Sunday, 10 September 2017

The Odd Folk Private Members Club

As fans at Shambala Festival whistled and whooped and waved their hands in appreciation of our latest new additions, I felt a dual sense of achievement and displacement. Theo Black put his old Gibson down and walked off stage becoming the 19th member of the band. He followed Daisy Rickman, private member number 18, into the back stage compound and together they heaved a sigh of relief. Having learnt the entire repertoire in a couple of rushed evenings in a dark cellar, both had performed amazingly. "Who's the new drummer, she's beautiful!" chirped eager fans as I packed away the violin. "and that guitarist, going all Djanjo on the solo's!". 

19 members hey, for a band that's played over half it's it's gigs as a 3 piece, that's a big old revolving door. That's some achievement. And it's telling that for the first three years we used only 6 members and the three that followed saw 13 new additions come through the doors. And that's the part that feel's a little displaced; the core members are becoming harder to pin. We've had 5 different drummers, 3 guitar players, 2 bass players, an all rounder, a mandolin player, a percussionist and a cellist. But who are they I hear you ask?

Well, shall we meet them?

MORGAN VAL BAKER - 144 performances
guitar, violin, mandolin, banjo, trumpet, percussion, vocals
I am indeed the record holder, courtesy of two solo performances on the BBC and a duo gig with the bass player. I founded the band in late 2010 with long-term musical partner Sam Brookes and am largely responsible for the running of the ship. And the sinking of it. 

SHELLEY MACPHAIL - 141 performances
piano, guitar, percussion, ukulele, vocals
It's remarkable that the Piano Player has played as much as he has, considering how many times he's arrived at gigs without his leads. Constantly bailed out by the venue, his father, the postman and various local music outlets. He was invited along right at the band's inception and we've been trying to sack him ever since!

SAM BROOKES - 108 performances
guitar, bass
Founding member, bookkeeper, finance manager and the writer of the only song to win a prize; The first gig that the Guitar Player missed was only last spring, since then he's only played 5 of 31. I guess having a child, buying a house and running a company is largely to blame. His long list of replacements all bring something new, but nobody has come close to replicating those sweet notes.

OSCAR BLOOMFIELD-CROWE - 100 performances
bass, drums, guitar, mandolin, kora, vocals
Well here's a milestone to commend. 100 performances from the first new member we ever drafted in some 4 years ago at the first album launch. What's even more remarkable is that he's only missed 2 gigs since that day! Talk about commitment. He's become so important to us that I couldn't imagine music without him.

ANDY WATSON - 63 performances
drums, percussion
Much has been written about The Drummer since's his debut in late 2013. He traveled all over Europe with us, moved house and changed job even more times than I have, and tried to leave the band twice. But something remains, it's never been a match-made in heaven, and that's why I think it's worked. You can't fault Andy, for professionalism and organisation, and there aren't many more versatile drummer's around.

LOUIS GULLIVER KING - 16 performances
guitar, accordion, banjo, mandolin, trombone, percussion, vocals
16 performances from the honorary member, all of them came in 12 little months. He came in to help the guitar player on the launch of our second album and then ended up replacing him. He's played 7 different instruments, come on two tours and inspired a new dress code. He'll be back.

FRAZER YOUNG - 3 performances
drums, percussion
Rhythmically Frazer was a perfect fit for us on drums, but logistically it was a nightmare. Living 100 miles away with no drum kit and no car was the reason we only managed 3 gigs. 

LUKAS DRINKWATER - 2 performances
bass, vocals
This famous bass dep even has a blog written about him! He's an amazing multi-instrumentalist and the busiest man in folk music!

CATRINA DAVIES - 2 performances
cello, vocals
2 albums and 2 launches from this gorgeous cellist. She's flavoured many of our ditties and I've only pretended to have played her parts a couple of times! Sure to be there for the third album if we ever get round to it.

NICK McLEOD - 1 performance
The first addition of the '1 club', Nick was the first drummer we drafted in and was a big improvement to the percussion being played with my feet. 

DEMELZA VAL BAKER - 1 performance
You've got to get your mum involved, especially when she's played with Bowie, Dylan, Windwood and Oldfield to namedrop a few!

MARTIN JACKSON - 1 performance
1 gig, would have been more but he pulled out and was replaced by Louis Gulliver King. His vocals are however hauntingly immortalised in the first album.

AARON BROOKES - 1 performance
The first of the Guitar Players' cousins that joined up; Aaron gave us finger picking dexterity at a New Year's Eve party in Zennor.

 - 1 performance
Cousin Jamie learnt 16 songs in a day and absolutely smashed the Ale and Anchor Festival.

MIKEY PONDSFORD - 1 performance
One gig, should have been more. Mikey, of Flats and Sharps fame, was penciled in for a at least 4 others but went awol.

CONNIE CROSBY - performance
Probably the most memorable addition, Connie appeared at the second album launch dressed as a ghost and floated through the auditorium while singing.

JACK WATSON - 1 performance
Young Jack Watson (no relation to The Drummer) gave a faultless performance earlier this year so why was he dropped for the next one!?

 - 1 performance
drums, bass, vocals
"We've found your replacement, and she's female!" That sure did make The Drummer squirm. Daisy is fantastic and I really hope we work with her again.

THEO BLACK - 1 performance
guitar, vocals
The latest in the long line of guitar replacements and the final, and very worthy entry into the member's club. 

And there you have it. Excluding the 'core team' that's 14 individuals that have come in, most of them for very little money, and learnt 15 odd songs in a very short amount of time. Some, like Jamie Brookes and Lukas Drinkwater, seasoned pro's with years of experience who can take it in their stride and feel the changes before they happen. Others like Louis Gulliver King afforded time to really hone their contributions, and some like young Jack Watson and Theo Black, just starting out with their music careers, bundled in at the last minute and thrust up on stage in front of expectant crowds. All of them have been a crucial cog in this machine and added their own stamp. It's meant the band has adapted by adding new styles, and instead of writing new songs we just stick new instruments in and it becomes fresh again. And perhaps that's how it'll continue, we'll have a totally different repertoire depending on who replaces who? The Drummer recently suggested that with so many new members, we could actually create The Odd Folk Tribute Band and send them out on the road while we sit back and wait for the money to roll in! Although it wouldn't amount to much, if anything! It would be like the worst royalties ever. If 5 shady people
had been taking a cut of our earnings all this time, we'd be unprosperous indeed, we'd be pinched and scanty and flat broke. And besides, the 'drive' is not the meager money we make, but those sweet stolen moments after Whisky Drunk, when the crowd erupts and we feel on top of the world... No tribute band would be able to bottle that up, and if they tried; the damp, sweaty odours of spilt beer and faded perfume would be scant reward. 

So let's raise our glasses to The Private Members Club, to each and every one of you; thank you for your time and your creativity, and we hope you gain from this as much as we do. Bon chance!


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