Monday, June 13, 2016

Reading, working, peddling, jamming...

Well the busy times at Balcony Shirts continue, although I'm 'only' working four days there this week. Part of me is a bit relived - after all at times it's been far too much like having a 'real' job - while the other part of me has enjoyed it immensely. And I'd be lying if I didn't say that it's been great to earn a bit of money too. In a heroic attempt to not squander it all on beer and jollity I've bought myself a reassuringly expensive Carl Martin Quattro multi-effect pedal, the idea being that it should function as both a spare unit for Ruts D.C. gigs as well as being something that should fit into my luggage easier than my existing pedal board does and so should be useful for shows that we fly to. It could also be something that I might be able to use at Big Al and The Blistering Buicks shows, and with this in mind I took it along to our gig at The Battle Of Britain Club in Uxbridge last Friday. With Pete away elsewhere I was the sole guitarist for the weekend's gigs, which in some ways was unfortunate as the onset of hay fever had left me with a left ear full of wax to go along with the inevitable bunged up nose. Perhaps using an unfamiliar piece of kit wasn't the cleverest idea but I did it anyway - under the circumstances I thought that it went well although I don't mind admitting that I stood on the wrong pedal more than a few times. Well that's my excuse for the dreadful mess I made of the 'Whiskey In The Jar' riff anyway… by the time the next night's show at The Misty Moon in Northwood came around my ear had cleared a bit although it was still far from being 100%, which combined with England throwing away their one goal lead against Russia in The European Championships meant that I for one started our show with no little trepidation. Happily this proved to be unfounded - after a few songs people were dancing and our national football team's latest impression of The Keystone Cops seemed to have been all but forgotten by the end of our show.

The next night Big Al and myself ventured across to The Plough in Tilehurst near Reading where Ann and Steve from the covers band Hot Legs run a jam night. They've been badgering Al to attend for a while now so this seemed as good a time as any - when we arrived we were both struck with how friendly everyone was. This is not always the case at these sort of gatherings - they can be very cliquey - but here it bode well for a good evening. I was asked to play on an original 12 bar blues song with a couple of young ladies, after which Al and myself joined the house band for 'Willie And The Hand Jive', 'Sweet Home Chicago' and 'Let's Stick Together', all of which went splendidly well. From there a very varied evening saw performances of material as diverse as 'Ace Of Spades' and 'I Know What I Like' before I was cajoled into joining a couple of young lads for their songs - I'd had a few drinks by then but with Al's words 'what could possibly go wrong?' ringing in my ears I stumbled towards the stage. The two lads were very good - maybe a few too many notes for my liking but they certainly knew what they were doing. I chugged along cheerily on a funky version of 'Rambling On My Mind' hoping not to be given a solo. The guitar man smiled as he pointed at me and nodded - I played a lot less notes than him but it seemed to go down well. (Let's face it, I wouldn't be writing about it here if it hadn't!) Then he asked if I knew 'Little Wing' - yes I do although I've never played it in front of anyone. Then again I'd not met these boys until about 10 minutes ago so… after them the evening ended with a peculiar (and let's face it, very drunk) fellow who for want of a better word, dismantled 'Mustang Sally' and 'Money For Nothing'. I wouldn't have recognised them if he hadn't slurred the titles several times indiscriminately during his frankly astonishing performance. Yes I was on guitar, although I'm not quite sure what I doing there. Judging by the faces of the other musicians they weren't sure what they were there either. A suitably bizarre ending to a very enjoyable evening.

And I completely forgot to mention that at some point in the last few weeks I visited Tropic At Ruislip where I witnessed Stranglers tribute band The Dead Ringers (a last minute substitute for Straighten Out who I believe had to pull out when one of their members injured a hand) roaring through a set of Guildford's finest's songs and in my opinion doing a very good job. But don't take my word for it - the always-worth-reading Elvis In The Clouds blog has written this review of the show, summing the night up well and somehow mentioning me in the process. Strange - but true!

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