Sunday, October 23, 2011

The tracks of my tears

I've just had a message from Kris Dollimore to say that he won't be able to do tonight's gig at the Load of Hay due to family illness. Curses!! There was a lot of interest in his performance and I was really looking forward to it - oh well, it's more important that his family are well don't you think? We'll reschedule the date as soon as we can; in the meantime the next Sunday night show there features The Bullet Blues Band (guess what type of music they play?!?) on November 6th - they feature The Chicago Blues Brothers band's very own Johnny Squirrel on bass alongside the vocal and harmonica talents of the excellent Ed Stacey, and it should be a cracking evening.

Thursday night saw myself and Matt from The Chicago Blues Brothers appear at the Bacchus Bar in Bishop's Stortford as The Rock Show. We've talked about doing something like this (a duo with backing tracks) for a while so when the opportunity arose (thanks Mike!) it seemed like a good chance to try the idea out. We'd talked through some song ideas over the last few weeks; we then set about obtaining backing tracks and working separately on the material. Unfortunately we didn't get chance for a rehearsal (we tried to arrange something but time and circumstances conspired against us as so often happens) which was a shame as we got lost here and there, although in our defence your honour the onstage sound was a little unusual... actually the stage itself was pretty odd, being set back into the wall several feet up in the air. This resulted in the music being for want of a better word 'contained' in the alcove making it extremely loud and overpowering (well that's what it was like where we were, I've no idea what it was like out the front) which took a few numbers to come to terms with. Mind you I'm sure every other act that appears there has the same problem and they no doubt cope with it so I'll stop making excuses and just say that it's given us a few things to think about if we're going to take the duo idea further. From my point of view I'm going to have a think about guitar sound - I used a Pod plugged straight into the P.A. system which didn't sound too bad in itself but had to be played back though the monitor for me to hear what I was playing. All well and good - except that it's been ages since I played a show with that sort of set up and I found it difficult to get the balance between the guitar and the backing track right. This also made timing difficult (hence my comment above about getting 'lost here and there') as well as making it hard for me to hear my backing vocals (I'm not the best singer and I need all the help I can get!) In the future I think I'll use an amplifier - I'm just more used to hearing the guitar coming from behind me! - although I guess the use of the Pod is another thing that could be sorted out at a rehearsal. In the meantime we've got to find some higher quality backing tracks, I've got to get more confidant with the backing vocals (this could take some time!) and, let's face it, we've got to learn the songs better, as the sound balance wasn't the only reason we 'got lost here and there'. Nevertheless every journey starts with the first step, and The Rock Show have made theirs. Let's see where we find ourselves next.

Friday it was time for another Ruts D.C. rehearsal - myself, Segs and Seamus spent a few hours in the latter's kitchen (rock 'n' roll eh?!?) running through quite a few of the songs from last week's Brixton bash. Seamus sounded great and Segs and myself were so enthused that we had to go to the pub afterwards to, er, discuss tactics. Everything's moving in the right direction, interest in the shows is starting to increase - good news all round!

Following on from the (ahem) success of our bread and Q.P.R. songs the next Balcony Shirts song extolls the virtues of the ukulele - to this end yesterday morning your humble narrator found himself in a several-sizes-too-small lab coat playing the only 3 chords that he knows on a SpongeBob SquarePants ukulele (yes, you read that bit correctly!) for the benefit of Scott's video camera and to the bemusement of several customers. I'll let you know when the finished film is available for viewing - in the meantime I'd better stop blogging and start phoning people who might be coming along tonight... bah!

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