BAiT frustration and guitar plucking

I’m afraid I lost it a bit today with my band mates from BAiT. We were due to meet up this evening to start work on writing some new material. As it turns out, our bass player, Andy couldn’t make it and has said he can now only make one evening a week, instead of the customary two. Our guitarist, Chris, said that he didn’t want to turn up if one of the instrumentalists in the band couldn’t make it. The keyboard player, Nick, and I would have been happy to work as the three of us, just to make some progress, but Chris dug his heels in. I’m afraid I threw my rattle out of the pram a bit and said what I consider to be a few home truths. In any event, I made a bit of a dribbling arse of myself and probably caused some undue hurt.

By the end of the working day, I’d resolved to leave the band and was calm about this decision. When I got home, Murron overheard me tell Emma that I planned to leave and burst out crying, saying that she didn’t want me to leave. I received a rather nice email from Nick a few minutes later, which made me feel a little less alienated and pretty much calmed me down about the whole thing. By the time I phoned to speak to Nick about everything, I had settled down a bit and resolved to accept the situation and the fact that it will now certainly take us twice as long to write new material.

In any event, I’ve had a renewed spurt of energy to get on with my solo album as an outcome of this and so I started to try to get to grips with my electric guitar this evening, teaching myself all the basic major chords, which I had memorised and could play after an hour or so, albeit not very well. So, after all, things worked out quite well and I’m looking forward to making progress with my album.

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Old and familiar voices

I was watching/listening to Country File this morning whilst being ever so domesticated and sewing a couple of buttons back on my clothes. The program was from Menai Bridge in North West Wales. I suddenly heard a voice I recognised instantly and without a shadow of a doubt I knew exactly who it was. I looked up to have my suspicions confirmed, as the caption indicated that it was a certain Ann Benwell of the Anglesey Antiquarian Society and Field Club. Nothing special there, except that Ann Benwell was one of my German lecturers at Coventry University (at the time Coventry Polytechnic) between 1990 and 1992 and head of the German choir there.

To see her talking about about Menai Bridge and Anglesey with all the authority she used to speak about German history, politics, culture and geography was quite strange to me. Even more strange was how strongly I knew exactly who it was as soon as she started speaking and before any image of her or caption appeared.

The human brain is an incredible thing.

As far as I’m aware, Ann quit lecturing in 1992, deeply unimpressed with the ever decreasing standards in German grammar of the new student intake. I have often wondered what she went on to do and am glad that she does something about which she’s clearly passionate. I also pictured her as an old lady now, but she’s defied time and she’d be glad to know that she’s aged better than I have in the intervening fourteen years.

Ice Skating

Took the family ice skating in Coventry today. It’s the first time we’ve all been ice skating together and the first time Emma and I have been in about twelve years.

I was quite impressed by Coventry’s (relatively new) ice rink, although compared to Bradford’s rink, it’s very dark due to the fact that there is no natual light. Still, I suppose that is the norm in most of these venues, based on what I’ve seen of olympic footage. I also thought the music was a bit too loud (cripes! I must be old!), because it was very difficult to hold a conversation.

We picked up our hire skates and then took to the ice. Murron got straight on, and, although she had a few tumbles, she wasn’t put off. She just picked herself up and set off again. Looks like her roller blades have been good for her.

Emma and I tried to take Philippa round between us, but she started to get upset about a quarter of the way round, so I lifted her up. No sooner had I done so, that one of the attendants (a bloke on skates) came straight over and told me I wasn’t allowed to carry her. As soon as he approached, his wisdom was borne out, as Philippa’s weight made me top heavy and I fell flat on my arse. Doh! Gave him the great opportunity to say ‘told you so’, but to be fair he resisted the temptation.

He then asked me to remove my baseball cap, because you’re not allowed to wear them on the ice rink. Apparently, you can ‘have someone’s eye out’ with one! So, the metal blade things attached to your feet aren’t any danger then?!

Emma went round a couple of times and then she and Philippa went to sit down for the rest of the session whilst Murron and I carried on, occasionally skating around together and occasionally on our own. Murron was really good by the end of the session and didn’t fall over during the last few minutes.

Towards the end of the session, I was getting back into it and was trying to do the technique on bends where you cross your right foot over your left foot in quick steps to maintain your speed, but couldn’t quite get it right. The same attendant bloke skated up alongside me again and I was waiting to be berated for having dangerous socks or some such thing, but instead he actually said that I was skating well and could see that I was struggling a bit to try to do the step-overs on bends (sorry, don’t know the technical term). He said I should buy some skates like his and pointed out that the blade was shorter on his skates and therefore made it much easier to do those steps, because you don’t have a long blade to get in the way. For a short time, I did actually think about it, but given that I last went over ten years ago, I couldn’t really justify buying ice skates.

Having said that, if Murron enjoyed it as much as she said she did, she and Daddy may be making a few more trips in future, so maybe…

I’ll have to take her skiing next. At least I’ll be on familiar turf then; or should I say Dendex?

Kill Clouseau and muses on covers and originals gigs

Kill Clouseau played our second gig last night at Molly’s Bar in Northampton. Set list was as follows:

Set 1
1. All Day And All Of The Night – The Kinks
2. 2468 Motorway – The Tom Robinson Band
3. Are ‘Friends’ Electric – Gary Numan
4. Beautiful Day – U2
5. Common People – Pulp
6. Don’t You (Forget About me) – Simple Minds
7. Down Under – Men At Work
8. Invisible Touch – Genesis
9. She Sells Sanctuary – The Cult
10. Yellow – Coldplay

Set 2
1. One Vision – Queen
2. Ordinary World – Duran Duran
3. Owner Of A Lonely Heart – Yes
4. Pop Muzik – M
5. Sit Down – James
6. Sledgehammer – Peter Gabriel
7. Sweet Home Alabama – Lynyrd Skynyrd
8. Teenage Dirtbag – Wheatus
9. American Idiot – Green Day
10. The Only One I Know – The Charlatans
11. American Pie – Don Mclean

We turned up nice and early, as requested, only to find that there was nobody at the venue. Eventually, at around 19:00, the deputy manager turned up and let us in. We got the gear in and set it all up, being careful to move our cars out of the way once we had finished, lest we offend the Hell’s Angels, who have a meeting place next to Molly’s.

Once we’d set up, we had a nice rest until we hit the stage at 22:45. By that time, you already have a reasonably good audience and there are people who come to Molly’s for the live music, so that is no bad thing. They even pipe a video link of the band round to other parts of the bar so that everyone can see you if they want to kind of watch whilst chatting or waiting at the bar.

The first set went down very well and we then had a short, ten minute break before getting back on stage for the second set. By the second set the crowd was really into it and the audience reaction was great. It’s great to see people enjoying what you’re doing and appreciating it. You can see how some people react when you play one of their favourite songs.

A great evening all round, despite getting back home and into bed at 04:00 this morning.

It’s a sad but true fact that we just don’t experience that kind of feedback from an audience in BAiT, because we don’t do enough gigs, and tied in with that, people just don’t know our stuff. Sure, the reception at the GPS support gig a couple of weeks ago was warm and friendly enough, but it feels great to get off stage knowing that you’ve helped make someone’s evening, got some cash in your pocket for your efforts, and had an alround good time out with your mates doing something you love doing – i.e. play music.

BAiT brings something different to the fold for me. For me, BAiT satisfies a creative desire to actually write music as a band, be it on a rhythmic, melodic, or lyrical basis and also the satisfaction of developing, arranging, and then recording this material and having a permanent record (i.e. a CD) at the end of the process; but BAiT’s live gigs which are few and far between rarely leave me with a buzz anywhere near approaching that of the covers gigs. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them: I do; but because the audience never reacts in the same way as the like of the audience at Molly’s last night, it can be quite frustrating. I know the BAiT material is good. I know that we play it pretty well live, but the sad reality is that those few who come to see original music nowadays don’t know that.

RoboTommo

Had a call from Tommo earlier. He had to go back to Walsgrave hospital earlier for a proper checkup after yesterday’s accident. They’ve told him he’s going to have to be admitted to hospital on Friday so that they can pin his arm and he’ll be in there for a few days.

He’ll get a card for airport security, so that they know that he’s part metal. I suggested that he takes up arms smuggling.

Now he’s a real biker.

Ouch, that had to hurt

Ross, Tommo, and I went out on our bikes this lunchtime, as we often have done recently. The roads were mildly moist, but otherwise okay. It was the first time the three of us had been out since Tommo took delivery of his shiny and brand new Suzuki SV650S last Wednesday.

Ross has really grown into his Honda FMX650 and now likes it (having not been so keen until recently). We took our normal route down the country lanes, past Kenilworth, back under the A46 and then changed from the norm by going through Stoneleigh, up to the NAC and then taking the road directly opposite the NAC’s entrance around and as far as Coventry Airport, before we started to head back towards work.

Ross was going great guns and Tommo was not far behind. They were going a little too fast for my liking (boring git that I am). Having had a couple of close shaves on muddy roads and gentle skids on the slightest hint of a moist road, I am very wary of wet surfaces now and am also very wary of left-hand bends when you really don’t know what’s round the corner – again, I nearly slammed into the back of a parked vehicle once on such a corner. So, as Ross and Tommo sped ahead, I held back and resolved to tell them both that I wouldn’t be going out again at lunchtime on the bike.

As we got back onto normal roads, all was going well until a right hand bend. Now, ordinarily on blind right-hand bends a biker gets onto the left-hand side of the road in order to afford the best possible visibility of what’s ahead and vice-versa on a left-hand bend. In this case, Tommo appeared to take the racing line towards the middle of the road.

Nobody is exactly sure what happened next, but it appeared that a car on the other side of the road gave Tommo a bit of a scare and so he decided that he was either going to hit the car or hit the squidgy side of the road. Logically, and sensibly, he went for the side of the road. To me (I was still following), it appeared as though he’d just decided to ride up the grass instead of the road. As I thought to myself ‘what the hell is he doing’, his bike fell over to the left, Tommo appeared to attempt to jump clear, and he did an amazing gymnastic display as I went past and slammed on my brakes. In an effort to put my bike on its stand and rush to check Tommo was okay, I nearly threw down my own bike, but the side stand decided to cooperate just in time.

Tommo had already done his body checks by the time I got to him. He told me later that he’d checked that he still had his legs, arms, and well, the most important bit you really wouldn’t want to lose.

Once we’d established that Tommo was going to be okay, Ross stayed with him while I went back to the office and recruited the help of Mark as an ambulance to get him to A&E at Walsgrave Hospital. We took Tommo to hospital whilst Ross awaited the AA to ferry the bike back to Tommo’s local bike garage.

After work I came home and then went to pick Tommo up from the hospital and drive him home. His arm was in a cast and he was told that it was fractured in five places. I don’t think Becky (his other half) was impressed.

Poor Tommo. He has had a lot of bad luck this year, but in many ways, he’s had good luck in bad luck. He told me on the way to his house that he would be changing his riding style now and taking things a bit more easily, so in the long-term, this accident may do him a lot of good.

Oh, and the damage on the bike (one broken gear shift) came to a grand total of £12.50, so his bike had a very lucky escape too.

BAiT support gig with GPS

BAiT played five minutes from my house last night at the Queen’s Hall, Nuneaton. We supported GPS (ex Asia plus Ryo Okumoto of Spock’s Beard). For me, it was a great chance to combine playing a BAiT gig in front of a reasonable audience of people who enjoy music, together with the chance to meet a member of one of my favourite band’s, Ryo Okumoto.

Ryo was very friendly towards us and we had a good chat with him. Look’s like Spock’s Beard will be touring the UK/Europe in February next year.

More details of the evening are on the BAiT website.