Monday, March 26, 2012

Sideways promotion?

Time for another mention for something that's getting closer by the day - COOL BRITANNIA. We've got a set list (at last! - although I bet there are still a few changes to be made...) we've got a website, a poster (that's it on the left, sorry it's a bit small but despite Gawd knows how many years doing this blogging lark I still don't know how to make these things different sizes either before they get onto this page of after they've got here. Still, size isn't everything...) and we've even got one of those Facebook pages that everyone apart from me seems to have these days (yeah, I know I 'should' have one, but this takes up enough of my time - and besides, have you seen the unmitigated cobblers some people write? Don't they realise that it's out on the Internet? Don't they realise that people can actually read that stuff? Argh!) so things are getting serious. There's an impressive list of gigs from May through to July, and with that in mind the band convened at Mushroom Studios (which used to be mushroom barns! Really!) near Southend yesterday. We managed to run through around two-thirds of the show, and despite the odd mad moment here and there we sounded pretty good, and I for one can't wait for the shows.

Talking of rehearsals I've spent a fair bit of this week attempting to decipher the bass lines on the excellent new Department S (you remember 'Is Vic There?' don't you? Of course you do!) album 'Mr. Nutley's Strange Delusionarium'. Why? Because I've got two gigs depping on bass with them next month, and I'm due to rehearse with them somewhere in Loughton next weekend. Strange but true - more news as and when I have it.

And talking of rehearsals (again) The Uppercut found themselves re-visiting Bush Studios in Shepherds Bush on Wednesday evening for a 'we-haven't-played-together-for-a-while-so-let's-see-what-we-remember' session, which rapidly turned into a 'actually-why-don't-we-try-some-new-songs?' session. As a result 'How Come', 'Monkey Man' and 'Crossroads' found their way into our set at The Dolphin on Friday evening, a show which I felt was a bit on the scrappy side, but which everybody I spoke to afterwards thought was great. The customer is always right, so I made no attempt to dissuade any of them - after all we were asked to play at a birthday party, Noel the guv'nor loved it and I got told that I'm 'the best guitarist in West London' by Simon of 'Ace!' club fame (that's a weird thought isn't it? I mean, has he seen all the other ones?!?) so I guess we couldn't have been that bad.

Saturday in the shop was one of the busiest ever, good fun but with lots to do (obviously!) and after a fairly late night I was certainly feeling it by the end of the day. No time to worry about that though as I was depping in The F.B.I. Band at Lillebrook Manor near Maidenhead. It was Rebecca and Luke's wedding reception, and it took place in a converted barn which to our collective horror had one of those volume restriction devices fitted - you know, the pnes that cut the power if you're playing too loud. Bah! Still the DJ's soundcheck didn't set it off which gave us all a bit of encouragement; not so encouraging from my point of view was seeing 'Celebration' on the setlist. 'We haven't played that one for a while, we used to play it all the time' said Jon the bass player cheerily; 'I've never played it before in me life' said your humble narrator not-quite-so-cheerily. 'You'd better tell Tony then...' Yes, I better had. He just laughed - 'remind me not to do that one then'. I've worked with less co-operative singers!
Halfway through the first number I looked at the band - everyone was looking up at the volume restriction device up to the left of the stage. We weren't playing loud and everything was working fine - then suddenly the power went off. But we weren't playing loud, honest... thankfully it was the only time that it went off, and despite the band being a little short of match practice our efforts were well received.

After the Cool Britannia rehearsal I made it down to The Load of Hay in time to catch the ever-excellent Kris Dollimore. Sadly one of the best guitarists that any of us will ever see began his performance to a mere five (count 'em, FIVE) people, an audience that would fit comfortably into most people's front room. There were a few more watching him by the end, and the man himself was philosophical about things, even offering to return in the Autumn - but as he left I realised that my time putting gigs on at The Load of Hay was very likely over. It's a shame as I've (mostly) enjoyed my attempts at being a promotor and I'm really proud of the shows that I've been involved with there, but audience apathy means that it's time for a rethink. I might put the odd evening together, but it a lot of work for something that I don't earn anything out of, and hopefully I'm going to be busy gigging from May onwards. Oh well - I guess nothing good lasts forever... mind you nothing bad lasts for ever either, so I'll hopefully be involved in putting gigs on again somewhere at some point in the not-too-distant future. In the meantime you must excuse me - I've got to practise some bass guitar...

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