It's not good really is it?
Friday night's gig wasn't too good either; The Bell in Ruislip has I'm told worked hard to lose it's reputation as being, shall we say, 'less than friendly' but I fear it's failed - there was trouble there recently and the atmosphere wasn't too genial the other night either as Youngblood (yeah I know we were called The 4 Faces last time but Mick the drummer was back for this one as he got us the gig so I'll use our old name here - keep up at the back there!) stumbled through 2 sets in front of ex-CBB'er Mario, a few laddish lads and the landlord's dog. As I stepped off the stage '5.15' by The 'Orrible 'Oo' came on the juke box - 'why should I care?' indeed, it could have been worse (just!) so maybe I should stop moaning and, as somebody once put it, shut up and play the guitar? There we are, I've shut up.
Click here for footage of another guitarist who should cheer up!
Surreal as it may sound there was at least one point in the last couple of weeks when it looked as though your humble narrator could have found himself doing a one-off gig in South Korea on Saturday night; as with so many of these thing it didn't come to pass which is a bit of a shame on several levels, not least as it deprives me of the chance to call this blog entry 'Korea Opportunities' or 'Seoul Man'... that said it would had to have gone quite a long way to have beaten The Chicago Blues Brothers show at The Grosvenor House Hotel in the surrealness stakes, as we were on with Stavros Flatley and the band of The Royal Scots Guards. Actually thinking about it now about the only thing that could have made it more surreal was if they'd appeared on stage together - sadly this didn't happen but I guess there's always next time?
Now I don't know about you but I don't follow all those T.V. reality/talent shows (you know the ones...) and therefore hadn't encountered Stavros Flatley before, but the descriptions that I was given beforehand were extraordinary, mostly along the lines of 'a Greek bloke and his son jump about and do mad Irish dancing'. Sounds just what I'm looking for... as I arrived around 6 p.m. after a busy day in the shop everything seemed to be more-or-less ready for action, with my old Laney combo already set-up (I'd came in on the Tube with just my guitar and stage clothes, Pete keeps my spare amp for situations such as these) and everyone else soundchecked and ready to go. It's the Mears Group May Ball and we're playing in (you've guessed it!) The Ballroom; we've got The Court Suite to use as a dressing room and it's a 'nearly-the-A-team' gig with Chris in for Ian on keyboards as he's away gigging with Ray Davies, with Phil's on the P.A. with Big Tel and Dave D.J.-ing. Stavros and son arrive just as the guards are readying themselves for action, the atmosphere is genial as Stavros signs autographs for all and sundry; I've never asked anyone for an autograph in my life and wasn't going to here until it occurred to me that it might be fun to get one for the shop - Stavros obliged and it's on our Facebook page even as we speak! After the guards band had been on (they did more-or-less what you think they'd do i.e. march about playing military music, an oddly incongruous site on a night such as this) it was time for 3 minutes of, well, a Greek bloke and his son jumping about and doing mad Irish dancing - a near riot ensued where I was watching with people clamouring for a better view and much merriment all round. Stavros took the mic for a few minutes chat, he seemed to be a very nice chap when I spoke to him and came over as such here, appearing almost bemused by the level of success that he and his son has attained. 'We only went on the show for a laugh' said he - whatever the merits or otherwise of what they do they certainly put a smile on a few people's faces on this particular night, which is pretty hard to criticise if you think about it... and we didn't do too badly either, with plenty of dancefloor action during our epic 2 hour set, with an hour or so from Big Tel and Dave bringing a highly successful evening to a close. It's strange - corporate events such as this are not always much fun from a band point of view as you're quite often a secondary consideration but this one was something of an exception, and all the better for it. But it did get a bit odd here and there - maybe that's why I liked it?
I liked Sunday's gig too, although this one also gets stamped 'odd' but for different reasons. For a start it was in Battersea; nothing too odd with that as such but the venue is a Gypsy jazz themed bar called (wait for it!) Le QuecumBar. (Yeah!) It's run by Silvia who describes it as 'the most expensive hobby that I've ever had'; with it's walls adorned with photos of everybody from Django Reinhardt to, er, Hank Marvin (a serious fan of the genre who apparently even turns up at their jam nights and is hoping to put out a gypsy jazz album one day) it's an unlikely venue for The CBB's even if we are using a previously untried format of live guitar and saxophone over backing tracks. Matt 'n'Mike are Jake 'n' Elwood, local lad Ian is on sax (you can see his house from the venue!) and during our soundcheck Ian and myself deciding to play seated on the stage with the BB's on the floor in front of us - I told you it was an odd gig. Mind you it's not as odd as (a) being asked if I know how to fit a dimmer switch on the stage lights and (b) actually fitting it. I didn't know I knew how!
The gig goes well especially considering that Ian and myself are unfamiliar with most of the backing tracks even to the extent of not knowing what key some of the songs are in; there's the odd mad moment (I hadn't heard 'Love Man' for a while!) but we get through it all reasonably unscathed with the BB's in fine form. We might even appear in the same unlikely format again one day. Odder and odder.
Oo-er - Gordon Brown has just resigned. Anarchy anyone?