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mark555 last won the day on November 18 2019

mark555 had the most liked content!

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About mark555

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    Needs To Get Out More
  • Birthday 01/22/1960

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    Yorkshire, England
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    Guitars, sea fishing, family, travel.

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  1. mark555

    Dealing with trouble

    I really need a guitar with access to the higher frets for a particular song - Jail Bait by Wishbone Ash. I don't like schaller pick ups, I find them somewhat cold. If I was to buy a another Heritage it would have to be a highly figured top, but I have always fancied a gold top, which I am sure I will get at one point, but it's a case of needs at the minute. Ideally I would like a PRS but at £3800 for a new one that is not going to happen, however, if the right used one comes along then I might well got it. I know the Mike stern Yamaha, I've played one and they are great.
  2. mark555

    Dealing with trouble

    Excommunicate - that's a strong word!!! How about finding a new band to play in?
  3. mark555

    Dealing with trouble

    Thanks for reading the blog and all your replies, Wow, I didn't know you were playing gigs at such a level. Keith Richards talks about your situation with your front man as lead vocalist syndrome. It is a shame to see success wasted though because of a toxic individual but it is more important to be away from such people.
  4. mark555

    Dealing with trouble

    Thank you for your reply Koula, our other guitarist just needs to learn to control himself. He's not apologized in a suitable manner regarding this incident yet. I am aware of Eastman guitars and have played them, I am very impressed with them, particularly their 335 variant.
  5. Running a band, as I have said previously, can be a totally different experience to playing in one. Once I am up and playing, I enjoy the experience, especially when we are getting a good response from the audience. We seem to get that regularly, playing our local venues and pleasing the audience. finding new gigs is always a pain in the neck but it has to be done. A few of our venues are closing down, due to not being able to make it pay or dwindling club membership, and some just keep on booking us which is nice. Some are really popular venues and we compete with bands across the local scene to play their. We are getting known as one of the better bands in the area for what we do, which is great, but that doesn't mean that the competition isn't out there. However, issues arise that never should and when they come from your own band members it really hurts. We have one venue we play and go down very well at, it's called The Travellers Inn and is about 20 miles away from where I live. Unfortunately the two bookings we have for next year have had to be cancelled due to a mix up on their part, double booking with other acts who were booked their first - how these things happen is beyond me but they do. My way of dealing with this is to say OK, we will play another time. however, our other guitar player decided to tell Bev who owns the venue in no uncertain terms what he thought of her, using severely bad language and being very rude. Not only did he do that, he went on a public website used by venues and bands and posted even more vitriol about the venue and it's owner, again using unacceptable language and calling the lady concerned names that I was disgusted with. There was no need for this at all. I do not do business in this manner and I have taken a pride in how I deal with venues, which after all, are making a living from their clientele where as playing in a band for us is in effect, just a hobby. I find you get more with honey than you do vinegar, so when I have difficult situations I always find that being friendly is the best way to resolve them. So, I called the venue up, spoke to the owner who I know, and gave her an unreserved apology for how she had been spoken to and for the posts made by our other guitar player, who had no business in making such posts. I apologised for abusive nature of them and said how I was ashamed to be associated with them as they were made in the bands name. (Later on that night I was at a Wishbone Ash gig with our bass player who could not believe what I told him about these posts). Well, lots was said in our conversation and the venue owner very graciously accepted the apology I made and said she knew it wasn't me and that I and the rest of the band would be welcome with the exception of our other guitar player. Just right now it would crate more problems than it would be worth to replace him so in some way I have to deal with this to ensure nothing like this ever happens again. This matter will come up for discussion, but our other guitarist has had outbursts before, usually aimed at myself when I have had to tell him about something that he didn't like. While he would apologise later on very sincerely, I am now seeing a pattern of behavior which I won't put up with, and the other guys in the band don't like either. When I tried to ask him about all this he refused to discuss it with me. So at some point in the future this will have to be dealt with. As a result of this, I have told the other members of the band that unless they get a gig, they must stay out of the management role of the band. What Bev (the venue owner) Did tell me was that sometimes she is let down by bands and loses custom as punters come to the pub expecting a live band and there is none, as the let down has been at the last minute. So I told her that we would be willing to help her if we are able to. I was trying to changer her perception of us from a problem to a solution. she liked that and said she would indeed give us a call in such circumstances, so the relationship is on the way to being repaired. However, I think it will be 2021 before we get a proper booking there again, which saddens me very much. But Bev and I ended the phone call on good terms which enables me to go back with a new band or with a new guitar player. On a different note, I am on the hunt for another guitar to add to my tonal palate. As Heritage guitars are all but unavailable here in the UK I am looking at other makes and models. The ones coming on to my radar are PRS, Duesenberg, Musicmann and similar. I would love a PRS but at £3800 for a core range model I just can not afford one and I will not get into debt for one. Maybe a used earlier USA made PRS may be affordable, but certainly not a new one. I really like the MusicMann Silhouette HSH with trem, they play beautifully and are so comfortable strapped on so definitely a contender for a future guitar in the next year or so. But the surprise on the list is the Yamaha Pacifica 611VFM. This guitar has two Seymour Duncan pick ups, (not the cheaper ones) a Wilkinson Trem sysystem, Grover locking tuners and is superb to play. These are extremely competatively priced guitars and play and sound as well as guitars which cost much more. I like the simplicity of one tone and one volume control which is great when playing live. With myself, I have to have a job for a guitar to do before I buy it and this guitar would be very versatile. The neck is maple with the rosewood board. I am very impressed with Yamaha guitars, every one I've ever played has been a really good instrument, although I don't bother withe the cheaper end of the pacifica range. Yamaha seem to know how to make great guitars at a good price point, check out the Yamaha SA2200 Semi - fantastic build and playability. So that's if from me today, thanks for reading and best wishes to all, Mark.
  6. mark555


    I only have four pedals and a tuner on the board, I use each pedal. Less is more in my opinion. By the way, thanks for the good wishes.
  7. mark555


    As we are back on our world tour of nowhere in particular, I I'm finding that running a band is often harder work than it needs to be. Thankfully though, I am now able to drive once more and can find my own way to and from gigs. Saturday night we were playing in Sheffield at a venue we play three times a year and go down very well at. Sheffield in one of Yorkshires largest cities, if not the largest. It is a city built on steel production and there are still some big foundries in the city. However, although there are a fair few venues in Sheffield, it's not an easy place to get bookings in without and agent. We're all nice people in our band of wandering minstrels, each of us with our own perculiarities, but as I go along , I am finding more and more that the un asked for role of manager which I seem to have ended up with can be very much managing people. Graham, our drummer, is rock solid, turns up, sets his kit up and follows the set up plan. PA first, Drums next, then guitars and amps. Shaun, our bass player, is so laid back it is unbelievable, the worlds greatest fence sitter when we are hammering out band policy, but as decent a human being as you are ever going to get. Robin, our other guitarist, who I affectionately refer to as Moaning Myrtle (see Harry Potter) always feels under pressure, he's landed the job of running the PA purely and simply because he owns the mixer. Complaints? Oh yes - The Pa actually belongs to me and is a pretty good one, if basic. But it does handle the venues. Poor Robin get's very frustrated, he's not a natural sound guy, but he knows more than any of us about setting the PA up as he's learned by trial and error. I'll say this for Shaun, Graham and myself, we have our sound sorted. Shaun has some great bass's, nice big bass rig that produces great sound. Me, I know what I need to do to get a nice full tone without scorching the ears of the audience. Now for the fun bit. Robin plays a lovely Gibson R9 Les Paul through a Fender Vibroking amp. The thing is so loud it's unbelievable. My main amp is an American built Peavey Classic 30 which has hade a a rather expensive speaker put in and now sounds great. I also have a Fender Hot Rod Delux. Now I know that these two amps are far from top of the range, but they go out and do the business and I make them work. I know my tones and settings and all is well. So, we come to Saturday night. Robin, with rather expensive kit, can not get his amp to sound right. He may well have a superb guitar and great amp but in between those two lies his pedal board, which I personally would like to strip out, and throw all his pedals except one into the dump and start again, minimising what he has on it and replaving the cheaper pedals with better quality. In cutting a long story short, his sound was truly horrendous on Saturday and was so far up the treble scale it was hurting my ears. No matter what he was playing it sounded. Now he is a nice guy, as nice a person as you could wish to meet and will do anything to help. But he was becoming somewhat snappy with me as I was getting a couple of negative comments from the audience and the guy who runs the venue, with an audience of about 250, we had to be right as we don't like complaints. So, when the opportunity arose and we were on our own, I asked my friend why he was so short tempered with me? Right away his voice rose and he lost his cool shouting and swearing, saying that I was putting him under pressure and he can't handle it. I soaked it up for a minute or two and calmly asked him to hear me out - there's a proverb that says "A soft answer turneth away wrath". I like that and try to remember it when I'm in challenging situations. I told him that no one was being criticised, but I get all the complaints about sound and as we are being paid by the club and return bookings depend on the enjoyment on the night of the club members. Well, I reacted kindly rather than with anger and Robin soon realised that there was no criticism of him but rather we need to help him get his sound right. He's no slouch, but in my opinion, he could do with a decent quality class A 30 watt amp, a decent overdrive pedal, a delay and a boost. Add a tuner and that's enough. I have never understood having a hue amount of pedals in fro nt of you when you don't use three quarters of them. Recently I have come to the conclusion that the less gear you are using the less likely you are to have problems. In fairness to my band mate he immediately apologised for how he had spoken to me and was most sincere, I told him not to worry, it's done and forgotten. So now I am finding that so much of managing the band is actually people management, making sure every one is happy while sorting out problems. Robin is, as I said a nice person and he was quite bothered that he had been the cause of a problem and apologised again several times during the evening and went out of his way to be pleasant. I'm pleased to tell you that even with the sound problem he had, we went down exceptionally well, plenty people dancing and a few encores demanded and three bookings taken for next year. I get on exceptionally well with the venues management, and the boss really likes our way of doing things, which is to turn up early evening, get set up and all ready for playing long before all the club members are ready for the evening to start. I was quite surprised when I was told that many bands turn up later and are setting up while other parts of the evenings activities are taking place, which I feel is totally unacceptable. So, in the end, we worked through the problem, Robin realised he has to do something about getting his sound right and the club members were all going home having had a great night and enjoyed what we did. My next challenge is to get Robin playing sixties style guitar and to not put Led Zeppelin into ABBA - poor analogy, but it makes the point. It's amazing how many rock players can't get out of that heavy chugging style. I spent all my early teenage years as a rhythm player and it did me a huge amount of good, laying a great foundation for later years. By the way, I used my 555 on Saturday night, what a guitar! On a totally different vein, I have joined Slimming World and at the end of my first four week period, I have lost 15 1/2 Lbs. I have eaten like a horse and not been hungry at all. I am fed up of being the fat guy in the band and now I'm doing something about it. As I was walking up the stairs in our home to go to go to bed in the early hours of Sunday morning, I was carrying something and by the time I'd reached the top, my six week old jeans had fallen round my ankles. They fitted just right when I bought them but being fifteen pound lighter they now don't stay up. I'm hoping that this time next year I look completely different. Thanks for reading.
  8. What a twelve months I've had, it's been a roller coaster to say the least. It all started at the end of April last year when I was redundant from my job. Thankfully I have always had a mortgage protection insurance policy, so my mortgage is paid for up to two years from one month after the job loss, so we've done alright. It wasn't long before other companies and recruiters were showing interest in me but there was a huge obstacle to over come, which was the possibility of my losing my driving licence in October. Over here in the UK the police have placed so many speed cameras on the roads that it is unbelievable. If you are one mile an hour over the limit, they have you, and three points are on your licence. Get twelve over a three year period and you get an automatic ban for six months. When, like me, you normally drive 50,000 miles a year you are going to get caught sooner or later. This obstacle was too much and no one would take a chance. And, on 23rd of October last year I received a six month driving ban from the court. So, I thought I'll find something where I don't need to drive for work, it was impossible because every prospective employer I approached took the view that as soon as I got my licence back I would go for better employment - in fairness, they were right. But come 15th December, this became a moot point as events took an unexpected turn.t With two weeks to go before Christmas, My wife Helen and I had not bought each other our Christmas presents and Helen insisted that we go to a shopping mall about thirty miles south of where we live and she was not taking no for an answer. However, she did not know that rain was falling and as soon as it hit the ground it was turning to a layer of thick black ice which in the dark, we could not see. As Helen was driving, I walked down our drive to get in the passanger door. However, I never made it into the car. I fell forward on the ice, with all my weight going on the front of my foot which turned under itself, giving me five breaks in various bones in my lower leg and ankle. It was rather painful to say the least. I spent two nights and three days in hospital, and was superbly looked after. Well, Helen and I thought if trouble comes in threes, we've had three big ones and things can only get better. However, on Sunday January 13th Helen was coming driving home from church on her own (we usually go together but with my broken leg I was unable to attend for a while) when she was blinded by low winter sun and she lost control of the car and wrote it off smashing down some steel railings and taking out a traffic light. She was taken to Hospital in an ambulance and spent the day there getting checked out and getting X rays and what have you. Thankfully, all she suffered with was some very nasty bruising, but that took quite a few weeks to heal - what we learned was that no matter what, your health is all that matters. Anyway, without going into it in depth, it's four months today since the injury, and I can now walk without my big plastic support boot if I take it slowly and use a walking stick. But the injuries meant that we had to cancel three months of bookings. In a way, it worked out well because Robin, our other guitar player started with some health issues and the bands down time was helpful to him as well. One of the side effects of my leg break was my getting very fed up with many things in general, but what drive me round the bend was cabin fever, and not being able to get out. Also, because of the cast on my leg I could not take a bath or a shower so every morning I would sit in front of our wash basin and wash and clean up. I remember the first shower I took after I got the OK from the surgeon (I had two scars, one either side of my ankle from the surgery), that shower felt so luxurious! I'd given myself three and a half months recovery time from the accident to the first gig, and we played a venue we go down well at in a town near us on Saturday 6th of April. We were rusty, and even though we'd had a couple of full rehearsals we were out of practice playing live shows and I have to admit that we were nowhere near as tight as we needed to be. However, we are our own worst critics and the crowd enjoyed us. My 27 year old daughter has never seen me play live, so she brought her friend with her and came for the night, she was very impressed and even said she was proud of what I'd done and my playing. This last Saturday saw us play our second booking of 2019 at The Lion Pub in Castleford, West Yorkshire. Castleford is very much what you would call in America a Blue Collar town. It's a run down town which had its history in the coal mining industry, and when the mining industry went into rapid decline in the 1980's, many were made redundant and lost their jobs The town has never recovered and the jobs there are low paid. So the crowd we played for were very much a down to earth group of people. The pub itself was quite rough, but the crowd were a nice enough bunch of folks who just want a good Saturday night out with what they have. The Lion is also known as a heavy rock venue and as we are not a heavy rock band, we did wonder how we would get on, Robin, our other guitar player (AKA Moaning Myrtle) as usual was making his forecasts of doom. But he needn't have worried because right from the word go we had the crowd with us. At the end of the night, many of the pub regulars told us how much they enjoyed the two sets we played and that it was nice to have something different than the usual bands they have week in week out all playing the same stuff. As a band, we do pack a punch when we rock and one of the highlights of the night for us was when we played the old Bad Company song "I Can't Get Enough" complete with the twin lead guitar solos and it sounded superb. We have a return booking for there next year. One last interesting fact about this pub. Mark, whom plays guitar in Wishbone Ash, is from Castleford, we've known him over twenty years and he is currently touring the USA with Wishbone Ash and this is a pub he is well known at. Robin was talking to him on Saturday afternoon via WhatsApp and he said to give the locals his best wishes, so we did, and we got a real cheer and round of applause for that. Last of all, I've decided that as soon as I am able to, I am going to pull the trigger on a PRS. Since buying a Telecaster, I have come to love the simplicity of one volume and one tone control. I've also played a couple of PRS guitars and on a personal level they work for me very nicely, and give me all that I require in a working guitar. I feel it would immediately become my go to guitar once I got it. The one I get will be a custom 22 or 24 with trem and mahogany neck, nice burst with a red mahogany back. Hopefully I will be working in June and that will be when I start looking at the options. The question is, do I sell some guitars to fund one or just buy the PRS? What I may well do is buy the PRS and sell a guitar I don't use. Watch this space, and as usual, thanks for reading. Best to all, Mark. 2
  9. mark555

    The year ends....

    John, thanks for the encouraging words. The ban is for six months and ends in 22nd April. Just when I thought the year couldn't have anything else go wrong, I slipped on ice ans broke my leg. I can't go anywhere of do anything! Will have to get a PRS....
  10. mark555

    The year ends....

    Many thanks, I enjoy writing it, any one kind enough to say they enjoy it is a real bonus and much appreciated, a Merry and Joyful Christmas to you also.
  11. mark555

    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.
  12. Hi Rich, Losing Allen was bad because he is such a great guy and excellent drummer. Getting the replacement players set us back at least a year with bookings, we are down from forty gigs a year to about sixteen for this year. We are not wanting to play more than once a week and even then not every week because we are family men with children and grandchildren who we want to spend time with. As you say, I hope the drunks will stay away from us now, it was a terrible episode, I don't know why people choose to live their lives like that. The problem with posting clips is that I don't have anything to make a decent clip with and I also don't know how to upload, but I will see what I can do. Thanks for the lovely comment.
  13. Many thanks for the kind words and for taking time to read it. I enjoy writing it even though only a few might read it!
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
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