Sunday, March 28, 2010

The week after the weekend before

Well what I actually did on Monday evening was answer phone calls and e-mails from people saying how much they'd enjoyed the show(s) then watch an episode of 'C.S.I. New York' (which featured the band Train amid the usual blood and guts, and very good they sounded too) before having a relatively early night - only to wake up around 4 o'clock in the morning wondering about what songs The Price should play at next month's Ruislip gig. I really must learn to switch off sometimes.

Tuesday evening saw the first Flying Squad rehearsal for a while - we're playing at (you've guessed it!) The Load Of Hay this coming Saturday (3rd April if you fancy coming along) and with Mike away Huggy is depping on bass. We last gigged back in February so there was lots for Andy, Dave and myself to remember as well as a fair but for Huggy to learn; we'll have another get together before the gig which should do the trick.

Wednesday I heard that Jim Marshall had died - no, not the boss of the well-known guitar amplifier manufacturers, but the photographer who's amazing images of the likes of Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who seem to me to sum up the 1960's rock music 'scene' in many ways - have a look at his website and see how many you recognise...

Thursday it was up to 'We Will Rock You' to service the guitars before Stuart the guitar repairman and myself walked across town for the latest in our occasional visits to 'The Jersey Boys'. When we arrived chaos reigned as an understudy rehearsal was taking place; we re-strung a couple of Telecasters before checking how much has to be done when we return next Thursday - rather a lot as it happens!

It was a busy Balcony day on Friday, including a visit from Attendants (and indeed Cane Toads) bass player Ken who came in to order some t-shirts (unsurprisingly!) for their upcoming round of re-union gigs (everybody's doing it!) including the one with us supporting The Members. I'll heroically resist re-promoting it here... oh, go on then - all the details and links are at the end of the previous posting. Hurrah!

Yesterday evening it was time to point an electric guitar at an audience again (at last!) as Youngblood played at The Mermaid in St.Albans. With Roger away drumming for The Lee Ryder Band myself and the two Terry's were joined by the excellent Geoff Nicholls on drums, who people like me remember from the 'Rockschool' T.V. programme back in the 1980's. When we arrived we found the pub to be reasonably busy with no obvious place for a band to play - when we told them we were the band the bar staff simply moved the people from the area where the bands play. I thought this would annoy the people concerned, but they just moved as asked and carried on chatting as if nothing had happened. I suppose the locals know that they're sitting where the bands play and don't mind moving when the time comes? After a quick rehearsal (a.k.a. 'talk-through the set with Geoff') we went on to play 2 sets to an ever-more appreciative audience, with Geoff doing a fine job behind the kit and Terry as excellent as ever on vocals-and-walking-up-to-members-of-the-audience-and-getting-them-to-sing-along - how does he do that without getting insulted? Or worse?! A good gig although rather less euphoric than the previous weekend's shows - back to work in more ways than one...

Monday, March 22, 2010

25 x 4 - The Continuing Adventures Of The Price

Well - that was the weekend that was. Here are a few thoughts and reflections on the last 48 hours written quickly at the times when I could get near a computer. Hope it all makes sense...

Saturday midday

Meat Loaf is on the telly (hang on, I'll just turn it over... ah that's better, LFC TV - well, they won this week so I like 'em again!) and I'm starving. I shouldn't be as I had some beans on toast at the excellent Frank's Cafe in Uxbridge Station earlier but I am. Or maybe - just maybe - I'm nervous?
I re-strung my guitar last night and I made a right mess of it. I've restrung guitars hundreds, thousands, even countless times but it was like I didn't know what I was doing. Weird. While I was attempting to resurrect my ailing SG I got a text message from Malcolm who had just been singing along with some of our songs to practice for the gigs - he felt like he had 'no control' over his voice. Seems I'm not the only one feeling the strain
This day may go slowly; days like these often do. We planned a surprise birthday party for my dad's 65th birthday (incredibly that was 13 years ago!) and when the day finally came it seemed to last forever. About an hour before we were due to leave for what he thought was to be a night of boxing nostalgia I felt as though my stomach was connected directly to the mains electricity; when we finally got him through the door to where everyone was waiting for him I was instantly ok. Amazing. But there's no subterfuge today - we all know exactly what's involved.

Saturday 3 p.m.

Right! I'm about to leave to meet up with everyone at East's for a quick acoustic run-through before going to the venue. I've checked everything twice. Three times. Several times. I don't know how many times. I know I've got everything but that doesn't matter, I'm going to check it one more time. Argh!

Sunday 10 a.m.

I've not long been up. My head aches. Not from drinking (honest!) for once as I only had a few pints; it was almost impossible to get to the bar such was the number of people in the building. No I think this is probably due to dehydration - I don't remember the last time I was sweating so much after 3 songs let alone at the end of a gig. Loads of people, so many surprises (Colin who used to come to the gigs with his brother Gary, Wayne who last saw us 20-odd years ago, Squirrel from the CBB band, and many many more) and more handshakes after the show than I've ever done before. Looking out and seeing practically everyone singing along with practically every song - how do they do that? My SG covered in sweat - or is it condensation? Grown men with tears in their eyes - and that was just the band. We're doing it again tonight. Why can't we do it every night?

Sunday 6 p.m.

My headache's gone. Good. I've checked all my gear again. And again. Time to go back to the venue. Good.

Monday 11.45 a.m.

Another headache, although this one can be accounted for... just spoken to East - he woke up feeling guilty. I told him that I don't think he did anything too untoward although I'm probably not the best person for him to ask... another amazing, emotional, sweat-soaked night. Despite working perfectly the previous night the power supply to my pedal board started to only work intermittently so I called the long-suffering Shirley who bought some PP3 batteries with her - good job it was such a local gig eh? At least that happened before the show - Huggy's bass amp stopped working (possibly overheated?) during our 4th song 'Crazy Times' so we unplugged my microphone and plugged him straight into the P.A. system. Well, it wouldn't be a Price gig if some things didn't go wrong would it? But plenty of other things went right, in fact it's hard to think of how the weekend could have been any better. If you were there you'll know what I mean.

'It's crazy what you could have had' as someone once sang, and it looks as though they were right. I don't know what I'm going to do tonight. Why can't we do that every night?

Well we might not be able to do it every night but here's the next night that we can - Friday 16th April at Tropic At Ruislip where we're supporting The Members, with local legends The Attendants also on the bill. It should be a great night, and there's a downloadable flier on our website that gets you in cheap! Excellent!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Silver jubilee

With The Price's 25th anniversary gigs looming large on your humble narrator's horizon (see the burst of shameless self publicity to the left!) I've been attempting to put the best part of 40 (40!) songs into 2 playable sets, bearing in mind that we're intending to not repeat a song over the course of the weekend. It shouldn't be too hard should it? Well perhaps it isn't and I'm just making it difficult for myself (as usual!) but I found myself lying awake at 4 o'clock the other morning wondering if we should perhaps play a shorter set on Sunday so that people can get home early, or maybe we should just start earlier, and if we do play a longer set on Saturday should we include all the reggae songs then, or the slow songs, and where do we put cover versions... like I say, it should be easy. Maybe we should play them chronologically? Or alphabetically? Or draw them out of a hat? Help!
Hope you can make it along to one, other, or both shows - it'll be good to see you. Then again to paraphrase Keith Richards, it'll be good to see anyone! Oh and it's East's birthday on Saturday. Now there's a thought...

Meanwhile back in the real world (such that it is) it's nearing the end of the financial year; with this in mind I spent the best part of 2 days this week attempting to put 12 month's worth of receipts in order; with the front room floor covered (and I mean covered) in pieces of paper of various sizes I heard myself say 'this would be a lot easier if you did this once a month rather than once a year' out loud. Let's hope I was listening... and I earned a lot less in the last 12 months than I did in the previous tax year. A LOT less. Losing the Pro Music work really did take it's toll (remind me to tell you the story one day!) We played significantly less gigs too, and pretty much all the money I earned in the run up to Christmas went towards paying a £2000+ tax bill. Bah! I feel as though I'm running to stand still (as U2 once sang) although I'm sure there are lots of people in much worse situations so I'm not going to complain. Well, not much anyway.

Last night it was time for me to return to the Youngblood fold (I've missed the last couple of gigs as I've been gigging elsewhere) for a show at The Misty Moon in Bethnal Green, where myself, Terry the bass, Roger the drums and Terry the singer played two 45 minute sets to a shifting audience of East End characters and misfits, most if not all of whom seemed to enjoy our efforts almost as much as we did. Our new friend Gavin (I think that was his name, he was a little, shall we say, confused which made him rather difficult to understand) asked Terry if he could sing 'Wonderful Tonight' with us and delivered an unforgettable rendition which many if not all of those who witnessed are probably desperately trying to forget even as we speak. Still he seemed happy enough... oh and I met a chap called Terry (this is getting confusing!) who said he was a big Alice Cooper fan (good man!) and then asked if we could play 'School's Out' (we couldn't although maybe we should) and then asked for something by The Who - as I started 'Substitute' we began windmilling furiously, much to the consternation of pretty much everybody within 3 yards or so of him. Again he seemed happy enough, as was the pub guv'nor who wants us to play there once a month. Top man!
As we were leaving Terry came over to roar his approval and ask where we were going back to; when I said Uxbridge he looked a bit confused so I said something like 'it's near Heathrow' to which he replied 'I was over near there the other day, in Reading - it was alright, a bit like Dagenham on wheels'.

I hope he's there next time.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

'This is the coastal town, that they forgot to close down...'

...and a very good rehearsal it was too, at the excellent Ivy Arch Studios cunningly concealed in the back streets of Worthing. With all those involved in good spirits we ploughed through an inordinate amount of material - did we really write all those songs?!?- much of which tested even the most well stocked memory banks of the band members. Malcolm bought along sandwiches for everyone (good man!) and East filmed most of our efforts, some of which has already found it's way onto the modestly-named ETV alongside various archive clips which have come to light over the past few weeks as we've been looking for old recordings to re-learn some of the songs from. Even though I say so myself we weren't a bad little band in those far-off days - let's hope we are these days as well!

You'll be able to find out in less than 2 weeks time; our website has all the details, we're intending to play a different set on each night (hence us trying to remember all those songs - we never did make things easy for ourselves!) so you'll have to come to both shows to see everything! Excellent!

Last night saw The Chicago Blues Brothers return to The Pizza Express in Maidstone for the first time this year. It's always a good gig for us, and this one was no exception being one of the more boisterous (for want of a better word!) shows we've done for quite a while. Myself and the long-suffering Shirley arrive just as everything was more-or-less set up and ready to go - Ian's in for Richard on saxophone and Pete's in the hat'n'glasses instead of Mike but other than that everybody is where they should be. I was just setting up my gear when Kris Dollimore arrived - we'd arranged to meet as I had a DVD of his Uxbridge gig from just before Christmas as well as some Dr. Feelgood footage for him (click here and here for clips from the shows.) Sadly he couldn't stay for our show 'though I don't mind admitting that it would have been very strange for me to play guitar in front of him rather than the other way round!
After a quick soundcheck it was time for a pizza (of course!) before getting ready for an 8 o'clock kick-off. It's our second sold out Saturday in a row, and with 2 birthday parties in the house there's a lively atmosphere from the word go - by halfway though our second set there's more dancing than eating going on and we encore to much mayhem all round. After the show Pete asks Squirrel what was going on in 'My Girl' - his reply of 'well, I played something different once so I thought I'd do it again so that it sounded deliberate' could almost have applied to my antics during 'Rawhide' when I completely messed up the opening guitar line, then made the same mistake when it came around again. Mind you nobody said anything to me so perhaps I shouldn't be mentioning it here? And at least I didn't cut my hand this time...

Must go - I've got 30-odd Price songs to learn. Or is that re-learn?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

'Hello Harlow!'

It's sad to hear that Michael Foot has died - he always seemed to me to be a decent, honest man who wasn't afraid to have an opinion and stick to it, unlike so many of the careerist, self-obsessed clowns and thought criminals that attempt to pass themselves off as politicians these days. I remember the Cenotaph donkey jacket incident well - I thought at the time that he was the only person laying a wreath who had done anything to promote the cause of world peace through his support for nuclear disarmament; he also referred to Norman Tebbit as 'a semi-house-trained polecat' and said of Margaret Thatcher 'she has no imagination and that means no compassion'. It's a shame he couldn't have worn an actual donkey jacket to her funeral.

Back in mad-guitar-land there have been a couple of good gigs since the last posting...

After a busy Saturday in Balcony Shirts it was off around the M25 and up the M11 to Harlow for a Chicago Blues Brothers gig at The Playhouse Theatre. Myself and the long-suffering Shirley arrived in the pouring rain which proved to be a minor annoyance for your humble narrator who had to get out off the car to open the car park barrier. Bah! After a bit of Spinal Tap-style backstage meanderings we eventually bumped into Phil the soundman who very helpfully directed us to the stage. It's an A-team gig, the first with Tracy this year and indeed our first theatre date of 2010. It's also a couple of days after Pete's birthday (I'm sure he won't mind me mentioning that!) and much subterfuge had gone into planning a surprise celebration for before the show, all of which was sadly thwarted by the health and safety regulations which were rigorously applied by the staff at the venue. Oh well, maybe next year? (We did manage to lure him into one of the dressing rooms 20 minutes before the show to give him a card and present so all was not lost.)
The show's a sellout (yes!) and featured the BB's coming up out of a trapdoor at the start of the show, something which worked really well - except the chain on their briefcase got caught as the trapdoor closed... the band were a bit loose in places (as I say it's been a while since the last show) but it was an energetic performance which went down a storm with the audience. Marc said afterwards that he'd felt himself flagging towards the end of our second set as he'd not had enough water and was feeling dehydrated and he only revived after a bottle of water before the encore. (His exact words were 'if I played like a cock, I'm sorry'. He didn't!) Oh and I managed to cut my right hand during my solo in 'Green Onions' - as I said to someone afterwards, by 'windmilling and being silly'. I really should know better by now!

Then there was a rare Monday night gig at The Bulls Head in Barnes with The Ali Mac Band. Ali's put a new line-up together for the gig - next to him on vocals and regular guitarist Simon (from The Good Old Boys) there's Hannah on bass, Bob on drums, Freya and Elkie on backing vocals with Y.H.N. on the 6 string razor. We had a quick rehearsal on Friday afternoon during which we ran through most if not all of the songs Ali had come up with for the show, a mixture of songs from his regular set and others that he'd 'always fancied singing' along with a song or 2 from each the girls. Thus we wrestled with songs as diverse as 'Walk On By' and 'Long Train Running' and came up with rough arrangements for two 45 minute sets.
The Bull's Head is a classic London pub venue, with music 7 nights a week - mostly jazz but The Stormy Monday Blues Club is run by George who also runs Tropic At Ruislip. After a few anxious moments involving a grand piano in the middle of the stage (the pub guv'nor apparently goes mad if anyone touches it! George moved it anyway..) everybody gradually arrived in time for a quick soundcheck before the doors opened at 8 o'clock. We were due to start at 9 and with 5 minutes to go before showtime there was a grand total of 2 people in the audience 'though thankfully more arrived before we went on. We played 2 sets to a small but appreciative crowd, and very good fun it was too despite the odd mad moment here and there - maybe a bit more rehearsal might have been a good idea?!? Mind you that was nowhere near as mad as when we had to stop the van just after we'd left for home when we noticed that the sliding side door was open - we pulled up outside Gustav Holtz's old house. Now there's something you don't do every day. Well, I don't anyway.

Must go - am off to Worthing to rehearse with The Price...