Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I'm a hog for you baby

Following on from our time in Belfast it's been 3 gigs in 3 days with 3 different bands for your humble narrator...

Friday evening saw The Uppercut return to The Dolphin for the latest in our 'once-every-six-weeks-or-so' series of gigs. We'd ran through several potential additions to the act in rehearsal on Monday night - in the event we added 'You Wear It Well' (a bit scrappy I thought) 'Feel Like Making Love' (much better) and 'Jumpin' Jack Flash' (the best of the bunch) as well as bringing back several songs that we'd not played there for a while. It had been a very hot day and with Wimbledon on the telly audience numbers were down a bit on our last gig there but there were still more than enough people to make it all worthwhile - indeed as we were leaving Noel the guv'nor asked me to call in the next few days to add some more dates through the Autumn; he aslo said that he'd been running the pub for 24 years on December 3rd and that he'd like us to play on that night so I guess we must have done something right. I thought Roger played particularly well - his drumming in 'Superstition' drew a lot of compliments from all and sundry, and the number is becoming a real highlight in our show with much improvisation from all concerned.

A hog roast may not be the most obvious event for a mamby-pamby poncey vegetarian like myself to say that they found enjoyable, and it's fair to say that I probably wouldn't have found myself at such an event if I hadn't been playing at it; that said Andover Rugby Club on Saturday night was the scene of much merriment, due in part to the appearance of The Briefcase Blues Brothers. Joining Mario and Chris (Jake and Elwood) were Kylan on bass and Wayne on keyboards, along with Scott on drums (he normally plays for Pendragon!) and Gabriel on trumpet. There was also an anonymous saxophone player who didn't seem in the least bit interested in talking to me, even when I told him during the interval that I thought he was playing well. Perhaps I wasn't jazz enough for him? ('I'm a blues trumpeter' said Gabriel cheerily when I recounted this to him. Good man.) The promoter Steve distinguished himself by referring to the Elvis act that was on before us as 'Dave The Plumber'; Dave himself was a bit of a character who told me afterwards that he recently did a 10 hour Elvis show in aid of Help For Heroes. When getting changed for the show Chris discovered that he'd forgotten to bring a white shirt (essential for a Blues Brother if you think about it) and at one point it was looking as though he'd have to go onstage wearing Wayne's grey polo shirt. Eventually the asking around paid off and a suitable garment was found, and with him and Mario at the helm we played 2 sets to an increasingly appreciative audience, many of whom began our performance sitting on bales of hay neatly arranged in rows in front of the stage and ended it dancing wildly down the front. Judging by some of the audience antics I'd guess that the all-day bar had been popular... excellent!

It's been ages since the last Chicago Blues Brothers theatre show (come to think of it, it's been ages since any CBB show!) but Monday night's gig at The Eden Court Theatre in Inverness was a great show to come back with. Our flight from Luton Airport was delayed for an hour but was generally fairly uneventful apart from that - well, I thought it was, although the couple with the sporadically noisy baby in the same row as me declared it to be the 'worst they'd ever experienced'. We did land with a it of a bump but I didn't think it was too bad apart from that. When we went through to collect our baggage an announcement informed us that the 'baggage belt had jammed' - Squirrel and myself joked weakly about it being caused by our guitars, which fortunately turned out to be untrue although the security man wouldn't let us have them until we'd opened them to 'show him what was inside the case'. Not necessarily a bad thing I suppose, but a very serious chap all the same.
Matt and Mike are in the hats and glasses, Squirrel's on bass, Chris is in for Ian on keyboards, Steve's behind that drums instead of Marc, Pete's along to keep everything running smoothly and for the first time we've got local lads Matthew and Glenn on saxophone and trumpet. Equipment has been provided by the excellent Highland Backline Company - I've got a Fender Hot Rod Deville combo to use, a fabulous-sounding amplifier which inevitably proves to be too loud for the job in hand. It ends up with the volume set at just over one out of ten, with the soundman worried that 'it still might be a bit loud'. Bah! In the meantime with four deps in the band (albeit with two that have played the show many times) sound check is more of a rehearsal which seems to take ages, although we all agree that it's worth it to get things sounding good. We finish with an hour-and-a-bit to spare before the show is due to start so there's time to get something to eat and drink before getting ready for the show - and what a show it is. Matt and Mike are on fine form, getting the audience involved more-or-less from the word go, and the band rise to the occasion giving a performance that has pretty much the whole audience on it's feet by the end. Great stuff.
After getting changed and saying goodbye to the theatre staff it's off out to see if anywhere is still open. Mike was in town a couple of months ago and suggests we try The Hootanany which turns out to be a good choice - when we arrive a young man called Fash is entertaining the audience (who are once again seated in neat rows) with an acoustic guitar and what were presumably his own songs. For his last song a couple get up to dance which amuses both him and the rest of the assembled multitude. It seems that we weren't the only act in town to have a good night.
Monday morning and after a few hours sleep at the local Travelodge it was back to Luton once again - this we were asked to open our guitar cases before they'd let them on to the aircraft - and after a slightly bleary afternoon it was time for a Flying Squad rehearsal. We're supporting The Small Fakers at Tropic At Ruislip next Friday (15th) and if we play as well as we did in the studio we should be in for a good show, although somewhere in the back of my mind is the saying 'good rehearsal - bad show, bad rehearsal - good show'. Something like that, anyway. I think I'll leave it in the back of my mind. Best place for it.

And yesterday I recorded some guitar for... well, more about that another time.

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