Whose Party?

My birthday bash went so well that we’ve been booked back at the Squirrel again. I’d like to thank everyone who turned up and hope they enjoyed it as much as I did. The Band line-up was Alan Vincent and Jon T-bone Taylor on guitars, Steve Taylor on Bass and Mel Wright on drums. I’d had a flu jab a few days before and was expecting to be bothered with a bout of coughing every time I played harp or sang, but was relieved that it didn’t happen. Steve’s wife Bonny sat in on a couple of songs and Brian Diprose did a spot on Bass. Dave Noall was over from America where he has recently been granted American citizenship, so he sat in on a couple of numbers, one just with me on harp and the other with the whole band.

Chris Youlden had intended coming but he phoned me on the day and sounded terrible with a really bad cough. .As I’m going down to meet him for a drink and a catch-up on the coming Friday I hope that he has got over it by then. We were hoping that Mel Wright might make it too but he’s got a prior engagement so it will have to be another time for him. He’ll be playing at the squirrel gig anyway on the 14th 0f November so if we don’t get together before then, then so be it. I’ll use the same line-up for the gig. Incidentally, the Squirrel is now doing regular Friday night live music, so I won’t have to do much travelling to hear some.

Finally, for all those poor politicians who don’t know what to do about UKIP, given that party’s foreign policy is to stop all aid to third world countries, may I suggest a slogan for the main parties: VOTE UKIP – GET EBOLA.

A leak in time…

I will be having my seventy-seventh birthday bash on the evening of Saturday 4th October at the Squirrel pub on the junction of Elgin and Chippenham roads in Maida Hill W9 2AF. The band will be playing between 9.30 and 11.30 though undoubtedly we will have to break for the occasional drink. My actual birthday is on the Thursday before, though I don’t have any plans to spend the two intervening days in any particular celebration, well maybe the odd pint or two…

Dave, who used to book us at the Inn On The Green on Portobello Green, celebrated his birthday too recently and I was all set to join him and his guests when the roof fell in. Actually it was the ceiling in the toilet which fortunately no-one was using at the time. I had to wait in for hours until someone was able to come and make the ceiling safe, then a further wait, by this time in the dark, for an electrician to make safe the light and switch etc. So, no party then.

Actually that collapse was caused by a small continuous leak from the bathroom upstairs. I’ve waited for two weeks to get the leak fixed. Today someone was supposed to come and sort it, but of course I’m still waiting. They didn’t turn up, so another week or so then maybe another wait for the ceiling to be replaced, then perhaps another week or three before the electrics are sorted. Ah the pleasures of not being in control.

Day Tripper

I’ve had a busy week for a change. It started with a visit to Round Midnight where I enjoyed Rollo Markee’s gig with some tasty harp and vocals. The following day, as Gigi had a few days off, we decided to become tourists to London and visit places I haven’t got a round to seeing in my fifty-odd years of living here. Not that most of them were actually here fifty years ago.

First off, we took a tube to tower Hill and visited the Tower of London poppy display in honour of the first world war troops from all over the commonwealth who died in that war to end all wars. The post war carve-up of land of the Ottoman empire, the Levant and middle east, of course, led to the continuing conflict there to this day. Also the ridiculously severe punishment of defeated Germany led to the rise of Hitler and world war two. Any lessons learned? Look at Ukraine and Russia…as Homer Simpson would say…Doh!

After viewing and photographing the display, we decided to walk along the river, The River Walk has a few small detours but is well laid out with great views of the river, the riverside developments and the bridges. Lots more tourist photography ensued. Finally we reached the Millennium Bridge and walked over it for the first time. I think it might have been interesting if we’d done it before they fixed the wobble, but it was still another tick on the tourist box. We ended the day by visiting the Matisse exhibition at the New Tate Gallery. A satisfactory end to the day.

After all the previous day’s walking, day two of the tour started later than usual with a visit to Rupert Street in Soho, starting with a drink in the Blue Post and the a meal in the nearby Palomar restaurant, a hive of activity. The place is extraordinarily welcoming, the staff enjoy a laugh and whilst the place can seem hectic, it actually is great fun. A member of staff named Tom made us feel immediately at home and most businesses could learn a thing or two about interplay between the staff making the place buzz and extremely encouraging to the customers.

After that we called in at the Ain’t Nothin’ But blues bar for a half hour . It was jam night and the house band were sounding good, but we had overdone it with booze, surprise, surprise, so we made our way home. After all, the next day had already been planned.

Back to the river again for a trip on the Thames Clipper to North Greenwich. Whilst being on the river was nothing new, the fact of using it for transport rather than pleasure had a certain interest. As ever, a river trip always brings some spectacle or other, even though it may only be from the clouds and the weather. Nevertheless, it was pleasurable too. And so to Emirates Airways…the cable car trip over to the other side.

This was one of those occasions when I didn’t have to wait for fifty years before I deigned to investigate. We took our place on the continuously moving car, a bit like getting on a ski lift but much smoother and easier and more comfortable. The crossing was effortless and full of viewing opportunities of the historic dockside part of London’s working river. Time for more touristy photo shoots. Once on the other side at Royal Dock, we did a bit of exploring but ignored the various bars and eating places and settled on a small kiosk selling Chinese food. We were directed to a nearby outdoor table to await our order, expecting it to arrive quickly, but were surprised and pleased that the food was cooked from scratch and so took longer. Another nice little touch of good food and good service.

We then returned via cable car to North Greenwich, though strangely, we ended up in a car which swayed continuously, unlike all the others we passed, then took the river bus back to Embankment. This journey, being in rush hour, was much quicker than the midday trip, with the turnaround at the various wharfs, very slick and impressive. After disembarking, we had the essential visit to a nearby pub, in this case the Ship and Shovel, before the journey home. Ah, the tourist life…and to think it’s carnival time this weekend…

Drinking Beer

Chris Youlden and I met for a drink last week. It turned out to be a long session as we hadn’t met for months. He is still having problems with his ankle but it isn’t going to get any better and will require regular dressings and the fortnightly attention by a visit to the doctor’s surgery. He is able to get around again so that’s a plus. He is in good enough spirits on the whole and it was agreeable to meet up again.

It is a while ago now that I went to a Jon T-bone Taylor jazz gig but although the group played well the beer was awful and the audience were rowdy for the wrong reasons. Even a jazz version of “Danny Boy” didn’t do the trick for the most noisy, but it’s good to see some live music in the area. Shame about the beer. No wonder it was so cheap.

However I do meet up with Jon from time to time on Monday night at a really good beer tavern where the beer is on special offer at £3 a pint that particular day and well up to scratch. This of course is the Grand Union on the canal on the corner of Woodfield Road and Great Western Road. The background music is better the average, so that is also a bonus.

Once more unto the breach…

It was recently pointed out to me, by my web maestro, Jason (in a pub of course) that I hadn’t posted anything for a while. Indeed, he was specific as to the actual number of days. Well I promised to rectify that the next day. However, I did not keep my word on that as it is more than a week since I made such a rash statement. Well I’ve probably made a number of rash statements since then but not to do with this post. So, once more unto the breach…

We did the gig at the Chippenham with a slight change of personnel as Jim Mercer wasn’t sure that he could do it. I then arranged for Brian Diprose to dep on bass.
As it happens, Jim called on the morning of the gig to say that he was up for it after all, but it was already sorted. Unfortunately Chris Youlden wasn’t able to make it due to his ongoing problems with his ankle. There was international rugby on that evening so we did a brief spot, two numbers, during half time and then after the match, we did an extended set. It went down well and even many of the rugby fans stayed on and were very complimentary about the band.

I resumed business with Jim at the Alley Cat for a couple of months afterwards. However we recently decided to call time on this particular gig as it wasn’t really going anywhere because of the early time slot. I had enjoyed the challenge of playing in a different format, but we couldn’t see it progressing much. It did nevertheless keep me active as far as the music scene is concerned, so that I will miss that part of it.

Every year, Rex Langsman, brother of guitarist Bruce Langsman who died a while ago, arranges a reunion to remember Bruce. It involves a get-together with some of Bruce’s band colleagues from my band and also from the Nighthawks, plus some of Bruce’s mates from his ATV days. It always means a pub gathering and this time it was at The Swiss Cottage in Finchley Road. This was particularly apt, as Bruce and I started out playing just around the corner at The Hole in the Ground, another venue that got redeveloped, but a nostalgic one for all that.

Catch Up

It’s been a while since I wrote anything here which doesn’t mean I’ve been having the time of my life, just that I’ve been remiss. No change there then. However…on New Year’s Eve I went to the Chippenham, to hear the Johnny Nikki Band and they were on the case. A good crowd saw the new year in and I believe I was relatively sober though there were no relatives around to confirm that. I returned to the Chip a few weeks later to catch the Pete Duke band and again enjoyed myself.

I’ll be there again this Friday but with my own band. The line-up is Alan Vincent on guitar, Mel Wright drums, John Lewis, piano, Jim Mercer, bass and vocals and myself. Jon T-Bone Taylor has agreed to come along on guitar also so we should be on the ball, though not the snooker table. I managed to give the wrong post code for the Chippenham in the gig listing. It is 207 Shirland Road, W9 2EX and the gig is due to start at 9pm.

As for the other pub crawling, I recently met Dino Coccia for a drink at the Churchill Arms in Church Street Kensington and the place was heaving. Dino posted a pic or two on his website. I appear remarkably sober in them, which is not always the case. Last night I went for a drink at the Grand Union on the canal by Woodfield Road, with Jon T-Bone, Eddie G and Neil and then strolled home. The Union was hectic on account of a birthday party. They have a regular beer promotion at three pounds a pint on Mondays and the beer it tip top. Naturally I go there quite often on Mondays, doing my bit to enjoy the recession. Oh sorry, it’s supposed to be over. Tell that to all those unfortunate people still inundated with flood damage.

On a lighter note, I have been joining Jim Mercer in the Ella Speed band on alternate Tuesdays at The Alley Cat in Denmark Street. I will be there again tonight at six o’clock, the “happy hour“. No doubt I will end up nearer to home at the Squirrel afterwards. C’est la vie…