I feel most alien in the suburbs of Birmingham. Pulling my suitcase and carrying my guitar, I walk up and down the slopes of Kings Norton, searching for this illusive venue ‘Tower of Song’ where I’m due to play this evening. I ask a girl with an asymmetric haircut for directions, but it’s her boots I notice first. They’re Beatle-ish, black and pointy and I wonder whether she plays guitar. “I should be at work, but what the hell”, she smiles as she gets out her phone and starts to search her virtual map to point me in the right direction. After a good five minutes, she sends me back down the hill and skips into the local Blockbusters. The ‘Tower of Song’ is tucked away behind the petrol station by the roundabout. It looks almost like a cardboard front, as if it were a Hollywood movie set and would reveal nothing but a car park on the other side if I were to peak through the window.
Tom the owner arrives after a while and unlocks the door. With the flick of a light switch the box-like room jumps to life. The walls are covered with familiar faces. Immediately behind the stage are Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, all in black paint against the white backdrop. Across from them are The Kinks and Howling Wolf and a few others that don’t grab my attention as much. These people have all tapped into the collective consciousness to bring us poetry, melodies and rhythms that have made our lives a little more magical. Their work has defied space and time and has brought us all together. I am so different to the people here in this room, but only superficially. Our common ground is much stronger than any of our differences, so why focus on the negative space? I would return to the Tower of Song anytime, such a great atmosphere and lots of very talented people. Thank you for making me feel so welcome and for making the suburbs a little less scary.