Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Swindon (and on)

Given that we've finally managed to get a gig there is at last a reason for The Flying Squad to rehearse- to this end Andy, Dave, Mike and myself met at room 4 of Ruff Rockers Rehearsal Studio at 6 p.m. yesterday to do just that, and, even though I say so myself, we sounded pretty good to my ears. Then again after the amount of work we've put in I guess we should! As we were leaving Andy said something like 'if we don't know it now we never will'- let's hope he's right...

Meanwhile The Chicago Blues Brothers roadshow rolled on for 2 shows over the Easter weekend, the first of which was at The Regent Theatre in Christchurch. As we neared the venue we passed The Thomas Tripp Late 'n' Live which had 2 Jake and Elwood statues on it's roof- sadly Jake had lost one of his feet, but I decided that their presence was a good omen for our gig. Myself and the long-suffering Shirley arrived to find most of the band already there- it's a 'nearly-the-A-team' weekend with Ian depping again for Richard on sax but with everybody else where they should be, and with Bondy away Graham's alone behind the mixing desk for the first time. Mike and Matt look a little blearier than usual having just flown back from a gig in The Middle East, and soundcheck included Pete joining myself, Squirrel and Marc for an attempt at 'All Right Now' as well as an instrumental version of 'Little Wing'.
The venue was interesting in a number of ways, not least because it was originally a cinema in the 1930's, and much of it's Art Deco flavour survives. It also has a bar under the stage- not seen that before!- and some of the oldest staff that I've ever seen, many of whom were utterly terrifying ('you're not going to stand THERE are you young man?') not least the lady selling ice creams that I rather unwisely asked for change for our merchandise stall ('I only have enough for MYSELF!')
About a week or so before the show Pete had told us that less than 100 tickets had been sold meaning that the show might be cancelled, but some sterling publicity work by Squirrel's wife Lindsay and an appearance on local radio meant that we ended up with the best part of 250 people in the audience; they took a a while to get going but get going they did, and Mike and Matt shook off their jet lag to give a fine performance.

After the show Shirley and myself headed for Swindon where we'd booked ourselves a Travelodge in anticipation of the next night's show at The Wyvern Theatre. With Gary Moore on the CD player the journey took about an hour and a half; there's no parking at the travelodge and the car park opposite only lets you buy a ticket until 6 a.m. meaning that one of us (me!) would have to get up then to buy a new ticket- we drive around for a few minutes before finding some space in Spring Gardens around the back of where we were staying. When we go to check in the young man in reception can't find our details on their computer- it turns out that Shirl had already checked us in by phone earlier in the day. He's got 'mum' tattooed on one wrist and 'dad' tattooed on the other- she mentions to him that we've parked around the back and he says that cars often get broken into there, they're looking for sat. nav's so make sure that you haven't left a circular mark in your windscreen, then again a car was broken into in the car park opposite last night... we walk back to the car to clean the windscreen and to bring my guitars back with us.

It had been a long Saturday ( as opposed to a Long Good Friday) so a lazy Sunday beckoned, although we did manage a visit to the nearby outlet centre (Shirl likes shopping!) before getting to the theatre for around 4.30 in the afternoon. We'd been due to play here back in September 2007 when the show was cancelled at short notice due to an asbestos problem (!) at the theatre; soundcheck saw Pete continuing his assault on the Paul Rodgers songbook with a somewhat loose version of 'Can't Get Enough' before switching to bass for a go at 'Reach Out, I'll Be There'. Oh and Matt turned a few heads by asking us to play 'something in Bb' before modestly revealing his not-inconsiderable blues harmonica prowess- we must get that in the show!
After a walk to the nearby Co-op to pick up a pre-gig sandwich it was time for a visit to the bar. As I walked towards it Tracy appeared to be looking at me whilst saying something like 'and who's this sexy man?'- yes, you've guessed it, she was referring to her step-brother who was following right behind me. The barman also had 'mum' and 'dad' tattooed on his wrists- maybe it's a Swindon thing?
The show's fine from a band point of view (i.e. we play well and go down brilliantly with the audience) but from my point of view things aren't so good. Back in September of last year I had a virus that caused my limbs to ache; it's either come back or I've hurt or strained my left hand in some way as my thumb was in agony for most of the show, and as a result I didn't play as well as I would have liked. It's very frustrating to hear the notes not quite coming out the way that you'd like them to- it's as if they sound one way in your head but another way in the real world. I'm hopeless at going to doctors and the like, but I'm going to have to do something about this... nevertheless it's been another 2 good CBB shows- the more the merrier, that's what I say.

Don't forget- if you'd like to come and see the debut performance by The Flying Squad then just click here to go to the venue website where you'll find all the details; you can also send them an e-mail telling them that you'd like to come to see us and you'll get in cheap! Excellent!

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