Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Rebels with a cause

You know how every so often you get one of those 'did that really happen?' moments? I had one of them on Sunday evening. And it was good!

But more about that in a minute. With your humble narrator's famous finger nearly back up to full strength (whatever 'full strength' is for a finger) things have thankfully been getting much easier, both on guitar and in everyday life generally. It's amazing what problems a little cut can cause isn't it? Anyway hopefully that's more-or-less the last we'll hear of it (thank gawd!) so it's on to bigger and better things - and not a moment too soon, as Ruts D.C. return to the stage next Saturday (April 30th if you're counting) at The 'Scotland Calling' Festival in Glasgow. Rehearsals will occur next week, and maybe some other things as well. It'll be great to get back into things - the 'Psychic Attack' single comes out next month and there's still work to do on our 'Music Must Destroy' album so I'm very relieved that my finger seems to be better at last.
Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks were out and about the weekend just gone, on Friday at The Black Horse in Eastcote and at The Halfway House in Barnes on Saturday. We've played both venues several times before, and since there's not much room at either Al decided not to play electric guitar, thereby saving stage space (or to be pedantic floor space as neither pubs have a stage) normally taken up by his amplifier. He still played acoustic guitar and saxophone (although not at the same time!) but it meant that we had to rethink things a bit - some songs featured acoustic rather than electric strumming (and dare I say it sounded all the better for it) while others were dropped altogether. A recently-purchased alto sax (he usually plays tenor) featured on the new-to-the-band 'Baker Street' and both shows saw much dancing and cavorting from various audience members so I guess we must have been doing something right. Two good shows - but neither prepared us for the goings-on at The Battle Of Britain Club in Uxbridge on Sunday… 
Chas & Dave at
The Battle Of Britain Club
in Uxbridge. Really!
Sid Phillips played saxophone for a great many artists and bands over the years, not least Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers back in the day. He sadly died last year, and Sunday's gathering was something of a celebration of his life and work. Big Al had been asked to provide the PA as well as playing a few songs, and the news that ex-Rebel Rousers Chas and Dave were also to be appearing went down well with all concerned. The first set of the day started at around 4 pm and featured Cliff Bennett with a makeshift Rebel Rousers line-up with Geoff Nicholls on drums and guest appearances from Searchers bass man Frank Allen and Good Old Boys singer Alan Barratt. It was unrehearsed and therefore a bit shaky in places but that hardly seemed to matter given the circumstances. We were next up - our six songs flew past in no time at all, which is generally the sign of a good performance; given the fact that we were offered two gigs on the back of it I suppose you can say that it was! I managed to miss a short set from Roy Young as I was in the nearby chip shop (a big mistake - but I was hungry!) but I'm reliably informed that he was excellent. By now Chas and Dave were in the bar and the scene was set for a memorable performance. Aided and abetted by five saxophone players (referred to as 'The Sid Ensemble' by Chas during the show) they were simply brilliant - I first saw them supporting Led Zeppelin at Knebworth in 1979 and they remain a band that it's pretty much impossible to dislike. Well I think that they are - I can't pretend to have followed their career intently but they are great musicians and, as is evidenced by their presence at an event such as this, decent blokes. As they finished with 'Ain't No Pleasing You' (lump in the throat time for your humble narrator as it was one of my mum's favourite songs) drinks were raised and the waltz was waltzed - it didn't take much imagination to think that a similar scene might have occurred 70 or so years earlier in The Battle Of Britain Club, albeit under rather different circumstances. As I say, it was lump in the throat time for me, and I wasn't alone.

Did that really happen?

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