Monday, May 18, 2015

The thrill is gone

We live in strange times don't we? Well I think that we do - another 5 years of Tory (mis) rule have arrived seemingly by accident, or at the very least against the run of play; anyone who dares to question anything that they say and do is labelled at best a troublemaker and more likely a loony lefty revolutionary ready to take the 'great' out of Great Britain. Most of the country didn't vote for them of course, but that hardly seems to matter - millions struggle to keep a roof over their head and put food on the table while The Royal Family casually add another member who will live with all the luxury and opulence that they've come to consider 'normal'. For what my opinion is worth I think that the very existence of The Royal Family is an insult to the working people, indeed the working class of the country, but I guess that just makes me a loony lefty revolutionary troublemaker. If you're lucky enough to have a job then you're not supposed to have a opinion, if you're lucky enough to have a opinion then you don't deserve to have a job; in the meantime former contestants on television talent contests are now considered to be 'artists', the winners are referred as 'legends' while others are now presenters or indeed judges on said programmes. A self-fulfilling prophesy? Maybe... 
If B.B. King had have showed up on the set of The X Factor he'd have lasted a few seconds at best - too old, too heavy, not able to sing and play guitar at the same time, not even trying to dance, all of which means that he will have to be content with being remembered as one of the greatest and most respected blues guitarists of all time. His playing is literally the stuff of legend - yes, legend - with sad men like me spending their entire lives trying to get even near to it. We all bend strings, but no one bends a string like B.B. King. Did he invent it? Well probably not, but as he himself once observed, nobody did it before him. And then there's that vibrato - often imitated but never equalled, it almost redefines the term 'industry standard'. As an artist - yes, an artist - he stayed true to himself and his music throughout his long and illustrious career, and as such should be seen as an inspiration to musicians everywhere. There is thankfully a huge amount of superb live footage, most of which confirms his graceful greatness and total commitment to his music, so here is a clip of 'How Blue Can you Get?' recorded at Sing Sing Prison - somehow he even looks cool hitching his pants up doesn't he? What a player, and what a man - we are sadly unlikely ever to see his like again. R.I.P. B.B. - and thanks.

It's been a busy few days in mad-guitar-land, starting with a show by The London Sewage Company at The Dublin Castle in Camden Town. I'd not played there before and so was particularly looking forward to the evening, which turned out to be highly enjoyable despite there being hardly anybody in the audience. It had been raining heavily all day which probably had an effect on things, and it's often the case that a big show (we played at The Shepherds Bush Empire last month) is followed by a much smaller one. Still we played well and we're back at the same venue on June 4th for another show in what could well turn out to be a monthly residency for the band. Support came from The Uppercuts (Oooh! That's a dodgy name for a band!) and Dirt Royal (both of which were excellent) and earlier in the evening I found time to visit The Rock 'n' Roll Rescue shop next door - time to donate some of those books that I haven't read for ages methinks!

Two Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks gigs saw the band return to The Riverside Club in Staines on Friday night before heading up to the previously uncharted territory (that's uncharted by us - other people have been there!) of The United Services Club in Dunstable the following evening. Both shows went well although I for one wasn't sure that they would - the first one was rather sparsely attended while the next night had a real 'go on then, impress us' feeling about it from the moment we arrived. However I'm pleased to say that in both cases the band rose to the occasion, playing with plenty of energy while Al's showmanship soon had the people on our side. Indeed both gigs saw plenty of dancing and general merriment which is always a good thing to see.

On Sunday I (re)joined my old mates Neck for a how at The Cursus Festival in Dorset. With no chance to rehearse with the band I'd worked on the songs on my own, and I'm glad that I did as the projected set list was changed on the day when the band got to the site. This sort of things happens a fair bit as it's always good to react to what's happening on the day, and when we realised that there was rather a lot of cider around (I'll leave you to think about the implications of that development... got the idea?!?) we changed the set to be a bit more, shall we say, danceable... it was a tactic that worked too, as our show saw a great amount of jollity from the assembled multitude, and an excellent time was had by all.

This coming weekend Ruts D.C. are playing in Bologna (I've not been to Italy before so I've been looking forward to this show for a while) and at Strummercamp at Manchester Rugby Club - Bologna and Cheadle Hulme has to be the most unusual and indeed unlikely back-to-back gigs that I've ever done! In the meantime it's Pete Townshend's 70th birthday tomorrow - when push comes to shove he's my favourite guitarist of them all, so here is some incredible footage of The Who at The 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival touching musical heights that few if any will ever approach. 

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