Sunday, November 14, 2010

From Breakspear to Bethnal Green

And the obituary column continues - my mate Tony has died. I met him through Stuart the guitar repair man, he was a very clever chap, a bit of a boffin who worked at the BBC, played some guitar and liked motor sports among other things. Shirley and myself went to his funeral at Breakspear Crematorium last week and she realised that she knows his son Richard through her work. Stu tells me there might well be a memorial gig for him with donations to Cancer Research UK, and there's an interesting idea for people to play his guitars rather than their own. I'll do my very best to be at that one.

Talking of guitars (for once!) the excellent Steve Simpson (aided and abetted for some of the show by his brother Bruce on guitar and mandolin) gave a splendid performance at The Load of Hay last Sunday. He's playing some shows with the reformed Slim Chance in the not-too-distant future which should be well worth catching as well as continuing to play with Roger Chapman (we're thinking of playing the Family classic 'Burlesque' in The Upper Cut - Steve showed me the 'correct' way to play what is a very tricky song on guitar. Top man!) but it always seems to me that his solo shows are a chance for him to play what he wants rather than what he plays as part of someone else's act. Highlights were many and varied 'though I have to mention his version of the Meal Ticket song 'Golden Girl' (here is a recent version that also features fellow ex-Meal Ticket man Willy Finlayson - good song don't you think?) and the Bob Dylan song 'When I Paint My Masterpiece' as standout songs. A fine performance.

Sunday night gigs for the rest of the year feature the wonderful Kris Dollimore this coming Sunday (21st) then The Upper Cut 'pre-Christmas / Terry the bassman's birthday' gig on December 5th followed by the legend that is John Otway on December 12th - that's not a bad line-up is it? And my fellow blogger and Blue Five member Voltarol is on the radio at 8.45 tomorrow evening playing some of his beloved Brazilian music - click here to join him!

An interesting Wednesday saw your humble narrator accompany Stuart the guitar repair man (him again! - now there's a name that's been absent from these hallowed pages for a while; remind me to tell you why sometime...) to Westmount Music, a new instrument shop in Marlow Bottom. Paul the boss seems a nice chap, and the shop's an interesting mix of stuff so let's hope they can make a go of it. I was left thinking was that they should play some music or show some DVD's in the shop as the atmosphere was a bit 'cold' although maybe that was just me? In the meantime it was off to visit Miles (a longtime customer of Stu's who features in this posting among others) where we dropped a guitar off and where I, after a look at his rather mind-boggling collection of instruments, somehow ended up taking one of his guitars back with me with a view to possibly buying it off him. How did that happen? 'Try it at your gig on Saturday' said he cheerily. Ok, I will... from there we made our way to a farmhouse near Cobham for a visit to Electric Wood, the home of Wal bass guitars. Stu worked for them a few years ago, and Paul the luthier had asked him to come across to have a look at a MIDI bass that wasn't working properly - while he looked at that I spent a bit of time in the spray booth where a badly damaged 1959 Gibson Les Paul Special was being refinished. All very interesting stuff - no, really, it was. Well, I liked it!

The Good Old Boys returned to The General Elliot in Uxbridge on Friday evening, and gave a suitably boisterous performance in front of a suitably boisterous audience. The twin guitar attack of Pete and Simon sounded as excellent as ever, Hud and Nick didn't put a foot wrong all night and Alan sang as well as I've ever heard him - and if you ever wanted to see Nick Simper play 'Hush' then here's your chance. Afterwards East and myself ended up discussing life, the universe and everything with Hud, who regaled us with tales of touring Christian venues in America with Rick Wakeman and much more besides. As I stumbled off homewards at (gulp!) 2.30 a.m. I said something along the lines of 'I've got to be in Balcony Shirts in 6 1/2 hours' (well, that's what I intended to say; it probably sounded more like 'I'f gotta being Bacony Shirs in sis anna haf ours'. Mind you, East understood me although we can only wonder what his reply of 'Warrghh!' was actually intended to be...) and realised that maybe, just maybe, we should have left when the band finished at midnight as we'd originally intended...

Considering the previous evening's antics Saturday at Balcony Shirts could have been a lot more difficult than it turned out to be, although judging by the increase in customers Christmas is definitely on the horizon - mind you I did have to have a sleep pretty much as soon as I got home. All this 'getting older' stuff isn't all that it's cracked up to be I can tell you... still it was back to The Misty Moon in Bethnal Green for the latest Upper Cut gig, and a very enjoyable one it was too - we went on after the boxing for 2 well-received sets with much dancing and general jollity, although I did wonder what was going on when a large chap walked past carrying a tall blonde lady over his shoulder... I used Miles's guitar for the first set and mine for the second - the general consensus was mine sounded better (it should, it's a lot more expensive!) but that the other one could be a good addition to my guitar army. Oh well - there go the wages. Again. Perhaps I should sell something first... hmm... I'll have a think over the next few days...

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