Sunday, October 22, 2006

Depping blues

I've referred to 'depping' quite a bit in these missives, most often in connection to horn players (e.g. in the previous entry); as I'm sure you've realised it's all to do with getting someone else to do a gig for you that you yourself can't do for whatever reason. Every so often I find myself in this somewhat murky world 'though last night was the first one for a while.
If you go back a few posts to 'Own Goal' you'll find a reference to Mario- he's 'Jake' in The Briefcase Blues Brothers. To cut a long-ish story short myself and Gary were invited to play with The B.B.B's last night at a birthday party in Ramsden Bellhouse, a village near Billericay in Essex. Mario sent me over a c.d. of one of their shows which thanks to our ever wonderful postal service only arrived on Friday leaving me only Saturday morning to give it a listen and learn anything that needed learning. As you might expect they play a similar set to ourselves- though some of the songs are in different keys which is always a potential minefield- to which they add a few numbers, ranging from things like 'Shout', and 'The Hippy Hippy Shake' through to less obvious songs, my personal favourite being that well-known Blues Brothers classic 'I wanna be like you' from 'The Jungle Book'. (Apparently Mario always sings it, what ever band he's in. Good man!). Sadly that wasn't on the c.d. so I had to find that one for myself... and here's where depping gets, for want of a better word, dangerous. If you know a particular version of a song well it's often hard to 'forget' that way of playing it if their version's a bit different.

As I discovered...

After the usual wrong turnings we arrived in Ramsden Bellhouse. It's a small village with some very big houses- I would guess the average house size in the road we were in to be about the size of the entire terrace that my Dad's house is in. We're in the usual BIG TENT in the garden. (Or should that be in the grounds?). I meet the rest of the band- Matt's playing Elwood, Kylan's on bass and Adam's on drums- and get set up. Gary's got an extra keyboard with him as he's also playing the horn parts making for a bit more gear than usual in his corner. We run through a couple of bits- intro's, endings, cues etc- and then it's time to go to the pub. No point mucking about rehearsing when we could be drinking- I like these guys! After a couple of drinks, some food and what might best be described as 'verbal rehearsing' ('watch me for the ending' etc) it's back to the gig. We have to park about half a mile from the house as there's so many cars in the area. Oh well, at least that means we've got an audience. There's a chocolate fountain, a champagne fountain and some gaming tables in the tent as well as a bar. Are they going to notice us?!?
10.15-ish and we're starting with 'Everybody Needs Somebody to Love', quicker than we play it and with different bits everywhere. This wasn't on the c.d. either. Bugger! It puts me off a bit- come on Leigh, pull yourself together. The second song's 'Sweet Home Chicago'- I've played it loads of times, so why did I make such a mess of the intro? Argh! Then it's 'Midnight Hour- we play it in the key of C, they play it in E. Concentrate man!
As I say, it's been a while since I've done some depping and I'd all but forgotten how nerveracking it can be. Things settle down, oddly enough, on the numbers we don't play- a medley of 'Wipeout' (great drumming!) and 'Money' hots things up and 'I wanna be like you' is terrific fun. But we're not getting the audience- despite Matt and Mario's best efforts they're on the gaming tables, at the bar, everywhere but the dancefloor. It takes the inevitable 'Mustang Sally' with one of the audience on vocals to get them really interested and when the casino closes the dancefloor fills up accordingly and by then even the power going off can't stop it being a good show. Everyone in the band seems happy at the end of the show- if they did hear my mistakes then they're all very good actors!- and Mario asks me what I'm doing Christmas Eve as he might have a gig for me. Maybe depping's not so bad after all.

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