Knocking Off in Knoxville
6 December, 2016
We’ve just arrived back in the UK, after a whirlwind week on tour in the States. Becky has beaten her jetlag to relate our time in Pittsburgh and Knoxville.
“All too soon after retiring for the night in Kansas City, we were up again and bound for Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (by way of Chicago O’Hare airport). This was the most difficult day of the tour, battling weariness as we were, but we were fortunate at least to have a couple of hours to relax in the lovely tried-and-tested Shadyside Inn Suites Hotel before the rehearsal. The hotel is in the very smart Shadyside area with lots of boutique-y shops, restaurants and bars on the main street. Those who had eaten on the hoof en route (see Ben below) spent the time sleeping rather than eating or shopping, although some managed to do all three! A few of us went for lunch in a good old diner and enjoyed their Corned Beef Hash and Chorizo Hash with fried eggs, the main topic of conversation over our meal being the varying pronunciations of the word ‘chorizo’ – well, we were tired!
“We had a large, friendly crowd as on our previous two visits to the impressive Calvary Episcopal Church, and I was personably delighted to sell a substantial amount of CDs, as it is my job to transport them all around in my suitcase. Many thanks to the generous concert-goers of Pittsburgh!
“The prospect of a 6.30 start the next morning meant that nobody fancied prolonging the evening with a post-concert drink (unusually!) so it was straight to bed for all of us.
“So bright and early the next morning, it was onwards and upwards – or in fact, downwards – to Knoxville, Tennessee. Torrential rain greeted us on arrival, but we couldn’t complain as we had been very lucky up to this point on the tour with glorious blue, sunny skies. The director of music at St John Episcopal Cathedral and organiser of the cathedral’s concert series, Jason, gave us a lovely welcome by taking those of us who were not intent on maximum napping time out for lunch to sample grits and other delights typical of the Southern States.
“This being our debut in Knoxville, we were not sure what to expert in terms of the venue and its acoustics, but we were pleasantly surprised by the generous size and clear ping of the St John Episcopal Cathedral. Although the concert series is only in its second year, Jason had done a great job of bringing in a good-sized audience and we found them all to be incredibly welcoming and friendly.
“Disaster nearly struck when we reached the hotel bar at 10pm to be told it had just closed. ‘O vae!’ we cried. Well, we didn’t but we should have done as Knoxville is clearly a Latin-speaking town.
“Very kindly the bartenders agreed to supply us with all the drinks we might need for the evening in one batch before knocking off for the evening. It was rather shocking to see all the drinks laid out on the bar and it seemed far too much for us to drink. It wasn’t. In fact, for some it was not enough and seven of us adjourned to a local pub for further fun; the other five had a 5.15am departure so understandably decided to go to bed.
“Despite our late night, Ross, Katie and Andrew were up in the morning for a 7km run around Knoxville and Ross was inspired to take some great photos (he probably just needed a breather…..)
Finally, to round off the tour, we went for lunch in style at the Hotel Royale where I decided to be a proper lady-who-lunches and take a cocktail with my meal!
So, goodbye Uncle Sam for now. We’ll see you in February!