Tuesday, August 20, 2013

'...the sun's not yellow, it's chicken...'

After the euphoria of last weekend it's back down to Earth with a bump for your humble narrator this week with the news of three deaths:-

Roy Chuter was a man that I can't claim to have known well, but I have very good memories of the time that I did spend with him. Back in the late Eighties and early Nineties The Price were often featured in 'Wake Up!' fanzine, and Roy was a good friend of Dave T. the editor who I saw at gigs here and there and at Dave's legendary 'Womblestock' parties. Lately he'd been running The Duke Of Wellington pub in Shoreham where I played with both The Price and T.V. Smith in recent years. I heard of his passing from an email from Dave, and I had chance to talk to Attila The Stockbroker about him at The Rebellion Festival who told me the sad story of his demise. The depth of feeling for the man can be seen by even a cursory glance at the Brighton And Hove Albion F.C. North Stand forum - Roy is someone who will be missed by many many people.

The man I always knew simply as 'old Michael' died earlier this month - a familiar figure in and around the pubs of Uxbridge, his tales of the London jazz scene of the 1950s and '60s never failed to amuse and entertain. He came to see The Upper Cut not-so-long ago - when I next saw him he came up to me with the words 'too loud man!' Let's face it, he was probably correct... in recent years East saw more of him than I did, but he'd always have plenty to say whenever I did see him, and would often leave us both with the words 'I'll see you two reprobates later'. Again I won't pretend that he was a close friend but he was someone that I spent some good times with, and a night at The Load Of Hay will never be quite the same again.     

And talking of The Load Of Hay, it was in said establishment last Thursday evening that I heard that Chicken Legs Weaver had died last month. I saw Andy play there on several occasions (I also saw him at The 100 Club supporting Wilko Johnson, and he played with The Flying Squad at Tropic At Ruislip back in February 2010) and I'll remember him as a great character, a fine musician and a fiercely committed bluesman who played his music with a fire and a passion that many aspire to but only very few achieve. I'll also remember him (and indeed Roy and Michael) as being a very nice guy, which I think you'll agree is a pretty good way to remember anyone.

Having played a show with Utter Madness earlier this month it was with great interest that I made my way over to the afore-mentioned Tropic At Ruislip on Friday evening to see It Must Be Madness. They seem to be a popular bunch as over 200 people turned up for the show, and very good they were too with many an obscure album track among the expected hits. I missed much of their second set as I was on the phone to Dave Ruffy attempting to plan this weekend's Ruts D.C. appearance at The 3 Chords Festival in Penzance (we never close!) but they certainly had the crowd dancing by the end of the evening. And it was great to see the club so full of people - we could do with more venues like this couldn't we?

Saturday night it was over to The Admiral Nelson in Twickenham to see Midnight. As I didn't have a gig myself I probably would have gone along anyway to give Big Al Reed (he plays saxophone in the band) a bit of support, but with the man himself Terry Peaker busy elsewhere the prospect of seeing my old mate Johnny Squirrel depping on bass was just too good to miss. He made a very good job of it too, often in the face of adversity given the shall-we-say 'eccentric' nature of some of the performances. He made a very good job of depping in The Blistering Buicks the next afternoon at Ye Olde George in Colnbrook too, where our three sets were lapped up by the faithful and the landlady offered us two more gigs in the next couple of months. Excellent!

Monday morning in Balcony Shirts began with the first person through the front door asking if he could use the toilet, then looking astonished when he was told that he couldn't. I heard myself say 'this is going to be a weird day' to new-ish recruit Simona, and much as I might be wrong about a lot of things I was proved right about this one, with the next person asking if they could have an envelope (that's 'have' not 'buy', and why they thought a t-shirt printing shop would be the place to go for such a thing is anybody's guess) followed by a chap asking if we sold tennis racquets. Some people even asked if we printed t-shirts... all in a day's work I guess, although things brightened up no end when a young lady told us that she ran The Blue Plague Printing School - 'it's an anti-Tory printing workshop, we'll be doing it again soon, you should come along' said she cheerily. You know, I just might! 
From there it was over to Soundlab Studios in Loughton for a Back To Zero rehearsal where an enjoyable and very productive session saw new songs tried alongside some cover versions to be played at a private party this coming weekend. A long day, but a good one - as I sit here thinking about the three gentleman featured earlier in this posting that feels like a great thing to be able to say. Well, I think that it is - don't you?

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