Sunday, September 20, 2009

6 strings good!

Some extra guitar repair work for your humble narrator this week- in addition to working with Stuart the guitar repair man at 'We Will Rock You' on Thursday, I spent Wednesday with him at The Prince Edward Theatre servicing various instruments that are used in 'The Jersey Boys'. Unlike 'WWRY' this show uses several instruments on stage, some of which are played live and some which are purely props i.e. used by the actors who pretend to play them as part of the show. A lack of information meant some confusion over which instruments were which- in the event we ended up spending rather too much time on the prop guitars (many of which were in quite a bad way meaning a lot of time spent was cleaning them before restringing) and not enough on the 'real' instruments which meant that we were obliged to return on Thursday to complete the job. Or so we thought- it turns out that after Stu spoke to one of the guitarists on the show we may well have to go back this week as we still haven't worked on the main instruments. It's weird- no one person seemed to know what we were supposed to be doing! I got to restring a Fender baritone guitar- now there's something that you don't see every day- and might get to work on an electric sitar in the not-too-distant future. Excellent! 

Friday saw The Flying Squad return to the Tropic at Ruislip to support Larry Miller. In the time since our last gigs in July various discussions have taken place within the band which have resulted in us deciding to play a set purely consisting of Dr. Feelgood songs (or songs covered by them) not least because everyone that we spoke to after our first show there thought that it was a good idea! We arrived just as Larry & co. pulled up in the group van; I'd last seen him play around 10 years ago when I was in The Flame and we supported him at The Torrington in Finchley, and always remember him being a very nice chap. In the meantime he's gone on to become a respected blues/rock guitarist, very much in the mould of his great hero Rory Gallagher (always a good thing methinks) and it was good to catch up with him again. He let me have a go on his Rory Gallagher Tribute Stratocaster (superb!) and seemed very impressed with my Relic Strat (us guitar players often do the 'swapping instruments' thing!) In the event there wasn't enough time for us to soundcheck which might have contributed to what I thought was a rather scrappy show although we went down very well (one audience member even asked me for my plectrum! No-one's ever done that before!) so perhaps I was being a bit miserable? And Larry played a great gig- he's a fine player and is also very funny in between songs (maybe he's related to Max?!?) which is a strange mixture in some ways 'though it all works well as part of a show. He deserves to be much more successful than he currently is- let's hope he achieves that one day.

Last night myself and Flying Squad sticksman Dave managed to go to two gigs, (it's amazing isn't it? How many nights do you fancy going out to see a band and there's nothing around worth seeing, and here there's two gigs on the same night within a couple of miles of each other!) the first of which featured The Ali Mac Band at The Abrook Arms in Uxbridge. Having played in the band a couple of times over the last few months when regular guitarist Simon was off elsewhere it was good to finally see the band for myself, and very good they were too; Simon is an excellent country rock style player who also plays for local legends The Good Old Boys, Bill (bass) and Hud (drums) are a rock solid rhythm section and Ali was always a great singer. I must say it was possibly a bit laid back for me (now I know why they thought I was a bit raucous!) but what they did they did very well indeed.
After seeing their first set it was down to The Crown in Cowley to catch the second (and as it turned out, the third) set from Beaky's Band. Beaky (real name Tony) is of course a member of Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, and his trio features Geoff (of Rockschool fame) on drums and my old mate Terry on bass. I played lots of gigs with him in The Informers in the mid-'90's, and when we arrived he was talking to our old drummer Roger- I guess that nearly counts as a group re-union? I hadn't been to The Crown for many years and wondered where they would fit a band in (it's not very big!) but it seems they do a lot of live music there, mostly duos and solo acts working with backing tracks 'though they put a fair few bands on too. Beaky's Band remain the only act that I'm ever likely to see play the theme from 'Postman Pat' and a Led Zeppelin medley in the same set (I'm not making this up, honest!) but they went down well with all concerned, and the bar was still open when we left at 2.30 in the morning- I must try to get us a gig there!

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