Thursday, 11 June 2015

The week that was.

It's 8.30am and the alarm is angry! Wake up, wake up it shouts. Get in the car and drive 9 hours to Cornwall and then play a gig! What? You've only had 2 hours sleep? That's not my problem! You should manage your time better. Now wake up! I fall out of bed, rub my eyes in disbelief, contemplating the journey ahead. Luckily it's Sunday and the road's will be quiet, but that's the only cushion I can find, the rest looks bleak; grey roads, drizzle, and a day's work of driving ahead. I pull out of North East Norfolk and set sail for South West Cornwall, some 450 miles in the opposite axis in a 30 year old car with 4 gears and a max speed of 60! God knows how I make it. Two little half hour sleep stops, a pint of Lucozade and the window wide open blowing cold drizzle into my face! I pull up, meet the rest of the band who've had a lovely day lolling around in the sun drinking ale, and together we take to the stage and set up for the nights entertainment. Despite having had his instrument with him all day, the piano player only just realises he hasn't got his leads and for a while he's surplus to requirements. We plough on with a soundcheck while he sends his dad skidding off to collect them and just as we're about to open he's back and the piano player's spared his blushes. Some 400 people cram into the marquee at this festival to see us, and it's up there as our biggest crowd and one of the best gigs in a long time. Loading the van after a storming set we become aware of a following of teenage girls loitering nearby, giggling and goading
"Hi, my name's Kayleigh Jane!"
each other. One approaches tentatively and introduces herself as none other than Kayleigh Jane (track 9 on the first album!) "That's your actual name!?" I ask. "Uh huh." comes the timid reply. "Well that's incredible! Where have you been all our life!?"                    "I dunno!" She giggles and slopes off. I turn to the guitar player as he lugs the final amp into the van, "Isn't that amazing Sammy!?" I say
"What's amazing is having screaming young girls throwing their knickers at us!" he winks "We must have made it!"

Well she was hardly throwing her knickers at us, and she was very nice about the whole thing. Her namesake, Kayleigh Jane, is a wild and ruthless temptress who sends the townsfolk mad and ends up getting hung from the gallows. Hardly a nice comparison. She really couldn't have been more different. Maybe she didn't hear the lyrics!

The next morning, I was back at the site and taking the flags down when I noticed the piano player's keyboard had gone. Now I'd deliberately left it behind in the hope that it would get stolen and he'd buy a new one; a smaller one, a lighter one, and one with the variety of sounds that he so requires. Either that or his dad had hauled it into his little hatchback at the expense of his wife while she was left to walk the 12 miles home! I reckon if he was going to persevere with his current keyboard he should put some wheels on it and learn to ride it,
Measuring his keyboard...
get a long stick and use it as a punt as he sails home from gigs. If he perched on the outer rim he could even learn to play it while on the move. There's got to be a buck in that! He could wave goodbye to paintball sales and instead be a mobile busker, earning a hat full of loose change as he rolled down the high street. He might have a problem when it rains though, but there's always a brolly, or a even a small tarp propped up with his keyboard stand and tied down with his leads! There we go, a use for all things. No way to leave anything behind if it's all got a purpose! ;-)

The next few days were quieter, we retreated back into our shells, each to their own; the guitar player busying himself with his new business, the bass player back to production, adding sound effects to the nations favorite shows. The drummer, heaving another sack of flour from his windmill, while the piano player tries to attach his skateboard wheels onto his keyboard in preparation for his long punt to London where we have a weekend of gigs.

I set off at 11am on the Friday, after a good night's sleep and leaving 10 hours for a 5 hour journey, feeling confident I'd managed my time better. Wrong. I sailed into a sea of traffic and despite my best efforts to find alternative roads, all routes were clogged. I arrived in Bristol at 5pm. 4 hours late to meet the band who'd sat around at HQ waiting in the sun. A quick turnaround; we loaded the gear into the van, took our seats and headed straight off without so much as a stretch of legs. The piano player gave me a banana, the only food to I'd eaten since I'd finished my apple and pack of mini-cheddars at midday. Another traffic jam on the M4 meant we were in danger of missing the gig altogether. Where was the piano player's mobile keyboard car, that would swerve through these jams in no time!? He couldn't have fixed the wheels on after all. Shame. The traffic cleared and we made some progress, arriving in London 24 minutes before our gig, just enough time to unpack. It was a dismal affair, under-promoted, under-attended and underpaid, which meant we'd driven 10 hours for a 25 minute gig and no money. True to form!

The next night's gig was the polar opposite; back in The Gladstone Arms under the care of Rory Clare in his well attended music venue, with excellent sound, a bag of money, free ale and a Pieminister Pie with mash and gravy. It's so often the case with us, good gig, bad gig, good gig, bad gig,
a tongue twister of

mismanagement we are. We sunk a few ales outside, swapping tales with friends and fans, the rattle of laughter, the clink of glasses, this is what it was all about. Good times. The bass player sloped up, "just been talking to a promoter from Scotland, said she could organize a tour up there where we'd travel around on a double decker bus that opens up into a stage!" I could feel another film coming on, the 5 of us tackling the wild's of the highlands.

The drummer and I returned the next day to collect the gear, one by one the instruments nuzzled into their positions in the van before we stepped in one last time and bid farewell to Rory. It was lucky we did, as we noticed the piano players lead's slumped in a dark corner of the stage, completely forgotten. He must not have needed the tarp today I thought, must be expecting fine weather! ;-)

I contemplated leaving them there as a lesson, but conceded it would harm us in the long term. And his poor Dad, sent up to London to collect them while we next soundcheck!