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Telecasting

Another gig under our belt, we played a venue called Netherton Conservative Club. With a small audience of about eighty, we played two sets of forty five minutes and one hour. The venue has the smallest stage I have ever played on - we had our mics fully extended and set on the dance floor. The club was well out of town and located in a nice setting, but humping the gear in and out was a pain in the neck because the door was a long way from the car park. We did not get a return booking there and then, which I would have liked to have secured, but I will be phoning back in a day or two as it's two weeks since we played. I must admit that I will not be too bothered if we don't get back there, but I see getting a return booking as part of a successful gig. We went down well, but I made a couple of howling mistakes in that I totally forgot some of the words of one song, and while playing a popular instrumental, I completely forgot where I was supposed to put my fingers. What was nice though, was a friend I haven't seen for a long time came about fifty miles to watch us play, he had seen my ad for the gig on facebook and decided to come over. We were a little rusty because our bass player had been in Australia for his son's wedding and had stayed a month, so we had only had one practice before the gig.   Anyway, we're still finding venues to play, social clubs around Yorkshire in the main. I don't know what the US equivalent of these clubs are, but at one time the club circuit was huge in Britain.   Well, today the main high spot of my rehearsal session with the band was using my Tokai Telecaster. That guitar is just a joy to play. As I am getting used to playing a telecaster, I understand why so many players love them. I am finding that I can use it on more and more numbers that we play, and it just cuts right through the mix and rings like a bell. I love it for playing early rock and roll and it just does the job so well, My friend Dave who plays in another local band, calls them a "Grown ups guitar". i waited a long time to get this instrument and it has been well worth the wait. Sometimes, somethings just work really well, and this guitar is one of those things, On top of that, it is so comfortable to play.   One thing I have decided upon is that for the time being I have enough guitars, and what I really need is another amp I would be comfortable gigging with. For two reasons, the first is that I need a back up if my amp breaks down, and second, I can use humbuckers through it without having to take one guitar out and change all the settings. I am saving my gig money up to pay for it, with the gigs we have booked, I will soon have another amp.   our next gig is in July, hopefully soon I will have some pictures to post of our gigs.   On a different note, I have started to try and lose weight. I am way heavier than I should be and I am sick of it. I do not want to be the fat one in the band and so far I have lost four pounds - it's one small step for mark and one giant leap of hope! I have given myself a year to get to where I want to be. Here's hoping I can stay the course.   To all those kind enough to read my blog, thank you so much, it is much appreciated.  

mark555

mark555

 

Getting out and doing it live

Having put so much work in to the band, we are now playing live and played our first gig with the present line up, which we feel will be permanent. We all get along together and feel we have a common goal with none of us just tagging along.   Our gig was at a nice pub on the outskirts of Huddersfield, called The Wagon and Horses, which is run by a young couple who seem to be doing a good job of it. With it being what we call in England a "Bank Holiday Weekend" it could have gone either way as to if any one came or not. But without the place being too full, a good crowd of local people of all ages were in.   We went on and started our first set at 9:10pm and played for an hour, we opened our set with "Down At The Doctors" by Doctor Feelgood. At 11pm we played our second set and finished bang on 12 midnight. Our set list is composed of a mixture of rock and roll, 60's music, a couple of blues numbers and basic Rhythm and Blues. Lead guitar parts were shared equally between myself and Dave.   I am really pleased to be able to tell you that we were really well received by the audience who applauded us after each song we played, and towards the end of the night were singing along with us and some were dancing. When we were packing up the gear, Lauren, co owner of the pub, came across to us with her diary and gave us two more bookings at £250 each for later in the year. That sum may not seem a lot, but it is good for the local pub scene. We have a booking for £300 in August. Sadly, over here in the UK band earnings have been the same for fifteen years or so now.   What was really great was the fact that my 28 year old son George is visiting us and he and his friend came to watch and they really enjoyed us, there's something special about your son coming to see you play and having him tell you he thought you were great!   One of the signs of being well received by your audience, as you will know, is that some of the audience will want to come and talk to you. A couple of older guys in their 70's wanted to come and and chat with us, because I was fronting the band I seemed to be their band member of choice! I considered it a compliment, although one old chap wouldn't let me get away and I was desperate to pack up and get home to bed! I finally got home at 1.30am.   For the gig I used my strat, which has a Seymour Duncan JB Junior in the bridge slot, and also my Tokai Telecaster. I was so thrilled how well the Tokai performed and I can understand why so many players love their Telecasters. I used my Hot Rod DeLux amp and a pedal board which contained a pedal tuner, a reverb pedal, compressor, and an overdrive pedal. I found using the pedals an excellent way of controlling volume and effects without having to constantly turn to alter the amp. Dave, our other guitar player mainly used one of his three PRS guitars, a swamp ash special, and also a Les Paul. He uses a Marshall amp. Shaun used his 37 year old fender Precision and also his Precision bass which he built himself - a bass version of a partscaster. The one in the photo I am attaching is the partscaster precision. He plays through a Fender Bass amp with a 4 x 10 cab.   It's been quite the journey to get to this point but the end result has been well worth it. Thanks for reading.  

mark555

mark555

 

Taking bookings

I feel like we have crossed a really important bridge now, and that things are not going to be so difficult. We are now a band that is taking bookings and the fees are pretty good for a band of our ilk. More of that later. We are now a steady line up with committed musicians in the line up. It's been an up and down journey, losing two band members along the way. However, Shaun and I were determined it was not going to finish after all that hard work.   We now have 33 numbers that we can go out and gig with, all we are doing now is polishing them up and getting them right, we are 85% there and the next four rehearsals will get us to where we want to be. I have plenty of practicing at home to do, but I can do that.   I spent all Thursday night on the phone trying to contact the people who book bands for their venue, I got a good booking for a venue in Sheffield for August 22nd. One booking as a result of an evenings work on the phone, but out of all the places I called I actually only managed to speak to one guy and he booked us. A big working mans club in the city of Sheffield, £300 for the night and hopefully some return gigs. We have another booking for 27th of this month, at £225 at a pub in Huddersfield. The rest of the band were very happy about my work, but I reminded them that if they want to help by doing the same themselves it would be very much appreiciated, but I am not confident the others will do it.   I love having a Telecaster. OK, it's not a Fender, but it is as good as most of the fender Tele's I have played. It's great for Stones songs, Honky Tonk Woman and it's all over now sound terrific, the clarity is spot on. I can understand why Telecasters are the favourite guitar of many players, I must admit that right now, although I use it on only a few of our numbers, my Tele is my favourite guitar and not just because it is new.   Anyway, The rehearsals are great now, we just go through the songs and go from one to another, where as it was taking some time to get some of them down. We have four rehearsals until our first paid gig as our current line up.   One thing that has struck me, Shaun and I started out last year with just he and I, auditioning players to join us. We had previously had a band that just would not work. We got a new guitar player and lost him, a great drummer and lost him. The end result was two new band members who have brought a better level of commitment and are easier to play with. Allen, our new drummer, was in the line up we had when it wouldn't work, and now there are three of us from that line up and it's working great. The difference being the lack of a weak link. And the difference that makes is huge.   Thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

Things are looking up!

After the abismal session we had last week without a drummer, things are looking up.   During the week I decided to call a friend, Allen, who Shaun and I have played with before in a band we just could not get up and running. By good fortune for us, it turned out that Allen has not been playing any gigs since last summer and was fed up with his current band's lack of enthusiasm for going out and playing.As we had always got along together and had made a point of trying to stay in touch, and we arranged for him to come and play with us today.   All four of us were very pleased how the rehearsal went and we had one of the best practices we've had in along time. I really like Terry, out old drummer, he's a terrific guy who I hope to stay in touch with, but the difference in having a drummer who us really up for it from one who had lost interest makes a huge difference and we just played song after song, with playing a few once or twice again just to get right. Even though we are all at a decent level, we still had to get used to playing with a new drummer and he with us. that was soon sorted out though.   We had a great rehearsal and next week we are practicing on Friday night because my little Granddaughter is coming for the afternoon and I'm not missing that for any one!   Thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

it never rains....

Trying to get a band up and running is full of twists and turns that you just don't expect to find.   having completed a set list of over thirty numbers we are now ready to polish them to performance level and we have gigs booked. Then, this week, we all get an e mail from Terry our drummer saying he is quitting. He told me that he is not going to join any other band, but he wants to do other things. He and his brother have bought a narrow boat and want to go off on it at weekends with their wives and just enjoy themselves. Also, he has lost enthusiasm for drumming and looking back this has shown because he hasn't learned new songs he needed to and it was worrying me just enough to make me wonder why he wasn't making the effort. Terry is truly a nice guy and a gentleman, and he told me that as far as a bunch of guys go, we are terrific to be around and good musicians to play alongside. We shall remain friends, and after all, if his heart is not in it, we might as well look elsewhere.   Never being one to let the grass grow under my feet, I have contacted Allen, a guy who I get on with very well who has been in a band with me before that didn't get off the ground, It turns out that his band is doing nothing and he was pleased to hear from me, we always got along very well and stayed friends. The upshot is that he is coming to play with us next saturday with the intention of joining us if it goes well, and there is no reason why it shouldn't.   We still had a band practice this weekend, if for no other reason than to keep the discipline of practicing going. However, it was a bit of a waste of time because it was playing with a huge hole in the sound which just killed our enthusiasm. However, we did use some of the time to mess around with one or two new ideas.   Now on to things that really matter. Tomorrow is the funeral of our dear and very close friend Peter. Helen and I have been friends with him and his wife Sue since our kids were babies, and all our kids are the best of friends. Sue and Peter are more like family to us than some of our blood family and tomorrow will be a tough day for them, so we have to help them get through it. The next couple of years will be tough for Sue, in a house on her own, she and Pete were one of the most together couples I have ever seen, you didn't find one without the other. Guitars and bands are great, but it's people who really matter.

mark555

mark555

 

the set list is complete

What with all the stuff going on about the HOC site being down, I haven't been able to post for a while, but I'm glad we're all finding our way back home and I am glad I can write my blog again.   Well, lots has been going on since I last wrote a chapter in the progress of Rout 62, my band. The band's name is a bit of a play on Rout 66, and is toungue in cheek because two of us live in Huddersfield, Yorkshire, and the two big motorways that pass our town are the M1 which runs North from London and the M62 which runs East to West from Hull to Liverpool and is the busiest motorway in the country.   Our rehearsals over the last six weeks have been hit and miss because of Christmas and sickness, particularly with myself and Terry, our drummer. So we got back to it yesterday and although it was time well spent, we were out of it with one or two. However, we have now completed our initial set list by adding three more songs to it which we quick and simple to learn, they are Please Please me, Big Boss Man and Got My Mojo Workin'. So now we are just going to polish them all up. We have our first gig lined up at a pub called The Wagon and Horses about fourteen miles from where I live, it's a nice pub, no sawdust on the floor and no spitoons in the corners!   We're getting a data base together of venues who are booking bands, all I am doing is looking at the websites of other bands in our situation and seeing where they are playing, and phoning the venue up. Gigs are getting fewer these days as venues are closing rather than opening up, or even some cases just staying open. We will be hopefully playing at venues round the Yorkshire area, which is quite a big place. If there are some gigs to be had in east Lancashire we will take those also, but you would have to know the geography of England to know why we would or would not play a town. One thing is for sure, I am not going to spend all my earnings for the night on petrol just to get there and back.   Earlier this week, I finally found the right Telecaster for me. I had found a couple of really nice American ones, but at £1300 they were more than I could really justify spending. I have been trying all sorts of variations of the Telecaster theme, Mexican Tele's, Japanese Tele's, all of them. While looking on the net to see what was for sale I looked on a particular website of a shop I have never been to which is about 30 miles from where I live so I decided to visit them. Any one who reads my posts will know I am a big fan of Japanese Tokai guitars, and the store I went to had three. These guitars are getting harder to find in the UK because Fender and Gibson are telling UK stockists that if they sell Tokai, they will take the Fender and Gibson franchises from them. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I now own a Japanese built Tokai Breezysound, which is their name for a telecaster. This guitar is the equal of the American Telecasters I have played at a much reduced cost to me. It came in a tweed case and I used it at rehearsal on Saturday. It was superb for most of the songs we played and was just so versatile. I really have got a great guitar and I can see why every serious player wants a Telecaster. As one of my mates says, it's a grown ups guitar. You can see it in my post entitled NGD on the boards.   The band has gelled so well as four individuals, Dave, our other guitar player has brought a superb PA with him and we have all the gear we need now to put on a good gig, the rest is up to us to manage that gear well to produce the sound we need that will be good for the audiences we play to.   Thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

New Years eve 2014

Well,nice to be back where I started from.Hope you all had a great New Year's Eve. I was playing bass with a Rock a Billy band.It was one of those gigs where the young 'uns are telling me how the songs they are about to perform go,I was thinking 'No they don't ',but I was all ears,because I have to know how THEY do the songs I have been listening to for over 50 years. All went well.We were playing a venue that I've played on & off for over 50 years.It's about to close & become yet another supermarket.Another gig vanishes into the mist of time.I left the gig limping.I'd been paid,and sat on my wallet ! NYE.always a good paying gig .

peteraltongreen

peteraltongreen

 

It's only rock and roll but I like it....

Back to rehearsing after a couple of weeks break due to starting a new job and also having had a very bad case of bronchitis.   I wasn't really 100% fit for practice today because my chest was still weak, and I do a lot of the singing, but others are committed to the band and you have to keep this in mind. We now have 25 numbers in the set list and we are now starting to go through them one at a time, sharpening them up. There's nothing difficult about any of them for a half way decent player, as The Stones Sang, "It's only rock and roll, but I like it". As long as our audience like it, that's all we're bothered about.   "Old Dave", who wasn't old in years but was our last guitar player, is long gone now and "new Dave" is making his mark on the band. He is fitting in really well and brings qualities that we appreciate. He has a lot of experience in playing and is great at rehearsals in that he is always ready to get on with it and has a positive outlook, he is also good at making sure we are not in the "we're a rehearsal band" frame of mind and is always reminding us to get ready for gigs. New numbers are being added very quickly now and by February we will e gigging. We have one more practice before Christmas and then one between Christmas and new year when we're not working, although New Dave is retired.   What's nice about this band is that we are all getting along really well and we're also playing the music we like, and we all bring a decent level of talent. But talent is not always about how good you are on your particular instrument of choice when it comes to a band environment, I personally believe that it's about everything encompassing the band.   I enjoyed JeffB's post on the Family Tree about how not being in a band has improved his life, and right from the start I have said I do not want this to rule my life. I do not want to get to the point where I am booked out months in advance playing when I don't want to. Something to bear in mind.   Meanwhile, I am going to try and attach a few pictures I took at rehearsal yesterday, but none of me..... Thanks for reading and best wishes, Mark.  

mark555

mark555

 

a different practice

Normally we practice as a full four piece, but today was a little different in that Terry, our drummer called me today full of flu and not only that, his home was bugled on Thursday night while he and his wife slept in their beds. In truth, he just needed some time to unwind and rest. So, undaunted, Dave, Shaun and I decided to practice and just kick some songs about that Dave did in his last band and just concentrate on guitar and bass parts.   It was actually time well spent, and we didn't have to play as loud as we normally would. On top of that, Shaun and I got a nice surprise, Dave turned up with a full PA and a brand new mixer, saving us a lot of money. Now what I can't understand is why singers do not want to spend money on anything but a mic, yet here we have a guitar player who has spent money on some nice PA. Mind you, he was earning in his last band for eighteen years.   So today we kicked the following numbers about to see if we want to progress them to completion. Won't get fooled again
Substitute
The last time
Keep on Running
I think we will get them all to gigging standard, but I turned my nose up at Born to be wild, but it was pointed out to me that Bikers like it. I don't know about that one, it seems a bit cheesy to me.   On topic that came up is when do we start looking for gigs. I have always wanted everything right before I even think about looking for gigs but I am being pushed in this situation to start looking before I think I am ready to look. I have to remember that I am one of four band members, but I am sure Shaun will come down on my side because he saw what happened when one previous band members pushed us to play before we were ready. When I gig I want the people watching to be impressed and enjoy what we do.

mark555

mark555

 

Good bye old Dave, welcome new Dave...

For those of you kind enough to read my last blog entry you will recall that we had lost our other guitar player to another band, and that had come at a bad time, as we were all about ready to gig, just working on a final few song ideas to get up to the magic number of thirty songs in the set list. So, we have had to look hard and find another guitar player good enough to fit in. I had placed several ad's on websites and was getting little response when a guy from Doncaster (about fifteen miles from where we practice) replied. So, we had a chat on the phone and arranged to get together for a session. That was this afternoon.   We were very pleased when that he was happy to turn up so quickly and we had sent him our set list during the week. It's always a good sign when the guy you are auditioning actually prepares for the audition and has taken it seriously. He turned up with a PRS Swamp Ash Special with a trem and what looked like mini humbuckers without covers. The guitar certainly sounded very nice. Anyway, after an hour we had a break and offered him the gig. He was very pleased to be invited to join and accepted right away. He had brought his wife with him who was a very nice lady, and she enjoyed what we did. We immediately went back to playing with a serious look at the set list and started to play and gel together as a unit. The sound was as tight as you can expect for a first time get together, and a few of the songs we played sounded as though we had rehearsed them for a few weeks. So, next Saturday rehearsals start as a new line up in earnest.   It is often the case that something you initially think is bad news (in this case our previous guitarist letting us down and leaving) can turn out to be a blessing in disguise given time. Dave, our new player is less highly strung and his choice of songs is more in keeping with the rest of us and I think, that given a few rehearsals, we will have a better band and will progress faster.   Terry, our drummer, actually went to see our old guitarists new band and said that although they seemed to have a good following, they were very unprofessional in their attitude, going on stage half an hour late, letting their "followers" come on stage and mess with their guitars etc when the band should have been on, and their language on stage was very bad and their attitude was poor. Dave, (the old guitarist) told Terry that he had gone for the money, but they had not told him if he was in or not even though he was gigging with them that night. they have since lost their drummer. So the grass is not always greener on the other side.   Last night Shaun (bass player) and I went to see Wishbone Ash as they were in town. They were nothing less than Superb! Afterwards they did a meet and greet and were very nice to talk to. We got some stuff signed by Andy Powell and the rest of the band, for me the three high spots of the night were Blowin' Free, Jailbait and Pheonix, all three were fantastic. HOWEVER.... The support band had come to the back of the theatre where we were and were making a lot of noise with some people who had come to see them and this was while WA were playing Pheonix. Now, if you're not a Wishbone Ash fan, you have to understand that this is an epic number that just builds and builds, and the noise this band were making as they talked loudly with their friends was just too much, so I walked over to them and told them that they were spoiling the night for all the WA fans, and that we had come to see Wishbone Ash and not them. They didn't like it, but they needed telling. The trouble was that they didn't shut up, but several people said "well done" to me afterwards. Their conduct was certainly unprofessional, let alone rude and inconsiderate. But I also thought it was very disrespectful to Wishbone Ash who are always very considerate of their fans. When I spoke to Andy Powell about it he was very disappointed about that. But it just goes to show that professional courtessy is a must, and if you are going to play live in any given situation, a professional attitude is required at all times.   Thanks for reading, Mark.

mark555

mark555

 

Just when you thought it was safe to go in the water...

Life is full of surprises, and I love a book or a film with a twist in the tale. However, I don't always appreciate real life's twists.   Believing that all was well and that things really were heading in the right direction, I was ten minutes away from home on Wednesday evening when my phone rang in the car. As it is blue tooth and hands free, I could speak with no problems. Very unusually, it was Dave, our other guitar player. This was unusual because friendly fellow though he is, he never calls any of us between practices, so I was wondering why he called - the answer was soon to become very clear.   "There's no easy way of saying this, so I'll cut right to the chase - I'm leaving the band"   It turns out, so he said, that (to use his words) he had been head hunted by another band who were playing lots of gigs and earning a lot of money and he couldn't turn it down. So, all I could say was good luck and I'll see you as and when. And, that was it, just like that we lost a key member of the band - on saying that, I value each one of the other band members as key people. I knew I could not change things, so there was no point in falling out. I was not upset, but was extremely disappointed because of the extent of hard work we had put in, and also because of how we had accommodated Dave and some of his music choices. He knew we were so close to getting gigs. But what can you do? There's no point in getting upset, the upside will be that who ever joins us will have to go with the flow of what the three of us want.   So, what can you do? The three of us who remain are getting together this coming week to decide how we move forward, I have looked at the set list and was pleased to see that I can handle 75% of the lead playing, but it does mean taking out a couple of really good songs that Dave played lead on, he being slightly a better player than myself, but we will replace them with other numbers. I don't want to carry on as a three piece either, another guitar player is a must.   But the glass is always half full, we are much further down the road than we were when we first held auditions and Shaun (bass) , Terry (drums) and myself are all happy and very comfortable with each other and our style of playing, so intigrating a half decent player won't be very hard. We have put some ad's out on the net and we have had three guys enquire so far. I had a good chat with a really nice Indian guy today who go's by the fantastic name of Kishore Budha - Fabulous or what?? Anyway, I care not about where a guy comes from, as long as he is a really decent guy and he fits well in the band. So a first audition will be held soon, but we want to get a few so we can see who is available to us.   Meanwhile I think we are going to have a couple of practices as a trio and see what happens.   Once again, many thanks for reading and the kind comments you leave.

mark555

mark555

 

it's going well....

After a few weeks of not making an entry into my blog I am back to keeping those kind enough to read it up to speed on where we are at and the life and times of a would be semi pro player here in Northern England.   Life in the band has been interesting, my Fender Hot Rod deluxe had valve issues and was horrendously noisy. It turned out it was a pre amp valve. This particular amp has three of those so I decided that as one of them was on the way out and causing so much trouble, I might as well get them all replaced. The guitar tech who worked on my guitars recently had recommended an engineer only a couple of miles away from where I live in the next village, so that was excellent in that there was no distance to travel, and on top of that the guy was very honest and very reasonable in his costs. I had used our other guitarists old amp, a Peavy Valve King for one rehearsal. It was as noisy as my fender before it was repaired. I think it also needs to go to the engineer.   Anyway, we have moved our practice time from Saturday afternoons to Thursday evenings. Mainly because Dave, our other guitar player has met the woman of his dreams and moved in with her and wants to have weekends free for now. It's fine with me because it frees my time up on a weekend to do some jobs round the house that are in need of completion.   We are almost at the point now of having enough numbers ready to play a gig with. We are aiming for thirty. It has taken quite a while on this journey to get here, but we have all put our families first and there have been times when we have all had to cancel rehearsal for various reasons. Another thing is that we have discussed what sort of songs to we rehearse: a) easy ones that we can get six of down in two weeks, or do we: do some that will be more challenging but perhaps give us a much better set. We have gone for the latter, the most recent one being Pink Floyd's Comfortably Numb. I have never been a big pink Floyd fan, but I have to say that this is a stellar song and credit to Dave for nailing the two guitar solo's in it.   We are also finding that the midweek practice makes us focus more, as we don't have a full afternoon to go at.   One thing that is happening now is that plenty of people are wanting to know when we are going to play so they can come and see us, which is a good sign for us. Of course, in the back of my mind I am thinking "are we going to be good enough"? Yet I know for a fact we can play some knock out songs in our own style. I Keep telling myself that we are not going to be playing to people who are saying "Go on then, impress me". The people I want to play for are just your everyday people who want to hear live music, may be they might want to dance a bit. I think we all have to remember that this thing we love, the guitar, if we choose to get up and play live gigs, that the we are paid to entertain people. I really hope that the songs we have thus far chosen will do exactly that for the cross section of people that we get in our British pubs that put bands on. When our set list is complete I will post it here.   So, there we are, five more numbers and our set list has enough for a gig, then all we have to do is rehearse it until it is sharp enough to play for money!   Thanks for reading and best to all.            

mark555

mark555

 

Pointy bit gets easier and then pointier

One guitar that has been a sticking point for me ever since I started this thing has been a 93 US Am Std strat. I got it on Jan 18 1994. Birthday present. It has been the heaviest gigged out of all of my guitars and is on its third? (I think) re fret. Its put in a lot of miles all over our big state. It was stolen and recovered and also lost at an airport and recovered 3months later. I call it a boomerang. It comes back. After it was stolen a friend and well respected luthier here took it, re fretted and refinished the neck to a lovely and natural vintage amber. When he presented it to me I was over the moon. It looked as sensational as a midnight wine/burgundy and maple strat was ever going to look. (Im not a fan of the midnight wine colour). Unfortunately, it played and felt like crap and I hated it. I actually resented it but couldnt sell it because of emotional attachment. Its been on the block to sell as well as two other guitars that have emotional content attached to them. Before it was taken away to be refinished the neck on this strat was gray. I had peeled the finish off after a tour we did one summer up the top and through the middle of our state. Our state is a desert. Its hot. Paint peels. The neck felt great unfinished and I played it unfinished for over a decade. It was not pretty. It was a dirty grey mess from just behind the nut up to the 22nd fret. But it was the guitar I could not put down. I would go looking for another strat to buy but always walked away thinking mine was better or more suited to my less refined playing style. The refinish killed the guitar for me. The guitar didnt feel right and I couldnt play it the same way. So after a while I didnt play it at all. In fact it has sat unstrung and with out even a pickguard and wiring in it for about two years Last night I fixed it. It had to be done to give that guitar a chance at staying with me. It was a quandary for me to work through. To give it a chance to stay I had to make it less attractive to potential buyers should it fail at the chance it was given. I removed the nitro finish on the fretboard and on the back of the neck. I could tell early on during the process that in terms of playability it was going to be beneficial. By the time I had removed all the finish I needed to but not yet put the strings on I knew that I had uncovered something very cool. After a restring and a few hours of playing the guitar is unquestionably staying. Everything I remember loving about this guitar is back. Its alive. It vibrates and resonates strongly when technique isnt hindered. Its a very direct strat, it makes you play in a physical way and I love that quality. What this means is that I now have four strats that I want to keep. It also means that my H150 is coming up for review in much the same way this strat did but more quickly than I had anticipated. Out of the remaining guitars I have the H150 was gigged the least(with the exception of a recent purchase). It has not pulled its weight(considerable) and put food on the table or fuel in the car. It is the most attractive however and has wonderful classic LP tones and I do enjoy playing it. I have pride in ownership of it. It has a few weeks, or months, to impress me and show me it isnt a redundant fixture in my guitar rack. I am going to have to harden my resolve with this H150. Its cool and I really like it, but I feel the same way about everything its going up against.   Onwards.    

JeffB

JeffB

 

how to send a photo

After a five month wait, I just received my custom ordered Heritage golden eagle what a sweet beauty! I'd like to share a photo with club members but I'm a computer dummy. I have a camera and can put the photos in a comuter file and have sent photos to e-mail addresses but that's the extent of my knowledge. Any suggestions on how I do it?

17571

17571

 

I went down to the crossroads...

Another Saturday and it's band practice - after a week of being up at 5.15 every day and lucky if I am home for 6.30 every evening, Thursday was horrendous. The motorway had been shut at a key point where two motorways merged and guess where I was. It took me three and a half hours to drive the 52 miles home from our offices.   But, other good hings have happened within our family, my wife, Helen has secured a new job at a practice in the area after putting with dreadful treatment from the husband and wife team of doctors who have taken over the surgery where she has worked happily for thirteen years. She is very highly qualified in her nursing and was snapped up after a half hour interview. The people at the surgery where she is going to work could not be more different and the pay increase will be significant. On top of that, all our children are making their way in the world and we have a beautiful granddaughter who is a delight to us.   As we were not rehearsing last week because I had too much to do at home, I took my Strat and Tokai (Les Paul) to the tech to get them adjusted and repaired. The strat trem block thread had completely gone rendering it useless, (it's twenty six years old and I have had it from new) the stop bar posts in the Tokai had lost their ability to hold the posts upright. It turns out that they were made of aluminium and not up to the job they were made to do. So, new parts were engineered and fitted, the trem block was drilled and a brass sleeve inserted and threaded. I also had some minor adjustments made, a set up etc on both guitars. If you read my last blog entry, you will recall I mentioned a guitar player who had made his own strat and the bass players precision bass. I took my guitars to him last Saturday lunchtime and they were both ready for me the following afternoon. They were superbly done and are a joy to play. While I was at the guy's (Dave) house, he showed me some of the other guitars he has made and I am seriously considering having him build a Tele for me. He has made a pink Strat that would rival Kuz's Kern Tele, with a stunning flame neck. He even winds the pick ups himself and builds them from scratch, they sound excellent.   So, against a backdrop of good things happening, I was really up for practice today.   Today we were going to learn Sunshine of Your Love and Lola, the old Kinks hit. Well, wouldn't you know it, that sometimes it's the easy songs that just won't work, and we couldn't make make Lola work for love nor money and after ten minutes scrapped it. So, on to Sunshine of your Love, which went so well it was great to play. We were so pleased with it, out of the blue I said wouldn't it be great to do Crossroads? Right away, Dave, our other guitar player went into the intro, we all hit it immediately and played a stonking version, we were all on a real high with it, we could not believe how well it went. There are not many bands with Crossroads in their set, but it's in our now, and we are very proud of how we play it. So, two really good Cream numbers in our set, so we just rehearsed some songs we had messed around with in the preceding practices. Those of you from the States will very probably never have heard of Cliff Richard, but he was Britain's first true rock and roll star and had a huge hit with a song called "Move it", which still stands up today, it is a terrific number. We revisited it and it was perfect. It was recorded with a Strat playing lead and I nailed the song perfectly. On saying that, it's not too hard to play, but you do need a specific "touch" to get it right. We also ran through a few of our other numbers to keep them fresh, one of our own favourites is Riot in Cell Block Number 9, but we play it with somewhat of a kick compared to how the original version was recorded by The Robins way back in the day. Look for Doctor Feelgood on youtube and watch their version of it.   So today we are all really pleased with how things are going and very soon it will be time to start looking for gigs. The city of Sheffield is thirty miles south of here and has a lot of venues, so maybe we will be playing down there. We will soon be choosing two sets to play from our list, and polishing them until they are at a high standard.   Meanwhile, Wishbone Ash are playing in our town in October, tickets will be bought!!   To all of you who take the time to read my blog, thank you for doing so, and a thank you for the kind comments which are often posted, I still haven't worked out why I can not replay to them in the comments box.   Once again, thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

I went down to the crossroads...

Another Saturday and it's band practice - after a week of being up at 5.15 every day and lucky if I am home for 6.30 every evening, Thursday was horrendous. The motorway had been shut at a key point where two motorways merged and guess where I was. It took me three and a half hours to drive the 52 miles home from our offices.   But, other good hings have happened within our family, my wife, Helen has secured a new job at a practice in the area after putting with dreadful treatment from the husband and wife team of doctors who have taken over the surgery where she has worked happily for thirteen years. She is very highly qualified in her nursing and was snapped up after a half hour interview. The people at the surgery where she is going to work could not be more different and the pay increase will be significant. On top of that, all our children are making their way in the world and we have a beautiful granddaughter who is a delight to us.   As we were not rehearsing last week because I had too much to do at home, I took my Strat and Tokai (Les Paul) to the tech to get them adjusted and repaired. The strat trem block thread had completely gone rendering it useless, (it's twenty six years old and I have had it from new) the stop bar posts in the Tokai had lost their ability to hold the posts upright. It turns out that they were made of aluminium and not up to the job they were made to do. So, new parts were engineered and fitted, the trem block was drilled and a brass sleeve inserted and threaded. I also had some minor adjustments made, a set up etc on both guitars. If you read my last blog entry, you will recall I mentioned a guitar player who had made his own strat and the bass players precision bass. I took my guitars to him last Saturday lunchtime and they were both ready for me the following afternoon. They were superbly done and are a joy to play. While I was at the guy's (Dave) house, he showed me some of the other guitars he has made and I am seriously considering having him build a Tele for me. He has made a pink Strat that would rival Kuz's Kern Tele, with a stunning flame neck. He even winds the pick ups himself and builds them from scratch, they sound excellent.   So, against a backdrop of good things happening, I was really up for practice today.   Today we were going to learn Sunshine of Your Love and Lola, the old Kinks hit. Well, wouldn't you know it, that sometimes it's the easy songs that just won't work, and we couldn't make make Lola work for love nor money and after ten minutes scrapped it. So, on to Sunshine of your Love, which went so well it was great to play. We were so pleased with it, out of the blue I said wouldn't it be great to do Crossroads? Right away, Dave, our other guitar player went into the intro, we all hit it immediately and played a stonking version, we were all on a real high with it, we could not believe how well it went. There are not many bands with Crossroads in their set, but it's in our now, and we are very proud of how we play it. So, two really good Cream numbers in our set, so we just rehearsed some songs we had messed around with in the preceding practices. Those of you from the States will very probably never have heard of Cliff Richard, but he was Britain's first true rock and roll star and had a huge hit with a song called "Move it", which still stands up today, it is a terrific number. We revisited it and it was perfect. It was recorded with a Strat playing lead and I nailed the song perfectly. On saying that, it's not too hard to play, but you do need a specific "touch" to get it right. We also ran through a few of our other numbers to keep them fresh, one of our own favourites is Riot in Cell Block Number 9, but we play it with somewhat of a kick compared to how the original version was recorded by The Robins way back in the day. Look for Doctor Feelgood on youtube and watch their version of it.   So today we are all really pleased with how things are going and very soon it will be time to start looking for gigs. The city of Sheffield is thirty miles south of here and has a lot of venues, so maybe we will be playing down there. We will soon be choosing two sets to play from our list, and polishing them until they are at a high standard.   Meanwhile, Wishbone Ash are playing in our town in October, tickets will be bought!!   To all of you who take the time to read my blog, thank you for doing so, and a thank you for the kind comments which are often posted, I still haven't worked out why I can not replay to them in the comments box.   Once again, thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

Pointy bits of down sizing.

There are several pointy bits. The starting bit, the couple of bits before the middle bit and several bits toward the end bit. I havnt made it to the end bit yet. I still have 9 gizmos with strings on them not including the mandolin or ukes. It doesnt matter how I stack them all they collectively take up about 1.135sqm or 12.21sqf with amps and cab included when all clumped together. I have this clump of stuff stacked in a corner. Its quite a dull lump, just a corner of boring looking stuff. Mainly black cases and black rectangles. I still have some electrified stringed gizmos I want to sell but I dont know which ones to make gone. The strats do my head in the most. Always thought they would be the easiest. Good strats are so cheap and easy to get it almost seems weird to have an attachment to them. The next stage of this thing, once Im safely set up in my new place to be is to take note of what I use out of the remaining electric stringed objects over the next 6months to a year and then cull the items that get the least use. I have a fair idea of what items they may be but I want to give them a fighting chance. They were once much loved and much played dooverlackies. Two of the nine whatchamacallits are acoustically inclined and one of the nine doohickeys plays low noted and none of those three are on the endangered list.   I sort of covered it all in a reply to another blog but, Im roomless. I cant get out of this room until the carpet and curtains are done. I feel quite discombobulated and out of sorts. Ive had the same some where to be for the last 20yrs. Its all different now. Nothing is where it normally is. I havnt even got my desk. The room I have retreated to for the last 20yrs, or hid in, planned world dominance in, broadcasted from, conducted and cataloged sonic experiments in, deconstructed and reconstructed things in, took things apart and then thrown them out because I broke them in, sat and did nothing in, sat and looked like I was doing nothing in, the room where manic energy was spent in, the room I would fall asleep at my desk with a guitar on my lap in, the room where I blissed out on repeated riffs and momentary flashes of unusually and uncharacteristically cool shit is now just a space. Stripped back like this, its just another room where as before it felt like a destination. I feel kind of sad to be giving it up and happy to be free of it at the same time. More excited to be moving on than sad. There were times I was my own warden and the self imposed isolation was a killer.   displaced slacker and his clump of stuff.

JeffB

JeffB

 

hitting the groove....

What a week it's been, the hottest week of the year so far, but when we get heat in England it can also get very muggy and can drain you and make you very tired.   Last Friday a friend I have known for thirty five years or so invited me to go and watch his band as they were playing in the local pub in our village. I was very pleased to meet another of my friends who was also at the gig. Pete, owner of the yellow telecaster had come back from his place in the south of France for a week or so as he was going to a Neil Young gig in London later the following week then back to France. However, it was nice to see him and to learn he is actually gigging as a duo in France with another English guy. Our mutual friend, Rob, was the drummer with the band we had gone to see and each musician was of a good standard. What was interesting was the the guitars and bass had all been built buy the guitar player in the band, and were of a high quality. I was interested to see the band as we will play many of the gigs they play and I wanted to know how we would compare. They did play a few of the songs we play, but although this band was very good, I am pleased to (modestly) say, that the songs that both bands play, we play them better! However, I have to say that they were very good and did some songs that we wouldn't have done. they were nice chaps.   At the pub there were two couples in their mid 20's and the girls were rather tasty, we had chatted to them on and off during the evening and for the last half hour of the final set, one of them came and got me up dancing with her! Now, I have no false hopes, but I have to say that it was very nice to dance with a rather attractive woman of half my age!! I am still basking in the glow of it!   So, the next day was band rehearsal. We were all tired, I had stayed up too late the night before and could hardly stay awake for band practice. We were disorganised, too tired and just out of sorts. We weren't learning anything, just wondering which song to play next. Dave, our other guitar player was not a happy camper, and when we asked him what was the trouble, he said he was fed up. So, we all sat down and had a chat. He said we weren't accomplishing anything, just playing songs. He was spot on, we had got 24 or so songs in the bag and we needed to get down to it again. So, we kicked some ideas about and decided that we would learn a Snow Patrol Song "Chasing Cars" and Brown Sugar by the Stones, both his choice. Well, I am great with Brown Sugar, but my music tastes seemed to end with Bad Company back in the seventies! So a Snow Patrol song was a very new idea to me. But, as we all have input, we said OK, lets go for it.   Well, today we had our usual Saturday afternoon practice and we kicked of with Brown Sugar. I had taken my 555 specifically to use on this song, tuned it to open G and away we went. The first two times we played it was so so, but then all of a sudden, Bang! We were in there rocking it like we were born to do it. Mick and Keith would have been proud of us. Terry, our Drummer was putting down a perfect beat. I must admit, I was very pleased how the snow patrol song went, and I really enjoyed playing it. We might be a bit slow getting to gigging level, but we are purposely ensuring each song we play can be done to the standard we expect of ourselves. Our one weakness is the vocal set up, but we are getting a sound engineer in to help us with that, we think we need better PA speakers.   As for next week, we are letting Terry the drummer chose a couple of songs, which he will e mail to us. He's a big Stones and Kinks fan, so maybe something from them.   Now then, about that rather shapely woman at the pub.......   Thanks for reading and best wishes to all, Mark

mark555

mark555

 

Soixante-dix !

Well,guys...I don't believe it !I finally hit 70 years of age recently.The cards arrived.I thought they were for my dad ! I looked in the mirror...I am my dad !! How did I get here so quickly ? I started playing guitar in 1957.I'd been shipped off to a private school by my dad.It was like 'Tom Brown's School Days' .( An English book about private schools ) What was I going to do ? The answer revealed itself when I went into a small common room,used by the boys at the school.There was a roaring fire,a crowd of boys being entertained by 2 guys,playing guitars, who were about to become my friends.A real magic moment,and a life changing one.During the school holidays,I nagged my dad to buy me a guitar.I met with some resistance,but eventually,he bought me a starter guitar.I also arranged lessons off the school campus,so I also got a night on the town thrown in ! When I left school in 1960,I sought out other players in my then home town,and a band was formed.We did a limited amount of pop gigs.I also secured a job with a local jazz type band,so I was away. Disaster arrived when my parents moved city. Luck was with me.I already knew some guys in a band there,and I got a job with them.Things started to move,and in a short time,we were doing well paid gigs in various towns & cities in the area.A change of singer,and new agent,and we were further up the ladder.By the end of 1963,we'd started to support well known U.K. acts,Freddie & the Dreamers,Dave Berry & the Cruisers,Jimmy Powell & the 5 Dimensions.These were bands just bubbling under the top liners.!964 came,and we were supporting the Rolling Stones,Joe Cocker,Peter & Gordon,Marty Wilde & the like.I thought there was no stopping us.All it took was a 'No' in the wrong place.We were offered a recording deal.The deal was we had to sing a rather awful song by Chris Andrews.The good thing was we could choose any song for the flip side,and that could be the 'A' side.Our singers said no way,and that side of my playing career was over. I moved to London for a while,then returned home,and joined a function band.The unit did great paid work,and a greater variety of music.Perfect. Things were changing in the music scene.I started working as a house musician in clubs,and once again,I was backing the U.K. stars of the day. I've had a great run for my money.Got some mega guitars & amps,played with some great people,and guess what ? I'm still doing it. Last week...Saturday, a band called 'Mean Eyed Cat',in an open air gig,and yes they are a country band (bass guitar),Wednesday...Dr.Jive & the Sick Notes,a 50's 60's Rock 'n Roll band (Bass guitar),Thursday, an all day recording session,putting rhythm & lead guitar lines on a Hammond B3 recording ( 1953 Gibson L4 CC & 1988 Fender Strat. plus Deluxe,through a Peavey 'Decade' with Jensen speaker,straight into the mixing desk,via the pre amp out). Saturday...A great pub gig with a pop band I play with regularly,with me at the front sharing the singing & playing bass.Today...the phone rang..can I play guitar with a Rock a billy band...yes..that's a job for my 575 ! I can't believe the fun I've had.What a life.Long may it continue !

peteraltongreen

peteraltongreen

 

All in all, a good day...

There is a saying that go's "While the cat's away, the mice will play".   Now I am not saying Mrs 555 is a cat, that would not be nice! But she and our youngest daughter went to Liverpool on Friday and got home at Midnight on Saturday, and I like having the house to myself! Friday night I watched what I wanted on TV and found that a Billy Joel concert from back in 87 in Moscow was being shown, and it was very good, so after that i climbed into bed and read for half an hour.   Normally on a Saturday morning, after a week of getting up at 5.15am five days a week, I like to surface at a time of my choice, but not today. I was awakened by the sound of high pressure jetting going on at seven, not too far from the bedroom window where I was sleeping soundly. What had happened was that the sewer that tuns under our garden and the neighbours garden, had blocked up, and our very good neighbour had called out the water authorities to get it cleared. Those poor guys have an awful job to do, but I was glad that they came, even if it did cost me my lie in bed.   So, after a morning of shopping for the family groceries for the week and going to the garden centre for new hanging baskets, it was time to set of for band practice. We always say that family comes first, and because of commitments we have had among the band within our own families we haven't rehearsed for a couple of weeks. And I was dreading the rehearsal because I ad not picked up a guitar since our last one. But how ironic, the first song we ran through was Whiskey in the Jar (I play lead on this one) and I played flawlessly! Would you believe it? Maybe two weeks of not playing unscrambled some of the wiring in my head and allowed my brain and fingers to communicate with each other a little better than usual! I was very surprised.   We learned two more songs, Tom Petty's Running Down a Dream, and the Gary Moore version of Thin Lizzy's Don't believe a word, both great to play. And here's where the strength of this bands line up was showing, I could concentrate on playing as Dave, our other guitar player took the vocals on both songs. Just playing guitar is great, you do so much better, on saying that I take the vocals on Whiskey in The Jar.   Today we had our first practice at our new rehearsal venue, which is our church in another town, about ten miles away from where we rehearsed previously, but this building has much better access than the previous one, and for some reason, we like it much better. I think that there was a very positive vibe going on between us all, it worked to our advantage and we were all pleased with the days results. We finished off with Rock Around The Clock, just for a bit of fun. By five pm we were all away heading for home.   Last Thursday, Allen, the drummer from our old band dropped me an e mail inviting me to meet up with him at a gig he was playing about eight miles away across town. I always liked Allen, and when he left the band we parted on the best of terms and have stayed in touch. His band is called Roller Coaster. So after getting home, cutting the grass and getting a shower, off I went. The Venue was what we in England call a club, but is not anything remotely like the LA club scene that became famous. This is what you would call a Working Men's club, which are places where drinks are usually less expensive and the place has bands and other entertainment on at various times of the week. This was quite a nice club, but the concert room was not so big. The stage was triangular in shape, across one corner of the room and was very full with five people on it.   I was interested to see this band because they work regularly and it would give me an idea of what was about as far as other bands go. They were very much what I would call a "Clubland Act", any Brits reading this would know exactly what I mean. In the 50's,60's and 70's the working Men's club scene was huge for bands to play, bands would work all over, sometimes playing what was known as a "Noon and Night gig" where they played at lunchtime and again in the evening. You got varying quality of acts and bands, but some were really good. Some bands came off the club circuit and made a good living. Anyway, Roller Coaster would fit in the bracket of "clubland" very easily. The youngest player would be about fifty, with the eldest two being 70. However, they were warmly received and what they played went down well for the audience they had. Twenty minutes before the end of their second and last set, the rhythm player broke an A string and didn't have a spare guitar with him, so as my own guitar was still in the boot of my car, I offered it to him to finish off the set with, he was very grateful.   I was pleased to note that as a band we were much better. Now I don't mean that in any way big headed or egotistically, but when they played some songs such as Bad Company's "I can't get enough" and a couple of Stones songs, we would not have played them at that level as we would want them played correctly, and though they were obviously playing the songs, they weren't played correctly and some of those songs were lacking something. You can't play "I can't get enough" and not let that solo rock, it was like the Carpenters were doing a sacarin sweet version of it, there was no "Go" in the guitar. But I have to say, these were lovely friendly people who made me very welcome at their gig and also as we all sat together. I felt as though I made some new friends and they thought it was extraordinary that I would let their guitarist borrow my own guitar. I now know that we can really go out and offer a good quality show in comparison to some of the bands. However, please understand that I am not being big headed. I am also aware that many other bands are far better than us. But given what we have decided to do, we do it very well and no other band in the area will do it any better.   Once again, thank you for reading my blog. I really appreciate the kind words and comments often written but just now for some reason I can not reply to them within the blog page.

mark555

mark555

 

Sometimes it's hard work.

It's been a busy day. Usually on a Saturday morning I treat myself to a lie in bed and get up when I want to and not when the alarm go's off. However, this morning I had to be at church to take my turn with some other guys to clean the building. It's quite a large church building with two wings away from the Chapel area and also the hall, when those two area's are opened it will seat 800 people very easily. So it was a very busy morning and with the early start I was tired before I went to band practice. I work 52 miles away from from home and the 5.15am alarm clock gets to you by the end of the week - I don't suppose I am young any more. So afterwards, it was strait home and load the car up for a noon start for band practice.   We went to our usual rehearsal venue, which happens to be the church hall of one of our churches in the next town. We get it for free and no one disturbs us, plus the fact it is ideal. I didn't really want to have a practice today, but when I met up with the rest of the guys in the band it was good to see them, they are all great guys and we get on really well. Dave had done a self build telecaster and it sounded pretty good, so he had brought three guitars today.   We didn't try to learn any new songs, just play some of the ones we've already learned as we need to have them perfect, although the next song we are going to learn is the old stones hit ""paint it black".   I am getting real grief from my amp right now, it's a fender Hot Rod 40 watt valve amp and I am wondering if it was modded before I had it,(it was bought used about 12 years ago. It seems to be incredibly loud just set on 2 and has no gradual sound increase. I am going to have it looked at as soon as I can afford some spare cash. This month I have so far had to pay £330 for auto maintenance, £200 for our gas boiler to be repaired and that still hasn't cured the fault. So we will have to be patient. I am wondering if the previous owner put different valves in it than it should have. I have decided to get it to a good amp tech as soon as I can afford. Dave, our other guitarist is convinced some one messed with it before I got it.   While we were rehearsing today we got a real compliment. A guy we know who used to see our old band saw us today and said that he was really impressed, he said that two years ago we were just another garage band (Thanks...!!) but now we are streets ahead and sounding fantastic. (It's because we have a new line up and hte dynamics are better). That is good because he isn't a musician but is really into his music, so good feedback from a guy in our target audience age who knows his music. We had to vacate the hall today pretty early because there was a birthday party for an eight year old girl. This kid was hyper - as if she had drunk a crate of Red Bull energy drinks. The first thing she said when she saw us was "are you the music for my party?" When we said no she almost demanded that we were!! I was just glad to pack away and leave her with her worn out parents who looked desperate to get rid of her for a few days respite!   Thanks for reading, it's much appreciated. Mark.

mark555

mark555

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