When Sister Rosetta Tharp sang, “This train is bound for glory” she was clearly thinking of the day when The Walnuts would conquer Europe in a motorhome. Like Sister Rosetta, we were bound for glory. Finding new friends, playing in beautiful places and meeting kindred spirits who embraced the very essence of The Walnuts; no audience too small, no situation too embarrassing, no island too remote and no music too live.
Here is a taste of the Walnuts live on Nakholmen Island in the Oslo Fiord.
You may already know this but The Walnuts are a group of middle-aged musicians from Berkshire who play Celtic music, Folk and Americana.
We are me, Davie, founder of sevensongs.org, Matt Allwright, journalist and presenter of Watchdog, Rogue Traders, The Code, and other things, Celtic fiddle legend Donald Stewart and our guest drummer for the week, Simon Dore.
The trip was in a Bailey Advance 665 motorhome, kindly supplied by Baileys of Bristol. We were supported in their endeavour by The Caravan and Motorhome Club. Essential cake supplies were from Battenburg Belle and The Cookcurry Club provided curry for the trip. The trip raised over £2100 for the Alzheimer’s Society and 400 for Hope Beyond Displacement.
Here is how it all panned out.
February: The Camper and Motorhome Club with Bailey’s of Bristol make Matt an awesome offer… borrow a van, drive around Europe, play music and write about it. The Epic Walnut Dash is on! We decided to tour for a month to the far north of Norway and back.
April: The Walnuts agree on dates, they also agree a week’s tour is feasible and they plump for early July for a complicated European tour across the lowlands, Germany, Denmark and Norway, 7 countries in 8 days.
May: The Walnuts go on BBC Radio Berkshire playing a couple of songs and talk about, the tour, Seven Songs and Alzheimer’s. Also, we had our first sign ups to host gigs, the mighty John Stirling the legendary basketball and goalkeeping wizard from Cumnock and Karen, our dear old friend (she’s not old, our friendship is) in Oslo.
June 25th: The Walnut’s motorhome arrives in Matt’s drive – tee shirts are printed, cupboards are stocked, new pyjamas purchased (by me, for me).
June 25th: The Walnut’s motorhome arrives in Matt’s drive – tee shirts are printed, cupboards are stocked, new pyjamas purchased (by me, for me).July: Donald and I set off in our metaphorical train for Europe. We meet Matt on the second day in Hamburg and set off for Aarhus… we arrive too late at night and we’re turned down by all the Irish bars – we busk.
It turns out that travelling in a motorhome is quite magnificent and Northern Europe is a special treat for the middle-aged guitarists and fiddle player – during the day, hard travelling down Europe’s highways and then long, warm evenings fueled with pakora, cake and whisky.
Over the next 6 days we play 6 gigs – On the street in Aarhus, on the ferry, in a living room in Oslo, in a Garden in Hvalstad, on an Island (FFS an Island!) in the Oslo Fiord and in an amazing apartment in Amsterdam for the 4th of July.
Our hosts Karen and Håkon , John and Gunn, Lauren and Tim and the unsuspecting islanders of Nakomen where magnificent, what outstanding people and their unswerving commitment and the efforts made our trip fun, touching and worthwhile.
We raised over £2100 for the Alzheimer’s Society. We raised £400 for Hope Beyond Displacement.
So when Rosetta sang, ‘This train is bound for glory, Don’t carry nothing but the righteous and the holy”, she could only be thinking of our hosts and these fellow travellers.
We also played with local musicians. On Nakonem we were joined by Haldar, a fiddler, who not only fitted in without a rehearsal but played fiddles like Bragi (the Norse God of poetry and music, of course). In Hvalstad singer-songwriter, Andy joined us and sang some proper folk. And of course our very own tea box drummer, Simon Walnut, who played with us for the week.
There were so magical moments, the police raid, getting on the wrong boat and having to be rescued and being asked to play by the crew of the Ferry across from Norway to Denmark.
The Epic Walnuts dash was glorious – thank you everyone who made it possible. In the words of our greatest fan, the very very drunk Benjamin “that was the best 100 Kroner I’ve ever spent, fuck off, you rock!”. He meant it affectionately, next year anyone?
The total Seven Songs has raised to date for the Alzheimer’s Society is just over £18,000.
If you’d like to make a donation then go to: http://www.justgiving.com/David-McGirr/
You can follow Seven Songs @mossgiel and on facebook. Get in touch if you’d like Seven Songs to play for you – no audience too small, no situation too embarrassing, no island too remote and no music too live.
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Walnuts’ fantastic logotype was designed by Rob Andrews.
Many of the photographs are from Håkon Wium Lie.
For more information about lap steel and steel guitars check out Matt’s blog, Steelgrimage.