Sunday, February 27, 2011

'Eat up - you're at your Auntie's!'

My Auntie Emma died yesterday. My Dad called me on my mobile phone while I was working in the shop - when I saw on the screen that it was him I knew it was bad news. Well, you do, don't you? She was fine (well, we thought she was) when we saw her last July, but she became ill before Christmas. While we were with her Shirley took a picture of me with her in her front room - I was thinking about posting it here but don't want to look at it just yet. She was my Auntie Emma, and I'm going to miss her. I miss her already.

Meanwhile back in mad-guitar-land it was a roaringly good evening on Friday when The Upper Cut made a welcome return visit to The Dolphin in Uxbridge. When Roger and myself arrived a serious-looking game of pool was in progress - not a good sign as the band's set up where the pool table is - however a few seconds after the game ended the table was swiftly moved and we were able to set our gear up with no problems. A fair-sized audience witnessed a boisterous performance that blew last's Friday's show out of the water, with a fair bit of dancing not least during a hitherto unperformed encore medley of 'Sweet Little Rock and Roller' and 'Johnny B. Goode' - someone kept shouting for the latter so we played the former as we often do and Terry sang a couple of verses of the latter. Someone asked me where the toilet was during the guitar solo in 'You Really Got Me' and Big Al sang 'Hoochie Coochie Man' and 'Sweet Home Chicago' - as Terry put it, 'that one made up for last week's one didn't it?' How right he was. And Dave from Balcony Shirts turned up along with some of his Action And Action bandmates - when I saw them in the shop the next day guitarist Luigi remarked that as he was watching us he wondered 'is that me in 20 years time?' A good question - if you'd have asked me during my time in The Price whether or not I'd, for want of a better term, 'end up' playing cover versions in a pub I'd probably have defiantly replied with some nonsense along the lines of 'NEVER! I'M A SERIOUS ARTIST!' and then gone home and hated myself for even considering the prospect of doing something like that (I was a barrel of laughs in those days!) But it's not a bad place to have ended up, and it's a good band to have ended up in, or it certainly is when the gigs are as good as this one was. Great stuff, and we're back there in May...

And we were back in Norfolk last night, for a Chicago Blues Brothers show at Caister Hall. When myself and the long-suffering Shirley arrived the rest of the band were set up and ready - it's a 'nearly-the-A-team' gig with Squirrel and Marc on bass and drums, local lad Dave on trumpet (the show was at a party for his friend Julie's 40th birthday) with Ian depping for Richard on saxophone, Ian returning on keyboards and Pete and Mike in the hats and glasses. We played in the same hall a few years ago - I don't remember the door to the car park being alarmed then but it certainly is now, as it went off as we opened it... and I don't remember there being a volume restriction device then but there certainly is one now (apparently a neighbour has been complaining about the noise - I'll send him the bill for the damage that my amplifier sustained when it was switched on and off quickly by said device shall I?) which turns the power off for a few seconds if you exceed a pre-set volume limit. We managed to avoid setting it off in our first set but it went off twice (during 'Long Train Running' and 'Respect' in case you were wondering) in our second set of party (i.e. non Blues Brothers) songs - apparently they set the threshold lower later in the evening. It would have been nice if they'd told us... other than that it was an enjoyable if slightly loose performance - we don't play together as much as we used too - perhaps best summed up by the moment where Mike's comment of 'I think we might be becoming a bit predictable' was met by Dave's reply of 'I knew you were going to say that'. Enough said!

In between sets I sat on my own in the dressing room, thinking about Auntie Emma. She hadn't seemed to be ill when we last saw her a mere 8 months ago, and now she's gone. She'd said then how she thought she'd had a good life, always with people to love and who loved her. I reflected on Luigi's thoughts earlier in the day, just before I got my Dad's phone call. I'm lucky to be able to play the guitar, whoever I 'end up' doing it with. I get sad, frustrated, even angry sometimes when there isn't much gigging going on (April is looking very quiet at the moment...) but that's because I enjoy playing so much. On our way to the gig we'd stopped to get something to eat - as we sat in the cafe Shirley said to the waitress how beautiful the sunset looked through the window, and the waitress wearily replied that she was always too busy to notice things like that, and that 'I ignore everything out there, what with the traffic noise and everything'. But we (and indeed the waitress) were lucky to be able to see that sunset, and I think Auntie Emma would have liked it too.

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