Take Me Home, Country Roads

Back in March at the Country to Country festival Sasha McVeigh was playing on one of the pop-up stages.

She has just started her latest UK tour, the “I Stand Alone Tour” (named after her debut album).

When she e-mailed me through Twitter to ask if I’d be able to make it to any of the dates this time round, I decided I’d make it to the opening night in Hereford.

Cue all the queues along the A417, A40 and A49! On the country roads of Herefordshire and Gloucestershire, the traffic on a Friday night rush hour wasn’t the best.

I left work in Fairford at 5pm, and was making good progress (despite slow traffic from Cirencester to the other side of Gloucester) until I was the other side of Ross-on-Wye – just a few miles from my destination – when the A49 came to a standstill.

I’m still not entirely sure what it was, but there were flashing lights up ahead and when it became clear that nothing was getting through – the queue was only moving because people were turning round allowing the people behind them to move forwards – I didn’t have a clue where to go. Sat nav just wanted me to turn round!

I made it on to the M50 in the end (after pulling in to a petrol station, plugging my phone in to the cigarette lighter as it was low on battery, and calling Mum to ask the best way to go). Once on the motorway I put my foot down, overtook some cars, then took the B road in to Hereford instead. At 8 o’ clock I arrived at the venue: The Courtyard.

Despite missing the first half hour (and the first singer) as a result, it was still a great night. Acoustic Journey – a trio who originate from Northamptonshire – were on stage when I arrived. I’ve never heard of them before but they’re great singers. I love any music with an acoustic guitar in it!

Sasha came on stage after the interval – introduced by her Mum! For just over an hour she played some great songs – some I had heard at C2C – some which were completely new to me.

I’m annoyed that I didn’t have any cash on me to buy a copy of the album there and then. I’ve bought one online instead so hopefully I can start playing some of her music on my radio show very soon!

Before too long it was over and time to get back in the car. Thankfully, at 22:30 the roads were virtually empty. The country roads with lots of twists, turns and sharp bends in them took me home in just shy of 2 hours with the sound of Bayern 1 – Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation’s equivalent of Radio 2 – keeping me company. I was home by 00:15.

The frustrating thing? When I passed the point on the A49 which was blocked and where I had turned round, I was just 15 minutes away from the venue. It took me a whole 45 minutes to go the long way round!

Am I mad for trying to drive all that way (and back again) in such a short space of time? Quite possibly, but (apart from the frustration of finding the A49 blocked), I did enjoy the driving. I couldn’t do the whole “get up, go to work, go home, go to bed” thing all the time: I need something to do outside of work – be it radio, or a long drive to an interesting event.

Where shall I go next…?

FH.

Fred Hart

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