So far no good…

Yesterday I met up with Chris Youlden and we had a good catch-up accompanied by very cheap beer, £1.99 a pint in a real ale Festival. Chris has just got over a bad cold but is still having problems with his legs so it was good to see him out and about again. However my cough which I’ve had at least three different treatments for, is still hanging on and I am in the middle of my fourth set of medication. So far no good. Actually a whiskey at bedtime did give me a cough-free night, though it was back to normal today.

We had a really enjoyable gig at The Elgin and it was good to see people from the old Station Tavern and Portobello Green days in the audience. They have a good sound engineer for the in-house PA and I really enjoyed the evening. Let’s hope there will be a few more in the future.

We will be back at The Squirrel next Friday so I guess I will have to get on the case to get some support as there wasn’t any live music there this Friday just gone. It will be the usual line-up and time, 8.30pm or so. Meanwhile New Zealand have just scored another try in the 78th minute so I guess the All Blacks are world champions again. Time to shut up shop now.

Party time.

Lots of birthday wishes thank you all. The birthday bash went well again with plenty of musicians and vocalists to help out. And I needed helping out because I’ve had this cough for months now and though I’ve been to the doctor three times and had God knows how many antibiotic and steroid pills the cough still persists and leaves me short of breath at times. I am now discovering the delights or otherwise of Ventolin inhalers,

A few days later I was in the Grand Union where the Portobello Brewers and Fullers Brewers were jointly sponsoring a charity for the Carnival. They had a raffle for various products, and I won one of 100 specially brewed bottled beers. Obviously I’m not fated to give up drinking yet. The other part of the promotion was a country blues duo who did a really good set. I was going to mention them here and took down their details but in my inimitable fashion managed to lose the information. Apologies to you guys.

This week we’ll be playing at The Elgin on the corner of Ladbroke Grove and Westbourne Park Road. The band as usual will be Alan Vincent and Jon T-Bone Taylor on guitars, Steve Taylor on bass and Mel Wright on drums. Although I’ve lived around the area for fifty odd years, I’ve never played the Elgin. I’m looking forward to it.

Birthdays’r Us.

Coming up to the monthly gig at my local, The Squirrel, which happens to coincide with my actual birthday, hence my 78th Birthday Bash will take place there this year. Hope to have a few guests again. The gig actually clashes with the rugby match between Georgia and New Zealand so we’ll kick of briefly during the half-time interval and then we’ll continue after the match ends. We shall know more about the rugby state of play by then and presumably the more experienced teams will have overcome their initial problems against the lesser teams. I wonder if the All Blacks fans will be singing Georgia on my mind by then, or marching though Georgia?.

Two weeks after that we will be at the Elgin on Ladbroke Grove Which is a bit closer to my old haunts Bob’s Goodtime Blues and The Inn on The Green. Maybe we’ll bring out a few of the supporters from those days. We know you’re out there even if we don’t know where you live, we do know where you drink! Well I see enough of you in my carousing on Portobello.

On a more worrying subject, I have been induced to do things I never thought I would be doing, when I actually danced to a duo using a drum machine, one of my pet hates, the machine, not the dancing.. This was at The Squirrel and I must have been drunk. Even worse, I got up, or was rather dragged up, at the Cock in Kilburn one Friday night, to dance to Karaoke. Is this a sign of senility I wonder.

I was able to do penance later by dancing to proper live music when I and Gigi went along to Little George’s surprise 50th birthday party in Dogstar in Coldharbour Lane, Brixton. It was a really great evening of music and dancing I’d seen George a few weeks earlier at The Elgin but wasn’t doing dance penance then. A few days later Gigi and I joined in a friend’s birthday celebration at the Vaults in Waterloo where we were able to catch Errol Linton in action. The penance is now done.

Eagle flies on Friday…

It’s coming up to the first Friday of the month so we’ll be playing our usual gig at the Squirrel in Maida Hill. Last week saw Sean Taylor, guitarist, singer/songwriter performing there with a drummer whose name I didn’t catch but who was very interesting, given that he also plays in concert orchestras, so it was good to hear his technique in a different context. Steve was also on the case and I enjoyed the evening more than I had expected to do.

The bands have been changing recently but the music continues every Friday and there might be more regular nights but that’s only an idea at present. A few other excursions to pubs have included the re-opened Cock and Bottle in Artesian Road and Finch’s and The Castle on the Bello, plus the newly named Red Lemon on All Saints Road.

On Tuesday Gigi and I went down to The South Bank for a stroll. It was more of a stroll than we had expected because the bus terminated prematurely in Regent Street and not Trafalgar Square. I think I probably lost a pound or two as a result of the unintended exercise, but we enjoyed the trip. Yes of course it included wine…

Summertime blues

For the latest gig at the Squirrel, we had Neil Littman depping for our regular drummer Mel Wright. Mel will be back for this Friday’s gig there. The gig was well received and we even had a couple of extra singers with the presence of Bonnie Taylor and Carmen Carr.. Incidentally, Carmen’s band the Red Roosters are doing a gig at a wedding on the day before our Squirrel gig and she has invited me to join the band, so that should be interesting.

The last time I did a wedding gig, they were all wearing kilts…well not all, they hadn’t asked the band to do that. However that was a long time ago but I can still remember some of it. I shall not explain why I can’t remember more of it but anyone who regularly reads this blog will be able to hazard a reasonable guess.

There has been a change of management at the Squirrel with the departure of Jason to pastures new. He is moving to Dorking, to I believe the King’s Arms, so no doubt I will be down that way sometime soon. Matt from The Warrington has been supervising the transition to the new manager who is due there imminently.

The music is continuing on Fridays and we are there as I mentioned, on the 3rd July. This is intended to be a regular first Friday of the month gig. The line-up will be Alan Vincent and Jon T-bone Taylor on guitars, Steve Taylor on bass and Mel Wright drums as mentioned earlier. I personally could do without the heat wave and I don’t think drinking water is a sufficient counter to it. We’ll see.

Monarch of the bend…

Sad to see the end of another great blues career. The one and only B. B. King is gone and his place won’t be filled, that’s for sure. The original less-is-more guitarist has left a great legacy via his recordings and memories of his live performances. There will be tributes galore and well justified. He lived through great change in the acceptance of the blues outside the black community and we have all benefited. Long may his spirit live on.

On a more mundane level, there are some changes in the forthcoming Squirrel gigs with the July 31st date brought forward to Friday the 3rd and following ones will be on the first Friday of each month. However the next performance is still on June 19th. Hope to see you there.

Old-timers

The gig at the Squirrel went well and it was good to see Brian Neville again. He turned up with a couple of large photographs of me on stage at the Hundred Club on what must have been my 65th birthday bash there. The original photos were taken by Jimmy Appudurai-Chua and when the landlord of the Squirrel saw them he commandeered one for the pub. It now hangs in a frame on the wall there. I didn’t make the blues hall of fame but I am number one in the Squirrel Hall of Fame. I didn’t realise I was so good looking, (Actually I know someone who still thinks I am.)

Talking of Gigi, she and I went to an exhibition of drawings and paintings where we ran into John A Liammari from Yonkers, New York. He played in a club there back in the day on piano with Frank Sinatra. I had to leave early but Gigi stayed on and then went to the Squirrel with John and his daughter and a group of friends. The outcome of that evening was that we arranged to meet up again before John returned to the States.

The reason I left early, was to meet up with Chris Youlden and Jon T-bone Taylor at the Spread Eagle in Camden. We had a quick drink there then went on to The Jazz Café Where we enjoyed the Bettye Lavette concert. She has a great bunch of musicians backing her and as usual was well received. After the show we ended up at the Camden Eye for last knockings. No surprise there then,

A couple of days later Gigi and I met up at the 606 Club in Lots Road. There we joined John Liammari and the group from the art exhibition. There was a modern jazz piano-led trio, again an excellent group of musicians. After the last set John got up and did a rousing medley in contrast to the previous music. He is 91 and still got it. Another enjoyable evening.

After all this carousing my penance was in the form of going without heating for three weeks due to an erratic boiler.(I’ve met some of them in my life) Apparently the fan in it was faulty but I’m still waiting. Perhaps they’ll finally turn up as promised. Of course the weather has finally improved and I’ve saved on my gas bill. It can’t all be bad.
Boiler

The blues ain’t nothin…

After receiving a number of enquiries concerning Chris Youlden I met up with him for a drink. He’s still having problems with his leg ulcers but we had a good catch-up in his local. Unfortunately he still finds it hard to travel much though we will be going to see Bettye Lavette at Camden soon.

I went to “Ain’t nothing but…” in Kingly Street the other day and caught up with Matt Radford and the Blues Legends. It’s a really cooking band and I had an enjoyable evening. I also was glad to see Rob running the place again and also was pleased to say hello to Kevin, the first time for ages. I must get down there more often.

I’m playing at The Squirrel again this Friday with the usual line-up. Al; Vincent and Jon t-bone Taylor on guitars, Steve Taylor on bass and Mel Wright on drums. We have been promised a couple of songs from jazz singer Miss Valentine who also does a session there once a month so it looks like turning into a good evening as there might be one or two other people sitting in.

Digital nemesis

I never seem to get it with Facebook. Mind that’s because I didn’t bother with it until recently. Likewise Linked-in. I merely joined these things because people suggested they were useful. They omitted to tell me they are useful if you understand how to use them effectively. My problem is that every time I want to respond to something or some-one on either, I’m constantly being asked for my password, which obviously I forget more often than I remember. There’s probably a simple solution to this but so far I haven’t sorted it. The bottom line is that I sometimes leave it too late to respond to requests and lose the chance to do so. So anyone who hasn’t received an adequate response so far, deserves an apology, but then I’d have to know my password or get another one…and I actually am in favour of the digital age, or at least until some clown on a mobile steps in front of me when I’m driving. Whilst I may possibly conceive that I would assist a suicide if necessary, I’d like to be asked first.

Well, wasn’t that little paragraph a change from my usual description of my various pub crawls. Suffice to say that I have been doing the usual rounds. Why, only the other day I proceeded on one starting at the Cock and Bottle, well almost, because when I got there it was to find it closed for refurbishment. I dread to think what will produce. On then to Finch’s in Portobello Road and then to The Castle likewise. Met a few auld acquaintances before making my way homewards via The Metropolitan and The Squirrel, where I will be playing next week, on Friday the 13th just before Valentine’s night. So all those people who worry about being unlucky on Friday the 13th will probably be just as unlucky on Valentine’s night too. That’s why we need to keep pubs viable so they have somewhere to drown their sorrows. And me a cynical optimist. Here’s no accounting for distaste…time for a drink!

Squirrel cancellation.

Had a great Christmas day with family and friends and was looking forward to the Boxing Day gig at the Squirrel. When I loaded my car it was pouring with rain so I moved it to a parking spot outside the pub early in the afternoon and walked back home, getting soaked in the process. However about seven o’clock I was told that they were trying to get hold of me.

I called the Squirrel and was told they were cancelling the gig as there was no-one in the pub and they hadn’t done any good all day.. I then tried to get hold of the various musicians, some of whom were already on their way. Eventually I managed to get them turned around and that was that.

The next day Gigi and I were in the pub and Jason, the manager apologised and gave us another gig. That will be on Friday January 16th at 9 in the evening, The band will be Alan Vincent on guitar, Jon T-bone Taylor, guitar, Steve Taylor, Bass, Mel Wright on drums and myself on vocals and harp. My apologies to anyone who turned up and I hope you can make it next time.

Yesterday I had to go to hospital to get a couple of Injections in my shoulders to ease the pain from torn ligaments…too much lifting of heavy PA speakers, I guess. I wish everyone a great New Year’s Eve celebration and hope you all have a beneficial year ahead. I might even make a resolution or two.

Hopalong to the hop

I managed somehow to get a badly infected big toe a few weeks ago so I hobbled along to a nearby walk-in, or should I say limp-in, clinic. They diagnosed an in-growing toe nail and said I should toddle along to another walk-in clinic at 8a.m. the next day, in Parsons Green, my old stamping ground from my earliest days in London. Here, after battling through the Monday morning rush hour, the diagnosis was an infection and the treatment was a dose of antibiotics. Ah the benefits of a second opinion.

The treatment worked well and the pain receded after a few days and I was able to walk normally, though the calf muscles had cramped up so much during the time when I was trying to decide whether I was hobbling, limping or attempting to emulate the funny walks brigade. I was due to return for a follow-up visit on the Monday but on Friday I was in a lot of pain in my chest and back and finally was persuaded by friends and family and a phone call from a GP, that I should go along to an accident and emergencies department, which I duly did.

They took my blood pressure which was 193 or thereabouts and decided to run me through the mill with blood tests, X-rays ECG scans, Ultrasound scans and yet more blood tests. I have a heart problem which gets checked every year, so they were pretty thorough and finally decided that I wasn’t having a heart attack or anything that necessitated keeping me in overnight, so after about six hours I was released and got to The Squirrel pub in time for the last few numbers of the band and time to say hello to Chris Hunt. Pain killers did the trick over the weekend and by Monday I was fit enough to return to the Parsons |Green clinic where they gave me the all-clear. As I went after the rush hour I was able to celebrate in the pub next door, The White Horse, another old haunt of mine.

The following weekend, I met up with Chris Youlden for a drink and we compared health notes as he had had a few incidents in his ongoing leg treatment, part of which meant limping along to an unscheduled clinic visit to get new bandages and dressings for his leg as his regular nurse was away, I also was able to let him hear one of his songs on my I-pad which has been covered by Bettye Lavette and will be released in January. Finally, continuing the music theme, I am playing every six weeks at the Squirrel (see events), The next two gigs are on Boxing Day and Friday the 13th of February. Is some-one trying to tell me something?

Save the last Dance for me

Went for a drink with Chris Youlden a couple of weeks ago. He is more mobile than he has been for a while and he only visits the surgery once a month now. He still has to do leg exercise and spends about half an hour doing the dressing on his leg which is a bit of a chore, but he is enjoying the improvement and has also shaken of the flu-like symptoms he was suffering from. I’ll be meeting with him soon.

The gig this Friday at the Squirrel pub on the corner of my road starts at 8.30pm and the band consists of Alan Vincent and Jon T-bone Taylor on guitars, Steve Taylor on Bass, Mel Wright on drums and myself on vocals and harp. Details are in the events section of this site. Looking forward to it. The Squirrel has a new manager and things are picking up again. My God I even participated in a Salsa class there. Mind, it seems to be hindering my normal way of dancing, the style I don’t do on stage. Aren’t you pleased…