Monday, December 31, 2018

Roots, Radicals, Rockers and Reggae

So. 2018 then. Not a bad year?

No, not a bad year. Well, I didn't think that it was.

Then again considering that it began for me with my Dad catching The Flu then developing pneumonia I suppose I was rather hoping for it to improve... within a couple of weeks of that (and with him thankfully at home recovering) Ruts D.C. were gigging in Japan and Hong Kong then touring Australia and New Zealand before embarking on a British tour supporting Stiff Little Fingers. If that was all we'd done I'd be saying that it had been a good year, but we went on to play many more memorable shows - The Rebellion Festival in Blackpool is always a highlight, but the Rebellion Amsterdam weekend was wonderful; we also made our first visit to Denmark, played a tattoo festival in France, gigged on a boat up and down the River Spree in Berlin and more including a visit to Abbey Road Studios - little if any of which got reported here. It's all been on my Facebook page - which is a somewhat woolly excuse for this being only the twelfth blog posting of the year. There was a time when used to do that in a month. But I guess times change... maybe there'll be more here next year?    

Talking of 2019, I'm hoping to play some more shows with Punky Reggae Party. Having first gigged with them back in the summer (an incident that incredibly is reported somewhere in these hallowed pages!) I've since played a couple more gigs with them including a fine show at The Cavern in Raynes Park just before Christmas - hopefully they will be many more to come, the first of which is at The Bread And Roses in Clapham on Saturday 19th January. I'm also putting another band together with some old friends, but more news on that as and when I have it. And Ruts D.C. are heading out on the '40 Years Of The Crack' tour in February, with (hopefully) more to come after that.

So hopefully 2019 will be a good year for me and my guitar - and I hope it is for you too. 


Wednesday, October 31, 2018

'Hey hey hey - we're all riding on the ghost train...'

Ruts D.C. in Aarhus, Denmark, Friday 14th September 2018
Well - so much for me getting back into blogging eh? Maybe I should just try for a monthly bulletin? 

In my defence your honour I have been updating my Facebook page regularly, which I suppose is for want of a better word 'easier' than writing extended pieces here. I think it's the immediacy of being able to put something up more-or-less as it happens that's so appealing, whereas it takes a fair bit more work to get things onto here. 

So - since last we spoke... 

Ruts D.C. played three shows in Germany and visited Denmark for the first time - a splendid if rather tiring 4 days. The good news is that in time honoured tradition I took the usual scribbly notes, the bad news is that I can't find them. Bugger! Oh well... there are enough other scribbly notes that need to be written up here before those!
As we're playing the '40 Years Of The Crack' tour in February we're obliged to go underground from now until then, although I'm pleased to say that we're appearing at The Inkmas Tattoo Festival in France on November 18th. Hopefully a few other shows will come in too... that said we've got plenty to do between now and the tour - there are 5 songs on 'The Crack' that we've never played live, and in addition to learning them we've got to put a show together. There are talks of back projections and stage sets - maybe we'll use them, maybe we won't. It's the music that's important - well, I think that it is anyway. And that magnificent music will be available again on vinyl very soon - Dave, Segs and myself spent a day in the hallowed confines of Abbey Road Studios last month with noted mastering engineer Geoff Pesche cutting a new vinyl master of the album. Well I didn't do much, other than stumble around thinking about The Beatles - who incidentally were working on the song 'Piggies' from the soon-to-be reissued 'White Album' 50 years to the day earlier on September 19th 1968. The things I know eh?

So then - Hallowe'en. I'm obviously far too miserable to have anything to do with it under normal circumstances, but these are far from normal circumstances... today sees the release of the new single by Alvin Gibbs & The Disobedient Servants - the appropriately-titled 'Ghost Train'. Alvin is of course the bass player in The U.K. Subs who's also previously played with Iggy Pop and Cheap 'n' Nasty among many others - here he's joined by Subs sticksman Jamie Oliver and Godfathers guitar hero Steve Crittall, alongside guest guitarists Brian James (yes that's right, the chap that wrote 'New Rose') on the B-side 'Clumsy Fingers' and, incredibly, your humble narrator on the A-side. How on Earth did that happen? Anyway I might be a bit biased here but I think that it's a great record - you can hear and indeed buy a copy here. See what you think - there are only 300 vinyl copies so I wouldn't hang about if I were you...

And talking of tattoo festivals (now there's something that I never thought that I'd ever type!) Neck played The London Tattoo Convention last month, supporting the excellent King Kurt. 'Twas a roaringly good event with some frankly astonishing sights - let's see what we see next month... and I may well have a bit more time to play with them and indeed a few other people now, as my time with Big Al and The Blistering Buicks has come to an end. I'll miss playing with the lads, but when you've gotta go, you've gotta go. And you never know, it might leave me with a bit more time for blogging. 

Well, as I say, you never know.

Sunday, September 09, 2018

'Didn't you used to write a blog Leigh?'

Yes. Yes I did.

And I will again, honest.

'Well, why don't you write it at the moment?' 

It's... er... it's just that... I've... well, I've been really busy. God knows how and at what, but there doesn't seem to have been time to do anything other than work in Balcony Shirts and play the guitar with Big Al Reed and the Blistering Buicks. I must have done something else?

Yes, of course I have - I've been to The 100 Club a few times. I saw Glen Matlock with the mighty Earl Slick on guitar, and The Chords UK with Chris Pope on fine form among others.. and last month I played at The Gwyl Pontardawe Festival with Neck, a splendid if rather rainy event in Wales. Of course I've done things. Of course I have. Haven't I? 

Hmm... I guess we all have times when we feel as though things are passing us by? And this, my friends, is how I've felt lately. Strange. However...

This week Ruts D.C. return to the stage. Thank Christ for that. We've got three gigs in Germany (Hannover, Hamburg and Berlin) and we're playing in Denmark at the Atlas Paere Punk 40 Festival in Aarhus, all courtesy of our good friends at Muttis Booking. And I for one can't wait - I've never been to Denmark before, and the Berlin show is on a boat going up and down the River Spree. That's more like it!
Usual rules apply - I'll update my Facebook page as often as I can, and I'll take a load of scribbly notes that might or might not get transcribed here one day. And by the very act of typing this here I appear to be back blogging again. 

As I say, that's more like it.

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

To Blackpool! Again! And, er, Faversham!

The 2018 Rebellion Festival beckons, and once again I'm pleased to report that Ruts DC will be journeying up to Blackpool - we're on The Club Casbah stage at 11.30 pm on Saturday (before The Wildhearts - oh yes!) while on Sunday we close The Almost Acoustic Stage at 10.45 pm (at the same time as Public Image Limited are on the main stage - bugger!)

Usually I'd be up at the festival for the duration working on the Cadiz Music merchandise stall, but this year we're playing at The New Day Festival in Faversham on Friday at 6.30 pm - a bit annoying in some ways as I love going to Rebellion, but it's always good to be gigging. And we're on after John Otway and before The Martin Barre Band (Martin Barre? Isn't he the bloke out of Jethro Tull? Crikey!) which should be, erm, interesting... as always I'll be attempting to update my Facebook page as often as possible, and will no doubt return with tales of drunkenness and cruelty... excellent!

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

'Felicitations on the anniversary of the commencement of your journeys around the sun'

...and what a splendid night the second anniversary party for Ruislip's Sounds Of The Suburbs record shop turned out to be, with excellent sets from The Witchdoktors and Religion Equals Decay (aka RED) alongside a show from Punky Reggae Party which saw your humble narrator reunited with an old friend. Back in the 1980s The Price played several gigs with a fine band from the Acton area called 1926 - I'd not seen any of them for the best part of 30 years so it was great to discover that their singer / guitarist John now plays in Punky Reggae Party. I was invited by bassist Chris to join the band 'for a few songs' when I met him back in April at Ruts D.C.'s Balcombe gig - somehow over the last couple of weeks this progressed to 'why don't you do the whole show?' Well why not indeed? So I did - which means that as well as sharing the stage with my old mate John I also got to play 'Up Against The Wall' with Tom Robinson Band keyboard maestro Ian Parker (he was in the band, he didn't just suddenly appear there!) among other highlights. Which reminds me - I also joined The Witchdoktors for their encore of the Damned classic 'Neat Neat Neat' which, as I'd already played it with PRP, meant that I got to play the same song with two different bands on the same night. Weird!

Talking of splendid nights Sunday just gone saw Sylvain Sylvain play The Dublin Castle in Camden Town. Like all sensible people I'm a big New York Dolls fan, and I'm pleased to report that the man himself was in fine form, promoting his new book 'There's No Bones In Ice Cream' with some great stories from the rock 'n' roll frontline and an acoustic set of Dolls classics and more. But some of the most memorable moments for your humble narrator were away from the stage - I went over to say hello to Gaye Advert and found myself being introduced to Bobby Gillespie and Thurston Moore. I'd just finished talking to them when I got a cheery wave from Damian O'Neill of The Undertones. The things I type here sometimes eh? And did Thurston Moore really say that he liked The Price? Yes, incredibly, he did. As I say, weird - and getting weirder!

Anyway it's my birthday today. I know that some people don't like having birthdays but I really like them, especially given the rather basic alternative... I often find that I get a bit introspective at this time of year, and reading through this posting I do seem to be looking back more than I'm looking forward... ah well - it's only once a year. At at the same time every year. Hopefully. 
I called Price merch man East earlier (it'd be difficult to him call later and be able to comment on it here if you think about it!) about meeting up tonight - his opening line was so brilliant that I've shamelessly stolen it for the title of this posting. And I've got 'Torn And Frayed' by The Rolling Stones playing in the background at the moment - 'just as long as the guitar plays'... see what I mean? Introspective. 

Hmm... time for a drink, or two, I think - don't you?

Friday, July 13, 2018

Poster Boy

Well the reaction to next year's Ruts D.C. '40 Years Of The Crack' tour has been little short of amazing. Shows have been added in Dublin and Belfast (oh yes!) and I'm told that tickets are already selling well - exciting times!
Your humble narrator next to
the frankly enormous poster.
Well it is, isn't it?

One of the venues on said tour is The Ritz in Manchester, scene of the first 'reformed - Ruts D.C.' show way back in November 2011. You can read how I felt about it at the time here if you like - we've come a long way since then but it's always a pleasure to return to The Ritz and indeed to Manchester, which we did a couple of Saturdays ago when we appeared at the North West Calling festival. Since we were on at the very civilised time of 5.30 pm and backline was provided we decided to travel up and back by train - somewhat inevitably the journey up involved a bottle of wine (or two!) meaning that when we arrived at The Ritz spirits were (literally!) high. We were pleased to discover that we were using a previously-unknown-to-us club under the stage as a dressing room area, which was a good deal cooler than the hotter-than-hell auditorium where Dirt Box Disco were roaring through their set to the approval of all concerned. With Penetration on before us there was a chance for me to say hello to a few people before returning backstage to get ready for our show. And what a show it was - despite the soaring temperature we played a powerful 45 minute set which went down splendidly well and which set us up for our return next year. After watching most of the Peter And The Test Tube Babies show it was time for our taxi back to the station just over 4 hours after we'd arrived - although there was time for your humble narrator to grab a quick pic next to the frankly enormous promotional poster for the afore-mentioned February gig. And talking of frankly enormous promotional items - click here to see a promo film for the tour on YouTube. As I say, exciting times.

Last Friday (July 6th if you're counting) I saw The Stranglers in the somewhat unlikely setting of Hampton Pool. Well, I say unlikely - it seems that they put gigs on there regularly throughout the summer, so hopefully we'll find ourselves there one day. Support came from Jawbone whose versions of songs by the likes of Little Feat and Stephen Stills were at home in the perhaps rather middle class surroundings of an outdoor swimming pool but seemed somewhat incongruous next to The Men In Black. Talking of whom - I guess that when you see a band play 20-odd nights in a row on tour but still want to go to a show they must be something special, and The Stranglers certainly fall into that category. Talking to them afterwards they seemed unhappy with their efforts but it all sounded good where I was.

The next night Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks played The Three Wishes in Edgware. It's a familiar haunt for the band but I hadn't been there for a while - as England had won their World Cup quarter final against Sweden only a couple of hours earlier we arrived to scenes of alcoholic devastation on a scale rarely witnessed; Chris returned on keyboards after being absent through illness, Bob depped for an ailing Dave on drums and you got the feeling that we could have played almost anything and most people there still wouldn't have noticed that we were on the same planet as them, let alone in the same room. Maybe we weren't? And last night the band journeyed up to St. Albans for a show at The Farmers Boy, an excellent little venue where with Howard Tibble on drums and my old mate Johnny Squirrel on bass we gave a spirited performance to an appreciative audience. I've not been able to play with the band much lately due to other things happening but will be out and about with them over the next couple of weeks. Our gig at The Three Steps in Cowley on the 21st July is the nearest one to my birthday - it is, shall we say, a 'lively' venue, so that should be a good night, as should tomorrow night when it's the Sounds Of The Suburbs record shop's second anniversary party - but more about that next time...

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Ruts D.C. '40 Years Of The Crack' tour 2019

Over two - and - a - half months ago I mused in these hallowed pages as to whether or not I was getting lazy when it comes to writing on this here blog; if only I'd known then what I know now.... it's not that I've been lazy (honest!) it's just that I seem to be so bloody busy at the moment; gigs with Big Al and the boys, working in Balcony Shirts, trying to stop nosebleeds bought on by hay fever - it's been all go I can tell you. I've regularly looked at the pile of semi - legible notes that I've been making on the way to gigs, on the way home from gigs, in planes, trains and automobiles - there's a lot of 'em, and even I don't know what half of them are - and thought 'I really must get around to typing them up one day'... and I really must... however in the spirit of shameless self - publicity that this blog (and, I suspect, most blogs) were created in, I'm back - and with big, big news. 

2019 sees the 40th anniversary of, well, lots of things I'm sure, not least the release of 'The Crack' by The Ruts. I remember buying at the time - my copy still has the 'pay no more than £3.99' sticker on it - and spending endless hours sitting on the edge of my bed cradling an unplugged electric guitar trying to work out how to play the songs. Who'd have thought that nearly 4 decades later I'd still be spending endless hours sitting on the edge of my bed cradling an unplugged electric guitar trying to work out how to play the songs? Strange but true.

Next February Ruts D.C. set out on the first part of the '40 Years Of The Crack' tour - the plan is that we will be playing the whole album in it's entirety, along with other material old and new. And there's more good news - special guests The Professionals will be opening the shows (am I really going on after a Sex Pistol? How on Earth has this happened?!?) meaning that if all else fails you get to see two of the best drummers ever on the same stage. To say that I'm looking forward to this is from my point of view the understatement of the century so far, although I'm sure I can come up with something that beats it if you give me long enough. And you never know, I might even write it up here...

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Vintage vantage

So - no blog post for over a month. Lazy?

Well, no. I don't think so anyway. Much has happened since last we spoke...

The Stiff Little Fingers / Ruts D.C. 'Down To the Bone' U.K. tour went well. Very well. Inevitably some nights were better than others but pretty much everything went according to plan, with the Glasgow show at The Barrowland Ballroom being every bit as memorable as I for one was hoping it would be, and the last night of the tour at The Forum in Kentish Town turning out to one of the most enjoyable gigs that I've played in a very long time - it also exorcised the ghost of our last show there at Captain Sensible's 60th Birthday Party (you can read about it here if you like - suffice to say that all three of us were happy to have something better to remember about a show at the venue) which can't be a bad thing. We were hoping that there would be a few people in when we went on but were amazing to find the building all but full when we walked out onto the stage. Excellent! But as I say, everything about the tour was great - our crew Olie and Max were fabulous, and we travelled over 2,000 miles through England, Scotland and Wales. Not bad eh?

Since then we've played headlining shows at The Hat Factory in Luton and The Victory Hall in Balcombe, both of which both went well. It was great to play a longer set (we were playing a strict 45 minute show on the SLF tour) and to get to a couple of places that we'd not been to before. The Luton show was the last at the venue before it closes for refurbishment, and despite Dave feeling under the weather - he'd been unwell for the last three shows on the tour although he played as well as ever - we gave a energetic performance before a boisterous crowd. It was Segs's turn to feel unwell at the Balcombe show - he was asleep in the bus until around a half an hour before we were due to go on stage - but once again we pulled everything together on stage. And what an amazing venue - if you see a gig happening there that you fancy seeing then make the effort. You won't be disappointed!

In addition to appearing on stage we've also found ourselves on television - we recorded a session for Vintage TV in February (we weren't allowed to mention it anywhere - you might have thought that they'd have liked a bit of publicity?) which was first broadcast while we were away on tour (again they didn't tell us, we found out from friends and fans) and has been shown a couple of times since. It also featured The Skids among others, and it's on their website (episode 402 - here's a trailer for it) if you'd like to see it. The day was a bit of a strange one - we weren't too happy with our performance, but watching it now it actually looks pretty good. Dave and Segs are appearing on the channel again this coming Sunday 15th April at 5 pm on the 'Our Vintage' show, choosing some videos and talking about some of their favourite music - here's a preview. It looks good doesn't it? And your humble narrator made an appearance on The Fiery Bird show on Radio Woking, playing some favourite music and talking about, well, anything that Elaine the presenter wanted to talk about. A highly enjoyable two hours - thanks to Elaine and Joe for inviting me onto the show.

Things go a little quieter for the band now (this may not be a bad thing, it's been a hectic couple of months!) until the end of this month when we return to Glasgow to play the Scotland Calling festival. But there's work to do - the words 'new album' have been bandied about at Ruts DC HQ rather a lot lately... 

In the meantime it's been back to basics with Big Al Reed and The Blistering Buicks. I don't mind admitting that finding yourself playing in front of a few dozen semi-interested people at The Misty Moon in Northwood more-or-less exactly 24 hours after we'd played The Forum was a bit of an odd thing to find yourself doing; it wasn't an unenjoyable show, but as I say it was a little odd... the next afternoon saw an excellent gig at The Horns in Watford, and we've been out and about here and there ever since. We're out and about this weekend too... as I say, back to basics - and why not?

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Stiff Little Fingers / Ruts D.C. 'Down To The Bone' Tour March 2018

OK - here we go again... 

We're supporting the great Stiff Little Fingers on their 'Down To The Bone' U.K. tour this month, starting in Cardiff this coming Friday and finishing at The Forum in Kentish Town on Friday 23rd March. There's a few new venues for your humble narrator - not least Barrowlands in Glasgow on (gulp!) St. Patrick's Day - among some familiar haunts. I'm intending to update my Facebook page as often as possible, and the Ruts D.C. page should include live streams and more. And as always if you're coming along to a show then please say hello!

Incidentally some of the venues have a club night or event after the gig - nights such as these are known (rather disparagingly) among road crew members as a 'Disco Loadout' - and we might be on stage as early as 7.15pm on those nights so please check with the venue so that you don't miss us!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

'Fly into the rising sun...'

So there you have it - around 30,000 miles (and what feels like around 30 hours sleep) later and we're back in Blighty. And it's cold. Bloomin' cold. I don't usually mind winter weather - in fact if I'm honest I often think that I prefer it to the summer in a way - but having recently spent the best part of two weeks in temperatures approaching and in some cases exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit I don't mind admitting that I'm considering reconsidering my stance on such things. But what a time we've had - the first ever Ruts D.C. shows in Japan and Hong Kong followed by two shows in New Zealand and five shows in Australia supporting The Stranglers - well it's hardly the worst start to the year ever isn't it? 

Incidentally I spent the two weeks before we left to go on tour looking after my Dad who caught 'flu which turned to pneumonia - hopefully he's on the mend now but there were more than a few harrowing moments. Get yourselves a 'flu jab kids! 

I managed to update my Facebook page at regular intervals throughout our jaunt, and the Ruts D.C. page includes a few live streams (I haven't worked out how to do that yet!) alongside Segs and Dave's observations on proceedings - if you'd like to see footage of me in an English pub in the middle of Tokyo eating chips with chopsticks there here's your chance... somewhat inevitably I've got the usual interminable pages of scribbly notes (Godzilla, lost passports and more) along with any number of photographs, some or all of which may one day find their way into these hallowed pages - but suffice to say that the whole experience really was unforgettable, and I for one hope that we return to all four locations before too long.

In the meantime since returning home I've seen The Damned at Koko (great stuff as usual) The Urban Voodoo Machine in Southampton (where I joined them for their encore - video evidence here, I'll learn the song better next time... if they let me have a next time!) and witnessed Terry from The Upper Cut playing bass with Zoot Money in Barnes (first set good, second set marred by not-at-all special 'special guests' and amateurish directionless hippie jamming - absolutely appalling and an insult to people who had paid to see it) as well as playing with Big Al and the boys and working in Balcony Shirts - business as usual, as usual... until next time...

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

To The Southern Hemisphere and beyond!

A young man offered me his seat on a bus the other day. I guess this means that I'm now officially old

Normally this kind of occurrence would be the signal for me to drift off into the usual whining, self-pitying 'what have I done with my Godforsaken life?' nonsense that I tend to get lost in whilst writing these hallowed pages - but not this time my friends, as it's time for your humble narrator to go on tour! And what a tour - we start in Japan; from there we travel to Hong Kong before meeting up with The Stranglers (did I really just type that?!?) for shows supporting them in New Zealand and Australia. As always I will be attempting to update my Facebook page as we go along, and the Ruts D.C. page will also carry details of our adventures as we wend our way around The World. Time to check if I've packed enough pants and socks... again... if you're coming to a show then please say hello - I'll be the old guy with the guitar...

Friday, January 05, 2018

Turning Japanese / Hong Kong Garden

Well let's start 2018 as we mean to go on - with some ridiculously good news! Well it's certainly ridiculously good news from my point of view - the first three Ruts D.C. gigs of the year have been announced, and they're all in previously uncharted territory for your humble narrator. We're playing two shows in Tokyo - yes, that's right, Tokyo - on the 27th and 28th of January followed by a show in Hong Kong on the last day of the month. 

You know that bit in these postings where I put something like 'I can hardly believe what I type here sometimes'? Well here it is again - I can hardly believe what I type here sometimes. Seriously though, one of the first live albums I remember hearing was 'Made In Japan' by Deep Purple - it would have been a couple of years after it was originally released, and for whatever reason it made a big impression on me. I think that it was due to a number of factors - Ritchie Blackmore's still-incredible guitar playing, the power that the band played with, the songs, the sound... strange, because I didn't really like very much music like that at the time. Come to think of it, I still don't... anyway it loomed large in my mid-1970s listening, and as a result Japan attained a somewhat mythical status in my teenage mind. I've not been there or to Hong Kong before, and I genuinely cannot wait to do these shows. I'm very lucky to do what I do. I say that a fair bit too don't I? 

We then travel to New Zealand and Australia for the previously - mentioned shows with The StranglersI can hardly believe what I type here sometimes. But you know that already.