Friday, April 30, 2010

Enemy of the state

I'd originally intended to write an overview of my '11-gigs-in-9-days' but reading back over the 'daily bulletins' as I rather pretentiously called them (they're not quite daily but they're not far off!) I haven't really got too much to add, other than to say that maybe I should try writing short daily postings more often as they seem to me to capture things in a way that longer pieces don't - or is that just me? Anyway the gigs were mostly good and often great, the mood was generally upbeat and I can't think of many better ways to spend my time. I'm a simple soul aren't I?

Meanwhile back in the real-ish world I've been working in Balcony Shirts for most of this week, spending a fair bit of time writing copy for the new shirts appearing on the website. Unlike here where I can ramble on for pretty much as long as I like on any subject I like (I bet you'd never have guessed that eh?) I've only got 100-150 words per shirt to play with which makes it quite tricky sometimes, particularly when you consider that for search engine optimisation (no I didn't know what it was either!) I'm obliged to include certain words - have a look at the new shirts on the site and see if you can work out which they are! In the meantime I had a visit in the shop from my mate Dave who's just returned from working in China, and who tells me that when he tried to access these hallowed pages while he was over there he was unable to as they're considered to be 'subversive material'. Have you any idea how happy this makes me? Excellent! (Yeah I know it's probably blogging in general rather than mine in particular that it frowned upon as it can't be regulated - but allow me a moment of glory why don't you?!) I wonder what they'd make of the excellent Monkey Picks blog of 'revues and indulgence' (his term not mine, though I wish I'd thought of it!) which is written by a near relative of one of the Balcony boys - recent posts include a visit to a scary East End shop, a revue of Ginger Baker's autobiography and a 'Your Best Bob Dylan Album Calculator' (click here and have a go! It tells me that mine is 'Highway 61 Revisited' although I nearly ended up with 'Bringing It All Back Home' - it obviously works!) which gives a good cross-section of what Monkey sees and Monkey do's...

Talking of subversive material (of a sort) I finally go round to watching the first two episodes of the (ahem) 're-imagining' of 'The Prisoner', and very ordinary it was too - something that could never be said of the original '60's series. It was so ordinary that I nodded off during the second show - Patrick McGoohan must be spinning in his grave.
'Oil City Confidential' received it's U.K. T.V premiere last week on BBC Four (it's out on DVD in June - hurrah!) although discerning folk like myself who have already seen it would have been more excited by the re-broadcast of a 'Sight and Sound In Concert' that featured The Feelgoods alongside the then up-and-coming Ian Dury and The Blockheads. Mr. Dury had the look of a man who wasn't going to let his moment pass him by whilst although Dr. Feelgood were terrific you got the feeling that they were trying a bit too hard for the cameras - then again it can't have been easy to follow what had gone before... I remember watching it all the time and it was great to see it again after all these years, but I wonder how many more items like this are lying in the vaults, and maybe more to the point how many have sadly been lost forever. Let's hope they re-broadcast the Tom Robinson Band show next!

No gigs this week as observed in the previous posting (although mad as it may sound I nearly ended up playing in Bucharest on Thursday - then again nearly isn't nearly enough is it?) but I did have a rehearsal with the mighty T.V. Smith on Wednesday afternoon - I'm playing three shows up in Yorkshire with him next month (full details on his website) and since one of them is at his annual 'Earthbound' fan convention we're learning quite a few songs that I've not played with him before. It should be fine gathering... and I might not be gigging myself this weekend but I am going to see Iggy And The Stooges - now that's something to look forward to!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

And there it was - gone!

Two great gigs to finish our Windsor week, witnessed by among many other people a young man called James who spent much of yesterday enjoying 'The Chicago Blues Brothers Experience' - an eBay auction raised a large amount of money for The Motor Neurone Disease Association and gave the (ahem) lucky winner the chance to spend a few hours in our esteemed company. I wonder what he thought of us? My main conversation with him centred around the fact that I was wearing a 'Prisoner' polo shirt - he's a fan and even has a blazer similar to those worn in the show. He also heard myself and Rob the backstage manager discussing The Ruts (always good to have a chance to tell my story!) and commented on how much he liked 'Staring At The Rude Boys' - good man!

The performances belied the fact that many of us were feeling tired after the week's efforts (God knows what we'd be like in the real world!) reflected by a very amusing onstage exchange between Tracy and the two brothers involving personal hygiene - I'll spare you the gory details but will just say that somewhere along the line 'Think' became 'Stink' and a bottle of Fabreze was used to great comic effect... but without wishing to sound too immodest the shows were both brilliant from where I was standing, and judging by the audience reaction I wasn't the only person who thought so - the man who did a voiceover for 'Paddington Bear' told me that we were 'enthralling' (he seemed to be a very nice chap who bought his bike with him backstage) and even my Dad and brother were impressed so we must have done something right?

No gigs for your humble narrator this week - I cannot begin to tell you how much I'm going to miss it...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

St. Elsewhere

I'm sure Windsor was quite a lively place on St. George's Day - Uxbridge certainly was, if you count gangs of large shaven-headed men cheering drunkenly as they wended their way from pub to pub as 'lively'. Still Balcony Shirts did a roaring trade in printing ENGLAND on white polo shirts for quite a few of the afore-mentioned shaven-headed men so perhaps I shouldn't complain - well, not too much anyway, and I'm sure their Queen (and indeed St. George) was very proud of them... when we got to Windsor we saw someone dressed as a dragon in the car park near the theatre (hmm...) and the souvenir shops had noticeably less Union Jack flags (isn't that the flag of The United Kingdom rather than England? Just a thought, as they say...) and t-shirts than they'd had earlier in the week so I'm sure they were happy.
The theatre was certainly a lively place during our show - a much larger audience saw us play what for me was the best show so far. I was back on the white Telecaster and spent the first few numbers wondering why my guitar sound wasn't quite as raucous as the previous evening - maybe that's why I went into the middle section of 'Soul Man' a verse earlier than I should have, causing much amusement for Squirrel standing next to me and Pete in the wings. Bah! Oh and Phil the soundman distinguished himself by playing The Ramones, The New York Dolls and The Clash over the P.A. after our soundcheck - I always knew he was a man of taste!

Two nearly-sold-out shows today... can't wait!

Friday, April 23, 2010

'And I, wanna be...'

So - did you observe a 'Minute Of Mayhem'?

Your humble narrator attempted to touch the spirit of anarchy by playing The Sex Pistols in the kitchen - as the long-suffering Shirley and myself were having lunch with 'No Fun' roaring out in the background she rather ruefully asked 'wasn't it only supposed to be a minute?' as the clock ticked past 12.20. Sorry Shirl! Thanks Malcy!

Meanwhile we've had a revue in The Surrey Herald - modesty forbids me from saying any more than that but you can find it here if you'd like to see what they thought of us...

Two shows yesterday then, preceded by a soundcheck that included attempts at 'Get Ready' and 'Guilty', both possible additions to the show; the former sounded promising (I hope we play it again, I loved it!) and the latter actually made it into the afternoon show, replacing 'Natural Woman' in the second set to give Tracy's ailing throat a rest. Matt returned but Pete depped for Mike this time (this is getting confusing!) in a performance that included a lady falling asleep three rows from the front, a man asking to excused to go to the toilet and someone inexplicably shouting out 'Lady GaGa' which Pete misheard as 'where's your car parked?' Don't you just love matinee gigs?!?
Since it was Thursday and I was in a theatre I decided to change the strings on my main guitar during the interval, then in typically obtuse fashion play my spare guitar for the evening show - I hadn't used it for a while, it took a bit of getting used to as it sounded much 'rockier' to my ears. (Incidentally when I suggested to Matt afterwards that it might have been a bit much for our show he looked horrified! Good man!) Dave returned on trumpet and Matt 'n' Mike were in the hats 'n' glasses (I told you this was getting confusing!) and the show was somewhat more conventional than the earlier one, although it had it's moments - maybe mayhem for lunch wasn't such a good idea after all?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Practice makes perfect?

Show number three was witnessed by a full Balcony Shirts contingent, ex- Price manager Eddie Richards (that's him on drums in this clip!) and... well, not many other people really... actually that's not really true, it just wasn't as busy as the first two nights. Those that were there saw Pete depping for Matt in the role of Jake, an experimental version of 'Minnie The Moocher' (we tried it faster than usual, more like the version in the film - it didn't work!) and your humble narrator play a horrendously out-of-tune note in 'Stand By Your Man' amid much merriment from various band members; I'd just recovered from that when I made another mistake during the introduction of 'Do You Love Me?', this one even more noticeable as the intro is just guitar and vocals. It's strange - once you've done one you're almost allowed to do another one, or in my case another two as I then got the riff wrong in 'Jailhouse Rock'...

Two shows today - twice as many chances to make a mess of things!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tuesday's gone

A smaller crowd for our second night, but a boisterous evening never-the-less, not least thanks to a birthday being celebrated in the front row of the circle - pity they were pretty much the only people up there! With Dave away for the next three shows Adam replaced him on trumpet, and we dropped 'Looking For A Fox' which will replaced, possibly tonight, by... well, another song, to be decided, possibly tonight. It's great to be back in showbusiness!!

Actually - it really is great to be playing these shows; in my not-so-humble opinion we've got a show that works really well, although like so my acts there's not been much work around for us lately. I for one really hope it picks up, and not just because it allows me to earn a living - as soon as a gig finishes all I want to do is play another one, if you know what I mean. Good job we're doing it all again tonight then!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Oops I did it again!

Oh dear - once again your humble narrator got carried away during his solo in 'Green Onions' (go back to the first posting in March if you're wondering what I'm blathering on about) and once again the end result is him having to wash his guitar after the show. Still, at least I took a picture of it this time... a fine start to our Windsor week saw Steve (depping for Marc on drums) playing the full theatre show without sheet music (no one can find it!) for the first time - he made an excellent job of it, and it was a very good show all round which has hopefully set us up for a memorable run of gigs. I'll try not to cut my hand again 'though - it really stings this morning!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Blue Five alive!

A great gig last night - the first one this century! - for The Blue Five. Pete a.k.a. Voltarol arrived in Uxbridge around 2 o'clock - I found him sitting outside The Three Tuns on the High Street enjoying a pint of bitter in the sunshine. After a quick walk around town to show Pete how much it has changed since he was last there (in case you're interested Pete's Gig Shop began life in The Arcade before moving out onto the High Street to where Prontoprint is now situated; Thames Valley Guitars was in Belmont Road where The Belmont Medical Centre can now be found) we went home for some (fairly) serious rehearsal. Somehow we managed to put an hour or so or music together including several pieces that we'd never attempted before - the long suffering Shirley provided pasta before dropping us off at (somewhat inevitably!) The Load of Hay, the site of our first ever performance together over 20 years ago. There were a few mad moments but overall it was thoroughly enjoyably although looking up just before a solo to see the guitar hero that is Steve Simpson watching intently (he and Pete are old friends) did nothing for my nerves...

Time for The Chicago Blues Brothers to begin our week in Windsor then - excellent!

Sunday, April 18, 2010


The first gig of this run of work saw The Price make their Tropic At Ruislip debut on Friday night on a bill that also featured The Members and The Attendants. I'd been really looking forward to this one but must say it was a bit anti-climatic from my point of view - maybe I'd been looking forward to it a bit too much? It wasn't that we played badly, we just didn't play as well as we can although things weren't helped by my guitar going badly out of tune during 'Matter Of Time' and us having to cut our set down as things were over-running. Still we went down well and even got offered another gig with The Members so perhaps I'm just being a bit miserable (for once!)
The Attendants kicked things off in fine fashion with a great set that took me right back to 1980-ish when I last saw them; Bert's as mad as ever on vocals, Malcolm still nearly pulls the neck off his SG during every solo and Ken and Russ keep it all moving in the bass and drums department. And I enjoyed The Members too (and I'm not just saying that because we might be playing with them again, honest!) who I also last saw in the very early Eighties; they're a trio these days with drummer Nick Cash joining original, er, members J.M. Carroll and Chris Payne - Nicky Tesco and Nigel Bennett perform with them occasionally. 'The Sound Of The Suburbs' is still a classic as is 'Solitary Confinement' although I'll be very brave and say that me and my Flying Squad friends do a better version of 'Police Car'...

Last night Youngblood played at the unusually named Pear and Partridge in London Colney - or rather they didn't. When myself and Roger the drummer arrived we were greeted by the sight of a large board proclaiming TONIGHT LIVE! THE 4 FACES - looks like Terry's thought of a new name for us then... the barman let us in through the side door, telling us how many complaints they'd been getting about the noise, never a good thing to be greeted with when you arrive at a venue but he was friendly enough and agreed with us that DJ's are normally louder than bands anyway. With the 2 Terry's (one on vocals, one on bass) in place we played our first set to 20 or so lads and lasses and our second to the barman (who requested 'Need Your Love So Bad' which we played and all agreed should go into the set) and a couple of couples - it was one of those 'everyone-was-in-earlier-for-the-football' evenings. Still we played well and it's better than rehearsing... well, actually , it's more or less the same as rehearsing but that's another story.

Talking of which I'd better get my guitar out - Pete from The Blue Five is here soon to prepare for tonight's gig. We've not played together since, oh I don't know, last century I think - is this what they call 'leaving it all until the last minute'?!?

Friday, April 16, 2010

'Death is pretty final, I'm collecting vinyl, I'm gonna D.J. at the end of the world!'

Tomorrow is Record Store Day.

(Yeah, I know it's very American to use the word 'store' - but that's what the day is called, ok?!?)

So - why am I telling you this and, by implication, why do I think that it's so important? Well, if you're my age it's very difficult in these days of uploads and downloads to tell younger people how exciting, how brilliant and maybe above all how much FUN it was to go out to the shops and come home with a record. Leaving aside all the wondering whether or not you could afford the single and the bus fair home (no credit cards for us kids in them days!) or which of you would buy which single (because you and your mates who you went record shopping with all had a cassette recorder which allowed you to all swap and therefore enjoy and become inspired - whoever said 'home taping is killing music' clearly wasn't a music fan) because it was a real event, even a ritual, to go out with the express intention of coming home with more music to listen to. Well, it was for me anyway... and if it wasn't for you then, well, I had more fun than you did!

The Internet is a truly amazing thing - I would think that we can all agree on that, not least because I wouldn't have something called a 'blog' for you to read without it! - but for me it's nowhere near as amazing place as a record shop (not 'store'!) used to be; that's why I'm happy that there is a 'Record Store Day' as it implies (proves?) that they're still out there, but sad that there has to be a 'day' for something that in my naive little world still existed anyway... and let's face it, if it's good enough for Joe Strummer then it's good enough for me and you!

11.50 a.m. - the publication time is genuine as I wrote the above missive after I got in from having a few beers (a 'pre-gig drink' we used to call it!) with East. I thought I'd better check it this morning as I must admit that I wasn't exactly sure what I'd written... it'll do!!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Radio friendly unit shifter

I have just - just! - returned from Hayes FM where Huggy and myself appeared on the Hughie Dixon show to talk about this week's upcoming Price gig. In an hour that went by all too quickly (we both agreed that we'd love to have been on for the whole two hours!) we chose tracks by The Lurkers, The Surfin' Lungs (good choice Hug - although one listener complained by e-mail that 'The Beach Boys weren't indie'!) and Mega City Four as well as Hughie airing 'The Six Teens' by The Sweet as he knew Huggy likes them. We also played 'Marching On' (Hughie thought the vocals 'sounded like Queen'; Malcolm sent a rude text message almost immediately!) and 'So What About Love?' (many-a mention of Paul Fox who produced our single) by The Price and talked about our past, our present and indeed our future - I'm not sure that it'll make a huge difference to the size of the audience on Friday or indeed our audience generally, but they seem to be a good bunch at the station (which is a project well worth supporting in my not-so-humble opinion) and we really enjoyed ourselves. Excellent!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Coming soon to a venue near you!

I'm not been out gigging this week, a situation that normally has me moaning my head off in these hallowed pages (and occasionally in real life too) and wondering if I'll be able to survive past teatime without swinging my right arm at a guitar; however since there's rather a lot of live shows on the horizon I'm telling myself that it's good to have a few days calm before the proverbial storm breaks. So in yet another blatant bit of shameless self-publicity here's what you'll hopefully be reading about in the next couple of weeks:-

This coming Friday (the 16th if you're taking notes) sees The Price following up our 25th anniversary shows last month with a gig supporting The Members (I haven't seen them play for about 30 years!) at Tropic At Ruislip. The Attendants are also on the bill (I haven't seen them play for about 30 years either!) and you can get in cheap by going on the venue website and booking a ticket (make sure you're coming to see us, it'll look as though we've got some fans!) or by printing off the leaflet that's currently on our website. It should be a great night! In a desperate attempt to ensure that we have a few people watching us Huggy and myself are appearing on Hayes FM this coming Tuesday evening - we're on Hughie Dixon's show at 9 p.m. so listen out for some off our favourite music, quotable quotes that mean absolutely nothing and no doubt lots more besides...

Saturday night it's time for a Youngblood (or whatever we're called these days) gig at The Pear and Partridge (great name!) in London Colney. I really enjoy our gigs - having spent years playing along with the recordings when I was learning to play it's great to be playing songs by the likes of The Stones and The Faces in a band at last! Sad to say I've missed a fair few gigs due to me being out gigging elsewhere - they always seem to clash which is a shame as I don't really want to end up depping in my own band. Let's hope I don't!

The next night sees your humble narrator returning to what was on paper at least one of the unlikeliest musical situations of his (ahem!) career. If you were looking to buy a musical instrument in the Uxbridge area in the late '70's/early '80's then the chances are that you bought it from a man who is these days known to members of the blogosphere as Voltarol. In those days he ran various shops ('Thames Valley Guitars' and 'Pete's Gig Shop' among them - I bet you've just guessed his first name!) and before that he was a member of The Jugular Vein, of whom John Peel once said 'The Jugular Vein also played'... quite how a miserable punky depressive like myself ended up playing in an acoustic guitar duo with him is a story perhaps best left lost in the mists of time, but somehow I did, and very good fun it was too. We played everything from jazz standards to Pete's own compositions, and left many-a folk club audience almost as confused as we often were; our antics were unfortunately curtailed when Pete moved away, but he's back in the area for a few days so we're opportunistically squeezing in a gig at - you've guessed it! - The Load of Hay. I'm not quite sure what we're going to play given the lack of rehearsal time available to us, but it should be good fun - well, it always was so why should this time be any different?

(Talking of The Load Of Hay there's a potentially extraordinary gig happening there on Sunday 25th - have a look at this website and tell me that you're not intrigued..!)

Around 2 years ago The Chicago Blues Brothers played a thoroughly enjoyable string of dates at The Theatre Royal in Windsor, and I'm pleased to say that from Monday 19th through to Saturday the 24th we're doing it all again. Excellent! Tickets are still available from the venue website (2 for the price of 1 on the first night!) and I for one am really looking forward to a great week's work. If only we had a few more week's like this! Ah well, mustn't be greedy I suppose.

Blogging opportunities may be few and far between given what's going on - my intention at the moment is to try to do some sort of short daily bulletin (Pretentious? Moi?) and then maybe some sort of overview when it's all over, but we'll see how it all goes. I'll see you sometime in the next couple of weeks...

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Unlimited supply

Malcolm McLaren died earlier today. He was 64 years old.

Would we all be wearing flares now if it wasn't for him? Probably not, although let's face it, some people still do.
Would The Sex Pistols have been anything other than a dream if it wasn't for him? Probably not, although I personally think that they still would have been The Sex Pistols that we all know and love - we just might never have heard of them.
Would the last quarter of the 20th century have been quite as much fun without him? Probably not, although I for one await John Lydon's thoughts on that subject with no little interest!

For what my opinion's worth, he might well have been the catalyst that sparked the revolution, although I'm not entirely sure that the revolution wouldn't have happened (or indeed was happening) anyway... but for doing whatever it was that he did and for doing it so well, we all should be grateful - not sure about the tartan suits though...

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Perfect circle

I switched my television on this morning to the news that there's going to be a General Election on Thursday 6th May. As I started my second cup of coffee they said that this will be the first British Election to feature televised debates between the party leaders - they've been doing it for ages in America of course so I suppose it was only a matter of time before we started doing it here - and that these would take place on Thursday evenings 'to avoid the live football coverage'.
So - people are more interested in seeing who gets through to the Champions League final than in who is going to govern the country. As someone who had to live through the hell of the Thatcher years I find that rather depressing, although also unsurprising - have there ever been a blander, more uninteresting bunch of non-entities than the current (at the time of writing;- Labour - Gordon Brown, Conservative - David Cameron, Liberal Democrats - Nick Clegg) leaders of the 3 main political parties? Has there ever been a time when the parties have been so similar in outlook, policies and general demeanour? Is it any wonder that people are so apathetic about politics these days?

In the meantime the Easter weekend in mad-guitar-land ended as it began, with myself and East in a public house discussing tactics for The Price. We really must do something else one day! Well, there's a lot to talk about at the moment, and with next week's show with The Members looming large on the horizon, a gig in Worthing booked for the end of May and recording plans to be finalised it looks like there'll be a few more nights of beery brainstorming to come. Excellent! East himself appears to have had a busy weekend's brainstorming - when he left The Load of Hay after Saturday night's Flying Squad gig he was heading triumphantly in the general direction of the nearest kebab house, a feat which he repeated on Sunday night after spending the best part of (gulp!) 7 hours on licensed premises. He heroically avoided a hat-trick last night (well, he wasn't intending to go there although I didn't actually see him go home!) for which I'm sure his arteries will be eternally grateful, although I guess there's always next weekend...

Saturday's stint in Balcony Shirts was enlivened no end by the news that a children's T.V. presenter on BBC2 was wearing one of our t-shirts. Scott and myself fired up the BBC iPlayer on the counter computer and sure enough on 'Swap Shop' and sitting opposite no lesser showbiz legend than Basil Brush there was a young chap called Barney Harwood wearing a 'Cornish Pasty Appreciation Society' shirt. Good man! We immediately put one in the window in euphoric anticipation of our busiest Saturday ever - it of course turned out to be one of the quietest. Bah! Then again since I was due to be at The Load of Hay at 7 o'clock to set the P.A. up for our gig there maybe that wasn't such a bad thing from my point of view? It turned out to be a highly enjoyable evening, with The Flying Squad turning in a good performance in front of a surprisingly large audience especially considering that it was the Easter Weekend. Huggy was as excellent as ever depping on bass and I saw Tim who I used to work with nearly 30 years ago for the first time in, well, nearly 30 years. A fine evening all round.

Sunday myself and the long-suffering Shirley journeyed up to the wilds of Suffolk (never a bad thing to do methinks) to play at (wife of CBB trumpeter Dave) Lyn's 50th birthday party. A suitably jovial gathering in the rather splendid Tithe Barn at The Brome Grange Hotel saw a rather unusual performance from The Pete Tobit Experience (or PTX as we often refer to it) as Pete himself had a couple of glasses of red wine before the show and so was rather, shall we say, 'relaxed'... in the interval between sets Dave showed a DVD of pictures of Lyn before Pete appeared singing 'Puppy Love' whilst holding a Donny Osmond mask (Lyn's a fan!) up in front of his face; two lines in he nearly tripped over as he couldn't see where he was going, then dropped the mask before abandoning the song completely and trying to get people to dance with him. He eventually got back to the song just in time to sing the last line. Sometimes this blog just writes itself! Our second set began with a completely unexpected (by the band at least!) rendition of 'Speedy Gonzales' before leading us through a fun if increasingly chaotic second set. Since Shirley and myself were staying the night we went for a late drink in the hotel bar after the show where Dave handed around pieces of birthday cake and Lyn showed admirable stamina by still being awake after dancing for pretty much the whole evening. Great stuff.

After a leisurely drive home yesterday my Easter weekend ended as it had begun. See - it's not drinking, it's concept art. Something like that anyway.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Disturbance at the heron house

So, Good Friday then. The long-suffering Shirley and I were talking earlier and trying to remember why it's called that - after all a day spent nailing someone up on a cross doesn't really sound that good does it? Well, it didn't to us... still my Good Friday began with a suitably peculiar incident when myself and East saw a heron crossing (i.e. walking across) the Cowley Road just outside Uxbridge; it seemed happy enough and wasn't bothered when East decided to take a photo or two of it on his phone although we were a bit worried that it'd get hit by a car - fortunately we watched it fly off just as one appeared in the middle distance. (It's interesting to note at this point that we didn't seem to be worried about whether we would be hit by a car as we stumbled down the middle of the road attempting to stalk our quarry with what I suspect was about as much subtlety as you'd get from a steamroller with a broken handbrake. Isn't drinking brilliant?!?) Unusually for us we'd been in a pub - yes, I know what you're thinking but it really was a heron - discussing the next moves for The Price. With the euphoria of the 25th anniversary now more-or-less subsided we can get a bit of a clearer picture of what we achieved and what we might be able to do next; I for one would definitely like to do some recording at some point this year but as always with that particular pastime it comes down to how we finance it as it's likely to be more of a vanity project than something that has any real commercial prospects. That said the Internet means that it's now so much easier to get your music into the public domain - as myself and East found ourselves saying at several points during the evening, if only it had been around 20-odd years ago - although of course you've still got to tell people that you exist (or exist again in our case) and then get people to listen to what you do, which was always the difficult bit. Oh well - I'm sure we'll think of something... and in the course of looking out old recordings to learn songs from I found a couple of unusual items of memorabilia which East put on our website yesterday - click here and see what you think of them!

Something that I've always enjoyed listening to on a regular basis since I first heard it over 30 years ago is the music of The Who. (Yes, I know, I've hidden it well haven't I?!?) The first album I ever bought with my own money was 'Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy' which I played so often that I knew how long the gaps between the tracks were! Really! If I had to pick a favourite Who album I think it would have to be 'Quadrophenia' (although that means that I haven't picked 'Who's Next', or 'Sell Out', or 'By Numbers', or 'Live At Leeds' which must surely be one of, if not THE greatest live albums ever... maybe this should be a posting in it's own right? Or a book?!?) as it surely contains some of the most ambitious music that Pete Townshend has ever written, alongside lyrics that tell the story of Jimmy the mod and his trials and tribulations in a manner that I've never really heard bettered by anybody. On Tuesday night myself and Big Andy saw The Who (augmented by a 5-man brass section and 2 string players) perform the album in it's entirety at The Royal Albert Hall in aid of The Teenage Cancer Trust. The songs sounded as majestic as ever, and guest appearances by Eddie Vedder (playing The Godfather) and Tom Meighan (playing The Ace Face and The Bellboy) were both excellent. But it was a bit of an odd show - Roger Daltrey went out of time here and there prompting me to wonder if the onstage sound wasn't all that it might have been (or maybe it was all a bit under-rehearsed?) and Townshend looked a bit distant at times, 'though the strangest incidents occurred at the beginning and the end of the show. After a suitably noisy introduction from Iain Lee there was the best part of a 5 minute wait before the band eventually appeared, and at the end of the gig the band somewhat abruptly left the stage and didn't return for an encore, leaving many audience members confused and indeed annoyed. Mind you that wasn't as strange as Big Andy and myself holding the Gents toilet door open for Bruce Welch, or as annoying as us finding a parking ticket on Andy's car after the show. Bah!

Meanwhile on Wednesday night it was time for The Chicago Blues Brothers to return to theatreland, at The Garrick Theatre in Lichfield. With Dave away elsewhere and Tracy away on tour with The Soldiers Steve is on trumpet for the first time since our Skegness show in January, and Rachel is on vocals for the first time ever. She did a very good job all things considered, and it was a good show all round with everyone in good form and the audience up for it from the word go. The staff at the theatre were all rather serious - when I tried to take what was left of my pint of lager backstage from the bar to the dressing room the reaction of the lady on the door made me wonder what she would have done if I'd actually done something wrong... and it was a busy day yesterday for myself and Stuart the guitar repairman as after our usual stint at 'We Will Rock You' we did a couple of hours of restrings and adjustments at 'The Jersey Boys'. Once again there was a rehearsal, once again it was chaos - nice to know that there are some things that you can rely on isn't there? It'll no doubt be the same next week when we'll (hopefully!) finish our work there for the time being. But an interesting incident (from my point of view at least) occurred as we walked through Denmark Street on our way to our second theatre of the day. We went into the excellent Wunjo Guitars as Stu was looking for some machine heads - in there attempting to do his job amid the usual mayhem (it's a busy shop!) was Tom, the rep from from EMD Music who I used to see regularly at Pro Music when I worked there. After saying hello and catching up on what he'd been up to he asked why he hadn't seen me in the shop recently - as I told him what had happened I realised that the story of my last few weeks there says a surprising amount about people and how (a) they can sometimes have a very short (or at least selective) memory, and (b) they are so often only loyal to themselves. I really must tell the story here one day...

The day ended with myself and East wondering what the future holds for The Price, something which still seems almost unbelievable for me to be thinking about it in 2010 but was definitely a good way to start Good Friday. Let's hope the heron thought so too.