Monday, February 13, 2006

A call comes to a rehearsal – a rare enough occurrence in the natural scheme of things, this get together been prompted by our forthcoming return to Spalding. Some years ago, when The Singer and The Other Guitarist were scouting around for ideas to fill their time with, they came up with the idea of forming a Beatles tribute band. The Other Guitarist was a bass player then, and blessed with not only left-handedness and a great voice for harmonies but with the Beatles Anthology for Easy Guitar, and so it all seemed to make sense if we got together and hung out at weekends, played some great music and earned a bit of beer money in the process. The vituperative letters to the local paper accusing us of stifling the local original music scene, the slightly obsessed stalkers, our local MP’s wedding reception, and the original member of The Quarrymen who shook us all by the hand after a gig and warmly congratulated us on our performance were all, benignly unsuspected, in our future.
One of our first champions was a local landlord called Paul, who with his partner CJ, had been hauled in to straighten out one of the, ahem, more characterful local pubs and was booking bands in on weekends to at least provide a soundtrack to the regular fights that inevitably broke out after the combination of several pints of two-star lager and the wrong look at the bar. At least one rolling and tumbling couple of ruffians pitched up in front of the stage just as we were about to break into ‘Love Me Do’ only to retreat in astonishment and to Paul’s delighted laughter, and so when he got offered a pub Oop North (anywhere further up the A14 than Peterborough is ‘Oop North’ to us lot) one of the first bands he contacted to follow him up the road was us. We duly took time off the day jobs and made our way across the flat and breezy fens, not really knowing what to expect once we reached our destination. As it turned out, what we should have been expecting was a run of four gigs in five days - one of which was an off-the-cuff acoustic show in the pub next door which I think climaxed in a stirring run through ‘Wish You Were Here’ if I recall correctly (which is unlikely), but certainly ended in the presentation of one of the art prints off the wall to The Drummer, a stern admonishment that if we were caught eating or drinking in any other establishment in town then we’d be barred immediately from his gaff (all food and drink at his was, naturally, gratis for the duration) and a barman dedicated at all times to ensuring that none of us, on pain of his dismissal, had an empty glass at any time during our stay. We took to it like naturals – this Lincolnshire flower town was our Hamburg, The Bass House our Reeperbahn, and dammit, if Spalding’d been good enough for Pink Floyd and Jimi Hendrix in 1967 (the poster was still above the bar) it was darned well good enough for us.
There have been many more returns over the years - for parties, barbecues, festivals, fundraisers and weddings (one of which was Paul and CJ’s) and throughout all of them our host and hostess have been unfailingly warm, generous, and usually at least very slightly drunk. But over time we grew out of The Beatles (or at least the drudgery that goes with being in a Beatles Specialist band), the visits became less frequent, we got in touch more by phone than in person and finally the new band swept the decks and cleared the air with a “No Beatles” rule which finally cut the cord with our previous incarnation. The polo-necks were tucked away at the back of the wardrobe, the Chelsea boots put out to grass. And now we’re going back. Not for a wedding, or an engagement, or even a fortieth birthday party, but for a wake. We weren’t expecting that one. Sleep well CJ; at least this time we’ll have rehearsed for you.

No comments: