Thursday, November 03, 2016
Thirty Eight Things to Go Wrong.
So, our final rehearsal before next week’s expedition to darkest Colchester is completed. You couldn’t really call it a dress rehearsal since when performing on stage Turny often puts on a skinny tie that makes him look like a member of a late seventies post-punk power pop combo – how you always picture Ric Ocasek out of The Cars during their Just What I Needed pomp, say. Mr. Wendell has taken to wearing a polka dot shirt which lends him the slightly whimsical air of a Robyn Hitchcock, and Helen had taken to sporting a pair of spray-on leggings covered on Shakespeare quotations until she noticed that the ‘Ham’ from ‘Hamlet’ was emblazoned perfectly on her upper thigh. I myself usually pick out the cleanest checked shirt in the wardrobe, which is frequently the one I wore at the last gig, so carbon-dating the age of any band I’ve been in through the medium stage wear has become an increasingly knotty issue over the past two decades*.We ran through everything a couple of times, just to bed in new yet enduring bassist Gibbon, whose arrival in our midst has been necessitated firstly by the departure of original stand-up guy Ant and then also of his replacement, Producer Andy, whose lucrative side line in playing bass for Purple Rain – A Tribute to Prince means that since the recent surge of interest in the work of one of Minneapolis’ favourite sons he gets to fly by private plane into tax havens to perform the music of the Stack-Heeled Sex Impness of Funk rather than the slightly more staid East Angliacana’n fare we cater for, with, and to**. Also along for the ride is SftBH alumnus Fiddly, in whose shed we are rehearsing, and whose pre-match chocolate cake and tea we are fortified with. Not being a self-styled full-time filler of the ranks, Fiddles describes himself as a Three Legged Dog. Their approaches to the run through are both familiar and heartening. Gib wants to know which key to start in and after that pretty much anything can happen, and Fiddly wants to know how many bars we’re going to do at the end, so he knows when to stop. The only thing they really have in common is that they’re both actually called Richard.
We have secured the expertise of a proper sound engineer and their bespoke PA system for the gig itself, mainly because they haven’t received any more better offers since we asked if they’d do it for us a favour***. We have engaged two guest turns (“…a couple of mics please, and a monitor would be great!”) , arranged load-in and sound check times, forwarded details of parking, run off some posters, created events on three separate social media platforms, alerted the press and I have worked out the settings I’m going to use on all three electric guitars, the twelve string, and the bouzouki. I’ve also forwarded a copy of the stage plan and technical specs (although I did lose brownie points on that as it wasn’t formatted to print in landscape). And that’s just for one Tuesday night, low-key run through of some material before we go to record it in a couple of weeks' time. At one place I’m playing shortly they won’t even let your gear in the room unless it’s got an up to date PAT certificate****. Imagine what it’s like then for your local arts centre, folk club, open mic, songwriter’s showcase or blues club promoter who does this every week!We’ll leave a tips jar on the bar for you to show your appreciation.
*If I’m wearing a white shirt with a heart overlaid with an ‘X’ on the breast pocket it’s a photograph of As Is. That was a gift from a grateful record industry on behalf of Duranduran, whose “1988 single “I Don’t Want Your Love” fell swiftly from its debut chart position of #14, despite EMI’s best efforts to promote it through the dispensation of form-flattering wardrobe. Go on – try and remember how the chorus goes. See?
**To be fair, he also plays in the Tony Winn Trio, so it's not all "Twenty minutes, off, helicopter, back to the Warwick Hotel, two birds each."
***i.e. ones that pay, and at least at time of writing.
****You’ve got Google – go and look it up.