Paul Thompson probably deserves an award for Enterprising and Ambitious project of the year!
Releasing his third album, he is well aware as an independent singer songwriter, that it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. Sensing that same passion and no limits approach of Helen Meissner from Folkstock Arts Foundation, he engaged her with his novel idea for a tour for third album 'Lost in the Land of the Midnight Sun'.
On 3rd June, the Norfolk based singer embarks on a three month tour, travelling from Norwich to the Edinburgh Fringe, via the Highlands and Islands, on a Milk Float !
And what's more, this novel project 'Floating to the Fringe' has attracted a considerable financial award from the Arts Council of England which has made the whole thing possible.
Travelling at a rock n roll pace of 15mph, 30 miles a day, across Britain in a specially converted electric milk float, it is no surprise to find that Paul will be the first solo musician ever to tour Britain in a milk float!
"I wanted to think of an original way to do a music tour, that was fitting to my style of music and that also incorporated sustainable technology. Performing at mainly outdoor locations, the milk float will double up as my tour bus and music performance space, with solar panels on the roof powering music equipment, and other adaptations allowing the float to charge up at Electric Vehicle charging points across the country".
The tour concept and exacting logistics has been conducted by Paul himself, and he has involved the promotional assistance of Helen Meissner from Folkstock Arts Foundation. This collaboration has somewhat impressively attracted public funding, for the first leg of the tour, from the Arts Council of England.
So what's involved? Paul has offered other musicians the chance to accompany him on his many performance dates across the country, is providing song writing workshops, chances to record songs in his mobile studio, and special concerts in Day Centres for the disabled. Other acts joining him for one or more dates include Kelly Oliver, Daria Kulesh, Ethemia, Vibe, Steve Young, Johnny Steinberg and Samh.
Paul Thompson's 'Floating to the Fringe' tour officially starts on June 3rd with a BBC Norfolk send off from The Forum in the centre of Norwich, following his album launch on 31st May at Cley Marshes Nature Reserve, at which Kelly Oliver, an artist who was shortlisted for our Debut Album of the Year award, will also be performing. The tour ends with a twelve day stint at the Edinburgh Fringe in the coveted George Street location!
Paul's milk float will transport him to a variety of venues, many of which are not traditional venues, such as inspiring outdoor National Trust spaces, along with arts centres, festivals, eco centres, pubs and clubs, village halls and house concerts.
"I'm interested in exploring the idea of music performance in fresh and original contexts, and expanding my opportunities to play at new venues. I've researched places to play that have an emphasis on environmental awareness, but that might also not normally be considered by musicians as a 'venue'.
For instance, this led me to approach the Green Britain Centre in Norfolk, which has a theatre, an organic garden, and the world's largest wind turbine with a viewing platform. Although they've never had music at the centre before, they were really excited by the idea, and as well as booking me for a workshop and performance, have expressed an interest in doing further events if things go well"
Paul's music has been described as 'blissed out Donovan meets John Martyn', and he uses a loop box to layer guitar, vocals and rhythm. Paul has been performing professionally for 10 years and has toured Europe, the US, Canada and New Zealand, but maintains that this will be his most exciting tour so far.
"Travelling a long distance at 15mph will prompt me to look at the world from a different perspective, to slow down from the normal pace of everyday life, and encourage new songwriting ideas flow. The song writing workshop, which will take place at the performance venues, will link to this with a theme of using the senses to appreciate nature and the environment, and applying these skills to written song lyrics.
There will be an opportunity during the workshop for people to record a song or poem, which will form part of an audio diary. I'll also be recording sounds of nature and the environment, as well as my own travelogue and music performances, and these will become a new full-length piece of audio following the tour."
Certainly one to watch over the Summer. Catch him if you can. All details on his website.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
Are you able to help us and the artist you're seeing out by dropping us a review once you get back home, and maybe even a picture. If you are able to help, Mail Us your review and we'll get it up as quick as we can
The Fatea Showcase Sessions are a series of downloads featuring acts that we've really enjoyed and think that more people should get the chance to hear.
Click Here to get the latest session