Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Importance of being Gibbon

In 1981 my friend Joey and I were in need of a third in order to complete the line up of Joey and The Juggernauts (previously Brute Force and Ignorance) and we called on a friend of ours who was pretty handy with all sorts of things musical. For a start he played the solo on Santana’s Samba Pa Ti with a group, had dabbled with keyboards, was part of the Woodbridge Excelsior Brass Band and thus clearly knew his way around the dots and squiggles (which is more than we did) and so, we reasoned, he was almost certainly able to pick up the rudiments of drumming without too much practise - which of course he managed admirably expediently. His enthusiastic snare rattling through our version of Status Quo’s What You’re Proposing remains an oft-recalled and fond memory for me to this day. That and the boiler suit he habitually wore on stage which gave him the air of a mildly absent roadie who’d wandered in from a Hawkwind gig.
Musical polymath that he is, I’ve pretty much had Gib’s name down first on the team sheet for anything I’ve been involved in subsequently, especially since he’s settled down on the bass guitar as his principal form of expression. Since those halcyon days of denim jackets and the twenty four minute version of Albatross we enjoyed one Christmas he’s also contributed keyboards to The Picturehouse Big Band (see popular musical memoir Do You Do Any Wings for details), harmony vocals to Gods Kitchen and a trombone solo to the first Songs from The Blue House album, for which he also scored a string part on the big closing number.
I’ve really only ever seen him out of his depth on one occasion when, after unrehearsedly stepping in for The Star Club – a Beatles specialist band doing a favour for our mate Paul - our host wandered in to breakfast in the pub the day after the gig and cheerily greeted him with a “Well, you were shit last night, weren’t you?” Generally though, he just needs a key and a count and you can confidently leave him to his own devices.

Having commenced rehearsals for Gods Kitchen’s 22nd Coming** at the end of this month it was enervating to find the usually reliably assured Gib peering at the set list with an air of confusion. “I have absolutely no idea what some of these are” he announced. “To be fair, some of them haven’t actually been aired this century” contributed drummer Stephen Dean*. Nevertheless we agreed that if I started playing the chords it might ignite some spark of recognition and he could join in at his own pace. After nineteen songs, to which he had played along perfectly, added harmony vocals and reminded me of a couple of lyrics mid-lapse, we agreed that we could probably pull this off after all.

On the way home he wondered out loud whether I recalled the title of a song we used to play with Picturehouse and who it was originally by? After a few bars of humming I identified it as The Circle by Ocean Colour Scene. Did he want a copy, I enquired. “Oh Christ no – I thought it was awful. Well, it certainly was when we played it”. He turned on the radio. “Oh fuck me, it’s The Beatles”. He switched it off. We drove on in silence.

* Just back from a holiday in Turkey, where they had marvelled at the light glinting off the river he also had a splendid Radio 4 panel show-worthy quip about the phosphorus on the Bosphorus, but that needn’t detain us now.

** Gods Kitchen, everyman peddlers of bespoke guitar-based confessional beat music since 1992 will be celebrating our twenty-second consecutive year of gigging with a performance at The Grinning Rat, St. Helen’s Street, Ipswich on Sunday the 28th of October.

In line with received medical advice regarding our increasingly fragile hips, lights dimmed will be shortly before nine and carriages should be ordered for just after ten, meaning that everyone has time to have a nice nap after their Sunday dinner, wander down to the show, get home in good time afterwards, relieve the babysitter and still be in bed with a nice warm cocoa by the time Match of the Day 2 comes on. Entrance is free, however any long-time supporters of the band who are thinking of bringing their children should be prepared to provide proof of age (for them).

As well as playing material from the now digitally-available compilation South of Somewhere, the band (consisting of Shane ‘Ted Bidits’ Kirk on guitar and vocals, Stephen ‘Seamus Hussey’ Dean on drums, Richard ‘Gibbon’ Hammond on bass and long-time collaborator Steve ‘Wendell Gee’Constable on guitars) will be performing new, unreleased and never-before performed songs and welcoming some familiar faces on stage to guest with the group over the course of the evening.



No comments: