Last night saw a Chicago Blues Brothers show at the 10th anniversary celebrations for the Paul Ponsonby company in Birmingham; after our less-than-enjoyable performance last Friday we were due a good one, 'though you know you're in trouble when you're told 'the postcode we've been given doesn't work in a sat. nav...' As myself and Tracy pulled up for fuel just off the M42 we decided to ask the very-helpful lady behind the counter if she knew where Hurricane Park was. She'd 'never heard of it- where's it near?' According to Mike (who was already there and had attempted to give us directions over the phone) it was near Fort Dunlop. 'That's miles from here' said the very-helpful lady, no doubt realising that we hadn't a clue where we were; Tracy offered to buy a map from her but she showed us the way anyway. It turned out to be an industrial estate literally under the M6- the postcode we'd been given takes you to the motorway above...
We're in another LARGE tent- sound guru Ian Bond has already set my amp up on top of a box marked 'Colt Revolvers' (the box next to it was marked 'beans') which is next to the front half of an American Police Chevrolet that's protruding from the back wall. Really. There's also a dancefloor made from large black and white squares (on seeing such a thing nerds like myself always think 'time for a game of human chess'- if you just thought that or knew why I would think it, then you're a fan of 'The Prisoner' too!) It's all the usual suspects in the band except for Andy who's depping for Richard on sax 'though there's no sign of him yet- after some quick hello's it's soundcheck time which included 'Shout' (Squirrel had never played it before and neither had I) and 'Land of 1,000 Dances' which we managed to recall from our days in Dave Finnigan's Commitments. It's all sounding good (it usually does when Mr. Bond is around) so it's time for some food (vegetable lasagne- excellent) in a nearby staff room. To get to it we walk through a HUGE warehouse which is full to it's very high ceiling with vacuum cleaners and indiscriminate cardboard boxes. Meanwhile Andy's arrived and he's not happy- he's been driving around for nearly 2 hours trying to find the place and nearly went home.
We're due on at 10- these type of things invariably run late- so Mario, Mike, Tracy and myself do the decent thing and go down the pub. The very-helpful lady in the service station had warned us that we were in a rough area and she wasn't wrong; the first 2 pubs we found both looked uninviting to say the least (the guy in the car park of the second looked how I would imagine someone looks as they're trying to remember where they'd left their favourite chainsaw) so we ended up in the rather more homogenised surroundings of the Old Orleans bar of the nearby Star City Casino.
Back at the venue we eventually get a 5 minute call; safe in the rather smug knowledge that '5 minutes is never 5 minutes' I opt for a quick visit to the Gents- as I return I hear what sounds suspiciously like an introduction followed by what is definitely the drum introduction to 'Peter Gunn'. Bugger. Still I'm onstage and playing before too much damage is done (I think!) and won't be making that mistake again (I hope!) As I said earlier we were due a good gig and this was a highly enjoyable one with plenty of dancefloor action and everyone playing well.
We got home in what felt like no time. It's amazing how easy it is when you know the way isn't it?