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mark555 last won the day on June 29 2022

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About mark555

  • Birthday 01/22/1960

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

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  1. Mass production has made amps more affordable for many. But I hope one day to own a really nice hand wired amp.
  2. Hi Rich, Thanks for following my blog, it's been great to write it as I've gone along. I think that many people who don't play in bands will watch a band and wish they were up there playing, especially if they play a guitar or another instrument that might fit in a band line up. But I think you have had to play in a band over time to really know that's it's not all about getting on stage and looking cool, or however you might be perceived! I tried to show life in the band as it actually was. Right now it would take an incredible offer to get me playing in a band again, but I wouldn't mind depping or doing the odd jam night. Stay safe and we'll catch up on the forums.
  3. You don't have to be as good as you might imagine you need to be to play in a band, although you obviously do need a certain level of competence. Thanks so much for reading the blog, it's good to know that someone has enjoyed it. I'm looking forward to just enjoying guitar playing as and when I want to now, and perhaps depping with the odd local band now and again.
  4. It's some months now since I left the band, Route 62. I was at the end of my rope with it all, the whinging of our other guitar player, no end of things and I'd just reached that point where I had had enough. I thought about it, and the positives of leaving outweighed everything else. I knew that once I said I was done, there was no turning back and I still left. So, four and a half months on, where am I up to, and with the benefit of hindsight, did I do the right thing? Well, I can answer yes, a resounding "yes" to having done the right thing in leaving. I have already started reaping the rewards of having free time on my hands. I see more of my family, do more things with my wife, and I am able to plan so many other things I want to do. One such event was just taking a week out and going to the Highlands of Scotland, renting a house in spectacular Glen Coe for a week and touring the Highlands - I can't tell you how beautiful the Highlands are, you just have to go and see for yourself. I haven't done all the things I want to with my newfound free time yet, but I am far more relaxed, and I am enjoying the weekend evenings much more. I just feel released from dealing with everyone else's expecting me to run everything, and then them coming and taking an equal cut. I have kept in touch with the bass player, who has been a lifelong friend, but who in fairness played his part in my decision to leave. Robin, the other guitar player is pretty angry at my going, but this is because I was the enabler who made it possible for him to go out and gig on a weekend after a week at home because he is wealthy enough not to have to work. Now, he has no gigs to play because they haven't been able to find a lead guitar player who can also take the lead vocal role and front the band, building rapport with the audiences. As Shaun, my bass playing buddy told me a couple of weeks ago, all they get at auditions are wannabe's and dreamers. I gained some sense of satisfaction when Shaun Told me that Robin finally admitted that "Mark was the biggest part of this band and made it work". At the risk of sounding smug, I feel that I have finally been vindicated, and that their departing from the vision and formula I was working to is what brought it all down for them. They pushed me beyond my tolerance limit, and they are now the ones that are frustrated because they cannot find a replacement and get things going. I wish them well, but I don't think they will make it work. I have seen their ad for a singer to go down the route of becoming a tribute band. So what have I been doing? Well, the truth is, as far as playing guitar is concerned, absolutely nothing. I haven't had a guitar case open with the exception of taking one in to work to show it to a colleague, it's my MIJ Tokai Love Rock , which is a clone of a 59 les Paul Standard and plays beautifully. But I have to admit to almost getting my tele out and having a few moments with it. So where do I go next, musically speaking? For the time being, nowhere. I hope I get to play with other musicians at some point, but where I am now, there doesn't seem to be other musicians around who are easy going and on the same wavelength as myself so for now I'm just not interested. What I do want to do is swap my burst for a gold top, and I really do want a core range PRS, so one of my guitars is going to have to go. But as I began, I will finish - with hindsight I really did do the right thing. Thanks for reading.
  5. I realised I was running the band and playing in it to please three other people - the other guitar player, bass player and drummer, and not enjoying it myself. Last night I would have been out at a gig. Instead, I have had a wonderful Saturday with my wife.
  6. Thanks both Skydog and Pegleg. - thankyou both for the kind words and for taking time to read the blog - I can't believe it's taken so long for me to write the end of my story with the band. I think there is a time for everything and for me the time for playing with the band is done with, but I shall enjoy my guitars without the pressure of having to learn new songs, guitar parts etc. Sure, there are things that I would like to have done, songs I never got to play. But personally for me, I feel that better things are ahead.
  7. It seems like forever since I have made an entry in my blog about the story of my playing in a band, maybe all the lockdown had a lot to do with that. After Lockdown, we started trying to gig again but the market for bands had really slowed down and many of the social clubs we were playing were no longer booking bands. Bars and pubs were booking less also, as they were building their trade up after Lockdown. We were playing several gigs, but something was just not sitting right with me. We had lost our drummer to a serious stroke, although we had already decided to replace him as we were fed up of his forcing his political viewpoint on us all, in that there was no discussion and if he didn't like your opinion, he took offense. We got a fabulous new drummer after some long auditions, but that didn't work out personality wise. Eventually we settled on a guy in his late sixties who had a wife a fair bit younger than him, which has some relevance. The point being that wives were always welcome at gigs but any wife interfering in band business was considered very bad form and well out of order. It had caused extreme trouble previously. But back to the main plot. I had for some while feeling that I wasn't really doing what I wanted to be doing by being in the band, I had a vision for it that was successful when that vision was followed, but others were not sharing the vision that I had set the band up with along with my bass playing friend when we decided to give it a go. Because that vision was not being followed, it was getting harder. I'd taken on the role of lead vocals and I know the songs I can sing and can't sing - for example, I can really do well on singing Rolling Stones songs. And, because the vision was harder for me to fulfill, I was losing interest. On top of that, it was down to me to find gigs, no one else made any effort. Put all this together with the effort to rehearse, play gigs, lose weekends with my family because of gigs and all the effort involved, slowly buy surely, and with accelerating speed, I was losing all desire to be in the band, and just over a week ago, the day before a gig, I decided I'd come to the end of the road. I played the gig, wasn't happy in doing so, and then the new drummers wife told the rest of the band and their wives that she'd been told I was seen playing at venue during the week with another band - a total untruth. Shaun, our bass player, is not just a friend, he's my brother from a different mother and we have a deep brotherly love, we know each others extended family and we used to hang around as kids, stopping over at each others homes. The relationship is close. Anyway, Shaun's wife, Debbie, is a lovely woman who understands how things are, and she tactfully told me what had been said, which didn't make me angry, but just made me even more sure that I'd come to the wright decision. I didn't tell anyone that night because I didn't want to cause any upset, or have people try and tell me I was just being silly. And of course, I wanted one more night to sleep on it. When I woke up on Sunday morning, I knew the decision was right for me, and prior to going out to church, I sent an e mail to the guys in the band explaining how I felt and why I had come to my decision. The decision was made because my priorities have shifted. I'm now 62, have six grandchildren who live quite a distance from me and I want my weekends free to spend time with them. I want to spend Saturday nights with my wife Helen, we have busy days and after doing all the Saturday jobs round the house, I want to sit down with her and enjoy our time together. Going out for a day is also something we want to do and not worry about what time we need to be back for. The bottom line of why I've decided to put the band down can be condensed into one word, and that word is "family" Shaun, my partner in the band, has taken it really well, hes been very supportive and I hope they carry on with a new singer and guitar player, they are good musicians and the band has a good name. But for me, it's time to call it a day with bands. The highs have been great and the lows terrible, but that is life in a band for you. For now, I'm gig to sit back and enjoy others playing, and sitting at home enjoying my guitars and maybe, just maybe, I might get that PRS custom I've always wanted. Thanks for reading - Mark.
  8. 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.
  9. Excommunicate - that's a strong word!!! How about finding a new band to play in?
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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
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