Well considering that it's the holiday season I've had a busy few days. I prefer that to having nothing to do though - don't you?
When last we spoke I was just about to leave for a Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks show at The Crown in Cowley. Gigs at this time of the year are always a bit of a lottery - they can go really well or be something of an anti-climax. (Some might say that the same situation applies to Christmas!) This one was definitely more of the former than the latter although from my point of view it was somewhat coloured by the fact that I'd been for an end-of-year-drink at The Queen's Head in Uxbridge with the Balcony Shirts team. I only had a couple of beers (honest!) but it seemed to hit me harder than it might (drinking during the day can be a bit perilous can't it?!) and I felt that I didn't play very well as a result - mind you no one else seemed to think that there was a problem so perhaps I was worrying over nothing? (Again!) We certainly went down well which I guess is the main thing.
I spent much of Christmas Day in the company of Wilko Johnson, Norman Watt-Roy and Dylan Howe - I'd bought myself the recently-released 'Live At Koko' DVD for Christmas and had saved it to watch on the day, and I must say that it was well worth waiting for. A live DVD of the great man has long been overdue, and this is an absolutely superb release that captures the band in all their not-inconsiderable glory. Brilliantly filmed and well recorded, it's a fitting tribute to the mighty Mr. Johnson and his band.
The Upper Cut have played at The Dolphin in Uxbridge many times, including the last two Boxing Day evenings; I was a bit surprised when Noel the guv'nor asked us to play again this year as I thought he might have wanted a different band this year but I'm pleased that he did as it turned out to be a very memorable evening. Back in the 1990s Roger (drums) Terry (bass) and myself had a rhythm and blues band called The Informers with singer Bryan Byford - the band dissolved when he and his wife Judy moved to Ireland and none of us had seen them for around 15 years, so it was a great surprise when they turned up at the gig. Bryan joined us for 'Shaking All Over' and 'Baby Please Don't Go' and sounded in fine voice as did Big Al Reed who sang 'Hoochie Coochie Man' with our singer Terry on harmonica; we were a little shaky to begin with (we'd not played live for a couple of months) but all pulled together after a couple of numbers and our show ended with much dancing and merriment all round.
The next day (Friday I think - am I the only person who loses track of what day it is at this time of year?) saw Utter Madness play The Grand Pier in Weston-Super-Mere. When we arrived the tide was out, and there was definitely something rather bizarre about driving along the pier in the dark with no water either side of us. The venue itself was rather bizarre too, with a stage and PA system set up among the fairground amusements. Very strange. With it being a blustery and rainy evening we all wondered if there'd be anyone at the show, but over 200 people turned up. Excellent! Our two 45 minute sets of Madness and ska classics got the general approval of all concerned, although our surrogate Suggs Tony thought he heard someone shout 'you're the worst Madness tribute band ever' at one point. I didn't hear it myself so am going to say that he was mistaken... and anyway, we were good!
And yesterday Big Al and the band played a 5pm show at Ye Olde George in Colnbrook. There have been no gigs there for a few months as it's been undergoing a refit, and I must say that they've made a very good job of it. We made a very good job of our show too, playing 3 sets and then being offered more money to play for longer. Oo-er! A good 'last-gig-of-the-year' for the band, and with shows already booked into the middle of next year it's looking good for The Blistering Buicks.
Ok - I've got to spend the rest of today going through the songs for tomorrow's New Year's Eve gig with Mr. Tibbs at The Greyhound in Chalfont St. Peter. I did some work on them on Saturday, and there are the best part of 40 songs to be played - better get on with it then...