Tag Archives: chipping sodbury

23-04-2019 – Owls and Easter

Helloo there, my little Easter bunnies.

We hope you enjoyed the extended weekend, and trust you were all suitably solemn in remembrance of what this important religious festival commemorates; the true meaning of Easter, that time of year when Jesus skips merrily around the countryside with a basket of chocolate for all the little children.

Something like that, anyway; I must confess I wasn’t really paying attention to that part in school.

Right, well we had a fine couple of evenings gigging; although, having had at least two sleeps since then, I can’t really remember anything much about them. Except the owls. The owls… READ MORE

15-04-2019 – Who Got THE Blues?

Good morning!

I really am beginning to think I’m getting too old for this…

Maybe it’s time I took to playing slide guitar instead, sitting on my back porch in a rocking chair and playing s-l-o-w blues riffs. Thing is, I’d need to get a dog, probably – I suspect it’s written somewhere in the Blues Byelaws.

Of which there are quite a number, come to think of it; for example, the list of permissible Blues Beverages (permitted: black coffee, red wine, bourbon whiskey; forbidden: Lucozade, chai latte, Prosecco). READ MORE

18-12-2018 – Last Blast For This Year With Stairs

Ho, ho, and, indeed, ho.

And a warm welcome to this festive, and almost certainly last edition this year, of our regular-ish gig blog.

I didn’t manage to put one of these out last week, which I shall blame on time constraints, as “incompetence” is such an ugly word, isn’t it? I can, however, dimly recall a few snippets of the last couple of gigs…

It turns out that the Packhorse in Lawrence Hill is indeed still run by the Angels, and a mighty friendly bunch they were, we all had a jolly fine time, and will be back there again next year. As I write this, it’s only just occurred to me that possibly one reason we were so popular was that – due to driving constraints – we didn’t take too much advantage of their mighty fine   “free beer for musos” policy (one which, as regular readers will know, I have been a staunch supporter of for many years).

The following night, a corporate Christmas party in a posh bistro right in the centre of swanky Cheltenham, had a rather different vibe.

We arrived, and, miraculously found two parking spaces right outside the back of the venue. Hurrah! Then upon gaining entry to the place, we find that we are to be playing in a function room up two flights of stairs. Boo!

Ben pales visibly at the thought of exercise. I decide we must invoke what is known in the band as “Rum Bar protocol” (named after a venue for which access is gained only via three flights of rickety iron outdoor fire escape), which basically means all spare and not-absolutely-necessary equipment is sifted out and left locked in the van at Base Camp, so that no backup amps or speaker cabs, leads, etc need be manhauled up to higher altitudes. Spare batteries are grudgingly permitted, as is the muttered refrain “I wish I’d learned the $%^ing piccolo”.

After a prolonged period of stumping up and down, we decide there is just enough kit up there, and slowly moods improve as we set up.

Once we start, it turns out that the crowd are very much up for it; we particularly enjoyed one very serious-looking lady (think “senior librarian”) who, immediately we started, began dancing in a most extravagant and enthusiastic fashion – we suspect she doesn’t get out that much. After a while, everybody else joins in. Finally the very pleasant staff are begging us to stop playing so that they can pack up and go home.

Having packed up, and taken full advantage of their expensive-looking buffet to give us the necessary strength, we have just enough energy to haul all the kit back down to ground level and bully it back into the vehicles before shambling off into the night.

Right then, coming up next – here’s our full Festive Season Itinererererary, for your delectation and delight: –

Saturday 22nd – Farmhouse, Yate
Not played here for quite some time, and what with it being the official drinking season, should be rather lively. And there are no stairs involved.

Monday 24th – The Sandringham, Downend
Christmas Eve at the Sandy (as I am pretty sure absolutely nobody calls it), we did this one last year and had a very fine time. So we’re expecting to do the same again, frankly. And there are no stairs involved.

Saturday 29th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Ooh, I’d actually totally forgotten about this gig until I looked at the list to write this. Marvellous! One of our favourite regular gigs, I’m actually beginning to get excited already. With a bit of luck, I might be able to get my beloved Dem along as well, just to scare the locals a bit. And there are no stairs involved.

Monday 31st – Royal Oak, Chipping Sodbury
New Year’s Eve, a nice lively little pub, and us. What’s not to like? And – now here’s a thing – there are no stairs involved.

And, that’ll be about it for this year; I’d like to say thanks to all the lovely and entertaining people we’ve met along the way, we’ve had a blast – and I like to think that maybe on the odd occasion we’ve actually managed to entertain some people along the way (in addition to ourselves).

Finally, I have to say huge thanks to my bandidos Stuart, Emma, and Ben, who make the whole enterprise such a joy and a delight – despite the occasional stairs, I really don’t know what I’d do without the opportunity to regularly prance about making a dreadful noise with a bunch of like-minded idiots.

Very much looking forward to doing it all over again next year….

Square on
A

10-09-2018 – Changing Fortunes

Hello, my little ones.

Are you all sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.

Thursday night in Chipping Sodbury, and I roll up, somewhat knackered after a busy day, to find Ben and Stuart already there and loaded in. Stuart parks his car, then we set about emptying the van and setting up. A rather frazzled Emma appears, she has apparently had a “difficult” week at work, and “is ready for some serious jumping about and screaming”. Just, in fact, what we have in mind.

We’ve decided to play a high risk strategy tonight, lots of old rocky songs we haven’t played in a l-o-o-ng time, to see if we can remember them. Remarkably, by and large, we can. We’d also forgotten how much fun they are. Thus, by the time we’ve finished thumping out the Maiden and AC/DC covers at the end of the night, our Emma is feeling much cheered up. Ben is also pleased to find two fellow Yorkshiremen in the audience, who are huge fun. I’m tempted to ask them how they’re coping down here with such strange new things as electricity, and running water, but I settle instead for hiding my wallet, just in case.

After a jolly night, we pack up and Stuart goes off to fetch his car. We’ve nearly finished loading the van before he comes back, ruefully, on foot. It seems that he’d left his headlights on, and with not even enough juice to operate the central locking, he is locked out of his car. However, he has a manual key – hurrah! – which doesn’t fit the lock – boo!

So – we cram all his kit into Emma’s car, take it back to Stuart’s place to unload, where he can pick up his spare key. Then it’s back to Sodding Chipbury, where this time we managed to actually get into his car, and eventually persuade it to jump start.

Thus it is that we finally get home, somewhere in the wee wee hours of the morning.

Only two more gigs to go this weekend…

Friday night, and our keenly-anticipated gig at the Queen’s Tap on Swindon. We arrive, we load in and set up, looking forward a noisy night. It’s not too full yet, but still early days.

Come the witching hour, and off we go. Two songs in the landlady approaches, and asks very nicely if we can turn it down a notch – the council are lurking nearby with noise meters, thanks to some unsympathetic neighbours. We duly comply, but a couple of songs later she returns and asks if we can turn down a touch further. So we do, and for a while we’re struggling to play noisy full-on rawk n roll music in a polite fashion – it really just isn’t the same.

Nonetheless, after a few songs, with a boisterous crowd, we have to turn up just a little bit so we can hear ourselves, and by the end of the first set, there’s a right old party going on.

During the break, about a dozen of the punters break out into a drunken singlaong acapella version of Tenacious D’s “Tribute”. We are well pleased by this.

As we get ready to start again I plug in and do the usual guitarist thing – switch on the amp, and play a chord or two to check it’s all working. This time – presumably subconsciously prompted by having just heard it, I play the opening chords of “Tribute”…

A mighty cheer goes up from the crowd, who are then much disappointed as we explain that we don’t actually play that one.

After half a dozen songs, which all go down very well, they’re still bellowing for “Tribute” – a quick conference reveals that Ben and I might be able to remember the chords, Emma can look up the words, and Stuart has no real idea how it goes. Oh, all right then, we’ll have a crack at it.

Immediately the crowd takes over the stage, completely surrounding Emma and singing and dancing along, and together we not only get all the way through the song, but actually it’s somehow magnificent.

So – that’ll be going on the set list, then.

As we approach the midnight neighbour-noise curfew, there’s not quite time for one more song, but we decide to play it anyway. As I fire into the intro riff of Guns & Roses’ “Sweet Child”, the landlady rushes up and snatches the mike out of Emma’s hand.

Oh no, she’s going to tell us we have to stop…

…No she doesn’t, she starts singing it!

And, she’s bloody brilliant!

So we thunder through the rest of the song, with Em and landlady bellowing out a massive duet between them, and after we finish, the landlady demands we do some more.

“What about your neighbours?” I ask.

“Fuck ’em”, she answers. “It’s my pub. Play on”.

We manage to shoehorn another two or three encores before we really do have to stop.

It turns out that the landlady used to sing in bands years ago, and has been itching to have a go with us since halfway through the first set.

So, a vastly satisfying night, and we were really looking forward to Saturday night at the Queen Vic in Stroud.

Alas, it was not to be. A few minutes after setting off, Em and I receive a call from Ben to say that Stuart is really not well, and can’t play tonight, so we have to cancel.

So apologies to anybody who was up in Stroud hoping to catch us, we really are sorry, but believe me, for Stuart to accept that he’s too ill to play, it’s really serious.

I’ve previously seen him insisting on playing gigs when a lesser man would be on his way to hospital.

Good news is that he’s now feeling rather better – which is just as well, as although we have no AUF gigs planned this weekend, Stuart and I do have an appointment with our somewhat proggy originals outfit.

Hoarse

On a lighter note, it’s not the only illness in the band this week. Yesterday, Emma did admit to feeling a little hoarse…

Square on
A

03-09-2018 – Oooh, Look, Dolphins!

Well, we’re back!

After a week away, variously climbing up Snowdon, watching dolphins frolicking off the coast of Kent, drinking excellent beer in my favourite Brighton pub – which I found completely unchanged after 30 years away – hurrah! – and doing whatever it is that Ben and Stuart get up to when left to their own devices, it was time to get back together to make a loud noise again up at the dear ol’ Swan in Thornbury.

Having literally just got home after a seven hour drive with a spakky shoulder, swapping vehicles and come straight to the gig, yours truly had his excuses neatly lined up for playing like a retarded chimp in boxing gloves. So that’s pretty much what I did.

I’m not sure what excuses the others had, but actually we seemed to get away with it – helped no doubt by a quick restoarative dose of free beer, we managed to get to the end of the night without too many musical trainwrecks. Although, to be fair, one was probably enough.

Saturday night, and a nice easy gig at the Dolphin in Oldland Common; we were able to revel in our musical loveliness, and I rather enjoyed being awake this time.

Coming up this week – three gigs in a row, haven’t had this much fun for quite a while…

Thursday 6th – Royal Oak, Chipping Sodbury
We believe this one to be an 8:30 start, and although it’s a bit cosy, once we’ve actually shoehorned all the kit in, it’s jolly good fun in here – the only catch being we all have to get up stupidly early the next morning for work. I bet Jimmy Page doesn’t have this trouble.

Friday 7th – Queen’s Tap, Swindon
Lively pub just opposite the station in sunny Pighill, they likes their rock in here. Which is just as well, ‘cos that’s what they’re going to be getting. 🙂

Saturday 8th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Brilliant fun in here, we may even be bringing a small entourage with us just to liven things up even further. Also a good chance to catch up with the lovely Clothears Massive, so I’m looking forward to this one even more than usual.

Er – that’s it, having been off duty for a week I can’t think of any jokes this time.

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Square on
A

21-05-2018 – Mr Mellow

Hola amigos!

Writing this as I am on a balmy Sunday evening, still slightly pissed from this afternoon’s gentle party in the sunshine, I must say what an enormously satisfactory weekend that was!

We started with a rare school night gig on Thursday night at the Oak in Sodding Chipbury – and I was delighted to run into a couple long-lost pals there. Once we started playing, the usual small-but-friendly crowd slowly grew into a larger-but-friendlier crowd, and so by the end of the night everybody seemed to be having an immense hoot. Lovely!

No gig on Friday, but my mate Becks did treat me to a nice hot bacon butty for breakfast – you have to have lived with vegetarians for a few decades to understand the enormity of this situation.

“So why did she do that?” I am asked.

“Because”, I reply simply, “she is a goddess”.

Saturday, and our eagerly anticipated gig up at the Queen Vic in Stroud lived up to our high expectations; we are greeted on arrival by lovely chums John, Anne, Adam & Emma; and the guys promptly set about hauling all the kit in for us. We are delighted to see that their resident DJ isn’t in there tonight, and (if possible) I am even more please to see my mate Jackie roll in along with the ever-appreciative Clothears Crew.

An evening of extended merriment follows, and although Em has a catch in her voice and there are a couple of numbers we don’t attempt, we still end up playing on until half twelve, before collapsing into a contented sweaty heap, while we wait for the kit to pack itself away.

Eventually we have to concede that this is not going to happen, and so we wearily pack up and trundle off homewards after some fond goodbyes.

Sunday is spent lounging around in the garden sunshine at my gaffe with a few well-chosen folks, eating and drinking rather more than absolutely necessary, because sometimes these things are absolutely necessary.

We’ll have to succumb to the normality grind for a few more days, but then by the weekend we’ll be back in the marvelous world of rawk’n’roll silliness…

Saturday 26th – The Ship, Keynsham – 6:30pm
Not played here before, but it sounds like fun – it’s the pub’s very own mini-festival, outside in a nice sunny garden I’m given to understand. Apparently there’s a danger that Dem will come along and bring the fambly, too. You have been warned.

Sunday 27th – The Messenger, Swindon
A big ol’ pub in the heart of a housing estate, I rather like this one as there is ample room to jump around like a twat. Admittedly it’s only me doing that usually, but I figure as long as I’m happy… then I’m happy!

Thought for the day – why is the Chinese alphabet made up entirely of tattoos?

Square on
A

14-05-2018 – A Couple Of Gigs – Ultra Fluffy Kitten Special

Hello, dear readers

Well, whaddaya know? A whole weekend with no gigs, and yet I somehow didn’t manage to find time to sit down and write to you all.

It really is very remiss of me, and I can only apologise – while recognising that many of you may in fact be rather grateful.

Anyway – not having gotten around to penning any witticisms for your amusement and probable consternation, I shall just deliver the following brief announcement: –

Thursday 17th – Royal Oak, Chipping Sodbury
A nice little outing for a Thursday, we played here a few months ago and despite Emma being in a somewhat ragged state of health, it all went down rather well. This time it should be even more fun. Not having gigged for a week definitely adds to the excitement; I particularly enjoy that little frisson you get when you can’t quite remember how the next bit goes, and have to hope that you guess correctly when the chorus comes around…

Saturday 19th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Still one of our favourite places to play, and very much looking forward to it. Lots of space to jump around in – there’s even some room for us – teetering as we are on the edge of the stage, a precipice fully three inches high…

Square on
A

P.S. [Editor’s note] This is the most nauseating picture of cute fluffy kittens I could find albeit a subject that can be debated. You can always rely on fluffy kittens to get attention.

15-01-2018 – Ooooh, Something About Weddings

‘Sup, dawg – as we young people actually probably don’t say any more…

Well, we had a rather interesting evening at the Royal Oak in Sodding Chipbury – after her recent spate of the dreaded lurgy, our lovely Emma arrived declaring herself to be “much better”.

You’ll note that’s “much better”, rather than actually “well”. So our poor girl had a couple of vocal squeaks and coughing fits during the set, but gamely carried on and only mentioned her poor illness to the crowd a mere thirty or forty times during the evening.

Nonetheless, our Emma on a bad night is still tremendous by most folks’ standards, and in fact a very enjoyable night was had by all, with particular enthusiasm from a very nice group of young ladies, who accosted us in the break to ask if we play weddings.

I give the standard universal muso answer, “Oh, we’ll do anything for money”; followed by our own standard clarification, “No, really. Anything. We’re a complete bunch of slags”.

It transpires that one of their number has upcoming nuptials, and is looking for a band, and would rather like us to do it. A nice chat is had, details are exchanged, and Ben is complimented mightily on his nice hair. In fact, so am I, although to be fair I was standing next to Stuart at the time, which probably made mine look rather more impressive in comparison.

The second set is, as usual, rather more lively than the first, and by carefully negotiating our way round the more throat-ravaging numbers, we manage to steer the good ship Emma safely into encore port without sustaining too much damage below the waterline.

Christ, you can actually hear that metaphor creaking under the strain, can’t you…?

Saturday night, and a trip to the dear ol’ Queen Vic in Stroud. Happily our Em’s recovery is progressing; she describes her current condition as “almost back to awesome” – and indeed it is, bouncy little maniac that she is.

Strangely, Emma was accosted by another young lady asking, “Do you do weddings..?”

It was only after confirming that we do and handing over our details that she realised she should actually have acted all flustered…

“Wedding? Well… er… I don’t know, this is all very sudden – oooh, how lovely…. It’s very flattering of course…. We’ve only just met….oooh… Oh, YES, let’s just do it!”

Despite me feeling a slightly ropey, it was lovely to see some old chums in there again, and to have enough space to shamble about a bit in front of my amp – which does seem to be sounding rather lovely these days, if I say so myself.

Is it worrying that I find myself beginning to have romantic feelings for it?

Anyway – with no gigs this weekend, I shall have to content myself with playing through it at merely moderately earth-shattering volumes for a while – a kind of “cooling-off period”, I suppose.

At least I’m not weird.

Square on
A

08-01-2018 – The Selfish Virus, With Cake!

Gooood morning, chums!

Well, I have to say that there was rather less rawk’n’roll in that weekend than we’d hoped.

It all started so well, with Em having declared herself fit for Friday’s gig at the Swan in Thornbury after her bout of horrible flu lurgy; we rolled up, we set up, and – come the allotted hour – we started playing.

Two songs in, and suddenly poor Em’s voice cracks as she approaches some high notes without due care and attention. She manages to finish the song, but only by conveying the choruses by the medium of interpretive dance.

“I’m so sorry… My voice was fine in the shower earlier”, wails our stricken chanteuse. A quick search of the equipment reveals that nobody has had the foresight to pack a shower head.

We carefully negotiate the rest of the first set, studiously avoiding any of the more taxing vocal gymnastics, and with Ben filling in singing wherever possible.

Half time, and a quick review of the second set shows that there’s probably only about six songs that Em can manage. We go to chat to lovely landlady Sandra, explaining that we can do a shorter second set, or, if she prefers – given that the pub is pretty quiet tonight – we could just abandon the gig, thereby saving her paying us.

She says she is quite happy if we want to stop and pack up now, she was thinking about closing early anyway, and will still pay us some of the dosh due.

A look at whimpering Em convinces us that this is the best course of action, so we apologise to the audience, and put the toys away.

However, there’s still scope to stick around for a nice pint, particularly since – it being the day after Em’s birthday – we have a My Little Pony birthday cake with us.

Credit to Ben for choosing it, we found it even came with glitter icing so Em could personalise it before we dived in. And so she did…

My Little Pony Cake

You’ll note the cardboard band around the edge of the cake, which Em promptly removed and put round her head, giving her a rather nice “60’s Cher” look.

The same could not be said for her boyfriend Sol, though – who put it on his head instead, then – forgetting it was there – went to the bar to return the ten-inch-long cake knife they’d kindly lent us. The expression on the face of the puzzled barmaid, when confronted with Gay Rambo, is beyond my powers to describe.

I actually think it’s rather lovely that even a disastrous night with this band is actually tremendous fun.

Anyway – we decided that there was no option but to cancel the following night’s gig at the Cat & Wheel (I think only about the second gig we’ve had to cancel in over ten years), and big kudos to Stuart for spending a goodly proportion of the following day phoning around until he found them a replacement band [Editor’s note: except it was the Cat & Wheel that found a band in the end, all my leads went to dead ends].

So, fingers hugely crossed that poor Emma’s voice is recovered in time for this week’s gig giggles…

Thursday 11th – Royal Oak, Chipping Sodbury
Not played here for a few years, but always used to be a jolly good one – even on a school night….

Saturday 13th – Queen Vic, Stroud
Love it here, usually plenty of dancing around and falling over, and sometimes the crowd joins in as well 🙂

We shall, of course, be taking the precaution of bringing a portable shower unit with us – just in case.

Square on
A