Tag Archives: swan

04-02-2019 – Guitar Madness And Ducks


…as nobody has said to me since about 1979 – surely about time for a comeback, dontcha think?

Anyhoo, last week we did promise to try and have twice as much fun as usual at Friday’s gig at the Swan – and indeed we did.

We weren’t expecting too many people in to be honest, given the somewhat snowy conditions – but the locals had obviously mustered their huskies, donned their snowshoes, and set out into the freezing night just to – well, just to drink too much and dance around like fools, really. All they needed was a loud and tolerably rhythmic noise to do it to. And that’s where we came in… READ MORE

29-01-2019 – Disco Dave, Japan And The Power Slide

Hola homeys!

It’s always nice to see old friends, particularly when they bring you an ultra-cool pressie :-).

Saturday’s jaunt to the Albion House Club in Cheltenham was graced by the presence of my dear and long-standing friend Disco Dave, whom we haven’t seen for a couple of years on account of him working on the wrong side of the world.

And a very pleasant evening we all had, despite a somewhat worrying start…

Our lovely Em was arriving separately to the rest of us, and a little later, and so we duly rolled up, set up the kit, and waited. Start time came and went, and there is still no sign of our sparkly chanteuse. A quick call reveals that although she is quite close, but “the police have shut the road off” – and this being Cheltenham, and a one-way labyrinth at the best of times, it’s not easy to find another way in. READ MORE

26-11-2018 – Chicken Drumkit

Ahoy there shipmates!

Well, after lord-knows-how-many weeks without us playing, we were all rather relieved at the Blue Lagoon on Friday to find that we can still do this stuff.

Mostly. I think every one of us had a minor memory blackout at some point or another, but happily these didn’t coincide, so every song we played was basically not guilty, based on a majority verdict.

Perhaps this is why they have so many people in the orchestra for classical music – it is, after all, quite complicated, so if they have a lot of people then it doesn’t matter so much if one of them screws up.

Yes, that must be it. Also, as somebody pointed out to me, the other reason they have (say) 25 cellos playing the same thing is to make it louder.

Somebody really should go up to the Royal College of Music, and suggest they google the word “amplifier”. It’ll save them a fortune. I mean, after all, if I didn’t use an amp, then to be heard at a gig, we’d need probably at least three hundred of me.

Imagine that….

…Saturday night, and a birthday party agency gig for the lovely Louise, who turned out to be absolutely delightful, as were her many guests (and the caterers).

We were particularly taken with one of the guests, Jean, who was from “Upstate Noo Yawk”, looked exactly like Grandma out of Thunderbirds and was decidedly mischievous.

“I used to live with a rock musician, years ago”, she tells me during the break, “I gotta say, that was some nice playing”.

“Why, thank you”, I say.

“Yup, not bad considering you ain’t no spring chicken… …Just kidding, I guess you’re not even sixty yet…”

Ben has difficulty breathing for a while after hearing this. I can’t think of a suitable reply, so settle instead for getting Jean a beer on the band’s tab.

After we’ve finished, we are slumped down to get our breath back, and Jean pounces on me from behind and grabs me in a vertebrae-crushing headlock.

“God, I love you, you fuckin’ hunk”, she informs me, as I struggle for air.

Ben appears to be suffering a reprise of his earlier breathing difficulties.

Anyway – a jolly fine night – and, coincidentally, it was also our very own Stuart’s birthday. As a special treat, we bought him a new drumkit….

Chicken Drumkit

Chicken Drumkit

Which turned out to be just the right size for our rubber chicken to play…

Anyways – next weekend, just the one gig; we’re over in deepest darkest Wales, for a birthday party in a hotel somewhere up in the valleys.

Square on

12-11-2018 – Archery

Aloha, compadres!

Since we’ve not played a gig for two weeks, we have nothing really to report on. I mean, we could provide you with a run-down of our various domestic lives over the past fortnight, but that would be getting dangerously close to being like The Archers – albeit an everyday tale of rawk’n’roll folk…

Although – actually, speaking of archers has reminded me that Emma still needs to make arrangements with my beloved Dem, they were planning to go and spend an afternoon doing archery together. What could possibly go wrong?

Don’t worry, I’ll let you all know once they’ve agreed on a date, so we can get everybody else out of the county, just to be on the safe side.

Also fraught with risk- although arguably less life-threatening – is announcing our next gig, because after two weeks off, there is a very real chance that we won’t actually remember what we’re doing. At least a quarter of us, anyway – last time we took a break, I couldn’t even remember how to plug everything in, let alone how to play it.

Oh well – what’s the worst that could happen…?

Saturday 17th – The Swan, Thornbury
It’s only up the road from me, so I rather like this one. Not sure why that would make a difference – after all, the kit is all still just as heavy. Maybe I just rather like this one, then; possibly because you never quite know what’s going to happen…

That’s it for now – hopefully next week we’ll have a little more to tell you….

Square on

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

20-08-2018 – The Difficult Week

Good morning peeps!

Well, it’s been a – shall we say – “difficult” week in rock…

Our poor Em’s spakky knee is starting to get better, but slowly, so the poor darling is still having to resort to using what we know call The Apparatus to hold her leg together during gigs; Ben managed to cut his thumb in half, whilst engaging in the unfamiliar practice of cleaning his flat – but I trumped them both; whilst I was innocently waiting at a red traffic light, some <> drove into the back of the van, and then drove off before I could get his number. <>

Apart from a bit of whiplash stiff neck-type stuff, I’m okay, but my poor little van will have to be written off – it’s exactly two inches shorter than it used to be. I know this, ‘cause there used to be two inches to spare when it was fully loaded with all the kit – and now there isn’t. My local garage managed to hammer it out enough to be able to open the rear doors so I can still use it for now, but it’s not going to last; and it’s now impossible to drop the spare wheel out, ‘cause there’s some chassis in the way where there didn’t used to be…

Still, after a fractious week arguing with insurance companies and modifying bits of van so I could actually lock the doors once they were open, we were able to fulfil our gigging destiny.

The birthday party gig on Saturday went rather well; although the nice big stage to prance about on was rather wasted as Em was not really prancing fit, and I was somewhat restricted by having to try and play the entire set without moving my right shoulder… nonetheless, they all seemed to enjoy it, and Em did a magnificent job of diplomatically shepherding a teetering drunk lady off the stage, back to the safety of the floor, without damage. We’re going to get her a hi-vis to wear for such occasions in future.

Sunday afternoon at the Sandringham was rather quieter, shoehorned as we were between the Sunday lunch crowd and the mid-evening pub quiz; one of those gigs where it’s best to adopt a philosophical attitude, and think of it as being paid to practice.

Right then, we’re off on various holidays for a bit, so you’ll just have to do without any rawk’n’roll malarkey for a while. As I’m not here, you won’t be getting one of these missives next week, so I’ll tell you know about what’s coming up in a fortnight’s time…

Friday 31st August – The Swan, Thornbury
This is actually the very day I come back from my hols, so I’ll probably be arriving breathless and slightly late, with sand between my toes, and no idea how to play the guitar. So – apart from the sand, business as usual, then!

Saturday 1st September – Dolphin, Oldland Common
It’s been ages since we played here, so much so that I can’t really remember anything about it. Like so much of my life.

Right, that’s your lot for now, I’m off to pack my bucket and spade.

In the meantime, if anybody does want to buy a recently customised, particularly short-wheelbase Renault Kangoo, do get in touch, won’t you….

Square on

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

03-01-2018 – Virus At 2018 O’clock

…And a Happy Noo Year to all our readers!

We hope all had nearly as much fun as we did over the festering season (but not quite as much, obviously, that simply wouldn’t be right).

I’d report back on the gigs we played, but it’s all a bit of a blur really… I do recall that Christmas Eve in the Sandringham in Downend was huge fun, very nice place and a definitely silly crowd – we ended up stretching the second set out to the best part of 2 hours…

Just after Xmas, poor Emma succumbed to a Horrible Throat Lurgy that left her unable to even speak (she even had to send me text messages in mime), which put a couple of gigs in jeopardy. Since we didn’t fancy gigs in Jeopardy (or anywhere else abroad) we were very lucky to have talented daughter Lily step into the breach and cover for us. An absolute lifesaver, and very fortunate that she was both available and in need of the money!

Favourite moment was when, as we finished setting up on New Year’s Eve in the cramped space available, and Ben constructed a wall of cases next to his rig to discourage wayward punters from treading on expensive musical equipment, Lily asks him “Oi – who do you think you are, building walls like that – Donald bloody Trump??” – at which moment she looks up to see a dozen people have walked in, dressed as Mexicans.

Ben beams back at her. “See? – Just in time…”

Remarkably, despite not having sung any of the songs for about seven months, Lily remembered two entire sets’ worth of material perfectly. Which is more than some of us did (naming no names, but it was Stuart. And me. Oh, and Ben.).

Anyways – kicking off the shiny New Year with a couple of shiny gigs close to home, and we’re optimistic that our poor little Emma will be match fit again in time…

Friday 5th January – The Swan, Thornbury
Apparently several of my family members are planning to come along. You have been warned. Don’t wear anything that’s dry-clean only.

Saturday 6th – Cat & Wheel, Bristol
A bit cramped if you’re playing, but mighty good fun if you’re just dancing around on the tables and throwing beer about. Which seems to happen in here quite a lot.

So – thassit for this episode, we’ll doubtless catch up with y’all in the near future, so until then

Square on

PS – I’m finally beginning to get a bit bored with signing off with the same meaningless comment every time – any alternative suggestions are welcome….

03-10-2017 – Ol’ Sparkly Ears

‘Sup dudes? – as we young people say…

Another weekend, another round of gigging silliness… Following a rather successful jaunt with my retro-prog-acid-rock chums the All Night Chemists, playing an afternoon set at a lovely little festival in the Forest Of Dean – a fine “proper festival” event, not a normal person in sight – it was down to central Bristol for a jaunt to the rather less unconventional (i.e. lager-swilling) Molloy’s.

When I stop on the way to pick up Emma, I am moved to ask our silver-larynx-ed heroine why she is wearing a pair of sparkly black cat’s ears on her head. She looks puzzled. “I think the question is”, she replies, “Why aren’t YOU wearing a pair of sparkly black cat’s ears on your head?” I have to concede this is a reasonable point.

We find that Bristol has been substantially torn up to make way for new bus lanes that nobody wants, lots of roads are closed, and so there is a very substantial detour before we can actually get to the venue; when we do, they have put bollards everywhere, making loading in and out even more complicated than before. Not pleased.

However, once in, we are delighted to find some lovely pals in already waiting for us, and a fine evening is had by all; Emma having only occasionally to shepherd hopeless dancing drunks off the stage before we can continue. Rather pleasingly, once we have finished, a lot of people start drifting away, so we’re able to make our way through with all the kit to the door to make good our escape, without all that unpleasant “sitting around trapped having to listen to a DJ” nonsense.

Coming up this weekend – a rather good gig, nice and handy for me, no stairs, easy parking…and no DJ’s. Bliss…

Saturday 7th – The Swan, Thornbury
I always have good fun in here, anyway – plenty of room for prancing about, and as it’s nice and local, there’s a fair chance that one or more of my Polar Bear Cheese Pirate offspring will be along for the ride, and perhaps even a cheeky guest spot. Which will probably knock a sizeable dent in my cut of the takings.

In other news this week I took delivery of my shiny new amp head, back after several weeks at the amp hospital, and now (hopefully) permanently cured of its intermittent mystery illness; and sounding absolutely awesome. I’m rather excited. Now, if only I could play…

Square on

21-08-2017 – Trouserless Combat Vomiting

Ahoy there shipmates!

So nice to be out playing again, I think we can put last weekend firmly into the “damned good fun” box for safe keeping.

Following a pleasing night at the Rolly in Swindon – where sadly we missed our regular local maniac Mad Freddy, but instead were treated to Mad Dancing Andy Warhol, and a definitely enthusiastic crowd – it was on the following night to the Swan in Thornbury for a jolly family knees-up.

Since Dem and Lil were away, it seemed best to bring my two youngest lads along and play a few songs with them, with a combination of Ben & Emma on vocals, plus young Joe making his public vocal debut on one of his favourite Green Day numbers. Whilst playing bass. So, that’s one of my offspring simultaneously doing two things that I can’t do. Evolution in action.

Awesome job they made of things too, and the crowd seemed very pleased with them; I think, in fact, that, in the photo below, you could be looking at the very future of rock’n’roll. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the latest incarnation of the Polar Bear Cheese Pirates From Outer Space!


Thank God they’re all sensible…

Right then – a rather busy weekend coming up – do come and join us if you have the chance…

Friday 25th – Assembly Inn, Bath
We played this one for the first time just a couple of months ago, and already they want us back. We must be doing something right; although possibly it’s just the entertainment value of watching us trying to figure out how to squeeze all the kit into such a small space…

Saturday 26th – Queen Vic, Stroud – 2-4pm
A real last-minute booking this one; a sunny Saturday afternoon at one of our favourite venues. What’s not to like?

Saturday 26th – The Messenger, Swindon, 9pm
Another recent booking, and it’ll be our second gig of the day; checking back, I see lovely daughter Lily played a gig here once; according to my records, there were three bare asses exposed, one fight, one case of accidental concussion and three of being sick on the floor. That was just for a solo acoustic gig. I’m expecting a lively night…

Sunday 27th – Woodlands Edge, Swindon
Back to Swindonsville again, for a Bank Holiday Special – should be another good night, although ideally with a bit less trouserless combat vomiting action.

And that, my dear friends, is that, for another week!

Square on

PS I hereby trademark the phrase “trouserless combat vomiting” for possible future use as an album name.