Monday 20th November 10.36 a.m.-ish and I've finally got a chance to look back on the past few days in mad guitar-land. Let's hope I can read my scribbly notes...
Last Thursday we played at the Worthing pavilion, a 'proper seaside building' as Malcolm described it. He used to be in a band with me, as did Paul. But more about them in a minute. We -Richard, Gary and myself- arrived at the venue a few minutes after the rest of the lads but just in time to help load everything in (curses!). Soundcheck went well with us running through 'Funky Nassau' which is set to return to the show after a considerable absence, and a bit of work on 'My Girl'- mostly tightening up the ending. Then it's upstairs to the dressing room to discuss tactics for the next few months and to look at some excellent new poster designs. Phone reception's not too good so I walk down the road to give Malcolm & Paul their 'where are you and where shall we meet' calls. Malc lives a few minutes walk away and Paul's on the train from Hove so it's time for some chips before meeting Malcolm and his mate Mark outside the venue. Paul's there in no time with Jack (his girlfriend Cathy's son) so it's off to the bar before showtime. There's a fair sized crowd and they're well into it pretty much from the word go- the sound's good, costume changes go well and we play one of our best versions yet of 'Green Onions'. I found myself to be quite nervous with my former (sometimes current- hello Price fans!) bandmates but when Paul raved at me about my selection of guitar hero poses (Poses? What poses?!?) I realised that I'd been worrying unduly; Malcolm wasn't so enthusiastic but he never is!
After everything's packed away the rest of the band's off for something to eat but I walk over to the pedestrian shopping area to meet my buddies in the Warwick pub. As I get there Malc's just started singing 'Somewhere over the rainbow' on the karaoke and he sounds great. Then again, he usually does.
Friday morning and breakfast's at a Little Chef just outside Littlehampton, opposite a large oriental-looking building. Strange... a mad drive in the heavy rain get us to Southampton in time to get the midday ferry to the Isle of Wight. I spoke to my Dad on the phone- both him and my Mum were in the Merchant Navy together and sailed from Southampton many times so it was a nice thought to be doing the same, albeit on a rather smaller vessel and on a considerably shorter journey. As we left we passed the QE2- I guess that if they'd been in the Navy now that's what they'd have been on.
Arriving on any island always reminds me of the scene in the Wicker Man' where Edward Woodward's character flies into Summerisle though thankfully that's where the comparison normally ends... then it's a drive across to Ventnor where we're playing at the Winter Gardens; it's raining and windy and the view from the venue out across the sea is magnificent. The P.A.'s set up and with the horn players off shopping it's time for a jam- with Pete on bass we run through those well known Blues Brothers numbers 'All Right Now' and 'Smoke on the Water' before a more serious bit of work on the 'My Girl' harmonies which even I'm involved in. Good fun.
Friday night was BBC 'Children in Need' night; this coupled with the weather and various other events on the island (including, bizarrely, a film premiere) meant that there was only about 50 people in the audience; incredibly the show went very well indeed with much dancing and jollity all round.
And now the fun bit. We were booked on the last ferry back to the mainland which left Cowes at 10.30p.m. and we finished playing at 9.15p.m. (theatre shows are often early in the evening). Astonishingly we made it- everything was packed up and ready to go by 10 to 10 including the P.A., an amazing achievement although not necessarily one to repeat again in a hurry! After a mad dash across the island and a few minutes spent in the queue for the chain ferry by mistake (that could have been embarrassing!) we were pretty much the only people on the boat home making for an oddly eerie journey back to Blighty.
Saturday was a bleary-ly busy day in the shop. Lots of time spent with Ian the Saturday boy assembling 2 cymbal trees to display Zildjian's on and plenty of customers to distract us. Great to see my old mates Paul O'Brien (who bought his Zemaitis electric in- one of the best guitars I've ever played- and is interested in a new amp), Pete Haynes (better known to the punk rock world as Manic Esso, drummer in local heroes The Lurkers), and Roger Brewer (drummer extraordinaire who I did loads of gigs with in The Informers all those years ago) though by the end of the day I felt like I was flagging a bit... no time to worry about that though as I'm off to see Robben Ford at The Mean Fiddler in London. Thanks to the usual tube train hilarity I was a bit late- by the time I met up with Stuart, Pete and Danny he'd just started. A good gig with bad sound- muddy, bassy, indistinct... and did the bass player really need 7-strings? Then again maybe I was just tired though all my buddies seemed to feel pretty much the same- a great shame since he's a terrific player.
Sunday I had a day off. I felt like I needed one.