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The year ends....

As 2018 comes to a close, the band I play in, Route 62 has had two changes of personal and we are re establishing our selves on our playing circuit and we're happier than we've ever been. Our old guitar player's wife cost us all just short of £2000 but we are now 18 months rid of them both and we no longer hear anything from them. Robin has been playing guitar with us just over a year and has fittted in well, he uses three guitars on stage, a Les Paul RI, a Strat and a Tele. Our Drummer, Graham, is well and truly in the driving seat and fits right in with us personality wise. He's brought a great sense of humour to the band and we like having him around. This year we have added a few new venues to our customer base and have gone down well at each of them, getting return bookings. Over here in the UK you get to play the same place three times a year if you are very lucky,  and we have two venues that give us three gigs each. We are aiming to play 26 dates next year, not a lot, but we are al family people, with the exception of our bass player who is divorced, his kids have grown up and he more or less lives alone. He would play three nights a week every week if we would, the band helps him with the loneliness he often feels. However, we now have a very happy line up and for the first time ever we feel that all of us are friends and there are no strains in any of the band relationships.  For myself, the year has brought two big challenges. At the end of April I was made redundant from work when the company I worked at started making cutbacks, and I was one of them. The second challenge has been losing my driving licence. This has been because of an accumulation of penalty points on my driving licence. Over here in the UK road side cameras have proliferated alarmingly and if you are one mile an hour over the speed limit they get you. This leads to an automatic 3 points on your licence. Get twelve and you are banned from driving. I was driving 50,000 miles a year with work and just before a lot of points came off my licence I was caught by a camera over the limit. I thought I was in an area with a higher limit than it has and was making an effort to stay within that limit unaware that I was completely wrong. Well, you could say it's my own fault and the courts banned me from driving but I have tried to be very careful and I really do believe (along with any one I speak to) that these cameras are not about safety but are about raising revenue. Even the police refer to them as revenue cameras. Not having a driving licence has impacted on me in two ways. First of all it has severely affected my job search and I firmly believe I'd have been back in work by now. The second way it has affected me is the inconvenience. I really do not mind being a passenger, but I now depend on others in the band to help me. A couple of years ago our car broke down and had to go to the repair shop to be put in working order again. not one of the band offered me any help and I had to hire a car ( I was out of work then also) and fuel it. It took more than my share of the gig money to go and play the gig. Not one of the band offered to share a bit more with me and had I just cancelled the gig (due to unforseen circumstances) every one would have lost their share. However, this time, Robin sent every one an e mail telling them that as a band they needed to be willing to help me. So, my wife drops me at all local gigs, and if it's not local she take's me to Robin's house and we go in his VW van and he brings me home from the gig. Also our drummer has brought me home, so it's a different experience for me and no one has said it's my own fault. I've had lots of support from the guys. We finished the year with our last gig on Saturday night at a Club in Wakefield, the next town to us. It was only a twenty minute drive there, and it's the third time we have played this venue. They have a new Concert Secretary at this venue and he told me that they are looking for a band to play for the last Saturday of the year next year. Our normal fee for this club is £400, but as it is the New Year event they will pay £1000. So, that will be our biggest fee to date if we get it. Years ago in the UK when the pub and club scene was really in full swing, a semi pro band, if good enough, could ear some really nice money pro rata to what they can earn today. But things change and the industry that led to the organisation of many of these clubs has died. Over here there was lots of coal mining and engineering plants, which have all gone. the Clubs we play are what we call in the UK "Working Men's Clubs" where working people can come out as couples and enjoy entertainment and a social life at greatly reduced costs. Often the clubs had their own Snooker, Pool, Soccer, Crown Green Bowling and other sports teams which would be involved in the local community. They still provide a great night out for people but they are getting thinner on the ground. However, the bigger ones are surviving for the time being. In their hay day, some of the clubs would book top singers such as Tom Jones and other big names and they would be packed. Something else you may find interesting is that the Clubs formed a "Federation" where by if you were a member of one club you could visit another club without paying an entry fee. The Federation of Clubs owned it's own brewery in the North of England called "The Federation Brewery" and distributed beer to the clubs of the federation at greatly reduced prices compared to the big commercial brewery's and the saving was passed on to the club members. Today the aim of the clubs is to plow the profit's back into the club so the members can enjoy a less expensive night out and it is certainly noticable that when we buy drinks we pay 30% at least than when we play in bars and pubs. During 2018 I have taken more notice of pedals and how they are used to a better effect. I'm not talking about having a lot of them for the sake of it, but for enhancing the sound. My friend now plays in Wishbone Ash and I've noticed how he and Andy Powell use pedals to great effect. So next year I'm going to try and enhance my own sound just a little bit where it is applicable, and that it the key word - Applicable. I don't use a lot of pedals but for some songs I'd like to combine two or three - for example, the end solo of Throw Down The Sword uses reverb, overdrive and boost. I'd like to be able to switch these on all at once and off together. I am also hoping to get a new amp and guitar. The Amp I would like is a Fender 30 watt Vibroverb which has a beautiful clean tone. I play on a clean setting and use the OD pedal when I need to, I don't channel switch. I will sell my Fender Hot Rod then the Vibroverb will be the number one amp with my Peavey Classic 30 as my back up amp.  Now for guitars. I have over the years had a hankering for a PRS but never really had the money. I've always admired them as a quality product and I've decided to try and get one by the end of next year if things go well enough for us. I will never buy a guitar over the needs of our family or home, and over the last few years I could have had several very nice guitars with the money we have elected to make our home a nice place to live in. But if I can, I will save my gig money next year, sell off one of my guitars and buy the PRS I've wanted. There are other guitars I would like just as much, such as a Gretsche Country Gentleman but what has made me settle on the PRS is that every time I have picked one up and played, my playing has been more fluid. On a personal level I find them very comfortable to hang on a strap and stand up for 90 minutes with one round my neck. I know there are other great brands out there, and I would enjoy any one of them. But I am talking about a working tool here that earns me money and the PRS has come to the fore for that reason. when I win the lottery I'll buy a couple of nice H150's, a Music Man Sihouette the Gretsche, and have a few more hand built ones to my speck by top luthiers. Until then I will just make do with the PRS. I've got to find the right one, but the fun is in the search, the work is in the practice and the playing. The band always takes January off from gigging for a couple of reasons. First of all, every one has spent up over Christmas, the bills are coming in and it's cold so the venues are all about empty. Secondly, we use January to rehearse new numbers for our set list and now we need two different set lists. One for pubs and bars and a seperate one for the clubs which demand a different type of set. The song I am looking forward to playing most is Blowin' Free by Wishbone Ash, it's a song we all love in the band and to me it fills me full of joy.  We finished the year off with a great gig and had to play a twenty minute encore at a club that is known for letting you know if they don't like you and they would have let us play for linger had we done so. But finishing on such a high note has made me look forward to next year and the gigs we will play. I hope you all have a great Christmas and that the new year brings everything you need. Thanks for reading, and best wishes to all, Mark.

mark555

mark555

 

It's going well again....

It seems like a long time since I last wrote in my blog, yet lots has happened. For those of you who read my blog, you will recall that we were auditioning a new guitar player. Well, Robin is now well and truly embedded in the band and is taking on his share of the load. He's a Les Paul player at heart and his go to guitar is an RI that cost an arm and a leg, but I have managed to switch him on to Telecasters, which he uses on Honky Tonk Women. He's become a real member of the band and has a huge input. I did actually buy the PA from Peter Alton. Would you believe it , the old guitarist and his wife were still causing us trouble and making a nuisance of themselves well into this year, but finally we seem to have them off our back. they even contacted Robin, our new guitar player. Just when we thought we had the band settled again, we were hit with another problem. Allen, our terrific drummer, had to retire from drumming because he was in too much pain from arthritis, it was making playing impossible and after our last gig of last year he called it a day. I was straight on the phone to Tony, who had stood in with us before and who had said he would gladly join us if Allen ever called it a day. Well, it turns out we missed getting him by two weeks as he had joined a band and was committed to them. However, he has played a couple of gigs with us and we have had a great time playing with him in the band. We held the usual auditions and had the usual range of ability or inability... One guy turned up and by his own admission didn't even try. We did eventually find a cracking drummer called Pete and offered him the job there and then, he accepted and we thought "great, we're away here". He played two gigs with us and three days before the third gig told us he was leaving to join a prog rock band. So, back to the drawing board. to cut a long story short, we offered the drum seat to a really nice guy called Rob, but after one gig it became very apparent he would not be able to make many gigs because of his work as a prison officer and his shift rota. So, back to the drawing board. Our Bass player has a mate at work who is a drummer, he stepped in totally cold and helped us out on a gig, and as we liked his as a person and a drummer, we offered him the gig. He went home to think about it and left the band he was in to join us. Sadly, when he told them he was leaving they got unpleasant and gave him a hard time. Well, he's more than welcome with us. Now our aim is to put some more songs into the band and open the set list a bit. Two must do songs are Brown Sugar and 19th Nervous Breakdown by the stones, along with some other standards that go down well. We have also bought more lighting, which is a side we want to expand and make the gigs a little more professional. we know we are not a big name band, but we like to try and offer our best. Also we are working on stage craft, looking at what we can do to make more of a show. There's nothing more boring than a band that just stands there. Shaun, our bass player, can be a bit of a BIll Wyman, so we're trying to get him in on the act a bit more. He's a good player and very laid back, so we either play to that or get him moving about a bit. This year we could not chase many gigs because of line up changes, the priority was getting the band stable. But we've made a fair few friends along the way and we will get plenty next year. e  On the Heritage front, I have put a Duesenberg Les Trem on the 555. There is no drilling and all you do is swap the stop piece for the trem, which is very neat and tidy. Duesenberg trems are superb and it's given the 555 a new lease of life for me and it's been great to gig with, superb on a good old rock and roll where you can just get a bit of sizzle on the pick ups. I couldn't upload a picture of my 555 so I have posted a picture of a Duesenberg with one of their trems on it, although the one in the picture is very different to the one on my 555 fixing wise. I love the Duesenbergs, maybe one day I will get one. Meanwhile I am looking forward to the coming summer, we have new venues to play at and new songs to rehearse. One I am really looking forward to playing is Jailbait, by Wishbone Ash. Thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

Still working on it....

We're having quite the time in our band just now, we finally feel we are rid of the troublesome pair that was our last guitarist and his wife. We thought we were rid of them after our last gig but they could not let things go. They were sending us e mails, phoning our bass player, they phones my home to cause trouble but Mrs 555 is not a woman you trifle with. She answered the phone and told Mrs Satan never to call our home again and to stop causing trouble. So far she has not made any further attempts to call our home. They have also tried to cause a lot of trouble for us by phoning our venues and cancelling gigs, telling the venue that the band has split up or changed its name and they would take the booking over. When the venues found out the truth, they were not at all happy about being lied to and being used in some petty game to cause trouble. One venue rang them back and told them that they were now black listed and would not be welcome there again. I cold go on but you get the picture. I cannot believe that we ever got involved with such people.   Over the last few weeks we have been busy holding auditions for a new guitar player. On the whole it's been a pain in the neck. We've had some good players come but some of them wanted to be THE lead player and just have us back them, which is never going to happen because the ethos of the band is to ensure what is best for the band and have it sound as good as possible. We had three guys who said that they wanted to join us and then before the week was out they gave back word, two for the reason of wanting to be the main man in the band and the other because he had decided, in the space of three days to move to Vancouver. We got to the point where we were cancelling gigs so we thought we would just take our time and get the right guy in.   This last week I was looking on a site called "Join My Band" and found an ad from a guy who wanted a band to join and he lived in the locality we rehearse at so I talked with him for a while and tried to ascertain where he is at musically and competancy wise. We decided to meet up this Saturday (today) and have a session. It turns out that Wishbone Ash are his favourite band, as they are very much one of the favourite bands of myself and our bass player, and he is a friend of Andy Powell. We also both know Wishbone Ash's new guitar player. But that is by the by. What it does mean though, is finally there was a guy who would play some Wishbone Ash numbers in the band. So we set it up.   He came at the agreed time, and we had two hours. He had not had time to learn our set having only two or three days notice, so I just asked him to play lead on certain numbers and invited him to take leads where ever I could and he did just fine, so we know he has the ability. We offered him the place in the band and he accepted. When I got home I received a really nice e mail from him thanking us for giving him the job in the band and promising to be committed and to learning the songs we need him to. What more can you ask?   We are slowly building our PA up as we need to do so. Our good friend and fellow forum member Peter Alton is selling some nice speakers, stands and cables as he is thinning his gear out (but not his guitars. On a side note he has just sold a 1962 fender 15 watt valve amp that sounds fabulous). So on Tuesday I will pick those up from Peter who lives about sixty miles from me. Peter is a true gentleman and I consider myself fortunate to have him as my friend. It was Heritage guitars that really sparked our friendship as Peter was working one day a week at a guitar shop (not that he needed to) I used to drop in at and as we got to know each other I mentioned that I wanted a Heritage 355 and that I was tired of the Gibson Corporate attitude. It was that which brought us together as Peter at that point, and still does own two very nice Heritage guitars, along with other superb guitars which you will be lucky to see in any retailer.   Anyway, the constant in the band has been our drummer, bass player and myself and we want to keep control of our sound system so we are not left without one again. Although our PA amp is older, it works and is powerful enough to do what ever we need. in case you are wondering, it's a Peavey 600 watt mixer amp. Our new guitarist has a mixer, so we will see how that can enhance the situation.   We really hope that this is now the end of auditions and the start of the new constant line up. our new colleague seems more than willing to learn the songs and parts he needs to. When he comes back from his holidays we are going to have three good rehearsals before we start gigging again.   Thanks for reading, Mark.        

mark555

mark555

 

finally, we can all breath a sigh of relief

A new chapter is about to begin with my band, Route 62. We are finally rid of our other guitarist and his wife, Mrs Satan. It didn't go without trouble though, but we expected it. However, the deadly duo of the Satan's sank to new lows.   We were playing a gig fifty miles from my home and it was the last one we were playing with the present line up, and it is important to state that he left because he chose to do so.   I knew that it was imperative that one of the three of us collected the fee for the night because if they got hold of it because if they did, we knew we would not see a penny of it. So I had a word with the venue manager and she made sure she gave it to me. We actually played very well and we got a return booking for when we have a new guitar player. Even Satan's guitar amp breaking down didn't ruin the set during "Before you accuse me", I just took over lead and played it superbly, the crowd really liked how I played it - think Mrs Satan didn't like that either. He got his amp changed and off we went again.   So, the end of the evening came with four encores and then we packed up. I split the money equally to the penny, and when we were all packed up and we ensured all band gear was in our individual cars and each car was locked, we then then got together to discuss the lighting rig we had all put in equal amounts to buy. We had all put £133 each in to buy a light rig. We knew we would have to give Satan something for his share, we didn't want to, but we knew it had to be done, so a couple of weeks ago after a gig, Allen, Shaun and I got together and decided to offer him £100 for his share, and not a penny more. We know that it we had to sell the lights and split what we got four ways, we would all get less than £100 each because the second hand market is full of light rigs etc.   Well, we got together after the gig in the car park (of all places) and they asked for their share in cash, as we had just collected our fee in cash and they knew we had that on us, they demanded we give them the full £133 they had paid in for the new rig. Right away Allen, our drummer, said no, that is not going to happen because the lights are now used and we were not giving them the full amount. We told them they were getting £100 and that we were being generous with that offer. Well, it's a good job our cars were locked and everything was safe. when they realised there was no way they were getting the full amount, that's when things got very nasty indeed, in fact most of it from Mrs Satan.   They could not grasp the concept of once something has been bought, no matter how recently, the value has gone down. We were extremely fair, giving them 75% if the purchase price. In the UK our equivalent of purchase tax is called Value added tax and is at the rate of 20%, so they virtually got everything back except the tax. Where else would you get that?   Well, Mrs Satan kicked off with abuse that I will not repeat here, all aimed at myself, every four letter word you have ever heard of came out with vitriol that I have never experienced before, she also attacked me for my faith, even though our church has provided free rehearsal facilities which they were more than happy to take advantage of. I have never experienced such hatred and vitriol in my life. She then turned on Allen who told her the reason this was at the stage it is is because of herself. As it got nasty, Shaun, our bass player, who always sits on the fence, just said we should give them the money to put an end to it. Allen and I looked at him in disbelief at what he had just said and we instantly said not a chance. After they had gone, I gently told Shaun that we succeed in these situations by standing together. Well, things continues for quite a while at a very nasty state, I was threatened with violence, and also that they would smash my car. The funniest thing was that they said they would sue us for £33. I just said that was fine if they chose to do so. They were beaten from the word go because none of us raised our voices or retaliated at them in an undignified manner, for which I am truly glad. They showed their true colours and it was very unpleasant. Imagine a situation as bad as it can get and there you have it.   We all feel that a huge weight has been lifted from our shoulders and that we are rid of a great burden. We are auditioning new guitar players on Saturday, and each guitarist has been told in no uncertain circumstances that if they join us, their wife or girlfriend stays out of band business. Break this rule and you will be fired instantly.   So Allen, Shaun and I are very positive about the bands next chapter, on Saturday Shaun bought a fabulous new bass rig, a 200w USA built Ampeg rig that sounds incredible and looks like it just came out of a showroom. Our first job in finding a new band member is to buy some new PA speakers as the ones we have at the moment won't take a a bass drum being mic'd up through them.   So there we are, rid of a giant monkey of our backs and looking forward to moving onwards and upwards. Thanks for reading, I am sure my next blog entry will be far more positive.  

mark555

mark555

 

there comes a point of no return....

Where on earth do I start with today's entry? I seriously don't know where to start on this one.   The news of the band is that after six weeks out, our superb drummer Allen has returned to playing with us. It's great to have him back, I know exactly when he will hit the beat and when to come in. I've missed his playing. Although, through having a dep drummer, I have made a really good friend in Tony and we are going to meet up socially and build on our friendship. He's made friends with Shaun and I and also our drummer Allen, who phoned him to thank him for standing in for him and helping us out.   I was hoping that all the troubles I have written about so far with Mrs Satan had calmed down, but sadly this has not been the case. While setting up on stage at our best venue two weeks ago, totally unprovoked, she said at the top of her voice so I heard it that I sounded ****. I did not rise to this and ignored it. We played two good sets that night, with the crowd up on the dance floor all night. This was out last night with Tony drumming for us and we had a good time. Lots of pictures were taken, which I have yet to get onto my lap top.   Fast forward one week to last Saturday and we have a gig at a social club and Allen is back with us at last. However, our other guitarist and his wife came and as soon as she sees me she is making comments to the others. After the fist set her husband announces he is leaving the band, and at that point his wife joins in and is abusive and nasty, all of it aimed at myself. This is in a public room at the venue and we don't need it, I said this is not the time to have this discussion, wait until later. However, she and drink don't mix and she is off at full throttle. At this point Allen is telling her to shut up and also saying that this is not the time or the place.   We played our second set and then things got nasty, and there was no going back. What was a real shame for me was that my son was up from where he lives 250 miles away and came to watch us for the first time, and he had to see it. Mrs. Satan was just so nasty but Allen, was not having it and said that the problem isn't Mark, it's you. She then started on him. It was a no win situation for anyone. We got them packed up and on their way home first and the three of us had a chat. We all agreed that this could not go on any longer. She had been making her nasty comments and digs for six months and the three of us have had enough. We were not going to ask him to reconsider and stay with us. I had got to the point where I just didn't want to go out and gig with the band and I considered leaving myself at Christmas.   Shaun, Allen and myself gave it a few days before we phoned each other to see how we felt, and we all felt the same. Move on and get some one else. And that is what we are doing. I went on a website to advertise for a new guitarist and look to see who wanted to join a band. I found an ad placed by a guy who lives in the same town as Shaun who is looking for a band and got in touch. He is the same age as us and after a chat we found we are on the same wave length. I've sent him our set list and we are going to have an audition for him in about two weeks after next weeks gig. I explained everything to him and he said he had experienced the same thing in a band he had played in. he seems a good guy on the phone, if he fits in with us, then he's in and we're up and running again.   This has been quite upsetting for me, I have put up with so much nastiness and let it go, but last week was it for me, and there's no going back. We are all relieved that we will not be having this awful woman come and poison the good spirit we try to have in the band. It has worn us all down and we've all had enough. I'll let you know how we get on with the audition, it needs to work as we have gigs to play.   Thanks, for reading, Mark.            

mark555

mark555

 

Well, would you believe it!

I thought I would put a picture of our drummer Allen on the blog picture today, Allen has been in hospital for surgery on his back and his leg and is taking six weeks out to get back to full health and recover from the surgery. Allen is an excellent drummer and an extremely nice person. And, this is where our tale starts today.   we have had two drummers dep for us so far, the fist one did a couple of gigs for us, another extremely nice chap called Mick. Tony is depping for us for about four or five bookings and is more my style of drummer, also we hit it off as friends instantly and have enjoyed being in each others company and getting to know each other as friends and band mates - it is true to say that I hope to play in a band with him at some point, and I think it will happen. We click musically and have the same groove.   Now, here's where it gets interesting. Tony comes from the same town as our other guitarist, and indeed it was he who brought Tony in to help out Saturday night in the city of Sheffield, about thirty miles south of where I live. It's one of our favourite venues with a nice big stage that lets you move about a bit. We used our new lighting for the second time and it was great, I think the audience liked them and they certainly added the effect we wanted. However, for the first set, only the two Derby lights at the end of each side of the light bar were working and we couldn't understand why. It turns out we had not switched the foot control on! Needless to say, the second set was a lot brighter! We went down really well and are at the same venue again later this year.   After the night was over, we got packed up ready for home, and our other guitar player and his wife, Mrs Satan, were away first. I am usually ready to go last as I sort the money out and make sure every one was happy that we played to. So, that left Shaun our bass player, Tony the drummer and myself. Now what you need to know is that Madam Satan is all over every one else in the band hugging and kissing them at the beginning and end of the evening, with of course, the exception of myself - and that is how I like it. We are on civil terms and it's left that way. When we were about to go home, I explained to Tony about how things are with Madam Satan, just incase he noticed anything funny. I was worried that he might think he was being negative, but his reply stunned me.........   Tony had played in a band before with our other guitar player for a little while, and he told me that he knew exactly where I was coming from, and that her behavior had caused her husband to be kicked out of the band he was with previous to this band! Not only that, but it was a band he himself had started. He then told me what a nice guy the other guy in the old band was, but Madam Satan had caused so much trouble that they just could not tolerate it any longer.   So, it seems at some point the truth comes out everytime. But I feel totally vindicated in taking the stance that I did and being prepared to get a replacement player if needed, and at this point, Shaun, Allen and myself are ready to implement the change if we ever need to. On a positive side, it's been great getting to know Tony, a top bloke (as we say over here) and making a new friend. The band is playing well and we plan on adding some new material in July.   Thanks for reading,   Mark.    

mark555

mark555

 

Moving forward

It's a Saturday night off gigging, which to be honest, I am glad about because I have been very tired and could do with a rest. No church tomorrow either so I will get up a little later than I usually do and enjoy the rest. Today I have enjoyed a day on the north west coast of England, where our daughter lives, we went to look after her as she is having a rough time with her pregnancy, the new baby is due in August. Today me and Mrs 555 did the seventy mile trip and had a wonderful day with our daughter and granddaughter, taking little Penny out and spending some Nana and Granddad time with our favourite three year old.   Any one who read my last blog and my recent thread about our fellow band members wife causing great difficulty will be aware of the trouble this has caused and how the band was ready to part with our other guitarist. In the end I decided that a change of band member just wasn't in the best interest of the band and it's ability to gig and earn money. In the end I decided that I would be civil with Mrs Satan and speak to her, but at the same time showing her there was no way was I going to give any ground on this and put up with any such behavior again.   I've come to the conclusion that something must have been said between her and her husband privately, because she has changed her attitude and is far better behaved at gigs, and has been pleasant with me. The other two guys have suggested that our other guitarist is enjoying being in our band and earning the money that comes with it. (Not that we earn fortunes, but easily enough to buy a couple of tasty guitars a year if we want). For her behavior to change so quickly we think that she has been told to stop her problem causing by some one! So, the outcome from all this is that she is backing off from interfering with band business and she has probably realised that there is no mileage in causing trouble and that I have the full backing of the bass player and drummer. She has also not been drinking as much alcohol at gigs, but I am pretty sure she is still drinking very strong lager. She seems to have accepted that she has no say in the band and that there is (for want of a better word) a "senior" band member and that is me, and that causing trouble hurts her the most. So the three of us who were united in the decision to fire her husband if needs be are glad that this very difficult and unpleasant period of six months seems to have come to a close and some sort of balance has been restored with Mrs Satan seeming to have realised her place in the grand plan of the band, which is, she is not in the band and has to butt out of business. As a result, we are all nice to her and we seem to have sorted things out by holding back from being aggressive, but still having a plan B for replacing her husband prepared and ready to put into action.   I am really glad the situation is resolved and we are all getting along without the strain, I am glad I held back from speaking my mind too strongly and holding it all together, I think it has been well worth it. Also, calling in an exorcist was also a good move......!!   We have played a few pub gigs lately, in and among the clubs (clubs generally pay more money). We have a total of three gigs at one particular pub this year and the manager of the questioned us as to why we don't have lights, because there is a much better atmosphere with bands that do. So we considered this and decided to invest some of our money in a small lighting rig that will work nicely in a pub or club environment. I was up in the town of Darlington, which is about 100 miles north of me and found a lighting dealer who had a good showroom and was able to demonstrate to me several combinations of what we could get for our budget. The guy really knew his stuff. I had done as much research on the net as I could and found that none of the music shops kept anything we could look at in store or set up, and the store I was recommended to go to was in fact a DJ specialist. But it was obvious they knew what they were talking about and they told me that they sell to a lot of bands. Mike, the owner, was able to educate me and show me that what I came in thinking I wanted, wasn't what I really needed, and what I was asking about was out of date. He showed me a rig he had set up on his wall as a permanent display and played the unplugged version of Hotel California through one of the sound systems while the lights did their thing. I got what he was telling me there and then, which was that we should use that lighting behind us and two warm white spot lights illuminating us from the front. That way we stay lit up naturally but have a stunning light show coming from the stage. So, I went back and told the band what I had found and sent them a couple of links to see the rig working. They were all impressed and said get it ordered. So on Monday, we take delivery of the two warm white spot lights which are bright enough and have enough spread the light us up between them, and the lighting rig. The lighting rig has two Derby Lights, Two cans, four Strobes and a laser which can do no end of stuff. It comes multi programmed with a foot board for changing settings and has wireless technology. When I was talking to our bass player, (he and I are the core of the band) we decided that we would like two of these rigs and to link them together. The effect would be stunning. So it would not surprise me if in another couple of months we are not ordering another one.   I firmly believe that having a good light show will give us more return bookings as the customers of the venues will get a better experience when they come to see us. Once we learn how to get the settings we want for our set list, I think it will definitely give us an edge over many local bands who do not bother with lighting. This will mean a longer wait for my next guitar, but will perhaps enable us to raise our fee's if we can give a more complete and enjoyable experience to the customers of the venues. After all, once you get up on a stage, you are there to entertain your audience, regardless of the genre of music. I just want to be able to give my audience as good a night as I can.   I will let you know how things develop with the lighting side of things, I think it will be a good investment and I am willing to invest some more into lighting later this year. When I can, I will post some pictures.   Thanks for being kind enough to read and best wishes to all. mark.                                        

mark555

mark555

 

Wading through mud...

So, the band is gigging and audiences are going away having had a great night. Of course there are better guitar players in bands out there, but this band plays a selection of songs that works for the audience. More of Saturday's gig later in this entry.   I don't talk about the family much in my blog, but this last week has been great, my son, George, turned thirty on Friday, he and his wife came up from Kent, it's a four and a half hour drive for them, and Kimberley is five months pregnant so it's quite a trip for her. My daughter, who is also expecting her second child and her husband came over from Southport, which is a town on the north west coast of England, and of course, my youngest daughter who is almost 26 is living with us so she was already here. We all went out to a Persian restaurant, which I have not experienced before, the food wasn't stunning, but it was very enjoyable and the staff were very good. I had a fabulous night out with the family, it was great to see our adult kids all enjoying each others company.   George treated himself to a very nice Yamaha acoustic guitar for his birthday, he paid £300 for it and I have to say it's excellent for the money. He brought it up with him to show me, and I showed him how to oil the fretboard and generally maintain it. We're very close and I am very proud of him, he's carving himself a career in Law as a solicitor at an excellent law firm and he is well thought of. I'm lucky, I have three great kids.   I've been out and about trying some nice guitars this week and was really impressed with a used metallic musicman silhouette with a trem. I really think those are excellent guitars, although it's only the Silhouette I have a liking for. It sounded really clear and played very nicely, but at £1100 used I don't have the cash for it yet. I also played a Duesenberg because I have had a serious bout of gas for the sparkle red or blue single they make. When I tried it though, I didn't think it gave me the sound I was after. A few weeks ago I played a Gretsche Country Gentleman with a Bigsby on it and it played itself and sounded wonderful - instant George Harrison and the tones were fantastic, so I decided that there was no contest between the two for now. So I have narrowed my choice down to the Musicman and the Gretsche for a choice the next time my gig money mounts up enough to let me pull the trigger if the right one comes along.   Saturday night's gig was at a venue we have now played three times and we go down very well at, so we like going there. I have developed a good relationship with the people who run it and call in to spend half an hour with them when I am in the area, it's about an hour north of where I live. I have to say that after all the nastiness that went off the week before, I was not looking forward to the gig at all, worrying about what might occur if our other guitarists wife was in the mood for trouble. However, that morning I'd had a telephone conversation with our drummer, Allen, who is very level headed and easy going. But he told me how disgusted he had been at the conduct of "Carole" and how she had shown the band up in a bad light with her foul language and her drunken antics and that he wanted to sit elsewhere when we were not on stage. Our bass player is not related to me, but we are "brothers", we share the same beliefs, we have known each other since we were young and our parents are friendly with each other. I don't think I have ever had a more loyal friend. But when I found out how our drummer felt and that he was on side with our bass player and myself, it made me feel a lot better. we all agreed that we don't want to lose our other guitar player as he brings much to the band, plays well and we like him. However, the nastiness towards me from his wife has been going on since before Christmas now and it is wearing us all down and we agreed that if it doesn't stop we will cut him loose and replace him. Ad's have already gone out on a website to see who responds.   Anyway, my brother came to the gig on Saturday and we are very close, he also knows our bass player very well so the three of us kept each other company between sets and stayed out of the way of Mrs Satan, I was pleasant to her when I was in her company but did not make too much effort to bother with her much at all. She did not like the fact that she was not the centre of attention, and we all feel that is part of her problem, she's a spoiled brat who needs to grow up and act like an adult. No trouble started and we all breathed a sigh of relief.   Now for the good stuff....! The stage at Saturday's venue enabled us to have plenty space each, so for the first time ever in this band I took my 555 out and played it live! Oh boy, did it perform for me! It was great to play it and it was the classiest guitar on the stage!! With the £ dropping against the $ here in the UK, a new 555 must be the best part of £3,500 now. So buying it used for £800 a few years back was an excellent decision. I played a variety of numbers on it, from Chuck Berry's The Promised Land, Santana's version of Black Magic Woman to songs by the Stones, The searchers, Dave Edmunds and others and I loved it. I will definitely take it out again when we play on bigger stages. I used the Tokai for the second set. After playing strats and a Tele for all the other gigs we've done, I felt the humbuckers gave me that bit more depth. The Heritage is an excellent guitar, built by great guys at a factory that has, pardon the pun, "Heritage". But the Tokai can really do the job and I have to say that I really do think the Japanese know how to produce great guitars. Over here in the UK USA built guitars cost a lot of money compared to what you pay for them in the States, so a good Japanese guitar will equal a gibson at half the money. So the Tokai Love Rock (Les Paul Standard) really did the job and when called for I could let it rip with a bit of lead playing and it gave me the tones I wanted for the songs. I also loved the neck which is modeled on the 59 Les Paul Standard, nice and meaty.   But what amazes me was how the sunburst went through a spectrum of colours as the lighting changed, the most spectacular one looking like a Tobacco sunburst, which I have posted here, you can see some of the other colours it went on my thread on the family tree. All the colours it went were spectacular and must have looked great from an audience view. Seeing the Tobacco sunburst really made me think I ought to get one!   So, the night passed without incident and I got home at 1.30. As I drive home I try not to listen to music so that I can unwind, so I listen to BBC Radio 4. at 00.45 each morning they give the "shipping forecast", which is a detailed weather forecast for each area of sea around the British Ilse. It is preceeded by a piece of music called "Sailing by" which I have grown to really like, and although I am not on a boat or ship somewhere at sea, I just find listening to the forecast - how odd is that?   Well there you go, life in a band, let's see what happens next. Our drummer go's into hospital for an operation next week, so we have a drummer depping for him for six weeks, that will be interesting.   best to all and thanks for reading,   Mark.          

mark555

mark555

 

Band politics and other nonsense

Music is fun, Right? Or at least it's supposed to be. I've always thought that if you play in a band you do it to enjoy playing and when you get paid for it then you are worth the money you earn. The best thing about being in a band other than playing music you really like, is being out with your mates, or as you Americans say, your buddies. To me, getting along well with all the other guys and enjoying their company is the number one priority.   On the whole the relationship within the band is really good, no ego's getting in the way of getting things done and a common aim of being the best band we can be. At our age some of the younger guys are leaping about a bit more and what have you, but we put on a good show.   For the first time in our two years, coming up to Christmas and the new year an element of rot set in between the guys. And what was it caused by? One of the guy's wife putting her oar in where it was not needed. One band member always brings his wife to a gig - nothing wrong with that at all and she is most welcome. But the three other wives leave "the band" to manage and get along with running things, Keeping out of band business and not giving any opinions. We all try and bring what we have to the party for the benefit of the band. But we will call this wife Carole, it's not her real name. But Carole likes to pass comments and organize where she is not required, and when she has had a few drinks she becomes a little different. One night the band has played a gig, it's a month or two away from Christmas and the club we are playing wants to book us for new year at £600. Not a fortune, but £150 in my pocket is well worth it to me as I have been out of work for a while. The figure is being negotiated and behind the door from where the guy who says yes is, Carole is giving me grief that we are not asking enough and we should be going out for £1000 on new years eve. Well, that was the case in years gone by, but the Working Men's Clubs don't have the money they once had and depending on which club you are at, £600 is very nice for an evening's work. Every one of us agreed, having raised the guy up from £400 to £600. The very next day Carole's husband says he won't do it. We all agreed that all he was doing was making a point with his wife. We didn't do any think about it as it would not have been in the bands interest and I am not interested in scoring points over any one. But Carole had been coming to gigs and muttering things to our bass player such as "Mark hates me", which is nonsense, but I was getting tired of her antics, which usually start when alcohol is involved.   So, what do you do? At one point I was ready to leave and call it a draw, or even get a replacement for the band member concerned. But putting my business head on I knew that if the situation could be manged without any further upsets, the band would progress because the basic line up is right and the formula we have seems to be successful. I talked it all over with a couple of friends who are musicians in working bands to get their perspective on the situation, they were pretty much on my wave length, One of my friends said "it's your band, don't put up with it", another said "the next time you get up to play tell the audience that Carole is going to sing the next song, and when she looks and says I'm not in the band, then tell her to stay out of band business". No   What I decided to do was not stir the pot. As we had a few weeks of playing, I decided to leave things alone and calm down. We all e mailed each other with Christmas greetings and took a break. Coming back together in January to rehearse a couple of new numbers there was no ill feeling, every one got along really well as we do 99% of the time and we had a good get together, and added a superb version of Roy Orbison's "Pretty woman" to the set. We played it at the first gig of the year and it went down a storm. We are also adding "The Summer of 69" into the set list because almost every where we play we get asked to play it.   I think think the moral of the story is use your head and stay cool about these situations, and if there is a way to avoid a rift, find it and implement it so that the good of the band is the first thing. I still believe that each member of our band is a really great guy and we all have our own flaws and imperfections which we just have to live with. We get on well and it shows in the music we play and the gigs we put on. My big buddy in the band is our bass player, Shaun. He has been my mate since we were kids and he is the opposite of me, he's extremely quiet and will never come down one way or another in a band disagreement, which can be very frustrating. On Stage he is like Bill Wyman, he just stands and plays, never cracks a smile.... But we compliment each other, sometimes I bring some life into him and he will get more animated and he will keep me level headed when I need to be, it's a good balancing act - like an old fashioned set of scales with a half pound weight on one side and two two ounce weights and four four ounce weights on the other side. The scales are balanced by the same weight but coming in different formats.   I did hold back from phoning round for gigs at the end of the year, because I wanted to see what happened, but now that things are steady I shall be seeing what's going on and trying to find some new venues to play at.   As far as guitars go, I would really like to add a couple to the stable this year. I would love a Gretsche and also something like a Duesenberg. I really have a fancying for something that looks fantastic on stage, maybe in candy apple red or some finish like a blue sparkle. Anyway, I will add a picture or two of what I have in mind.   Best wishes to all and thanks for reading.      

mark555

mark555

 

It's not always fun

Well, this band business isn't always as easy as we would want it to be. I still find that I am the only one chasing the gigs and when our other guitar players wife chimed in with all that she "does" to get us gigs I said that if she was trying there would be results to show for it, which went down like a brick in a swimming pool. So I have backed off the phone for a while to give myself a break although I keep going back to it to get us more gigs. We're earning better money just now which also helps.   A few weeks back I thought it would just be much easier if we got an agent because they seem to have some of the gigs we want sown up. I can only say how much a regret even thinking of that. We ended up playing a "showcase" for an agent and I have never been to such an unprofessional event in my life. In fact, before we even set up two of us wanted to put our gear back in the cars and just go home. I haven't the inclination to go into it in detail but what a waste of time it was and the agent concerned has put some poison down for us a result. Well, we can deal with that in our own way. But from now on we see to our own affairs.   One thing that really upset me was that on Saturday we played a really good venue for us in the city of Leeds, it was a well paying gig and the venue was a big social club. We hadn't played together for three weeks and I had made the mistake of concentrating my practicing on learning some new instrumentals by one of my favourite bands, "The Shadows". I wanted to learn Foot Tapper because it is brilliant for getting the flow element of your playing going really well. anyway, we were playing three sets that night, and we opened the second set with me playing lead on Whiskey In The Jar (thin Lizzy version). Well everything that did go wrong could go wrong and I really made a right mess of it all and really had a mental block. I just could not find those notes and it left a huge hole in the song. What I did was play an improvised melody within the scale of the chord sequence. I was sickened because I had found the episode with the Agent very upsetting and I really needed to get back on the horse (so to speak) with some positive experiences. Well we carried on of course, but although people enjoyed our set, I was sickened because I felt that I had let the rest of the guys in the band down. I can not tell you how upset and negative it left me feeling, it left me feeling that I just did not want to play the guitar at all for a while but also knowing that it was imperative to open the case, strap it on and practice,   We have another gig at one of our favourite venues this coming Saturday, so I have been really practicing what I got wrong to ensure that it doesn't happen again.   I think sometimes we can all forget how important it is to practice the stuff we know so well or we will forget it and risk doing what I did which was make a fool of myself on what is usually one of the high spots of our set list. I am going to make sure that never happens again.   On to guitars: I recently played a fabulous strat style guitar made by Levinson, it has the "Blade" logo on the headstock and had a HSS pick up format, with a coil tap and boost switch for the pick ups that upped the volume from rhythm to lead volume in one switch, the pick ups were active and sounded fantastic. The colour was a translucent purple on a solid ash body with an ebony fretboard. this guitar was made in the far east and was the equal of anything out of the any of the California custom shops, Fender or otherwise. For what it was, £1200 was not a lot of money. I'm out of work just now, if I was in work I would have seriously considered buying it because by its nature it would have become my go to guitar instantly. Maybe later on next year if I can find another one that I can afford. They come in at about £1800 new, but you are not buying a brand when you buy one of these, you are buying a proper player's guitar. Here's a picture of it.   Thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

Onwards and upwards.

With over thirty gigs played now, we all have a nice share of the earnings. So far I have been able to d home improvements, buy two more guitars, and various bits and bats with the money I earned from playing.   Just now I am concentrating on buying what I need rather than what I want. As I want what I need, it's almost an oxymoron, but I would still rather buy a Gretsch or PRS than what I am currently buying. BUT.... sound reasoning is ruling the heart.   I have been wanting a monitor of my own to add to our PA, which is owned by our other guitarist, and have been on the lookout. Last week I was down in the town of Doncaster with my work when I visited Electromusic, a family run business I have bought this and that from over the years, but never anything big - mainly because when I have money they don't have what I want, and when they do, I have no spare funds. But as I was looking in their PA department I came across a pair of Peavey monitors they just wanted to clear. Used but in good condition I bought them at a ridiculously low price and took them to rehearsal with me on Saturday to try out. I am pleased to say they do a great job for me, and they help the other guys as we now have four monitors instead of two.   The other thing I have been wanting is a second amp as a back up. As we are playing so many gigs now, I don't want to be without an amp if one of them breaks down. I have looked at many amps, the one I wanted was just too expensive for me to justify, although maybe in a year or two I might get one - Fender Vibroluxe. I looked at several amps but was discarding an amp I have seen lots of times until I tried a new one out the other day. this was a Peavey Classic 30. I was very impressed with the tones and thought that it would be a great amp to use. So, I started looking for a used one and found out our fellow forum member Bob Meyrick had one to sell, so tonight we did a deal and I will collect it tomorrow.   Band continues to make good progress, but dealing with some of the people who book acts can often prove difficult as they are either brilliant or totally bad to deal with. As usual it is myself who ends up chasing the bookings and I often wish that the others would do more but they don't and there is nothing I can do about that. I am not going to make an issue out of it because it will only cause bad feelings in the band. I am trying to get new venues in other towns and cities where we do not play at the minute. My logic is that if I can get 20 venues that will book us two or three times a year we will have all the bookings we want. Our mist successful hit so far is one venue that books us four times a year, and we go down pretty well there. It's a pub called The Boot and Shoe. We get a good crowd there and enjoy playing to them as there are always a good few nice looking women getting up to dance! Some of them are very nice looking!   So that's it now, all the things I have added to my gear are essentials, from now on I can just use the money for treating myself!   Thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

Recording set up.

I generally don't do much recording now. I know I should, but I prefer a live performance, and it's done, however good or bad. I was asked by a pal to do a jazz rhythm track to compliment his Hammond B3.He's making a C.D., so when he sells it, shortly, he'll have a record of how great it sounded. All the instrumental work was done, even an original guide track I'd put on, but it was an ad lib track that was O.K., but could be better. So, I listened & wrote a chart, that I hope compliments the arrangement. What to use ? Well, I was going to take my 575,but at the last minute, I opted for the Gibson L5,because we are both Jimmy & Wes fans, and when I played in his organ band, that's the guitar I played. Decision 2...what amp ? Well, again I had my Fender London Reverb lined up, but last weekend, it developed a fault on the input. I can't believe it.. I only bought it in 1985/6.So,I pulled out a trusty Fender Tremolux head I have, mated it with a smaller Fender 2 x 10" cab and Bingo.. great sound...Jimmy & Wes roar again ! The job was done in 2 takes, then the reminiscing started. The studio was Fairview in North Cave, East Yorkshire, U.K. This is the studio where Mick Ronson ( who I knew) did his early recordings,Heatwave (Boogie nights etc) demoed their first album & singles, with Rod Temperton, Trevor Bolder ( Spiders) Bill Nelson ( Be Bop Deluxe) and many more used to record. So, the owner Keith Herd & I go back right to the beginning ,50 years ago. He's compiling a C.D. of some of the best tracks, which will be released shortly. So, today I had a different project. A couple of friends round to learn some of the Great American songbook....Night & Day, Under my Skin, I Remember You, My Funny Valentine, and Milton Nascimento's 'Bridges' were chosen. Me on guitar, this time the Heritage 575,through a Guild acoustic amp, my Tremolux was used by the keyboard man on his Nord setup, and our vocalist. Yes, we need a bass & drums, but we are working arrangements currently .So, more recording on a portable to hear what works. Tomorrow, I'm in a Rock 'n Roll band, playing a local pub. This is a pub I first played on Monday, May 6th,1963..true.I have my diary. It's a great venue for me, as I was resident there for a couple of years, all that time ago....and....there are still some of the customers who used to watch my band of the day ( Tony Martin & the Mods) play there. Incredible.

peteraltongreen

peteraltongreen

 

it can be frustrating

Well, the band is gigging on a regular basis and we are all getting along incredibly well, no ego's, we all have a great time when we're out and about. this year we almost have the diary filled with the bookings we want, we only want to play one venue each weekend, it suits us all and earns us enough money to buy some more gear as and when we want it.   But as well as pleasure, it can be somewhat frustrating for me as I feel that I am the only one trying to get us gigs. A couple of weekends ago I was in the phone all Friday and Saturday night trying to speak with the right people, I got us one good gig. We don't use agents, they take a big cut and who's to say that they will give you their best efforts? For example, I phoned one agent who's secretary said to email them. I did so over a week back and have not had any acknowledgement of my e mail at all.   Our target audience are in Pubs and Clubs. The clubs I am referring to are Working Men's Clubs, something perculiar to the UK as far as I am aware. These are members only and over the years have provided great venues for bands to play and in the past earn good money. However, they are sadly in decline now. In the sixties and seventies, the clubs could provide a half decent musician with a full time living, and being professional did not need you to be Eric Clapton or Jeff Beck. Some of the clubs actually had some of the top names in British entertainment play at them.   The guy who books the acts for the clubs is the concert secretary. Some of these guys are a total pain in the neck. They should be booking bands on the members behalf, but they often only book who they like, and many a band will play a venue, go down really well, and then get told they can not get a return booking. This has happened to us a couple of times lately and we find it very frustrating. We know there are good bands out there but some of them are nothing special and are getting bookings at places we can't get through the door at because they use an agent. A lot of venues are now booking singers with backing tapes, we call them karaoke singers and can not take them seriously. How can you call them a live act when their backing music is all tapes? In years gone by each club had a resident drummer and organist, and each singer would bring their music with them and have live backing.   As a kid I would go and watch bands in the working men'/s clubs, and I saw some really good players on some of those stages, as well as some really mediocre stuff. But we didn't care, it was live and we were watching people play real guitars through real amps and we loved it.   I have been looking at Musicman Silhouette guitars of late and they really appeal to me, but first I need a new amp, I will only buy for cash, no credit, no credit cards, just the old fashioned way of doing things these days. Debt is to avoided at all costs.   Anyway, we keep finding new places to play, I target individual towns and cities to find out what venues they have and then spend several hours over a few days calling them on the phone. No one is unpleasant, they are all helpful even if they don't want to book you.   Thanks for being kind enough to read.

mark555

mark555

 

Third gig - great guitar, sad occasion: funeral

Played at a very dear frend's funeral with my good friend and fellow musician Frank Janssen. Because we did some singing, I needed the Fishman once more. First use of the mike on that one. Mike and guitar sounded very very good! So the feedback issues must have been due to the small room and not-so-smart place of the amp. Thanks for the advice! We did the entry music, improvising around a Dutch song from the sixties (verdronken vlinder -drowned butterfly-, by Boudewijn de Groot). And we did two songs, Dutch translations: - 'De gedachten zijn vrij', Die Gedanken sind frei -my thoughts freely flower-, check Pete Seeger; - and 'Als jij me lief hebt', If you love me, check Malvina Reynolds. Used the guitar for a jazzy lead in the entry; for a steady rythm in the second, a more biting bluezy playing ijn the last one. The occasion was sad; but this 575 is great!!!

Gerben

Gerben

 

Second gig, completely satisfied

Second rehearsal gig, with the big band ' Pro motion' in Amersfoort, Netherlands. Changed the Fishman loudbox mini for my Peavy classic 30. I did check out the combination at home. Payed attention the the position of the guitar and the amp. Great sound, no feedback at all, even at a volume that could deal with the big band. We're getting somewhere :-). Next challange: how to generate the best jazz sound. To be continued....

Gerben

Gerben

 

First gig. Great sound, lots of feedback. What to do about it?

Today I had my first rehearsal with the band I ocasionally join. The 575 produced a great sound, that I shall adjust at home. Any suggestion is very welcome! The only minor aspect of today is the feedback. My Epi Dot hardly ever produced feedback, this 575 does tons of it. How can I deal with that? Again, any suggestion is very welcome....

Gerben

Gerben

 

catching up.

The band has been very busy gigging these past few months and on the whole we're doing alright. We went down really well at a club down in South Yorkshire and the audience want us back, but then we found out that the concert secretary has decided that he is only going to book entertainment through an agent, so they won't give us a return booking even though they know firsthand how good we are at what we do. It's a shame because it was a well paid gig and on top of that, the club members who pay their membership fees do not get to see the entertainment they want. Our band does not want to work through agents because they take a big cut and do nothing. Right now so many of them are sending out singers who sing to backing tapes and when we go out we here people say that they want a live band that plays it's instruments and brings some excitement to the place. We have twenty gigs lined up for next year so far and hope to add another ten or twenty to that number.   However, last night we were booked to play at a club here in my home town of Huddersfield. We turned up at seven in the evening to set up and have a sound check, ready to go on stage at nine. However, not one person turned up to the club and at five to nine we took our fee for the night and packed our gear away. I have never experienced that before, what we saw was actually a badly run club which is dying and will probably close down in a couple of years.   We've played some good venues lately and the band is earning good money. This year I have bought two new guitars from my band earnings and I have a nice pot of money that grows weekly. However, with work on our home needing doing, for now that is going to be where I spend my gig money on. Next year I hope to buy a Fender Vibroluxe and possibly a really good guitar. I don't know what brand, I will know when I find it. I have a hankering for something that is not widely available and will stand out from the rest. It won't be a Gibson, that is for sure, I will never buy one again, Also not a fender. I fancy an Anderson or possibly a Musicman Sillhouette.   Well, here is wishing each of you the very best in your playing and thanks for reading.

mark555

mark555

 

'04 Prospect

After years of drooling over these guitars, I've finally gotten my hands on a beautiful '04 Prospect. It has the red sunburst finish, which I have never seen on another one. I knew it was going to be good, but it's better than that. The neck is just right, and it has Lollar humbuckers, immaculate condition. I had to trade a nice guitar plus an amp for it, but I'm a happy boy!   I might still be interested in an H-555, if anybody has a nice one in immaculate condition, and they'd want to take some at least partial trades for. (Not the Prospect)   I was thinking about adding a Bigsby, but still not decided on that. Any thoughts on that would be greatly appreciated. At 65, I'm more into collector mode now. However, this Prospect will get played and so will the 555 if I ever end up with one.   I simply cannot believe people will pay so much for a Gibson 339, when they could have a smaller body guitar like the Prospect, with 10 times the quality.   Glad to finally be in this group.

falcon47

falcon47

 

It comes in threes

Our band of merry minstrals have been playing an awful lot lately, and in fairness to blog readers, reading about this gig and that gig gets repetative, so I haven't posted lots of duplicate blog entries. But these last few weeks have been eventful to say the least.   They actually started off with a celebration, as my best mate and fellow band member Shaun married his girlfriend of the last eighteen months. I actually spoke at the wedding which was held at the church we both attend. It was a quiet event, not many people there are the bride wanted a quiet affair, and so it was.   The Friday after, we were playing at a Social Club in Doncaster, which is in South Yorkshire. The club is very nice, full of friendly people. On that night it was mainly older folk in the audience so it was pretty much laid on that there would be a lot of rock and roll played, as that is what goes down very well at these venues. The club was filling up early so we expected a good night. We were on stage at 8.30 for the first of three sets. At quarter to nine I looked at our bass player and let him know I felt sick. Ten minutes later the room was spinning and I could not stand up. I managed to get outside for some air, but ended up laid down on the floor by the front door of the club being sick and sweating. The club insisted that an ambulance was called and I was taken to hospital. There was no way I was finishing the gig, I just wanted to lie down with my eyes shut.   To cut a long story short, it turns out that I had experienced a viral attack which manifested itself with a very nasty case of vertigo. I spent 24 hours in hospital and in the late evening on Saturday night I was allowed to go home and rest. Shaun and his wife were visiting me that evening, so he took me home, which was appreciated, he is a really nice guy. I was glad to be home and in my own bed.   But the real bombshell landed this weekend. I found out that my friend's new wife had tried to take her own life just ten days after the wedding. It was all to do with stuff from the past and goodness knows what else. my friend is devastated, and of course the question is; will this happen again? we and is extended family will rally round with support, but we really don't know where this is going to go.   So, Saturday we had a practice to go over a couple of songs we want to put in the set, well three to be exact. It then turns out that Dave's Marshall amp wouldn't work, so he is going to have to sort that out this week as we have a gig on friday. It wouldn't surprise me if he turns up with a new amp. It has made me realize that I need to get a second amp for back up.   Anyway, here are a couple of pictures of where we played in Doncaster.   Thanks for reading and best wishes to every one.    

mark555

mark555

 

Taking care of business

Hello Every one, it's time I took some time to write another entry and update the story of the band's journey. I really appreciate that some of you take time to read my blog as I really do enjoy writing it.   We're well and truly in gigging mode now, and are getting more bookings than I thought we would, and going down really well wherever we are asked to play. Crowds have been of various sizes, from good to almost empty, but we have always tried to be as professional as we can be regardless of how many people have been at the venue. We are getting paid well for a club/pub band, we are reaching £350 for some gigs, which is good for where we want to be.   One of the jobs I seem to have landed is that of finding gigs for us to play at, but I do get help from Sue, our other guitar players wife who is very good at making an effort and can be quite successful. To get the gigs though, I often have to spend a couple of evenings on the phone, searching out where the venues are on the internet, and trying several times to speak to the right person.   I think I prefer to play at the Working Men's Clubs, some of which are quite impressive. Some of the pubs are ok, but very few have a stage, you just move a few tables out of the way and set up. A couple of weeks back we played a pub in my home town of Huddersfield and we got two return bookings right away for next year. the pubs usually give us a return booking, but the clubs are different and although we have had promises of further gigs, some have yet to materialise and the usual excuse is that the concert secretary's haven't got their 2016 diaries yet. I suppose that they haven't thought about downloading and printing one off for free.   We've taken over £5000 in bookings so far, and out of the money I've already earned I have bought myself a Classic Player Strat in Fiesta Red, I did post pictures of it a few weeks back. But I intend on saving my share of the band earnings and just letting it accumulate until I decide what to do with it.   Playing gigs is one thing, but it can take a lot of work to get them. Some of the venues only book through agents, and those guys can be a pain to deal with. So far we have handled our own affairs and hopefully it will stay that way.   Thanks for reading, Mark.

mark555

mark555

 

Reflections of PSP VIII

Saturday I sold my Peavey Bandit to an older gentlemen that recently lost his job. He had been on the prowl for a Peavey Bandit USA Red Stripe model because they sound better than the older USA models. Couldn’t help but agree with him. As we sat there for nearly an hour talking about guitars, amps, and the thirst that can never be quenched for obtaining them, I told him something about my guitar buying. As I looked about the floor in the living room, I had a brand new Fender Stratocaster, a Reverend Six-Gun III, and a Martin MMV. I told him the longest I’ve had any of those was three weeks. But I said, my wife cannot complain about my buying guitars for one very good reason. In a way, they have provided for my family. And it has a lot to do with The Heritage and PSP.   The week of PSP VI, I had a job for nearly eight years as a Senior Traffic Engineer with MetroPCS before they were “merged” with T-Mobile. I was called in the Human Resources Director’s office and with him was my boss and our Vice President of Network Operations. I thought it was really odd and found it immediately worrisome. And just like that it was over; I was told that T-Mobile has looked at all the markets and decided that Traffic Engineers weren’t needed. All the Traffic Engineers were to be laid off in 60 days. It didn’t matter what I really did for my job above and beyond my job title or how I was the senior engineer with the most knowledge and experience. What matter was my official job title. So for the second time in ten years, I was out of a job. Of course, that overshadowed my plans that week, the week of PSP VI.   I packed my old HFT-445, loaded up my car, and headed off to PSP. I picked up Slammer from the airport on the way there and checked in the hotel for the night. Seeing all the guitars on display in the conference room that night and all the people I admire and consider friends really helped me to forget my own problems for a while. The next day, I was walking through the factory and saw so many unique instruments. Then there was the smell of the old wood dust, the sound of the machines sanding down necks and carving tops; it was just amazing. Undoubtedly, I had forgotten my problems, at least for now. I took my Heritage HFT-445 out of its case and held it proudly outside that factory for the group photo. 225 Parson Street, the birthplace of many guitars of rock stars. A place that should be a national monument. A place where it’s not the end of line, but just the beginning.   I was in front of a factory who has seen its own end, its doors closed, people sent to Nashville or laid off, and left to rot. But a few people chose to stay; chose to open those doors again and start over. Marv, Ren, Jim and few others gave that old building and the equipment inside basically a reset button, a new lease of life. Perhaps there was some hope for me too. Perhaps, I’ll be able to restart my career and pick-up the pieces to begin again.   The Saturday after PSP VI, I was still at the hotel when an ex co-worker from MetroPCS sent me a text message about his latest bass guitar purchase. He had quit on his own a few years ago, but he was happy with his decision. He asked how I was doing and I told him what happened. He demanded I talk to his wife immediately. He gave me her cell number and said I have to call her right now. She, of course, was a HR manager at General Motors. It never dawned on me to call her since I knew nothing about cars nor was I an electrical or mechanical engineer. I called her, she asked about my bachelor’s degree and my knowledge of Microsoft Office. She had me look up a specific job on the GM website and how to adjust my resume to highlight certain skill sets. That following Friday, I had a job interview. Less than a week later, I had a job offer. When my time was up with T-Mobile, I left on a Friday and started my new job at General Motors the following Monday. That was just about two years ago now.   Last December sparked a heated conversation that banned members and damaged relationships to other members of the forum. The site shut down for several weeks and when the lights turned back on, things changed. One of those things was PSP. There was a looming question of will there be another PSP again. One could only hope.   I decided to step up and see what I could do. I didn’t know if I would fail or not, but it wouldn’t hurt to try. I called the VFW Hall to see if we could play there. Thankfully, they were excited to hear from us and not have to pay a band. We were able to play live music again and entertain some veterans at the same time. It was a win-win for everyone. I had help from Pressure to get a PSP VIII Logo setup. Called a friend from church about having shirts made with the logo. Obtained a guest list of all those who were going to be there. Guy was able to get the Factory to participate again. I received lots of help from a lot of people to make PSP a success. I cannot take credit for it all.   PSP VIII came and went like a whirlwind. It was over just like that. As I woke up still tired and exhausted on Saturday, I checked my email and found someone wanted my Peavey, so I had to pack up and head home quickly. My family had left a few hours before to head out east on a vacation with my mother-in-law; so I had the house to myself and enjoyed the quiet stillness of home that night. No amps, no guitars, no beer, no sound; just peacefulness. I could have died a happy man knowing how much everyone enjoyed PSP this year. As I look back, I will always remember the great times I had at this PSP and the ones before. Someone asked why I did all this; it’s very simple really. The Heritage brought us all together. It’s the people who bring us back. That's PSP. Enjoy those beautiful Heritages everyone. There is a lot of history in your hands.  

DetroitBlues

DetroitBlues

 

Heritage Hand Written Serial Numbers

As a very proud but still relatively new member to the Heritage family, I'm wondering if anyone can please explain why some serial numbers on Heritage guitars are hand written while others (like the one on my gorgeous 2002 Burnt Amber H-555) are stamped onto the back of the head stock? Just curious!

Griffo888

Griffo888

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