Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The early bird catches the worm that turns

Well 'twas indeed a roaringly good night at The 12 Bar Club in Holloway last Friday, with great sets from The Bermondsey Joyriders and The Phobics and The London Sewage Company playing what we all agreed was one of our most enjoyable shows so far. The evening was also notable for the appearance of my old friend Leeson O'Keeffe, who I first met back in the mid-1980s when he was playing in The Shout and I was in The Price. These days he leads 'psycho-ceilidh' band Neck, who I did a stint with 10 or so years ago. During the course of our conversation I found myself taking possession of several CDs and a large number of song sheets - yes, I'm back in Neck for a couple of shows on or around St. Patrick's Day... and in the interests of over-committing myself I'm hoping to team up with some of my old Chicago Blues Brothers buddies (the ones that I still talk to!) for a wedding gig next month; there are also Clash songs to learn for a very special show at Koko in a few weeks time, and rumours abound of The Price making a return to show business - it looks as though I'm in for a busy few weeks. 

Hopefully in the midst of all this mayhem there will still be time for some shows with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks. Last weekend's gigs in Hillingdon at The Brushwood Inn and at Sally B's in Hoddesdon were both excellent - the Saturday night show in Hillingdon saw my Dad attend his first Buicks gig, and it being his 83rd birthday he was definitely seen as something of a celebrity by the band if not by quite a few of the audience. And continuing the birthday theme the next afternoon's gig had Al's Mum celebrating her 87th birthday; Al often says something along the lines of 'the old lady you see dancing down the front here isn't some sort of nutter, she's my Mum' - and he's right, the old lady you see dancing down the front is his Mum. I hope I'm that fit at her age. Actually I hope I make it to her or indeed my dad's age!

Anyway with lots of songs to learn there is unlikely to be too much blogging time over the next few weeks; I'm not out playing this weekend, but given the amount of work I've got to get through at home this for once might not be a bad thing... still I'll be making my first appearance of the year reviewing new music on Music Scene Investigation this coming Sunday evening, so if you're lurking in Cyberspace at 9 pm I'll see you then. In the meantime it's just gone (gulp!) 6 o'clock in the morning and as I say, after what feels like a relatively quiet time I've got work to do. What's that old saying? No rest for the wicked? I didn't think that I was that bad...

Monday, February 16, 2015

Now you see him, now you don't

Well that was a highly enjoyable weekend's gigging :-

On Saturday night Department S played at Electrowerkz in Islington. I'd not been to the venue before, and it's certainly worth a visit - good stage, sound and lights (even if they did overdo the smoke machine here and there!) although the promoter and door staff were a little, shall we say, over-enthusiastic - when I tried to go out for food and drink before the show I was told that I couldn't leave as I didn't have a wristband on. I attempted to joke about it with a comment along the lines of 'but you'll recognise me, I'll have the same face and everything' the promoter - well I think it was the promoter, I'd all but stopped caring whether the silly little man lived or died by that point - started whingeing about, er something or other... let's hope he hasn't got a really sad little life or anything like that eh?
Anyway aside from that oaf's pathetic antics the evening went swimmingly, with Jonestown kicking things off in style and Spizzenergi as entertaining as ever. Our show was well-received by the good-sized audience (I'd wondered if it being Valentine's Day numbers might have been down but there were plenty of people in attendance, even despite the clearly-incompetent promoter. Good!) and if anything was a better performance than our December gig. It's a great band to play in - they're looking for a permanent guitarist but I'll be happy to be there as often as they want me to be.

And here from Saturday night is 'Going Left Right' by Department S and 'Where's Captain Kirk?' by Spizzenergi. Watch out for Spizz falling off the stage at the end of the song - fortunately he wasn't seriously hurt but as the caption says, blink and you'll miss it!

That evening was bookended by two Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks gigs - on Friday night at The Halfway House in Rickmansworth, and on Sunday afternoon at The Horns in Watford. Both were good shows, with Sunday's gig being a particularly good one in my not-so-humble opinion. Mind you when the venue is as good as The Horns you've only got yourselves to blame if you don't play well! After our gig fellow guitar man Pete and myself stayed to watch a few numbers from Spiderbites, and very good they were too.

This week Big Al and Co. visit Hillingdon and Hoddesdon on Saturday and Sunday while The London Sewage Company play The 12 Bar Club in Holloway with The Bermondsey Joyriders and The Phobics on Friday. This night is to celebrate the first release on 12 Bar Records, a 7" single (remember those? Of course you do! Ruts D.C. are going to release one soon...) from the afore-mentioned Bermondsey boys entitled '12 Bar Beat'. Now that should be a good night! And all three gigs are in places with names that begin with the letter 'H' - what can this mean? Answers on a postcard please, usual address...

Sunday, February 08, 2015

'Oooh look, it's that DJ bloke...'

I have just - just! - returned from rehearsing with Department S. Having depped with them back in December at The 229 Club supporting The Members I'm pleased to say that I've been asked to play a show with them this coming Saturday at Electrowerkz in Islington. We're supporting Spizzenergi with Jonestown on first - I first met them around 30 years ago! Doesn't time fly when you're having fun eh?

The mighty Mighty Mustang
Talking of time flying, my mum died 14 years ago yesterday. I don't mind saying that it seems like only yesterday. I wasn't playing many live shows at the time as I was involved in looking after her, but I went on to work with quite a few people in the next few year, including Dave Finnegan's Commitments. Dave played Mickah Wallace in the film 'The Commitments', and I don't mind saying that the shows that I did with him were some of the most enjoyable that I've ever been part of. Last Tuesday I saw Dave at Ain't Nothin' But... with his new band Mighty Mustang - they also feature John Sorrell aka Johnny Squirrel on bass who I first met while we were both playing in Dave's band. I'd not been to the venue before, and it was great to see somewhere that successfully puts on live music ever night of the week. And it was great to see Dave and John on a stage together again too - it was the band's first gig and although there was the odd rough edge here and there if this show is anything to go by the future looks good for Mighty Mustang.

And the future looks good for Ruts D.C. too - we met up on Wednesday to work on some perspective new material, and by the end of our time together we'd roughed out five new song ideas. We've got at least as many again to look at this week, and gigs are starting to come in for the summer and beyond which has got to be good news if you think about it.

Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks have been out on the boards again too - Thursday evening saw our first show at The Riverside Club in Staines while on Saturday we returned to The Wishing Well in Hayes for the first time in quite a while. Well it's the first time I've been there in a while - I think the band have been there with Pete on guitar in my absence a couple of times since my last visit. Ironically Pete didn't make this show as he wasn't feeling too well - it was a good gig although I felt that we played a bit better a couple of days earlier. This week we're in Rickmansworth and Watford, and the band has over 40 shows booked already this year - the Buicks roadshow rolls on!

Spot the ex-Top Of The Pops presenter!
Friday night I returned to The 100 Club (I really have spent a lot of time there this year haven't I?!?) for another Human Punk night. I missed the first band Skurvi (I saw a bit of their performance at last year's Rebellion, they're very good so I must catch them again sometime) but arrived in time to catch a few songs by The Angry Agenda - again I've seen them before, and judging by what I saw they're still angry and they still have an agenda... but with no disrespect to these bands (or the excellent Control who closed the evening) for me the night was all about The Newtown Neurotics. Been-there-for-a-while bassist Adam Smith and returning-for-the-first-time-in-ages drummer Simon Lomond joined ever-present guitarist / vocalist / songwriter Steve Drewett to give a show that although a little under-rehearsed in places bought the proverbial house down. I saw the band many times back in the 1980s when their openly left-wing stance was such a necessary part of the times - as they swung into 'Kick Out The Tories' it was impossible not to think that (a) things sadly haven't changed, and (b) we need bands like them more than ever these days. After the show I spoke to Steve Lamacq for the first time in ages - we were both regulars at the band's gigs back in the day, and there we were again nearly three decades later. The more things change, the more they stay the same...

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Tea for one

Well it's been a while since we've had a caption competition in these hallowed pages but I think it's time for one now, as a new cafe called The Wonky Teapot has opened in Uxbridge. This in itself might not normally be cause for any particular excitement but it's been attracting quite a bit of attention locally - as the accompanying photograph shows the shop sign is, er, interesting... so see if you can come up with a suitable caption for the picture. Come on, you know that you want to - actually that's not a bad caption in itself is it?!

Anyway it's Sunday afternoon, and I was expecting to be playing with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks at Ye Olde George in Colnbrook today - however we were told this week that a new landlord is arriving soon and all live music has been cancelled, apparently never to return. Bah! It seems strange to me that having built up a successful venue Sally the landlady is being moved to another pub (which apparently will also not be having bands) and being replaced by someone who won't be carrying her good work on. Hmm... I don't think that I'll never understand the grown-up world... but it was a good gig for the band last night at The Wishing Well in Watford, and the one on Thursday at The Sunningdale Lounge in Sunningdale was also fun despite there not being too many people there - I hadn't played with the band since New Year's Eve so I spent a bit of time that afternoon revising the material, and given the amount of 'how does this song go again?' moments I was very glad that I did.

On Friday night myself and fellow Buicks guitarman Pete went to see The Yardbirds at The 100 Club. Advertised as 'the last show with the current line-up' it featured original members Jim McCarty on drums and Tony 'Top' Topham on guitar alongside three younger newer members, and was a terrific show from start to finish. Topham may have been overshadowed in history by Clapton Beck and Page but here he showed himself to be no slouch on both rhythm and lead guitar (although I must mention Ben King who played some fabulous stuff on the other side of the stage) while McCarty was as reliable as ever behind the kit. Pete and myself had debated whether we would go to this gig or to Tropic At Ruislip to see Hats Off To Led Zeppelin - we eventually concluded that it was better to watch the current line-up of one of the bands that started it all (especially given the Zeppelin connection) and I'm certainly glad that we went where we went although it'll be good to catch the Led Zep boys at some point in the future.

And in the immediate future Big Al and Co visit Staines and Hayes this week, and I really must visit The Wonky Teapot. Well, you've got to hand it to them haven't you - after all they've made quite a splash... tea hee...