Monday, June 22, 2015

Beautiful Nights in December, busy nights (and days) in June

After a relatively quiet few days the busy times are back, as with one of the Balcony Shirts staff on holiday and the shop the busiest it's been for ages I should be in there most days this week. Whilst this is hardly bad news as it's a chance to earn a bit of money but it does leave little time for anything else aside from working in there and learning songs in the evening. The latter is about to become particularly important as not only am I about to play a couple more gigs with Neck but I'm also going to play an acoustic set with Noel Martin from Menace at The Rebellion Festival in August. All this (ahem!) frenzied activity (by my standards!) means that there's precious little time for blogging - there's just time to mention that I saw The Godfathers blow the roof off The 100 Club on Wednesday (a 30th anniversary show that was up there with many that I saw them play back in the day) then returned to said venue on Saturday night to see '60s soul man James Royal - backed by several Good Old Boys it was sadly a somewhat scrappy show as the band hadn't played together or indeed in some cases even met before the show. That said I'm glad I got there early enough to see a great support set from The Mynd Set - I'll be keeping an eye out for them in the future. Oh and Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks (aided and abetted by Back To Zero drummer Andy depping for a holidaying Dave) had a riotous night at The Dolphin in Uxbridge on Friday - fellow guitarist Pete can't make this weekend's shows in Harrow and Colnbrook so I must remember to run through some of his parts before then.

In the meantime and following on from last week's Australian tour poster here's one for 'Beautiful Nights', a series of shows due this coming December that will feature The Levellers, Dreadzone and Ruts D.C. - I must say that it's shame that there's no London gig scheduled (sorry if that sounds a bit greedy!) but they look set to be a great run of gigs even if they do seem a long way off at the moment. Well they are a long way off at the moment. But they'll come around...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Southern man

Well having spent the last few weeks thinking that maybe, just maybe I'll get away with it this year I woke up on Friday morning with itchy eyes, a bunged-up nose and feeling as though I'd done a few rounds with Mike Tyson in his prime - yes, the hay fever season is upon us once again. Bugger! I spent much of the day dosing up with antihistamines and cursing the season that is summer, and much if that evening's Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks gig at The Ox and Gate in Neasden (or Dollis Hill, or Cricklewood, depending on which website you believe!) waiting for my my nose to betray me and make me sneeze at the most inopportune moment. I had bought a box of tissues along for just such an emergency - so in much the same way that if you take an umbrella with you it doesn't rain I of course didn't sneeze once throughout what despite being somewhat under-attended turned out to be a very enjoyable show. I hadn't been to the venue before but they seem to be working hard to make live music work there so let's hope that it's a success for them. 

The next night it was back up to Camden Town for the second Saturday in a row to help Bears guitarist Lionel celebrate his birthday at The Fiddler's Elbow. With entertainment provided by Ed Tudor-Pole, Spizzology (the stripped-down version of Spizzenergi), The Bermondsey Joyriders and X-SLF a splendid time was pretty much guaranteed for all; everybody I saw played well although sadly I arrived too late to see Sarah Pink and indeed The Bears themselves and had to leave during X-SLF's storming set to get the train home. I met ex-SLF drummer Jim Reilly in the Gents toilet - seizing the moment I managed to blurt out 'hello-I'm-Leigh-out-of-Ruts D.C.-and-we've-got-a-mutual-friend-called-Roland Link' while washing my hands. This seemed to amuse my new friend Jim no end, who immediately insisted on taking me to meet his friend and bandmate Henry Cluney - much jollity ensued, especially considering that I'd never met either of them before. Nice chaps, and as I say the band sounded great.

Yesterday's appearance on Music Scene Investigation was a bit of strange one even by my rather obscure standards - much of our time on air involved myself and Ian winding each other up about cheese boards, bread boards and all points in between. Somehow we (Andrea, Ian and myself) also managed to review three songs, all of which were very good and which made of a very interesting show as you can see for yourself if you click here. And maybe I will launch a range of combined cheese and bread boards one day...

On Wednesday night Ruts D.C. played at The Corn Exchange in Devizes as part of The Devizes Festival. Support came from 2 Sick Monkeys whose excellently breathless 30-odd minute set went down well with the early arrivers - and rightly so as they were great. Our show took a while to get off the ground - we were playing well but the audience seemed a bit reticent, although by the time we got to 'West One (Shine On Me)' things were all going in the right direction. A great night, and there are further great nights in prospect this coming November when the band visits Australia and New Zealand for the first time. Oh yes!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Left to my own Devizes (sorry!)

Well it's been another one of those 'there's no time to do anything apart from what I'm doing at the moment' weeks; the last few days have seen Upper Cut gigs in Barnes and Colnbrook, a London Sewage Company show at The Dublin Castle in Camden Town, busy times in Balcony Shirts, The Damned, Johnny Moped and Rubella Ballet at The Roundhouse and more - I'll hopefully get the opportunity to write more about them at a later date, but before I leave for a Ruts D.C. gig at The Devizes Festival there's just time to say that I'll be making another one of my occasional appearances on Music Scene Investigation this Sunday at 9 pm reviewing three songs submitted by new artists. There's also an Al & co. gig this weekend, more days in the shop and probably some other things as well; in the meantime the Arte programme 'Tracks' has broadcast an article on Ruts D.C. (the interviews and live footage were recorded when we visited Paris in April) and our set from Strummercamp last month has appeared on YouTube - you can watch them by clicking here and here if you like. Maybe I'll get the chance to see them one day?

Now, I really must get on with changing my strings...

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Respect the chemistry

After the madness of the Bank Holiday weekend it's been a quieter week in mad-guitar-world, which as I occasionally observe here isn't necessarily been a bad thing from time to time. Balcony Shirts is very busy at the moment so there's been a fair bit of work there with more to come, and I've been doing dangerously-grown-up things like putting all the last few month's receipts and bank statements in order with a view to filling in this year's tax return in the not-too-distant future. This seems to have come around rather quickly again, but with Ruts D.C. gigs starting in August and continuing for much of the rest of the year I think that it's better to get it done now while I've got a bit of time rather than rush it before gig frenzy breaks out. Well that's the plan anyway - we'll see what actually happens... I've also finally caught up with the rest of the world and begun watching 'Breaking Bad' - it's very good isn't it?  

In the meantime it's been back to the pubs for your humble narrator this weekend, with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks playing The Halfway House in Rickmansworth on Friday evening and Ye Olde George in Colnbrook on Sunday afternoon. In between times The Upper Cut returned to The Kings Arms in Harefield on Saturday night for a gig that started slowly (The F.A. Cup Final had not long finished when we arrived) but which livened up considerably with the arrival of several young ladies out on a hen night. 'Caan yew plaay 'Go Yer Own Waay' by Fleetwood Mac?' slurred the really rather good looking blonde girl as her friends passed the bottle of champagne around - sadly we couldn't which was a bit of a shame as I'd love to have seen what would have happened if we could... our inability to perform what presumably was one of their favourites didn't seem to hamper their enjoyment of the evening, and fairly soon they were joined on the dance floor by more than a few likely lads (at least one of which ended up flat on his back on more than one occasion - pace yourselves boys!) along with people asking if they could play harmonica with us, people asking if their mate could play harmonica with us, people asking if their boyfriend could play harmonica with us - all in a day's or indeed night's work. Oh and my old friend Steve and his wife Jan turned up, I played our last few songs on his old Les Paul because, well, he asked me to and it would have been rude not to! The Big Al bashes went well too, with Al and the band on top form and everything going in the right direction. A good weekend all round then, and with The Upper Cut are out and about again this week in Barnes on Friday and Colnbrook on Sunday, and The London Sewage Company playing their second gig at The Dublin Castle in Camden Town on Thursday there's plenty to look forward to in the next few days.

Now - do I sort out some receipts or watch the next episode of 'Breaking Bad'? Tricky...