Saturday, August 26, 2006

"The call came through at three fifty nine and by four you were on your way....."

I'm at work, and the inbox message flashes up on the screen with incoming. It's not Stalker Bertie (recently redubbed Bertie McFly) or Ophelia, two of my more my regular correspondents, it is The Singer. The Drummer is unwell and it looks like we will have to either cancel tonight's gig at The Pickerel or (and this where I feel my enthusiasm drifting rapidly away) "Let's do it country". Let's face it, it's friday night, it's raining, Ipswich Town are on the telly and we have no drummer - how much fun could this be? Really? He says that The Other Guitarist is going to call in on The Drummer for a late fitness test and then call the pub and will text me later. I reply and sign off to The Singer's email "fingers crossed". I imagine that we have different reasons for hope, after all, I've been invited out for dinner.
As it turns out, the gig is on. I pack the electrical guitar just in case we need a bit of extra oomph and slip a CD into the car stereo for the journey. It is the (originally a) tape that The Singer and The Other Guitarist made some twenty or so years ago of acoustic whimsy and leftovers from their other bands that at the time simply begged to be put down for future generations to enjoy. They called the band Picturehouse. There was no MySpace back then, and everyone we knew was in a band with oft-copied cassettes and hastily zeroxed fanzines as the only way to spread the word. The music is brilliant, all twelve strings and echoey piano and drum machines and naively double-tracked vocals, and I hear 'Stringman' as I pull up into the pub carpark and (in the words of Jackson Browne) I remember why we came.
We get kudos in the first place for turning up at all, but then we are faced with the issues of what to actually play. Luckily the frontline boys have a few numbers up their sleeves with which to calm the beast which is a Stowmarket pub audience and luckily The Bass Player is a master of improvisation and can provide some low notes. Oddly, they take to us and our never-say-die spirit (of actually turning up) with enormous enthusiasm. The Picturehouse Small Band renditions of singalongs like Lazy Sunday and California Dreaming bring forth glass-clicking approvals and lusty audience chorus joininginery. By the time we have exhausted our enforcedly limited repertoire the audience are bellowing at us not to leave. But leave we must. The Bass Player and I have shared the remaining SM58 like proto Paul and Georges, he has played guitar, I have played bass, we've both tried our best to fill in for The Drummer's inimitable harmonies and a very pretty girl leaps upon him after the gig saying she loves bass players - they're the best and coolest, ever. The Other Guitarist reflects sadly that chicks never fancied the bass player in his day, that's why he swapped.
Back home, I put on the Picturehouse CD again. And again.

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