A few month’s ago, Jon T-bone Taylor and I were in the audience at the Chippenham, the pub at the end of the road I live in, enjoying the music of The Johnnie Nikki Band. A couple of week’s later we did a gig there ourselves and have managed to do about seven more since then, including some last-minute substitutions when other bands have pulled out. To think, a while back I was bemoaning the lack of gigs. I‘m beginning to enjoy playing again, though the place reminds me at times of what a rough Mississippi .back-country juke might have been, with the odd argument ending in a fight. Still, if you only play blues you have to take what you can get. On the scheduled gigs we get a number of blues people, but on the last-minute gigs we don’t get so many. Then it’s what I call a small but select audience, though I’d like to know who the hell selected them.
The band space is small so there is just about room for a four-piece band, but we seem to be popular among some of the regulars, so life isn’t so bad. The bass and drums tend to change from time to time according to availability, but there’s not a lot new about that as far as I am concerned. People are often surprised that we don’t rehearse, but all the subs are competent blues players so the band gels with no real problems. In fact my problem at the moment is because of another little incident altogether.
The other day I was walking to my local bookies, also at the end of the road, Normally I bet by telephone or internet, but as I managed to lose or mislay my credit cards, I had to place cash bets until the cards were replaced. Before I got to the bookies I managed to trip over a paving stone and bang my hand and my ribs. Fortunately, the horse won at odds of 10 to 1 so the pain of the fall wasn’t half as bad as it might have been. It was only in the evening, when I was doing a sound check on harp and holding a long suck note, that I became convinced that I’d cracked a rib. The point is, that I’d been completely sober at the time, unlike the previous time I did similar self-punishment by cracking another rib a few years back. Incidentally, the sound check was at the Blues Attic Revisited Festival.
We’d picked up Gordon Smith, who was also performing at the festival and travelled to Banbury with my partner Gigi and drummer Neil Littman, who was driving. Bassist Jim Mercer and his partner Norma were travelling together and guitarist Al Vincent was bringing Chris Youlden to the gig. Somehow I had got the idea that the promised backline included drums so Neil only brought along snare and cymbals. That’s when S,A.L.T,’s drummer came up trumps as he offered the use of his drums. However there was slight problem as Neil is left-handed. To both drummers I offer my apologies. Mick Clarke also stepped in with the use of his amp for Chris, so despite my incompetence, the evening was saved. It was good to meet up with Mick and Stevie Smith again after so long. We all seem to be survivors. As for the gig, Chris rose to the occasion as he always does and sounded great. It was just like the old days and I don’t feel that we’re at the end of the road quite yet.