Wednesday, December 16, 2015

"Don't you know who I used to be..!?"

To an evening soiree with erstwhile employer Tony James Shevlin, who is in the midst of recording some of the songs he wrote whilst on an extensive traversal of the US of States earlier this year. He is extolling the talent of some of the local musicians who are contributing to the project and suggests that I might be able to help him out with a couple of verses of a thing that he’s not quite been able to finish. Since being schooled in the Nashville co-write method during his stay there he has become quite the evangelist for collaboration, and I figure it’d be nice to sit down with a couple of guitars and shoot the breeze for a bit before adding my name to the credits of what will doubtless eventually become the main theme for a major motion picture or a recurring motif in a hugely popular Netflix-produced  detective series.
He outlines the themes he has so far, and a rough metre, and I ask if he has a pen handy. He produces a fine-tipped fountain pen and a vellum-bound notebook from his expensive-looking man satchel and I scribble a few lines down. Without my glasses, and with three pints of delicious Brewers Gold already past the low tide mark, it seems unlikely that any of these will be decipherable in daylight, but when the muse strikes, needs must.
Already this week I have workshopped a new song with The Neighbourhood Dogs and, anxious that it not sound too much like anything else, I wondered whether it bore too much resemblance to an earlier song, called Risk? Turny – formerly banjo player but now tasked in addition with harmonica and melodeon and anything else it turns out he has lying around in his shed – suggests that it’s more like The Drugs Don’t Work pointing out that there are only so many chords and that I shouldn’t worry unnecessarily. I confess that there may have been some Noel Gallagher on the television around the time of the song’s conception. Mr Wendell wonders if we know any string sections and I suggest that we layer the harmonies on the end section like those on Dr. Robert. By the time we have all chipped in, Helen’s flute is taking the hook, replacing the original Pink Floyd-y guitar riff with a call-and-response interplay with the harmonica.

Given that I have been part of such a massive restructuring of what was originally a simple I-I-V-I-V-I-I-8-outro (as Turny’s contemporaneous notes would have it) bit of acoustic strummery I’m feeling pretty confident that I can find enough words that rhyme with the ones he’s already got to complete Shev’s opus and so by this point in the evening I’m feeling fairly expansive in mood, and pretty pleased with my own abilities and my rightful place in the pantheon of Ipswich music personalities.
A gentleman approaches our table and, spotting Shev, breaks into a broad grin of recognition. “Star Club!” he exclaims enthusiastically, naming the Beatles specialist band Mr. Shevlin and I were once one half of. “You were great! Of course, that’s where they used to play – is that where you got the name from?” Shev confirms that this is indeed the case and indicates to his new friend that I, sitting across from him, was also in the band. Our visitor regards me as levelly as his uncertain state can afford and finally I am addressed directly. “Nope” he says “I don’t remember you. At all”.    

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Helen and The Neighbourhood Dogs

"So" we thought, "Rather than have our first full band performance together on a massive stage in Papworth, we should probably try our stuff out in slightly more intimate circumstances first" and so, with the help of Blue House Music's PA, and Karen and Ady at The Dove, we pitched up in Ipswich to run through the set in front of a few of our friends, some interested strangers and some accommodating drinkers. Fortunately our friend Jim Horsfield was on hand with his camera to record events for training purposes. So, here's a new, never-before performed song we did that evening. Hope you like our new direction.