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a tale of life in a band

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mark555
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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

It's not always fun

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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

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

it can be frustrating

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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

catching up.

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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

It comes in threes

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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.

 

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mark555
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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

Telecasting

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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

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.

 

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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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: B) 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

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.

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