Sunday, August 23, 2009

Back to bassics (sorry!)

It's been another 'not-in-the-shop' week for your humble narrator, and despite the fact that money is starting to run out it (I must stop spending! Then again as we'll see I haven't exactly been out much...) it may not have been such a bad thing as I've somehow managed to hurt my back. Last time this happened I ended up in hospital on heroin! (Click here for the full gory story.) It's not anywhere near as bad this time (thank God!) but it's still been very painful so in an effort to keep it more-or-less under control I've paid a visit to Prem the physiotherapist who did his stuff with the needles; I've also swallowed what probably amounts to far too many painkillers, along with trying to take things easy and not do anything too silly...

I managed to put the bass parts provided by Stuart the guitar repair man together without too much drama, and even though I say so myself have ended up with a reasonably playable instrument. It's a blue (blue!) Precision copy with 'Gear for Music' on the headstock so it presumably originated at the online shop of the same name although I think it's actually a generic mass-produced instrument that shops like that buy in and put their name on rather than any sort of custom-made guitar. It's missing the capacitor from the tone control (it broke off! If you're interested here's a wiring diagram which shows how it all goes together) which I've since got a replacement for- I must get around to fitting it as the tone control doesn't work without it. I've started working on the material for next month's gig, and it's been really interesting to be playing basslines rather than the guitar riffs, many of which are as distinctive (and therefore as important to get right) as their guitar counterparts. I'm due to be getting together with Sam and Andy in the next few days for a rehearsal and I have to say that I'm really looking forward to it- songs as familiar as 'Mustang Sally' have become 'new' to me again. Excellent.

After working with Stu on Thursday morning at 'We Will Rock You' I decided that my back felt well enough for me to take a detour on the way home, and so journeyed to Ladbroke Grove to visit 'Mick Jones' Rock'n'Roll Public Library'. This may have been an error as I spent much of Friday in quite a bit of pain, but it was an excellent exhibition so I think it was worth it. (Remind me of what I've just written when I'm still moaning about my back this time next week won't you?) It's the brainchild of (you guessed it!) Mick Jones who brilliantly describes it as a 'guerrilla-library' and as an intended alternative to The British Music Experience. I haven't been to that but if their website is anything to go by it all looks a bit 'grown up' compared to Jones's splendidly chaotic collection of personal memorabilia- everything from football comics to recording studio equipment (click here for a BBC blog posting that includes some excellent photos of the exhibits) with the inevitable Clash and Big Audio Dynamite items thrown in for good measure. All good stuff, and a reminder to me just how much The Clash meant to me all those years ago- I've yet to see his current band Carbon/Silicon but I really must make the effort the next time that they're playing.

Incidentally I've just picked up a not-entirely-legal Clash CD called 'Live in Amsterdam'- if you're a fan and you see it anywhere then buy it! It's fantastic!

Last night saw the ultimate test of my ailing back- a gig with The Blues Brothers UK at The Colonial Bar in Horndean. The band show a distinct resemblance to both The F.B.I. Band and Utter Madness, and The Chicago Blues Brothers visited the venue as recently as last March (click here for the story of that show) when I remember it being packed to the rafters- this show wasn't anywhere nearly as well attended which I guess means that the recession is real after all... those that were there were an noisily enthusiastic bunch who kept the dancefloor busy throughout our 2 sets of BB-based soul and r'n'b, some of which stretched the brief a bit (I don't remember 'Long Train Running' or 'Suspicious Minds' being in either of the films?!?) but all of which seemed to keep the customers satisfied. This is all the more remarkable considering that the band was almost totally made up of deps- only Jon (bass) and Ian (sax) were familiar from the recent Belfast trip although I'd played with Jim (keyboards) at the recent F.B.I. Band show in Harpenden; Tom joined Tony in the hat'n'glasses (he last played in the band '6 or 7 years ago' and turned out to be an excellent harmonica player although Tony handled pretty much all of the vocals) while Ian (trumpet) bemoaned the lack of written music parts (he played in 'Chicago' but prefers working in Sainsburys these days; he got married on Monday) and Mark (drums) arrived late as his car had been blocked in while he was doing a session at Air Studios (have a look at his website- he does that sort of thing rather a lot!) All things considered it could have been a disaster, but turned out to be a fun if admittedly rather loose show- and my back doesn't feel too bad this morning. Then again I'm sure I'd feel much worse if I wasn't under such heavy sedation...

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