Friday, October 03, 2014

The 'Road Go On Forever

To The Steamboat for Suffolk Songwriters’ Night, where the great and the good (and occasionally the ghastly) of the Ipswich scene gather to show off their wares, try out some new stuff or, if you’re the informally-monikered Acorn Trio (Shev, La Mulley and Myself), get together over a couple of pints and play that fast thing one more time. Having secured non restriction-infringing parking round the corner we wend our way to the venue, guitar cases in hand like so many of the hopeful, the hapless and (on one occasion) the harpist before us. As we pass along Bath Street I note that the recently landscaped waste ground is where my father used to sit designing parts for the biggest walking dragline in the world (there’s a model of it in the Ipswich Transport Museum – I can point out the bits that he did much in the same way that Slartibartfast would recall the Magrathean fjords) and where I was catapulted headlong into children’s Christmas parties in the staff canteen. It seems so long ago, and far away. The past is a different country. They make things there.
Onstage are the mighty Buffalo Road newly re-enlivened, as so many of us are, by a one-off reunion gig which sparks the old synapses back into action and which leads to at least a partial reformation. Some twenty or so years after the release of their last album they’re back in the studio and back on stage, kicking a grit pail down that dusty ol’ back road one more time. Singer and guitarist Mike appears to have spent the intervening years cryogenically preserved in a Memphis store room. Shev searches for a wisp of a name “Tall guy, hat, skinny jeans…”. “Dwight Yoakham?” I suggest. “That’s him”. I’ve been listening to a lot of Joe Ely recently. It's that sort of ballpark. Upon the introduction of a song from their debut album Ro, my niece, whispers “I wasn’t even born then”.

Taking the stage before an audience containing a good number of his performing arts students Shev observes that “We started this night, sixteen years ago…”*  We run through our allotted three song set to a gratifying reception and remember to observe the unwritten constitution of SSW – pay attention, be polite, no talking during the turns – beforehand and afterwards. Next up is a band featuring one of the aforementioned kids from the college. He is a tall fellow who attacks his bass with the puppyish enthusiasm of a neophyte and reminds me simultaneously of my brother-in-law and of the bass player from Dawes. “He’s all over the place, he can’t wait to get around the neck” comments his mentor approvingly. “So as an exercise I made him play the full version of Papa Was a Rolling Stone. It drove him mad”. He chuckles into his beer. “We should do this again some time”.           

With thanks to Mike for the photo.

*I had to check the date this morning through the power of Google to confirm it. Sixteen years ago we didn’t even have Google.   

1 comment:

John Medd said...

It's the sort of night that passes for typical up here. I do my songs in rapid bursts of three too. And what I lack in skill I make up for in sheer volume. Every now and then I get rewarded when the room sing my chorus back to me. You can't buy those sort of nights; well, actually, you can - they're normally a pound on the door and a plate of sandwiches at half time. I really must make a pilgrimage to Ipswich. I think The Swede lives nearby - two birds, one stone and all that.