Yesterday I met Mel Wright, the Waydown drummer and original Shakey Vick Big-City Blues Band drummer to check out an old live recording which we did about 19 years ago at The 100 Club in Oxford Street. Actually I didn’t meet him directly.
The meet time was 1p.m and at 12.50 I arrived at Thornton Heath station but with no Mel in sight I was forced to take refuge in a nearby pub which happened to suitably available. I then discovered that I didn’t have Mel’s mobile number, but no panic, I knew that he had mine. At 1.10 my phone duly rang and Mel asked if I was on the train. I was able to inform him that I had in fact arrived early and, surprise, surprise had managed to find a proper pub. Is it the one opposite the station,?” Mel asked. “There isn’t one opposite the station, not Thornton Heath Station. I couldn’t possibly have walked past one.” Fat chance! “There’s one opposite Norbury Junction Station, which is where I am now and which is where we’re supposed to meet.” Some time later we arrived at RMS studio in Penge. Actually we were still on time so there were no recriminations.
We spent the next few hours with engineer Andy Devine waving his magic wand and getting the recording sounding good. It had been a Blueshawks gig and I’d guested with them after their set. I had had reservations about the project but Andy did a good job and it sounded viable to me. We included a couple of Blueshawks numbers from their set and Wolfie Witcher also added a second harp on three of the tracks I did, so there’s plenty of harp for afficianados. It sounds much better than I expected.
Mel also persuaded me, for collectors’ purposes, to include an old test acetate of an unreleased single which I recorded with the second Shakey Vick line-up in about 1968. It was a revelation in more ways than one. Not only has my harp playing changed, so has my voice. Anyway, after leaving the studio with a master and half a dozen copies for the various musicians involved, we had a quick drink in a pub near the station and decided, all being well, to make this the next Vicksboro’ release .
The Blueshawks were the band formed from a combination of my first and second line-ups plus one or two other desperadoes, but they didn‘t include me. I was probably too expensive. As well as Mel they included Wolfie Witcher on vocals and harp and Ron Skinner on vocals and bass with the late Bruce Langsman, the guitarist. Bruce was also on the acetate recording, how’s that for continuity?
As we’re meeting up for a memorial drink for Bruce on Saturday, we hope to get the okay from the other guys in the band. Rex, Bruce’s brother, has arranged things as usual and one of the copies of the recording is for him. There is one instrumental which I’ve called the 100 Club Boogie and this may be the title of the album if I can get the okay from Geoff at the club. Oh dear, that means another visit to a bar. Who’d be a bluesman?
Who’d be a bluesman indeed! Well Shakey would and our recording session last week made me realise how long this trip has been. Apart from 100 Club live recording, the vintage 1968 tracks seem to have a life of their own! Two tracks orginally planned as a single with a ‘can’t say’ major label for a ‘can’t say’ 60’s record producer have laid dormant over 40 years.Our bassist Ron Skinner had the acetate for a while (not sure why because neither he nor I played on it) and we passed it back to Shakey (bad move!) I then borrowed it during late 80’s and did a cassette recording of it and then returned it to Shakey (another bad move) who later cleared his house in Reigate and said that the disc had probably got accidently thrown out. So, our recent recording session was from my cassette. THEN last Wednesdy I got an excited phone call from Shakey to say that in searching around his flat he found a box of 45’s and ep’s including Duke Ellington, Chuck Berry Louis Armstrong, AND the acetate! Happy ending but for how long?
On our way to our meet up at The Blue Posts last night (behind 100 Club) I passed our one time residency at Enfants Terribles in Dean Street (French student hang out in 1967) and was pleasantly surprised to see that it is once again a jazz and blues bar. I suggsted to Shakey that maybe we could do a gig there.He looked bemused or was it that he’d had a few pints(?) about the possibility of returning to that basement club but maybe we’ll dip back into Soho which I always thought was the roots of the band. In the meantime – he’s given me a gig, to dep for Dino at King Head on 21st April!