Wednesday, March 03, 2010

'Hello Harlow!'

It's sad to hear that Michael Foot has died - he always seemed to me to be a decent, honest man who wasn't afraid to have an opinion and stick to it, unlike so many of the careerist, self-obsessed clowns and thought criminals that attempt to pass themselves off as politicians these days. I remember the Cenotaph donkey jacket incident well - I thought at the time that he was the only person laying a wreath who had done anything to promote the cause of world peace through his support for nuclear disarmament; he also referred to Norman Tebbit as 'a semi-house-trained polecat' and said of Margaret Thatcher 'she has no imagination and that means no compassion'. It's a shame he couldn't have worn an actual donkey jacket to her funeral.

Back in mad-guitar-land there have been a couple of good gigs since the last posting...

After a busy Saturday in Balcony Shirts it was off around the M25 and up the M11 to Harlow for a Chicago Blues Brothers gig at The Playhouse Theatre. Myself and the long-suffering Shirley arrived in the pouring rain which proved to be a minor annoyance for your humble narrator who had to get out off the car to open the car park barrier. Bah! After a bit of Spinal Tap-style backstage meanderings we eventually bumped into Phil the soundman who very helpfully directed us to the stage. It's an A-team gig, the first with Tracy this year and indeed our first theatre date of 2010. It's also a couple of days after Pete's birthday (I'm sure he won't mind me mentioning that!) and much subterfuge had gone into planning a surprise celebration for before the show, all of which was sadly thwarted by the health and safety regulations which were rigorously applied by the staff at the venue. Oh well, maybe next year? (We did manage to lure him into one of the dressing rooms 20 minutes before the show to give him a card and present so all was not lost.)
The show's a sellout (yes!) and featured the BB's coming up out of a trapdoor at the start of the show, something which worked really well - except the chain on their briefcase got caught as the trapdoor closed... the band were a bit loose in places (as I say it's been a while since the last show) but it was an energetic performance which went down a storm with the audience. Marc said afterwards that he'd felt himself flagging towards the end of our second set as he'd not had enough water and was feeling dehydrated and he only revived after a bottle of water before the encore. (His exact words were 'if I played like a cock, I'm sorry'. He didn't!) Oh and I managed to cut my right hand during my solo in 'Green Onions' - as I said to someone afterwards, by 'windmilling and being silly'. I really should know better by now!

Then there was a rare Monday night gig at The Bulls Head in Barnes with The Ali Mac Band. Ali's put a new line-up together for the gig - next to him on vocals and regular guitarist Simon (from The Good Old Boys) there's Hannah on bass, Bob on drums, Freya and Elkie on backing vocals with Y.H.N. on the 6 string razor. We had a quick rehearsal on Friday afternoon during which we ran through most if not all of the songs Ali had come up with for the show, a mixture of songs from his regular set and others that he'd 'always fancied singing' along with a song or 2 from each the girls. Thus we wrestled with songs as diverse as 'Walk On By' and 'Long Train Running' and came up with rough arrangements for two 45 minute sets.
The Bull's Head is a classic London pub venue, with music 7 nights a week - mostly jazz but The Stormy Monday Blues Club is run by George who also runs Tropic At Ruislip. After a few anxious moments involving a grand piano in the middle of the stage (the pub guv'nor apparently goes mad if anyone touches it! George moved it anyway..) everybody gradually arrived in time for a quick soundcheck before the doors opened at 8 o'clock. We were due to start at 9 and with 5 minutes to go before showtime there was a grand total of 2 people in the audience 'though thankfully more arrived before we went on. We played 2 sets to a small but appreciative crowd, and very good fun it was too despite the odd mad moment here and there - maybe a bit more rehearsal might have been a good idea?!? Mind you that was nowhere near as mad as when we had to stop the van just after we'd left for home when we noticed that the sliding side door was open - we pulled up outside Gustav Holtz's old house. Now there's something you don't do every day. Well, I don't anyway.

Must go - am off to Worthing to rehearse with The Price...

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