Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Who you gonna call?
An interesting diversion in styles for the mighty Songs from The Blue House at The Fox & Hounds Beer Festival in Heacham this week in that we not only employed almost the full range of artistic expertise available to us (we got almost half way down the active in the parish section at but also, controversially, enjoyed a beautiful bright sunny gig day – all the better an occasion to spend two hours in the car on the way to Norfolk, then. Tony “TT” Turrell was my host and navigator, and filling the bucket seats on this expedition were Mr. Gibbon – bass player, James May stunt double and professional Alan Davies lookalike and Turny Winn – banjoista, chartered book-keeper and former child star with the Kelvedon Free Mummers. We enjoyed a pleasant trip up, exchanging tales of what we’d been doing recently (TT’s involved playing prog festivals in the USA with The Reasoning and composing the music for a chocolate commercial, mine a lengthy monologue on the travails of my contracted motor car maintenance facility, principally centred around their work prioritization system and use of the phrase “Hope to see you again soon, Mr. Kirk!”, which took up a large part of the A134) and listening to a random selection from TT’s iPod (Midlake, Genesis, Mr. Fish, Supertramp et al) while consuming a pork pie and some toffees which had handily found their way into his glove box in time for the trip. It’s not exactly Dionysian excess, I know, but once you’ve put two guitars, a small amplification system, an electric piano, a banjo and four musicians into an Audi estate there’s not a lot of room left for tour bus-styled high jinks. Frankly we were lucky to get to the toffees. Thankfully the Sandringham Flower Festival wasn’t until the week after and so we were spared the sort of teeth-clenching gridlock that these sorts of blue riband events can provoke.
Once at Heacham we gratefully decamped and greeted the forward party – Our Glorious Leader James, The Charming and Fragrant Helen Mulley, Fiddly Richard (all the way from Thorndon), and That Nice David Booth, who was to be accompanied on this occasion by his four year old son Finn, here to make his professional debut on additional percussion, for which he received both a round of applause from our appreciative Sunday afternoon crowd and an ice cream from the kiosk on the beach nearby from his Dad. Stick with us, Finn, we'll take you places...
A lengthy two-setter based on a found set list* had the capacity to incorporate many unreleased gems from the forthcoming Coggeshall Democracy album as well as crowd-pleasers of yore (an early audience request for “…Reaper” was happily acceded to and Mulley took to the tables out front the better to enjoy an extended improvisation on a theme from ‘Not That Kind of Girl’ by TT) and there was both an excursion into new territory for TNDB with the Gods Kitchen song 'North of Nowhere' (“I think I’d like a copy of that before the next gig please”) - which usually only makes an appearance if we’re having a particularly splendid time - and a valiant but ultimately doomed attempt to build a man-high tower of empties side stage over the course of the gig by myself. The catering was, of course, of the usual exemplary standard and we were most pleased after the show when into the car park pulled both Starsky’s Grand Torino (or at least a reasonable facsimile of same) containing Starsky, Hutch and Huggy Bear (idem) and the Ghostbusters’ ECTO-1. I’ll tell you – if the fire station opposite had released the nee-naw at the same time my day would have been pretty much complete.
We further enjoyed a similarly pleasant trip home, delayed only at one point by Mr. Turrell having to pull over to the side of the road due to the incidence of tears of laughter impairing his vision and imperiling us all - this may not have been wholly unconnected to the improvised internal monologue we ascribed to the man glimpsed kicking a dead pigeon around a car park somewhere in Ipswich, to be honest. Again, it’s hardly the Algonquin Round Table but, as we have already noted, this afternoon’s rapier retorts had more in common with Ray Parker than with Dorothy. Sadly, due to TT’s imminent geographical relocation it seems that these SftBH soirees with him will now be rarer than ever and so it was good to be able to bid a fond adieu to his sturdy left hand, an au revoir to his dancing right, with a lovely afternoon in the country. And TT, if someone asks you if you are a god, you say ‘yes!’

ps - If you are reading this on Facebook, the punctuation, parentheses and paragraph spacing is/are much better at

* ie we hadn't got round to writing a fresh one, but luckily there was a suitable palimpset in one of the guitar cases.

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