Last night I was able to see one of my favourite musicians, playing live in a small club just a short bus ride from home. Laura Cantrell is a singer songwriter. Originally from Nashville, she now lives in New York City. I first heard her music on the John Peel show some years ago – as did many other Brits, which is why she’s reasonably popular on this side of the Atlantic. He said her first album was his “favourite album of the last 10 years – and possibly my life” – and that was enough of a recommendation for me to buy it. (Is it really amost seven years since John Peel died? I still miss hearing his voice on the radio.)
Since then I’ve enjoyed all of her music, but I didn’t think I’d get to see her play live – until I noticed on her website that not only was she coming to the UK, she was coming to Nottingham. I’m sometimes cautious about going to see people whose work I admire a lot – I’ve been disappointed once or twice by musicians (notably another country singer, Ryan Adams, whose concert I still regret not walking out of). Bill Bryson is one of my favourite authors, but I’ve deliberately not gone to his book signings and talks when he’s been in town, just in case he didn’t match up to how I imagine him to be (though for the record I’ve heard him on the radio often, and he sounds thoroughly nice, so perhaps I should just get over myself!).
But the concert last night was every bit as good as I had hoped. I love seeing small-scale acoustic concerts, where the musicians can take requests and play whatever songs take their fancy at the time. She played so many of my favourite songs, some lovely new ones, and told us stories about female country singers from the 1950s and 60s. I think what really helped her win over the crowd was the way she kept pronouncing Nottingham – in that charming way Americans sometimes do.
But that wasn’t the only thing that made last night memorable. Before the concert, I had dinner with a friend at Wagamamas, which faces out towards the Trent University building that’s currently home to a pair of peregrine falcons. The birds have been nesting there for some years, and this year a webcam was installed so that people could watch them raise their young. They laid four eggs, which hatched out last weekend. I kept my eye on the building through much of our meal, and towards the end we finally saw a big bird swoop towards it, and perch on a ledge. We paid our bill and went outside to get a better look, and I was delighted to see it really was one of the falcons. I took two pictures – one of the view from our seats inside the restaurant, and a slightly closer one to show where the bird is. I find it amazing to see such a rare bird right in the heart of the city centre.