Sunday, August 01, 2010

Never trust a spotted dog called Stripe

I got an e-mail on Monday morning:-

Hello there Mr Blues, so it's true the soul destroyer is coming your way Saturday, look forward to it, hope all is good out there in Leigh's blog world - Dave

The Dave in question is Dave Finnegan, who played Mickah Wallace in The Commitments film way back in 1991. I did a stint in Dave Finnegan's Commitments a few years ago alongside several current Chicago Blues Brothers band members who at the time were performing as 'Sweet Home Chicago' in theatres up and down the country - after depping in that show I joined as it evolved into it's current incarnation. We did some great - no, make that great - gigs together although sadly it all ended around 4 or so years ago. However as the e-mail says, the man himself is back in our orbit again, for a show at Quickmoor Farm just outside King Langley. Originally a playback gig (i.e. several of the band playing along with backing tracks) it became a 'band gig' early last week, and with Marc busy elsewhere the search was on for a drummer - all the usual deps were already gigging meaning that I was asked to call Eric on Wednesday to talk through the songs prior to us meeting for the first time at the gig. And as the above setlist shows there were rather a lot of songs to talk through...

Thanks to the wonders of satellite navigation myself and the long-suffering Shirley arrived at the venue around 4.40 p.m. - although rather peculiarly we did cross the M25 twice by 2 different bridges. Well, I think they were different bridges... we're playing in the barn, and host Jeff and Jacquie are very friendly as is Alistair the party planner. Mike and Matt have set their P.A. up (Matt tests it with a blast of 'Alternative Ulster' - excellent!) and Eric is sitting out on the patio leafing through the drum pad. Squirrel's set up and ready, Ian (returning on keyboards) arrives just as I get my amp in place, and Richard (just one horn tonight) and Dave F. are arriving later. Soundcheck is more of a rehearsal than anything, and we run out of time before we can play through everything although it's sounding good with Eric fitting in well. We've got The Pink Cottage to use as a dressing room (yeah, I know...) where I spend a bit of time with Eric going through some stops and starts. There's plenty of food for the band (hurrah!) and by the time Dave arrives the evening is in full swing with the guests arriving and the dogs of the house getting more and more excited - we're out on the patio outside The Pink Cottage (!) talking when a large Dalmation called Stripe comes over to investigate, sniffs everyone as dogs tend to do and then attempts to empty his bladder against your humble narrator's left leg. I jump out of the way just in time much to everyone's amusement including mine - I didn't think we'd sounded that bad... when we told Jeff and Jacquie of the incident she said something like 'right that's it, his balls are coming off' - again, I didn't think that we'd sounded that bad...

9.45 and it's time for our first set. The first couple of numbers are a bit edgy - 'Take Me To The River' goes a bit weird in the middle and no one had told Richard that we were playing 'Midnight Hour' in the key of Eb instead of C as we usually do in the CBB show - but once we got going we, for want of a better term, got going, and with Dave in good form up front a full dancefloor ensued for most of our set.
We're due back on in CBB mode at midnight, and I spend much of the interval hiding from Stripe and talking to Richard's son Joseph who seems to be doing very well on guitar - he'd bought along his Epiphone Les Paul which I'd restrung for him last week and was playing some very impressive Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin riffs. Good man! We're playing 2 x 45 sets with pudding being served at 12.45 a.m. - if you think that looks mad written down here it was even madder when it actually happened - and again there are a few odd moments here and there but overall Eric does a splendid job behind the drums, not least when we find ourselves playing a full version of 'Soul Man' rather than the medley which we normally feature it in. That well known Blues Brothers song 'Superstition' made an appearance in place of the 'Think'/'Respect' medley, and very good it was too. By the end of our second set there were still quite a few people wanting to dance and I suspect the evening continued (for a while at least) after we left.

We on the other hand arrived home sometime around 3.30 a.m. after the afore-mentioned satellite navigation device had taken us the wrong way on the afore-mentioned M25, without us ever going over the afore-mentioned bridges. Still, at least I'd given Stripe the slip.

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