Myself and the long-suffering Shirley have just returned- and I mean just returned!- from a few days away in Dorset, our only time away this year. It's been good to escape for a while as it's been a busy few weeks, 'though why I woke up yesterday with an almost desperate need to hear 'Shake Some Action' by The Flamin' Groovies isn't an easy question to answer. (Actually it's a really easy question to answer- how about something like 'it's one of the greatest records ever made'? There- that'll do it!) Then again I woke up Wednesday morning convinced that film had been discovered of Jimi Hendrix playing guitar right-handed; I've since realised that it was all just a dream... this is the sort of story that most people tell then finish with the words 'I think I need a holiday' and laugh ironically before waiting for a sympathetic 'yes, it sounds like you do' from the person that they've just told the story- but I've just had a holiday, or at least what passes for one in my little world.
Last Friday myself and drummer extraordinaire Dave Bateman journeyed south of the river to The Half Moon in Herne Hill to witness an excellent gig by The Duplicates. I hadn't seen them for a while and they've got quite a few new songs in their repertoire 'though I'm pleased to say that 'The Sweeney' theme is still there alongside the Booker T and the M.G.'s songbook. Dave Ruffy is surely the dapperest drummer in rock (suit, tie & spats- excellent!) and I saw Segs from The Ruts for the first time since the Edwin Collins gig in April. A top evening.
Saturday saw The Chicago Blues Brothers return to The Pizza Express in Maidstone for the first time in quite a while. With the M25 closed between junctions 5 and 6 (that's the bit that we want!) we put ourselves in the hands of the sat. nav. which took us into the wilderness of deepest darkest Kent; with hop farms on all sides of us it seemed unlikely that we'd ever see a street lamp again- then Maidstone town centre suddenly appeared in front of us. These sat. nav. things really are amazing (I'll stop going on about them now, honest!) Richard's gigging in Italy so Ian's back on sax, and Pete's in for Mario as Jake, and the show's a raucous affair with a stag party and a wedding anniversary party contributing to the mayhem. I've never quite worked out why people would want us crashing and bashing in front of them when they're eating their dinners, but we always seem to go down well there so what do I know? We're due back there just before Christmas- it should be a good night.
Back to theatreland on Sunday with a visit to The Roses Theatre in Tewkesbury. As you may be aware this has a certain notoriety, as it's the theatre where Eric Morecombe suffered a fatal heart attack on stage- I'm pleased to say that the most dramatic thing that happened to us was being asked to wear hard hats on stage during our soundcheck as they were adjusting the lights overhead... oh and I had to fix the backstage toilet (it's handy being a plumber's son sometimes!) Ian suggested re-arranging 'New Orleans' which involved Marc changing the drumming during the choruses, and Pete bought everyone fish and chips which went down very well indeed. Richard's back on sax, Mario's back in the hat'n'glasses and an oddly restrained audience saw a good show although a rather odd incident backstage meant the Richard was introduced as 'the hassle with the tassels' (I'll leave you to use your imagination on that, 'though if the photos come out then the Christmas caption competition should be a good one) and I managed to dislodge my B-string (oo-er missus etc) from the bridge on my Baja Telecaster which, without boring you with lots of guitar nerdery, meant that it sounded a bit like a sitar; I played the encore on my '60's Classic which sounded great but was freezing cold- it's amazing how hot the instruments (and indeed the players) get under the lights.
Straight back into it this weekend with a day in the shop tomorrow followed by the gig in Essex that I mentioned in the last posting; oh and I'm judging a talent contest tonight. No, I really am! Maybe I do need a holiday...