see a couple of years ago in London with Gub! This story very much impressed me and she also had the most wonderful postcard he sent her from Oakland talking of their hopes of being successful artists, or at least happy ones.

Ashley and I spoke about different artist’s methods and how they can translate into any medium of art. Ashley is art director for the installations in the shop Anthropologie which sounds like a great job and she oozes creativity and style. Here she is in a Snapchat I sent to Gub to make him jealous.

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3. Mumford & Sons – Awake My Soul

“Lend me your eyes I can change what you see but your soul you must keep totally free”

When Ashley was at work I went on walks around Tucson, downtown for a Margherita in the sun and some nachos when taking Dobby for walkies. When Ashley got home we headed for some delicious grub of chowder in a bread bowl and croissant sarnies. We made happy hour by 1 minute and the second I got my G&T I managed to launch it all over myself which was embarassing but I was replenished immediately, which I feel would not happen in England.

I also cannot think of many groups I know in England who would take in a complete stranger as warm and welcoming as Ashley and her friends did! I am so grateful and appreciated being involved in their everyday lives in Arizona.

I played at an open mic night at Sky Bar which was a cool venue with delicious whiskey gingers and all the girls came to see.

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We went to a couple of other bars and I met more of their group of friends and spilt more drinks. I spent a long time in a heated discussion with one gent about his adoration for Mumford & Sons and my observation of their distinctly average music. This same gent and his girlfriend gave me a lift back to Ashley’s house later on which resulted in me being 99% sure that I was invited to their house for a threesome in their pool. Naive little me hopped out the car to snuggle with Dobby only quite clicking what they had meant a moment later.

4. Tame Impala – ‘Cause I’m a Man

“Lost in the moment for a second time, each fucking doubt I make and cry. I’m just pathetic, that’s the reason why In desperation, all that you can do is ask me why?”

This is a band I keep hearing about and their music is growing on me more and more. Emy played them in her car as she drove us for lunch with Ashley in a posh shopping plaza where she works. We ate burgers and discussed periods. Here they are, I am particularly jealous of Emy’s fabulous mermaid hair! She bought me some delicious gelato which was real good.

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Emy is a pet sitter which added to my dog filled days in Tucson. Here are a few of the fabulous animals I met.

_DSC8517Dobby & Chunk in Ashley & Alex’s yard

_DSC8518Homeless Beyonce on the streets of Tucson

_DSC8542The biggest dog I have ever seen

_DSC8520Gross homeless & hairless chihuahua

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5. Ryan Adams – Wonderwall

“Maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me”

Not only did Ashley take me in, she then found me a home for the night with her family in Mesa as my flight was early in the morning, transport was expensive and they live near the airport I was flying from. I am still overwhelmed with the generosity people have shown me. One of Ashley’s sisters Megan (they’re triplets!) made a delicious dinner and I was filled to the brim with wine, Megan’s boyfriend James gave me a guitar tuner as I lost mine in Tucson and Ardeth (mum) gave me a fabulous vintage poncho for the snow and rain in Denver as I had no coat!

Megan and James work for a music promotion company and James is a musician himself. I told them of how every person I’ve played to in hostels has requested I played Wonderwall which I do not know on guitar as it makes me think of 3am club closings between sweaty beery Yorkshire boys yelling out “YOU’RE MY WONDERWALL”. If I did learn this cover I would do it like this version by my love Ryan Adams.

James and I played some of our songs to each other which led to some late night recording in their studio in the basement. I’m really looking forward to hearing the outcome as they are adding some extra layers to the guitars and vocals we laid down. I felt on a similar music plain to James and enjoyed our conversations about our intentions and influences. Here’s a video of us recording Dancing In The Dark.

Not only was I transported, fed, watered and treated like a queen by Ardeth that evening, she woke up at the crack of dawn to take me to the airport and I am just filled with joy with how incredible people can be.

Flying from Mesa, Arizona to Colorado Springs…

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Mermaid Overseas: Las Vegas to Phoenix

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: Las Vegas to Phoenix

When: 10/04/2015 – 14/04/2015

Lesson: Stick with the group

Achievement: Managed to not lose hundreds of dollars in casinos

Lyric: I’m an introverted extrovert

Quote: “This is America”

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1. James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream

“I don’t know about my dreaming anymore”

I’ve found one of the most admired current English musicians is James Blake. Of course I brag that he attended the same course as me at Goldsmiths and I lie that we are best mates. The Kiwi lads listened to him a lot during our week and any music lovers I have met adore him too. I have heard his music playing in bars across California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado. A huge amount of respect for such a talented musician representing the UK across the world (alongwith the lesser Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith)(although I am a sucker for Sam Smith).

He was blasted out at various points in our swanky hotel room in MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. The time spent in the hotel on the first night included gambling and watching little people dress up as Mario and Bon Jovi drinking 16 dollar gin and tonics with Sean, the latest Kiwi addition who lives in Denver. Ross joined later until all four Kiwis and I passed out in a toasty 2 bed set up.

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The days in the gorgeous sunshine were spent eating fast food on the strip and lazing by the pool. Here is me getting my burn on and reading Patti. By the pool I attempted to listen to soothing James Blake but he was drowned out by terrible dance remixes of songs booming over the drunkards.

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2. The Killers – All These Things That I’ve Done

“I got soul but i’m not  soldier”

Saturday night was our big night (despite me wanting a big night every night) and we drank gin among other spirits in our hotel room, playing blackjack and listening to songs including this one. My mind is a fog after the penultimate band photo was taken. I did not actually recall listening to this song but in my phones notes I have scrawled “IvE GiT SOUL BUT I’M bitA SOLDIER”.

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My friends in England will be glad to know I have not changed one wee bit in America as I never actually managed to get out of the hotel on our big night. After polishing off my bottle of gin and slurring to some people in the lobby, I somehow managed to find my way back to the room and pass out vertically across the bed. I was absolutely gutted in the morning to discover I had missed out on the strip club and losing hundreds of dollars in the casinos.

3. Fleetwood Mac – Dreams

“Now here I go again, I see the crystal visions. I keep my visions to myself”

I was also gutted that Fleetwood Mac were playing in our hotel that night and if I had managed to stay awake I legitimately could have bumped into my idol, Stevie! I managed to power through the next day by the pool drinking my Margarita slushy and eating, once again, fast food. Not only did we eat a lot of fast food but I somehow managed to choose a shitty option every time I ordered! Piling on the pounds and not even enjoying the reason is not good.

4. Michael Jackson –  I just can’t stop loving you

“My life ain’t worth living if I can’t be with you”

 We watched the Bellagio lights listening to “My Heart Will Go On” and “Viva Las Vegas” and I escaped the strip to the hotel to watch Friends quite early.

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Behind the light display that happens every 15 minutes was one of the many street performers on the strip. I never saw any particularly talented street performers in Vegas but these 2 people were particularly bad. They blasted out Michael Jackson songs whilst standing relatively still dressed vaguely like Wacko Jacko. This track is what I used to sing on my little bluebird bike with stabilizers up and down my drive back in Menston. I would spend hours screaming out every word, most likely  sounding like shrieking with no listener believing I would grow up to be a singer.

The Kiwi lads returned to the room after their final gambling fix and they rose at 5 to leave my side and head to Austin. A group of such genuine, kind and funny fellas who I am going to try my hardest to visit in New Zealand at some point when I am working in Australia.

5. John Mayer – Free Fallin’

“I’m a bad boy ’cause I don’t even miss her, I’m a bad boy for breaking her heart”

Day 4 in Las Vegas and I was crawling the walls. My beautiful Kiwis departed and I escaped to spend the afternoon in the Cinema watching Get Hard as it was the only thing on. Pretty enjoyable and features John Mayer which reminded me of eating delicious Falafel in San Fran with Gol, Logan and Leah and the guy behind me in the queue going crazy because this track was playing.

I got the chance to record some new ideas before checking out the hotel. I wrote about my introverted behaviour during the week and I thought of my song “Calm In My Head”. This track formed after a chef I worked with (another French man) in London kept asking me “why are you so calm all the time Clare? Why are you so calm?” and I told him i wasn’t calm in my head. I don’t feel like people I meet decipher me correctly and this was a prime example. The same chef did proceed to follow me home that night and try force his way into my house, I kept my calm and he did not succeed.

“Never leave a tinnie behind” has been mine and my chums motto for all my drinking years so I gathered all the leftovers from the hotel room before catching a night bus to Phoenix, Arizona. Unusually there were thorough security checks and naive little me did not realize you’re not allowed alcohol on Greyhounds. The guard kept pulling more bottles and tins out of my Mary Poppins bag looking dissapointedly at me saying “Ooh shit, I would never have known. You seem all quiet and shit and you all drinking and shit. Shit”. Oh, the shame.

Quick stop off in Phoenix before heading to Tucson, Arizona…

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Mermaid Overseas: San Francisco to Yosemite to Death Valley to Flagstaff to Grand Canyon to Las Vegas

The soundtrack to a Mermaid making music across three continents.

Where: San Francisco to Yosemite to Death Valley to Flagstaff to Grand Canyon to Las Vegas

When: 06/04/2015 – 10/04/2015

Lesson: People from New Zealand are called Kiwis because of the bird, not the fruit

Achievement: Having a hell of a lot of car naps in three different states

Lyric: I want the struggle, I need to learn

Quote: “My name’s Ross, I’m from New Zealand” (Ross Hogue) / “Fuck we’re losers” (Mitchell Webb) / “I do this thing called whatever the fuck I want” (Tom Latty)

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1. Fly My Pretties – Bag of Money

“Have you seen my bag of money?”

I cruised out of San Fran in the most basic Jeep (but still a Jeep) available with three strapping Kiwis. Latty was the designated driver, Mitch was the DJ and Ross and I took the backseat eating peanut butter M&Ms. Mitch chose Fly My Pretties as the soundtrack to the beginning of our road trip who are from New Zealand and pretty darn good. This track particularly took my fancy as it reminded me of my chums Charli and Sam off their faces running around festivals and asking anyone who would listen “have you seen my bag of cash?”

Many conversations revolved around the differences and similarities in England and New Zealand, including accents. Mitch has a pretty good Landan accent and a common reaction to anything I said was “you fackin’ what mate?!”. Despite my fabulous American accent, I cannot nail the Kiwi.

2. Bon Iver – Holocene

“and at once I knew I was not magnificent”

Mitchy listened to some pretty sterling music including Bon Iver. This track stalked us on the road trip as it was chosen for the car soundtrack and also playing in a bar we were in one night. I love the way Bon Iver can capture nature’s imagery in sound, as if you can see where he was when he wrote these tracks. I aim to channel the incredible sights we saw in Yosemite and Death Valley into my writing.

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As this road trip was not in my initial plan I was less than prepared for the rain and snow in Yosemite. I donned a fluorescent yellow poncho which resulted in my name for the day being Condom. Here we are looking soggy, but happy.

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I felt like a child again on the first night in the hostel in Yosemite as it was “quiet time” after 11 and I had to creep into a pitch black dorm full of agitated French women groaning at my disturbance. A slightly different environment to the party hostels I have been embracing!

3. America – Horse With No Name

“The heat was hot and the ground was dry but the air was full of sound”

Latty, the machine, powered through the long drives and we arrived in Death Valley just in time for sunset. During the course of the road trip I managed to somehow slip back into being 8 years old and all I seemed to do was eat fast food, eat snacks, fall asleep, and repeat. Obviously not the best car companion to have and to top it off I felt like I was acting quite introverted for the majority of the time, spending the hours gazing into the desert, humming this song in my head and pretending I was Walter White at the wheel.

I felt a little naked not playing my guitar as much as I would have liked to but played a few songs around a campfire where we slept in Death Valley, sipping tinnies and wine. We rented a large tent and slept on what can only be described as hospital stretchers in sleeping bags. Despite Death Valley having the hottest temperature in the world, in the middle of an April night, cold is the only word that could escape my mouth.

We set off at 5am to watch the sunrise. Definitely worth the early waking for such spectacular sights and engulfing silence. The silence was broken by grumpy, tired Mitch spitting and farting, the sounds I got used to, me being one of the lads. Here he is in the glorious sunrise, probably burping as i took the shot.

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We carried on to be in blistering heat reaching the lowest point in USA. We took a selection of different moody band photos in each place we visited and here are my favourites.

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Badwater Basin

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Hoover Damm

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Yosemite

4. Tyler The Creator ft. Frank Ocean – She

“During sex, I overheard, a sword sliced the air, I pulled out the na-na”

The first night I met the Kiwi lads Mitch and I compared music libraries and although featuring a lot of similar artists his all time love is Tyler The Creator. Rap is not usually my cup of tea and my bestie Lottie has tried to get me into him before but I have included him in my soundtrack now and I am growing to really like him.

Mitch blasted Tyler in our room in Flagstaff before we had some delicious Thai food and one dollar beers at a College bar, eyeing up the Arizonian shorties and swiping through Tinder. I do enjoy being one of the lads as I always have done.

For our last leg with the Jeep we listened to the soothing Stephen Fry read the first 2 Harry Potters which was thoroughly enjoyable but bizarre when juxtaposed with the Desert surroundings. We also played 20 questions with Ross starting with the impossible “pocket lint”. One of mine was Deidre Barlow and I was very impressed of Latty’s vast knowledge of my beloved Corrie, which I am missing so much.

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5. Chet Faker – No Diggity

“Baby never act wild, very low key on the profile”

Chet Faker heavily influenced the week’s soundtrack. This track was featured in the Golden Gate Park jam with Adelaide and Shane and this version was played in the Jeep, came on in the Flagstaff bar and when Sean (another Kiwi fella) joined us when we arrived in Las Vegas he also whacked it on the speakers.

We went to see The Grand Canyon which was bloody grand. I went to the Grand Canyon with my parents and did a similar route across the desert when I was at an age when I did not appreciate the experience at all. These vague memories and my childlike behavior in the car, creeped me out as, naturally, I feel I am a completely different human being since then. Perhaps that was why I was not acting completely myself during this amazing week and perhaps not representing England as wonderfully as I could have. I am still pretty sick though as this photo proves.

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Checked into MGM Grand Hotel now with the 4 fanfuckingtastic Kiwi lads and ready to gamble my dignity (or what’s left of it) away…

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