Sunday, July 11, 2010

Turn the volume up, turn the temperature down

And so the heatwave continues, and the same people that were moaning that it was too cold a few months ago are now moaning that it's too hot. Oh well, I suppose it gives them something to do. Maybe I should start?

Mind you it was hot last night. Really hot. I don't actually remember the last time I was so hot on stage - there was a moment during 'Green Onions' that I went to move up the neck during my solo and the palm of my left hand stuck to the back of the guitar neck, causing an extremely peculiar set of notes to emerge. I'd like to think it gave my solo an avant-garde flavour, but I think it was actually just out of tune. Mind you the same thing happened during my 'Sweet Home Chicago' solo so at least there's a chance that it was starting to sound deliberate - that said by then there was so much sweat on the lenses of my glasses that I could hardly see where I was intending to play. See how I suffer for my art? And see how the audience suffers in return? Actually the audience were a game bunch, bravely occupying the dancefloor for much of our 90 minute sweat-fest, at a benefit evening for The Johnson Community Hospital held at The Castle Sports Centre in Spalding. Well to be pedantic we were actually playing in a tent inside the sports centre, a set-up that no doubt contributed to the temperature on and indeed offstage. Steve was on drums, Neil played Jake for the first time in 18 months (he did it really well too) and Steve was on trumpet for a show that contained a version of that well known Blues Brothers classic 'Long Train Running' that was described by Squirrel after the show as 'the strangest that I've ever played'. It was probably the strangest that I've ever played too. Still they all kept dancing so it can't have been that bad. Hopefully.

Friday night was a hot one too, at The General Eliott in Uxbridge where a rare-ish 4 piece line up of The Good Old Boys (Alan on vocals, Nick on bass, Pete on guitar and Richard on drums - find out more about them here) played 2 rockin 'n' rollin' sets to an appreciative audience. Alan seemed fully recovered from a recent leg operation, Nick and Richard were as solid as ever and Pete put aside a technical problem in the first set ('I set up too quickly and didn't plug a lead in properly') to deliver some splendid solos. I felt they missed the extra guitar here and there (Simon was off gigging elsewhere and as Alan put it, 'there's not much room in these little pubs so we thought we'd keep it as a 4 piece') but it was great to see them play. Then again, it usually is.

Thursday night didn't seem to be quite so hot, but it was a very strange gig all the same - following on from our show at Le QuecumBar in Battersea earlier this year one of the oddest line up's of The Chicago Blues Brothers Band made another appearance, at Cambridge Cottage in Kew Gardens. Matt and Mike are Jake and Elwood, Richard's on sax and I'm on guitar with backing tracks providing the rest of the accompaniment, at an evening for the Hillingdon Hospital Consultants Association. So far so good, but now the fun starts - there's a volume restriction device in the room we're playing in, and it's set at a very low (make that VERY low!) 85 decibels. How low is 85 decibels? The short answer is 'very', but as this chart shows, it's actually not much louder than a telephone dialing tone. Yes you read that bit right. And what happens if we exceed 85db? The power gets cut for 20 seconds. Bugger! While we're setting up we realise that we can quite easily shout loudly enough to cause the power to be cut, and all ask questions like 'why do they bother with live music here at all?' to little or no avail. The staff are as helpful but there's an air of 'we don't normally have people like you in here' about proceedings - well, I thought there was anyway. After setting up Mike, Matt and myself (Richard arrived around 8.30 as he was busy elsewhere) went over to The Coach And Horses Hotel to meet up with Simon Small who's a mate of Matt's and who I've depped for several times in Mario's Blues Brothers show but have never actually met - we've talked on the phone but fairly obviously are never on the same gig together! Suitably refreshed it's back to the venue for some food and to await the call to arms. We play a 50-ish minute set which understandably never really gets going from our point of view - the power goes of during the first song and it's a struggle from then on in, with Richard and the BB's eventually using unplugged microphones and myself scratching away on barely audible guitar. Then again there was much merriment from the audience and, incredibly, enquiries for band bookings so I suppose it all went well - I always feel like we haven't done our jobs properly in circumstances like this, but I guess it's the audience reaction that's important and they all seemed very happy with things. Oh well - time for me to start moaning about the weather then...

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