Sunday, November 11, 2012

The shapes of things to come?

I was saddened to hear of the death of Clive Dunn this week - if you're my age you remember 'Dad's Army' very well, with catchphrases like 'don't panic!' and 'you stupid boy!' being part of your growing up. Well, they were in our house!

The light pours out of me
Although I didn't have any gigs last weekend I did attend the open mic night at The Swan in Iver on Sunday evening, and very enjoyable it was too. I ended up playing in the house band (John the organiser asked me if I'd do it, and I'm just a boy who can't say no...) where I found myself joining Tony on bass and Bob on drums to accompany, well, anyone who wanted a backing band. A chap asked if he could sing 'Feelings' by Morris Albert - not an easy song as it's got more than a few tricky chords (which I looked up on the Internet with my phone - what did we used to do in the old days eh?) but we managed to stumble through it. Big Al Reed was as excellent as ever (I'm not just saying that because he gives me gigs, he really was good) as was Les Payne, and after years of not going to jam nights I now seem to have found myself to be a regular at this one. Mind you, I did have another reason for going along this time...
For a while now we've been stocking some musical instruments and accessories at Balcony Shirts; these days we've not got many guitars (as they weren't really selling - sad but true)  but the accessories side of things is doing well. We get them from the John Hornby Skewes (JHS) distribution company - to this end Dave the rep visits us regularly, and on his last visit we got talking about my then-upcoming gigs with Ruts DC in Birmingham and York. By then end of our conversation the subject had come around to the possibility of an endorsement deal for me with Vintage and Fret King Guitars. I've been using a Vintage Lemon Drop for some time (that's what got us onto the subject) and have tried and liked some Fret King instruments, so it all got quite interesting quite quickly... to cut a long story short (for once!) Sunday was an opportunity for me to play a Fret King Yardbird on Sunday evening which Dave had provided for me to try; it's based on the guitar that Jeff Beck used when he was playing in The Yardbirds and while I don't own it (yet!) it's certainly a very impressive instrument. I've always had a bit of an aversion to maple necks (I generally prefer rosewood fingerboards, but it's a subject that doesn't have an simple answer as this clip shows...) but this felt and sounded great - we'll see what happens next but you just might see me looking out from an advert in the pages of the guitar magazines sometime in the not-too-distant future!

In the meantime The Rikardo Brothers played at The Bedford Arms in Chenies last night, at Paul and Cathy's wedding reception. We'd not played since way back in February (they - Alan on vocals and Pete on guitar - have played without me when I've been gigging elsewhere) when it was the day after a night that saw me indulge in what could politely be described as projectile vomiting (urgh!) and although I'll be honest and say that my fragile condition that day means that I hardly remember playing we must have done something right as we were booked to play this show as a result of our performance that afternoon. Judging by the condition of some of the guests by the time we arrived at 7 o'clock festivities had clearly been in full swing for a number of hours (I'll leave you to think about that for a moment..!) and by the time our first set started there were more than a few people who looked unlikely to last the rest of the evening. We'd had a rehearsal on Wednesday evening and I for one was glad that we did as I'd all but forgotten some of the material, but despite the old dubious moment the show went well and was rapturously received by all concerned. Cathy started our second set by singing 'Little White Bull' accompanied by Pete (I hadn't got a clue how it goes, but the fact that Pete managed to busk along is a measure of just how good a player he is...) while Alan completely forgot the words to 'Mustang Sally' and ended up singing 'In The Midnight Hour' instead! Overall however we enjoyed ourselves to such an extent that we've all resolved to make an effort to get more gigs for the group and even are looking to do some recording. Excellent! 

Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a Yardbird guitar to play - that sound must be on there somewhere...

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