Sunday, April 14, 2013

The rough with the smooth

As Thatchermania grips the country (I'm with Brian Reade and Morrissey myself, as you might well imagine) here's a look back at the last couple of weeks in mad-guitar-land :-

Back To Zero have continued their Sunday morning rehearsal schedule (bloomin' tiring if you've done a gig the night before I can tell you!) to great effect - today's session at Soundlab Studios in Loughton carried on where the previous week's one at Southend's Mushroom Studios left off, with the band sounding better and better each time we get together. (Yes, I know that's what supposed to happen - but it doesn't always work like that, believe me!) Next month's gigs are getting closer...

As I wasn't gigging this Saturday evening I took the opportunity to see Steve Conte and The Crazy Truth at The 100 Club. (Yes, I know I should have had an early night but, well, I should do a lot of things but I don't!) I loved Conte's playing in The New York Dolls so a chance to catch him with his band was definitely not to be missed, and I'm pleased to say that it was an absolutely storming show. Most of the debut album was played alongside a new song or two, and some splendid guest appearances from various members of The Jim Jones Revue and The Urban Voodoo Machine pushed things to even greater heights. A cracking night.

Big Al earlier today,
contemplating his latest career move.
Gig-wise your humble narrator has worked with the always-excellent Big Al Reed three times over the last week-and-a-bit, twice with The Blistering Buicks (yes, he really has called the band that!) and once as a duo. Last weekend's band gigs (with Big Al on vocals, guitar and saxophone, Chris on keyboards, Terry on bass and Dave on drums) were actually quite different from each other, in that odd way that consecutive shows sometimes are. The Friday night show (the 5th if you're taking notes... incidentally if you are taking notes, why are you taking notes?!?) was at Hayes Working Men's Club, where I depped for The Good Old Boys back in February. That was the first time that I'd played there - it's very easy to be cynical about a gig like this (you'd be surprised what people say to you when you tell them that you're playing at a 'working men's club' - it brings out snobbery, spite and more) and I'd be lying if I didn't admit to having the odd 'bloody hell, this time last week I was playing 'Babylon's Burning' with Ruts D.C.' moment but overall the gig went well despite us being worried that we didn't have enough material to fill 3 x 40 minute sets. We featured quite a bit of slower, laid back material as befitted the venue, so you won't be very surprised to hear that I for one preferred the next night at The Dolphin in Uxbridge when the show was more uptempo (again as befitted the venue) and therefore a bit more fun from my point of view. (That's not to knock the other songs but.. oh, you know what I mean!) With Dave away gigging elsewhere Bob Pearce made a fine job of depping on drums, and for the second show in a row I found myself on the same side of the stage as Chris and was therefore able to hear his playing clearer than on previous gigs. It reminded me what a very fine musician he is although having said that everyone played well on both shows. And I have just - just! - got home from an afternoon duo show with Al at The Feathers in Chalfont St Giles. After initial hilarity from Al when he saw that he was billed with a meat raffle (I was somewhat relieved to have not been billed at all!) we loaded in, set up and then set off in search of food. Suitably fortified we returned to play a good humoured show where we were once again joined by Ekkie on saxophone for a few numbers (he always seems to be there!) and which went down well with all concerned. And in case you're wondering, Al presented the meat raffle too!

This week The Upper Cut return to The Dolphin on Friday 19th, and then it's time for some Ruts D.C. gigs - more about that next time, but before then it's that funeral on Wednesday. If like me you think that the money that it's costing would be far better spent in any number of ways then why not protest by reviving the ancient English custom of Rough Music. No, I hadn't heard of it either, but I don't mind admitting that now I have I rather like the sound of it - follow this link for the plan!

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