2013

Blog Posts – 2013

Date – 18/12/2013

Ho ho ho!

Look, that’s your lot really, we don’t get any more festive that, so make the most of it.

Meanwhile, a hilarious week at rehearsal – I arrived to find Ben and Stuart taking it in turns to suspiciously sniff the inside of his car… it transpired there was a quite distressing odour about the place, which turned out to be due to the fact that a renegade cat had somehow managed to piss all over Stuart’s man-bag (this I promise you is not a euphemism), an episode which subsequently more or less rendered the practice room uninhabitable until the offending item was hurled outside into the rain to calm down for a bit. Meanwhile Ben and I amused ourselves for the rest of the night with a stream of feline urination jokes. There are more than you’d think.

Those of you who actually read this drivel may recall that last week I posted that we had a gig booked on Friday 13th, and idly wondered what could possibly go wrong…

Well, actually, nothing did; we didn’t get that far as the gig was called off midweek by the pub, who had another event going on [editor’s note: it was a wake]. However, Saturday night at the Swiss Chalet in Pighill was rather eventful…

Our lovely pals Gina & Lucy showed up with a posse of pals, and also our mates Trev and Sue; and despite the fact that the pub was less-than-rammed, those that were there more than made up for it. Particularly the posse of young ladies at the back, who towards the end of the night spent a lot of time dancing on their seats whilst exposing themselves. I mention this especially for Ben’s benefit, as from where he was stood, I don’t think he could have seen them. In fact, I’m pretty certain he couldn’t have seen them, otherwise his playing would have been too erratic to warrant the fulsome praise he was given by several punters after the gig.

Nobody said anything nice about my playing, so I shall have to comfort myself instead with the vivid memories of supple undulating young female bodies writhing about as they undressed each other. It’s a thankless task, this guitar hero thing.

Also during the course of the gig, as usual we passed out several of the band’s toys for the punters to play with – obviously the inflatable guitars, and Sock Monkey’s regular crowd surfing, but on this occasion Lou also passed out Stuart’s beloved drumkit mascot – and, tragically, it never came back.

Bird

Now, I actually watched her pass it out to a sensible-looking curly-haired gentleman, around fifty years of age, who was sat on his own some way in front of the stage. Nobody else went anywhere near there (at least, as far as I can tell in the encore mayhem); subsequent enquiries revealed that the chap was a regular local, named Brian, and apparently not normally given to erratic behaviour.

As yet, we have not received a ransom demand, but poor Stuart is terribly upset, and we have vowed to do our utmost to retrieve this lost member of our little troupe. So, if you were in the Gorse Hill region of Swindon last Saturday night, and noticed a curly haired, respectable-looking gentleman in the company of a small stuffed child’s toy, please contact the AUF Crimewatch hotline.

And, if you’re reading this, “Brian”: – We Will Find You, We Will Not Rest Until We Have Tracked You Down And Retrieved Stuart’s Little Pal. The Inexorable Vengeance Of Angel Up Front Will Be Merciless; Your Only Hope Is To Return That Which Is Ours Immediately.

Right, coming up this weekend we have no official gigs, so we have a chance to let some of the stench of cat-piss die down, but we are playing at my sort-of-spare-daughter’s (I seem to have acquired several of these over the years) wedding, which is just up the road from me. I wonder if I can persuade anybody else to drive the van….?

…Louiiiiisssaaa, you’re looking very nice tonight……

Otherwise, that’s your lot from us for this year, apart from the New Year’s Eve bash at Queen Amy’s Railway Tavern in Fishponds. For which Ben and I (at least) are definitely going to get seriously unprofessional. You have been warned…

Square on

A

Also in the news; apparently a group of dyslexic South Africans have been holding a candlelight vigil outside a Nissan main dealer’s house…

Date – 09/12/2013

Hola!

Here’s this week’s little literary offering – please sautee gently in clarified butter until golden brown, then add 350g of mushrooms and a small clove garlic, plus a pinch of black pepper and sea salt to taste. Finally, toss in the asparagus tips, and pour the mixture into a casserole dish and put into a preheated oven for 15-20 minutes.

This should give you enough time to neck down four or five bottles of Newcastle Brown Ale before serving, which may just be enough to stop you from wondering why you’re trying to cook an email, you daft sod. I suggest you seek psychiatric help.

Another fine weekend’s silliness in the world of rawk’n’roll; Saturday night saw us fetch up the New Inn in Stratton, and we were delighted to see our pals John & Anne stroll in resplendent in their matching AUF t-shirts – only £6.99 while stocks last, folks – and even more delighted when John offered to buy us all a drink, with Anne’s money. Well, there’s nothing like a friendly domestic bicker to start the evening off nicely, is there?

Louisa remembered that this was the pub where last time she made an extra £20 out of an undergarment wager, so she was quietly hoping to make a little more extra cash tonight. Whether this was uppermost in her mind when she accidentally intrigued the male half of the audience about five songs in, I’m not sure.

You see, we in the band knew that she was only trying to encourage the audience to come up to the front and dance; but what she actually did, without any preamble, was to simply stand at the mike, hands on hips with head tilted slightly to one side, and announce,

“All right, then, come on, who’s drunk enough? Are any of you drunk enough…?”

Ben and I immediately started giggling helplessly, while Stuart just gaped. Surely this must be the world’s least subtle, and least discerning chat-up line ever. Lou looked momentarily puzzled, then realisation dawned and she just rolled her eyes, muttered something about idiot band mates, and waited for Stuart to compose himself sufficiently to be able to count the next song in.

Still, we had a fine evening, got lots of nice compliments, and so did John and Anne, who were warmly congratulated by a particularly inebriated gentleman on having played so well – you could tell that he was a little confused that there were more people wearing our t-shirts than he seemed to remember had been actually playing, but obviously the alcohol in his system was telling him not to worry too much about this.

Afterwards, we packed up said our goodbyes, and set off for home. Lou was asleep by the time we reached the end of the road, but didn’t actually stop talking until a few miles later. Oh well, I figure she needed the rest anyway, as she’d carelessly agreed to go for a six mile run in the morning. And she thinks we’re idiots…

Sunday afternoon saw diva daughter and myself over in Malmesbury at the very friendly Rose & Crown, for another under-rehearsed acoustic session, which turned a bit noisy for the second set. But what the hell, they had a voluntary roadie for us; a fine gentleman who helped us lug all the kit in and out; during the load out, he was stopped by another regular, who obviously plays in a band too, who complained to him,

“Ere, you never help me carry all my stuff in and out”.

“That’s true”, replies our new friend, “But that’s because you’re shit”.

I like to think of that as a little unsolicited testimonial; maybe we should put it on the posters;

“Lily B – acoustic and electric rock covers and originals. And we’re not shit”.

Anyways, back to the world of full-throttle rawk’n’roll insanity (and possibly insanitary, come to that); let’s consult the calendar – ooh look, we’re at it again next weekend: –

Friday 13th – The Angel, Westbury
Last time we played here I forgot to load up half the PA and had to go back for it, then got stuck in traffic, and finally went to the wrong pub. This time, it’s Friday 13th. What could possibly go wrong?

Saturday 14th – Swiss Chalet, Swindon
If we make it back from Friday, that is…

This week’s Fun Fact – did you know that the Trans-Siberian railway has a kink in it, because when the tsar was drawing a line on a map to show where he wanted it to go, his ruler had a nick in it so the line wasn’t straight? Well, you do now. Go and tell someone quickly, so they can be impressed with how clever you are.

But first – can you smell burning? You left that email in the oven, didn’t you?

Square on

A

Date – 02/12/2013

Well hello there…

Well, Friday’s gig at the Wheatsheaves in Frome was not the greatest – we rolled up to find the entire town centre closed off for some festive carnivalesque event, eventually found our way round to the pub only to discover that they didn’t want us to start playing for another 2 hours… Oh well, at least there was a nice roomy stage to nancy about on. Other than that, the evening was notable only for the supremely annoying little drunk, who insisted on repeatedly wandering onto the stage between sets to fiddle with our toys… Ben was all for decking him, and I must admit I had some sympathy with that notion. But, true professionals that we are, we settled for deciding that we had actually discovered that rare creature, possibly unique in nature – The Bloke Who Would Get Even Thrown Out Of Coldplay For Being Too Much Of A Tosser. Other than that, the only fun to be had was watching two locals at the end of the night desperately trying to have a fight, but both being a little bit too scared of the other one to actually start it, and so allowing themselves to be “held back” by various girlfriends, mates, and passers-by, to the merry sound of “Leave it Grant, ‘e’s not worth it” etc. etc….

Saturday at the Goldfinger Tavern in Highworth was much more fun, despite the landlord’s admonition to keep the volume down to avoid upsetting his grumpy neighbours… I don’t think we’ve ever played so quietly, but it was fun watching Stuart bring his sticks zooming round in a wide arc towards his crash cymbal, then remembering at the last moment we have to be quiet, and pulling them back just in time to make a delicate “ting” sound. Still, I expect it was good for us (on some undetermined moral level) to play quietly just for once. But I don’t think we’ll be making a habit of it…

Coming up…

Saturday 7th Dec – New Inn, Stratton St Margaret
Back to Swindon again. Last time we played here, Lou earned an extra twenty quid from some of the locals who’d had a bet as to the nature of her underwear. I reckon me & Ben could earn an extra fifty each tonight – they’ll never guess…

Sunday 8th – Lily B at the Rose & Crown, Malmesbury
Yup, it’s diva daughter’s last outing for the year, she tells me we need to learn “a Christmas song” for the occasion. Oh Lawdy. On the other hand – could this lead to an actual rehearsal? Only time will tell.

I leave you with a one-liner from aspirant percussionist and comic genius youngest son.

Whilst discussing the vexed question of “Which would be the most dangerous Mr Men book to read?” – well, we often have such intellectual debates at our house – he ponders for a moment, and then sagely advises,
“Well, you wouldn’t want to get on the wrong side of Mr Symmetrical…”

Square on

A

Date – 25/11/2013

Yo homeys!

Oh dearie me, this rock’n’roll lifestylee certainly is taking its toll. Poor Stooie rolled up at the Trout on Friday having completely lost his voice; and while I’m fighting off the nasty coldy fluy thing that has flattened my poor dear other half, and is struggling to breathe a bit more than usual (It’s in, then out, dude. Repeat if necessary. Just like sex), Lou is the only one of us actually fit for anything.Just as well, since she had to get up the following morning at six to go and teach a gym class… Mad.

Saturday, and we set off to Tewkesbury to play a 60th birthday party although the highlight was the under ten guests, who were brilliantly bonkers. Our favourite was the young lad with long dreads, who basically took over the second set with air guitar, power slides, kidnapping the microphone to complain that Lou was taking too long between songs… Pure genius. “You’ll be a drummer when you grow up”. she cautioned him.

As Ben pointed out, though, he can either be a drummer or he can grow up – you can’t do both…

Big news this week, though, was a special gift which arrived from overseas in the spirit of international rawk’n’roll brotherhood – yes, our pals from the awesome Band Of The Lost over in Rockford, Illinois (original home of the authentic Sock Monkey) – having read of our little drum kit pal, and being keen students of our scientific Louisa Hat Mojo research, sent us this magnificent creation…

Sock Monkey Hat

SOCK MONKEY HAT!!!!!!!

Absolutely perfect! Alas, I don’t have a picture of Lou singing in it (well, my hands were full of guitar), but she did (inevitably) look good, and temporary custodianship of the treasured headgear has been passed to Ben (who wears it to work on frosty mornings), although he will have to fight my daughter Lil over it – and frankly, I don’t much fancy his chances.

Right, coming up this week –

Friday 29th – Wheatsheaves, Frome
Have we played here before? I don’t think so [editor’s note: Oh yes we have, it was Suzi’s last gig, when I had raging tonsillitis and looked like the walking dead (and felt like it too)]. But anywhere this deep in Somerset is likely to be sodden in scrumpy, so we should be in for an entertaining evening.

Saturday 30th – Goldfinger Tavern, Highworth
No idea. Don’t even know where Highworth is. We’ll let ya know.

I leave you with a dreadful joke courtesy of beloved almost-daughter Sophie…

What do you call a carp wearing a bow tie?
.
.
.
Sofishticated.

Square on

A

Date – 18/11/2013

Ahoy there shipmates!

This week, our Louisa distinguished herself at rehearsal by pulling her microphone out if her handbag, to find it thoroughly and completely embedded in pastry. “Oh no”, she wails, “It’s covered in pie”.

Apparently the result of injudicious snack storage, her poor mike was indeed not just encrusted, but actually quite full of pastry comestibles. We had to dismantle it and spend a good ten minutes cleaning it out before it was deemed fit for use; thus it was that Saturday’s set list was amended to feature such rock’n’roll classics as Joan Jett’s rabble-rousing “I Love Sausage Rolls”, G’n’R’s “Sweet Pie O’Mine”, and AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Pasty”. Sadly, there wasn’t time to play Robert Palmer’s “Pastry Case Of Loving You”.

Still, a fine weekend’s entertainment was provided by the locals at the Wheatsheaf in Stratton. We arrived to find a somewhat cosy corner to play in, meaning that Ben and I both had to forgo our pointy guitars and use the slightly smaller backup axes, which are marginally less likely to clang into speakers or singers while we’re nancying about.

In fact, it was so cramped setting up that, having got my Strat out so I could tidy the case away before everything got covered in drums, I handed it to the nearest transvestite to look after, while the rest of us busied ourselves in the corner tripping over leads, speakers, and , indeed, each other, until we finally got ourselves organised. At which point we found out Ben’s bass wasn’t working – so it was back into the heap of cases to dig out the pointy one again. Ah well.

Stuart was particularly intrigued by what appeared to be a pair of detached eyebrows posted up above the bar – even more so when he found out that they were, in fact – a pair of detached eyebrows; apparently the result of a recent drunken charity fundraising error of judgement.

Eyebrows

The actual gig was quite good fun, the number of Jager bombs going down in the first set leading inevitably to much dancing silliness, followed by some spirited falling over near the end. We also had a special guest vocalist from behind the bar, who screeched his way commendably through Sweet Child O’Mine, before returning to his post to serve out more brain death to his now distinctly untidy fan base.

Additional fun on Sunday involved me taking daughter Lily off to distant Stow for a late afternoon acoustic gig in a very posh Cotswold pub; although the staff were lovely, my suspicions about the gig were confirmed when, while checking my acoustic was in tune, the cheerily brittle manageress asked me very sweetly if we could “turn the amp down a bit”.

“That’ll be tricky” I happily informed her, “It’s not turned on yet”.

Still, it was a pleasant enough gig, the beer was rather fine, and we were back home in time for supper; and, sometimes, that’s the main thing.

Coming up this week –

Fri 22nd – The Trout, Keynsham
Lively and messy in here. Well, I intend to be, anyway. What the rest of ‘em do is up to them. ?

Sat 23rd – Birthday Party
We’re playing a party up in Gloucestershire somewhere – more than that I do not know, apart from where it is. I can only hope they know what to expect… Me, I’m expecting jelly and ice cream – but I absolutely refuse to play Pass The Parcel with Ben – not after what he put in there last time…

Square on

A

Date – 11/11/2013

Aloha!

An unusually quiet evening at Stroud’s Queen Vic, this week – although it did liven up quite nicely later on. Anyways, not to worry, our pals John & Anne were there – and it was the lovely Anne’s birthday, we were rather touched that she came out to see us, and so we gave her one of our rather fine new t-shirts. John tried to insist on paying for it, but we wouldn’t let him. “At least let me buy you lot a drink then”, he says.

Five minutes later he returns from the bar, carrying several beers, and a remorseful expression.

“You should have let me pay for the shirt”, he chuckles ruefully.

It was two weeks since our last gig, and I for one was a bit worried about how much I’d remember – but actually I think we did rather well. When we came to play our 4 Non-Blondes sing-along “What’s Up”, Lou decided to tell the audience all about our “Hat Mojo Challenge”, and how after being made to wear a variety of stupid hats at every gig for the last six months, she had beaten Ben and myself, and now we’d run out of hats, and conceded defeat and declared her the undisputed Queen Of Headgear.

All of which is completely true, but nonetheless Ben couldn’t resist popping a mask on her just one more time whilst she sang through the intro…

Lou mask

After that we spent the rest of the evening merrily working our way through our silly toy collection, and (probably as a direct consequence) had to play about four encores before they let us stop at the end of the night.

Hurrah for stupidity!

Speaking of which, coming up soon…

Saturday 16th – The Wheatsheaf, Ermin Street, Swindon
There are many pubs called the Wheatsheaf in this part of Swindon. This is one of them. I know I’ve played here before, but whether that was with the band, or with Suzi, or with diva daughter Lily, I have no idea. But at any rate, I should be able to find it again. Eventually.

Sunday 17th – Lily B at the Bell, Stow-in-the-Wold
An acoustic gig with diva daughter, and since I was away last week and haven’t learned any of the songs, this might be more of a solo gig than a duo one. But doubtless I’ll have to carry all the heavy kit around, anyway.

Right, that’s about it for this week; we’ll either catch you at a gig soon, or see you around somewhere, or maybe – just maybe – we sit outside your house every night and watch you through the gap in the curtains….

Sleep tight

A

Date – 04/11/2013

Hola!

I must confess that this week we have absolutely nothing to report; with no gigs, I for one was at something of a loose end… although I did manage on Friday to catch up with a rather fine Jimi Hendrix documentary on telly; after which I inevitably went and dug out my old Strat for a bit of spankery.

I had to stop though, when I noticed Jimi’s face glaring balefully at me from one of my t-shirts which was hanging up to dry on the radiator.

He’s right.

Anyways, here we go with this weekend’s tomfoolery: –

Friday 8th Nov – Queen Vic, Stroud
Just the one, but it’s a bit of a corker. I just hope Jimi doesn’t turn up and stare at me again like that…

Is all for now

Square on

A

Date – 28/10/2013

Welcome back my friends, to the show that never ends…

Well, a bit of an odd day on Friday – we took ourselves off to a studio to see if we could get some footage of us playing live to use for promo work; because of the rather ad hoc (making it up as we went along) nature of the day, we seemed to spend an awful lot of it running up and down stairs between the live room and the pc upstairs where we could watch what we’d just recorded, then running back down to adjust lighting, camera angle, bass levels, etc to try again… eventually we decided it looked vaguely right, and fired through eight or nine songs before we ran out of time.

At some point we’ll have to go back and sift through what’s there and try to edit it down to something useful, and possibly even pay the studio; although at the time the more pressing priority was to get to the pub, of course.

When I got home, my beloved Dem asked me how the video shoot went, and whether I was now a Proper Pop Princess. It’s good to see I still command considerable respect in my house.

Saturday night, and down town Warminster is home to the Sports Bar (Ben and I were disappointed to find this is the correct spelling, if only because we were denied our “three blokes walk into a bra” series of pre-planned jokes).

Still, it was an interesting night. Ten minutes after he sets off for the gig, idiot Alan suddenly remembers that he has forgotten to put the speaker stands into the van. A quick u-turn, twenty minutes of enthusiastic swearing at the Muggle drivers crawling along in front of him, and finally he gets back home, grabs the offending items, throws them in the van, and just then his phone rings. It’s Stuart, calling to say that apparently there’s a carnival on in Warminster tonight, so various roads are closed and we’ll have to find a different way to the gig, it’s going to be a nine o’clock start, and am I nearly there yet?

“…Not entirely…”

I explain my memory shortcoming; I am then treated to some detailed directions about a recommended diversion for when I get there, delivered in an exasperated tone, but which I don’t listen to properly anyway; then I jump in the van and screech off into the night again.

So, some fairly determined driving saw me get to pick up Lou a mere half an hour late, and we even rolled up in time to get ready for nine o’clock. Except that when Lou unpacks one of the mike stands, it is in two very separate pieces. Ben manufactures a heroic repair with the gaffa tape, and then we find his mike isn’t working anyway. No worries, it’s just a bad lead, we change it out and all is fine – until Lou’s mike starts cutting out part way through the first set – but with some judicious gaffa taping and swapping around we can it all together and nothing else goes wrong for the rest of the gig.

The various other happenings – the young gentleman representative of the Falling Over Club, who managed to fall off chairs about seven times (somehow twice onto my rig, which was actually up on stage), the initially very friendly and jolly birthday girl who ended up stomping around the place unhappily and punching her errant boyfriend a lot, don’t count as “things going wrong” in our book, but merely free improvisational street theatre.

At any rate, the folks who run the place seem well pleased with us, and are keen to get us back in. Which we look forward to, ‘cos actually it’s a very nice place to play, the management people are great fun. And they gave us beer.

Right then, coming up next weekend (following a pretty heavy schedule of soldering and otherwise repairing knackered equipment, I think)…is…

…is a weekend off!.

Oh.

I wasn’t expecting that.

I was rather expecting the Spanish Inquisition.

Still, I daresay we’ll be back…

Square on

A

Date – 21/10/2013

Yo homeys!

Well, that was a suitably weird and wacky weekend from the world of Pub RawkTM. Friday’s jaunt to Melksham was mercifully free of any constabulary-related shenanigans, and although the pub was a little quieter than usual there was certainly enough entertainment to go around, including the traditional “drunk woman on drum kit during the break” scene.

Our thanks are due to both of the gentlemen who lent Lou their hats during the gig – in fact, it’s now been six months since Louisa joined us, and in recognition of the fact that at every gig in that time we’ve been putting at least one stupid hat on her while she’s singing (and therefore unable to escape), and she hasn’t yet either left us or beaten us to a pulp, we felt some kind of small award was in order; thus the following evening at Kingswood’s Rose & Crown, we called an impromptu band meeting between sets, and presented her with this…

Hat certificate

I think she was quite pleased, although admittedly it probably didn’t quite make up for her having totalled her car that morning. (Disappointingly, this wasn’t a proper rock’n’roll “driving the Rolls Royce into a swimming pool” episode, it was rather more lacklustre “running into the back of a Land Rover” event – but the main thing is that she’s absolutely fine, although understandably rather pissed off…). Even the special ceremonial Mojo Hat we made for her award (leopardskin fur top hat, with purple lining – who says we have no taste and sophistication?) couldn’t quite cheer her up…

Hat

Anyhoo, hopefully she’ll be back on the road again soon – we certainly will…

Saturday 26th – Sports Bar, Warminster
No idea where this is (well, we know where Warminster is, obviously, we’re not completely stupid – except for three of us, anyway), so we don’t know what to expect. But we’re kinda used to that. The question, I guess, is where the Sports Bar is. Actually, I don’t even know what a Sports Bar is. Do you go in and order a pint of rugby with a packet of ping pong? And a half of tennis with a hockey chaser for the girlfriend? Or maybe, just maybe, it’s a typo, and we’re actually going to be playing in a Sports Bra; in which case, as long as the doormen are well behaved (we don’t want the bouncers getting out of control, do we?), it might be rather good fun. In fact, providing we get enough support, it could be quite an uplifting experience. …

Square On

A

Date – 14/10/2013

Hey gang

Just the one gig this weekend, but it turned out to be rather good fun in the Portcullis in Fishponds. Poor Louisa wins this week’s Man Of The Match award (eh?) for delivering a spirited performance despite being really rather poorly, with a lousy head cold and a speaking voice like a Dalek, she managed to cope nearly all the way through the set. By way of comparison, that would be like me trying to play with broken fingers [so, not much different, then].

It was also a first outing for our new official band t-shirts, now available in stylish rock’n’roll black, with our large trademark halo “A” logo on the front in white. Stuart proudly held one up to show us. “They’ve spelled it wrong”, I told him, and his face fell as he turned it round to check in puzzlement.

Also in attendance were a couple of (actually rather senior) people of the French persuasion from my day job, presumably trying to establish whether there is anything that I’m any good at… I was particularly delighted when one of them disappeared for several minutes outside into the rain with one of the local young* ladies*, and when pressed for an explanation, responded that “they had something to discuss”, whilst grinning like a Cheshire cat. Hopefully, we will never know what…

Anyoldhow, everybody seemed to have an enjoyable evening, and hopefully our Lou will be back in good health for the next episode…

Friday 18th – Parson’s Nose, Melksham
Don’t miss the debut of our new original number, a folk ballad penned by yours truly after our last visit here, and provisionally entitled “The Melksham Police Are A Bunch Of Bastards”.

Saturday 19th – Rose & Crown, Kingswood
We played here once before, earlier this year just before Lou joined us. It was one of the oddest gigs I’ve ever played. On the plus side, they did give Stuart his mascot-and-best-friend Sock Monkey, who now has his own fan page on Facebook and is threatening to eclipse ours in terms of followers… We live in dread of the day that Sock Monkey decides to go solo and leaves the rest of us in hopeless anonymity with a desolate sobbing drummer. But for now, we can bill this evening as Sock Monkey’s Triumphant Homecoming Gig.

That’s kinda all, really

Square on

A
*terminology applied on legal advice

Date – 08/10/2013

Crikey Moses (as we say in these parts), a whole weekend off!

Well, we hope you all managed to enjoy yourselves without the benefit of us making a godawful racket… As it turned out, this was a reasonably well-planned time for a gig-free weekend, because on Thursday I managed (in completely separate incidents, within half an hour of each other) to lacerate both of my forefingers, which would have rendered spanking the plank extremely uncomfortable – and on Friday I succeeding in wrenching a ligament in my wrist, which would have made next to impossible. Ben, on the other hand, has managed to contract an unpleasant lung infection, and has had to be cast upon the tender mercies of the NHS…

As far as I know the other two have managed to avoid serious personal injury, so with a bit of luck we’ll be fighting fit ready for the next round…

Saturday 12th October – Portcullis, Fishponds
We haven’t actually played in here for a very long time – in fact, I don’t think I ever have; but we do know the glamorous night life that is the “Fishponds Strip” of old, and so – although we don’t know exactly what to expect, I have a pretty good idea of how this one is going to go down… Just watch what your stepping in outside and you’ll be fine…

Right, thas’ your lot for now, I’m off for a pint or two of Wychwood’s rather fine “Evil Pumpkin” ale. Mmmm…

Square on

A

Date – 01/10/2013

Greetings, dear reader.

Welcome to another bulletin from the ever-changing world of low-rent musical entertainment…

So… Friday early evening, and self, family and Louisa are sat around the table after dinner.

Conversation turns to the subject of relationships, and Lou enquires how long my beloved Dem and myself have been together (the answer is, approximately, “forever”), and how old we both were when we met; the answer to which seems a little inconsistent with Dem’s long-standing claim to be 27 years old….

At this point, 12-year old son Joe pipes up with a question.

“Mummy, how many boys did you go out with before you met Daddy?”

The reply is cautiously diplomatic.

“I don’t think I have to tell you the answer to that”.

There is a brief thoughtful pause.

“Mummy… so, did you used to be slut, then…?”

The ensuing silence is broken only by the sound of tea escaping from Lou’s nose, and a muffled whimpering from my corner.

After a little struggling for breath, Lou and I decide it’s high time we were off to our gig, before anything too blood-spattery occurs and we get roped in to digging a large hole in the garden.

And, after a brief detour (who’d have thought there were two pubs called the Angel, both in Westbury, and that the silly satnav wouldn’t know which one I meant?), we arrive to a fairly uneventful gig, apart from the wag who repeatedly insisted we “play some ABBA”. So, he was treated to AC/DC’s “Whole Lotta Abba”, to “No-one Knows” by the Dancing Queens Of The Stone Age, G’n’R’s “Swede Child Of Mine”… oh, you get the idea.

Saturday night, and the Woodland’s Edge in Peatmoor – where Lou played her very first gig with us. Almost a sort-of-birthday type event, then. Early on in the evening, we attracted an inebriated dancing gentleman, whose stage-invading antics playing air guitar using bar stools, pool cues etc. were initially entertaining, but eventually became rather wearing; when he kicked Lou’s drink over, he definitely got annoying. By then, though it was the end of the first set, and he spent fifteen minutes pestering Ben, complaining that we “couldn’t be a proper band if we don’t know any Oasis”; and eventually stomped off in a huff, saying that he “wasn’t going to dance to us for the rest of the night”. Which made things rather better.

Afterwards, while we packed up, and the last punters were ushered out the door, the pub’s enormous dog was wheeled out to play – it appeared to be mostly German Shepherd, but with a trace of horse, and possibly some grizzly bear in its ancestry. Louisa immediately collapses into soppy mode.

“Oh, he’s so cute and fluffy”, she simpers, affectionately ruffling the fur of the gargantuan, and probably man-eating hound, with no apparent regard for personal safety. “Stuart, can we keep him? Like a band dog, kind of thing? Can we? Please? Can’t we take him home with us?”

When I diplomatically point out that, much as her suggestion is a very good and practical one, alas, there’s no room in the van for the enormous beast, she immediately suggests leaving me behind, and taking the dog instead. “I can drive, and he can sit in the passenger seat”, she says, “You’ll like it here”, she adds…

Coming up – a weekend off, so – if we manage to survive the relative tranquillity (whoever came up with the term “relative tranquillity” obviously doesn’t have relatives like mine), we’ll see y’all soon.

Is all

Square on
A

Date – 23/09/2013

Yo sushi!

After a week away in sunny foreign climes, I kinda missed International Talk Like A Pirate day – it appears that it hasn’t really caught on in Central Spain, the locals just looked at me funny – so we were doing our best to make up for it on Friday night at the Rolly in Swindon. But – disaster! – both Stuart and Ben have somehow failed to grasp the significance of the date (and they claim to be devout Pastafarians, too), so it was left to Louisa and myself to carry us through with the swashbuckling buccaneer look. And I have to say, rather dashing did we look. Lou was a little concerned that her top might have been just a little too see-through, but Ben and I were quick to reassure that this was not in fact the case ?.

We were a bit surprised to see our pal Statey was actually sober (I think for the first time ever), but she was rather poorly, so we may have to forgive her. To make up for this disappointment, as we drove home through Swindon, Lou made the most of brandishing her large cutlass out of the window and bellowing “Ahaarrrrrr” at unsuspecting passers-by.

Well, somebody has to do these things…

Saturday night at Molloy’s in Bristol, and I was delighted by the sight of our pal Scotty as I rolled up, not least because he helps us lug all the kit in and up the stairs. As I was parking the van a few streets away several minutes later, I had a rather odd encounter…

I was just digging in my pocket for change to feed the parking meter, when a tall smiling gentleman tapped me on the shoulder and commented, in a strong South African accent, “Nice-looking place”, jabbing a thumb at the enormous Chinese restaurant behind me. “What? Oh… er, yes…”

“I reckon the food in there must be pretty good. Have you just eaten in there? Was it nice?”

“Eh?… Oh… er, no, I just got here”

“Ah, okay. Do you think maybe we should go in and have a curry or something now?”

“What? Ah… no, thanks, I’m just off to work now…”

“Oh dear. Well, never mind, well maybe if our paths ever cross again, we could go for a curry sometime.”

“Er… what…?…er….yeah…maybe…sometime…..”

..and he walks cheerfully off into the night, leaving me scratching my head, wondering what brought that on…. Maybe I’m just even more irresistible than I thought…

Once I got safely back to the gig, everything went relatively normally; we started with just the one erotic dancing lady, soon joined by some frankly sordid dancing gentlemen, and the “common sense and good taste” aspects of the evening spiralled downhill from there… Still, despite the monitors getting a fairly thorough lager rinse, there was no harm done, and we managed to get the kit safely packed away without anyone falling over it; not even Stuart.

Speaking of falling over, coming up this weekend…

Friday 27th – The Angel, Westbury
We like this one because they named their pub after us, and also because we like Derry and John who run it. And because one time they accidentally locked Stuart in the toilet after closing time.

Saturday 28th – Woodland’s Edge, Peatmoor
Another Pighill regular venue, this is where Lou played her first ever gig with us. And she’s still with us, which is testament to her patience and forbearance. Or, possibly, somebody is paying her to keep an eye on us and make sure we don’t get into trouble. This time, however, she may have her work cut out – after all, I am evidently completely irresistible, and I’ve just remembered that 50 yards down the road from the pub is the largest Chinese restaurant in England….

Square on

A

Date – 16/09/2013

Ahoy there, me hearties!

And, seeing as it’s only 3 days now until International Talk Like A Pirate Day, excitement is building rapidly here aboard the good ship Angel Up Front. Cap’n Louisa has been busy sewing patches on the sails, cabin boy Ben has been swabbing the decks [Note – for all I know, this may actually be a real technical DJ’ing term, I’m not entirely sure –please don’t tell me if it is, I cherish my ignorance on the subject], but sadly First Mate Stooie didn’t buff the cannons up to Lou’s satisfaction, so he had to be keelhauled and then given sixty lashes with the cat. He’s recovered now, but the cat’s right off its milk.

Meanwhile, we just had quite a fun weekend – Friday was a night off for the band, but you can’t keep a good gig addict down, and so both Lou and I were out with our respective duo acts – Lou was off in Bath playing a posh café gig with her Baronesques band mate Morgan, while I was with daughter Lil up the lovely Clothiers Inn in Stroud. And we both came out with a merry night and offers of more gigs, and Lil even got us paid a bit extra “for being fabulous”. Happily, the excess money was just enough to cover the outstanding amount Lily owes me for her guitar, so it went straight into my pocket ?. The upside is that for the first time, Lil actually owns her own axe. Whether she will now stop dinging it walking though doorways remains to be seen…

Right then shipmates, eye to the telescope, what’s that approaching over the horizon…?

Friday 20th – Rolleston Arms, Swindon
It’s always good fun here, but since we have an excuse for piratical dressing up and silliness this time, it’s bound to be especially lively. Our pal Statey will probably be there propping up the bar in a cheery puddle of alcohol, but if she manages to remember to turn up dressed as a pirate, she will be treated as a fully paid-up member of the AUF crew and we will be buying her drinks. If she doesn’t… well, she better had, that’s all.

Saturday 21st – Molloy’s, Bristol
Last time this was a jolly and lively affair, once we’d managed to evade the traffic wardens and hauled the kit up the mammoth staircases. (Why they made them out of mammoths instead of wood is beyond me). Anyhoo, should be a good night, looking for’ard to it…

That’s it for now me hearties, so I’ll wish ye all a fair wind and calm seas, and hopefully we’ll be catching up with all of ye in the near future

Square (rigged) on

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!

As a special treat this week, you guys can go on the web yourselves and Google “pirate jokes”. It saves me doing it, and this way I won’t get the blame. If you’re too busy, then to save you time, here are the most likely punch lines…

Because they Arrrr…
Aharrr, Gym, lad..!
Because they get lost at C…
Arrr, it’s drivin’ me nuts…
Sixteen miles to the galleon…
Why Mr Darcy, this is most unexpected…

Date – 09/09/2013

Hi gang

Another vastly entertaining weekend bites the dust…

Our long awaited return to Queen Amy’s lovely Railway Tavern in Fishponds, and a mighty good hoot it was to be sure. For added fun, we brought along my divver (sorry, diva) daughter Lil to keep folks entertained between sets – and a mighty fine job she did, too.

It was delightful to catch up with our Queen of Fishponds again; she did ask why we “had a chef’s hat hanging on the mike stand”, so Ben and I dutifully explained our Louisa Hat Mojo Research programme, and having listed our finding to date, also observed that we were fast running out of test samples.

“Ooooh”, says Her Majesty, “I’ve got loads of silly hats upstairs. Would you like to borrow some?”; and she scuttles off to return with a marvellous haul of comedic headwear.

“Now, THAT is why you’re our Queen”, grins Ben, kissing her reverentially on the forehead. The research programme will continue apace!

After we packed up, there was a long and merry nattering and snaffling of leftover sandwiches before we sailed off into the night…

Sunday, and back in the Royal Oak in dear ol’ Sodding Chipbury, as we are winding up a fund-raising charity day; a gig which Ben is unable to attend thanks to his evil overlord employer. Standing into the breach (if not the breeches) for the night is Lou’s other half, Mark, who has been frantically trying to learn as much of the set as possible in the last few days.

Before we even start, though, the evening is for me a complete success; as I stroll up, Stuart is already there and chatting to a local. “So, are you two in the same band, then?” We nod our assent.

“So, father and son, then, eh?”.

“….What..?” guffaws Stuart, “I’m even older than him!”

“Well, that’s the way it usually works, isn’t it..?” comes the puzzled response

There is a long pause, followed by a slightly shorter one, and in fact it’s quite some time before I can speak properly again.

“So, ‘Dad’”. I eventually ask Stuart, “What time are we starting, then?”.

It transpires that we’ll be starting around nine, but must be finished before half eleven. This won’t be difficult, as Mark has only had time to learn two thirds of the set.

“Hmm, we might need to drag things out a bit”.

“Don’t worry Dad… Extended guitar solos!”

In fact, the crowd are very lively, so in the end we have no trouble filling the time with extended silliness, and everybody has a damned fine night. Lou does a magnificent job of rabble-rousing, sending our new mascot Sock Monkey (who now has his own Facebook page) out crowd-surfing, and I even manage to extend a few guitar solos (almost to breaking point) without upsetting anyone. Big thanks to Tony, Ted and the guys for organising the whole day, and also to Mark for stepping up to fill in. Good work, people!

Coming up: –

Friday 13th – Lily B at the Clothier’s Arms, Stroud
Yup, she’s back! And louder than ever, and – if I get my act together in time burning off CDs – with an EP of her recorded acoustic stuff for sale. If enough people buy a copy, she might just finish paying me back for her guitar before she wears it out…

Saturday 14th – Tap & Barrel, Bedminster
Never dull in here, and usually some spilt ale by the end of the night. If you like living on the edge, it’s a good one to come along to… If you don’t like living on the edge… just mind that somebody don’t push you off anyway.

That’s your lot for now, I’m off to very carefully study my family tree…

Square on

A

Date – 04/09/2013

Yo homeys

Sorry, another late message this week due to ongoing manic schedules, and just a touch of incompetence…

So – the news in brief – last Saturday saw us fetch up at the Poacher in Portishead, for a fairly jolly gig – we’d forgotten that they give the band free beer here; oh, if only I wasn’t driving… our pals Scotty and Keith arrived just at the wrong moment (i.e. just in time to carry all the heavy stuff in), and we set about setting up.

Quiz time for Ben, as we stand amid stacks of equipment trying to work out where it all goes.

“How many pieces of equipment does Lou have to remember to bring to a gig?”

“Er… One. Her microphone”.

“Correct. Now, how many pieces of equipment has she actually remembered tonight?”

“Er…”

“Here’s a clue. It’s a whole number, less than one.”

“…Is it….none?”

This means that she’ll have to use Ben’s which means Ben is reduced the band’s spare mike, which is of a quality that would have Fisher-Price sniggering. He’s a bit grumpy about this, – but not to worry, when we unpack his mike stand, we find the clip has snapped off anyway. Somehow the kudos of having his crappy mike lashed up with gaffa tape cheers him up again, and rather to my surprise it lasts the entire gig without mishap. And so, more or less, do we.

Upcoming delights…

Saturday 7th – Railway Tavern, Fishponds
Oh, back at dear old Queen Amy’s, we haven’t been here for far too long, and we do love our sovereign landlady. Very much looking forward to this one.

Sunday 8th – Royal Oak, Chipping Sodbury
Another place we haven’t played for ages – unfortunately this time, Ben will be trapped in work by draconian evil bastards Morrisons, so we’ve secured the services of Lou’s other half on temporary bass duties. I hope he remembers his kit…

Right, time’s up, gotta go…

Square on A

Date – 30/08/2013

Happy Friday folks!

Apologies this missive is a little later in the week than usual – it’s all been a bit hectic lately.

After spending 3 rather jolly days at a festival over the Blank Holiday weekend, it was straight into our old pal and bassist Martin’s Badass Studios* complex for a day of opportunistic live recording, then straight back to nasty ol’ work.

*Why “Badass Studios”, we asked Martin?

“Because ‘Badass Mother ^&%£er Studios’ doesn’t fit on a business card”, he explained.

Obvious, really…

Also I must admit I’m getting slightly worried about diva daughter Lily, who spent most of the weekend channelling the spirit of a sarcastic Welsh dinosaur called Bryn. She started doing this for her own amusement, but is now apparently unable to stop.

When Dem pleaded with her to “try and be normal”, Bryn chided her (in a strong Cardiff accent), “Oh, you’re just being racist”.

“I’m most certainly NOT racist”, protested Dem indignantly.

“Well, if you’re not racist”, demands Bryn, “How come not a single one of your children is black, then…?”

I am rather worried that I am the only normal one left in my family…

Still, they are letting me out this weekend – on Friday, Lou and her lovely Baronesques are playing at Stroud Alternative Fringe Festival (in the early afternoon, I assume this is to fit in between her insane schedule of music teaching and running fitness classes), and on Saturday, we’re off to sunny Portishead…

Saturday 31st August – Poacher, Portishead
We played this earlier in the year, and it was a hugely entertaining night on account of the locals all being a bit bonkers. Funnily enough, we seemed to fit in rather well. Oh, and Ben – if you’re reading this – don’t forget the Things…

That’ll do for now

Peace out

A

Date – 19/08/2013

Good morning Vietnam!

And also Cheltenham, Chippenham, and (my personal favourite), Greeneggsandham…

Well, Friday night at the Cat & Wheel certainly didn’t disappoint; plenty of old chums to see, plenty of jumping around, even a little dancing-on-the-tables… and a jolly fine night was had by all. We even played quite coherently, apart from the horrible moment when I carelessly started a song in the wrong key, realised my mistake after two bars and changed back down, to find that at the same moment Ben unconsciously went up to meet me at the Wrong Key Saloon, and we couldn’t get him back down for a verse and a half…

Saturday night at the New Inn in Stratton was a bit quieter, but decidedly strange…

The place was by no means full, but we got a pleasantly warm reception for the first set… a little way into the second set, and as Lou is trying to encourage a little more singing and dancing along from the punters, a local comes up and asks if he can use a mike to sing along… Well, we did ask, so we let him, and – rather to our relief – he can actually sing (experience has taught me that sometimes on these occasions they just want to swear though a PA system; so much so that I have considered setting up a business taking the PA round pubs and charging idiots a fiver a time for ten minutes obscenity-shouting).

After this, the crowd loosens up a little and there’s some dancing and air guitar going on. Once we’ve finished, as I‘m sat taking a breath with Louisa, a chap comes up to her and announces that “To sing those rock songs like that, you’ve really got balls. I mean, it’s not politically correct to say that or anything, but you have. You’ve got balls. Don’t be offended, but you have got balls. Can I buy you a drink?”

Lou looks at me slightly concerned. “Don’t worry”, I tell her, “As long as he doesn’t ask to actually see them, it’s probably safe to have the drink. I’ll go pack up now, just shout if you need me…”

Later on, as we finish loading out, Lou, who’s been happily chatting to another bunch of locals, comes bouncing up clutching a banknote and gleefully announces, “I just made twenty pounds”.

And how did she manage this, we enquire…?

“Well”, she explains, “Those guys over there told me they were having a bet about me, and eventually I got it out of them that they were betting a tenner each what kind of underwear I was wearing…”

“…so, I said that if they gave me twenty quid, I’d tell them… and they did”

Sadly, I can’t divulge here what the answer was, because… well, next week, she might want to cash in on it again. But, if you want a clue – well, let’s just say that she’s far too sophisticated to let her balls hang out…

…Okay, hands up who actually pulled a face of disgust just then?

Good, you pass the test, and can process to Level Seven.

But remember – the white zone is for loading and unloading only…

Square on

A

Date – 12/08/2013

Yowsa!

Well, I have to say, I for one had a lovely weekend. Friday night off, but a surprise visit from an old pal, so whole family spent the evening sitting round a fire in the garden drinking, playing acoustic guitar and listening to daughters singing. Goddam bunch of hippies…

Saturday afternoon’s cider festival gig was actually very well behaved, although on an exploratory trip to find the toilets, Ben and I followed the signs and found ourselves in the changing rooms just after the match had finished, to be confronted with the awful sight of thirty naked wet rugby players… We debated whether we should warn Louisa about this and, after considering the matter for several thoughtful nanoseconds, decided not to. After all, life should be something of a voyage of personal discovery, don’t you think? Rather to our disappointment, she’d already found some facilities at the other end of the club – which was rather a shame, we thought.

We’ve been trying to drag Lou down to our level of childishness for some time now; but she’s been so nicely brought up, she can’t even swear properly. For example, it takes Ben twenty minutes of concentrated teasing to drag out of her the most scathing put-down we’ve heard so far – “Oh… Be quiet, you!”.

But on Saturday, she managed to top that; when something startling caught her eye, we were treated to an earnest “Crikey Moses, look at that!”

So, we have decided to help her out with some swearing lessons, so she can communicate with us crude scumbags on our own terms. We’ll have to start her off gently and work up to proper levels of offensiveness, but if anyone has a spare copy of Roger Mellie’s Profanisaurus they could lend us, that would be a great help when we get to the more advanced stages.

Anyroadup, we played the gig, took the money, and realised we just had time to pack up and grab some grub before the evening’s gig in far-flung Oxfordshire. So, all back to my gaffe for an impromptu food-stuffing, and then away again we went.

The Red Lion was a little quieter than usual, and although Ben was pleased to still see substantial quantities of tanned, lithe young limbs on display, I couldn’t help but notice that the place wasn’t exactly short of wobbly tattooed cellulite, either. Oh well, each to his own, I suppose. As requested, we set up on the stage in reverse formation (i.e. Ben and I swapped sides, dummy, we weren’t facing away from the audience) in order to try and limit the amount of bass that went thundering through the walls into the house of the miserable neighbour with the noise meter and the environmental health department on speed-dial…

And I think we got away with it, (although I can’t imagine who would complain about listening to our sweet dulcet tones), and we eventually ran out of encores at around 01:15…

We sent Lou to go and queue for food in the neighbouring chippy while we loaded up, and then we collectively drove, ate, slept, and snored our way home. On the way back, between mouthfuls, Lou informs me that she has to be up again in the morning to teach an aerobics class. Madness. If that was me, my swearing would be a whole lot better than it is…

Anyhoo, coming up this week…

Friday 16th – Cat & Wheel, Stokes Croft
The punters love it in here, and it’s a good gig, even if it is a little bit cramped for the band. Still, we’ll cosy up, as long as there’s just enough room to prance about like a great big jessie, I’ll be fine… It’s just occurred to me that my beloved Dem might want to come along and do some proper drinking, so if you’re thinking of coming along, you might want to be armed. At any rate, don’t wear something that’s dry-clean only.

Saturday 17th – New Inn, Stratton, Swindon
Not been here for a while, but usually quite lively. Now, I’ve noticed that they’ve just put up on Farcebook a poster of us that they’ve apparently cobbled together from a photo on the web somewhere – and it features Suzi* instead of Lou, and, as a bonus, they’ve cropped the picture so that I’m not even on there … I wonder if this means I can still paid for the gig even if I don’t go…?

Is all

Square on

A

*incidentally, Suzi says she is still alive and well, you can check out what her new band is doing on facebook by searching for “roadhousegalway”.

Date – 05/08/2013

Well, hello there…

It’s official, summer’s over, we’ve had so much rain now I think we’re probably due for a hosepipe ban. Although it was certainly plenty warm enough up at the Queen Vic in Stroud on Saturday – to make life even hotter, they have some new lights – not the nice modern, cool, LED ones, oh no, these are proper old-school heatlamps, installed about three inches from the band just above eye level. I got rather a nice tan off of my one, although the kit may need a little repair work…

Melting instruments

After a fairly quiet start, the place livened up nicely, we found some old mates there and the second set was very jolly indeed. Particularly for Ben, who, being single, is actually allowed to stare at attractively writhing young ladies. Lou brought her lovely mum out too, and at the end of the night we caught her dancing with an inebriated Lothario who was gleefully clutching an extremely floppy inflatable guitar – not a good sign…

Right, coming up this week, we have Friday off, but that’s okay because we’re playing two gigs on the Saturday. Lou is quite excited about this, as it technically qualifies as being a (very short) UK tour…

Saturday 10th August – Cider Festival, Barton Hill Old Boys Rugby Club – 3:30 start
A cider festival, at a rugby club. What could possibly go wrong…?

…Oh.

Yes, I see. Yes, that could get rather messy, couldn’t it? There’s probably a pun on the word “tackle” lurking somewhere in there as well, isn’t there…

Saturday 10th August – Red Lion, Witney
Yes, Witney, Oxfordshire is quite a long way – but it’s not quite as far as Whitney, Houston. At least by the time we get there, the smell of scrumpy should have worn off. Except possibly from Ben, who has a certain fondness for the Devil’s Apple Juice, and I trust will thus be providing the bulk of the evening’s entertainment…

Thassit for now

Square on

A

Date – 30/07/2013

What ho, Jeeves!

Well, a merry Saturday to report from the Parson’s Nose Music fest in Melksham; as we were playing quite some time before bedtime, Dem brought along most of my offspring to watch, as they’ve never seen Lou singing before. I think they enjoyed themselves. Youngest son (and definitely the maddest one of the bunch) Jimi was particularly enthusiastic, with much singing along, air guitar playing, etc. Fortunately on this occasion he gave his celebrated “naked wiggle dance” a miss, much to Dem’s relief I think.

Rather to my concern, though, he’s decided that he’d like to be a drummer. I suggested he ask Stuart for lessons, and crafty old fox Stuart told him that he’ll have to first nag me about it every day for two weeks, just to make sure that Jimi is keen enough to make the effort to learn.

Unfortunately, Stuart forgot to clarify he should nag me about it just ONCE every day… thus I am being gleefully harassed at every waking moment, and I’m seriously considering staying at work for the next fortnight…

…And actually, it’s can only get worse, ‘cos if he does get to learn, he’s likely to end up getting his own kit… nothing like a 7am drum solo to bring out the best in maternal instincts, I reckon.

I wonder where Dem will bury the body?

Anyways, a jolly fine gig it was, and the lads running the PA were brilliant fun, even helping to run equipment in and out of the van through the spontaneous monsoon deluge that started just as it was time to load in…

Afterwards, we all piled back to Lou’s place to eat her out of house and home and also discreetly break a few bits of furniture, which she’ll probably discover as the week goes on…

Coming up this week, just the one rawk’n’roll outing

Saturday 3rd August – Queen Vic, Stroud
What can we say? Can’t go wrong with this one, and we have a rather fine set lined up that ought to blow them into the middle of next week – although half of them seem to be there already…

Thass your lot for now, we’ll leave you with this rather terrifying piece of financial advice, spotted in a music shop window…

Strat starter pack

Square on
A

Date – 22/07/2013

Ahoy there shipmates!

A mighty fun weekend that was aboard the Good Ship Angel Up Front; Friday at the Trout in Keynsham was every bit as splashy as predicted – a new record, eight beer towels were required on stage between sets to try and mop up the carnage. Our new best friend is an industrial cooling fan, which kept the temperature under control, if not the punters. For that we had to use the hypnotic powers of the Ducks Of Rock, at least to keep our pal the lovely Sue in order.

Saturday at the Green Dragon in Marlborough was an absolute blast from start to finish – the town was heaving due to the weekend jazz festival, and a lot of the people came in to see us – presumably because – we don’t play jazz. In fact, the pub was so hot and busy that to cool off, Ben played one song standing outside in the street. A hugely entertaining evening, and afterwards we even had another run-in with our chums in Wiltshire Constabulary, who – as soon as Lou and I drove off in the van after the gig, pulled us over and invited me to blow into their little machine.

Louisa was quite excited by this, as she’d never been stopped by Her Majesty’s Finest before; so much so, that she asked if “she could have a go on it as well”. And, rather to our surprise, they said she could… the result was a 6-0 milligrams-per-hundred-millilitres-of-blood victory to Lou, as she’d just quaffed a cheeky half after we finished, whereas the beer that I’d drunk during the gig was already out of my bloodstream and leaking out all over the place. Our Boys In Blue cheerily told us they’d already stopped “two singers, one drummer, and a trombonist” that night. I’m kinda hoping they locked up the trombonist and threw the key away, just on principle.

Oh, and Lou has asked me to tell all you Young People that apparently we have a new Facebook page, (whatever that may be), and that she’s very nicely asking everybody to go on there and “like” it. Presumably you don’t get the option of lumping it. Anyway, I’m sure it’s lovely – it seems there’s already a video clip of Stuart telling us to go home after Saturday’s gig. I expect things will get stranger from then on in. [editor’s note: E’s such a philistine, the new fan page is at https://www.facebook.com/AngelUpFront]

Right, this weekend, it’s a bit quiet – sort of…

Saturday 27th July – Parson’s Nose, Melksham
This is a charity bash, they’ve got bands on all day long from 2pm; we’ve got a slot between 5pm and 6pm – assuming it’s running anything like on time – and the worrying news is that Dem is thinking of coming along and bringing all the offspring along with her. You have been warned.

Ben and mine’s game of the week is a staring competition with one of our rubber ducks – basically, you just look each other in the eye, it’s just a case of who quacks first….

Square on
A

Date – 18/07/2013

Yo homeys!

It’s just too damned hot for this rawk’n’roll business. But nonetheless, your favourite band of intrepid alleged musicians were out and about making an unholy racket…

Friday night, and the Wheatsheaf in far-flung Didcot;and a damned fine evening was had by all. Ben and I are glad to have lowered the tone even further by introducing some Pure Rock Cheese into the set; meanwhile we showcased about another three new numbers – some of which we actually remembered. And some of which we didn’t.

Saturday night at the Anchor in Bishopston and it was lovely to see our pals Muddy and Sarah again, at was probably the hottest gig I remember playing*; poor Louisa was getting sprayed with sweat from both sides, which can’t have been much fun. But she’s still winning on the Hat Mojo Challenge, Ben and I have some serious thinking to do. Although we have the beginnings of a plan already…

*I’m pretty sure I must have played hotter ones years ago whilst in South America, but for contemporaneous alleged narcotic overindulgence reasons, I can’t remember much about them…

Oooh, also while I think of it – a quick bit of self-promotion here – our pal Louis has made a short and rather fine documentary, “Barfly Boogie”, about pub rock in Bristol, featuring several fine local bands… and us. This was filmed in pre-Lou days, so the first you see of us (about 6 minutes in) is three of us setting the gear up at a gig and waiting for Suzi to arrive… The link is here, if you fancy a quick squint… http://youtu.be/kgAShHxZ79Q

Right, thanks to a late booking we have another fun-packed weekend coming up: –

Friday 19th – The Trout, Keynsham
It’s good fun in here, but it can get a bit splashy – they can’t hold their drink, you see, so they tend to spill quite a lot. If you’re coming, wear wellies. (Actually, that sounds rather like a seventies governmental family planning slogan…)

Saturday 20th – Green Dragon, Marlborough
A friendly little place, last time we played here there was just one grump, who stood with his ear in the PA speaker and then complained the vocals were too loud; still, to be fair he was (as per international regulations) wearing a baseball cap backwards to signify to others that he was a complete oaf and that everything he said could be safely disregarded. On the other hand, there were plenty of dancing air guitar fools. So we win!

That’s your lot for now, we leave you with this fetching image which, to the delight of Ben and myself, confirms that Lou is slowly being dragged down to our level of silliness, and may soon be officially “Normal for AUF”…

all you need is

Square on
A

Date – 08/07/2013

Hola, amigos!

Blimey, it’s hot, ain’t it? Probably just as well we weren’t out and about this weekend, I suspect we may have had poor Stooie collapse form heat exhaustion. Still, yours truly did manage to sustain a rawk’n’roll injury, even if it was only during a rehearsal session…

But it wasn’t my fault. See, Ben and I are still trying to help Louisa (in our own special way) adapt to the rather lively venues we sometimes play. Those of you that have seen the magnificent film “Pick of Destiny” will understand the term “gig simulator”. (Those of you that haven’t – go see it). Well, we’re trying – rather selflessly, I think – to help Lou to get used to various stage shenanigans so that should any impromptu silliness arise, she can carry on to the end of the song without doubling up laughing.

Anyways, to quote Jack Black from that very same film, “The power slide. Simply the most awesomely powerful weapon in the guitar player’s arsenal of stage moves”.

What he doesn’t say is, “Don’t try this on a carpeted floor if you’re only wearing sandals, or you’ll rip the skin off the top of your feet”.

sore feet

So – now you know. Be careful out there, kids – it’s a rock’n’roll jungle.

Right, assuming I have recovered the ability to walk by next weekend, and Lou has collected her wits and finished giggling, here’s where we’ll be…

Friday 12th – The Wheatsheaf, Didcot
A new one – so they won’t have seen our toy box before. Also it’s a long way from home, so we can try out a few “experimental” numbers, and if they go horribly wrong, chances are that word will never make it back to civilisation…

Saturday 13th – The Anchor, Bishopston, Bristol
We rather like it here, there’s a comfy-sized stage and usually an interesting variety of passing locals to provide us with amusement for the night.

So, til next time

Square on
A

I trust you have all already heard about the carrot who was knocked down by a bus whilst crossing the road? The doctors say that he’s going to be a vegetable for the rest of his life…. [editor’s note: OMG]

Date – 01/07/2013

Hey folks

Firstly, apologies that I didn’t send one of these out last week – I had a few IT issues to sort out and just didn’t get around to it. However, I regard it as a testament to the popularity and effectiveness of these emails as a promotional tool that as a result, Friday’s gig at the Crown & Horseshoe was attended by a grand total of just one. (Hi, Tony!). [editor’s note: actually there were a few others and maybe some out of site]

Still, we needed the practice, and we amused ourselves by mincing about, playing solos on chairs, etc; and best of all, they paid us. Immediately after the gig, Ben and Louisa dashed off to spend their ill-gotten gains at the Bierkeller, and apparently didn’t make it home until half five the next morning. Way to go, guys!

I think somehow Lou has beaten Ben and I at our own game – not only does she now manage to keep singing “Bad Case of Loving You” while we try to put her off by singing our own version, she actually sings ours now along with us.

Ben’s suggestion that we up the ante by trying to make her sing along with the line, “Doctor, doctor, give me the news, I’ve got a hot date with Winnie The Pooh” was met with a certain degree of protest from my side. After all, you have to draw the line somewhere. Whatever next? Tigger fiddling? (I mean, if it had been Kanga, I could understand…)

Anyways, Saturday saw us at the Swiss Chalet in Pighill, and – hooray – there were actually some people in there! In fact, it was almost a “normal” gig, although we did forget to get the rubber ducks out. We shall have to try extra hard next time.

…Which won’t be for a couple of weeks now, we have a weekend off to try and think up some more stupid things to do.

Suggestions welcome. Apart from suggestions which may involve romantic liaisons with characters from well-known children’s books. That’s just wrong.

I’ll leave you with something else that is wrong…

Stuart Halo

Square on
A

Date – 17/06/2013

Yo!

Mighty busy weekend there – despite having Friday night off, on Saturday we battled against traffic wardens, long hauls, many flights of stairs, epic hikes to find a parking space, a cramped stage area that prohibited movement, and the gigging muso’s nightmare that is the sound limiter, but finally all came good and we went down rather well; even though I was feeling unseasonally grumpy due to having torn a fingernail in half earlier in the day; this at least is my excuse for playing even more than usual like a total knob…

Even so, they made us play several encores, and so it was nearly 2 o’clock by the time we stumbled home; which was fine, except that we were due to be up again at six…

…and we were, and assembled smack on time at Abingdon airfield for this year’s bikertastic Ride Of Respect.

As we drove onto site, Louisa and I in the van following the other two in Stuart’s car, a still half-asleep Lou notices, “Oh! We’re driving down a runway, aren’t we…?”.

“Yes”, I tell her, “And if we drive fast enough, we might even be able to take off”.

It is at this moment that both front windows in Stuart’s car quickly wind down, and an arm appears out of each one, flapping up and down madly in perfect synchronism.

Comedy genius, with unwittingly perfect timing. I very nearly crash the van, I’m laughing so much.

Good work, boys!

So, we reach our appointed artic trailer stage, say hi to some old friends (and I hope Helen’s backside has stopped smarting now), set up and get on with the gig.

And a great time we had, our thanks are due to Anne for inviting us and organising (along with Julia) the whole shebang, plus countless others including Anne’s other half John, Paul from Biker FM, Brian for doing the sound and also the lovely people who kindly plonked us on the back of their bikes and rode us around the route – particularly Trev for taking Ben on his magnificent purple trike, and the lovely Emma from the Tarrmac Terrorists who looked after me. Our Lou had never been on a bike before, but when we peeled her off the back of John’s VFR, she had that little wild gleam in her eye… and immediately asked John if she could be photographed stting on the front of it, with a huge cheesy grin on her chops. Biker chick in the making, I reckon… Thanks also to everyone who went on the ride, and to all the people who were standing at the side of the road waving

So, a fantastic day – despite the rather unusual outbreak of giant ducks (this particular one was our very own Number Six, I believe…)

Duck

Right, coming up this weekend…

Fri 21st – The Angel, Westbury
Down in Derry’s wild and woolly Wiltshire Wonderland, something strange is lurking in the undergrowth. It may be a rubber duck…

Square on

A

Date – 11/06/2013

Hello chums!

Well, a weekend off for most of Angel Up Front, but the unstoppable Louisa still managed to squeeze in not one but two gigs with the lovely Baronesques… however, soon we’ll find out how good she is at early mornings… (we already know how good the rest of us are at it… and it’s not a pretty sight).

Saturday 15th – Molloy’s, Bristol
A new one for us, I know nothing about the place, so probably an interesting evening in store – at least for us, if not for them. Hopefully there’ll be time to squeeze in a rubber duck solo or two. Sunday 16th – Ride of Respect, Abingdon Airfield
Oh, we’re so proud of this one. Playing outside to umpty thousand bikers as they assemble to set off on this charity fund raiser for Help For Heroes and co.

Even though the lovely Anne told us we need to be “on station and ready to play by about 9am”.

9am..?? NINE A.M??? That’s not a very rock’n’roll time of day… ah, unless we don’t go to bed first, in which case it would definitely qualify as one. Maybe we’ll have a crack at it that way. Anyhoo, somehow we’ll be there – if our chums from Biker FM can manage so damnably jolly early in the morning, we’ll give it a shot too.

Expect Lousia to be there early, doing star jumps and running round the airfield a few times between sets… I for one am beginning to get j-u-s-t a little bit frightened of her…

Square on

A

Duck on lake

Date – 03/06/2013

Hey gang

Well, after a week away from it all in the sunny Isle of Wight (“it all” being essentially anything that happened since 1954), I was back in good time and we were ready to rock Southmead … it’s been a while since we played here, and I’d forgotten about the local somewhat rudimentary sense of humour…

This week, our Louisa Hat Mojo Research Project came up with an easy one – the be-sequinned top hat, which she carried off with great aplomb. To make up for this, Ben and I tried to distract her by playing wearing dinosaur masks, but she remained completely unmoved. Mind you, we won’t be repeating that one too often, as it turned out to be almost impossible to see out of the masks. No wonder the bloody creatures died out…

The gentlemanly landlord apologised for the fairly low turnout, apparently there were several other events on that weekend and many of the locals had retired early in a state of advanced inebriation. Still, there were a few proper music fans there, as well as a few – well, others…

In particular, there was one lady who fancied herself as a vocalist; she asked Lou if she could sing along with one song; and, ever amenable, Lou let her bellow into the mike for a chorus or two. A little later, she returned and asked if she could sing an entire song with us. Well, why not, we’re fairly easy-going.

Do we know Black Sabbath’s “Paranoid”, she asks.

Why yes, we do as a matter of fact.

Does she?

Well, no, as it turns out, she doesn’t; she knows a verse and a chorus, and sings these at random intervals for a while as we struggle to keep things together behind her; but we manage to engineer all finishing together, making the thing look reasonably coherent, and then shoo her away with all seemly haste. So far, so good.

However, as we approach the end of the night, a large follicly-challenged gentleman (rather reminiscent of Bad Manners’ Buster Bloodvessel) takes it upon himself to perform what is obviously his party piece.

He proceeds to strip down to his underpants, which is an awful enough thing. Then, he pulls them up around his nipples, which has the unfortunate (and obviously deliberate) side effect of leaving his scrotum dangling free beneath for the viewing benefit of casual bystanders.

It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a pretty sight, and not one we’ve been unlucky enough to see before; We fervently hope we shall not see its like again.

Being philosophical, I guess that each of us has something unique and individual about them, and thus we all contribute in some small way to the sum total of the overall abilities and skills of humanity. Some may have a unique artistic or creative talent; some may excel in inspiring others with insightful and spiritually fulfilling Zen poetry; some may, for example, simply bake an unparalleled fruit cake – and we now know that some just waddle about with their cobblers hanging out.

Louisa is distinctly unimpressed. “You know that saying, ‘If you’ve got it, flaunt it’”, she comments archly, “Well, you haven’t, so don’t”.

A reasonable summary of the situation, I feel.

Right, this weekend we have no gigs coming up – so I’m off to visit me dear old white-haired Mum instead, and not before time – apparently the local WI mob are trying to muscle in on her numbers racket, and I need to go and warn them off, before things get ugly. [Editor’s note: Me and Ben are off to watch Lou and her band the Baronesques at the Reckless Engineer on the 8th June – https://www.facebook.com/TheBaronesques]

We’ll be back in a couple of weeks though, with one Bristol gig plus our bikertastic session playing for the Ride Of Respect – we can’t wait for that one, it’s a huge honour to be asked back, and we’re massively looking forward to it already.

Peace out

Square on

A

Date – 27/05/2013

Hola, amigos!

Just a short missive this week, as I’m not even here, I’ve gone on a well-deserved holiday. Mixed fortunes this week; Friday night was going so well until I got to the gig, then immediately got confronted by the somewhat overzealous Wiltshire constabulary, who kindly awarded me with a parking ticket and three points for having stopped my van within half a mile of the Parson’s Nose – I tried to explain that Frank Zappa once told me the white zone was for loading and unloading only, but they just looked confused. And, it took two police cars, and four of the bastards three quarters of an hour just to issue me the ticket. Either I’m obviously pretty dangerous when cornered, or maybe they were all just a bit below quota that week. [editor’s note: hmmm, a police car with two police in it and then another, my rough calculations figure that it cost quite a bit more to write the ticket than the fine … it’s our taxes too. To clarify, the second police car came and parked in the same place that Al got fined for parking in, in fact they parked in a worse position. When I pointed this out they did not seem amused and didn’t really see the irony. Perhaps they need to eat more fish and carrots.]

Possibly in more ways than one.

Anyway, apart from that the evening went well, but Saturday night was much more fun. The Queen Vic is always good for a bit of entertainment, so much so that my beloved Dem came along to practice her drinking and join in the fun. And an absolute hoot it was too, there was much leaping around and sloshing of beer, there was at least one punter who managed to fall onto the stage (trapping my foot on my pedal board, until he was dragged off by the bouncers; sadly not as painful as it sounds), there were several of our regular Stroud chums in there, and I think we even played a bit.

Louisa is still doing a fantastic job, her Hat Mojo coefficient is still looking good (pulling off the flashing neon dreadlocks with style, and even the woolly Viking-horned hat posed no problem); Ben and I have tried to counteract this by throwing in MC Hammer bass lines and rubber duck solos into AC/DC songs, but we somehow keep getting away with it. But Lou is still unnervingly nice; even after Ben had mercilessly teased her to the point that would earned him a slap from anyone else, the nastiest thing she could come up with was, “Oh… Be quiet, you!”. Which, oddly enough, just had Ben curling up giggling.

On the other hand, after the gig, while we all waited around for the crowds to thin out enough to load the kit out so we could go home to bed, and Stuart actually curled up and went to sleep on the stage, Lou headed off out for a night of clubbing with her pals. So maybe she is more rock’n’roll than the rest of us.

But this week, we have another test for her;

Saturday 1st June – Treble Chance, Southmead
The legendary Treble Chance, deep in the heart of Southmead, where many a stout-hearted cabbie fears to tread… Actually – although you do have to be careful what you tread in – they’re a nice enough bunch in here, and usually lively enough.

I love my wife; after Stuart conspiratorially told Dem that, “I’ve ordered some new drumsticks…. They’ve got yellow writing on them and everything”, without missing a beat, she smiles back and asks innocently, “What, you mean L and R…?” [editor’s note: good idea I thought]

Peace out, square on

A

Date – 21/05/2013

Hi gang!

Well, another delightfully entertaining weekend in the world of pub rawk – and, as usual, by no means were we supplying all of it…

Friday night, and a jolly time was had at the Langley Arms in Emerson’s Green – which turns out to be built in an ancient farmhouse buried in the middle of a plasticoid housing estate. We had a few sound issues, which led to Stuart suffering the entire first set with nuclear-Armageddon levels of guitar volumes in his poor little ear holes – me, I quite like that sort of thing – but by the end of the night we had everything else turned up as well, which was much better.

Saturday at the Tap & Barrel was a bit of an odd night; we arrived, we set up, we played “wait for the singer”… This isn’t like Louisa…

Eventually Stuart phoned her, to find out that she had woken up just two minutes earlier, having “overslept after a nap”. When she blearily arrived, and we complained that “taking a nap” wasn’t a particularly rawk’n’roll pastime, she pointedly enquired what we’d been up to that day, to be met with equally sorry answers of “Er…cutting the grass”, “Well…doing some laundry”, and “Um… watching the Star Trek movie”. So we let her off (this time), but only ‘cos we’re so kind and generous.

Actually, I’ll have to be careful what I write in these from now on – Lou originally had no idea we sent these out, and was “very interested” to find one last week, and noted some “deviations from the narrow path of accurate narrative”. [editor’s note: so what’s new]

But, since what you have in front of you is a variety of rock journalism (“People who can’t write, writing about people who can’t play, for people who can’t read” – F. Zappa), I feel I should be allowed a little artistic licence now and again.

Anyway, some people like to make animals out of balloons, and some people obviously prefer to make little steel giraffes out of guitar stands. It’s all harmless fun.

Saturday’s gig was notable for an extremely drunk woman annoying us with repeated stage invasions, and a massively irritating chav who spent most of the evening trying (unsuccessfully) to wind up / chat up poor Louisa. She coped with this with magnificent patience, and waited to the end of the night to give him a slamming put-down over the mike that was a far more elegant solution than the “guitar through the back of the skull” that both Ben and I were tempted to give him. We’re so proud of her!

We’re also pleased to announce our latest research still indicates a positive Louisa Hat Mojo coefficient, even when up against the rather impressive “jester’s hat with bells on”. We are thinking long and hard about the next challenge – there must be some hat so stupid she doesn’t look cool in it. I may have to start rummaging through the kids’ toy box…

Right then, coming up this weekend…

Friday 24th – Parson’s Nose, Melksham
Usually a late-ish start; somewhere between half nine and ten; but to make up for it, usually a late-ish finish, and plenty of silliness in between. Excellent fun.

Saturday 25th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Marvellous place, this one – they start dancing straight away, and they don’t stop until they get thrown out at the end of the night. Meanwhile, we get a grand view of Stroud’s finest leaping around like loons. And, to be fair, some of the less-than-finest as well. Which – in many ways – is even better.

Right, I’ve run out of musician jokes…

What’s the difference between a foot massage and a drummer?

A foot massage generally bucks up the feet….

Square on

A

Date – 13/05/2013

Howdy pardners…

The rock’n’roll circus trundles on…

Thursday night saw us back in the ol’ Royal Oak again; unfortunately for a variety of reasons my band mates all arrived on the tardy side, leaving me to hump in a whole van’s worth of kit on me lonesome, meaning that by the time we started, I was knackered already; as was everybody else after early starts and long busy days. I’m sure life used to be less frantic than this…. Anyroadup, despite being a little brain faded, I managed to keep my quota of disastrous playing cockups down to single figures (well, 55 is a single figure, isn’t it…?).

The second set (following the application of beer) was much better, and I particularly enjoyed finally getting to play a Hendrix number at the end (as far as I can remember, the first time I’ve ever gigged one in – ulp – thirty five years of playing live. Shame on me for waiting so long).

Ben, mine and Louisa’s Hat Mojo Research Project continues – we can now confirm that in addition to pirate headgear, she also looks pretty damn good in a variety of cowboy hats. Excellent – it’ll soon be time to start wheeling out some proper silly stuff…

Saturday night, and after unloading in a hailstorm, we’re soon set up at the rather nice Green Dragon in Marlborough. Nice beer pub, and it turned into a jolly fine evening; Lousia excelled herself in the “bastardising song lyrics to fit the punters” department, including Bon Jovi’s “She’s My Wife” for the lass getting engaged, and “Whole Lotta Katie” for the hen party hostess – although unfortunately we couldn’t find one to adapt to suit “knobhead in baseball cap who stands with his ear in one of the PA speakers and then complains it’s too loud”. Answers on a postcard, please.

By the end of the night, though, we’d instead gone with the majority vote of “turn it up more”, and had most of the pub jumping up and down merrily – and particular kudos to my front row mosh pit for some fine work on the inflatable guitars; well played, gentlemen!

We were secretly delighted to find Lou’s Achilles’ heel, though – finally, we discovered something she’s less than brilliant at – and it’s the ancient traditional craft of putting up guitar stands.

Whilst setting up, after five minutes’ intense struggle she presents me with a fine piece of modernist sculpture, entitled “Guitar stand assembled backwards”. Still, on the plus side, she couldn’t manage to take it apart again afterwards, either…

Right, coming up this weekend, oh, look it’s TWO gigs, BOTH in sunny Bristol. Now you have no excuse. But then again, neither do we…

Friday 17th May – Langley Arms, Emerson’s Green
Never been here before, so the poor buggers have no idea what they’re in for. Fairly close to my gaffe, so I will have no excuse for being late. Don’t worry, I’ll think of something.

Saturday 18th May – Tap & Barrel, Bedminster
Friendly pub, run by bikers for bikers, so there’s always some entertainment going on even when we’re not playing. Plus there’s room for prancing around like a big nancy, and it’s not too busy, all the way round the entire bar. Oh, how I love my wireless system.

This week, two jokes, courtesy of my lovely not-quite-daughter Sophie….

Why did the chicken cross the road?
>
>
To visit the idiot.

Knock knock…
>
>
….Who’s there?
>
>
The chicken.

Square on, and bring hats

A
Finally, a thought for last week from my mate Steve: –

“With Maggie Thatcher dead, and Alex Ferguson just retired, somewhere there’s a Scouser with a lamp and one wish left…”

Date – 07/05/2013

Aloha!

And, as the palm trees sway gently in the breeze, whilst the susurration of the surf pounding gently on the golden sands forms a delicate counterpoint to the sweet chirruping of the cicadas in the honeysuckle, and the air is perfumed with the faint aroma of a large steak being grilled to perfection, I lie and watch the droplets of condensation forming and lazily trickling down the outside of the glass containing my pina-colada, and wonder whether or not selling my entire family off to that nice Arab gentleman was really the right thing to do.

Anyways, after a whole weekend off, it’s time to jet back from the Bahamas, roll up the proverbial sleeves, and get on with the serious business of rawk’n’roll….

Thursday 9th May Royal Oak, Chipping Sodbury
Back in the dear ol’ Oak after far too long away, looking forward to seeing how many of the locals remember us (or, indeed, anything). And although it’s a School Night, it doesn’t matter, cos in Sodding Chipbury, apparently every night is Saturday night.

Saturday 11th – Green Dragon, Marlborough
Never been here before (well, I’ve been to Marlborough. Well, actually, I’ve been to Marlborough Country. Where the cancer cowboy rides. Small prize to anyone who spots where the lyric’s from). But (a) it’s a pub, and (b) they booked us, and (c) I like the name of it, so as far as I’m concerned we’re in for a good evening. Whether they are or not remains to be seen….

The joke cupboard is bare, so I’ll just pass this one on from Lou (see how I sneakily diverted the blame, there?)

What’s orange and sounds like a parrot?
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
……..a carrot.
[editors note: Blech!]

Square on

A

Date – 30/04/2013

Hey gang!

We seem to be getting quite well into the rawk’n’roll swing of things now – Saturday night up at the Anchor in Bishopston brought quite a few old mates out of hiding, including John & Ann all the way down from Gloucester, my ol’ pal Little Ian all the way from just around the corner, Stuart’s sort-of-daughter Cara with a whole posse of chums, and the lovely Mad Patti, who we haven’t seen for quite a while (she seemed to think that last time she came to see us, she got drunk and rather disgraced herself; which is completely untrue, and just as well since she did exactly the same again this time…).

We had a couple of birthdays in the house, one of which apparently required Cara and her chap to come onstage to sing Happy Birthday to the unfortunate victim. All well and good, although I’m not entirely sure about the acapella rendition of “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” which they felt it necessary to follow it up with.

The other birthday, for young Amy, just required the regular drinking, dancing, and – apparently – pouncing on an unsuspecting bass player at the end of the gig and trying to ram her tongue down his throat. Although it may have been Patti that did that, I was across the pub at the time, and the eyewitness accounts seemed unaccountably a little incoherent.

Still, everybody apparently had a lovely time, even Stuart who got so carried away that he split his snare drum skin; meaning that we had to finish off a little more abruptly than we’d hoped (even though it was a good fifteen minutes after we were supposed to stop, anyway).

We were also pleased that Louisa has tested positive for Hat Mojo – we confirmed this by the simple technique of depositing a large pirate hat on the unsuspecting girl’s head in the middle of a song. And yes, she looked pretty darned good in it – meaning the challenge is now on to test the limits of her “looking stylish and attractive whilst sporting ludicrous headgear” powers.

Right, we have no gigs coming up this weekend, however there are plans a-furtling for a gentle evening of drinking entertainment down in Bristol; you have been warned.

Randomised fruit jokes: –

What’s blue and square?
>
>
>
>
An orange in disguise

What’s yellow and invisible?
>
>
>
>
No bananas.

Mangoes into a pub….

Square on, and bring hats

A

Date – 23/04/2013

Slight adjustment to this weekend’s touring schedule –

Lily B’s Friday gig at Shrivenham will not be happening.

This is due to unforeseen incompetence on behalf of yours truly, who failed to take it out of the calendar when it was rescheduled some months ago.

In fact Lily played this gig in January, she did very well, and the beer was truly excellent.

However, if you go along there on Friday, we won’t be there any more.

Although if the beer is, I should make the trip just for that.

The AUF engagement on Saturday at the Anchor in Horfield remains unchanged.

Square on

A

Note: Following a brief discussion with our agent Statey over whose mistake this was, I would like to point out that although she was right, and I was wrong, I’m still tallest!

Date – 22/04/2013

Peace be on you, brothers and sisters

Well, that was a busy weekend – whilst the lazy rest of the band took Friday off (Well, actually probably Louisa was busy rehearsing with another band, or giving keyboard lessons, or being a fitness instructor, or one of the thousand other things she seems to have the energy to do…) – but anyway, whilst our lazy rhythm section took Friday off, I went off to picturesque (pronounced “pickcherskew”, for our less advanced readers) Ross-On-Wye with young Lily, to her gig at the Royal Hotel.We found the place, and pulled up outside – a rather grand large Victorian hotel, an impressive frontage boasting two large doors with shiny brass fixtures,looking imposingly down onto the street.

Lily’s reaction was that of the true road-worn professional.

“Oh bugger” she said, “We’re going to have to haul the kit up all them stairs, aren’t we?”

Yes, my dear, indeed we are…

Saturday, and time for some band action at Dean’s cosy Queen’s Head in Box. We roll in, set up (Stuart borrowing Dean’s drum kit for convenience, but still managing to take about twenty minutes to set up one cymbal), and wait for Lou, who arrives just in the nick of time – however, she is sporting a very posh-looking new outfit, bought that very day.

So it was doubly unfortunate that the back of the skirt ripped somewhat as she clambered up onto the stage… She didn’t seem particularly comforted when I pointed out that nobody would be able to see it – except for Stuart, who would see little else for the next two hours…

On the plus side, we did also get some rather fine home-made biscuits courtesy of my lovely Dem.

Ben eyes them suspiciously.

“How much beetroot is in them?” he asks with a caution born of experience.

“None”, I told him, “But she did make them whilst listening to ‘Ride Of The Valkyries’ at full volume, and pretending to be the Red Baron flying an invisible Fokker Triplane round the kitchen, using oven gloves for wings”.

“Oh, well that’s all right, then” he shrugs, and cheerfully tucks in.

Sunday, and the Golden Lion in Fishponds beckons…

I’d forgotten how much I like this place. Nice roomy stage, and a great crowd (was particularly nice to meet Lou’s old band mates from Metalhead – a lovely bunch, although Ben was slightly disappointed to have been robbed of the coveted “cutest bass player in the room” title). But sorry, mate – young Becky definitely looked better than you…

We had great fun, the highlight for me occurred at the moment in Guns’n’Roses classic “Paradise City” where on the record, he blows a whistle, just before the song gets all fast and noisy. During the previous number, Ben and I had jumped off stage and been merrily leaping around at the far end of the pub, whilst sporting our latest showing-off toy – LED finger lights – one of which had gone flying off whilst I was performing some gratuitous fretboard wankery. This was retrieved by a helpful punter, who dutifully brought it back and handed it to Lou just as we approached the crucial G’nR moment. Lou, assuming she was being handed a whistle by somebody who just happened to have had one with him, stuck it in her mouth and attempted to blow through it…

Somehow Ben and I managed to keep on playing through the tears of laughter brought about by the look of abject bewilderment on her lovely face, but it was a good few bars before she had composed herself enough to remember she was supposed to be singing…

Right, what’s coming up, then?

Friday 26th – Lily B at the Barrington Arms, Shrivenham
Back again with diva daughter to this nice ol’ pub in the country; as I recall, they sell here possibly the finest pint I have ever tasted. And I have done my best over the years to research these things thoroughly.

Saturday 27th – Anchor, Gloucester Road
Looking foward to this one, there’s a few of our old mates coming, and apparently a whole posse of Lou’s chums too. I love this job.

Finally, spare a thought for our dear ol’ Suzi, who yesterday – like Bilbo at the end of Lord Of The Rings – set sail westwards into the setting sun, leaving everything behind, and departing on a voyage to the Undying Lands, there to dwell forever in a new life of peace and harmony.

That place has no idea what’s about to hit it…..

Square on

A

Date – 18/04/2013

Hola homeys and honeys!

Well, a mighty fine weekend in rawk’n’roll that was, it was nice to play the Barrel on Friday and have a chance to see lovely boss lady Lyn again. We all had a fine time, as did young Louisa’s family, who turned out en masse to see what kind of a circus she’s gotten herself into. I’d like to think that Ben and I gave a fair account of ourselves, doing our very best to put Lou off remembering the words using our repertoire of stupid hats, props, masks, and musical ineptitude. We’ve also introduced our very own digital personal light show, which despite making it rather difficult to play, so appeals to the three-year old child in each of us, that it’s likely to become a regular feature. Until one of us ups the ante and goes for the flame throwing codpiece option…

It was also lovely for me to bring out my beloved Dem for the evening, who seemed to have an extremely merry time. I didn’t realise quite what a state she’d gotten herself into until we were on the way home, when she confided that she thought Ben and I ought to relax a bit more when we’re playing, and that we were all playing so tightly together it sounded over-rehearsed; apparently we “shouldn’t be afraid to make a few mistakes now and again”.

I was particularly nonplussed since I was pretty sure we’d been playing more than usual like a pair of broken-fingered baboons on acid…

The next night at the Red Lion in Witney, we rolled up on time, set up, and waited for the promised sound engineer to arrive and mic everything up, and waited, and waited…

I was just about to go and fetch our PA out of the van (Be Prepared, folks – I used to be a hit man for the Brownies, you know), when in rolled a flustered-looking lad, who feverishly started plugging in cables, and then trying to undo all the knots in them… In the end, by sensibly just micing up a couple of drums (meaning we had to turn the guitar amps all the way up to Lovely to fill the room), and after a bit of squabbling with the house lightning rig, we were ready for the off, and so off we went.

The place rapidly filled up with various drunken dancing folks, including a hen night party dressed up burlesque stylee (much to Ben’s delight) and assorted other maniacs. And, actually, the sound we got all night was just about perfect (although some 24 hours later my ears are still a bit on the ringy side). We played merrily through the night, and finally stopped playing some time after the 1am bar closure time, all rather pleased with ourselves.

I must say we’re rather proud of young Lou for having got so confident with so much material in such a short time, she’s doing a grand job (I like to think helped by the efforts of Ben and myself trying to distract her as much as possible – obviously in a supportive and caring way…)

Right, coming up this weekend, more rawk’n’roll oddness…

Friday 19th – Lily B at the Royal Hotel, Ross-on-Wye
Yes, I’m out with diva daughter again, and in a triumph of forward planning, there is no time this week when we will both be in the same place at the same time in order to rehearse anything – so it could get a bit “Jazz Odyssey”. And why Ross-on-Wye? Well, Wye not?

Saturday 20th – Queen’s Head, Box
Dean’s “play room” sports a fine PA, a cosy little stage, and – if you’re lucky – a huge glitter ball hanging low over the singer’s head “like Barbie’s disco”. Oh, and also some excellent beer, friendly local muso types, and – if you’re lucky – Ben’s mum good-naturedly haranguing him from behind a pint of scrumpy.

Sunday 21st – Golden Lion, Fishponds Not sure of the start time for this one yet, probably around five we think, so if you plan things right you could get here around lunchtime, start drinking heavily, and by the time we start playing, we’ll be brilliant! [editor’s note: I’m pretty sure this is a 6pm start, and, and … it’s the Queen’s Birthday (Liz II that is) so bring a present]

I like to sign these emails off with something amusing (at least to me), but I was stuck for ideas until I came into work this morning, and found a spectacularly incomprehensible motivational email from my senior management.

I can honestly say I have no idea exactly what they would like us to do – apparently the general theme is that our department should be “moving into the future” (although on reflection, I don’t see there is much alternative); however, I was particularly mystified and vastly entertained by the way the email was signed off, with a tag line worthy, I think, of our Stuart (up until now considered the undisputed monarch of random gibberish).

So, for once, instead of signing off with “peace out”, or “square on”, or other such faux-ironic yoof-speak, this week I offer you a heartfelt and genuine invitation to

Move To The New Cheese, And Enjoy It.

Yours, bemusedly

A

Date – 10/04/2013

Late news just in…

There’s an additional gig coming up this Friday – this was originally going to be an Angel Undercover duo gig, but Suzi’s been told she can’t leave the country until her bedroom’s tidy – plus she’s got an awful lot of packing to do… so for this one we’re falling back on Louisa and the boys

Friday 12th – The Barrel, Thornbury
Last chance to catch a gig up the dear ol’ Barrel, while the lovely Lyn is still in charge of things. After that… who knows what will happen? It’s also diva daughter Lily’s birthday, so there’s a distinct possibility that my beloved Dem will bring her and the rest of the gang along. You have been warned…

NOTE: I received several complaints about my last “drowning bassist” joke, and so to make amends I would like to point out that you really shouldn’t allow your bassist to drown.

The best way to prevent this is to shoot him before he hits the water.

Square on

A

Date – 09/04/2013

Borag Thungg, Earthlets!

Well, the sun finally came out this weekend, presumably to herald a new chapter in the annals of South Western Pub Rawk… yes, we pulled off our first gig with young Louisa at the helm.

And a mighty fine job she made of it too, despite her having a nasty head cold (for which we have decided to blame Stuart), and Ben and my sympathetic attempts to distract her with our asinine behaviour.

Actually, I started the pre-gig softening-up process early, by arranging to meet up at my gaffe before setting off for sunny Swindon – thereby allowing an hour or so’s exposure to my clinically insane offspring to help settle Louisa’s nerves…

Having successfully endured the first part of the evening’s ordeal, Ben and I (aided by our pals Swindon Al and his lovely Helen) did our very best to put her off by means of singing all the wrong words at her, and indulging in a variety of idiotic behaviour, including the Stupid Glasses Ploy…

Woodlands Edge 1

…followed by the Unlikely Physical Manoeuvre Ploy…

Woodlands Edge 2

…and even the Unexpected Nasal Inspection Routine…

Woodlands Edge 3

..none of which seemed to faze her at all, although the latter was at least an attempt at proper medical diagnosis of her sinuses, which led to the rather roseate hue of the poor girl’s hooter in the next pic, which I have elected to call “Beauty and the Beast…”

Woodlands Edge 4

There are NO prizes for guessing which one is which…

So, thanks for Swindon Al & Helen for the impromptu sound engineering and photography work, and to all the people who come out and drink too much to make our job so much easier…

Having coped with everything that we (and Swindon) can throw at her, Ben and I are going to have to seriously up our game if we’re to achieve our stated goal of getting the poor girl to collapse laughing while she’s supposed to be singing. We have less than a week to come up with the goods…

Saturday 13th – Red Lion, Witney
Now, this one is really good fun – despite being a Bit Too Far Away, it’s always well worth the trip – nice stage, a fine in-house PA (less lifting heavy things!), plus lots of enthusiastic imbibers dancing the night away; for Ben there’s always a healthy collection of scantily clad young ladies to watch, and for the rest of us there’s a chippy two doors down. Result!

And finally, in case you think that I’m biased in my cruel and unfeeling treatment of innocent vocalists…

What do you throw a drowning bassist?

His bass…..

Peace out

A

Date – 02/04/2013

Aloha!

A landmark weekend in Pub Rawk – Suzi’s last gig with the band, and perhaps fittingly, there was a certain amount of chaos and organisational wobbliness…

Suzi and I rolled up at the Wheatsheaves in far-flung Frome bang on time at 8:00, to find – to our delight – our buddies Muddy and Sarah had hauled all the way out there to see us off. Awww, bless ‘em! The other thing we found out was that we weren’t due to start playing until 10:30… oh, and also that the pub had booked a bucking bronco machine and was staging a “cowboys and cowgirls” theme night as well as having us there. (At least this last point explained the rather unusual bar staff dress code – and there was me thinking that fashion in Frome had taken a rather unusual turn for the worse…).

So we set up, and waited; after a while, our rhythm section turned up, and, it transpired, were both less than chipper. Ben had a nasty cold, but poor ol’ Stuart had acquired a vicious chest infection, and looked to be not merely at Death’s door, but actually peering out through the letterbox…

We helped him drag his kit in, set it up, and then left him to collapse asleep on a sofa in the middle of the pub until it was time to start. Meanwhile, to liven things up, Suzi’s workmates breezed in en masse – and to my delight, turned out to be – to a man (well, woman) – as mad as seven badgers in a handbag. And, as the evening wore on, they got bonkerser and bonkerser bonkerser.

Meanwhile, to my amusement, the rodeo crew turned up, deemed the area set aside for them to be “Unsuitable Due To Health And Safety Reasons”, and promptly went away again. Which left the staff looking a teensy bit self-conscious…

Finally, it was time to start, so we woke Stuart, led him carefully up the stage, and made a gentle start.

I must say, Stuart put in a heroic effort, and won Man Of The Match for drumming above and beyond the cause of duty, despite turning a worrying shade of grey and spraying out sweat after four or five songs, he made it safely through the first set. Meanwhile the audience (particularly Suzi’s erstwhile work chums) were getting increasingly enthusiastic.

We propped Stuart into a comfy chair for another bout of unconsciousness, and then – at the stroke of midnight – roused him to play the second set. Ben was feeling better by now, and so apparently were the crowd, and by the end of the night, the evening could almost be described as “triumphant”.

Coming up this week – apart from some mildly frantic rehearsing – our first gig with young Louisa…

Saturday 6th April – Woodlands Edge, Peatmoor, Swindon
Plenty of variety in this place – in the past, we’ve had punters break dancing to AC/DC, falling over the monitors, falling over each other, and supplanting our regular silliness (wearing stupid comedy wigs and playing inflatable guitars) by turning up with real guitars and stupid wigs of their own… We can only hope that the past few weeks of rehearsals (including intensive Gig Simulator stupidity from Ben and myself) have adequately prepared young Lou…

If she survives the ordeal, we may even get to do some more gigs with her.

Meanwhile…

Why did the chicken go to the séance?
>
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>
>
>
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…to get to the other side.

Square on

A

Date – 25/03/2013

Hey gang

Mixed fortunes to report this weekend; sadly we had to cancel Friday’s duo gig at the Clothiers in Stroud due an unexpectedly non-available Suzi; happily she was well enough (although a little jaded) to make it up to Saturday’s gig.

This was a birthday bash for our ol’ buddy John, and since I decided Suzi looked just about well enough to drive the van home, it meant I could take full advantage of the rather well-kept Doom Bar that was available…

Actually, I think we managed to play fairly coherently, all things considered. So, thanks to John and Anne for inviting us, we had a blast, everybody else seemed to be having a fine time; and as the attached picture shows, even managed to deploy a certain degree of ingenuity.

Basically, when you run out of inflatable guitars, you can always make do with playing chair guitar…

Chair guitar

Top marks, that man on the left!

Right then, coming up this week, we have Suzi’s Last Ever Gig with the band, at least for the foreseeable future… (we do have one more duo outing coming up, but it’s really not the same…)

Friday 29th – Wheatsheaves, Frome
Not played here before, but it will probably be awash with Suzi’s workmates. Particularly as it’s also her last day at work, so we’re kind of expecting things to get a little bit out of hand…. Let’s hope so, anyways…

I leave you with a quote from my chums in well-known Mancunian Beatles tribute band Oasis…It’s not often they give me cause for admiration, (or anything approaching it), but when I read this I thought that maybe I’ve judged them a little harshly: –

Noel Gallagher describing Liam: – “He’s like a man with a fork in a world of soup”.

Square on

A

Date – 19/03/2013

Buenos Aires, amigos!

Suzi’s Farewell Tour continues apace – not having been down to the Angel in Westbury for a while, I’d almost forgotten how cosy it is – still, as Suzi and I arrived before Stuart, we managed to get most the kit in place before he started strewing drum paraphernalia all over the place – including under the feet of innocent punters walking past… Having just got back from a week in t’sunny t’Yorkshire, Ben was all tired and grumpy at first, but once I threatened him with a big wet soppy kiss to make him feel better, he miraculously cheered up, so that we could (along with the rest of the pub) properly enjoy Suzi and Stuart bickering away happily as they finished setting up.

The gig went fine, with nobody actually falling over the monitors this week (although one or two got pretty close), and we wound up the night in fine style. Post loading up, we are chatting to nice landlady Derry, when we notice that we haven’t seen Stuart for several minutes.

“Oh, he’s just gone for a tactical before we set off”, explains Ben.”Maybe he got lost or something”.

“Or maybe”, suggests Derry, “it’s because I just locked the toilets up….”

She has to go and rescue him while the rest of us are sobbing with laughter…

Saturday at the Rose & Crown in Kingswood was a new one for us, and turned out to be not the most suitable venue… I rolled in a bit late, to find a long narrow mostly-empty pub, the drums already set up, and Ben with his head in his hands. He looks up at me wearily,

“Guess how many Johnny Cash songs they’ve had playing consecutively on the jukebox?”
“Five. Bloody five in a bloody row”. And they weren’t The Man In Black’s most cheerful offerings, either…

But things soon liven up, as we are treated to Elvis asking if we’re lonesome tonight. A couple of locals – teddy boys who look as though they were a bit old for flourescent socks even in the fifties – come over for a friendly chat, look warily at the stacks of amplification, and announce “they have to go home now”.

Even though the jukebox selection is finally managing to drag itself forward in time towards sixties’ easy listening, the tastes of the clientele do not appear likely to extend to cover what we play, and a band / venue mismatch of Spinal Tap-esque proportions appears to be on the cards. Even Stuart concedes he is beginning to have his doubts about the evening.

Still, at least we enjoy what we do, so when Suzi rolls up (bearing gifts of silly children’s toys for each of us, bless her), off we go with merry abandon…

There’s a few old mates who have rolled along to see us, and Ben has acquired a kazoo to add to his arsenal of silly things to do to annoy Suzi, so actually we end up having rather good fun – despite the fact that by the end of the night we have pretty much cleared the place out. This does provide advantages for those brave souls who remain behind, though, as they get to choose what we play next. Plus there’s more room for Ben and me to go prancing around the place (even if it did earn me a scolding from Suzi for soloing on the furniture).

At the end of the night, the landlady must have taken a shine to us, because as well as paying us (always welcome) she presents Stuart with a stuffed sock monkey to adorn the front of his kit – presumably she felt sorry for him as Ben and I have such an impressive array of rubber ducks. I’m beginning to wonder about getting a bigger van just to cart around all the stupid crap we take to gigs these days…

Upcoming delights…

Fri 22nd – Clothiers’ Arms, Stroud – Angel Under Cover
A rare duo gig, up at the very friendly “Cloth Ears Arms”, I shall have to dig out the acoustic set list and see if I recognise any of it.

Sat 23rd – Our Mate John’s Birthday Bash
A proper biker’s birthday do for one of the nicest blokes we know. Should be great fun.

Meanwhile, if anyone knows how to play the keyboard solo from Deep Purple’s “Burn” on the kazoo, could they please urgently get in touch with Ben….

Square on

A

Date – 11/03/2013

Hola homeys!

Well, Suzi’s Farewell Tour got off to a rip-roaring start over at the Trout on Saturday – once we got the sound sorted and the landord’s lighting going, we settled down and the place magically filled up to bursting point.

At half time we stepped outside to grab some air, followed by a very wobbly gentleman clutching a pint of cider which he was liberally sprinkling across the pavement. “I’ve lost my friends”, he announces mournfully. “Have you seen my friends?”. Alas, Ben and I haven’t. “Oh dear”, he says, and wanders away down the street, softly calling, “Friends…? Friends…?” A few minutes later he meanders back, just as another group of people arrive at the pub doorway.His face breaks into a soppy grin. “They’ll be my friends”, he announces, and follows them back inside.

The second set was basically merry mayhem. Suzi had her hands (and feet) full trying to stop the drunken leaping hordes hurting themselves too much, but after one punter nosedived particularly spectacularly head first right into the drumkit, we hurriedly took the monitors away to avoid any serious injuries. It made no difference, they still fell over.

All too soon, it was time to stop, the floor was awash with cider and we were dripping with sweat.

As I unstrapped my guitar, and surveyed the alcohol-soaked carnage that was previously our stage area, I was tapped on the shoulder by a smiling well-dressed elderly lady, who’d been sitting to one side out of harm’s way for the entire night.

“Thank you very much”, she says, “That was very very nice”.
“Oh yes, thank you” adds her companion, “That was absolutely lovely”.

I need to find away to get that into our advertising. “ANGEL UP FRONT – ROCK’N’ROLL ARMAGEDDON!!!…it’s very nice”.

While packing up, I lifted up one monitor to find it dripping beer. “Careful, now”, says Ben, “That one’s had more to drink tonight than some of the punters”. I set off for home, quietly hoping it’s sobered up enough for the following night’s gig.

The following night at the VillageTav in Toothill, we had a smaller – but almost overenthusiastic – crowd, one of whom had to be gently advised by Suzi what would happen to him if he didn’t stop climbing all over the stage. Wisely, he disappeared to the far end of the pub and remained very quiet for the rest of the night.

Still, it was lovely to see our pals Swindon Al & Helen there, they seemed to be having a fine time singing along with the special “alternate lyrics” versions of songs that Ben and I take particular joy in.

And, incidentally,from now on the Joan Jett cheese classic has been modified to include the line, “I love rock and roll, put another dime in the juke box MOTHER*****R”.

Yes, it’s childish and vulgar and immature, but come along and join in and see how much fun it is!

First opportunities to do so are coming up….

Friday 15th – The Angel, Westbury
We like it here. First time we played they were kind enough to dig out a monkey wrench so we could perform some vital and delicate emergency equipment repairs. It was nearly hammer time…

Saturday 16th – Rose & Crown, Kingswood
We’ve never been here before so we don’t know what to expect, but this will be Suzi’s last official Bristol gig with the band; so if you want to come and catch up with her before she goes, this could be your last chance. Just don’t lend her any money….

Thas’ your lot for now

Square on

A

Two cannibals are having dinner, and one remarks, “I hate my sister”.
“Well”, replies the other, “just eat the noodles”.

Date – 04/03/2013

Allo there!

Well after a weekend off, the rather lovely AUF rawk machineTM is rolling into action again…

Friday 8th – The Trout, Keynsham
Suzi’s Farewell Tour kicks off in a rather nice little venue – it’s a bit intimate, which is to say that when they start slipping over in their spilt beer, they land on the monitors. Still, it’s usually a lively night, and we’ve not had anybody badly injured so far…

Saturday 9th – Village Tavern, Toothill, Swindon
…and on to the Village Tav; we like it here, there’s plenty of space, nice acoustics, and they hardly ever have to call the Riot Squad in to tidy up afterwards…

I leave you this week with a small collection of Buddhist puns – because I can.

How did the Buddhist ask for his hot dog?
“Make me one with everything”.

Why did the Buddhist refuse novocaine when having a tooth extracted?
He wanted to transcend dental medication

And on a related note…
Hare Krishna devotees who work in Italian restaurants; they like to give pizza chants

No need to thank me.

Square, and, indeed, on

A

Date – 26/02/2013

Ahoy there!

Well, an odd weekend in rawk to report; Friday’s gig at the dear ol’ Barrel was plagued by a few technical gremlins, but mainly by mine and Ben’s chronic ineptitude. Saturday’s gig at the Red House in Purton was entertaining for different reasons…

As we rolled down the M4 in the van, Suzi and I spied Stuart and Ben up ahead; too lazy to do any navigating, we tucked in behind to follow them. After a brief magical mystery tour, and a stop for directions, we followed them up a narrow road, whereupon an obviously mislocated Stuart pulled into the driveway of a large building to turn around. We followed him in to the driveway, and then – because it was the place we were looking for – carried on up the drive to the building, as Stuart merrily drove away into the night.

So, I went on in to say hello, while a chuckling Suzi got on the phone to our wandering bandmates to provide Air Traffic Control stylee assistance.

When she stepped out the van and saw the sign above the door, though, her face fell.

“Social Club?” “SOCIAL CLUB?” “What the hell are we doing at a SOCIAL CLUB???”

I should explain that after several years on the solo circuit playing at many such a venue (where apparently you often get requests for “anything by Gerry and the Pacemakers”, or “Do you know do any waltzes, love?”), Suzi has an almost pathological hatred of them.

(Actually, that last statement is not completely true. In fact, her hatred of them is completely pathological).

So, although we had rather a quiet night by rock’n’roll standards, this was more than made up for by Suzi’s vengeful tirade against Stuart, which left Ben and I (and, eventually Stuart too) giggling merrily away. You have to take your fun where you find it, I reckon…

Speaking of which, I figure it’s now just about the right time for Big News Announcement Time.

As some of you may already be aware, in a few weeks Suzi will be hanging up her wings and leaving us to run away and live in Oireland.

She has assured us that this is not just a desperate measure to avoid having to put up with the rest of the band’s alleged sense of humour; apparently both Interpol and the Inland Revenue are getting a bit too close for comfort.

When she first announced this, we were quite taken aback (in fact Stuart was so taken aback it took him a month to realise she meant it), and we had several long discussions of the “What are we going to do now” variety (punctuated by “Who’s round is it anyway”, of course), before deciding that, since the remaining three of us are all so annoying to everybody else, we were best off sticking together. Of course, things will never be the same without our Suzi, but then again, they weren’t usually the same before…

So, for the past few weeks, we’ve been busily scouting around for a new singer.

Now, we knew it was never going to be easy to find someone to step into Suzi’s kinky boots (similarly, I like to think that, were I to be leaving, the guys would have trouble finding somebody to fill my mighty leather strides) – but after much auditioning shennanigans, we have at last tracked down our new Angel.

As a result, we will shortly be introducing you to the lovely Louisa, who undoubtedly has talent in spades, and we are hoping will also have the necessary patience to deal with the rest of us idiots…

In the meantime, then next six weeks or so basically constitute Suzi’s Farewell Tour. She has threatened to pop back now and again for the occasional Special Guest Appearance, but this will be your last chance to catch her before she starts talking like a leprechaun and drinking Guinness with peat and potato chasers.

The tour starts on Friday March 8th at the Trout in Keynsham, then variously takes in Swindon, Westbury, Kingswood, Frome, and a few other place I can’t quite remember. We’ll let y’all know as we get nearer the time.

In the meantime, we have a weekend off – well, except for me, I have another “roadie and second guitarist” outing: –

Saturday March 2nd – Lily B at the Barrel, Thornbury
Thanks to a throat infection, Lily completely lost her voice this week, and had to carry a whiteboard and pen around so she could communicate with the rest of us. Apparently this also made singing in the shower a little tiresome, as “the ink kept running”. Her voice seems to have come back now. Alas, no sign of the brain yet.

Square on

A

Date – 18/02/2013

Top o’ the mornin’ to ye!

Well, it’s nice to see the universe is sorting itself out – obviously a bit of a cosmic faux pas accidentally dropping those rocks on Russia, but on the plus side the Big Asteroid missed completely, and – rather more importantly – two rather fine gigs in succession.

Friday at Queen Amy’s was a very jolly affair, some welcome surprise old mates rolled in, and there was even a film crew to boot. (I’d completely forgotten this had been previously arranged, but we were being filmed as part of a project on local bands. Luckily I looked as dashing and debonair as usual, and we even managed to play quite coherently. Or maybe one day we’ll see the footage and find out how wrong I am). Afterwards, we had a jolly pleasant sit down natter with Her Majesty until eventually we sneaked away in the wee wee hours.

Saturday night, and a new venue for us, the lovely Poacher in Portishead. We rolled up, and – what’s this? The staff are volunteering to help carry all the kit in. We duly set up, and the kindly landlord tells us the regular start and finish times, and explains we get free beer. Before he has finished the sentence, Suzi has had the van keys thrust into her hand, and Ben has remembered that although his asthma medicine doesn’t mix with alcohol, if it’s not been paid for, it doesn’t count.

It seems that Stuart has decided that rather than try and keep up with “Yoof Cultcha”, we should get ahead of the game ,and actually come up with our own meaningless phrases to deploy wherever marginally relevant in otherwise normal conversations (not that we have many of those). So, his first offering in that particular direction is the general term of approval, “Square on”. I rather like the fact that it sounds quite crickety, and at least it’ll make a change from Ben’s and mine endless Chuckle Brothers routine (but we’ll keep that going as well, if only because it annoys Suzi so much).

Suzi tests the PA, and thinks that she’s put on a little too much reverb, as it’s “hooting a bit”. By way of inane response, I blow across the top of my beer bottle for a nice simulated hooty effect. Ben does the same, but his hoot is somewhat lower pitch. I quickly take a large swig, try again, and lo and behold, we are PERFECTLY in tune! We both collapse on the floor giggling at this, while Suzi grumpily points out that it’s the first time we’ve ever managed to be in tune with each other*. It’s about five minutes before Ben and I have recovered enough to speak.

So, we are set for a fun evening – the punters are up and away dancing about from the off, Stuart gets his rubber chicken out – it’s first time in a while, meaning Ben and I have had to make do with a plastic duck for a couple of weeks – and then suddenly it’s several beers later, half the inflatable guitars have gone down, and it’s time to shut up. Marvellous fun.

Anyways, coming up this week…

Friday 22nd – The Barrel, Thornbury
Oh goody. Goody goody goody. Nuff said.

Saturday 23rd – Red House, Purton
Another new one for us. I don’t actually know where Purton is. But I do know that there’s a red house over yonder. So that’ll be it, then. I wonder if there’s free beer?

*How DO you get two guitarists to play in unison?
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>
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Shoot one of them.

That’ll do for now,

Square on, dudes

A

Date – 11/02/2013

Ahh, there you are Bond, take a seat… A weekend with no Hot Rawk’n’Roll Action, oh dearie me, what is the world coming to?

I did manage to sneak in a cheeky gig with young Lily at the Mermaid in Burford – very nice place, as usual Lil did a fine job, and also as usual I played like a klutz. I maintain that this is all part of my cunning plan to motivate her to go find some better people to play with, so she can earn sackloads of money and buy Dem that” house in Floridia” she’s been going on about. (Actually, I don’t really want a house in Florida. I’ve been there before, and as far as I can tell the entire state smells of fried chicken. Although they do have alligators wandering around in the ditches by the side of the road. Probably been attracted by the smell of chicken, come to think of it).

Maybe Lily can buy Dem the house, and I’ll just go visit from time to time. Might make getting the kids to school a bit tricky, though.

Anyway, we shall fend that particular alligator off when we come to it. In the meantime, and rather closer to home…

Friday 15th – Railway Tavern, Fishponds
Back in the court of our beloved Queen Amy, absolute ruler of the ancient kingdom of Fishponds, Empress of Staple Hill, and probably with expansionist designs on the outlying territories of Kingswood and Hanham. But not Easton, it’s a bit grubby. We’re expecting a fun night, probably with drink flying about a bit.

Saturday 16th – The Poacher, Portishead
As far as I remember, we’ve not played here before. But then again, as far as I remember, the second chord of Aerosmith’s Don’t Want To Miss A Thing is F sharp… but as Lily rather forcefully pointed out to me on Friday, it actually has rather more of an A flat vibe about it. So maybe we have been here before. And maybe I’m a jazz improvisational genius.

Right, that’s about it for now, and if I can’t think of anything funny before I send this out, I shall leave you with the following thought: –

There are two secrets to a happy and successful life.

One is never to tell people everything that you know.

Peace out

A

Date – 04/02/2013

Yo, peeps

Well, another three-gig weekend, but to make up for it, at least we have next weekend off (well, except for me…)

Friday night at the Parson’s Nose was rather a hoot; we’ve not been there for a while, and they’ve rearranged the place to make a bit more room for nancying around; but there was still plenty of room left for cavorting drunks, and just as well. In fact, we had such a jolly time that Ben and I tried an impromptu experimental instrument swap for the last number – and managed to carry it off rather stylishly, I thought. I should also mention that he did attract the attentions of several young ladies, although sadly it transpired that they were only really after him for his hair care secrets.

Saturday lunchtime – when all right-thinking musicians ought to be just thinking about getting up out of bed and going home – and we fetch up at the Golden Fleece in Bath for lovely landlady Mo’s Big Birthday Bash. Although Ben semed a little confused by the unusual hour, he managed to play the set whilst happily watching the rugby on the huge telly on the wall right by him. So, great fun, a lively crowd, and even food afterwards. And, as a bonus, we beat Scotland. ?

That just left us with Saturday night at the Treble Chance, which wasn’t without the odd incident; I managed to snap a B string at just the wrong moment, leaving me to play a 3 minute solo on five strings… and I would have gotten away with too, if it weren’t for them meddling kids and their pesky dawg.

The second set started off well, but after 2 numbers we heard them call time at the bar – what’s going on? Well, what’s going on is they’ve changed closing time since we were last in here, so we had to belt through as much as we could in the remaining half hour. We finished just in time for the traditional scuffle to start, and set about packing up.

Stuart went out to open his car; and after five minutes hadn’t returned, so I went outside to check. It’s full of girls. Apparently when he came out, the bonnet was promptly sat on by a gaggle of inebriated young ladies. As soon as he unlocked the car, they all jumped inside and refused to get out unless he gave them all a lift home. Recognising that his options were somewhat limited, he happily obliged while the rest of us loaded up the van instead.

He returned fifteen minutes later chuckling ruefully – apparently they even offered him money, which was very sweet (or possibly they just took pity on him and were trying to give him enough to buy some new clothes).

In the meantime, Suzi, Ben and I enountered a nice lady who told us that Angel Up Front were the very first live band she ever saw, some years ago – and suggested that therefore it was “only fair” that one of us should sleep with her tonight. Well, that’s a very kind thought.

Both Suzi’s eyes and mine immediately swivel round to Ben. “Dude, you’re up”. But, in this instance, Ben is rejected as a candidate because his hair is too long (and would apparently “get in the way” – although in the way of exactly what, I hesitate to speculate). Instead, the nice lady offers me the opportunity.

Suzi comes gallantly to my rescue. “Oh, you don’t want to do that. You’ve seen how clumsy and ham-fisted he is, breaking a string already – you don’t want to let his hands near anything delicate”.

It is so nice to get these little unsolicited testimonials.

Anyways – a weekend off coming up, apart from a little outing to the country with diva daughter

Friday 8th – Lily B at The Mermaid, Burford
Played a duo gig here once before with Suzi – a very nice pub, cosy and welcoming. If you’re anywhere near Burford on Friday, it’ll be the place to be. If you’re not – well, you probably won’t even know where Burford is.

Thassit for now

Peace out

A

Anonymous quote of the day:-

Personally, I don’t like country music; but I don’t want to denigrate those people who do.

And for people who do like country music; “denigrate” means “put down”.

Date – 28/01/2013

Hola, homeys!

I’m getting too old for this three-gigs-in-one-weekend lark. Although, arguably, I have been for quite some time…

Friday night, and having finally succeeded in getting lovely diva daughter out the door only twenty minutes late (anyone who’s worked with female vocalists will know this is a remarkable – and exhausting – achievement) we rolled up at our destination country pub on time, albeit with a somewhat sizzly van engine…

We came in, we set up, we played the first acoustic set (clumsily, in my case) and some appreciative locals, and then the second electric one to (let me just check my notes here), a “gallivanting posse of inbred tweed-clad prancing jackasses”. Oh well.

Saturday night, and the much-more inviting prospect of a proper band outing to the Back Bar in Weston, replete with mahoosive house PA and merry dancing punters…

Well, almost. We came in, we set up, we sound checked, and bang on cue my amp footswitch collapsed just we finished. No time now to swap amps, so I spent the evening trying to remember where amp channel changes etc. are supposed to come in and how to manage them using pickup switching and knob-fiddling instead… (fortunately I have some considerable experience in this field…)

This was not made any easier by the initially extremely hungover condition of the sound engineer – but as the evening progressed he became increasingly pissed instead. By all accounts the sound out front was okay, but up onstage, it was a tad sub-optimal. From my spot, it sounded as though both Ben and Stuart were playing underwater – although afterwards they swore blind they weren’t. (Which leads me to wonder exactly why Ben had a fish sticking out of his pocket at the end of the evening…)

Ah well, such is life. We made it through to the end of the night – the punters seemed happy enough – and left.

So, up early on Sunday morning, and I managed to successfully procure the necessary components to mend my ailing rig – then just time to grab some food, and it’s off to Swindon again with Lily. This gig went off without incident, and was rounded nicely by Lil, “Thank you very much, this is the last number; then I’m going home for me dinner”. Dat’s my girl!

Right then, coming up….

Friday 1st Feb – Parson’s Nose, Melksham
Haven’t done this one for a while, it’s usually a 9:30 start, and they do like a drink in here. Mind you, if I lived in Melksham, so would I…

Saturday 2nd – Treble Chance, Southmead
Now this one is always entertaining, at least for us. Funnily enough, they like a drink in here, too.

I leave you with a truly appalling joke, courtesy of dear daughter. I have no idea where she gets here dreadful sense of humour from…

What’s yellow, and smells like green paint?
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.
.
.
.
.
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Yellow paint.

Peace out

A

Date – 22/01/2013

Brrrr!

As I remarked to my lovely Dem this morning, it’s a bit cold out. “Well, tuck it back in, then” she sagely advised. Now why didn’t I think of that?

Despite the polar conditions, we had a fine time gigging this weekend (unlike some wussy bands I could mention, who cancelled their gigs “because of the bad weather”). You know who you are.

It was good to play the Cat & Wheel again on Friday, it’s now under new management, they’ve done the place up a bit, and very nice it is too – although somehow magically there’s even less room to set up in than there used to be. Poor Ben had to play the gig from behind the hot pie machine on the bar – when he complained, it was (possibly somewhat unkindly), pointed out that he IS a hot pie machine, so from the audience’s perspective, it didn’t make much difference.

Still, he obviously forgave me – although I should point out that some of our more sensitive readers may find the following section offensive, and may wish to skip on to the next paragraph*…

Ben and I both nipped to the toilet just before the first set, for the traditional gentlemen’s’ urination opportunity that is known in AUF circles as the “tactical” (not to be confused with the “strategic”, an altogether more serious affair).

After I made some childish comment or other, Ben chuckles, “See, now, THAT’s why I love you, dude”.

I decide it’s time to switch to romantic novel mode. “Why, Mr Brooke… this is all very sudden, I must say”

“Well”, Ben replies thoughtfully, “It just felt like it was the right moment to tell you”.

“What, while I’ve got my cock in my hand?”

At this point, a muffled “Jesus feckin Christ” comes from unseen in one of the cubicles, the door slams open, and a random bloke bursts out and scuttles away at high speed into the pub, never to be seen again.

We think he probably didn’t even wipe…

Anyway – back to the less unsavoury stuff…

Saturday night, it’s freezing cold, and here we are at the Spotted Cow in Fishponds. We’ve not played here before, but there’s enough room to set up properly, there’s some fine music on the jukebox, and a promise of a bunch of Ben’s pals from work coming along to join in.

There’s all this and more, our pals John and Anne turn up all the way from sunny Gloucester, we all have a very jolly time, and during the course of the evening, Ben and I get most of our stupid dressing-up toys out to play with. Alas, we finish the night three inflatable air guitars down – but such are the fortunes of war…

Right then, coming up this weekend, the band are going to the seaside, and I have a couple of extra outings with daughter Lily so she has some cash I can try to lever out of her in a futile attempt to get her to finish paying off her new guitar…

Friday 25th – Lily B at the Barrington Arms, Shrivenham
No idea even where Shrivenham is. Let’s ask my pal Google. Ahh, right. Nice little village a few miles outside Swindon. The pub looks rather classy, actually. I wonder if they’re ready for a 14-year old with a voice like a bull elephant who dances round the house with oven gloves on her hands and pants on her head…

Saturday 26th – Back Bar, Weston Super Mare
Oh, we like it here a lot. Lovely proper stage, loud house PA, and they mike everything up, everything’s so clear you can hear a plectrum drop…. …quite often, actually…

Sunday 27th – Lily B at the Wheat sheaf, Dores Rd, Stratton, Swindon
Bizarrely, there are two pubs in Stratton called the Wheat sheaf. We’ll be in one of them. If it’s the right one, they’ll pay us. If it’s the wrong one, they’ll throw us out. Or possibly vice versa.

That’s your lot for now**

Peace out

A

*See, the great joy of saying “This next bit may cause offence, you may prefer to skip it” is that EVERYBODY will read it, but if someone doesn’t like it, they feel that they can’t complain about it without feeling a bit silly. But you can complain if you like. I don’t care. You probably look a bit silly, too.

** All right, then. Crap joke of the week.

Why do Marxists all drink decaf?
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.
.
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Because all proper tea is theft.

Date – 11/01/2013

Hi folks!

Well, we’ve made a start on ploughing through the 2013 gig itinererererarararary. Last weekend, we kicked off at the lovely Golden Fleece in Bath. And rather well everything went, I thought. Very pleased that my naughty amp gremlins seem to have gone away, and somehow magically there seemed to be rather more room to set up in as well. Maybe they’ve managed to grow the pub a bit since we were last in there. Anyways, the only interruption to proceedings came halfway through the second set, when Stuart suddenly hopped up from his drum stool and headed hurriedly toiletwards … Somewhat ironically, this left several punters peeing themselves laughing…

When Stuart came back he was ceremoniously presented with a shiny metal bucket to cater for any future unexpected urgent calls of nature. In his absence, Ben and I noticed that the wall behind him was decorated with a selection of shiny Victorian bedpans… if only he’s spotted them in time. Still, not to worry, we can use them in future for impromptu air guitar performances. I hope they’ve emptied them first.

Eventually, the lovely Mo who presides over this fair establishment told us to shut up; and then told us to play one more to stop her customers whingeing.. so we did.

All in all a promising start, and a good warm up for this weekend which promises to be rather lively… can’t remember the last time we did a three-gig weekend, let’s hope we haven’t lost our youthful exuberance. I’m sure I saw mine up in the loft the other day…

Friday 18th – Cat & Wheel, Stokes Croft, Bristol
It’s a bit cramped in here for us but there’s enough room for drunks to swing their limbs around, so that’s all right then. Also it’s our pal Gus’s birthday, so we’re hoping he will get suitably deranged on the night.

Saturday 19th – Spotted Cow, Fishponds
A new one for us – this is Ben’s local, so we expect to see him in a merry state of disrepair by the end of the evening, on the grounds that he doesn’t have far to stagger home. I wonder where I could safely leave the van…

Right, that’s your lot for now – I’ll leave with an extract from what is very possibly the worst joke book in the world, kindly provided by my pal Matt, who really should know better – but apparently doesn’t.

What do you call a Saudi dairy farmer?
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.
.
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A milk sheikh.

Eye thank ewe

A

Alternatively (and actually not from The Book, as I have decided to call it… )

Did you hear about the guy who made a fortune selling kitchen appliances?

He was a fridge magnate

Date – 03/01/2013

Hi folks

And a Happy Noo Year to one and all. We hope you had a fine and wonderful festive season.

I was once again a little disappointed not to find the pearl white Gibson Custom Shop Explorer in my Christmas stocking (you know, the one with the Burstbucker pickups, the ebony fingerboard, the TonePros bridge, and the phase switching system). I’m pretty sure the letter I sent to Santa was clear enough. On the other hand, I did receive a rather fine literary effort – a contemporary fairytale entitled “The Window Cleaner, the Flying Codpiece, and the Rock Gods From Planet Metal”. I don’t think I could have come up with a better title meself.

In the meantime, in between variously drinking, working, and looking after a succession of poorly sick people, we managed to squeeze in a couple of gigs; just before the festive shutdown, we hit the Rolly in Swindon for a jolly night of rawk’n’roll, and Noo Year’s Eve saw us at the legendary hub of heavy rock action in the South West, the British Legion Club in Kingswood.

We rolled up, walked in, and my eyes took in the scene; a full house, an audience of which 90% clearly have free bus passes, and a tiny stage tucked away in the corner… Suzi is immediately on the phone to Stuart to whinge, while I set about trying to work out how we’ll shoehorn the gear in.

To be fair, the guys there were extremely helpful in gently shovelling tables, chairs, and geriatrics out the way, and dragging all the kit in. We managed to get it all set up, and once we got going actually it all went rather well; unfortunately my amp overheated (probably due to being stuffed back into a tight corner) and we had to stop the first set one song early, as it began making a horrible howling noise; rather akin to a scrofula-ridden werewolf with its genitalia caught on some brambles…

After a fairly long break due to the epic raffle (rather disappointed not to have won anything), and with my amp now happily cooled off, the second set was rather livelier as the alcohol kicked in and the air-guitar-granny contingent wheeled into action. We even had a special guest drummer join us for one track, and managed to play on until quarter to one before the screaming demons got into my amp again on the last encore, forcing us to call time, and send the few remaining upright drunks home. All in all, a rather satisfactory evening.

Things might be back to normal now – we’ll find out on Saturday…

Saturday 5th – The Golden Fleece, Bath
We played here a few months ago – presided over by the lovely Mo, it’s quite small & cosy, but they do like a laff in here. Rather looking forward to it, and hoping the amp-tinkering I did yesterday will banish the horrible howling noises… at least the ones I make. There doesn’t seem to be much we can do about the vocals…

Alas, no Christmas cracker jokes this year… but please do send any of yours you don’t want any more, we like to do our bit for the environment by recycling second-rate humour….

Peace out

A

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