Date – 18/12/2012
Firstly apologies for anybody that noticed – we didn’t send one of these out last week, as I was a bit poorly. I would tell you all about the gigs from the last couple of weeks, but to be honest, I can’t remember too much about them. There are a few snippets from Saturday night’s trip to the Red Lion in Witney, though, while it’s still fairly fresh in my mind…
The place is under new management, which was good news for us in that they now have a sound engineer who actually stays the whole night, instead of disappearing off halfway through to “catch the last bus home”.
Much to our delight, he turns out to be called Stuart – and is also coincidentally a drummer, and as bonus, appears to be somewhat follicly challenged. We spent much of the evening commiserating with his girlfriend.
Still, he did manage to get us an excellent sound, and it was so-o-o nice not to have to have to lug heavy PA around (we still had to do heavy guitar amps, of course, but I don’t mind that – it’s all in a good cause).
We were also pleased to see that many of the inhabitants of Witney still like to teeter about in high heels and microscopic skirts, despite the freezing conditions – there may or may not be a good reason for them doing this, but either way Ben wasn’t complaining. (At least, not until I suggested he should wear the same…) All in all, a jolly entertaining evening.
Coming up this week, our last-but-one gig of the year…
Saturday 22nd – Rolleston Arms, Swindon
Always great fun here, they likes a good laugh and a few beers, which makes things rather easier for us. They also likes their noisy rock, so it’s all good!
Following that, we have our New Year’s Eve gig coming up in sunny Kingswood
Monday 31st – Kingswood British Legion
Why? Because they asked us nicely. And they offered us money. We just couldn’t resist. It’s also right next door to the pub where we regularly (well, occasionally) practice – so we should at least be able to find the place.
So, that’s your lot for this year, we’ll be back again next year of course, with more noisy tomfoolery – in the meantime, I’ll take this opportunity to wish you all a very merry Saturnalia, and a rip-roaring rocktastic New Year.
NOTE: I am unreliably informed that the end of the world will occur on December 21st, as predicted by my old chums from the sadly extinct ancient Mayan civilisation; apparently their counting system just runs out of numbers on that date. Now, whilst I have every respect for elder wisdom and the doubtless efficacy of their arcane and mysterious means to foretell the future, I would point out that their track record in this arena is a little less than flawless, specifically: –
They didn’t see the Spanish coming I refer you to the dictionary definition of “extinct”
However, I’m always happy to be proved wrong; should the world end on Friday, I shall be delighted to buy you all a drink. (And if it doesn’t, feel free to buy me one next time you see me).
Date – 04/11/2012
Ho ho ho,
And welcome to the season of goodwill, peace on Earth, and special discounts for this week only on our entire selection of Transformatron MegaDeath Destructor Action Figures. And, for the little gurlies, a whole new range of My Little Pit bull play sets and accessories….
Well, since our Suzi is still without transport, thanks to the watchful vigilance of Wiltshire constabulary, if we need her anywhere for a gig, we have to go fetch her; thus Friday’s duo gig in Fishponds consisted for me mostly of driving, with a little bit of playing guitar in the middle. Still, it was good to see some regular chums in there, and I think we did rather well to nearly remember more than half of most of the songs. And it was lovely to catch up with Queen Amy and her Royal Fluffy Slippers at the end of the night, too.
For Saturday’s outing to the Swiss Chalet in Swindon, we actually had non-diabolical driving conditions for a change; just as well, since poor Stooie had been working in Reading all day, and had to drive all the way back to Bristol to collect Ben before double backing back to Swindon for the gig (while I just had to go via Trowbridge to collect our pedestrian vocalist).
So, there were some very tired little musicians by the time we’d set up and were ready to start. It’s not often that I start a gig and am looking forward to the end so I can stop… but I was finding it really hard work (and, I suspect even more so, making it really hard work for the others); however, happily (as tends to happen on these occasions), by the time we neared the end of the second set, Mr Brain had shut down completely, which left the fingers to get on with the guitar playing by themselves – which seems to work a lot better.
Anyway, I have resolved this week to (a) practice properly, and (b) get some more sleep than usual, so that hopefully next weekend’s rawk’n’roll extravaganza will handled with rather more panache…
Friday 7th – Rising Sun, North Bradley, Trowbridge
Our mate Damon’s pub, it’s a bit cramped, but they seem to like us here. And if our lovely chanteuse is still without transport, at least she lives just round the corner.
Saturday 8th – New Inn, Stratton St Margaret, Swindon
I’m sure we’ve played here before… Ah yes, we have, last time there was a big footie match on telly and we had to wait until half ten before we could set up and start. They all enjoyed themselves though, but to be fair, they were enjoying themselves anyway….
Sunday 9th – Lily B at the Rolleston, Swindon
“Back by popular demand” says the poster… I assume this means me popularly demanding that daughter Lily get out there and earn some more money so she can pay off her guitar…
Not had a three-gig weekend for a while… I expect you’re all wondering how, with my busy engineering day job and hectic rock’n’roll lifestyle, I manage to stay so youthful-looking and ruggedly handsome.
I voiced this comment yesterday to my beloved Dem, who didn’t reply, but responded by writing herself a reminder on a Post-It note.
It said, simply; “Alan. Specsavers”.
In what appeared to be very small writing…
Date – 26/11/2012
Just a short missive this week; after a chaos-laden week, we managed to get to Saturday night with a full set of working equipment, a poorly bassist, a poorly drummer, and a singer who, having had yet another one of her little contretemps with the long arm of the law, and for once failed to sashay away scot-free (see? Scot free? Clever, huh?), has been temporarily deprived of transport; hence I had to make a massive detour via Trowbridge to collect her and then get to the gig in Bath.
Still, luckily the roads just about held out, although the torrential rain/wind combo that set in for the night did leave quite a few flooded, we managed to get through without mishap, and only slightly late, to find the pub deserted except for three punters. To be fair, you’d have to be either mad or desperate to come out on a night like this. Oh well, we set up anyway and by 9:00 when it was time to start, it was suddenly and mysteriously quite full. Obviously, with mad desperate people.
We had intended to wheel out an impressive three new numbers, and in fact two of them went rather well, but we chickened out on the last one due to a couple of minor disasters in other songs – which we allegedly know rather well, it felt too much like pushing our luck.
Still, people seemed happy enough, and I was particularly pleased that my previous night’s amplifier-disembowelling surgery had worked so well (See, folks? Three years studying Electronic Engineering at state expense, and it wasn’t all wasted!), Stuart and Ben were happy not to have passed out or thrown up, and Suzi was just happy not to get arrested during the course of the gig.
Right, onto this week; and a couple of outings…
Friday 30th – Railway Tavern, *AUC GIG*
Back in the court of Queen Amy, with the never-rehearsed duo talents of myself and the shady underworld figure known only as “Big Angela”… what could possibly go wrong?
Saturday 1st Dec – Swiss Chalet, Swindon
Hopefully our rhythm section will have recovered from its various recent ailments, and Suzi’s bail will have come through, and we should be in for a cracking evening. Perhaps Stuart will even be moved to get his rubber chicken out (although I can’t promise anything).
Until next time
Date – 19/11/2012
So, a weekend with no band action, but still purty busy repairing falling-apart equipment; following some protracted fiddling about with equipment, vehicles, etc, and a hefty dent in the wallet, I believe that everything is now working again, and, indeed, ready to rock & roll, as it were….
I also had the joy of acting as “roadie and second guitarist” for diva fourteen-year-old daughter again, on not one, but two occasions. Following a merry night at the dear ol’ Barrel, on Saturday we trekked over to Marlborough for a gig at the Bowls Club.
I’m trying to think of a less rawk’n’roll setting, but I am struggling a little.
Still, having coached Lily carefully into avoiding starting the evening with my otherwise favourite way of beginning a gig, (“Good evening, MUTHAFUCKAS!!!!!”), everything actually went swimmingly well.
The folks there seemed to like both the acoustic and the electric sets, gave us free drink, and a free supper, and we even won a prize in the raffle! And nobody had to be carried out at the end of the night, although there were a few with a definite wobble on (then again at a paltry £2 a pint, I’d have had one too if I wasn’t driving…)
Best of all, though, was the barman; we’d just finished setting up when he ambled over and asked if I fancied a pint before we start playing. Why yes, a pint of 6X would be lovely, thank you very much.
“And – er – what would your missus like to drink…?”
My “missus”? My “MISSUS?”
I have to explain to the chap – as coherently as I can manage between snorts of laughter – that, despite her outwardly haggard and weather beaten appearance, Lil is actually of somewhat tender years, and is in fact my daughter. He is rather concerned at having potentially caused offence, and hurriedly goes on to say that he was fooled by the fact that I obviously look so young…
Oh, that’s been keeping me entertained all weekend. Lily’s still not speaking to me….
Coming up this week:
Sat 24th – Kings Arms, Bath
Always enjoy playing this place, they’re a lovely bunch, unfortunately their Grumpy Neighbour Syndrome means an early noise curfew; still, as long as we start on time, we should be able to pack in a suitable amount of rawk’n’roll silliness….
Date – 12/11/2012
Despite a relatively successful weekend’s gigging, that was hard work….
Having managed to contract two separate kinds of devilish illness during the week, your axe-slinging hero was not in the bounciest frame of mind as he drove through howling gales and lashing rain to Friday’s gig at the Bell in Shepton. In fact, had we been on a tour of Craggy Island, my condition would have been summed up as “feckered”.
The situation was not improved when both windscreen wipers spontaneously disintegrated, and started flailing frantically across the windscreen like some demonic steel crane fly…. After several stops to try and repair the damned things, I finally got them lashed together enough to finish the journey. So, I dragged my sorry self in, and played through the gig in fairly zombie-like fashion; luckily the stage in there is so small there was no scope for foolish leaping around anyway.
I believe we played reasonably coherently, but you’d have to ask somebody else for an accurate account. Apparently I made it home without further incident, because that’s where I woke up the next morning.
By the time Saturday’s gig at the Woodland’s Edge came around, I was feeling rather more human, there was even quite a good crowd in there – including our lovely pals Swindon Al & Helen. And all was going well until near the end of the first set, when my guitar solo was accompanied by a high pitched satanic howling harmonising an octave above and below each note – which actually sounded rather fine to my ears, but unfortunately didn’t stop when I finished playing. Oh dear, that sounds like a valve has gone west.
Luckily, I carry a spare. Unluckily, with four candidates to replace, I didn’t have time to track down the naughty one, so despite several attempts, I couldn’t manage to get it sorted out.
Luckily, I carry a spare amp, so after a little puzzling as I tried to remember how to wire it up, off we went again – albeit slightly nervously as I tried to remember which foot switch to hit at which point. I even managed to get a little bit of leaping around done, before realising that (as the room started to spin around me) I’d forgotten to dose myself up with drugs between sets, so busy was I with naughty amplifiers.
Still, everybody seemed to be having a whale of a time, there was much air guitar, dad-dancing and falling over monitors, but even so I was quite glad to stop and collapse in an untidy heap at the end.
So, we have no gigs this weekend, which gives me time to order in another set of amp valves (a hundred quid, the greedy swine!); however, I will be fulfilling my old “second guitarist and road crew” role for the diva daughter again….
Friday 16th – Lily B at the Barrel, Thornbury
Last week, clumsy cow Lil managed an inadvertent Pete Townsend impersonation and broke her acoustic; thus we had to trawl out and buy her a replacement. Funnily enough, it’s a lot nicer than her old one. And a lot more expensive. And I had to pay for it. However, she will be paying me back, so if you come along on the night and encourage lovely landlady Lyn to pay her extra for being so “talented and fabulous”, that means I can get my dosh back sooner.
Saturday 17th – Lily B at Marlborough Bowls Club
A Bowls Club? Well, why not? Our pal Statey reckons they’ll like the noisier side of things in here – I’m not sure they realise what they’re in for. And anyway, I need the money back. I think it must be a vocalist thing….
Right, that’s your lot for now….
We’ll be back next week with some red-hot AUF band action, and just possibly a functioning amplifier, guitarist, transport, etc. Until then….. bleh.
Date – 05/11/2012
And welcome to this month’s newsletter of the Angel Up Front People’s Revolutionary Republic People’s Front.
I’m delighted to report – on this most auspicious of dates for bringing down the capitalist system and smashing the corrupt authoritarian bourgeois machinery of oppressive state control – that following a couple of weekends laying meticulous plans for the downfall of the bastions of the diktat of centralised economic capitalism, the workers collective committee of the A.U.F.P.R.R.P.F. is ready to spring into action and act as the inspirational spark which will cause the workers to rise up in open rebellion against the outdated and repressive extant regime, heralding a new dawn of mutually beneficial co-operation leading eventually to the liberation of all citizens from the tyranny of rampant and ultimately non-beneficial economic expansion which acts has been for so long been used as a covert instrument of psychological and physiological oppression of the masses.*
The opening salvoes in this battle for liberation against the corrupt concept of the nation state will consist of two People’s “Rally For Freedom” events, as follows: –
Friday 9th – Bell Hotel, Shepton Mallett
The A.U.F.P.R.R.P.F. are here to cry freedom for the common man – and they don’t come much commoner than this lot….
Saturday 10th – Woodland’s Edge, Peatmoor, Swindon
Smash the State in Swindon! Although we quite like the fact that they disabled all their speed cameras, so maybe we could engage the local council in some kind of anarcho-syndicatilist co-operative venture as an interim measure.
The revolution will not be televised.
*Refer to Here and Now’s still magnificent “Opium for the People” for further details
[Editor’s note: E’s bonkers … that’s what e’ is]
Date – 23/10/2012
You know how some things never go exactly as planned? Well, sit yourself down comfortably, dear reader, to enjoy this week’s Series Of Unfortunate Events…
Friday night, and full of optimism and sausages (well, Dem said she didn’t want hers), I rolled up at the Foresters Arms in Melksham, to find it rather empty. I ask the nice girl at the bar where she’s like us to set up. “Er – over there”, she points, “But I didn’t think we had a band in tonight. Let me go and check a minute…” (Anyone else getting bad vibes here?)
Moments later a landlord appears, and tells me he cancelled all his gigs two months ago with his booking agent, because she was unreliable. I explain I’ve never heard about any cancellations from anyone. “Well, that’s just typical of her” he snorts. I have to gently remind him that actually he phoned us directly to book the gigs, and so they never came through an agent. “Ah, yes”, he says, “but it was her I got your phone number from”. O-kay, so having booked a gig directly with us, he’s then delegated the job of cancelling it to somebody we’ve never heard of, and doesn’t even know he’s booked us…because she’s unreliable.
I consider getting cross and pointing out the logical inconsistencies in his thought process, but it’s not really going to change anything, and I’m lazy, so I settle for calling the others (currently en route) to let them know, and tootling stoically home for a night off. Never mind, at least the Railway tomorrow will be fun.
Saturday morning; I get a call from a very unhappy sounding vocalist. She’s poorly, oh dearie me very poorly, and doesn’t think she’ll be able to play the gig tonight. Bugger! I let the others know, and shortly afterwards get a call back from tyrannical taskmaster Stuart, who has persuaded Suzi that she isn’t really that ill and might be able to do the gig after all if she starts feeling better. Oh well, at least I hadn’t got as far as unloading the van yet.
By the evening, Suzi is apparently not feeling any worse (although I am, I seem to be acquiring a nasty cold-type thing), so we decide we’ll go for it. As we arrive, the court of Queen Amy is fairly quiet, but by the time we’ve got ourselves set up, it seems to be getting louder. By the time a bedraggled Suzi stumbles in, it’s positively busy in there.
As we start playing, everything seems to come together and we actually play tolerably well – Stuart has to behave himself, as tonight Ken (original drummer with the mighty Groundhogs) has come along to watch him. In due deference to the fact (and rather to my disappointment), Stuart doesn’t even get his rubber chicken out.
So, we play merrily along through last orders and Time, and having run out of inflatable guitars (everybody seemed to want to take them home tonight, but Ben says this is ok “because they’re babes”) we eventually have to finish up with a jolly little touch of Led Zep, and then Suzi gratefully collapses in a heap in the nearest chair. We don’t even ask her to help pack up.
At this point, Stuart suffers an unfortunate mishap. Whilst dismantling his kit, he first removes the seat from his drum stool, and then thoughtlessly sits back down on it to dismantle a stand…. There is a startled squawking noise, coupled with a ripping sound, and his eyes cross in agony. After a little hobbling around, his eyes eventually uncross and he is able to speak again. It seems no serious harm has been done, and apparently he does NOT require any third party assistance to remove the remainder of the drum stool, although he is not pleased that he’s managed to rip a hole right through his jeans. But he is stoically philosophical on this point. “Oh well, they needed washing, anyway…”
It’s fully fifteen minutes before Suzi can speak again ,she is crying with laughter (although in an apparently sympathetic manner) and just can’t stop. We think she must be feeling a little better now.
We’ve just finished packing up when dirty stop-out landlords Queen Amy and Mark stumble home, having been to a pal’s wedding. Amy is so pleased to see us she can barely walk, and we are charged with keeping her entertained until Mark can return from the pizza joint across the road with grub for Her Majesty. Meanwhile Suzi entertains her with vivid descriptions of poor Stuart’s little mishap, and thus they both merrily giggle away at his misfortune until Mark returns.
“Right”, our regal hostess declares, “My pizza’s here now, so you lot can bugger off”; so off we bugger.
And off we will stay for a while – no more gigs for a couple of weeks, I’m afraid. On the plus side, maybe we will all have returned to full health, and maybe by then Stuart will be able to sit down again.
Unless, of course, we have had some more unfortunate adventures by then.
Date – 15/10/2012
We hope y’all had an entertaining weekend; we certainly did – well, most of us, anyway. Poor ol’ Stooie rolled in at the Barrel on Friday looking rather sorry for himself – he’s rather poorly with a cold, and after setting up his drums he slunk off quietly to lie in a quiet-looking corner and doze off. Rather to my surprise, Suzi breezed in on time, and very much to my surprise, she’d brought most her family with her – including son, daughter, and Irish-dwelling brother. So, after some jolly helloing, it was time to go and rouse Stuart from his slumbers and make a start on the noise.
The youngest member of the audience (young Summer, who’d been sensibly kitted out with ear defenders by thoughtful parents) was soon dancing merrily, and after a while the grown-ups got the hang of it. Well, alleged grown-ups. Half way through the night our pal Krazy Kim found mine and Ben’s toy box of stupid hats, wigs, etc, and started dishing them out to band members and audience alike with merry abandon. Poor Stooie seemed rather nonplussed by everything, playing away nineteen to the dozen in his private world of mucus and percussion.
Although I think my flat cap and school tie combo held a certain charm, I think in fairness Ben looked probably most stylish… note the light fitting is not actually part of the hat, although I rather wish it had been.
Eventually, somewhere the wrong side of midnight, it was time to call a halt and clear everybody off the stage so Stuart could grab a quick nap before packing away…
Anyways, with silliness back on form, things are looking rather promising for next weekend..
Friday 19th – Forester’s Arms, Melksham
Now, I know we’ve played here before, but I can’t remember a damned thing about it. Let me just check back through my previous ramblings… Ah. Apparently, last time we played here it involved a pensioner standing on a chair head banging with an inflatable guitar. Nuff said, I reckon.
Saturday 20th – Railway Tavern, Fishponds
Back in the court of Her Imperial Majesty Queen Amy, should be another jolly one – even if they have to import the pensioners and reinforce the chairs…
Date – 09/10/2012
Buenos nochas amigos!
Struggling to type this, as I can barely see over my enormous fat belly, having just finished off one of Dem’s new inventions – part cake, part cookie, almost certainly death by heart failure… fantastic!
Anyways, I’ve got the rest of the day to recover. Meanwhile, I expect you’re all agog to hear about this weekend’s gig action. If not, and you only opened this to see what the crappy joke was this week, why not just scroll straight down to the bottom of the page. Just to be annoying, I’ve typed it in white font so you’ll have to change the colour to be able to read it.
So; now that those shallow Philistines interested only in second rate puns have left us to go to the end of the email, it’s just us serious music enthusiasts left. I was considering actually dedicating this paragraph to a brief appraisal of Schopenhauer’s earlier works, but since I’ve never heard them, that might be a little presumptuous. So instead, here’s an update from the world of Pub RawkTM.
Friday; the Queen Vic in Stroud. Good grief, did it rain all night, or what? We got thoroughly soaked just dragging the kit in. Happily, the good citizens of Stroud laugh in the face of such inclement conditions (actually they’ll laugh at pretty much anything, I blame the herbal cigarettes), so there was still a pretty good turnout, and much merrymaking and leaping around in an alleged dancing stylee.
Saturday, and it’s a fine clear night as we roll up at the Treble Chance in Southmead. The bar is pretty much full, and once Suzi rolls up following another Comedy Satnav Experience (it’s a bit like the Jimi Hendrix Experience, but with postcodes instead of a flaming Stratocaster), we start playing.
We’re a little confused at first by the audience’s reaction; they sit attentively as we play each number, then applaud enthusiastically at the end, and wait politely for the next one to start. This isn’t the kind of misbehaviour we’re used to. Happily, by the end of the first set, they’ve overcome their respectful reserve enough to be standing on tables dancing away merrily.
After a couple of guitar strap mishaps, which leave me finishing one song on my knees, I switch axes for the second set and we get to the end without further mishap; we even have one of the local ladies join us so she can do a (very creditable and extremely loud) Robert Plant impersonation. Brilliant fun.
Alas, after we’ve finished as we start packing up, she trips over one of the monitors, goes flying, and has to eventually be taxi’d away to seek medical attention for the arm she landed on. Oh dear – it must have been a nasty one, most people that drunk can’t feel any pain at all, so we do hope it’s not too serious.
Right then, coming up this week we have a nice local one for me: –
Friday 12th – The Barrel, Thornbury
Great bunch in here, it usually ends up with a large helping of silliness, even if I haven’t been drinking…Which of course I won’t be, true professional that I am….
OK, now that us special music-appreciating people have caught up with the rest of the readership, here’s this week’s white-font joke….
HA! You should have known this was coming really, shouldn’t you….?
[Editor’s note: I apologise for the poor quality of this crap joke and if you had paid for this I would give you your money back. To make up for it I offer this better quality crap joke for your delectation:
The Grim Reaper came for me last night and I beat him off with a vacuum cleaner.
Talk about Dyson with death.]
Date – 02/10/2012
Hope y’all had a great weekend. We certainly had an interesting time…
Saturday’s duo gig at the Crumpled Horn began in an auspicious fashion; having arranged to meet up on the way at our regular rendezvous, Suzi and I contrived to spend twenty minutes patiently waiting for each other at opposite ends of the same layby. When we eventually did get ourselves together, we managed to get lost on the way, and having eventually found the place, ended up having to bump over several kerbs and through a pedestrian precinct to get the van close enough to unload.
Once finally inside, we found the place (like the surrounding area) heaving with a large number of punters in a state of advanced inebriation. Turns out that there was a party on; a birthday celebration – for a one-year old. Classy!
As I dragged the first amp in, I was immediately accosted by a rather drunken middle-aged lady of uncertain disposition. “You’re a bit bloody late, aren’t ya?” she wagging-fingerly enquires.
“We’re not late”, I answer, “The band hasn’t even started yet”.
She is still standing there wearing a puzzled expression as I am dragging the third amp in…
We hauled all the kit in (why do drunks have to stand in doorways?), set up, and, because (due to our unsurpassed organisational and navigational skills) we were indeed running a little later than advertised, got stuck right into it. The punters seemed to be enjoying it, but to be honest, they were obviously in a very easily amused frame of mind.
Still, we got through both the acoustic set and the electric stuff with only one minor fight breaking out (not missing a note, even though at one point Suzi had to stand ready armed with a guitar stand to fend off any combatants that looked likely to fall over onto our lovely equipment).
With the scuffle quickly dealt with, we finished off, and passed the mike to a young lady so she could sing a “special song to her best friend who’s just got engaged”. Okay by me, we’re done anyway.
As it turned out, the lass in question (who I noticed when we first arrived was having obvious difficulties with walking) may have had a lovely voice, but we never found out, because the application of large quantities of raw alcohol to her tonsils had left her unable to even talk…
Still, her attempts to get even a squeak or a croak out over the mike kept the crowd happy for a while, leaving me to start packing guitars away undisturbed.
And eventually, she gave up, we packed the rest of the kit, loaded it into the van (which I was relieved to find was still there), took the money and ran.
Elvis has left the building.
Actually though, we both agreed that we’d go back again, if only to see if the locals can be as entertaining next time. But possibly we’ll make sure we’re armed.
Also had a fine Sunday evening over at the Rolly in Swindon with irritatingly talented daughter Lily; as an act of parental self-sacrifice, I even threw in a few deliberate mistakes to help throw her abilities into sharp relief; although somehow she didn’t seem as grateful as you might have expected.
Friday 5th October – Queen Vic, Stroud
Always a great giggle here, just can’t wait. I’ll see if I can drag along my lovely other half, she’s about due for another drinking-too-much episode.
Sat 6th – Treble Chance, Southmead
Back in the ‘Mead after a long absence, this one is never dull – although the locals will have to go some to beat last Saturday’s effort, they’re a plucky bunch and we’re looking forward to being royally entertained…
Date – 24/09/2012
(Incidentally, why do we call the planet Earth? It’s mostly ocean. Particularly the bit of sky that seems to be overhead at the moment, and falling enthusiastically all over the place. It’s just like summer, I can feel a hosepipe ban coming on.)
Well, we had a merry little time on Friday at the Old Sodbury UB’s charity bike show bash. Being first on, you get to be the ones to iron out any little wrinkles in the PA set-up; although I must admit it was unusually wrinkly, with so much booming and hooting feedback on stage, we couldn’t hear anything else at times, and so we played most of the set based on a combination of lip reading and guesswork.
In fairness to poor old Paul who was manfully doing his best to sort out the sound, it can’t have been an easy job – and, when he ruefully admitted that, “I haven’t really got a bloody clue what I’m doing”, we could only point out that we’re pretty much always in the same situation.
Still, we managed to enjoy ourselves, and I think a fair few of the punters managed to somehow enjoy us as well; so an entertaining night out and a couple of beers courtesy of the lads there seems like fair do’s, in my book.
Right, now this weekend, Stoooie is otherwise engaged, so we’re making our own entertainment: –
Saturday 29th – The Crumpled Horn, Eldene, Swindon – Angel Under Cover
A rare duo gig, we’ve never been here before, but our buddy Swindon Al tells us that the entire pub is shaped like a giant cream horn inside, with lots of strange little balconies and possibly isolated pockets of jam (I may have made that bit up). Anyways, the acoustics in here are likely to be either fabulous or diabolical, and I’m not actually sure which I’d prefer.
Sunday 30th – The Rolleston, Swindon – Lily B
Here at Swindon’s Rock & Roll Central HQ, they’ve been doing these Acoustic Sunday sessions for a while now – and this night it’s my own noisy daughter (plus yours truly on “second guitar and carrying heavy things”). We’re still bickering over exactly what to put in the set (and probably will be on the night too), but at the moment it looks like a mixture of classic and modern rocky stuff, plus a few originals. Frankly, I’m rather annoyed that the stuff Lily’s writing is better than any of mine; I’m pretty sure this means I’ll have to charge her petrol money…
Right, thassit for now, I have a busy few days coming up – I’ve been told to go and order rather a lot of wood, plenty of nails, and go looking on ebay for “two of each kind of the birds of the air and the beasts of the land and the fishes of the sea”. And, according to the email, “Don’t forget the unicorns this time…”
Date – 18/09/2012
More fun & frolics and talking – er – nonsense from the mighty world of rawk’roll…
Thursday night (playing on a school night, tch tch) saw us down at Campbell’s Landing in sunny Clevedon, where we’ve not played for many many a year; and apart from an amusing interlude where my amp mysteriously started broadcasting a strange radio station (Dutifully I turned my wireless off immediately, and spookily it made no difference – meaning that my amp must actually be haunted). Happily it stopped after a minute or so, so I was able to claim I’d used my arcane powers of electromagnetic engineering expertise to fix it, and fortunately it didn’t happen again so my claim went unchallenged. Anyhoo, a jolly little evening, and we hopefully will be back in there again before too long.
Saturday evening, down at the lovely Queen’s Head in Box, and we’re all set up and ready, and even sound checked, by 8:30. At two minutes to nine, Suzi breezed in, so we actually managed to start almost on time. Unfortunately we’d kinda forgotten that there’s an eleven o’clock grumpy neighbour curfew here, so we had to curtail our usual rambling “play for several hours” regime, meaning Stuart had to cut short some of the lengthy prog rock stylee song endings, and we even cut out some of the longer guitar solos (don’t worry, I don’t get paid by the note).
Afterwards, we settled down for a nice beer and a natter with Dean and his locals, got booked for a couple of birthday gigs for next year, and Suzi got some very affectionate attention from a couple of ladies, one of whom even tried to share with her the ice cube she was sucking, leaving our Suz distinctly nonplussed.
I was complimented on my playing by a rather inebriated gentleman, who claimed to be an ex-session guitar player; the edge was rather taken off his assessment by the fact that the minutes later he was at the bar tunelessly yelling along to Duran Duran’s Greatest Hit. Nothing wrong with tuneless yelling though, I often use it as a device to annoy Suzi on stage.
Oh, and the word of the day there was “Melon-boating”, in case you were wondering. We still are.
Right, onto upcoming delights…
Friday 21st – Old Sodbury UBs Bike Show, Wapley
This time it REALLY is happening, on this actual day and everything, not like originally when it was postponed due to the field being soaked, or last week when I got the dates completely messed up because I’m an idiot. It really will be this Friday, we’re on at 7:00 I believe.
Mind you, I believe all sorts of things.
The only incontrovertibly sensible stuff is the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Sign up now, you might get a free helping of Parmesan.
Date – 10/09/2012
Just a quickie this week (oo-er Matron) as I have rather a lot of other things I’m supposed to be doing right now…
First, a big hello to all the bonkers MAG lot who were at the GWR rally on Friday, and especially the “behind the bar dressing up posse” – good work, ladies! And of course also the gentleman with the cuddly stuffed Flying V, I’m pretty sure I need to get myself one (or maybe two…).
Right, coming up this week –
Friday 14th – Old Sodbury MAG Bike Show, Wapley
A 7 pm start, I think we’re on first, meaning we can either stay on and watch some other bands, or be home early for a nice cup of cocoa and an early night. And, worryingly, I can’t decide which I’d prefer…
Sat 15th – Queen’s Head, Box
Really friendly little place to play, and no need to set up PA and lights as our host Dean has all that (and more) covered…
Right, gotta dash, feel free to tell yourself a poor quality joke at this point, if you’re stuck for inspiration, try the Beano (although I believe its standards have lamentably declined in recent years…)
Oh dear, I’m losing the plot…
I should have also mentioned that we’re playing this week on Thursday..
Thurs 13th – Campbell’s Landing, Clevedon
Not played here for a long long while, but apparently it’s quite the place to be seen in Clevedon and gets rather lively. Good-oh. 9:30 til late, bring your trunks.
Date – 03/09/2012
Well, we seem to back on the road to Normal in the world of pub rawk (Actually I nearly went to Normal myself once – years ago, when I was in the States I found I was actually quite close to the town of Normal, Illinois. As soon as I saw the name I wanted to go there, but I didn’t really have time, and I was reliably informed that actually it was quite an interesting place – which somehow I think would have rather spoiled it for me). So I went and got horribly drunk with my new-found buddy George instead. Much better idea.
But I digress. Friday’s gig at the Rising Sun was punctuated by some horrible squealing noises from my amp – and not the usual ones, either, these ones carried on even after I unplugged the guitar. Oh dear, that means one of my valves has overheated and gone mad – this turned out to be due to the fact that the amp’s cooling fan had somehow gotten switched off. Thanks to my three year state-funded university education in electrical engineering, I was able to switch it back on again – which just left the horrible squealing noises that were entirely down to me.
Our planned Saturday afternoon jaunt to play the Sodbury UB’s rally at Wapley was sadly flooded off – but should be rescheduled in the next few weeks, so watch this -> <- space, folks – which just left us Saturday night to play at our pals Sam & Philippe’s wedding.
Now, I have to confess that we don’t usually like playing wedding gigs, ‘cos no matter how much the people that booked you (usually the bride and groom) may love the music, the number of their friends / relatives / grannies / great-aunts from Peru that are prepared to remain within earshot is usually very small.
However, on this occasion, everybody had a total blast – the dance floor was full from the off, and everybody – including us – had a great time.
Also massive respect is due to Philippe who stepped up and replaced both myself and Suzi simultaneously to play a couple of Hendrix numbers, pulling it off seamlessly despite never having played with Ben or Stuart before. In fact, Suzi didn’t want to let me back on….
Others were more complimentary, and said I should change my much-admired “Tesco Value Guitar Player” t-shirt for one reading “Tesco’s Finest” (which I rather liked the idea of), or “Taste the Difference” (which I suspect could get me into a whole heap of trouble…)
Anyway, a big thanks and our very best wishes to Sam & Philippe, and all who sail in them.
Right, let’s see what’s coming up this week, then…
Ooooh, goody! It’s a bike rally. We like those.
Friday 7th September – MAG GWR Rally, Weston Super Mare
As far as I remember we’ve not played this particular one before, so they’re in for a special surprise treat. We’ll have to have a dig around in the back of the heavy cupboard and see what hearty rock treats we have lurking in there.
Right, at this point I normally put in a crappy joke, but actually this time I have a serious point to make.
Whilst we were all having a fantastic time at Upton festival last weekend, I was given a business card by some rockabilly band I saw which, when I read it, turned out to be espousing the benefits of their loony Scientology religious beliefs. (Admittedly, not significantly any more loony than any of the more mainstream products available to the credulous masses).
Apart from the sheer brilliant insanity of this as a marketing tool, it got me wondering if there was a suitable off-the-peg religion (I’m just too lazy to start my own cult) that we should be promoting…
…and there is.
So, I’m proud to say that Ben, Stuart and I are now all devout adherents of the Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster. (This is real, go check Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_spaghetti_monster ). As yet, we have not managed to convert our lost sister Suzi to the “Pastafarian” way, but it’s only a matter of time – particularly once she understands the stuff about pirates and global warming, and gets over her naturally suspicious demeanour, plus her own heartfelt conviction that the three of us are “a bunch of frickin’ idiots”.
So there you go – may peace and enlightenment, and spicy tomato sauce be upon you.
Date – 13/08/2012
Well, having had a lovely sunny holiday, it’s back out on the road to start trying to pay for it…
After two weeks away, and no sign of any practice, I was keen to see if I could remember how to play at all (let alone the specifics of any of the songs…) Happily, and rather to my surprise, I found that I hadn’t actually got any worse, although arguably the only way was up, in any case….
It turns out that the Prince of Wales in Wootton Bassett actually has quite a cosy corner to cram a band into, but – with a little bit of thinking and fiddling about, we managed to tuck everything in quite neatly, and were delighted when our bosom buddies the fantastic Gina and Lucy rolled in, along with their certified bonkers posse. So, a fine night we had of it; Stuart managed to ding his head four times on the lights before we even started playing, which seems a reasonably good score.
We finished up the night by dragging Gina up so sing a number with us – she then asked if one of her pals could have a crack at one too – after which it turned into open season on the live karaoke circuit for a while. We called a halt after a nice young lass asked us to play a particular song for her to sing, and then it transpired she had no idea what any of the words (or indeed, the tune) might be. Still, it actually made us look quite together and professional in comparison.
Saturday down at the Tap & Barrel was satisfyingly busy, pleasantly loud, and I for one got a particularly lovely crunchy guitar sound from the room. You know it’s going well when during the first set one of the biker ladies decides it’s a bit too hot for dancing, and so removes her trousers (even if it did take three of them in the end to drag them off her, ripping them to shreds in the process). And there were lots of party balloons and cake floating about the place, so both Ben and Stuart were happy (oh, and Happy Birthday again, young Zoe).
For some reason, near the end of the night, Suzi decided to sing one song perched on the bar, whilst getting a free boot-polishing service from the management. I can only hope he washed his hands afterwards….
Anyways, a relatively quiet weekend coming up, just the one duo gig…
Friday 17th – The Barrel, Thornbury – Angel Under Cover
Now, last time we were here… I don’t remember it very well. But seeing as this time I have to play acoustic, I can’t hide behind a messy distorted guitar sound, bassist and drummer… so I (reluctantly) suppose I’ll have to be a Good Boy. But it’s just not the same….
Religio-scientific joke of the day.
A Higgs boson wanders into a church, and the agitated priest tries to throw him out;
“Get out of here! This is the Lord’s house! There is no place for you here! You’re an abomination! There can be no such thing as a God particle, there is only one true God, our saviour the Lord Jesus Christ!”
“Well, that’s as maybe”, replies the Higgs boson, “But you can’t have Mass without me”.
Eye thank ewe
Date – 23/07/2012
Right, there’s a lot to get through this week, so pay attention…
Saturday’s gig at the Golden Fleece in Bath was a blast, it was a bit fiddly squeezing everything in, but once we had it was rather cosy. Lovely friendly staff, merry punters, and we finally got to meet Ben’s mate Ted – an excellent chap, and it was rather a relief to find that he actually exists outside of Ben’s fevered imagination. (When I was very young, I had an imaginary friend – but we didn’t really get on. When I grew older, I got a real friend – but eventually he got away).
So, lovely fun it was, and we’ll be back there as soon as we can arrange it.
Coming up this week
Friday 27th – Railway Tavern, Fishponds – Angel Under Cover
Another half-acoustic, half electric evening. As usual, we want to keep our spontaneous edge so have dispensed with such fripperies as rehearsing, so that the lucky punters can get the full live improvisational experience….
Saturday 28th – Rolleston Arms, Swindon
Swindon’s Rock Central, presided over as usual by Statey, our Girl On The Spot (well, Our Girl In The Sticky Puddle With The Big Soppy Grin, usually). Will she be sober this time? Or hung over? Or both? Only time will tell….
After that, we’re closing the rock’n’roll shop for a couple of weeks, so there’ll be none of this nonsense in your Inbox for a bit.
When we get back, this is what we’ll be doing – make a note of it now, you’ll only forget…
Friday August 10th – Prince Of Wales, Coped Hall, Royal Wootton Bassett
A new one for us, this was organised by our dear mad pal Gina, can’t wait to catch up with her again, she’s such a good laugh – never a dry seat in the house.
Saturday 11th – Tap & Barrel, Bedminster
Not been down here for a while – nice and informal bikey vibe, plus lots of room to nancy about in. Perfect!
That’s your lot for now, I’m off to pack my bikini and pith helmet…
And finally, courtesy of my pal Dave who has clearly also encountered Caledonian generosity…
An Arab Sheik was admitted to Hospital for heart surgery, but prior to the surgery the doctors needed to store his blood in case the need arose as the gentleman had a rare type of blood.
It couldn’t be found locally, so, the call went out.
Finally a Scotsman was located who had a similar blood type. The Scot willingly donated his blood for the Arab.
After the surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman as appreciation for giving his blood, a new BMW, diamonds & US dollars.
A couple of days later, once again, the Arab had to go through a corrective surgery.
His doctor telephoned the Scotsman who was more than happy to donate his blood again.
After the second surgery, the Arab sent the Scotsman a thank-you card & a box of Quality Street chocolates.
The Scotsman was surprised that the Arab did not reciprocate his kind gesture as he had anticipated.
He phoned the Arab & asked him: “I thought you would be generous again and that you would give me a BMW, diamonds & money… But you only gave me a thank-you card & a box of Quality Street.”
To this the Arab replied: “Aye laddie, but I now have Scottish blood in ma veins”.
Date – 17/07/2012
Well, I knew Friday the 13th was a horror movie, but I only just found out it’s also sometimes a horror gig… Beset as we were by slightly odd sound issues, and eventually the complete loss of one side of the PA, I have to say that things were not really helped by yours truly being completely pissed by halfway through the night…
I may have to reconsider my long-cherished opinion that “I actually play better after a few beers””; at one point Suzi was actually scouring the audience looking for anyone who looked as though they might be able to play a guitar… if there’d been a blind one-armed tramp there clutching a copy of Burt Weedon’s “Play In A Day”, he’d have got hired on the spot…
Still, on the plus side, I had a fantastic time. And that’s the main thing. And it was great to see some old pals again (including absentee landlord Pete who’d kindly deigned to be the right side of the Atlantic for a change), and after all, the odd small drinky never hurt anyone, did it…?
Well, actually, it rather hurt me the next morning, but, cookie-wise, that’s the way it crumbles….
(I’ve just realised I love the word cookie-wise, I think I’ll hang it up to dry afterwards, and keep it to use again another day…). After a few pints of coffee I spent the morning digging around inside the naughty PA’s electrical intestines, and managed to eventually find the fault and fix it – Hooray! – thereby restoring my social rating in Suzi’s eyes all the way back up to “pond life”.
So, with a working PA, we were all set for the Queen Vic in Stroud – although by the time we got there I was feeling rather jaded and did wonder if I might be allowed to play the gig sitting down; also I seemed to have got through an awful lot of brain cells the night before, and I wasn’t entirely sure I’d remember how to play. As we set up, I was nervously scouting around in case there were any blind one-armed tramps in…
In fact, it all went rather swimmingly; I managed to play almost coherently, the place got heaving busy, and Suzi was rather startled to get her ass groped by a couple of young ladies (who I can only assume were extremely confused).
I was also a little surprised to meet Batman in the toilets, and I can tell you now, ladies and gentlemen – whoever designed those costumes didn’t really think some aspects of it through properly.
By the end of the night, the mad dancing punters had just about run out of puff, but that was fine because I’d run out of brain cells and started forgetting how songs went again – but hey, if I was that good, I’d be in Jamaica.
(This, I should explain, is Ben’s new catchphrase. We don’t really know where it came from, like so many things it just randomly appeared in his head. But it does seem to fit pretty much every occasion, so we’re going with it. Please feel free to use it in everyday conversation as much as possible).
After we finished playing, thing took a definite turn for the worse; with the resident DJ unavailable, they’d drafted in a monumentally unlike-able stand-in, who seemed to be quite pleased with himself playing a series of truly excrable tracks at pain-threshold volume (presumably he was compensating for something else too, in addition to his lack of taste, charisma and musical savvy) , and punctuating these with typical early-eighties council-estate-DJ exhortations to “Put your hands in the air”, and “Is everybody ready to PARTY??” – this latter comment followed by thirty seconds of glorious silence punctuated by screeching noises as his mind-boggling inability to cope with the simplest of technologies came to the fore. We packed up our kit and waited for a bit while his efforts cleared the place enough to cart all the gear out.
[Editors note] Alan forgot to tell you about the wiggliest girl in the world doin’ her thing on the dance floor, Ben and me were mesmerised, I might never get over it.
Right then, coming up this week…
Saturday 21st July – Golden Fleece, Bath
A new one for us – the landlady, Mo, described it as “a bit of a bikery crowd, they’re a good bunch but a little rough and ready”. Well, that sounded just fine to us, and if we’re a bit rough, let’s hope they’re ready…
I’d like to think by next Saturday I’ll have got my memory and fine motor skills back on track enough to deliver a coherent, flawless and awe-inspiring performance – but hey, if I was that good….
Date – 09/07/2012
Ahh, that’s better. A nice healthy two-gig weekend, even if it was piddling down with rain most of the time. Despite Friday’s inclement atmospheric precipitation, we rolled up to the Clothier’s in Stroud full of optimistic expectation (and, in my case, pasta), squeezed past a gaggle of punters and into the bar to ask the nice lady where we should be setting up.
She gleefully points to a postage stamp-sized corner between a large fireplace and an innocent couple eating their dinner…. Right, time for a little stop and a think.
We figure out that if Stuart puts his kit sideways in the corner, I put my amps in the fireplace (Suzi claims to be disappointed that it isn’t lit), and we gently shoo away the hapless diners, we can probably just about squeeze in.
We’ve got most things set up before we realize that the only electricity supply is a couple of sockets way up by the ceiling behind the drum kit, so I have to partially dismantle everything again to get in there with something to stand on (because our Ben, ladies and gentlemen, is scared of heights – not a helpful condition when you’re well over six feet tall…).
Eventually we manage to get ourselves comfortably shoehorned in, at which point we notice several of our lovely Stroud posse from the Queen Vic have rolled in to see us. Awww. Because there’s no room for ‘em to dance around as per usual, Suzi advises them to “just wiggle a bit”. No objections there.
And a mighty fine night we have, it’s very cosy and incredibly hot (I’m pretty sure Ben was actually steaming at one point) but very lively and friendly, and the excellent beer tastes even better for not having to pay for it… We have to finish up a bit early due to the pub’s Miserable Neighbour Syndrome, but I think pretty much everyone there had a grand time. Excellent, we’ll look forward to coming back to this one again.
Saturday at the Queen’s Tap in Swindon was infinitely more spacious –in fact, at times, worryingly so – but by the end of the night the place was heaving with merrymakers, including a number of reluctant – oh, go on, you know you want to – air guitarists (as well as several almost over-keen ones).
Alas, just before we started I tripped on a cable and tore my boot almost in half, leaving the sole hanging off in rather an “accident waiting to happen” fashion. Now, how do we solve this one, kids?
That’s right, gaffa tape! Suzi spent most of the first set trying to make out that the “pikey tramp guitarist” was nothing to do with her.
Still, it could have happened to anyone – at the end of the night, a (probably) middle-aged and (definitely) inebriated lady was hopping around (still clutching her inflatable guitar) wailing that one of her sandals has fallen apart; chivalrous to the end, I manage to sort an impromptu gaffa tape footwear repair for her, too.
I now proudly proclaim myself to be the one and only original “Rock and Roll Cobbler”.
Suzi kindly says she often thought almost exactly that about me.
We end up nattering merrily with punters, – and, if we’re desperate, each other – until the nice girl at the bar starts making unmistakeable “Bugger off home now, I want to go to bed” noises, and it’s time to slip away into the night…
Right, another fun-packed weekend coming up…
Friday 13th – The Barrel, Thornbury
Oh, I really, really hope that Suzi gets out of work early enough that she can stop by my house on the way and drive the van up, so I can have a drink or seven… Look, I’ll even buy a new pair of boots if it helps….
Saturday 14th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Yes, there’ll be lots of drinking and dancing, but we shan’t mind if there’s just a bit of wiggling going on as well… Also feel free to bring along any damaged footwear.
Right, thassit for this week, apart from your weekly QI General Knowledge Question: –
Q: What is the collective noun for bankers?
A: It is, of course, a” wunch”.
Date – 03/07/2012
Nothing to report this week, I’m afraid – due to further poorliness we had to forego the planned acoustic session in Box. And I’ve been rather busy with other matters too, so apologies for this one being a bit short on rubbish jokes. Of course, you may prefer this more sombre, stripped-down format, for all I know…
Hey ho – coming up this weekend, all being well…..
Friday 6th – Clothier’s Arms, Stroud
A new one for us, I’ve never been in a pub called the Clothiers Arms before. Maybe if we play well enough, I might get to go in one again. Anyhoo, we’ll see what it’s like, the landlord seems a cheery enough chappie, anyway…
Saturday 7th – Queen’s Tap, Swindon
Aha, I remember this one! Right opposite the station, and rather good fun last time.
Oh all right then, here’s some crap jokes…
A mate of mine recently admitted to being addicted to brake fluid; when I quizzed him on it he reckoned he could stop any time…..
I had another mate who was suicidal; he was really depressed, so I pushed him in front of a train. He was chuffed to bits.
I was at a cashpoint yesterday when a little old lady asked if I could check her balance. Not being one to disappoint I pushed the old dear over.
Date – 25/06/2012
Well, it was nice to play a gig where our singer managed to keep her voice working all night. Yes indeedy, our Suzi seems has made a full recovery (we were privately hoping she might be in an “able to sing but not able to talk” condition), so we were able to play a full couple of sets down that the Rising Sun without any real difficulty (apart from the regular amount of cack-handedness from yours truly), and we even got the audience joining in with the silly games. Luvverly!
Right, now this weekend there’s no band action,but Suzi and I are doing an acoustic effort on Saturday. This means we have quite a few songs to learn, which means it’s doubly unfortunate that I’ll be out of the country this week…
Sat 30th – Queen’s Head, Box, near Corsham – ANGEL UNPLUGGED
A great place this, proper little musos haven, just round the corner from Pete Gabriel’s studio – last time we were here we had a fascinating chat with the guy who sold him his first Fairlight back in the 70s. If the weather’s nice, we’ll probably be playing out in the sunshine. If it isn’t, presumably we’ll be playing out in the rain….
Right then, the statutory Crap Joke slot; not that I’m running out, or anything, but….
I recently developed a phobia of counting in German; the doctor said I had contracted Einzweidrei fear…
Date – 19/06/2012
Just a short report this week – partly cos we didn’t do as much as we’d hoped.
Friday down at t’Bell in Shepton was pleasant, it started off very empty but actually filled up quite well towards the end. Unfortunately, “towards the end” was about the point where Suzi began to lose her voice.
Now, I must say that in my own avuncular way I am actually quite fond of our lovely singer, and thus it was not completely with malice aforethought that I decided to plough into the AC/DC cover which left her throat in tatters….
Nonetheless, it was made clear to me afterwards (largely through the medium of mimed violence) that everything was Entirely My Fault.
We managed to finish off the night, but the poor dear was really feeling rather poorly, so it wasn’t a complete surprise when she texted me the next morning to say she wouldn’t be able to do that night’s gig.
I did briefly consider if we should do the gig without her, with either myself or Stuart on vocals (Ben was disallowed from this option, as he can actually sing..) but decided in the end that in the interests of music-lovers everywhere we’d have to cancel.
So, apologies to anyone in the Witney area who was hoping to see us on Saturday – we will be there next time, we promise…
And this week, we have only one outing (health permitting)
Friday 22nd – The Rising Sun, North Bradley, Trowbridge
Cheerfully run by our mate Damon, hopefully his delectable better half Cath will be there to keep order and give us something to look at other than Suzi’s nether regions….
So, that’s it, other than to say it gives Suzi and I great pleasure to present this month’s Rock and Roll Lifestyle Employee Of The Month Award to…. Ben!
Warmest congratulations dear boy, and make sure you get plenty of rest….
Date – 11/06/2012
Well, that was a jolly fine week off that I had, at any rate – spent a week in a tent in Devon, complete with raging storms, driving rain, 60mph winds… all exhilarating stuff. As I told the kids, “Camping in bad weather is much more exciting. It’s really in tents.”
Needless to say, as soon as we got back the weather turned fine, just in time for our trip up to the Woodlands Edge in Peatmoor. After the now-customary wait for the footie to finish, we set about finding if we can still remember how to play. And the answer is… sorta. I think a bijou practicette may be in order for yours truly – although to be fair, my fingers did get cut to ribbons on Thursday night trying to re-rig a tent in a Force Nine gale… so I forgive me, even if nobody else does.
One thing I am not forgiven for, apparently, though, is having my picture splashed over a national magazine – it seems we were featured in the June issue of Back Street Heroes, the popular gentleman motorcyclist’s periodical, when we played the Ride Of Respect a few weeks ago. I’ve not managed to track down a copy yet (so if you see one, let us know) but apparently there’s a nice piccy of me with my lovely Pandora in there. Apparently, though, no pics of our lovely modest vocalist, but she tells me she is not even slightly jealous… She told me this a total of three times on Saturday, which means that she must be at least an iridescent green, probably verging on the luminescent. He he he…
Meanwhile, here’s the plan for this weekend…
Friday 15th – The Bell, Shepton Mallet
9:30 start, which around these parts means it’s Scrumpy o’clock… We’ll finish when we’ve had enough, when they’ve had enough, or when everybody else has gone home.
Saturday 16th – Red Lion, Witney
Good fun here, nice big stage and PA and lights, it’s under new management now, but as long as they have the same crowd of bouncing loonies and skimpy-clad young ladies, we should be in for an entertaining evening. Whether or not they are, remains to be seen.
Right, that’s your lot for now, I’m off to see if I can find myself a press agent…
Date – 28/05/2012
Well, as I sit here on the golden beach of my tropical paradise island, the palm trees swaying gently as the salt breeze susurrates through their lush emerald fronds, while my loyal army of trained penguins brings me another cocktail, I can’t help but muse upon the workings of Fate that led me here; this leads me to wonder how all you folks back in reality are up to… probably sitting at some crappy office desk typing away nonsense on an outdated PC I imagine, instead of getting on with some of that work you should be doing.
Saturday’s bash at the Railway in Fishponds was great fun, a slightly delayed start due to football again, which was no bad thing as it meant that Suzi was actually there in good time. And it was good to catch up with some old pals again, and I was particularly pleased to see the delightful Kelly, who’s back there working the bar for a while. Sadly she had to decline my offer to run away and live with me in paradise, apparently she’s allergic to penguins.
Never mind, I have plenty here to occupy my mind; the great eternal questions of existence, such as “Why are we here?”, “What’s it all about, no, really, when you get right down to it?”, and – the most pressing one, in my view, “Why does Stuart put vinegar in his washing machine?”
This last conundrum came during a prolonged rambling nonsense session with Queen Amy and her loyal subjects after we’d finished packing up and sent everyone else home; Our Stooie was promoting the advantages of this as a viable laundry strategy, although I don’t think he ever really convinced anyone; I for one couldn’t understand how he’d got his vinegar dirty in the first place*.
So, if anyone can shed any light on this unusual garment revitalisation (or, possibly, condiment cleaning) technique, please don’t tell me – there are some areas of life where I cherish my ignorance, often because it’s the only thing I have. Besides, I don’t really need to know – the penguins take care of my laundry.
Anyways, this weekend we have “nil points” gigs coming up, as I’m off to live in a tent for a week. Not a holiday as such, just a means of putting off tidying the house.
However, when we come back, we’ll be out and about again in sunny Pighill, and (possibly) with our clothes smelling faintly of vinegar. Just in case I don’t get a chance to send one of these out next week, here’s the details in advance: –
Saturday 9th June – Woodlands Edge, Peatmoor, Swindon
It’s a 9:30 start, but don’t tell Suzi, or she won’t turn up until 9:45. Having been away for a week, there’s a fair chance I’ll have forgotten how to play everything. There’s also a reasonable chance that it won’t make any difference even if I have.
*Is it just me, or does that somehow sound incredibly rude?
Date – 21/05/2012
That’s better, a nice normal two-gig weekend, starting with an outing to Melksham to the Foresters, where we were treated to the ultimate in impromptu audience entertainment – even better than drunken Dad-dancing, we got some Grandad-dancing going on. Epic stuff, and the sight of a septuagenarian standing on a chair and headbanging with an inflatable guitar will stay with me for some time…
Saturday took us to the New Inn in Stratton (in Pighill, for the people like me who didn’t know where it was); we’d been warned it would be a late start due to footie, and because of all the extra time and penalties, we actually couldn’t start playing until half past ten – giving me time to fix the monitors, which had got injured the night before. Luckily our foreign-owned English team of foreign players beat the nasty foreign foreigners, so everyone in the pub was in fine spirits already, making our job nice and easy.
Faced with a midnight deadline for shutting up, we just ranted straight though as many numbers as we could squeeze in, and I think everybody had a rather nice evening. Great to see some old pals there, and big thanks to John & Adam for voluntarily helping us drag all the kit in and out. I think I want roadies now.
Anyhoo, this week, we’re stopping in dear ol’ Brizzle for a change: –
Saturday 26th – Railway Tavern, Fishponds
Ahh, the dear ol’ Court Of Queen Amy. Always a blast in here, and I must remember to pack the acoustic in case Her Majesty decrees an after-hours session is in order… I’ll also see if I can’t persuade my lovely Dem to come along as well, it’s about that time again
Joke of the week, courtesy of my pal Andy – I’m not taking the blame for this one…
Why did the chicken cross the road, cross back again, then go and roll around in a muddy puddle?
Because he was a dirty double-crosser.
There, you see? Mine aren’t so bad after all, are they?
Date – 14/05/2012
Did anyone notice anything strange this weekend? I saw an odd yellow light shining in the sky all day long – not only that, but lots of the puddles that have recently been occupying my garden seem to have been stolen. I did call the local police to report the theft, but the lady on the phone became increasingly unsympathetic as the conversation went on.
Now, all this is very odd, but I know it can’t be a portent of the End Of Days, because I already have it booked in my calendar for next month (although I am still quietly hopeful of being able to prevent it if I can recruit enough faithful followers for my cult – currently the roll-call is not looking good, consisting as it does of next door’s cat, three cockroaches and a stuffed toy polar bear, who is beginning to think of changing over to the Jehovah’s Witnesses – he’s heard that apparently they have a special protection scheme).
Anyway, there were no band gigs this weekend, but I am able to report (in an unashamedly smug and totally biased parental way) that diva daughter Lily played an absolutely blinding gig up at Thornbury’s Barrel, we were hugely proud of the way she handled it, although I think next time I won’t let her decide how we split the takings between us… I may have to ask Dem for more pocket money to see me through the week.
However, coming up (assuming that Suzi survived her week in a tent in Wales), the mighty Angel Up Front rawk machine is wheeling back into action…
Friday 18th – Foresters Arms, Melksham
A new one for us, and apparently a 9:30 start, so I should be able to catch the end of Cbeebies before I have to load the van up….
Saturday 19th – New Inn, Stratton, Swindon
Another new one, so I can’t tell you much about it – although on recent form, I won’t be able to tell you much about it afterwards, either… This one is a 10:00 start, so the locals can “watch the footie” first; this means they’ll be nice and sober and attentive by the time we get to go on.
In the meantime – keep it real, people, and watch the skies……..
Date – 08/05/2012
Right, well that was a bit different; Saturday night at the Village Tavern was quieter than we expected, I suspect the Curse Of The Bank Holiday may have been behind it…Still, everyone who was there seemed to be having fun, and it was lovely to see Amy and Abby who came along all the way up from Thornbury to see us, bless ‘em.
The major entertainment for me came after we’d packed up, and set off for home. Stuart, with Ben in the passenger seat, pulled away first, and promptly headed off in the general direction of Wrong; out of curiosity, Suzi and followed in the van to see what would happen next.
We followed them through a housing estate, taking many turnings along a series of increasingly narrow roads, until at last we reached the inevitable cul-de-sac. Stuart managed a deft seventeen-point-turn, and, as he drove back past us, ignored our helpless giggling and ruefully remarked, “Well, it’s not that one…”.
A quick about-face and we followed him for some more “exploration”; after a while we chanced upon a roundabout that looked familiar, so we headed for home, watching in the rear-view mirror as the boys continued to orbit it…
Five minutes later, my phone bleeps, and a guffawing Suzi, gasping for breath, reads out the following message…
“It’s from Ben. ‘Completely lost. In case we never escape Swindon… it’s been a pleasure gigging with you guys’”.
And that, actually, is the last we heard from him…
As there’s no band gigs this week, they still have a few days to find their way back to civilisation – please do keep an eye out for them, and if you see them out the roads anywhere, try and flag them down without unduly alarming them, and see if you can help direct them back to more familiar territory….
Still, there’ll be no weekend off for yours truly – I’m doing Roadie and Second Guitarist duty (Second? SECOND???) for my lovely diva daughter on Friday…
Friday 11th – Lily B at the Barrel, Thornbury
Every time the band plays here, we get people asking if we’ve “got that lovely young girl singer with you tonight”. When we say no, they don’t leave, so possibly they’re just making sure it’s safe to stick around. But this time, it won’t be. And I’m pretty sure Lily’s gotten even louder than she used to be. Expect a bunch of acoustic covers, plus some noisier stuff; also expect some onstage bickering, although if she gets too stroppy I might have to carry out my threat and join in with a bit of singing…
Next week, we’ll be back with some full-on band action, assuming the Little Lost Sheep have found their way back by then….
Date – 30/04/2012
And a warm welcome back to the sunny weather – anybody fancy pitching and helping me build an ark, just in case things take a turn for the worse?
I’m planning a really big one, three storeys high, but no animals – just waterproofed, flooded, and filled with up fish – specifically, with carp.
Just them, nothing else.
So I can be the proud owner of a multi-storey carp ark.
Anyway, back to the world of rawk’n’roll, you’ll be delighted to hear that my playing seems to have somehow gotten worse than my taste in jokes.
On Saturday at the Wheatsheaf in Stratton we met up with some old pals (who are now thoroughly educated in the “singing along with Alan & Ben’s alternative words to songs” game), but I also managed to achieve a record number of “forgetting how the song goes” / “forgetting what the song is” / “forgetting where I am in the song” and one brief, glorious “forgetting how to play the guitar” episode, all packed into one little gig.
And that was after I contrived to get lost on the way there.
I suppose, to my credit, at least I remembered to put everything in the van, and didn’t crash it – although possibly that would have been a good thing for the World Of Entertainment. Still, clearly there’s some karma at work, as Ben managed to “accidentally” hit me in the face before we’d even started playing.
Rather hard. In fact, so hard that maybe I could plead concussion as an excuse – it was certainly hard enough to leave a distinct handprint on the side of my face – at least, according to Suzi, who was sympathetically doubled up on the floor crying with laughter.
Of course, Ben couldn’t apologise enough – so he didn’t – but I shall have my revenge next time I see him…
…which will be…
Saturday 5th May – Village Tavern, Toothill
We like it here, they’re a nice friendly appreciative bunch, there’s lots of room for nancying about in, and we get to play pretty much a loud as we like. Which is rather loud indeed, if you’re me. Which I am. Most of the time, anyway.
Meanwhile, shamelessly lifted from a stranger’s page on farcebook, this, I think, is worth a quick look…
Date – 23/04/2012
Now, that was odd – a quiet weekend, with no gigs, after our planned trip to Andover got cancelled at the last minute due to a bout of Pub Staff Double-booking Mayhem.
Not to worry, I’m sure they’ll get themselves sorted out one day. In the meantime I just stayed home and fiddled with my equipment.
In other news, I just found out that our dear esteemed Prime Minister visited the site where I work today, but has apparently now left. Obviously the poor chap was too awestruck in the end to actually come up and speak to me, preferring instead (presumably) to just gaze longingly at me through my office window, until the rain started to seep into his shoes, and his aides led him away back to Downing Street.
A shame really, as I would have quite liked to meet him; I think he really would have benefitted from a nice hard slap.
Anyways, casual political violence aside, what does the coming weekend have to offer?
Saturday 28th – The Wheatsheaf, Stratton, Swindon
A new one for us, in sunny Pighill – apparently there are two Wheatsheafs in Stratton, this I’m told is the one in Dores Road; postcode is SN2 7QT, for those of you with a GPS fetish. Our Martin used to set his satnav language to German, and then deliberately drive the wrong way, cos he liked the stern way the German lady would tell him off…
Er – that’s it, I think, for now.
Peace and strawberry bonbons*
*the lemon ones were never as good, and the toffee ones were just plain weird, weren’t they…?
Date – 16/04/2012
That was great fun! Friday night at the Barrel, Suzi drove the van so I got to play in my favourite “alcohol enhanced” mode, which means that – as long as I remember which song I’m supposed to be playing – I think I’m fantastic. Also, my gear (at least as far as I can remember) behaved itself this time, and I even managed to sneak in a few more pints while I was supposed to be packing up, so a jolly fine and trouble-free event… at least until my beloved Dem went to borrow a tenner from my wallet the next morning, and found it distressingly empty…
Oh well. I’ll have to be well-behaved for the evening’s gig in Stroud to make up for it.
And, I think I was quite good really. We saw lots of the usual mad Queen Vic regulars, plus John & Anne who came along for the second night in a row to see us (I’m beginning to suspect that Suzi may have borrowed money off them, and they’re keeping a close eye on her). Poor old Suzi had hardly managed to sleep since the night before, as apparently it “took her ages to drag some pisshead guitarist out of the pub” before she could get off home. Poor girl.
The Queen Vic was even busier than usual, so Ben had a hard time concentrating, what with the bunny girls / air hostesses / French maids cavorting shamelessly around in front of his eyes.
(Actually, he often gets that, but this time they were really there. I had to take a very careful look to make sure).
So, thanks to everyone who came along and had a good time this weekend, particularly young Amy for taking thousands of top-notch photos on Friday (they’re up on the band’s Facebook group page, if you fancy a gander). Most noticeable is the fact that crystal-clear photography doesn’t really do me any favours – I think she should use some of that special charisma-sensitive film next time. Still, at least my guitar looks pretty.
Anyhoo, coming up this week..
Saturday 21st – The Angel, Andover
A new one for us, this is the second pub called the Angel we’ll have played in two weeks – spooky, huh? Even more spooky is the possibility that we may even cram a rehearsal in this week and learn some new stuff… or maybe we should just try to learn the current set…
Anyhoo, that’ll do for now
Date – 10/04/2012
Ahh, there you are, my little Easter bunnies.
We hope you had a good weekend, and that Santa brought you all your little heart’s desires. We had a good giggle, anyway, including a surprise last-minute bonus gig at the Angel in Westbury. And jolly good fun it was too, although even before we started the gig had to be rescued with a borrowed pipe wrench to do some impromptu equipment surgery. Still, once we got going everybody had a fine time, and hopefully we’ll be back there again pretty soon. Nice to find a venue that still remembers “free drinks for musicians”…
Saturday saw roll up to the Brookhouse Farm in Swindon, large eatery pub with flamingos wading in the picturesque champagne fountains while unicorns grazed contentedly in the car park…
Actually, that’s not entirely true – one of the unicorns looked a bit grumpy, to be honest – but it is fair to say that the unicorns almost outnumbered the punters. Still, we managed to amuse ourselves well enough, and we even got a rather intriguing offer of a festie gig next month – but we’ll see if that comes off or not.
Meantime, it looks like an interesting weekend coming up…
Friday 13th – The Barrel, Thornbury
This time, Suzi WILL arrive in time to drive the van from my gaffe and back, so I WILL be able to drink lots of beer, and this time my gear WILL NOT malfunction like last time. After all, it’s Friday 13th – what can possibly go wrong?
Saturday 14th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Ahh, the dear ol’ Queen Vic. Some of the tiny wee facebook people are already getting excited about this one apparently…
Date – 02/04/2012
Hello, my little spring chickens!
Well, the unseasonal warm weather may have ended for now (although who can really say?) but the nip in the air on Saturday night certainly didn’t deter Witney’s scantily-clad young lady contingent. In addition to the usual crew, we had a hen party in, as well as a divorce party – who, I have to say, appeared to be having rather more fun.
We even had a smattering of fancy-dress enthusiasts – I was rather impressed by the air hostess uniform, actually – including a couple of cowgirls, who I was tempted to photograph so I could send a copy to our old pal Martin (who has a “special interest” in such things), but Suzi told me not to as it might be difficult to play the second set from the back of a police van.
Anyhoo, a fine time had by all I think, Ben and I even found a shiny balloon to play with, but predictably, we burst it almost immediately… Ben was very good about it and managed not to cry, brave little soldier that he is.
Truly, life is full of tragedy.
Speaking of which…
Saturday 7th April – Brookhouse Farm, Swindon
A new one for us, so anything might happen. Mind you, we got this booking via our alcohol-enhanced promoter pal Statey, and she’s never set us wrong yet. If you’re in that neck of the woods, come and find out. If not, you’ll have to read next week’s exciting episode. Although it’s not impossible that I might jazz it up a bit, so if I start mentioning their attractive flamingos wading in the picturesque champagne fountains, whilst the unicorns graze contentedly in the pub car park, you might do well to remember that this is Swindon, after all…
Dat’s all, folks!
Date – 26/03/2012
Well, after last weekend’s extravaganza, it was actually nice to have a Friday night off, followed up with a cosy little gig at the dear ol’ Kinger in Bath. I somehow managed to turn up early, whereas Stuart & Ben got held up, so I got to set up the kit on my own, in a nice leisurely fashion, without having to trip over untidy musicians. Even Suzi arrived in time to make a prompt 9:00 start time.
And a very pleasant evening it was too, we seemed to go down rather well despite a few impromptu moments, and it was an absolute delight after last week to be playing indoors and not having to defrost fingers in between songs. Of course, this prompted Suzi to complain about being too hot, but she soon gave up on this in favour of complaining about the three of us instead…
Anyhoo, my little spring chickens, this weekend sees just the one outing..
Saturday 31st – Red Lion, Witney
Back here again for an “official” AUF gig after being there for a “emergency backup stand-in” gig a couple of weeks ago. They may notice that much of the set is unchanged, but hopefully they won’t notice that so is Stuart’s t-shirt….
Actually, talking of t-shirts, this might be a good time to show you the Valentine’s day present I got from my beloved wife…
I think this gives you an idea of the kind of respect I command at home.
She is brilliant though, Ben was so impressed he got her to buy him one as well… I was delighted to find when it arrived that it bore the small-print warning “May contain bum notes”.
Date – 19/03/2012
Good morning, Vietnam!
Well, much as we often do slightly odd things, that weekend was a little more unusual than most… never have any of us played a gig at such an unholy hour …
Friday’s jaunt to Witney for the Red Lion went off reasonably successfully, despite Ben being slightly hampered by a strapped-up knackered wrist (we won’t ask how he did it…), and my thumb being held together for the evening with superglue… but we made it through the night, and thanks to several sets of road works on the way back, we were home by three…
…and up again at six. Who invented early mornings? Rather to our surprise, we all managed to actually get up and get ourselves to Hullavington airfield by eight o’clock for the Ride Of Respect bike run, where we found a lovely flatbed trailer waiting for us, complete with PA rig, sound engineer, generator… So we set up, quickly sound checked, and got on with the serious business of complaining about the cold.
After a while, we got the hang of the routine – play a few numbers, then we have to stop so the lads can do the announcements to get the next batch of riders sheparded together ready for the off; so we go and scrounge a coffee, and try to find somewhere less cold to hide until it’s time to do some more. So, thanks to the guys from Biker FM for the use of their outside broadcast van (and their camping stove, ideal for warming frozen hands over – until you see the smoke begin to rise…).
Actually this playing-in-short-bursts routine worked quite well for us, as after about four songs Stuart’s hands were too cold hold the drumsticks – I found my playing actually was about the same as usual, even though I couldn’t feel my fingers any more. Probably that’s not a good thing.
Still, it was nice to know that the gig was being transmitted live on the web all over the world… even if, as Suzi observed, there may not have been anybody actually listening….
Anyhoo, despite all the whingeing, we actually had a great time, definitely a special moment to stand on the stage and watch around a thousand bikes at a time thundering off together – so big thanks to Anne for inviting us to play there, and to John for looking after us so well – even kindly volunteering to take Suzi on the run after we finished playing.
So, a Grand Day Out, even though 24 hours later I’m pretty sure I still haven’t warmed up again yet… must be getting soft.
Coming up, just the one “normal” gig this week…
Saturday 24th – Kings Arms, Bath
It’s indoors, and it’s warm. But there won’t be 5,000 people there, and it won’t be going out live on the radio. But, it’s indoors and it’s warm. And, it’s warm.
That’s yer lot
Date – 12/03/2012
Top o’ the mornin’ to ye!
Well, that’s another weekend of pub rock fun sorted out. Friday’s duo gig at the Railway I remember mostly for Stuart turning up to watch, and then being forced to play tambourine – he didn’t look very pleased about it – and also for somehow wrenching my shoulder out of its socket during the setting-up process. Ouchie. So, apologies to anyone who was there and missed the usual jumping-about silliness; maybe I’m getting too old for this nonsense and it’s time to check out joining a blues outfit instead…. and a rocking chair… maybe a stair-lift to heaven…
The following night at the Anchor was a much jollier affair, however; suitably dosed up with painkillers, things were back to what passes for normal. I was a little disappointed that there were very few in fancy dress – in fact, the only ones were a couple of young lads who were dressed up as drunken idiots – so dedicated were they to this subterfuge, that they were eventually thrown out. Still, it was nice to see our ol’ buddies Swindon Al and Helen enjoying themselves, even though standing directly in front of Suzi’s speakers can make you A LITTLE BIT DEAF.
Right, what’s coming up this weekend? A bit of proper silliness, that’s what.
Saturday 17th – Red Lion, Witney
Always a bonkers gig, it’s great fun and it’s far away – oh, and it’s St Paddy’s night, which probably won’t encourage things be sensible; we won’t get home until it’s so late it’s almost early again, and we probably wouldn’t have agreed to do it if we’d known how early we’d have to get up the next morning for…
Sunday 18th – Ride Of Respect, Hullavington Airfield
Early on a Sunday morning is no time for rawk’n’roll… On the other hand, when there’s about fifteen thousand entertainment-hungry bikers assembling in preparation for the annual Help For Heroes fund-raising ride through Wootton Bassett, and it’s all for a jolly good cause, a band’s gotta do what a band’s gotta do… Just don’t expect too much in the way of musical finesse, and make sure there’s plenty of coffee around.
And if we survive that little lot, we’ll see y’all next week!
Date – 06/03/2012
Ahh, that’s better, a whole weekend of rawk’n’toll without any major technical disasters.
Friday’s duo gig at the Barrel was a nice relaxed affair, having trundled through most of our acoustic repertoire, it was time for the electrically-enhanced second set.
We’d dragged eldest son along for roadieing, so several of his mates were able to enjoy watching him jump up to play one of the numbers for me while I had a nice sit-down. And I must say I was pleased to hear how very nice my guitar sounds from out in the audience. I was hoping Suzi would keep him up there for a bit longer, but apparently he is even more unwashed than I am, so he was sent back to sit and drink beer (at my expense) while I got on with working, I think I must be doing something wrong…
Saturday at the Village Tavern in Toothill was marvellous fun, we had quite a few in this time and they were all up for some serious silly-hat-wearing, inflatable-guitar-playing jumping-about-falling-over high jinx. And we must say Hi to young (ten, maybe twelve?) Lucy, whose dad brought her along specifically so she could “hear some proper music, not that nonsense off the X-factor”.
Judging by the way she was jigging about, hopefully she is now cured of Cowell’s Syndrome. At any rate she left cheerily clutching a fistful of flyers, inflatable guitars, and various other bits of the silly paraphernalia we cart around with us.
Anyhoo, some more fun coming up this weekend: –
Fri 9th – Railway Tavern, Fishpond – Angel Under Cover
Acoustic mayhem in the Court Of Queen Amy, Ben has threatened to come along to watch (and, little does he know, roadie…). Much merriment to expect, especially if Her Majesty is on the lash…if so I advise wear wellies, a lot of drinks can get thrown about in the latter stages of the evening.
Sat 10th – Anchor Hotel, Warminster
Get your kicks on the A36, in Sadie and Paul’s house of mad funsters. My dear Dem is toying with the idea of coming along to this one, so most things are possible. Last time she pulled four squaddies and a monk. But at least nobody got their arse painted blue, they save that for special occasions.
Right that’s it for now, duty calls….
Date – 27/02/2012
Well, we have a bit of a “difficult” gig to report on this week – up at the Barrel on Friday, I had a plague of technical gremlins which caused my guitar to alternately cut out, go very quiet, or go suddenly apocalyptically loud at unexpected moments, and not in a good way. It didn’t help that Suzi had a heavy cold, nor did it help that I was playing abysmally badly.
Imagine, if you will, a walrus, jam-packed full of narcotics, and wide-eyed with excitement for its big opportunity to sing live on the X-Factor its tribute to Whitney Houston, “I will always love you”, whilst being fed tail-first into an industrial meat grinder. Well, I didn’t sound anywhere near that good*.
Still, folks seemed in general to have a nice time; my dear Dem in particular had an excellent time, judging by the state of my wallet when I retrieved it from her at the end of the night. And it was good to see John & Anne from Ride of Respect as well as a few of the local familiar faces studiously air-guitaring away.
So, after a long day spent on Saturday stripping apart all of my rig, tinkering with the soldering iron, burning myself a few times, and then reassembling it all again, I think I’ve managed to remove all traces of the gremlins’ nest from my amps. With a leetle bit of luck, everything should be working normally again next weekend.
So, just the abysmal playing to sort out, then.
Friday March 2nd – Barrel Inn, Thornbury
Hang on, didn’t we do that last week? Yes we did, but this time it’s a duo gig, so it’s just me, Suzi, and my rather nice acoustic… maybe a few backing tracks.. bit of electric stuff… the odd silly hat… perhaps a special guest gremlin…
Saturday 3rd – Village Tavern, Toothill, Swindon
Oh, we played here a while before Christmas – good acoustics, loads of room to leap around in, and it’s run by bikery types so we rather like it here.
I leave you with a moment from my workshy teenage daughter, who has been studiously avoiding household chores on the pretext that she is too busy rehearsing for her next amdram show.
I decide to go and fetch her out of the bedroom to come and help me with a few things that need doing…
“I can’t, Dad, I’m too busy practicing the dance routines for my show”.
“But you’re not”, I observe with razor-sharp perspication, “You’re just sat on your bed, listening to music”
“Well, I’m not in this one”.
*Hands up who thought there was going to be the word “Adele” in there somewhere…
Date – 04/02/2012
A brief transmission from Planet Rock this week, as I have many, many other things I should be doing…
A fairly quiet night at the Bell in Shepton was slightly complicated by my amp suffering a small nervous breakdown which caused all the effects to stop working. Not that I rely on ‘em that much, but the fact that various songs were sounding quite different caused me some confusion, resulting in my playing like a baboon on acid. And not in a good way.
To try an avoid a repetition of that performance, and ‘cos I doubted my ability to strip my amp apart, find the problem, acquire any bits needed and get it all back together in time for the next night, I instead decided that this was an ideal excuse to acquire a new toy.
A quick trawl of the second-hand shops down the Gloucester road turned up an effects processor for fifty squid, and my remaining twenty minutes were spent in frantic confusion with a downloaded manual while I learned just enough to persuade it to do what I want – well, more or less.
So, suitably tooled up, we arrived at the Swiss Chalet in Pighill, and were delighted to see our ol’ pals Swindon Al and his newly-qualified fiancee Helen there waiting for us. The gig went fine, right up until the point when one of the locals retardedly decided it would be funny to reach over and hit one of Stuart’s cymbals so hard that the stand broke before heroically diving away into the crowd…
We stopped, we had a word, and a contingent of regulars identified the errant cretin, duly removed him from the premises, and promised that they’d ensure the pub would cover the cost of a replacement. Which they did, which was nice.
So, we should be all kitted out again ready for our one gig this weekend – but it’ll be a good ‘un…
Friday 24th – The Barrel, Thornbury
I like it here. I like it ‘cos it’s nice and close to home. I like it’s ‘cos the people that run it are lovely, I like it ‘cos they get an ace crowd of enthusiastic rock monsters in, and also I like it ‘cos my beloved Dem is coming along to drink beer and fall over. And maybe –just maybe – I can persuade Suzi to drive the van, so I can do the same.
So there ya go
(Actually, since Saturday I’ve had a bit more of a play may new guitar toy, and discovered it can also make the guitar sound like anything from an enraged demon screaming for apocalyptic vengeance, to a small duck weeping because it’s lonely. And quite a lot of other sounds I probably won’t find a use for). The next few gigs should be fun, until Suzi confiscates it – then I guess I’ll have to fix my amp…
Date – 13/02/2012
Guten Tag, mein leiblings!
As rawk’n’roll weekends go, that one, I have to say, was purty quiet… Seems that the good folks of Oldland Common, while they like coming out to the pub to watch the rugby, just don’t have the stamina to stick around afterwards, and have to stumble off home… bunch of lightweights. Thus it was that we played half of our first set to around four people (and the other half of it to three people, while one was away fetching the drinks in…).
Still, we probably weren’t up for a full on hard-rockin extravaganza anyway, our poor ol’ Ben has Done His Back In Proper Bad, and was hobbling round the stage like a man twice his age (hang on, that’d be me, then…). He did cheer up occasionally as another wave of painkillers washed over his system, but more often than not was playing merrily away whilst quite clearly being totally spaced out (hang on, that’d be me, then…).
Some more folks trickled in for the second set, and we got some quite enthusiastic jumping around going on by then end – even Ben managed to get his hair caught in some stray wiring that was hanging from the ceiling, and finally they let us stop after doing a solid hour and a half for the second set.
We’re hoping Ben will be better next week (after all, some of that kit is awfully heavy…)
Friday 17th – Bell Hotel, Shepton Mallet
Scrumpy Oi up, landlord….
Saturday 18th – Swiss Chalet, Gorse Hill, Swindon
A new one (at least for Ben and I, I think Suzi & Stuart played it a few thousand years ago, before I joined the band) – so we don’t really know what to expect. Nor do they, though, so at least that’s pretty fair. With a bit of luck we might catch up with some of our old pals from the Gorse Hill Mafia- they’re usually game for a laugh….
Right, that seems to be enough for now, I’ll leave you with what, allegedly, has been voted the best joke of the year….
“Conjuctivitis.com. That’s a site for sore eyes.”
See? And you complain about mine…
Date – 08/02/2012
I suppose I ought to apologise for the tosh coming out a bit late this week – but that would imply that I fondly imagine there’s a horde of keen readers out there waiting all agog every Monday for the next instalment.
And I’m not quite that deluded. Not yet.
Anyhoo, with no rawk’n’roll action to report on this week, I shall instead regale y’all with a brief and pointless ramble brought on by the fact that my rucksack, that I’ve been using every day to carry various items around with me into work, and which has accompanied me on various other expeditions, has finally disintegrated and had to be replaced.
I did consider a brief, informal but solemn ceremony in the back garden, followed by a Viking longboat funeral pyre; but it’s a bit chilly out, so I settled for tossing it into the wheely bin.
Now, the point of all this (it has a point? Yes, but not much of one) is that it was actually given to me as a 40th birthday present (I know, I don’t look it) by our ex-neighbour’s lovely daughter – let’s call her Leanne; after all, it is her name – and it prompted me to remember the following little episode from a few years ago…
My lovely Dem was in throes of cake-making, and Leanne and I got sent out to Tesco’s to pick up some urgently-needed ingredients. As we trundled through the checkout, the (rather grumpy-looking) middle-aged lady at the till looked at my somewhat tatty appearance, my trolley full of whipping cream, and then rather pointedly at my slim, attractive 19-year-old female companion, who was happily staring vacantly into space. She then gave me what Paddington Bear would describe as an Extremely Hard Stare, positively radiating disapproval having evidently leaped to an unsavoury conclusion.
So, to allay her concerns, I leant over and said conspiratorially in her ear “Brilliant, isn’t she? I got her off the internet. East European, only five hundred quid. Mind you, she can’t speak a word of English.”
At this point, Leanne wakes up, and decides to join in the subterfuge. “That’s right”, she says, “Can’t speak a word of it…”.
Anyways, back to the future…
Saturday 11th – Crown and Horseshoe, Oldland Common
Not been here for quite a while, but it’s usually jolly good fun. Be interesting to see how much we’ve forgotten after nearly two weeks. Jazz Odyssey, here we come….
Date – 30/01/2012
Ahhh, that’s better, nothing like a couple of good ol’ rawk’n’roll outings to chase away those winter blues –well, that and a nice bottle of JD, I always say…
Anyrodaup, we had a jolly Friday evening up at the Queen Vic in Stroud – where the local council have apparently decided to reverse the one-way system again, back to how it was a year ago; meaning that, having orbited the centre a couple of times, I got to within 500 yards of the venue only to find my way blocked by No Entry sign, a couple of parked cars and some road works. By carefully shoving the roadwork barriers and cones out the way, I managed to just squeeze through and drive the wrong way down a couple of one way streets to get to where I wanted. Being first there, I was delighted to find the amiable Arnie who, with his mate, helped lug all the nasty heavy equipment in.
The actual gig was as enjoyable as always, marred only slightly by my cutting-out wireless which meant I had to stand quite still to keep it going; and the fact that – er – I’ve quite clearly forgotten several of the songs, despite them having been in the set list for the past several months. Oh well, I’d remembered each one by the time we finished it. Pretty much… rather embarrassing*, really…
Saturday, and the Woodlands Edge in Pighill was already heaving when I rolled up, bearing a newly-repaired wireless, and we carefully manoeuvred the kit in past the thronging punters. Halfway through setting up, and in stroll our mad pals Gina and Lucy, much to our delight. Lots of big hellos and hugs and suddenly it’s nearly time to start; but where oh where is our cherubic vocalist? Ahh, here she comes, striding purposefully in, her lovely countenance clouded by a somewhat thunderous aspect…
“Oi, what time d’you call this then?”, enquires a cheerful Lucy of our stray prima donna.
I shan’t detail Suzi’s exact reply, but if you hold down the shift key and run your index finger across the numbers at the top of your keyboard, you’ll get the general idea.
It transpires that Suzi’s satnav, when presented with the post code for the pub, had taken her instead to a random car park at a dead end on an anonymous Swindon industrial estate, where she has been sat for the past twenty minutes phoning each of us in turn and leaving an increasingly irate series of messages before finally giving in and trying to find the place herself. (Me, I have to get lost the old-fashioned way, without the aid of all this technology…).
Quite how (even if we had been able to hear phones ringing above the noise of the pub while we were busy setting up), we would have been able to help is beyond us; at first it’s my fault for telling her the wrong postcode (it wasn’t); then it’s Stuart’s fault for not answering his phone (see above); then it’s Ben’s fault that she isn’t sure which Ben in her address book is the right one, so she didn’t even try to call him… in the end we decide it must be Gina’s fault, just so she doesn’t feel left out.
Now that we’re all finally here, we can start playing, and have a very jolly time; lots of room to prance about, my wireless is working properly again, and dear ol’ Gina even disobeys doctor’s orders to come up and sing a number with us. Marvellous fun. Although I still failed to remember a couple of the songs…
Anyhoo, that’s it for now – no gigs next weekend as Suzi is away… I wonder if Gina might be free, though…?
*But not as embarrassing as that time I was thrown out of Florida Sea World for swimming in one the pools… How was I supposed to know that it was for Display Porpoises Only?
Date – 23/01/2012
Just a quickie this week, although, hey, it’s better than nothing… (and how many times have we heard that before…)
Our duo gig on Saturday at the Cross Keys in Hanham went off reasonably peaceably; cosy little place (so cosy, in fact, there was nowhere to set the lights up), friendly locals, although one bunch of lads did have a distressing tendency to ask for Oasis songs – still, they’ll learn.
Also we met a very colourful lady of uncertain age (I think she was even older than me, but I’m not certain) who took quite a shine to my eighteen year-old, who I’d bribed into roadying for the night; “Oooooh, e’s lush, innee? You’re lush, inn’t yooo? Oooh, yes you is, yoos proper lush….” I was most gratified by the look of terror in his eyes.
“If you like”, Suzi and I told her, “you can take him home, we don’t need him for a while”.
I did tell him that one day he’ll be grateful for the attention; as it was he did remarkably well by not running away screaming into the night. Fortunately, he doesn’t usually read these emails, so I can say what I like about him. Unfortunately, his girlfriend’s mother does….
Anyhoo, this weekend we have a proper rawk’n’roll action fest: –
Friday 27th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Always a complete hoot, from the sensible-shoe contingent to the full-on rock monsters, this place never fails to disappoint. Oh, hang on – that’s the wrong way round, isn’t it; I mean it always fails to never disappoint… no, wait… anyroadup, it’s always a good gig. One where we make sure we bring all the silly toys along.
Saturday 28th – Woodlands Edge, Peatmoor, Swindon
And another lively one, lots of room to prance about, we even get the occasional guest air guitarist joining us. Excellent.
And that, my friends, will just about wrap up January 2012. Where did it all go? Where did I leave my socket set? And why can’t Cowboy Joe prove that he isn’t a camel?
Oh, and if I was a radio DJ, I’d also mention here a happy birthday this week to all-round ace people Disco Dave and Ickle Dinosaur Sophie… (although to be fair, it’s only him that’s all-round) – however, if WAS a radio DJ, I’d probably be too busy repeatedly slamming my head in a door until I got over it to be writing this drivel, wouldn’t I…
Date – 17/01/2012
Another weekly instalment of News From Planet Rock; my initial plan to turn Saturday’s gig at the Reckless into a Proper Big Drink got circumstantially modified, and in the end I took the Duty Driver option and brought my beloved Dem along instead as a stunt drinker on my behalf. So, sadly I can’t report an evening of rawk’n’roll excess on my behalf (although I did break a bottom E string, which is no mean feat). However, Dem did sterling beer consumption work for me, and it was good to see Muddy & Sarah again (he had to come back again this week as he could remember nothing of last week’s gig), and also long-lost pals Sue & Gus (and happy birthday to you too, Gus!). Alas, Ben’s twin was nowhere to be seen, so we had to make fools of ourselves as best we could without him.
Thanks to my ten-year olds amateur-dramatic-related activities, I somehow found myself getting up early the following morning to spend three hours freezing my proverbial’s off hanging round a castle with a bunch of odd blokes in tights (them, not me, for once) before getting home just in time to warm myself up by slinging all the kit back in the van and heading off with Suzi to a duo gig at the Old Mail House in Staple Hill.
Pretty quiet when we walked in, but with plenty of room to set up and the place filling up a bit more later, we had a very pleasant time, punctuated by our now-customary bickering between songs – at one point Suzi had to clarify for the punters that we aren’t actually married (a fact for which I think we are both very grateful on a daily basis). We were a little let down by the frankly lacklustre audience participation from the house hooligan, but he’s been told to make a bit more effort next time.
Incidentally, did you know the word “hooligan” comes from Victorian London, where several neighbouring streets were largely occupied by the Irish, and notoriously disreputable, O’Hooligan family, who caused so much trouble between them that their name entered the English language for their trouble (get it, trouble … oh nevermind)… now there’s something to aim at.
Anyways, educational moment over, what’s going on this week?
Actually, just the one, a duo gig again…
Saturday 21st – Cross Keys, Hanham
Not been here before, so not too sure what to expect, but I guess we’ll find out. Apparently it’s a “9:15 start”, which sounds very precise and organised to me; I’ve not encountered ruthless Teutonic efficiency in Hanham before, so maybe they’re quite relaxed really. Then again, I only just found out that back in the thirties, Diana Ross was a fully-paid up member of the Nazi party, before she got thrown out for wearing sparkly ball dresses to rallies, and her claimed Aryan credentials were called into question…
That’ll do for now, it’s getting weird again
Date – 09/01/2012
Well, Saturday’s gig up at the Railway certainly taught us a few things; we found out that, despite nearly four weeks since our last gig, our playing was still up to its usual standard; which is either a tribute to our dedicated professionalism, or means that we simply couldn’t get any worse.
We also found that nothing much else has changed since last year; i.e. Queen Amy still likes to grab the mike and sing “Bitch”; our special guest Motorhead vocalist Muddy still hasn’t learned the words yet; and Suzi unaccountably still doesn’t appreciate mine and Ben’s sense of humour (think “Beano retard” and you’ll get the general level – although in fact I for one was (and for all I know, still am) a proud member of the Dennis The Menace Fan Club in my younger days).
I very nearly got into trouble by being dragged in to referee a very inebriated “who’s tallest” contest between Queen Amy and her mate – who was a clear couple of inches taller – and yet somehow it took at least half an hour of arguing about sloping floors, boot removals, and standing on tippy-toes before our belligerent monarch could be convinced that she actually was, perhaps, just a teensy weensy bit shorter, although “much more regal”…
Anyhoo, a big thanks to everyone who came along and bounced about, and I’ve just remembered I have to be nice to Suzi as well this week – I intend to rely on her for transporting drunken guitarists home…
Saturday 14th – Reckless Engineer, Temple Meads, Bristol
One of the few genuine rocky bikery pubs left, we particularly like this one ‘cos their barman Ben is a dead ringer for our Ben (or possibly the other way around). It’ll be even better than usual because, as it’s my birthday that weekend, I intend to claim my annual not-have-to-drive-back-from-the-gig-which-means-I-can-get-slaughtered-all-night privilege – which I frankly rather enjoy. For maximum comedic effect, I need to find someone who looks exactly like me to bring along as well, so the Ben twins don’t feel out of place… if you know any dashingly handsome, suave young gentlemen, send ‘em down the Reckless on Saturday. Or alternatively you could just ask ‘em if they happen to know anyone who looks like me, and send them instead.
Sunday 15th – Old Mail House, Staple Hill – AUC gig, 3pm start
I predict a slow start to the day, but somehow I’ll have to get myself into a coherent state by mid-afternoon for this duo gig. We’ve not played here before, so they won’t know what to expect, and frankly neither will we. But I’ll have a nice restorative pint, thanks….
Date – 03/01/2012
Happy Easter, folks!
At least, the supermarket I inadvertently wandered into yesterday seems to think so, which I think is something of a record… disgraceful really, especially with Santa still warm in his grave….
Anyway, we hope the big fat red chap brought you all your little hearts’ desires, although I seem to have got someone else’s by mistake – so, if anybody reading this was disappointed to find a flamed maple sunburst Gibson Les Paul Custom in their stocking, instead of the pair of amusing festive socks they were hoping for – please get in touch, I think we can sort out the mix-up. I’ll even wash them for you, and I’ve still got the original packaging.
Right, after a solid week of sitting around eating far too much, it’s time to burn off some calories and get out there for a bit of good ol’ fashioned rawk’n’roll action. We’ll start you off nice and easy, with just the one workout this weekend…
Saturday 7th – Railway Tavern, Fishponds
.. and what better place to start the year can there be than the Court of Queen Amy, although it has just occurred to me that as far as I know there is no railway anywhere near here… come to that, I don’t recall seeing any ponds around, and the only fish I’ve seen in the area have been reclining on a plate wearing a crispy batter overcoat, and appeared to be beyond the help of even the most proficient vetinerarian … but I digress. Queen Amy’s, always a blast.
Right, that’s your lot for now, there’s a rather nice half-full bottle of port lurking all alone in the kitchen – I may go and find our mutual friend Mr Stilton, and cheer it up a little…