And now for something completely different - The Afton Satellites at The Half Moon in Putney on Wednesday evening. The venue has changed a bit since I was last there; always a great place to see a band, it's still pretty good but it's now brighter, more... touristy if you know what I mean. Then again it nearly closed a few years ago so it's great to see that it's still in business and putting live music on regularly. The Afton Satellites an interesting bunch - formed by ex-Hamsters bassman Andy Billups they feature Gary Fletcher from The Blues Band on guitar and bass, Tom Leary on fiddle, Ray Brown on vocals and Andy's nephew Matt Billups on percussion. They also have Chris Teeder on keyboards who played on the ill-fated Cool Britannia shows earlier this year and who deps with The Chicago Blues Brothers Band on a regular basis (he's playing with The Flying Squad in this clip - now you know what I was doing at the gig!) They reminded me of The Band both musically and because of the amount of instrument swapping going on - plenty of 'this one's from my solo album' moments made for a varied set, and with cover versions as varied (some might say bizarre) as 'What A Wonderful World' and 'Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick' it was definitely a good first gig for the band. And it was great to see Chris play - I've done many shows with him over the years but hearing him from the audience perspective reminds me that I'm very lucky to play in bands with musicians of his calibre.
Talking of playing in bands The Upper Cut returned to The Crown and Treaty in Uxbridge on Friday evening for what for me at least was a rather strange show. The previous few days had seen me attempting to clear my right ear of a bout of earwax that had developed around the time of the Ruts D.C. show in York last weekend. Sadly my ear was still blocked throughout the show which made it difficult for me to hear exactly what was going on (obviously!) and which resulted in some rather peculiar guitar work and indeed backing vocals from your humble narrator. There was also the slightly odd situation created when Hughie the D.J. asked me for a setlist so that he wouldn't play anything that we were likely to perform - and he then played several of our songs, and even played 'Babylon's Burning' in the interval. Very strange. As I said to a couple of people after the show 'I just couldn't get hold of that one'. And I couldn't. Still it all went down well with the assembled multitude and we're back there next month (on Friday the 23rd since you've asked) so we must have done something right.
And last night saw the fifth annual Paul Fox tribute night (or 'The Paul Fox Social Club' as it's less formally known) which this year was held at The Ruislip Social Club (also the home of Tropic At Ruislip) in, you've guessed it, Ruislip. A highly enjoyable evening featured The Dirty Strangers, The DubCats, Scabies And James and The Moonstompers and raised a substantial sum for The Michael Sobell Hospice at Mount Vernon Hospital. I must admit that I'd feared that I might get a bit of stick from the Fox fans but the only real incident occurred when I was introduced to a ridiculous hippie who said something like 'so you think you can fill Foxy's shoes then do you?' No, actually I don't, and that's not what I'm trying to do, but I don't think that there's much point in trying to explain that here... still it was good to see The Dirty Strangers again (I don't remember when I last saw them, but it wasn't this century!) but somewhat inevitably the highlight for me was a blistering performance from Scabies and James - Texas Terri great on vocals, Austin rock solid on bass, Rat Scabies as astonishing as ever on drums and Brian James re-affirming his place as one of the definitive punk guitarists - which didn't go down too well with some of the attendees, many of whom seemed shocked and even horrified by the band. It seems that even 30-odd years later punk rock can still offend the hippies. Good!
No gigs for your humble narrator this week. Bad!