Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Back on the streets

Well my phone didn't ring, but as the computer clock clicked over to 14.50 'City Of The Dead' by The Clash was playing on the Balcony iPod. No really it was... and how sad is it that Gary Moore has died. I saw him play a few times, notably at the '50th Anniversary of the Fender Stratocaster concert in 2004 at the Wembley Arena where his version of Jimi Hendrix's 'Red House' stood out among an evening of standout performances. He was a fine musician who always gave 100% to every show - no, every note - and he's a great loss to the World of the electric guitar.

Talking of electric guitar - the absence of gigs for your humble narrator means that there's been chance to get out and see a few gigs in the last week or so, although oddly enough most of them have been at The Half Moon in Harrow. Last Friday (the 4th in case you're taking notes) Awaken played a fine show in front of an enthusiastic audience that even managed a bit of dancing in the second set; all such behaviour stopped during the 2 songs that I played with them (since you've asked they were 'Sweet Home Chicago' and 'Hard To Handle' - Pete has offered to get a longer guitar strap for me if I borrow his guitar again!) but I enjoyed myself all the same. Saturday I met the aforementioned Pete at the venue to catch the riskily-named Beaver (do your own punchline!) powering through 2 sets of harder rocking material than the previous night had featured, but no less entertaining all the same. I've known Clint the guitarist since my days in Pro Music (remind me to tell you what happened there one day... actually someone said to me the other day that 'no one goes there now that you don't work there as it's staffed by kids that don't know what they're talking about'. Surely that can't be true - can it?!?) and he's a fine player - he wasn't too happy with his performance as he had an ear infection and couldn't hear out of his right ear (I know the feeling!) but I thought he played well. I must try to catch the band again.

Wednesday evening I was down at The Load of Hay in Uxbridge to set the P.A. up for David Ferrard; it was a show organised by some Brunel University people (I never did really find out what was going on!) and when I got there around 7.45 they were pretty much ready for the show to start - maybe the students all go to sleep earlier these days? After a (very) quick set-up David performed 2 sets of folky originals mixed with a few Robert Burns songs (the students didn't seemed to have heard of him!) and American traditional numbers reflecting David's Scottish and American heritage. In true folk club tradition there were a few floor spots (where an audience member gets up and does a song or two) including a couple from Brunel lecturers whose prowess behind the microphone clearly caught their students unaware. A good gig - and the Acts Less Ordinary gigs start there again on Sunday 27th February with The Noisy Boys (as one local wit put it, 'they are neither noisy, nor are they boys...') with more to follow. With that in mind myself and East retired to the bar after David's show to discuss the possibility of a Price show there in the not-too-distant future - yes, we could be going to do it again just one more time...

One of the latest batch of Balcony Shirts proudly states 'Real Men Bake Bread'. In a moment of inspiration Scott (it's his design) came up with the idea of writing a song that would teach the listener how to make their own loaf (he does things like that!) which meant that first thing on Saturday morning Balcony Shirts became Balcony Studios as your humble narrator sat behind the counter of the The Custom Bar recording his Telecaster onto Scott's Pro Tools equipped laptop. The plan is to make a video to go with it, put it on YouTube and, well, take over the World. It sounded good so why not? Well, realistically there are any number of reasons why not, but I'll let you know how we get on. The day turned out to be a busy one, with probably the most unusual request coming from a young lady who had a t-shirt made to wear on an upcoming episode of 'Total Wipeout' - on the front it said 'THE BOY BASHER', on the back 'IS BACK' and I for one wasn't about to wind her up.

For the evening it was back to The Half Moon in Harrow to see The Bolaji Blues Band. Ken from Awaken is on bass and I've known guitarists Danny and Dave for quite a while but had never managed to catch the band before - I arrived just as they were starting their first number 'Worried Life Blues'. They sounded good and they're all excellent musicians, but I found that most if not all of the solos (and therefore the songs) went on rather too long for my liking. As I say the playing was terrific (the keyboard player hadn't played with them before - you'd never have known) and at it's best it all sounded fabulous - but at other times it reminded me why I like punk rock so much. Then again I found out later that they normally have a saxophone player who couldn't make the gig so they extended the guitar and keyboard solos to make up time so maybe I should stop moaning... Pete from Awaken got up with them for the last 2 numbers and to my surprise they invited me too get up too, but I declined the offer - I'd had far too much to drink by then! It turned out to be a good decision as they then played 'Rambling Man' - I'd definitely had to much to drink to get that one right!

No drinking last night (well, not too much!) as it was time for a gig with The Ali Mac Band at The Bulls Head in Barnes. The last few gigs with Ali and co. have been in an extended format, but this time I joined the standard line-up of Ali on vocals, Bill on bass, Hud on drums and Simon on guitar - I've depped for Simon with Bill and Hud before but this was the first time we've all played together. When Ali told me about the gig I was keen to be involved as George McFall had run The Stormy Monday Blues Club there for many years; it was the first time that I'd been back there since his untimely death last year and I wasn't the only person who kept expecting him to walk in... it being Valentine's Day there weren't too many people in attendance, but those who were there saw an excellent performance. Ali sang well, Bill and Hud were as solid as the proverbial rock, and Simon and myself must have been doing something right as we were getting applause after each guitar solo. That's never happened to me before! A great gig all round.

Back down to Earth - no gigs this week. Bah...

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