Friday, July 25, 2014


To Coggeshall, where the annual cricket and beer festival demands to be entertained on its traditional Thursday droop as the good folk of Essex recover from the Wednesday quiz and look forward to the Friday night live band. La Mulley has assembled a crack squad of top-flight session musicians (or Myself, Mr Wendell and Ant Ragged) by the simple expedient of opening up her address book and texting the first three random names her dialling finger falls upon, and after some earnest discussion and cross-functional market analysis we have assembled a lovingly curated set of numbers based on our shared musical chronology and (crucially) things with not so many chords to remember.
Rehearsals have been entertained – at one, held in The Snug at The Blue House, The-Artist-Formerly-Known-as-Our-Glorious-Leader (having been ejected from his office for the evening) thoughtfully sends a capitalised document of encouragement to the printer – and we are reasonably sure that our mix of jaunty self-penned fauxgrass and re-imagined pop hits will, if not cement, then certainly temporarily gaffa tape our position in the acoustic pop pantheon.

No little proportion of our practise time has been given over to set pacing, vocal arrangements, capo placing and relative dimensions in time and keys however much of it, admittedly, devoted to discussing the post-fame rehabilitation of the PG Tips chimps (upon hearing that one of the leads is now forty two Ant enquires solicitously if she is “…still hot” and “…has had any work done?”), upon which fonts are acceptable in a post-glyph desktop design landscape, and whether it is ever appropriate for a gentleman to sport Speedos in a family leisure pool. My inherent uncertainty regarding the difference between a font and a typeface remains unexpressed in such blistering company, however I'm pretty certain on my position regarding budgie smugglers. At one point this is our considered nom-de-musé, however upon hearing the howling response to Mr Wendell’s haunting melodica playing we are inspired to settle upon an alternate moniker for the collective. We are The Neighbourhood Dogs.
Taking the stage at nigh-on ten o’clock after a day’s cricket and its attendant refreshment possibilities may be seen as a challenge to some, especially having to follow a rousing marquee-wide singalong of The House of The Rising Sun from the prior turn but the team rise admirably to the challenge with only passing reference to various bits of paper scattered at our feet – Mr Wendell wisely sits for most of the set to make it less obvious that he is squinting at chord sequences, ascending majestically to his feet in time for his flawless rive gauche melodica recital. La Mulley emotes in her signature style (and wedges), Ant slips between double bass, vocal harmonies and heroic levels of Yakima Gold consumption and even former SftBH banjo-slinger Turny Winn chips in with a couple of prime examples of our banjo-as-fried-egg analogy (in that if you pop one sunny side up on top of almost any foodstuff it almost always improves the dish - thus it is invariably so with the banjo in popular song).

We encore with an unscheduled three chord thrash through North of Nowhere, which leads to an impromptu Breaux & Wood-esque routine being performed before us to the delight of the assembled Sunnydonians. “Thanks to the umbrella lady!” cries Mr Wendell at the conclusion of the set. A voice from the audience responds witheringly “It’s a parasol. You dick”.    


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