Date – 21/12/2010
Ahh, Mr Bond, I’ve been expecting you…
My, but it’s hot this weekend. I think I’ll just have to risk the sunburn and start showing up to work in my bikini.
Still, despite the less-than-ideal weather conditions, the mighty Angel Up Front rawk machineTM rolls relentlessly on. We need the money.
Friday night, and another duo gig up at the Spa Inn. Thanks to a last-minute dropping-out of the running order by my diva daughter, Suzi and I had to go and entertain the masses all on our lonesome – and, for once, I think we managed it without any horrendous memory lapses. This was our last gig up here for a while, as the lovely management Sue & Clive are off to run another pub in the New Year. So, all the best to them, we might even trek up and do a few gigs at their new place, if they’ll let us.
I’m reasonably sure we’re not the reason they’re moving….
Well, probably not the only one…
Saturday evening, I’ve just loaded up the van for tonight’s Stroud gig, and Suzi phones to tell me her car has started cutting out. Oh, goody. She manages to slither up as far as the M4, so I pick her up from there and we head off to the gig. All the roads are fine, until we get into Stroud, where things start getting slippy – the hill which the Queen Vic is at the bottom of is a sheet of ice, but by reversing up it with one pair of wheels on the pavement, and slipping the clutch until we are enveloped in a cloud of black smoke, we manage to get close enough to unload. I’m just thinking that the road doesn’t seem as dangerous as it looks, when a 4 x 4 goes slithering down past me with all the wheels locked up, still accelerating as it disappears from view…
We amuse ourselves at half time by going out to the street to watch people falling over on the ice – then we start to feel guilty about it after a few nasty looking accidents; one guy suffered a pretty obvious fractured pizza. If only we’d had the foresight to bring along little score cards to hold up.
Second set, and after about five numbers, Stuart has to jump up from his kit and make a break for the toilet [editors note: this is not fair, it was Ben, Stuart was just taking advantage of the opportunity]. Ben does, too. Ohh, the remorseless professionalism! Suzi and I manage to get in an entire Green Day song before they get back. Good job we’re used to this duo thing, eh?
Afterwards, it occurs to the pair of us that, having done more work than the other two, we should be getting paid slightly more, although unaccountably they don’t seem to think so.
Actually, I reckon that we should each get paid per note. That way, I could just sling in a few Eddie Van Halen-esque widdly solos, and I’d be quids in! The flaw in this argument rapidly becomes apparent when it is pointed out that this way of thinking is exactly where the concept of the twenty-minute drum solo came from….
[editors note: and how many notes are there in a drum roll eh, ahhhh you hadn’t thought of that had you]
Anyways, with the festering season nearly upon us, here’s the upcoming seasonal attractions: –
Thursday 23rd – Rising Sun, Trowbridge
Pre-Christmas bash at a pub just round the corner from Suzi’s – so she might even show up on time. (Ha!). Now, this place is being run by our pals Damon and the delicious Cath, who I haven’t seen for ages… in fact, last time I saw her, she was curled up asleep round the monitors with a lovely peaceful smile on her face… this was her wedding night… Aww, bless. Anyhoo, should be a riotous night. Can’t wait.
Fri 31st – Anchor Hotel, Warminster
New Year’s Eve. We can stop over, so don’t need to drive home. The naughty management have been known to ply their bands with alcohol. It’s a masquerade party – i.e. an excuse to dress up like a twat. And we’ve been promised breakfast in the morning. Count me in.
With that, I’ll wish you all a jolly Saturnalia, and – if we don’t see you at one of the next couple of gigs – we’ll see y’all next year, for more fun, frolics, and talking …nonsense.
Peace out, and a Happy New Year to all our readers
Mummy…Am I really, truly, a real polar bear….?
Date – 14/12/2010
Well, I hate to say it, but the unthinkable has happened – I was wrong. I know, it’s hard to believe, it’s a bit much to take in all at once, you may want to go and have a little sit down and a nice quiet cuppa before reading on…
So, you may recall last week, when I said of our planned gig at the Crabapple in Clevedon, “…Not done this one before – but, by the end of the night, we will have done.”
Well, we still haven’t. Cheerily, we rolled up at the pub to find another band busily setting up. What’s all this? It transpires that due to a complicated mix-up that we still haven’t got to the bottom of, the pub had cancelled us many moons ago, but somehow the message from the agent never got through to us.Oh dearie me. We grumbled a bit, listened to the other band sound checking, and then set off in search of a quieter pub for a swift pint or two. My, these rock’n’roll types are awfully noisy, aren’t they?
Saturday, and – having checked that the gig is actually still on – we trundle back down the M5 to Weston, to the lovely Back Bar. We like this gig, there’s a hefty house PA, so we don’t have to carry as much kit in, and it’s VERY LOUD. Lovely.
We stroll in, set up, and Stuart & Suzi are immediately accosted by a pair of likeable loonies. Ben & I discreetly sneak off and leave “Mum and Dad” to entertain their new chums.
Finally, Matt the sound guy stumbles in, so we set about sound checking, and after some feedback shennanigans, we’re good to go (albeit with virtually no vocals in the monitors). Not to worry, it means I can hear myself better. And the good news is that, out front, it’s about twice as loud again as we’re hearing it. Oh, those lucky punters…
So, a good fun night, very very noisy, and for once we didn’t break anything. Still, there’s always next time…
Friday 17th – Spa Inn, Stonehouse – Angel Undercover
There is, in fact, a very very slim chance that Suzi and I will manage to get together and do some rehearsal for this one. There is a significantly larger chance that we will get my daughter Lily to cover about half an hour, assuming that she actually manages to get some practice in. Either way, it’ll be interesting…
Saturday 18th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Brilliant. Nuff said.
Right, and I’ll leave you with a thought courtesy of my 17 year-old long-haired wastrel son. After around six years trawling the Interweb for an average of six hours a day, this was the funniest thing he managed to find…
Where do crazy people do their shopping?
Well, now he’s finished with that little project, he can start tidying his room, can’t he….
Date – 06/12/2010
Right then, here’s this week’s episode: –
Thursday night, cold and damp, and a duo gig at Queen Amy’s Railway Tavern gets off to a fine start with me knocking some poor nice lady’s drink all over her whilst trying to set the gear up. Luckily, she’s of a very tolerant disposition and I get away with buying a replacement pint and some fawning grovelling apologies in lieu of a dry cleaning bill. Coulda been worse. Suzi and I play it safe by sticking to the acoustic numbers we can probably remember, followed by a selection from our stalwart electric backing track repertoire, and manage not to make too much of a pair of fools of ourselves. Probably. Delightful to see Amy again though, and a Big Fat Happy Birthday, Why Are You Still Upright? to Mark.
Friday, and a band appointment at the Ludlow Arms in Wild Wild Westbury – although in fact it was rather more Mild Mild Westbury, as it turned out. Seems the weather kept most the punters at home watching CoronationStreetFactorDancingOnIceGetMeOutOfHereEnders, or whatever it is normal people do. Still, it was obviously exciting enough for Ben’s bass amp to faint half way through. Luckily we carry a spare these days (amp, not bassist), so it wasn’t too long before he was up & running again.
Saturday, it’s still cold, and I’m starting be a very tired little guitarist – during the afternoon, I actually managed to fall asleep standing up – however, after a quick session rubbing coffee granules into my eyeballs, I’m wide awake and ready to gig again. So down to the Rising Sun in Backwell, where they actually have shelves full of trophies for being mad. Partway through the first set, and our most enthusiastic dancer has a chair for a dance partner, and has mislaid his shirt – he does seem to standing on his head with reasonable aplomb, though. However, by midway through the second set, off come the trousers, and it all goes predictably downhill from there…
Anyhoo, apart from that small unpleasantness (and I must say, in fairness, that it did look to me like a quite small unpleasantness), we actually rather enjoyed ourselves – and a big up to the gang who trekked all the way up from Yeovil to see us there. Well done, gang!
Right, this week we have a Seaside Special tour lined up –
Fri 10th – Crabapple, Clevedon
Not done this one before – but, by the end of the night, we will have done. However, just for you, I‘ve quickly checked out the place on Google. It showed me a picture of a pub. So now you know.
Sat 11th – Back Bar, Weston
Oooooh, I like this one! Big tall stage – with a drum riser, so Stuart gets to spend the evening staring at the back of Suzi’s head (a step up from his usual vista), a pretty big room, and usually a nice bouncy crowd – plus they have their own house PA and lights, so much less heavy equipment to drag in out the van… marvellous.
And the good news is that the worst of cold weather seems to be more or less behind us; just as well, my poor Dem was getting really depressed by it. She’d just sit there for hours, staring blankly through the window…
…eventually I had to let her in.
Date – 29/11/2010
It’s a bit nippy out… so tuck it back in, and we’ll get on with things.
All comfy? Right then, here we go. Having not played for 2 weeks (or rehearsed for – er – as long as I can remember), I actually thought we played quite well at the Full Moon on Friday. A mostly bikery crowd, and despite the weather having kept quite a few of the regulars away, we obviously went down well enough to get booked back in there again. At least all gear issues got discovered and fixed before we started playing, rather than in the middle of the set like they did the last few times…
Saturday dawned fair and bright, and even colder than Friday – still, I managed to persuade my beloved Dem to trek down to Warminster with me for an evening of silliness at the Anchor. As well as the usual crowd of merry folk, there was also a large party of Oompa Loompas – all impeccably dressed up, and impressively beered up, too. After our recent Smurf encounters, we’re getting quite used to this sort of thing. Allegedly this was all in honour of someone’s birthday – but I have a sneaky suspicion that a lot of people down there wear the outfits all the time. Anyhoo, we all had a complete blast, with much jumping around and singing along, and Dem thoroughly enjoyed herself too, having buddied up with a couple of inebriated squaddies for the evening.
All too soon, it was time to wrap it up, and pack the gear away. As we’re waiting for the tills to be sorted out so we can get paid, four firemen stride purposefully into the pub and disappear down towards the back yard. A few minutes later, they are followed by a pair of paramedics donning rubber gloves. What’s going on, we enquire, much intrigued….. It turns out that one of the Oompa Loompas has drunkenly slid of their seat out in the back yard, and knocked themselves out. We have to leave now, but as we pull away in the van I espy the unfortunate orange one being loaded on to a stretcher, towered over by four burly firemen and surrounded by a crowd of concerned Oompa Loompas… I sincerely hope that the hapless victim is all right, because I want to have a clear conscience – this little scene is a memory I will cherish forever.
Things can only get stranger…
Thursday 2nd Dec – Railway Tavern, Fishponds – Angel Under Cover gig
Yes, Suzi and I are back in the court of Queen Amy for an evening of acoustic improvisation. If you’re reading this, Amy, we have practiced this time, honest. If you’re not reading this, well, er – Oh, you’ll figure it out. I just hope we do, too.
Friday 3rd – Ludlow Arms, Westbury
Now, I think we might have played here before, but I can’t remember anything about it. Thing is, these days, as things seem to be getting increasingly surreal, unless there are dancing giraffes or talking watermelons or something, a gig doesn’t really stick in the memory very long. I think my mind is beginning to wander. And the nurses keep stealing my clothes, you know. Is that nice Mrs Thatcher still in charge of things…?
Saturday 4th – Rising Sun, Backwell
Ah. Now, this one we do remember. Homo-erotic body-popping, pink feather boas, air guitar – and that’s just the locals. We’re even worse.
Right, that’s it for this week…
Right, that’s it for this week…
Right, that’s it for this week.
Ooooh, hello, who are you….?
Date – 22/11/2010
And, after a week in sunny Kansas, your favourite rawk’n’roll reporter is back in dear ol’Blighty, despite a failed attempt to save money on the return flight – for interested readers, I can confirm that clicking your heels together three times, and chanting “There’s no place like home”, actually doesn’t work after all.
Although it does get you quite quickly removed from Runway Three for some rather impertinent questioning from the US Department of Homeland Security.
Anyroadup, what did we miss…
Ah, yes. Our jaunt to the Cat & Wheel was a little spoiled by Ben’s bass rig breaking down in the second set, and refusing to make any further noise whatsoever. We hastily rigged up a bodge, and ran the bass through my spare guitar amp and into the PA – not ideal, but it got us to the end of the gig. Poor Ben was quite annoyed by this, and didn’t cheer up until it was time to go home, when Suzi’s car refused to start – the result of a totally flat battery caused by Stuart’s having parked it up and left all the lights on…
Now, this was actually a very cunning move; after last time we played here, when I volunteered to park it for her, and got reversed into, the “courtesy parking” role got transferred to Stuart – now he’s screwed it up too, it means Ben will have to do it from now on. All he needs is a driving license…
The next night, after I had thoroughly checked over Ben’s gear, found nothing wrong with it, and loaded up a spare bass amp just in case, we arrived at the Rolly in Swindon feeling quietly confident. Nothing can possibly go wrong now…
After two songs, however, the bass died again. We played the third track without Ben, while he frantically plugged things in and out, jiggled wires, and swore a lot. No joy. So, nothing else to be done – we called a halt to proceedings and set about trying to figure it out.
This time, we worked out the problem was with the actual bass – so while our mate Angel kindly dashed off home to bring us a spare, Stuart and I performed an impromptu ten-minute soldering solo in the middle of the stage – and, to the biggest cheer of the evening, fixed it! – just as a breathless Angel came puffing in through the door clutching the backup plan. Bless her.
And off we went again, this time we had no more problems and had a very jolly time for the rest of the night – massive thanks to our local help for keeping the basses (and the beers) coming, and a big hello to our ol’ pal Statey, who lived up to expectations for us by being riotously drunk and having to be gently escorted home…again.
Right, this week, with a teensy bit of luck, there should be nothing else left to go wrong…
Friday 26th – Full Moon, Fishponds
Never actually played this one before, but as a good solid bikery pub, we’re expecting good things. Well, things, anyway.
Saturday 27th – Anchor Hotel, Warminster
Looking forward to this – not only do we get local loonies and Suzi’s workmates making dancing fools of themselves, we also get the lovely owners, fave barmaid hippie Girl, AND I get to bring my beloved Dem along to join in the fun.
See, when we took the gig, I’d accidentally kind of forgotten that it’s also mine and Dem’s anniversary… oopsie.
Still, after 23 years of living with an idiot, she’s pretty philosophical about this kind of thing, and decided that we’ll celebrate it by her coming along to the gig, drinking to excess at my expense, and I’ll drive her home. Seems fair enough to me – especially as she promised not to break my legs.
So, there ya go!
PS – I’m having to do without my beautiful Pandora for the next few gigs – she’s having her lovely paintwork shown off at the NEC bike show by the brilliant John & Sam at Re-Born To Be Wild – who, incidentally, just won the Customisers Of The Year award from the national motorcycle press. Because they’re that good.
So, if anyone’s thinking of having a bike, or a guitar, or pretty much anything else (although I’m not sure they’ll stoop as low as anything as uncool as a mere car) transformed into a living piece of original artwork – you best get in the queue quick… www.reborntobewild.com
Date – 09/11/2010
And welcome to this week’s Cockney Geezah blog fing, full o’ cheery working class charm an’ a bit o’ cheeky on the side, know wot I mean, awl right, you could knock me down wiv a fevvah…
Ok, bored with that now.
Disappointing news on the duo gig front – Suzi has discovered how to play the Spa Inn in Stroud without a half-pissed guitarist, by the cunning device of sabotaging her own car on the day of the gig; so she had to be collected from home, taken to the gig, and driven home again afterwards, meaning that I couldn’t just hand her the van keys half way through my fourth pint and get chauffeured home. Bad trend.
On a happier note, last Saturday it was an unalloyed joy to see our dear Queen Amy and Mark again down at the lovely Railway for a very jolly evening of rawk’n’roll fun. I was especially impressed with Ben, who – despite having to work until 9pm – still managed to get to the gig before Suzi. Well played, that man! Also great fun to see some more old friends there, and to sit down afterwards and talk complete rubbish for a couple of hours… Marvellous.
Right then, what do we have coming up this week, then?
Fri 12th – Cat & Wheel, Gloucester Road
Down by the Arches, a sparkling jewel set in a silver sea of kebab shops… gets to be more fun in here every time we play. I’ll have to go some to screw up the hated Journey song more spectacularly than I did last week, but… I think I’m up to it
Sat 13th – Rolleston Arms, Swindon
Good news – the Rolly is just about our favourite rawk pub in Swindon. Better news – we’re bound to see Swindon Al, Angel, and their patented bunch of local crazies. Best news of all – we get to see out pal Statey being sober. Probably. Oh well, perhaps not exactly sober, but upright. Ish. If carefully propped.
After that, I’m away for work for a week , Suzi’s away back to Scotchland, and Stuart’s away with the fairies again…. However, if you really need a dose of that ol’ Angel Up Front magic, just pop along to Morrison’s in Fishponds and ask Ben for an acapella rendition of “Run To The Hills” in the fresh dairy produce section.
Clean-up to aisle three…..
Date – 01/11/2010
A pinch and a punch for the first of the month. No returns!
So, how have you lot been while I’ve been away, then? I hope you’ve been good little girls and boys. We have… kinda…
Here’s what I can remember of the last few gigs: –
Bell at Shepton – complete blank, I’m afraid. Apart from a Curious Dancing Gentleman.
Anchor in Bishopston – very good fun, especially for me as Suzi drove, so I could drink… Big pub, handy stage with adequate prancing room, so I was able to wave Pandora about with gay abandon. Was lovely to see old pals there, Gus & Sue looking on particularly fine form, I thought. Afterwards, we sneaked down the road to the Old Fox for a cheeky pint or two, and bumped into my old mate Nutty – one of the most unreservedly bonkers young ladies I’ve ever met. She apologises for not having been around for a while, she’s been busy working her new job, driving an ambulance. Now that adds a new terror to calling 999… And how many times has she crashed the ambulance this week?, I sarcastically enquire. She actually looks rather abashed… “Only twice…”
Friendship in Nailsea – Brilliant fun. Halloween, so we took along my darling Dem dressed as witch, and a variety of dressing-up props. The whole pub was done out with cobwebs, ghosts hanging up, etc, and nearly everyone there was fancy-dressed up, too. Excellent! After a small hiccup setting up (when I tripped all the electrics in the pub – good job they had all those pumpkin lanterns going), off we go. Loads of fun, and as Ben and I found out, the good thing about wearing skeleton masks is that nobody can see where your eyes are looking. Particularly useful when the young lady in the skin-tight PVC nurse’s outfit jumped up in front of us, did a sophisticated pole-dancing routine, and then popped herself out of her bra in order to better manipulate herself…
“Did you see that?” a horrified Dem asks us afterwards.
No, no, we didn’t notice anything… Can’t see out of these masks. Nope. Not a thing. At all. Nope.
Besides, we’re not entirely sure that young lady was properly medically qualified…
In order to avoid dying of heat exhaustion, the second set was mostly performed without the wigs and masks, although Spider Princess Suzi seems to have taken a shine to my nice new top hat… I’ll have to keep an eye on that. The landlord comes round halfway through with a tray of shots for us, what a nice man. We play through the set, plus a few others for good luck, and we’re done. Excellent fun. Lots of people taking photos, so if anybody has got an decent ones, let us know.
Right then, what do we have coming up this week, I wonder…?
Fri 4th – Spa Inn, Stonehouse – duo gig
O-kay, Angel Under Cover again, and – no, I have no idea what we’re going to play. And I doubt we’ll get to practice anything beforehand, either. Again. We may have to improvise. Again.
Sat 5th – Railway Tavern, Fishponds
Brilliant, back in the Court Of Queen Amy. Bound to be great fun, particularly if we manage to squeeze in a proper drinking session afterwards – Ben lives just down the road…
Right, that’s your lot for now, we’ll see ya round, or possibly square, who knows… pretty sure I don’t.
Date – 18/10/2010
Hola! (That’s “Hello”, that is. In foreign. In case you were wondering. This is getting to be nearly as educational as Cbeebies, isn’t it?)
Anyways, – gig news.
Friday night at the Queen Vic got off to the best of all possible starts; as I was innocently trundling up the M5 Stroud-wards, my phone rings. It’s Stuart.
“I’ve made a rather silly mistake, and so I’m going to get there a little bit later than I planned.”
Oh. And what sort of a mistake was this, then? (And why can I hear Ben sniggering in the background?)
“I’ve, sort of, accidentally, kind of, set off on the wrong motorway towards Swindon instead of Stroud”.
Ah. I shall forebear to comment. I even manage to keep a fairly straight face. After all, the inconvenience of getting there first and having to unload the van all on my little lonesome is more than offset by the fun I’ll have telling Suzi about this…
As it turns out, despite having come via the scenic route, Stuart isn’t that far behind me. Far more serious is the discovery that none of us have got any beer money with us. Disaster! We manage to get through the first set without alcoholic sustenance, and are rescued at half-time by a kindly gentleman who steps in to buy us all a beer. Top Man!
And, as usual at the Queen Vic, we have a very jolly bouncy evening, Ben and I playing at being Thing 1 and Thing 2 again (just because it annoys Suzi), with the regular entertainment laid on by the punters – particularly amusing was one lady who was “erotically” dancing around a series of men in predatory fashion, only to find they kept on mysteriously disappearing, leaving her to find another prospective victim; having lost about five in three songs, she took to dancing right in front of centre stage in an attempt to lure in some unsuspecting prey.
I was tempted to grab the mike to say “This lady is getting right in everybody’s way, can someone please TAKE HER AWAY AND F%$& HER” – but trying to get the mike off Suzi is a pretty dangerous move, let alone what might happen next…. [editor’s note: as you can guess we would like to disassociate ourselves from this statement as quickly as possible in case anyone is offended by this un-PC remark given the paranoia and probable health and safety issue it might present in these times, please don’t sue, er, all remarks are entirely the authors and do not represent the policy or opinion or, any other stuff from Angel Up Front as an organisation or whatever]
Afterwards, Ben and I are are buttonholed by a nice lady who says “Thanks for a great night, you guys are brilliant – that bit where you both put the silly wigs on was fantastic…” .
It’s nice to know that all our hard work and musical talent doesn’t go unrecognised …
Saturday night, and a new gig for us – the Rising Sun in Backwell. I rolled up, and was greeted by the amiable landlord Chad – who very kindly helped me carry all the gear in from the van. Now, that NEVER happens – he must be new at this. So, how often do they have bands in here, I wonder. “Actually, you’re the first” he says. Thought so!
We set up at the end of the skittle alley, and off we go. Despite being pretty quiet initially, it soon gets busier once we start playing. There’s a young man dancing merrily with a pink feather boa; he is soon joined by some fellow alcohol enthusiasts, and pretty soon there is merry mayhem going on, including a worrying hybrid break dancing/homoerotic routine from a couple of the lads.
Half time, and we nip into the warm comfy bar for a fresh pint. After ten minutes, there is a thunderous arrhythmic pummelling sound from the skittle alley – Oh no, one of the chimps has got on to the drum kit! We scuttle back, and gently escort the moron in the general direction of Away. [editor’s note: see editor’s note above]
Right then, second set, we crank it up a little more and watch the rest of the Dancing Buffoon Chaos, accompanied by a grinning Chad on air guitar. Great fun. By the end of the evening, poor Ben is absolutely knackered out, so it’s a couple of quick encores and then we pack up amidst a sea of pink feathers, and head off into the freezing night.
So, this weekend, we’re – well, what are we doing? – let’s have a look…
Fri 22nd – Bell Hotel, Shepton Mallet
Bonkers. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s another pink feather boa crowd. [editor’s note: right, I’m leaving the country]
Sat 23rd – The Anchor, Bishopston
Never played here before – in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been inside it. It’s a huge great ginormous pub on Gloucester Road, and I expect there’s lots of rhyming slang jokes about the pub name.
Now, with an unexpected outbreak of foresight, I’ve noticed that I won’t be around next week to write the next dose of this rubbish, so I’d better tell you now about the following week’s gig, hadn’t I?
Sat 30th – Friendship, Nailsea
I actually have been in this pub once before – about 25 years ago, it was the day I totaled my Suzuki 550 into the side of a car, did some impromptu aerobatics and luckily managed to stagger away having pulled every single muscle in my body. Anyways, that night I did the sensible thing and got outrageously drunk. After all, I wasn’t gonna have to ride home… Anyhow, the point is that I can’t really remember much about the pub. But it might have changed since then anyway. Thought you’d like to know.
So, that’s your lot for this week – it just struck me that I’m doing all the hard work, writing this rubbish, and having to come up with crappy jokes all the time – why don’t you lot pitch in?
Any volunteers out there to write up the next gig log? It might be advisable to have been at the gig, but it’s probably not absolutely necessary – as long as it doesn’t make much sense, and there are no “surplus apostrophe’s”, just email your blog to me or Stuart, and we’ll deal with it accordingly…
Date – 11/10/2010
I do love those gigs where Suzi comes via my house to scrounge dinner, knowing that she’s going to end up after the gig driving the van back…
Yup, the good O’l Fox on a Saturday night, and a merry evening is in the offing. We haul in, set up, and – for once- actually start playing on time. Just as well, we have 3 new numbers to try out, and because we don’t want to drop any to make room (oh – except that awful Journey song, but Suzi makes us play it anyway), we need to get cracking. It’s lovely to see some old buddies, in particular my mates Patti & Don & delightful daughter Sadie. The first set passes without major incident (apart from half a song where my guitar sound disappears altogether). After much frantic wiggling of cables and prodding connectors, idiot Alan suddenly notices that he’s somehow wound the guitar volume knob down to zero… Right then, that’s easily fixed. Ahem.
So, we play on through the set, impress ourselves by almost remembering the new stuff, have a quick play with the percussive toys to annoy Suzi during her Tambourine Moment, and finish off by actually not screwing up the dreadful Journey song for the first time ever. But still we hates it, yes we does, my precious…
Right, now Ben & I need a beer- in fact let’s have a couple each – before we go back on. Oh yes, and it’s silly dressing up time. Having previously decided that the band would look that little bit more professional if Ben & I were to wear co-ordinating outfits, and found out that we’re both amused by Dr Seuss, we have procured a matching pair of red t-shirts emblazoned with “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”, plus a couple of blue Afro wigs which will set them off rather nicely. That’ll do a treat for the second set.
And it does. Suzi takes one look at us and immediately starts shouting at Stuart, claiming she’s going to go home if he doesn’t do something about us. Once our fits of giggles have subsided, we crack on through the second set; thanks here are due to Kev for keeping the beers coming in – thirsty work, this rock’n’roll business…
So, we have an absolute blast; and a special Official Angel Up Front Hustling Hussy Of The Month award is due to the lovely Sadie for fundraising – see, the Fox is one of those places where they usually have a barmaid run around the with a bucket collecting extra donations for the band; as they were short-staffed, we asked Sadie if she’d volunteer for Bucket Duty. My God! She’s brilliant at it. Winning smile, cheeky grin, fluttering eyelashes, and steely determination to get her hands on other people’s cash; I saw her bouncing round the pub, getting folks to empty their pockets, some people she hit up four times and still they were coughing up; she even fleeced one guy who’d just come in to use the toilet… In the end she raised at least three times the amount we normally get. “That was fun”, she grins afterwards. We want her at all gigs from now on. Especially since she’s also pretty damned handy with a pair of drumsticks – maybe we can drag her up for those end-of-the-night moments when poor Stuart just needs a few minutes rest. Go, girl!
After more quaffing, I am eventually persuaded to help pack up and load the van – then it’s yet more beer and drunken nattering until Suzi picks me up, tucks me firmly under her arm and marches me off home.
Brilliant night, I hope to be fully recovered by Friday…
Friday 15th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Woo-hoo! The Queen Vic, another favourite lively one. Looking forward to it even though I’ll have to drive (yes, it’s that good).
Saturday 16th – Rising Sun, Backwell
A new one for us, in fact I can’t even remember where Backwell is – I expect my mate Google will know, though. We’re ready for ‘em – but are they ready for us, I wonder…
That’s your lot for this week, so we’ll leave you with a message of peace, love, and a message that if a charming young lady approaches you with a bucket, hand over your cash – it’s in a good cause….
Date – 06/10/2010
Oh, look, it’s Monday again.
Isn’t that nice.
It means there’s only three shopping days to the next gig. Three? Yes, because it takes about 48 hours for my ravening offspring to scoff their way through a houseful of food (although they can do it quicker if they team up and sleep in shifts); this means that just about every other day we have to take a dump truck down to Tescos, bulldoze the contents of a few aisles into it, and take it home. I’m thinking of pricing up how much it would cost to get a pipeline installed.
However, we won’t be feeding our Lily for a few weeks – she’s been a Very Naughty Little Diva. Having drafted her in for Friday’s duo gig at the Spa Inn to do an acoustic half-hour between sets, she completely failed to practice enough. So it was that when Suz and I finished our first set and announced her on, Lily was… oh, gone to the toilet. Then she returned, and spent ten minutes faffing around looking for bits of paper with the words on; finally she started, but kept on forgetting the songs and grinding to a halt. And then starting again. To be fair, she somehow through natural talent and bare-faced cheek got away with it (despite my encouraging cries of “Get off!”). Still, watching the diva bickering between her and Suzi was worth the price of admission alone…
Saturday saw the whole band fetch up at the Kings Arms in Malmesbury; and, helped by the ever-smiling Swindon Al, we hauled all the gear in and managed to set up without mishap. Our lovely singer arrives, feeling all poorly and broken, but is cheered up when we recognise quite a few people who came to see us last time we were in town – aww, bless.
After a quick fiddle with the sound levels (where I’m told to turn my amp down from its initial Thermonuclear Armageddon setting), all is going well, folks are dancing around, and Suzi is obviously feeling better.
We reach that point in the set where Suzi has to start one of the numbers with a tambourine; as usual, she feels she needs to explain (at some length) to the audience beforehand that she’s had the tambourine for years, but has never been allowed to use it before, and how clever she is to be able to sing and play it at the same time, and… At previous gigs, we’ve tried hiding it, but she always finds it. This time, however, sneaky Alan has been rummaging in the kids’ toy cupboard…
Thus it is that, when Suzi finally finishes talking about it and actually starts playing, Ben’s bass line doesn’t come in on cue… Suzi turns to look accusingly at him, and sees him grinning like a maniac, and gleefully playing along on a bright green plastic Fisher-Price tambourine…she turns round in wide-eyed horror to Stuart, only to see him shaking along with a pair of maracas, and then turns back to me as I merrily shake a purple and yellow pair…. Oh, the look on her little face.
She turns back to face the crowd and voice her indignation, but they (and we) are laughing so much, she can only manage an incoherent splutter…. Brilliant.
Eventually, we manage to compose ourselves and get on with the gig; we play through everything we can think of, a bunch of encores, and eventually collapse in a big, sticky heap at the end. Marvellous fun.
Right, this weekend, following a complicated booking misunderstanding, we’re only coming out the one night – so make the most of it.
Saturday 9th – Old Fox, Bishopston, Bristol
Fantastic. A little bit snug on the stage side, but a brilliant fun lively bikery pub; it’s always an absolute blast in here. Bring along a child’s percussive toy and join in. In fact… Yes, really do that. Bring along rattles, castanets, maracas, triangles, whatever you can find. Keep them hidden until Suzi wheels out her bloody tambourine half way through the first set, then everybody whip ‘em out and join in [steady]. Oooh, this is going to be fun….
Date – 27/09/2010
Right, pay attention! Settle down….You at the back there – what’s that you’re eating? I hope you brought enough for the whole class. Now then, open your textbooks to page 374, and we’ll continue from where we left it last time…
Having been out of action for three weeks, Friday’s outing to Haydon Wick was not quite the glossy professional triumphant reunion we might have hoped for – on the other hand, it wasn’t an unmitigated disaster…
At least we more-or-less remembered all the songs, although I was slightly confused by Suzi throwing in an extra chorus during the first number; I naturally assumed that I’d got lost somewhere, and it wasn’t until we were on the way home that she confessed she’d deliberately done it “to see how you’d all cope”… Ratbag. I had enough issues to cope with, including a lousy amp sound, broken footswitch, a dodgy wireless connector, and busted strings… Oh well, at least the youngsters enjoyed themselves.
And, after a busy Saturday with the soldering iron, I had my gear all fixed and sounding fantastic again. And the punters at the Treble Chance obviously appreciated my quality workmanship, they were merrily dancing on the tables and generally having a lovely time. And so was I – having handed Suzi the van keys, it was quaffing time for yours truly… All in all, a jolly fine evening, although the gentleman who started removing his clothes (not one of us, I hasten to add) was perhaps getting a little too carried away… Still, I was encouraged by the fact that he appeared to be in even worse physical shape then me (I am in good shape… round is a good shape…)
An excellent night, even though Stuart & Ben had to leave a bit sharpish, meaning Ben had to leave his last couple of pints behind for me – Actually, I still haven’t figured this out – if I borrow money off Ben to buy him a drink with, and then I end up drinking it… does that mean I don’t have to pay him back….?
Right, we’re out again this weekend, so fasten your safety belts…
Fri October 1st – Spa Inn, Stroud – 9:30pm, AUC gig, plus special guest Lily B*
Another duo gig. Have we practiced this time? No. Have we learned any new acoustic numbers? No. However, we have devised a cunning plan; we’ve found some more backing tracks to do in the electric part of set, and we’ve delegated the whole acoustic side of things to my up-and-coming-diva daughter Lily B. Should be an absolute hoot. What’s that? Have Suzi and I actually learned the new electric numbers? Er… no…
Sat 2nd – Kings Arms, Malmesbury
Now, I don’t think we’ve actually played this place before. Although we have played in Malmesbury before, so maybe word has gotten around. If it has, you’ll know by the lynch mob with flaming torches and pitchforks. To the castle…!
Right, that’s about it for this week; Norman Cervix will be resumed as soon as possible…
*Actually, it’s just occurred to me that with both Suzi and Lily present, I’m not going to see a penny out of this gig, am I…?
Date – 22/09/2010
Now here’s something clever. While I’m writing this, Suzi is out the country and idly slobbing about on some exotic sunny beach. How did she afford this? With our money, that’s how. Which is why, when she gets back, we’ll be gigging all over the place, so she can afford to pay us back. Unless some other financial emergency happens to her which takes precedence. But the odds of that happening, based on previous experience, can’t be more than – oooh, 97% or so….
Meanwhile, while you’re reading this,I’m not here any more. I’ve been sent off to a completely different country for work. I will be back in time for the next gig, but probably not in time to practice anything beforehand (like, just as an example… how to play a guitar…).
Unless of course, the Icelanders decide to set off another volcano or something, in which case I won’t be able to get home and all bets are off.
So, chances are, we should have an absolute hoot messing things up when we do get back; hey ho, let’s go….
Friday 24th Sept – Haydon Wick Working Men’s Club
This has the tallest stage in the history of… well, in the history of Working Men’s Clubs In Haydon Wick. But it’s still pretty tall – it’s so tall that young ladies can peer up your trouser legs and see your pants. If you’re wearing any. It’s so tall that if you jump around like an idiot, you will hit your head on the ceiling. It’s so tall that the lights, even set up as high as they’ll go, are still only about three inches from your face, meaning you finish the evening with concussion and third degree burns.And still we keep coming back.
Saturday 25th Sept – Treble Chance, Southmead
This too has a stage, but it’s a lot less tall – about three inches, as I recall. Here, we don’t worry about falling off, we worry about over-enthusiastic punters jumping on and molesting our bass player, whilst we keep a watchful eye open for flying underwear being catapulted off the more strenuously gyrating young ladies in the audience. Or was that just a dream I once had? Anyway – it’s pretty good fun –at least, if you have a wide enough definition of “good”.
Right, that’s your lot for now; meanwhile can I respectfully ask all members of the paparazzi to please stop following Stuart to the supermarket? It’s very intrusive, and I personally believe that drummers in moderately successful local bands should be allowed to go about their daily business without being followed around by a slew of photographers from the tabloids.
Date – 06/09/2010
My, that was a fun-packed weekend of rawk’n’roll; starting off with a lively night down at the Anchor in Warminster, where Ben got to show off not only his shiny new bass, but also his new wireless rig – thus it was that he and I were both able to march out of the pub, and gleefully accost a baffled punter having an innocent fag outside, whilst still both playing merrily away. I love pointless technology.
In a fit of enthusiasm, Ben also tried joining in on our regular “who can do the lowest back bend during the AC/DC number” competition. Luckily, his amp was right behind him to stop him falling over completely, but he did nearly take my eye out with the headstock of his bass as he floundered around for balance…. We also have to mention our special guest vocalists, Suzi’s lovely daughter and her mate, who sang the hated Journey number at the end of the first set, while Suzi busied herself with making the vocal mikes feedback so they didn’t show her up too badly.
A fine night’s entertainment, rounded off by a pleasant natter into the wee hours with owners Paul & Sadie, plus our new favourite barmaid, known apparently to everyone simply as “Hippie Girl”. Ben and I both agreed the band need to get one of our very own. We’ll have to ask Stuart if we can have one, and how much they cost.
Saturday saw us roll up at the Tap & Barrel in Bedminster; when I looked on Google maps to check where it was, a “reviews” tab popped up, which started with the line “A complete scum hole…”.
As expected, this meant that the place was great fun, and we all had a very jolly evening; there was a mixture of a few mates of ours, some obviously regular bikery types, plus several lasses who’d never been there before and admitted to being a bit nervous as they’d “never been in a biker pub before”… I think they soon got the hang of it, though. There were also a few of the footy idiots who seem to think that chanting and taking your clothes off is a sure fire way to social acceptance; well, it may work for Buddhist monks, lads, but on you it just looks silly. Especially when you struggle to dress yourselves again afterwards.
Still, a very lively evening, we’ll be back there in the New Year, and many thanks to the voluntary roadie contingent for helping out.
That’ it for now, we’re shutting up shop for a couple of weeks as Suzi will be away; then we’ll be back with a jam-packed autumn entertainment schedule, packed with… well, jam possibly. And some healthy nuts and berries. And enough E numbers to make your teeth feel all fizzy, and your eyeballs itch.
This has been a Public Service Announcement.
Date – 03/09/2010
Hi honey, I’m home….
Gosh, two weeks off and I have a nasty suspicion I’ve completely forgotten how to play…. Probably won’t make much difference.
Anyways, I’ve just come back from a lovely weekend in a muddy field in Worcestershire; Upton music festival, brilliant fun, really nice to watch some other bands doing all the hard work for a change. And I have to say, if anybody remembers Eddie and the Hot Rods from the late seventies – go see ‘em now, they’ve turned into one of the best rawk bands you’ll ever see.
On the other hand, even if you’re offered free tickets to see Eric “ex Bay City Roller” Faulkner; run away. Run far, far away. Unless you enjoy the sound of a Scot whingeing about having no money. ‘Stuart, please insert an appropriate comment here’ Uh, what, who woke me up, ok, um, er … there are 2 types of scot, ones with money who go on about how much they have got and those with no money who go on about the fact that they haven’t got any, ok, it’s not funny but it seems to be true (I only know the broke ones though)… can I stop now?
Anyroadup, assuming we all survive the rigours of rehearsing this week, the mighty Angel Up Front rawk machine will be wheeling back into action; –
Friday 3rd Sept – The Anchor, Warminster
Quite a lively one, this; and right next door to the frock shop where Suzi works… not entirely sure how relevant that is, but there you go. I’m a fashion model, you know.
Saturday 4th – Tap and Barrel, Bedminster
Never done this one before – it’s a pub I’ve not been in for – oooh, twenty years or so. So, there’s a fair chance they won’t remember me from last time, and will let me in.
Right, that’s your lot for now, I have to go and scrape the hippy off my boots, and see if I can wash the taste of mud and stale beer out of my mouth… Whiskey – now, that’s a disinfectant, isn’t it…..
Date – 09/08/2010
I think I’m getting too old for this rawk’n’roll lark. Three gigs in one weekend, it’s all a bit much for me these days. Although, actually, things got better as we went along. Mostly…
Friday night at one of our regular haunts, the White Lion in Yate, was characterised by some truly disastrous playing from yours truly – to the point where Suzi asked the audience if there was “anybody in here who can actually play a guitar? Even if you’ve never tried before and just fancy a crack at it…?”
However, after she gave us an “encouraging pep talk” between sets- which Ben rather spoilt by giggling through – I managed to pull it together and play a reasonably professional second set.
On Saturday, we found our way to the Crown in Aldbourne, a lovely little pictureskew village near Marlborough; they have a nice duck pond, but we managed to stop Stuart from falling in, which was nice.
The front bar of the pub was fairly small, and after a little furniture rearranging, Ben, Stuart and I hauled the gear in. We’re just about set up when Suzi breezes in, and immediately points out that I must be getting out of condition, as the front of my t-shirt is soaked in sweat, even though “we haven’t even done anything yet”.
I know from experience that there is little point trying to disabuse her of the notion that all the heavy amps and speakers just magically float into the venue and set themselves up just before she arrives, so I opt for an alternative explanation.
“That’s not sweat”, I explain, “I’m lactating”.
She pulls a face, turns away, and won’t even look at me for the next half an hour. Result!
As it’s quite a genteel-looking establishment (strong contender for the coveted AUF Poshest Pub Toilet Award for 2010), we start by playing fairly quietly, and s-l-o-w-l-y ramp up the volume as we go (sneaky, huh?). Although there aren’t that many people in (well, to be fair, there wasn’t room for many more), we’re going down rather well. At least I seem to be able to play today.
Half time, and disaster strikes! It’s my round. And having been out all day with the kids, all my profit from last night’s gig has mysteriously disappeared. Happily, the generous landlord steps in and gives us a free round, which was nice.
We play on through the second set, and the crowd gets increasingly loud and enthusiastic (is he giving them free beer too?). As we approach the Encore Zone, the delightful barmaid appears and asks if we’d “like anything else to drink?” Oooh, yes please, that would be lovely. We spank out some more tunes, and eventually, despite the catcalls for more, we have to insist on stopping. As soon as I’ve put my guitar down, smiling Delightful Barmaid magically appears in front of me with a silver tray of shot glasses full of – well, to be honest, I’m not sure exactly what it was, but it was faintly purple, and scorched a fiery trail down the back of the throat. Lovely. I really hope we’ll be coming back here again soon.
Sunday afternoon rolls around, and off we go to the Midland Spinner. Poor Ben has to go to work instead, so our previous bassist Martin has kindly offered to fill in for him – to be honest, I think he’s been secretly missing us. I roll up to the pub, to find Martin sat outside on a table; inside, there is a barmaid, two customers… and nobody else.
So, exchanging pleasantries with the barmaid and customers, and insults with each other, we set up. Martin catches sight of the artwork on my beauteous Pandora, and pronounces it “absolutely horrible”. As this is coming from a man who has chosen to decorate the front of his two-thousand-quids’-worth of bass with Christmas wrapping paper, I’d have been disappointed if he said he liked it.
By the time Stuart and Suzi are in, and all the kit is set up, the pub has miraculously filled up, and off we go. After a little bit of jiggling around with volume levels, we’re settled in and all goes well through the first set; we set off confidently into the second set, and have a very jolly time… until we near the end, when the rigours of the weekend finally catch up with poor Stuart, and he just can’t go on any more. He manages to stumble to the end of the last number without falling off his stool… but that was about the limit of his capabilities by then.
Hopefully, he’ll be fully recovered by Thursday…
Thursday 12th – Royal Oak, Chipping Sodbury
It’s been a while since we played this one, but I’m looking forward to it – even though it’s a school night, it usually gets pretty lively. And it’ll be nice to have my regular playmate on bass to jump around with again. We’ve already taken to referring to Suzi & Stuart as “Mum & Dad”, and, via the magic of Irresponsible Childish Idiocy, we’re working on slowly grinding down their will to live… just ‘cause we love ‘em so much.
After that – I’m off on hols, so there’ll be no gigs, no noise, and none of these rubbish emails for a couple of weeks – so you’ll just have to amuse yourselves for a bit.
I’ll leave you with Stuart’s Joke Of The Week (because we don’t want it): –
Stuart claims that an ex-girlfriend rang him up last week, and said, “Come on over, there’s nobody in…”
So he went round there…. and there was nobody in.
Well, it made him laugh, anyway…
Date – 02/08/2010
Good grief, it’s August already. And it must be nearly…ooooh, 1987 by now, isn’t it…? Well, we have a merry evening to report form the Court of Queen Amy Who Wasn’t There – in fact, the evening went so well that I’m not sure they actually need her there at all….
We started a bit late to allow time for all the punters who’d been downtown to what Suzi thought was the “Bristol Harvest Festival” to get back, and once I’d resolved my amp problems (by turning it up some more), we had a very jolly evening. Was great to see some old pals there, and we have to wish our buddy Swindon Al a Happy Birthday for the day before. We won’t say how old he is, but we will say he doesn’t look it.
We even debuted a couple of new songs, including one (the name of which escapes me, but it’s got Girl in it) where Suzi gets to be a multi-instrumentalist and play her tambourine. Now, this “instrument” has been lurking in the bottom of the gig bag for at least four years, but up to now she has been forbidden to get it out, as she used to keep lending it to the most rhythmically-challenged punters she could find, and getting them to shake it in Martin’s face to put him off. She’s promised to be good now, but following her long moan at the audience about how difficult it is to play it whilst holding a mike, Ben was moved to ask the room, in tones of quiet desperation, if there was “…anyone in tonight who knows how to play a tambourine?”
Anyways, we thoroughly enjoyed the spectacular display of Idiot Bloke Dancing, everyone had a jolly fine evening, and – scarily – there’s already 2 videos of bits of it on YouTube.
Anyways, a good warm-up for this weekend – three, yes, three gigs to enjoy…
Fri 6th – White Lion, Yate
They’re bonkers in here, but so are we usually, so it all works out fine. I’m up for the regular pogoing competition, anyone else?
Sat 7th – The Crown, Aldbourne, near Malborough
A new one for us – nice pub out in the country, apparently. We’ll see how they cope with us.
Sunday 8th – Midland Spinner, Warmley, 6:30 start
Now this promises to be interesting – y’see, Ben couldn’t get his work shift changed (he’s a test pilot in the doughnut department at Morrison’s, and this weekend they’re experimenting with different flavour holes) and so he won’t be with us; instead, Martin’s kindly agreed to stand in for the evening. So far, we haven’t actually managed to get together with Martin to run through anything, it’s been a good eight months since he played with us, and we’ve changed at least half of the set… Worse still, it’s an early start so I’ll miss me tea….
Right, that’s all you get this week, I’m off to find a really safe hiding place for Suzi’s tambourine
Date – 26/07/2010
My, that weekend was a rawk’n’roll roller coaster ride of excitement.
Anything that kicks off with a night at the Queen Vic up in Stroud has to be a good thing – the local council had made a game attempt to stop us by comprehensively screwing up the road system so you can’t get anywhere, but they reckoned without our superhero rock star powers of Driving The Wrong Way Up A One Way Street. Ha!
And a jolly entertaining evening it was, too. I brought along my beloved Dem for a rare night out; alas, for much of the evening she was bereft of company, thanks to the non-appearance of follicly-challenged chopper jockey and Boy George impersonator Disco Dave. Still, ever-resourceful, she soon made friends – aided and abetted by a rather fine beverage, called, apparently “Chuffin Ale”. By the end of the evening, in addition to having acquired a number of new best mates, she was loudly pronouncing herself to be “chuffed to bits”. Aww, bless.
I did notice she seemed a little quiet and reserved the next day.
Saturday saw us head off to far-flung Witney, near Oxford, for our first ever night out at the Red Lion. And, once Stuart and Ben had finished getting lost, a fantastic night that turned into. We were led into the back bar, which contains a nice comfy stage, a hefty-looking PA (great, we don’t need to unload ours), lots of lights (ditto), and…no people (ah, we didn’t bring any. Except for our buddy Swindon Al).
So, we fished the necessary bits of kit out the van, set up, and were asked to actually play a sound check. (“Isn’t that what proper bands do…?” asks a confused Ben). I explained that in these situations, what we do is carefully set levels for the benefit of the sound engineer, then discreetly turn them up a bit afterwards, just to be awkward.
As kick-off time approached, the place got busier, and once we started playing, it miraculously filled up; primarily, it seemed, with hordes of scantily-clad young ladies (to be fair, I had a lot of lights shining directly in my eyes, so they may not have all been scantily-clad, or young – or, indeed, ladies; however, judging by the grin on Ben’s chops, they weren’t that far off). We hammered through the first set, took a quick break and fired on through the second one, then played all the encores we could think of, repeated one for the manageress, and then all dropped in a sweaty heap to get our breath back before packing up and setting off into the night. Great fun.
Right then, this week I shall have to spend quite some time mopping Saturday’s sweat and dribble off my lovely guitars, so they’re all nice and shiny ready for an evening at the Court Of Queen Amy: –
Saturday 31st – Railway Tavern, Fishponds, Bristol
We’ll be here; but alas, Queen Amy and Mark won’t – apparently they’re going to her sister’s wedding instead. We told ‘em to move the wedding, but apparently some people have no sense of priorities. Still, promises to be a blast as usual, and we’re trying to think of what we can do to her pub while she’s not there – answers on a postcard to the usual address…
Right, that’s your lot for this week, and it’s time for my nap now…
Date – 21/07/2010
Seems like ages, but I’ve only been away for a week. So, let’s have a quick trawl though my addled memory to see what happened last time..
…Oooh, yes, we played at the Harley Owner’s Rally over in Mangotsfield; great fun. A lovely big room, jolly punters, and marvellous good fun. A hugely enjoyable evening – Ben was particularly taken with the very lovely barmaid dancing on tables at the back. Unfortunately for him, she’d already spotted me, and so was doubtless immediately smitten with my dashing good looks and talent, so he had no chance. Unfortunately for her, I’m already spoken for. And, fortunately for me, my dear other half doesn’t read these emails. Or maybe she does and hasn’t said anything about it yet. I’ll find out later when I get home…
Best of all though, I got to play with my new toy….
Everybody say “Oooooohhh”. Look at that, a beautiful one-off custom piece of original artwork you can hang round your neck, prance around like a big nancy, and make a deafening racket with. Huge thanks to the fantastic John and Sam at Reborn To Be Wild (go see their other stuff at www.reborntobewild.com), this is what you can do with the help of a pro custom spray shop and and a genius with an airbrush – ladies and gentlemen, say hello to Pandora…
Of course, having such a Beauteous Instrument in my hands means I’m gonna have to up my game somewhat to do her justice – I think I’m finally going to have to learn to play properly…
Not only that, I’m going to have to learn quickly, we’re out twice this weekend…
Fri 23rd – Queen Vic, Stroud
Oh, it’s great here. Every single time. Always a lively one, always lots of hugely entertaining people to watch, and there’s always someone drunk enough to try pole dancing with the pillar in the middle of the stage that holds the ceiling up. Usually, it’s not even me. Although I did once lick Stuart’s head. But it’s not the same thing, really.
Sat 24th – Red Lion, Witney, Oxford – 10pm start
Never done this one before, it’s far far away, but our mate Statey says it’s really good fun, and we consider her something of an expert on having fun; there’s only time we’ve ever seen her when she wasn’t hung over; and she was clearly going to be in the morning…
Till next time, as Ben would doubtless say…
Let’s RRAAAAAAAAAAWWWWKKK!!!!!! oo/
Date – 06/07/2010
And, a big weekend for the Angel Up Front Massive – well, actually, it was a regular sized weekend, contents may have settled during transit, objects in the mirror may appear further away than they actually are. (In fact, if this morning is anything to go by, objects in the mirror may also appear considerably less good-looking and rather more haggard than they actually are).
Anyways, a landmark in musical history was reached this week, as Suzi and I actually did some rehearsing for a duo gig! Yup, in the hour between finishing dinner and setting off to the Railway in Fishponds, we actually sat down together and learned four whole new songs – and we even remembered them when we got there. Mind you, it was largely wasted effort as the highlight of the evening was provided by a drunken punter who was so insistent on singing Born To Be Wild, that we let him.
Somehow I just about remembered how to play it (not bad, as I think I last heard the song around 1978), but that was fine as he couldn’t remember how to sing it; although the fact that he tried whilst rolling around on the floor cheered everybody up no end.
Friday at the Cat & Wheel got off to a slightly inauspicious start – whilst trying to find somewhere to park Suzi’s car for her, I got reversed into by a Volvo… Oh, the look on her face when I told her…
She wasn’t even cheered up when I pointed out that from now on she’ll be able to park it herself, as it’ll fit into slightly smaller spaces…
The actual gig was good fun though, lots of lovely and familiar people, and endearing amounts of sloppy drunkenness. Marvellous.I do hope everyone’s head is feeling better now.
Right then, this week, we’re only out the once;
Fri 9th – Harley Owner’s Club Rally, Cleve RFC
We enjoyed it here so much last year, we decided to come back and do it again. So we have.
I’ve just realised I won’t be around next week to write one of these, so your Inbox will be spared next Monday. However, to recreate the effect, just bang your head sharply onto your desk, and read any copy of the Beano circa 1975.
Date – 29/06/2010
Well, despite the absence of any gigs this weekend, it’s all good news and sunshine. Firstly, our mates Ian and Helen finally got married on Saturday; and put on a brilliant bash, complete with a whole bunch of really nice people, a roast pig, vast quantities of consumables, entertainment courtesy of daughter Lil and Disco Dave, and enough fireworks to keep a small war going for a couple of months. Marvellous fun, and best of luck with the tidying up, guys.
Right then, back to the world of rawk’n’roll – coming up this week we have one friendly little outing for the duo, and one proper noisy one for the full band…
Thursday 1st July – Railway Tavern, Angel Undercover
Yup, it’s Dotty and Totty back in the Court of Queen Amy. Last time, we were completely unrehearsed and had to wing it for most of the set. This time… will probably be the same. Great fun.
Friday 2nd – Cat and Wheel, Stokes Croft
Down by the Arches on Gloucester Road, this is one of our favourite Bristol gigs. Nice and lively, there’s always fine entertainment from the assembled throng. And, indeed, the disassembled throng.
So, that’s about your lot for this week – but I’ll leave you with one more little item of good news: –
I’m pleased to report that the driving standards on Britain’s roads seem to have shot up overnight – on my way in to work this morning, I didn’t see a single red and white warning flag…
Well done, guys. [Editors note: The rest of AUF disassociate themselves from this comment, mainly due to cowardice]
Date – 21/06/2010
Just a quickie this week – well, I’m a bit knackered out, so you’ll have to make do. It’s all Ben’s fault. Fancy deciding to move house when you’ve got a gig that night. Poor planning.
Anyway, we successfully managed to move all his possessions, (nearly including a random cat that wandered into the removal van and had to be repeatedly chased out again), out of his old flat (2 flights of steep narrow stairs, ouch) and into his new one (just the 1 flight) without breaking too much, or actually dying from the unaccustomed physical exertion. However, it was a close run thing for both of us.
Thus it was that when we later rolled up to play Mel’s birthday party we were both completely bloody knackered before we started. So, our dubious physical and mental states, combined with not having gigged for a couple of weeks and forgotten half the set, meant that Ben and I won Joint First Prize this week for Suzi’s Proper Good Telling Off For Being Rubbish.
Stuart, on the other hand, was complimented for being “less useless than those other two idiots, just for once” – and this despite his absent-minded excursion into the ladies’ toilets.
However, the main thing was that Mel had a lovely time, and I’m pretty sure that she did. She even wanted to take Ben home with her so she could “mother” him…
“Mother him…?” we ask…
“He’s very special”, she tells us. Oh yes, he is, very very special.
“No, no, I mean he’s really nice, isn’t he?”
We wholeheartedly agree, while six-foot-plus Ben attempts to splutter machismo.. “…Nice? NICE…?”
“D’you think it’d be all right if I give him a hug?”
Yes, we think it would. Awww. Happy birthday, Mel.
Right then, we got no gigs coming up this weekend, but that’s fine by me cos I have an Objet d’ Art to get up and running – I’ll show y’all when she’s finished, but all I’ll say right now is I’m a very excited little guitarist…
PS – S & J – Awesome!!!!
Date – 14/06/2010
Yup, it’s another one of these again. And after a peaceful bit of time off playing holidays, we’re back with some murky recollections of the last couple of gigs…
Back at the end of May, we had a marvellous time at the Rolly in Swindon; everything was going swimmingly well, and unless my mind has gone completely, we were playing to an enthusiastic crowd, including a six-foot tall banana, a large parrot, a human whoopee cushion and a young lady dressed as a game of Twister. I’m pretty sure all that actually happened.
I do know that our pal Statey was there, and (for the first time ever) she wasn’t horribly hungover – although she was delightfully drunk, so her reputation remains intact.
Anyroadup, all was going well until Ben’s bass amp died, and it was a full fifteen minutes before we managed to get going again, with the bass pumped directly through the PA. Not ideal, but we managed to get to the end of the night, so thanks to the locals who miraculously came up with a spare bass cab (who on earth carries one of those around with them, just in case it’s needed? I bet there isn’t even one of them in any of Thunderbird 2’s pods…)
Last Friday saw another Dotty and Totty duo gig, back at the Spa Inn; once again, we hadn’t rehearsed, and so once again we had to read the finer details of the songs off a stack of scraps of paper. And, yes, once again I’d persuaded my attractive and youthful-looking chanteuse to drive, so I got to try all the different beers on offer. Luvverly.
And, as usual, we seemed to get ‘em up and dancing. In fact, I got gently molested by a very enthusiastic lady, who, apparently overcome by our interpretations of the Terpsichorean muse, was moved to climb over the monitors, wrap herself sinuously around me and join in playing the guitar for an entire number; after which, she was dragged away by a very grumpy husband, who seemed to have suffered a complete sense of humour failure.
Still, if I’d hit every branch on my fall out of the Ugly Tree, I’d probably be quite grumpy too.
Never mind. On the upcoming gigs front, I see we’re playing someone’s birthday on Saturday. That’s all it says. I expect someone will tell me where and when. And I suppose I’ll have to learn “Happy Birthday To You”. And then find out who’s birthday it is. And then sing it to them.
I’ll stop now, I seem to be rambling. I leave you this news bulletin from the DVLA: –
NEW DRIVING REGULATIONS
Following a review of national accident statistics, it has been concluded that the vast majority of road accidents reported in the UK over the past four years have been the result of inadequate driving skills on the part of a small minority of car drivers, who have insufficient technical competence, consideration of other road users and pedestrians, and/or ability to understand and compensate for prevailing road conditions.
With immediate effect, such individuals deemed to have an inadequate level of driving ability are required to clearly identify themselves to other road users,to act as a warning to competent drivers around them to take additional precautions.
The means of identification will consist of one or more white flags, marked with a prominent red cross, which must be displayed on the vehicle at all times.
Eye thank ewe
Date – 24/05/2010
And, in the words of that esteemed literary daily publication The Sun, “What a scorcher!”
Not sure why I wrote that, really – it’s not as though many of you wouldn’t have noticed what the weather as like over the weekend. And even if you hadn’t noticed… what is the use of a forecast for the previous three days? No matter how accurate it is? Discuss.
At least slightly less redundant would be a Rawk News Update – so here it is. This was our first three-gig weekend for… well, as long as we can remember. (Although in Stuart’s case, that’s about twenty minutes).
Friday at the White Lion in Yate was complicated for me by what I at first thought were a series of “equipment issues”, but which later turned out to be just the usual “incompetence issues”. Still, the pogoing punters seemed to be enjoying themselves, and after a little fiddling with me knobs, so was I.
Saturday took us to the Rose & Crown in pictureskew Malmesbury, where we had to set up at the end of the skittle alley, in the middle of a small indoor crossroads between two bars, the toilets, and the pub garden. This meant lots of gaffa-taping down of leads, and poor Ben & Suzi having to continually shuffle over to let the more incontinent punters squeeze past. Apparently the gig went very well – I say apparently, because from my vantage point tucked away round the corner, all I could see was the back of a speaker and a brick wall. Still, we all had fun, and I managed to get my knobs twiddled satisfactorily. And big thanks to our pal Swindon Al who came along and helped cart all the gear in and out.
And finally, Sunday afternoon, and we’re playing at the open day for custom motorcycle paint shop “Reborn To Be Wild”. Ben was quite excited about this, it’s his first time doing the classic “playing outdoors on the back of a flatbed trailer” thing, which is pretty much a rawk’n’roll rite of passage.
So, we rolled up, were warmly greeted by the lovely crew there, and set about levitating all the gear up onto the stage. Once set up, we had a merry mooch around the gleaming bikes that kept on rolling in. Lots of stunning stuff, I think the self-indulgence prize has to go to our mate Disco Dave, who was there with not just one but two choppers. Greedy.
At half time, they unveiled their latest choppertastic creation, an absolutely stellar piece of paintwork by their resident genius Sam. I was so impressed, I even took a picture that was in focus. You can’t see the detail here, but it really is a thing of beauty.
As we started our second set, the sun came round so it was directly onto the stage, the sweat was stinging my eyes so I couldn’t see my pedals to know what was switched on and what wasn’t, but it didn’t matter as the sun was so bright I couldn’t see the lights anyway. So, I just switched everything on as loud as it would go and got on with it. Brilliant fun. Finally we came to an end, and shambled away to cool off by sticking various parts of ourselves in the ice bucket before packing up.
So, a brilliant afternoon, and big thanks to Swindon Al and Disco Dave for all the help, and to John, Sam, and all the Reborn To Be Wild crew for making us feel so welcome, they really are a fantastic bunch.
We’ll be spending most of this week in a bath of cool soothing sunburn ointment, after which, we’ll be up and at ’em in Pighill:-
Saturday 29th – The Rolleston, Swindon
Swindon Rock Central, it’s a good giggle playing here, and although we’re pretty much certain to see our mate Statey, the question of whether or not she’ll have yet another “I’m not normally like this” hangover remains to be seen. Place your bets now…
After that, I’m off for a week, so things should be relatively peaceful. Relatively…
Date – 17/05/2010
And firstly, I must say how nice it is to be back after my week’s forced labour in sunny San Francisco. A bit disappointing, really, I didn’t see a single car chase, and I was the only one who’d bothered to put a flower in their hair.
Meanwhile, in the exotic world of UK pub rock, things are warming up nicely. Way way back (nearly a fortnight ago) we had a lovely time at the Fox, it was great to see our mates Gus and Sue again, Muddy did a fine job singing Motorhead for us, and apparently a rather intoxicated lady actually bit Suzi in her excitement. (Actually, it wasn’t in her excitement, it was somewhere else, but we shan’t go into details).
Last weekend we hit the Moonrakers in Pighill, a new venue for us, and once the locals had finished watching Swindon Town beating Cheltenham Under Thirteen Ladies’ Second Eleven (or something), we got on with the serious business of kicking some rock’n’roll bottom. A lovely night, and we even remembered most of the set this time – even me, despite Suzi insisting that she drive the van home (what a fine woman she is) so I could make the most of Swindon Al buying rounds in… cheers mate!
Saturday saw us playing a birthday party up at the Butcher’s Arms, in Oakridge Lynch near Stroud. It’s not exactly in the middle of nowhere, but you can see it from there. However, it’s well worth the clutch-shattering journey up a cliff face to get there, as it’s a lovely little pub, and the staff were huge fun. And there were free pies. And happy birthday again to Heather, who definitely won the “boogie all night long” prize. When we finally finished, we sat down for a good old natter and joined in setting off some Chinese lanterns – long-range pyromania, can’t beat it.
Anyroadup, this week we’re set up for a good ol’fashioned rawk’n’roll three gig weekend – haven’t done one of these for ages: –
Friday 21st – White Lion, Yate
Just up the road for me, there’s always lots of bouncing around and general silliness. Lovely.
Saturday 22nd – Rose & Crown, Malmesbury
Never done this one before, but apparently there are several pubs in the area with this name – the one we’ll be at is at 102, Malmesbury, High St. So you might like to try one of the others.
Sunday 23rd – Open Day for “Reborn To Be Wild”, somewhere in Cheltenham – 4:00 ish start
Now, this is an unusual one. See, this is an open day for the custom paint shop that loving slathered my mate Disco Dave’s big pink chopper with topless lesbian vampires.
No, really, that’s completely true.
They’ve got a bunch of custom motorcycles on display, Harley and Triumph dealers in, they’ll have their (fantastically talented) artists doing airbrush painting demos, and – well, basically, imagine a village fete for Hell’s Angels, and you’ll get the idea. And there’ll be us, perched on the back of a flatbed truck, spanking out rock toons with gay abandon (editors note: ony Alan for the gay abandon, the rest of us are not subscribers), and trying not to fall off. Full details of how to get there – and lots of pictures of gorgeous motorcycles – are at www.reborntobewild.com. I miss my dear old Bonnie so much…
Right, that’s your lot for now – in closing, thanks are due to Matt for this photo of my hangover from Queen Amy’s birthday a couple of weeks ago.
Suffice to say that I only wish I had felt as good as I looked…
Date – 04/05/2010
Ah, come in, Bond, I’ve been expecting you…
Oooh, look at the date, it’s Star Wars Day. Don’t make me say it…
Hope everyone’s nice and rested after the Blank Holiday, and had a traditional merry afternoon in their back garden, fishing burnt sausages out of puddles – unless you went for the only other acceptable British alternative, and spent the most the day shivering on Weston seafront, before spending four hours in traffic on the M5 trying to get home.
Anyways, back in the world of rawk’n’roll, we can report an unusually successful Dotty and Totty gig up at the Spa Inn – the place was dangerously close to full, and apparently this was because all the people who saw as last time came back to see us again, but with extra people. Either the words “lynch mob” spring to mind, or we must be doing something right. I certainly am, ‘cos I managed to persuade Suzi to drive again, meaning my playing was several pints better than usual.
Saturday night’s full band gig at Haydon Wick was a little bit less of an unqualified success, although there were some highlights. One was seeing our old pal Swindon Al again for the first time in ages, but my favourite was overhearing Suzi being accosted by a group of eight-year-olds (the curse of the Working Men’s Club audience demographic, where they really are aged from five up to ninety five). Having spotted Suzi’s black lacy Goth attire, the intrigued youngsters innocently asked her, “Are you a witch…?”.
Unfortunately, both Ben and I were within earshot at the time, so before she could get her denials in, we simultaneously confirmed for the youngsters, “She’s a witch”.
Suzi and I are both beginning to show signs of brain fade, evidenced in my case by forgetting to bring a mic stand along (so Ben gets a night off from backing vocals), and in Suzi’s, completely forgetting the lyrics to a song we’ve gigged at least three hundred times in the last few years. We started it, we played through the (quite long) intro, then a verse without vocals, then a chorus without vocals, then we stopped and gave up on it (also without vocals). To her credit, Suz remained completely unabashed throughout, and just giggled helplessly as we ground to a halt.
Still, we recovered our composure sufficiently to finish the night without further mishap, and – if we manage not to forget everything – should be in good shape for a rocktastic Saturday night…
Saturday 8th – Old Fox, Bishopston
Oh, yes, a lovely little bikers pub, we likes it in here. And, it’s Suzi’s birthday, so perhaps you might like to bring her along a little present. Money’s always favourite, although I expect anything ordered from www.chocolate.coated.firemen.com would go down well, too. Alas, I for one won’t be able to hang around after the gig, as a work trip means that by 6:00 the following morning, I’m due to be on a plane heading for San Francisco. Rock and roll, eh?
After that, who knows? I’ll be back when the volcanic dust has settled…
Date – 26/04/2010
Things are back to normal now. The sun’s gone away, it’s starting to drizzle (and what a magnificent word that is, drizzle, lovely) and we’re back on our regular diet of two gigs a week, pickle and mayo, hold the onions.
I also seem to have gotten over last week’s debauchery without too much permanent damage, apart from a few blank spots where my memory used to be; thus it was that, down at the Anchor on Friday, half way through a number we’ve been playing every week for, let’s see, about four and a half years, I am staring down at my fretboard in puzzlement, wondering where on earth the fingers are supposed to go, while Ben giggles away helpfully.
On the other hand, we did manage to roll out three (yes, three, you could at least try to look impressed) new songs we’ve never gigged before, and we got away with all of them. There was even a return of the “random drunk falling over the monitors” club, which caused some amusement, and after the gig, the delightful owners insist that they pay us more dosh for future gigs, because we’re so lovely. Which was nice.
Saturday evening, and I roll up at the dear ol’ Queen Vic in Stroud, to find they’ve dug up all the roads, and turned it into a one way system such that, although I can see the pub, there’s a “No Entry” sign between me and it, and a steady flow of traffic coming out.
Presumably there’s some diversion somewhere which will get me to where I should be, but – because I’m a Rock God – normal traffic constraints don’t apply to me, so I can just charge straight through – rather to the consternation of the oncoming drivers. One asks if I realise this is a one way street, but when I explain that everything is all right “because I’m a fashion model, you know”, he just pulls a funny face and drives off. Odd bloke.
Once inside, we set up, and wait for our Caledonian princess to arrive. I carefully put my phone well out of earshot, and as soon as Stuart’s one rings, Ben and I heroically rush off in different directions, leaving Stuart to sort out the “They’ve changed the roads around, someone’ll have to come out and find somewhere to park my car for me” situation. Teamwork, eh, lads?
Finally we’re all organised and start playing. Despite the fact that there’s a new series of Britain’s Got Talent on telly tonight, it’s pretty packed out. Ben hasn’t played here before, and seems rather dazzled by the parade of dancing young ladies in front of us. He seems to be enjoying himself, although from the sound of things, he did get his tongue caught in the bass strings a couple of times. At least, I assume it was his tongue, I didn’t want to look over…
As we get near the end of the second set, poor Suzi’s voice is starting to flag. A combination of (alleged) overwork and last night’s gig with dodgy monitors (courtesy of the Falling Over Club) means that a couple of big screamy notes come out as muffled squeaks, so to save our poor little lamb’s vocal cords from further damage, regretfully we have to skip a couple of the more vigorous numbers at the end. So, apologies to anyone who had their heart set on the big AC/DC / Led Zep finish, we’ll happily do it twice next time, but we do need to keep our singer in one piece.
In particular, we need her in one piece for: –
Spa Inn, Stonehouse, near Stroud – AUC gig
Yup, it’s the duo at it again – Dotty and Totty back here by popular demand for the second time this month. (Boy, they must be desperate). I particularly like it here, not least because of the charming lady with the self-confessed “thing for guitar players”. I’m not quite sure exactly what thing for guitar players she’s got, but I’m keen to find out. Suggestions on a postcard, please, to the usual address…
Haydon Wick Working Men’s Club, Swindon
Back at Pighill, on the highest stage we’ve seen for a long time. If you jump up and down while you’re playing, you can hit your head on the ceiling. Hey, it passes the time.
Right, that’s your lot for this week, apart from a health warning NOT to open little packets of silica gel, sprinkle them over your food, and eat them. Yes, I know it sounds like a stupid thing to do, but – believe it or not – there are people out there who do this kind of thing. Probably the same ones who, as kids in school, used to forever be getting sent to the nurse with crayons stuck up their noses.
You know who you are.
For the rest of you – peace out.
Date – 20/04/2010
Oh dearie, dearie me.
What a weekend of rawk’n’roll excess that was… I blame Suzi.
Things were all going so well on Saturday, on our semi-official Band Night Out in honour of Queen Amy’s birthday… Stuart, as duty driver, said he was running on a “have a one or two and go home early” ticket, so Ben and I both were in “ram as many drinks down our necks in the short time available” mode.
But then, disaster struck, and we drank the bar dry of Newcastle Brown. This didn’t affect Suzi at all, since she’s a bit of a gurly and therefore drinks wine. But for Ben and I this meant our only solution was to go up a gear, and discuss matters with our dear old Uncle Jack Daniels. In the end, Stuart let us stay on to the end of the night, still guzzling frantically, and then we went back to his place where he kindly introduced us to Jack Daniels’ good friend, Mr Jim Beam…
Somewhere around the 1am mark, my memory becomes a little patchy. I do recall having to get Suzi to stop the cab on the way home so I could be (rather noisily, apparently) vigorously unwell…
Things were not improved by my spending half the night unconscious on the kitchen floor, but eventually I made it to bed, although it wasn’t until about 4pm on Sunday that I was able not only to stop throwing up, but to just about walk and talk (albeit not simultaneously). Oh dearie dearie me. I have decided that all this is Suzi’s fault, she spiked my first beer by putting chocolate fingers in it. I must have looked poorly, ‘cause she even stopped being nasty to me.
By 7pm, I’ve managed to keep some food down, and feel just about safe to drive. Just as well, as there’s a gig down in Brean Leisure Park, just what I need to make me feel better.
We fear the worst – high probability of Raffle and even a threat of the dread Bingo, but the worst of our fears are not realised. There’s a sizable room, a chunky PA, and more lights and smoke machines than I’ve seen for a long time. They did do a raffle, though…
Thanks to the magic of about five cheapo Red Bull knock-offs, I managed to stay upright (albeit totally spaced out) through the whole gig, and probably even played guitar a bit – I have to say I am a little unclear on the details, but we seemed to go down well enough.
I do recall at half-time wandering through into the neighbouring bar, to find… it’s Country And Western Night!! I’ve never seen so many cowboy hats in one place before. And they’re line dancing, and some of the guys are even toting toy guns… oh dearie me, I wish I was feeling well enough to enjoy this properly. Looking back, I’m not even sure it all really happened…
Anyway, I shall be having a quiet few days now, while I reopen negotiations with my liver, and perhaps see if I can get the unpleasant taste out of my mouth. Maybe my brain will start working again too, at some point. Not that I’ll need it for…
Fri 23rd The Anchor, Warminster
Back here already so soon? They must have liked us. In fact, they liked us rather a lot, we even got a very nice write-up in the local press last time. Hopefully my bandmates won’t poison me this time.
Sat 24th Queen Vic, Stroud
Yay! We love it here, they’re a lively bunch and it’s always great fun. I may even be feeling up to a small shandy…
Right, I’ll leave you in peace now, I’m off to find a dark, quiet corner to skulk in for a few days…
Date – 13/04/2010
And a warm welcome to this week’s rawk’n’roll news bulletin. I’ll keep it short this week, as it’s a bit chilly out.
Friday down at The Bell in Shepton offered an interesting evening – bravely, we debuted not just one but two new songs that we haven’t quite finished learning yet (although, as Suzi not entirely unkindly pointed out, we’ve been playing that Foo Fighters number for over a year now, and I still haven’t got it right…)
Anyway, both new songs seem to go down rather well, so I guess we’ll be keeping ‘em. Which is good…and bad. You see, one of ‘em’s by eighties soft-rock ponces Journey, and therefore I hate myself for playing it …. Actually, come to think of it, I hate Suzi for making me play it. I think we’ll have to make her learn another Motorhead cover to balance things out.
There was also much hilarity between Ben and myself regarding a sordid tale of the Chuckle Brothers – alas, it’s too graphically unpleasant to relate here to our sensitive readership, but did result in us both crying with laughter at various points in the set when we should really have been playing. To you…
Another thing we debuted was my shiny lovely new Ashdown amp, and rather fantastic it is too. And very loud. (Obviously, a real muso would wax lyrical about the warmth and quality of tone, the satisfying dynamics of timbre as the valves push into overdrive, and the bell-like clarity of the mid-highs. But, simple soul that I am, I’m happy because it’s Very Loud).
And, because I’m also extremely childish, I decide I should give the beast a pet name. I’ll consult Ben, he’s nearly as bad as me…
Since the amp is properly called a Fallen Angel (a Fallen Angel 60DSP, in fact, I can see you’re interested) then we realise that the only suitable thing would be to call it…Lucifer.
“If you do that”, says Ben, “I’m going to call it Lucy for short”. This sounds a bit gurly to me, so we agree that a suitably rawk compromise will be to call it Lucy – but with an umlaut. So, for those of you without the benefit of a degree in modern languages, that’ll be Lücy. And it took me ages to get my computer to do that. Clever, eh?
Anyway, while they shake their heads with despair, thanks to the lovely Adam who I bought the amp from, and to Martin for patiently explaining the best way to rewire my Marshall as an extension cab, so I can be Even Louder .
Right, it’s a relatively peaceful weekend coming up – we’ve got Friday off, and Saturday given over to Queen Amy’s birthday party… I have a nasty premonition about Sunday morning… and then on Sunday night, we’re off to Brean Leisure Park for a strange vaguely corporate gig that promises to be bizarre enough even without the post-apocalyptic alcohol haze…
Next week, though, we’ll be out in public circulation again – we’ll be back at the Anchor in Warminster (already so soon?), and also up in Stroud at the dear ol’ rocktastic Queen Vic. Marvellous stuff, and we’ll give you details nearer the time, ‘cos we know you’ll only forget, you silly old things…
So, that’s it for now, except to wish our fondest regards to all our readers, and a happy birthday to Lily.
Date – 06/04/2010
Good morning, my little Easter bunnies!
And, as we wipe that last little bit of chocolate dribble of our mouths and onto our sleeves, it’s time to catch up with the rawk’n’roll news form the past few days.
Seems like ages since last Friday, but it was in fact only last Friday that Suz and I fetched up at the Spa Inn in Stonehouse for another ill-rehearsed duo gig. We’re almost getting the hang of this now, either that or we’re just getting more adept at covering the mistakes, but we both had a jolly nice time.
Particularly me, and particularly after Suzi reluctantly agreed to drive the van back, and especially when I found out the new owners run a “free drinks for the band” policy. So, at least I had fun, and I can’t have been the only one – they’ve asked the pair of us back at the end of the month, and they also want the band up there sometime too.
Saturday night, and a new one for us – a holiday park in Cheddar. Not the most obvious venue for high-octane rock’n’roll, and sure enough I’m pretty sure we went over the heads of a lot of the punters – notably the local chapter of the Pie Appreciation Society. Still, there were a fair few there that did enjoy themselves, especially- apparently – “that bit where the guitarist nearly fell over”.
I’ll explain. Since time immemorial, and for no sane reason we can think of, Suzi and I have been having an unofficial “who can do the lowest back bend” competition during an AC/DC number near the end of the night. And – judging by the frequency with which she claims it’s unfair (because she has to sing, whereas I’m playing a guitar which, apparently, “makes it easier”) – I quite often win.
However, this time, somebody – I shan’t name names – has carelessly left a drum kit in the middle of the stage, and I catch my foot on a cymbal stand and v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y nearly end up flat on my back. Only through staggering around a lot and barging into a nearby bass player do I manage to keep playing and get back upright again, while Suzi struggles to hit a high note whilst crying with laughter. I tell ya, you don’t get this level of professional entertainment on telly.
After that, it’s impossible to take anything seriously, so we don’t, and wind the evening up with a merry chat with the owners. They’re so nice, they might even let us come back again.
Right then,this week we’re determined to have a practice, so – assuming I get my spine out of traction in time – we should have a few new tracks to roll out for the dubious benefit of the listening public;
Friday 9th – The Bell, Shepton Mallett
Aha! Scrumpy Central. There’s always something interesting going on in here. Occasionally, it’s us…
Right, that’s it for now,except for a small personal gloat – I’m having a very exciting day today, as I’m going out later to pick up a new valve amp, which they guy is selling “because it’s way too loud”.
I’m sure my neighbours will be delighted….
…at least, more delighted than my dear wife will be when she sees the gaping hole in her PayPal account…
“…but darling, just listen to the luscious sustain on this overdrive channel… …No, put that chair down, darling… ….Ow….”
Date – 29/03/2010
And, as the palm trees wave gently in the breeze to the accompaniment of the mellifluous sussurations of the waves gently lapping the sun-kissed shoreline, a lazy zephyr drifts across the beach carrying the fragrant tang of salt air redolent with the promise of wild orchids, and reminds me that it really is time I changed my socks.
Anyway, here at my desk I am king of all I survey, with my loyal subjects Mr Stapler, the Post-It family, and my chief technical advisor Mr Penguin Squeaky-Pen.
Meanwhile, in a slightly different reality, where the caffeine has yet to sink in properly, I can report a merry – if rather odd – weekend in the world of strangeness. With only one band gig this weekend, there were two evenings to fill up – thus it was on Friday that, lured down by the promise of free food, daughter Lily and I went down to help Suzi out with a charity fashion show (eh?) she’d been bullied into running.
Not only did this entail setting up the PA and lighting, it also ended up with us both poncing up and down a catwalk in a variety of rags for the benefit of a large posse of well-heeled old dears. On the way home, Lil and I amused ourselves as we drove through Warminster High Street by shouting out of the van at every bemused stumbling drunk we saw,
“We’re fashion models, you know”. And why not?
Oh, and to save any prolonged subsequent interrogations, just to be clear –
· No, I didn’t wear any women’s clothes
· No, I haven’t “come out of the closet”
· No, I didn’t cop off with any old dears
Any further correspondence on this subject to be conducted via the legal representatives of Heat magazine, with whom Lily and I now have an exclusive contract.
Saturday – another night off? Nope, it’s Lily’s first official headline gig, up at the Barrel in Thornbury. And a mighty fine evening it was too, Lily impressed everyone with her fine voice, her guitar playing (better than mine) but also for the way she unplugged me on the last song mid-solo, declaring “That one goes on for ages, it’s really boring. Good night everyone.”
She can’t do that to me. I’m a fashion model, you know.
Finally, Sunday, and the blessed normality of a gig at the lovely old Oak in Chipping Sodbury. Alas, there is much poorliness. Poor Ben has a horrible chest infection, which means he can’t sing tonight, and also his antibiotics mean he can’t drink. And Suzi is in an even worse state when she rolls in, she looks so sorry for herself that even I can’t bring myself to pick on her. Despite all this muso fragility, we manage to get through the evening without any real mishaps, and actually manage to make slightly fewer mistakes than usual. Probably.
Anyways, next weekend it’s Easter, and a remote chance of catching up on some sleep…
Friday 2nd – Spa Inn, Stonehouse, Glos AUC Gig
Good Friday. Just Suzi & me, an acoustic guitar and a pink music stand with all the words and chords on. On a seasonal note, we may play the gig dressed up as fluffy bunnies. Actually, we probably won’t, as we rather enjoy playing here and we’d like to come back again.
Saturday 3rd – Broadway House Holiday Park, Cheddar
Odd Saturday. No idea at all about this one, never been here before. Although the words “holiday park” are a bit ominous- sounds to me like things are going to get a little bit surreal. Hi de hi!
Right, that’s your lot for now. Gotta dash, I have an interview with “Cheekbone” magazine at twelve, and after that I shall spend a merry afternoon trying to make amusingly childish anagrams out of the name “Gok Wan”.
Oooh! Got one….
Date – 22/03/2010
Yes, I realise I never got around to sending one of these out last week, and I’m sure some of you were quietly hoping I’d given up – but no, I just got distracted – ooooh look, something shiny…
Anyways, as a quick catch-up: – in the last couple of weeks, we’ve had great fun at the Cat & Wheel, and a fine time at the Anchor in Warminster – apparently rigorously documented by the local press, so if I can get hold of a copy of that I can find out what we were like (not seen anything on Crimewatch yet) – and, last Friday (which I can still just about remember) we had an entertaining evening at the Beau Nash in Bath.
An interesting name for a pub, I did wonder if it’s part of a national chain – they could have a pub catering for less energetic customers called the Beau Nidle, or one for toxophilists called the Beau Narrow, or… all right, I’ll shut up now.
Anyway, we rather enjoyed ourselves; being Bath a lot of the punters were Too Posh To Rock, but we met a lovely couple from t’Lake District who bought us drinks and nattered away merrily, so we played the second set bouncing off their enthusiasm. (And, in my case, bouncing off Suzi, which actually broke my wireless; although there’s no point sending her the bill ‘cos I’d only have to lend her the money to pay it…)
Right then, there’s an exciting weekend to look forward to – on Friday, as we aren’t gigging, I’m launching my career as a fashion model; but on Saturday, there’s a far more likely prospect for my retirement plan…
Saturday 27th Lily B at The Barrel, Thornbury
Yup, it’s a first headline gig for the talented daughter. Having played a support slot in here just before Christmas, and gone down very well indeed, Our Lil is back for another crack at it. I’ve been promoted too; not only am I allowed to carry all the gear in and buy drinks, but this time I’m also permitted to play a bit of guitar in the background “as long as nobody can hear it”. Thanks hon. Anyways, we’ve got a bunch of mates coming along and if everybody is really nice, I won’t sing along…
Sunday 28th Royal Oak, Chipping Sodbury
It’s been a long time, been a long time, been a long lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely, lonely time since we last played here. Always great fun, and – just case there are any Angel Up Front members reading this – IT’S A HALF EIGHT START, ALL RIGHT, GUYS? Remember how if we start later than that, there isn’t time to play all the fun stuff at the end? Hmm?
Right, that’s it for now, meanwhile here is some light music…
…and now, here is some dark music…Eins, zwei, drei, vier…
Date – 01/03/2010
Or, if you’re of the rather more restrained persuasion – er – yabba-dabba-don’t.
Up to you, really.
How’s about a compromise – Yabba-dabba-sit-down-and-have-a-nice-cup-of-tea-and think-about-it-for-a-while-to-see-how-things-shape-up-and-then-decide. Yup, that works for me. Nice and catchy.
As you can probably tell, it’s been a pretty quiet weekend. No gigs for us; I could give you a blow-by-blow rock’n’roll report of how I fixed my back fence, but there’s a real danger it might sound more interesting than the gigs, and so we’ll have less people turning up to see us, but a growing crowd waiting around in my garden to see some Hot Hammer Action. So, I’ll draw a veil over my domestic boundary physical barrier construction activities, and instead, let’s look forward to something marginally more musical…
Fri March 5th – Cat and Wheel, Bristol
Ahh, down by the Arches on Stokes Croft – every time we play here it seems to get more fun. Looking forward to this one, and hoping to see a few old pals again. We may even recognise them. And they may even recognise us, you never know.
Sat 6th – Anchor Hotel, Warminster
Apparently right next door to where Suzi works, so there’s likely to be a substantial contingent of her “colleagues” there. You have been warned.
That’s it for now, then, I’ll warn you in advance that you won’t receive any of this rubbish next week as it’s my turn to be away for a bit, so there’s no gigs, no rubbish jokes, and you can get on with your lives in relative peace and tranquility.
But, in the words of the current governor of the State of California: – I vant your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle… oh, no not those words, the other ones…I’ll be back. Yes, that’s more like it.
I leave you with the good news that a worker who fell into an upholstery machine over the weekend is now fully recovered.
Right, that’s it, Dorothy’s going back to Kansas…
Date – 08/02/2010
And welcome back to the Wonderful World of… things that begin with “W”. Like – er- wombat. And – erm – window. …whelk…?
Okay, maybe it’s not that wonderful a world. So, let’s look instead at the Wonderful World of Pub Rock.
This week, Suzi and I finally actually got around to playing a real live acoustic duo gig, and we even practiced beforehand! Thanks to poor Ben being sicky ill on Wednesday night, we had to scrub a band practice, which meant that Suzi and I got to dig out our acoustic set list, and actually play through (almost) every song on it.
So, when we rolled up at the Railway on Thursday night, we were almost disappointed to find the place rather quiet. “It’s been dead all week”, apologises Queen Amy, and, spotting the smiles breaking out on our faces, adds, “So I hoped you wouldn’t mind if I pay you a little bit less than we agreed..?”
So, armed with all the lyrics and chords perched on a rather fetching lilac-coloured music stand (thanks to daughter Lily for that), we turn the evening into a rehearsal-with-audience-focus-group session to decide which songs are working and which aren’t – basically, we play through each track, take a vote, and decide whether or not to keep it for next week’s “proper” (i.e. well- paid, if you’re reading this, Amy, tee hee) acoustic gig.
Surprisingly, we get only a couple of scrappers – or maybe Amy is just being nice. Anyways, we have a nice relaxing evening running through everything, settle up at the end of the night, and finish up with a rendition of that old favourite “last orders at the bar, please”.
Right then, this week we have either two or three gigs coming up, I’m not sure which…
Thurs 11th Haiti Fundraiser, Mail Coach, Swindon TBC
There’s several acts on here, and we’re the best-looking one of the lot. Probably. Except that Suzi is still in Scotchland and so doesn’t know about it yet. But unless for some obscure reason she can’t make it, we’ll be there. If you’re thinking of coming along, check first or you may be disappointed and have to listen to us as well as the sensible bands…
Fri 12th The Mermaid, Burford – Angel Unplugged
Burford is somewhere between Swindon and Oxford, they don’t know us here, and so they’re not likely to track us down afterwards… so Suzi and I are going to try out the acoustic duo thing for real. If it all goes horribly wrong, we’ll blame Queen Amy…
Sat 13th Railway Tavern, Fishponds
… and tell her so the very next night. Yes, back here again, this time it’s all of us, so we’ll actually know what we’re doing. Or even if we don’t, we’ll have a lovely time. And maybe, if Amy is nice, Suzi won’t throw water all over her this time…
Right, that’s it for now, I’m off for a little lie-down…
PS I’ve just thought of another word beginning with W… but it’s a bit rude. I expect you lot started thinking of it as soon as you started reading this email, didn’t you…
Date – 02/02/2010
Did ya miss us? Did ya? You did, didn’t you! Aww, well, not to worry, we’re back now. And here is the Rock News: –
Friday saw us roll up to the Ludlow Arms in Westbury, for a fairly quiet (well, actually, pretty loud) evening. I was impressed by the young lady who fell off her chair before we’d even started, rather more when an enthusiastic pogoing lad nearly knocked himself out on one of the ceiling beams, and even more than that when I found out our beer was free. If only I’d had a chauffeur…
No gig on Saturday night, but in a fit of forward planning, Suzi and I have noticed we have an acoustic duo gig coming up; since we haven’t learned any songs for this. So, we set aside Saturday evening to sit down at my place and choose some numbers to do, and Sunday to run through them all and make sure we’ve learned them properly.
Those of you with a certain degree of foresight will know what’s coming next…
6:30 on Sunday morning saw the two of us slumped amidst untidy heap of guitars, lyric sheets, and a huge array of empty bottles – we finally managed to stumble away to bed a full fifteen minutes before the kids starting getting up…
Sunday was unaccountably a little less productive then we’d hoped, and thus is is that once again we’ll be winging out way through another duo gig… although somewhere I have a grubby scrap of paper with some song titles written on it. Somewhere…
Thursday 4th – Railway Tavern, Fishponds – Duo gig
Yup, back at Queen Amy’s again, but this time without the benefit of a twelve-year-old girl to cover up our deficiencies (it’s a school night, see?). So this will be (in theory) Angel Unplugged, but mostly I suspect Angel Unrehearsed. Of course it’s possible that our natural talent and ability will shine through and prove we can deliver a stunning impromptu live performance incorporating seamless musical improvisation – but I prefer to think of it as a social experiment to test the patience of Amy’s customers…
We’ll let you know how we get on with that one – of course, if you’re around on Thursday you can always come along and watch history in the making. You can even help carry some of the gear as well, if you like.
Assuming we survive that little experience, we’ll be back next week with more duo action, another full band gig, and hopefully a really effective cure for hangovers…
Date – 18/01/2010
And, if you weren’t there, you missed an absolutely brilliant weekend of rock’n’roll action. I should know. I was there.
Well, mostly. Not completely. Not on Saturday, at least.
But, first things first… (why do people say that? I mean, if you put second things first, then surely they’d just automatically become first things anyway – wouldn’t they..?)
Anyroadup, Friday saw us jaunt down to the Bell in Shepton for Ben’s first gig without any Canadian support (which is not some kind of strange truss-like device, I should point out…). and a merry evening we had.
Despite not having practiced any, Ben decided to try out backing vocals, and delivered a faultless performance. However, this so startled Suzi that she forgot her words, and so we ended up in a giggling heap instead. True professionalism.
However, the real highlight came on Saturday, which was the date not just for our mate Gus’s birthday, but mine too. Thanks to babysitting and driving services provided courtesy of my delightful and talented singer, this means not only can my beloved Dem actually come out to the gig, but we can both have “a little drink” as well. Further joy provided by the presence of Martin’s Vicky, Dem’s folks, and a bunch of other pals too.
Anyways, it was an absolutely brilliant night, a big birthday up to Gus himself, huge thanks to Sue for doing all the organising, and I for one had a fantastic time.
My early resolution to “just have one or two until we’ve finished playing” fell rapidly by the wayside, and so beyond about half way though the first set I only have fragmentary memories of the evening.
In between sets, we’re treated to a fine belly dancing display, and despite having been nominated to run the backing music through the PA, I still manged to cram in three more pints before we go back on…
I recall we had a guest drummer slot from Sue’s son who sat in for a couple of numbers, and a fine job he did too. I also vaguely remember dancing some kind of bizarre heavy metal hoedown with Martin through one of the songs, although I’m not quite sure why.
I do know that by the end of the gig I managed to ham-fistedly punch through my bottom E string- never managed that one before – and was delighted at the opportunity to dig out my spare – and much-derided – pointy guitar for the last few numbers.
“Let’s hear it for Mr Spiky”, I shout enthusiastically, while the confused audience stare in blank incomprehension and Suzi looks at me with a combination of pity and disgust (but without the pity).
Hang on – one of my beers is missing. Ah, Dem’s stolen it. That’s all right then. Good girl.
We all thrash out way through to the end, and I thrust a handful of cash into Ben’s hand. “Fetch more beer” I tell him. We pack up, and drink. We load the car, and drink some more, then sit down for a proper drink.
I have a brief moment of lucidity, and wonder whether my playing has been adversely affected by being awash in alcohol.
“Shtuart,” I ask our patient drummer, “You don’t think I wash a little bit tooooo pished, back then, do you…?”
He scratches his head diplomatically. “Well” he says, “Maybe you…”
But it’s too late. I’ve just spotted another beer on the table, and have wandered off to investigate it, so now I’ll never know.
At some point in the wee hours, poor Suzi, who has been working all day and putting up with me all night, signals that our time is up, so we say sloppy goodbyes to everyone and she leads a stumbling pair of drunken idiots out to the car.
The next morning, Dem and I both woke up actually in bed – so it’s possible that after driving us home and negotiating the front door keys for us, Suzi tucked us in too.
Somehow I escaped hangover damage – there really is no justice in this world – although my poor Dem didn’t manage to make it out of bed until three in the afternoon. Dat’s my girl!
Right then, this weekend there’s no gigging going on, but we’ll be back, and probably sober, on the 29th for a trip to Westbury in wild and woolly Wiltshire. We’ll keep y’all posted.
Til then, take it easy, and don’t do anything we wouldn’t.
Oh, and mine’s a pint….
Date – 11/01/2010
Don’t know about you lot, but I for one will be glad when this heat wave’s over…
And a big up (as we young folks say) to all those who braved it through the snowdrifts and glaciers – well, it was a little bit slippy on the pavements – to the Old Fox on Saturday, for what turned put to be a fine evening of rawk’n’roll.
Our shiny new bassist Ben seemed to have a jolly good time – as did Martin, who’d come along play some extra guitar; (mainly, I suspect, to show off his very nice and very expensive Mesa amp). Suzi was a little puzzled – “I thought we’d got rid of you?”, but Martin’s paramour Sarah was delighted to see him again…
Anyhoo, an excellent evening we all had, the highlight being Muddy guesting on vocals for Ace Of Spades, having declared that “No offence, but a bird can’t sing it right”…
…Maybe not, but at least she knows the words, heh heh heh…
Actually in fairness he did an excellent job – certainly better than I did on some of the numbers that we probably should have rehearsed a few more times (or, at least, once…). I feel a “difficult” practice session coming on this week…
So, with 2010 now officially up and running, let’s see what’s coming up this weekend…
Friday 15th – The Bell, Shepton Mallett
They’re bonkers in here. It’s the scrumpy, I reckon.
Saturday 16th – Gus’s Birthday
Oooh, oooh, oooh! I’ve been looking forward to this. It’s our mate Gus’s birthday. And he’s having a big bash in some pub somewhere. And we’re playing. AND, even better, it’s my birthday as well. So I’m allowd to drink properly. And he’s got a troupe of belly dancers performing too. No, really, it’s true. I’ve had this independently confirmed. By my mother-in-law. Who is one of them.…
Right, that’s it for this episode, I don’t have a complete joke for you this week, but if I just say,
“Mummy, am I really, truly, a real polar bear?”, then you can fill in the rest yourself.
Date – 04/01/2010
Happy Noo Year, folks!
And we hope you enjoyed the festering season as much as we did. New Year’s Eve at the Queen Vic was a particularly jolly night, even though it was sadly our last gig with Martin on bass. Suzi kindly volunteered to drive the van, meaning I’d be able to play on tippy-top form thanks to the magic of fermented yeast products.
Seeing as we had half a chance to go in fancy dress, and as a special treat for Martin, I borrowed a silly outfit from Suzi and went dressed as a cowgirl. And, I have to say, I think he was quite impressed. There are some photos somewhere, but I doubt you’d want to see them.
I discovered a few unexpected benefits from wearing this getup – apart from the expected one, which was the look of absolute horror on Martin’s little face – and I can recommend it to any gigging guitarist, for the following reasons: –
1. When you go to the bar, a path mysteriously clears for you and you get served straight away, since no bloke wants to stand next to you
2. When you get your drink, you realise that – as your mini-dress has no pockets – you haven’t got your wallet with you. The barman is so keen to get rid of you he just gives you the beer.
3. If you stuff your cleavage with enough socks to achieve the desired effect, a significant number of women will come up to give them a good feel. Which means you can do the same to them. No, really. You’d be amazed. It’s a great way to keep your hands warm in between sets.
A word of caution for the prospective cross-dressing guitar-slinger, though – quite apart from the underwear adjustment issues – that “manscara” and “guyliner” stuff is a bugger to take off without blinding yourself. And my daughter’s still not talking to me…
Anyways, onward and upward into the future, this week we have a fine, manly, testosterone-centric gig to play: –
Sat 9th Jan – Old Fox, Bishopston
Great little bikery pub, and this will be our first gig with new bassist rockmonster Ben. And – assuming we manage to fit a practice in this week – we should have some fine new tunes to wheel out that we haven’t done before. In other words – you have been warned.
Right, that’s just about it for now, you can get back to your turkey sandwiches and stale mince pies, and with a bit of luck we might see you on Saturday. And remember –there’s only 302 shopping days left til Christmas…