Monday, May 11, 2009

And the name in the frame is...

Howlin' Wolf, although it was written by Willie Dixon.

I'm sure you all know why that's the answer... you don't? Well I'll tell you that next time!

Anyway I remembered to ask to physiotherapist the name of the thing that's causing me all this thumb trouble- it's called De Quervain's Tenosynovitis. There- I bet you're glad I told you that eh? Sounds horrible doesn't it? Well- it is! There's lots of information on the Internet about it, some of which I've just made the mistake of reading... the acupuncture seems to be helping 'though it's quite painful- when I told him I had a gig this weekend he said that he wouldn't go too far with it; I'm back again next week for some more so I wonder if I should tell him that I'm not playing next weekend?!?

The Chicago Blues Brothers were playing this weekend 'though, at the rather confusingly named Hinckley Island Hotel (it's not on an island, it's in Leicestershire!) which has been in the book for quite a while courtesy of trumpeter extraordinaire Dave Land. He's referred to it as 'The Secret Policeman's Ball'- it was actually the National Council Meeting of The International Police Association (motto- 'service through friendship') and took place in The Westminster Suite. Myself and the long-suffering Shirley arrived to find a meeting taking place in said suite, and the troops gradually arriving- Pete and Mike (not feeling too good thanks to 'something that I ate last night') as Jake and Elwood, Richard and Dave on sax and trumpet, Squirrel and Marc on bass and drums, Tracy on vocals and new boy Chris (often seen with The Phil Hilborne Band) depping on keyboards. Phil's back behind the mixing desk for the first time in ages, and soundcheck is abruptly curtailed as the dinner guests start arriving. We've got Conference Room 10 to use as a dressing room- Porky the D.J. drops by to introduce himself ('my real name's Merv, I get a bit annoyed when people call me Porky sometimes- after all, it was only one lousy pig...') and give us all pens with SMILE IF YOU LIKE PORKIN' written on them. I saw his trailer parked out the back- it had a sticker saying 'no pies are kept in this trailer overnight' on it... meanwhile Pete spends a bit of time outlining plans for the rest of the year and beyond before myself and Shirley retire to the bar where we heroically avoid the 15-quid-a-glass Chateauneuf-du-pape.
As so often happens at these kind of events things don't quite go according to plan; we're originally due on at 10.30 'though we're told it could be as early as 9.30- we actually start at 10.15. It takes a couple of numbers for things to get going but get going they do- there's a young lad called Geordie with a toy electric guitar down the front, Pete gets him up on stage and he ends up standing next to me 'playing' along... oh and there's a young lady dancing down the front that gets quite a bit of attention, not least from the brass boys who aim everything from the theme to 'Bewitched' to 'The Stripper' in her general direction. Band-wise we play quite a few songs that we've not played for ages with varying degrees of accuracy (I'll leave you to think about that for a minute!) and overall it's that relatively rare thing, an enjoyable corporate show.

At last month's CBB show in Clacton Roger Cotton (depping for Ian on keyboards that night) had told me that his next gigs were with the excellent Buddy Whittington, and if I wanted to come along to any of them to just let him know; upon noticing that Mr. W. and co. were playing in Milton Keynes the night after our Hinckley show a plan formed in my warped mind... so it was then that myself and Shirl stayed the night in a Travelodge just outside M.K. then spent the afternoon in the shopping centre before wending our way out to The Stables in Wavendon. What an excellent venue- I'd not been there before 'though had always heard good things about it, and wasn't disappointed, everything about it is just 'right', if you know what I mean.
Support came from Krissy Matthews. Not yet 17 and clearly an outrageously talented (very) young man, he went down well with an audience clearly ready for some blues guitar- they didn't quite get it from him but he won most of them over by the end of his 30-odd minute set. Leaving aside the fact that he obviously has youth on his side (at his age I don't think I knew which end of a guitar to blow into!) and will therefore develop his art over time I personally found it a bit difficult to listen to after a while- a case of 'too many notes Mozart' perhaps? And doing a cover version of a song as good as 'Iceman' is always a bit dangerous as it can show your own material up if it's a bit limited...
No such problems with Buddy Whittington however- beginning with the classic comment 'let's see if old age and treachery can beat youth and skill' he then played a version of 'You Upset Me Baby' that it's writer would have been proud of, and over the next hour-and-a-half showed himself to be an absolute master of blues guitar. The standout song might have been 'Minor Blues', and the encore of 'Grits Ain't Groceries' saw some fine soloing from the whole band but there was nothing wrong with anything really. Roger introduced me to him after the show, he was talking to Australian guitar slinger Gwyn Ashton (who did a good job of remembering me- I don't think he did at all but is was nice of him to say that he did!) about his upcoming album but took the time to talk to me, ask about my playing, even inviting me to (gulp!) get up and 'play some soul music' with the band sometime. Hmm... here's someone who's played in one of the best known blues bands in the world- John Mayall's Bluesbreakers in case you didn't know- and he's still interested in what other people are doing and what other players are playing.

There's a lesson for us all there don't you think?

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