This being my last posting of 2008 it's time for a look back over the past 12 months of life in mad-guitar-land, much of which sounds oddly familiar...
The Chicago Blues Brothers have gone from strength to strength, winning friends and influencing people left right and centre and playing some great gigs in the process. Particularly memorable for me was the run of shows at The Theatre Royal in Windsor at the end of March, with April's weekend in Norwich and the Jools Holland support show in Southend at the end of June not far behind. Next year's looking good for us with plenty of shows already in the diary and some very interesting things being talked about- I'll keep you posted, as they say. In dep-land I played a couple of shows for local heroes The Cane Toads back in the summer and a highly enjoyable gig with The Ali Mac Band at London's Southbank Centre in November 'though my favourite stand-in shows have to be the two I played with The Sex Pistols Experience- is there anything better for an old punk like me? And I have to say that playing in the window of Horsepower Hairdressing in Uxbridge with my old mate Andy just about beats the CBB show in a Swiss shopping centre for the 'oddest gig location' award- but not by much!
As far as other people's music goes it's been a bit of a barren year on the 'new music' front- I'm sure it's out there, I just haven't been able to find it! The only current (as opposed to re-issue) album that I bought this year was 'Dig Out Your Soul' by Oasis which, although a good album in my opinion, is hardly the work of up and coming young guns. There's a new album out by Graham Day and The Gaolers called 'Triple Distilled' that I haven't got around to getting yet, and I must find out more about The Gene Drayton Unit who I heard on the way home from our Kettering gig a couple of weeks ago; at the other end of the commercial spectrum John Mayer has finally made more sense to me, especially his concert DVD 'Where The Light Is' which presents his music in 3 different ways (acoustic, trio and full band) and contains some absolutely superb playing throughout. Re-issue wise 'Boy' by U2 sounds every bit as extraordinary to me now as it did when I first bought the album all those years ago- whatever happened to them eh?
Talking of DVD's the long-awaited (by me anyway) release of 'At Kilburn:1977' by The Who didn't disappoint- what's often reported as being a sub-standard show originally filmed for inclusion in the bio-pic 'The Kids Are Alright' turned out to be alright after all even if it did fall below their standards at the time (actually it is a bit shaky in places- 'Daltrey forgets the words to 'Dreaming From The Waist', 'I'm Free' is all over the place and the bit in 'My Wife' where Townshend throws a amplifier at guitar tech Alan Rogan has to be seen to be believed!) while the bonus footage of them at London's Coliseum Opera House in 1969 shows them in fine 'we're about to conquer the world' form, albeit in rather low visual quality. 'Shine A Light', the Martin Scorsese-directed film of the 2007 New York theatre concerts by The Rolling Stones contains some fabulous moments (and, it must be said, quite a few rather odd ones!) whilst 'There'll Always Be An England' is a remarkable document of last year's Brixton Academy concerts by The Sex Pistols; directed by long-time associate Julian Temple it features the audience almost as much as it features the band!
And I've seen some great live shows this year- The Who (of course!) in London a couple of weeks ago, The Sex Pistols (of course!!) at both Birmingham and London, Wilko Johnson in Watford, The Godfathers in London, The Blockheads with Wilko in Camden- but I think my 2 favourite shows from this year have been 2 very different blues gigs. Buddy Guy gave an astonishing performance at The Shepherds Bush Empire back in June whilst in August Kris Dollimore played a solo show in a pub outside Chesham, both of which had me mumbling 'back home to practise then' throughout. Great stuff.
This year's 'Did That Really Happen?' moment has to be meeting Steve Cropper. Playing in Dave Finnegan's Commitments and The Chicago Blues Brothers have meant that I've played Cropper's guitar riffs more than I've played anybody else's over the last few years and I can honestly say that I've never found them to be anything less than inspirational. When I shook his hand I felt like I was shaking hands with soul music itself- and it doesn't get much better than that does it?
Far too many great musicians left the building in 2008, among them Richard Wright, Mitch Mitchell, Isaac Hayes and, earlier this month, Davey Graham. When I worked at the E.M.I. factory in Ruislip all those years ago I met a chap called Ken who, incredibly, had shared a flat with Davey Graham back in the day. He told me all manner of stories about those times, but the one that came to mind today concerns the day that he came home to find Davey hunched over his guitar, deep in thought. When he saw Ken he said words to the effect of 'Do you think this is any good?' then played Ken an instrumental piece that he'd just written- making Ken the first person ever to hear 'Anji'. Words like 'genius', 'virtuoso' and 'legend' are in my opinion rather overused these days- but Davey Graham was all those things and more.
Plenty to look forward to in 2009 gigging with The CBB's as well as continuing to work at Pro Music in Ickenham and 'We Will Rock You' in London with Stuart the guitar repair man; I'm also putting on some acoustic gigs at The Load of Hay in Uxbridge as well as getting the R'n'B band (tentatively named The Retrobates) with Andy, Dave and Mike off the ground and, if I can finally banish my memories of our appalling performance last December from my mind, I might see if the rest of The Price fancy getting back together again... keeping busy as they say. And I've finally managed to work out how Voltarol puts links to websites in his blog! I'll be putting YouTube clips in next...
Cheers and thanks for reading- see you in 2009!
In case you're wondering about the title of this posting go back to my last posting of 2007-
I haven't come very far in the last 12 months have I?!?