Year’s end

The new years eve gig at the Union, which was a last minute dep for Eddie Gee’s band, started as a trio, but became a quartet on the night and when George sat in on sax for a few numbers, a quintet. It went down really well and made a fitting end to the old year because, despite the loss of so many influential musicians worldwide, the music goes on.

The Union is now closed for a while for refurbishing but is a contender for Camra pub of the year competition. Let’s hope it wins. The problem now is where to go until it opens.. It’s obviously not the only pub I use but it is handy because it’s close to home. The obvious replacement would appear to be the Squirrel but as they no longer have ales, having sealed off the old bitter taps, and have given up on music, there is little incentive. I guess the alternatives are The Metropolitan or Angie’s as they are both close by. I still use the Castle and Finch’s on the Bello of course, but they are further afield. I was in Finch’s just the other day and surprise ,surprise, it’s that time of year again. The barman warned me that the price had gone up/ I informed him that I was used to that and when I first started drinking there in 1963, the prices were much lower, though not that cheap at the time, either.

One of the gigs I did at the Squirrel was for the then manager Laura George and her father Ian had been visiting and really liked the band. As a result, Laura decided to give him a surprise Party for his sixtieth birthday and booked the band. This was at the Six Bells in St Albans, an old haunt of mine back in the late fifties. The band were myself, Alan Vincent, Steve Taylor and Mel Wright and it was really enjoyable and Laura did her dad proud with a great turnout of Ian’s friends and family. Now, back to the present, I have no gigs and life is much as usual. To rub salt into the wound, Mel Wright reminded me that we first started playing together fifty years ago. Is someone trying to tell me something?

New Years Eve Gig

On New years Eve Eddy and the Wild Dice were supposed to be doing the gig at The Union Tavern but he has had a change of heart and will do a gig in his home town of Bristol, instead. He asked me to step in for him with a couple of his band who as it happens work with me too, so not really a problem. The other musicians are Jon T-bone Taylor on guitar and Neil Littman on drums. There may even be the odd guest so it could be a nice last minute arrangement.

I will be playing a gig in February with the full band at The Six Bells, St Albans, one of my really old haunts during my late teens. It will be a 60th birthday party gig for the father of Laura George who used to manage the Squirrel when I first started playing there. I might even get to meet up with some of my family who live in the area. The best of luck to everyone in the new year.

Blues get-together

A while back I joined a great group of blues people at the Henry Gray benefit night at The Bull’s Head Barnes. It went off with a real swing and raised over £400 for Henry. All the musicians taking part, Errol Linton, Tim Penn, Dom Pipkin, Tim Richards, Diz Watson, Petar Zikovic, Adam Blake, Richard Rhoden, Andy Lafone, Franca Shaw, Pete Miles, Tony Uter and Jon T-bone Taylor made the night go exceedingly well.

T-bone handled the introductions for each performer and all the guys enjoyed it, so much so that they want to do it again, but the lack of a suitable venue with a decent piano is making that more and more unlikely which is a shame. However, all credit to the performers and the back-up helpers and to promoter Pete Feenstra for putting it on.

Given how infrequently I get to write this blog, or to answer anything at all, perhaps this is the time to wish everyone a happy |Christmas and a successful New Year. That does not mean lots of hangovers…

Henry Gray benefit night

The birthday bash went reasonably soberly and I would like to thank all the sitters-in, Brian, Eddy, George, Richard, Bonny, Carmen and Miss Honeybee. You all helped to make the evening a success and give me a warm celebration of yet another passing year. I want also to thank the band, who as usual sailed through the evening with finesse.. I bet they’ve never had that description of themselves before, but there has to be a first time. Thanks again to everyone. The staff at the Union Tavern were their usual friendly selves and I appreciate all the extra effort they had to make to organise the room.

I shall be at the Henry Gray benefit gig at the Bull’s Head Barnes on November 7th. Henry lost everything in the recent Mississippi Floods so there is a great opportunity to help him out. I had the privilege of working with him when he was over here so it’s good to be able to give something back. There will be plenty of other musicians doing their bit so it looks as though the evening will be a great success. The Bull’s Head has a website with all the details and prices so I urge anyone who enjoys the blues to support this worthwhile cause. See you there.

Canalside Blues

That time has come around again when I can do the annual birthday bash with the band. The Union Tavern is a great little pub with craft beers from local breweries and a well-used canalside terrace. The band will be Alan Vincent and Jon t-bone Taylor on guitars, Steve Taylor on Bass and Neil Littman on drums. Afew guests are intending to come along too so it should be birthday business as usual. My only problem is getting my gear there as I got rid of my car a while ago. Fortunately the place is just around the corner.

Here we go again…

I hadn’t realised how long it was since I last wrote anything here. Anyway, after the operation for the pacemaker I was able to get to Poland for the wedding which was three days of vodka shots, endless wine and food and continuous dancing, but as I had to restrict my left arm movements for the heart wires to bed in, my one handed dance efforts weren’t too often and not so brilliant,

Back in England the following weekend we travelled to Sevenoaks for another wedding and on the train, some dickhead ex mercenary from the Angola campaign told us all to shut up and threatened Gigi’s ninety two year old woman with his umbrella. Another passenger intervened and eventually the idiot was removed from the train. Who says train guards aren’t needed?

A week or so later, Pete Sargeant asked me to arrange a meet up with Chris, to do a joint interview for Blues Matters Magazine, This we did and had a reasonable enough drink as there was a beer festival on at the local pub. Chris is still having leg problems but is coping okay so that’s good news.

I saw Pete again a week later at the Spice of Life gig which went well. The other performers, Booga Red, a great duo with Steve English on guitar and vocals and pianist Claire Hamlin, were a nice contrast to our set so the evening had plenty to offer. I even sold a few cd’s Could do with more of the same.

The partying had to stop sometime and it did so in the form of my asthma coming back with a vengeance. I met up with Dino Coccia and Ryan Lamb in the Blue Post behind the 100 Club, but the evening was spoiled by a severe asthma hit which caused me to bring up all that hard-earned drink I’d already consumed earlier in Portobello. As I hadn’t eaten anything it could have been worse. In fact it wasn’t helped by me trying to use a redundant inhaler.

The problem got worse over the next week and although Gigi and I went out to the Union on Carnival Sunday, I was in no state to attend the carnival this year, In fact when I finally conceded defeat and made an appointment with the doctor, I brought everything up again at home on Sunday night, and after only one pint. The trouble is I brought up the newly acquired medication too. The result was we didn’t even get to the Union on Monday. Carnival, you bet.

Jon T-bone Taylor is arranging a benefit gig for Henry Gray, after the Louisiana flooding wiped him out possession-wise, As I had the pleasure of working with Henry way back when he was over here, it is a pleasure to help out. The gig will be at the Bull’s Head Barnes on November 7th and is a worthy cause so let’s hope people pitch. Now it’s time to make another doctor appointment for the asthma review. I’m not so sure getting old is quite the fun I thought it was.