Monday, October 08, 2012

So THAT'S how they got their name!

Big Jim Sullivan died on Tuesday. In a career that spanned over fifty years he played on countless recordings for any number of artists as diverse as David Bowie and Englebert Humperdinck (his Wikipedia page has a mind-boggling list of records that feature him - take a look here and be amazed!) He pioneered the use of effects like wah-wah and talk box, was involved in the development of Marshall Amplifiers, gave guitar lessons to Ritchie Blackmore, taught Jimmy Page to read music (Page became known as 'Little Jim' when playing sessions in the 1960s to differentiate him from Big Jim - they appeared on many records together) and may well have owned the first Gibson Les Paul in Britain. And if all that wasn't enough, we was from down the road from us in Uxbridge. You may not have known his name, you almost certainly won't have known his face, but you've definitely heard him play - a true guitar great if ever there was one, he leaves behind an extraordinary contribution to British guitar playing and popular music in general.  Cheers Big Jim.

Two gigs for your humble narrator this weekend, the first of which saw The Upper Cut make their latest visit to The Dolphin in Uxbridge on Friday. With heavy rain all evening I for one was fearful of a low turnout but the pub was filling up by the time we went on at 9.30, and the scene was set for a good night. It wasn't all plain sailing however - we went to start our first song Terry the bass signalled that he was in trouble, with no sound was coming from his instrument; a process of elimination revealed that his guitar lead had failed so I found him one and we were off into an even better gig than last week's Harefield bash. No new songs this time (we always try to play something different at regular venues but time constraints meant that we didn't get time to rehearse for this one) but we pulled out some older  songs that we hadn't played for quite a while, and by the end there was a full dancefloor and an offer from Noel and Bridie to play at their 25th anniversary party later this year. Excellent! Oh and my Blues Deluxe sounded great - apparently the fault was a dry solder joint on a PCB that was causing the channels to switch indiscriminately of their own accord; since I had the volume of the channel that I wasn't using set to zero this had the effect of turning the sound on and off. Very strange!

But if that was a good night - and it definitely was a good night - then Saturday took things to even greater heights, as Ruts D.C. ventured up to Birmingham for a gig at The Hare And Hounds. I must admit I spent much of the journey North drifting in and out of consciousness (it'd had been a late night and I'd been working in the shop all morning... I must be getting old!) although I did wake up in time to hear Seamus exclaim 'Did you see that road name? It's an anagram!' as we passed Sarehole Road...
Mick the promoter is a friend of Dave and Seamus having put The Duplicates on several times, and he's an absolutely splendid chap who distinguished himself by taking orders for curry when we arrived and then driving off to get them himself. Top man! 
With Nick behind the mixing desk our soundcheck went well, and with people already arriving spirits are high. Support band The Cracked Actors got things off to a good start - nothing to do with David Bowie (sadly!) but very good all the same. I spend a bit of time behind the merchandise desk during their set - from what people are saying they like me have been looking forward to this show for a long time...
By the time we go on at half past ten the place is so full that we can hardly get to the stage. It doesn't take too many songs before it's clear that this is going to be a night to remember for all concerned, and when we finish our show there are people literally queueing up to to shake hands and say thanks. One guy tells me that my guitar sounded great and then says that he had been 'waiting 30 years to hear those songs' - I just say thanks and then say something like 'I've been waiting that long to hear them too'. And I have. Well - haven't we all?
Dave called early Sunday afternoon. He'd been at the venue until 3 am talking to people, he couldn't believe the reaction that we'd got and labelled the show 'a triumph'. It's hard to disagree.

What better way to finish a fine weekend's gigging than to go to The Swan in Iver on Sunday evening for this month's open mic night. Myself and Big Al Reed teamed up with Bob Pearce on drums and Tony Eden on bass to deliver a five song set to the assembled multitude, and very good fun it was too. I also enjoyed seeing Les Payne playing some acoustic songs - he told a great story about meeting John Lennon in Germany in 1961; apparently Lennon was less than friendly, claiming that he would make it in the music business before Les would. 'And he did' said Les with a smile, adding 'and that's why they spelt their group name with an 'a' instead of an 'e' - ''Beat Les''...'

Well I don't know about you, but I really hope that's true!!

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