Monday, June 23, 2014

'You don't know anywhere that I can borrow a bass from do you?'

It's 10 o'clock on Friday morning and I've just answered the phone to John 'Segs' Jennings, bass guitarist (and vocalist, lest we forget) with popular punk rock / reggae combo Ruts D.C.; the above line was not perhaps one that I was expecting to hear him say, although if the time that I've spent mucking around with guitars have taught me anything then it's to expect the unexpected...
We (Ruts D.C.) are off to Yorkshire to play a show at The Willowman Festival near Thirsk; Segs, sound man Nick and driver / backline man Jon (making his debut working with the band, we met him on the Damned tour last year and he also runs Abatis Studios) had met at Driving You Crazy in Brentford to collect a splitter bus, and when Segs got the merchandise and his bag out of the taxi he discovered that he'd left his bass guitar at home. Bugger! As we talked over options (Did I know anyone? Did he know anyone? Would it be simpler if he just went home and got his?) he then revealed that due to a booking mix-up we were going to have to come straight back after the show as we would have to get the bus back to DYC before 9am Saturday morning rather than later in the day as we'd thought when we booked ourselves a hotel near the festival site. Bugger! Again! So far, so bad - but as always with this sort of thing there's no point in worrying or moaning about it (although we did try a fair bit of swearing!) as you just have to get on and sort the situation out. After we'd both rang around trying to find a suitable instrument for him we quickly realised that it would indeed be easier if he just went home for his and then travelled up by train to meet us at the hotel that we would have been staying in (!) We also steeled ourselves for the long late night drive home - or rather Jon did, as it was him who would be doing the driving... meanwhile Dave was driving to Kensington with merch girl Rhiannon to pick up the drum mat that he'd mistakenly left in Brighton at last weekend's gig - he was originally going to leave his car near me and then travel up with us in the bus before returning the next day to collect his car and drive to his Saturday night gig, but as he was running late he opted to drive up to Yorkshire and stay the night at the hotel (well, we had the rooms booked and it was too late to cancel them, and we were meeting Molara there anyway) before driving back for his gig the next day. Keep up at the back there...

Actually once all of this had been decided upon the rest of the day went remarkably smoothly - we all met up at The Black Bull in Northallerton (pity we weren't staying there, it looked like a really nice place!) and from there made our way to The Willowman Festival where we played a storming set headlining The Willow Wobbly Stage (!) and had a very good ending to what might have been a very bad day... except of course that wasn't the end of the day, as we then had to drive back to London, a job that Jon (ably assisted by a suitable amount of coffee) accomplished with great aplomb. Hopefully his first day hasn't put him off working with us in the future, as it was a great pleasure to have him along with us.
Your humble narrator
on Sunday evening -
note the lack of audience!

I spent a fair bit of Saturday morning drifting in and out of consciousness before admitting defeat and going back to bed. As I went to lie down my phone rang - Segs's opening line of 'are you still alive?' gives you some idea of how he (and indeed I) was feeling... still it's amazing what a bit of sleep can do, and come the evening I was readying myself for an Upper Cut gig at Ye Olde George in Colnbrook. With Roger drumming elsewhere we've got Richard Hudson (a.k.a. 'Hud') on loan from The Good Old Boys - by the time I arrived at the venue he was all set up and ready to go. Rehearsal consisted of a drink and a talk through some of the songs, and barring the odd mad moment we played two 45 minute sets to the increasing approval of the assembled multitude, with Hud playing brilliantly and a good time being had by all. Well, we certainly enjoyed ourselves... I think this was the first Saturday show at the venue (it's usually a Sunday afternoon gig) and they're talking about making it a regular occurrence - with more and more venues closing it's great to see somewhere that's increasing the number of shows that they're putting on. Excellent!

And last night Back To Zero played at The 100 Club, on a splendid bill that also featured The Fallen Leaves and Eight Rounds Rapid. I was told that our set was a bit loud in the room - hopefully that masked the appalling amount of errors that I made (I was away for Friday's rehearsal - well, that's my excuse anyway!) although Sam's grin as I fluffed the opening riff of 'Talking To Myself' meant that I certainly hadn't managed to hide anything from him! Meanwhile The Fallen Leaves and Eight Rounds Rapid were both as brilliant as ever, with the only downside to things being the rather low audience numbers. To be fair the place did fill up as the evening went on, but surely it should have been packed for a bill as good as this - shouldn't it? Well, I think that it should!

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