Friday, December 29, 2006
A lot more people this time, though as usual they chose to lurk in the darkness at the back of the room, like wolves circling a campfire. For some reason, people seemed reluctant to respond to Chris's slightly threatening imprecations to "move a little closer", perhaps mindful of what happens when Hannibal Lecter says that...
It was pointed out later that our aging SM58 microphones are now so full of rust, spit, phlegm and beer that no-one could actually hear a word he was saying, which is possibly just as well.
The only ones who came onto the dancefloor were a large posse of small girls, who quickly discovered the 'sliding around' potential, and buffed up the parquet to a lovely shine by the end of the night.
We'll be back on St Patrick's night, so I guess we'd best practise a few jigs 'n' reels by then - and perhaps invest in at least one decent mike, so people can better appreciate the delicate nuances of the lyrics...
Talking of which, I wonder if I'm the only one puzzled by Mitsubishi's decision to advertise their latest planet-killing 4x4 monster truck with a cover of Dylan's 'Hard Rain'..?
Monday, December 11, 2006
We could have done without one particular punter though - quite the drunkest woman I've ever clapped eyes on (and that's saying something) staggered up to the stage while we were soundchecking to inform us how pissed she was. We'd guessed. I assumed she'd slide quietly beneath a table or be carried out before we started, but no - the lady wanted to dance...
I cocked up several songs due to fits of giggles as she repeatedly bounced off the edge of the stage, fell over on the dancefloor and crawled away on all fours, only to return for more. In between, she made a noise like a baboon with Tourettes' syndrome.
We kind of assumed she was a local 'character' who did this every week, but one of the locals sidled up to Chris in the break and asked: "Is she with you?" No! She isn't! Sure enough, at the end of the night she was poured into a taxi bound for Wells. I hope she had £50 to cover the valeting charge...
We're booked back here on the 23rd, a fortnight's time, so we must have gone down well. Chris had asked someone from the Glastonbury Festival down, but she didn't show this time, so maybe... oh. Oh dear. I really hope it wasn't...
Monday, November 27, 2006
In the tradition of noble self-sacrifice I struggled on regardless, however, and as everyone else gradually melted into sweaty puddles under the lights, I actually started to feel a bit better. Probably the Guinness, which as any doctor will tell you, is Good For You. In fact I stopped sweating, took on a waxy pallor and finally lapsed into rigor mortis, so a good result all round.
(Not as bad as a gig in Portsmouth somewhere about 3 years ago, where I had to run out to the carpark to throw up between sets. Nice. Fell asleep in the drummer's car on the way back, only to be rudely awoken by an undignified screaming & a shower of sparks as the car slid on it's belly across the M32, having left a front wheel embedded in the central reservation. All in all, not a good night.)
Quieter than on Saturdays, when we usually play here, but they still gave us a good reception - special mention to Barry the roadie, who spent all day setting up Status Quo's gear in Bristol before coming to Weston to see us. Wonder if he'd like a job? Unpaid, of course...
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
On the guestlist courtesy of Robin (cheers mate!), so we got there in time to see the support acts as well: Crucified Barbara were a rather lovely Swedish all-girl metal act who struck all the requisite poses & rocked pretty convincingly, despite being hampered by a somewhat muffled front of house PA that made them sound like they were playing under a duvet. Hmm, there's a thought...
Next up were Clutch, a US outfit fronted by a rather scary gentleman who seemed to have just come from a particularly energetic Revivalist meeting - interesting stuff, though.
A couple of pints of the Colston Hall's overpriced Stella later and it was time for the Man Himself... now in his 60's, the grizzled figure of Lemmy still commands the stage, and the boys always put on a good show. It does sort of feel a bit like a panto, though - you know there'll be a 5 minute drum solo (just enough time for the Lemster to nip off stage for a little, er, pick-me-up. Or perhaps to get the lasses from Crucified Barbara to polish his Nazi memorabilia), Ace of Spades will be played for the kids, and Overkill to finish. Everybody knows what to expect and they don't disappoint - as the man says: "We're Motorhead, and we play Rock'n'Roll!"
On the way out, I pick up a leaflet informing me that Steven Seagal, the 'actor' so wooden he makes Pinnocchio look realistic, is touring with his wonderfully named band Thunderbox!
He poses with his guitar, one plank holding another- somehow I doubt he'll still be doing it in 30 years time...
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
The great thing about Google's gmail is the enormous online storage capacity, coupled with the ability to search your 'store' & retrieve any message. This puts an end to Outlook Express multiple-folder misery - you don't need to organise your archive, just throw it all in there secure in the knowledge you'll be able to find it if you ever need to (which you won't, let's face it).
Of course, some people are wary of Google looking after their personal messages for them - see here for further info: http://www.google-watch.org/gmail.html
Personally I couldn't give a toss, YMMV.
So, to archive all your OE message folders into gmail (other email clients than OE work as well), follow the instructions here:
Obviously you'll need a gmail account if you haven't already (you haven't? Look here: http://tinyurl.com/mdhv4 ) but basically this uses a neat little programme called gmail loader, the link to it is on the wikihow page above, but here it is anyhow: http://www.marklyon.org/gmail/
The whole process is very easy, and when you've shifted your archive to Google you can junk all those files on your PC, freeing up lots of lovely disc space...
Incidentally, don't forget to set up a rule in OE to forward all messages on to your gmail account, so you'll only have to do this archiving once.
Monday, October 16, 2006
When I was about 15, the band I was in used to practise in various people's front rooms, which invariably involved sweeping a load of family photos off the mantelpiece with the neck of your guitar, treading on the cat and stopping the drummer from dribbling on the soft furnishings. Occasionally someone's mum would poke their head round the door with a tray of custard creams...
By the time we'd got all our gear set up in the back room of this pub, said room was completely full, which meant we were essentially playing to an open door through which the odd bemused punter would peer as if observing a cage full of badly behaved monkeys.
Convention dictates that playing to a solid wall is acoustically a Bad Thing, so we were pleasantly suprised to find that it didn't actually sound too bad, and the 29 punters (yes, we counted them) seemed to have a good time, as did the incredibly cheerful landlord. At least, he didn't set his Rottweilers on us.
Tuesday, October 03, 2006
You can get to my YouTube channel via the link over there -->
All I need now is a camera. And something to point it at.
This is my lil' brother Gavin's bus, by the way - cheers to Steve for the film.
Friday, September 29, 2006
A welcome return to the Prom last week, and not only because it's within a short stagger of my place; we always look forward to this one as it's a real old musos' pub - audiences tend to be older, soberer and generally pay us a bit more attention than we often get. Not necessarily a good thing, but luckily the sound is always top notch there, and when we can hear what we're doing, it sounds better out front too.
Robin pointed out that most of our songs are about being 'broke and grumpy', and a quick mental review of the lyrics would seem to confirm this - perhaps we need to cheer Chris up a bit next time he writes a song - here he is relaxing with a lovely fag while he listens to his 'Positive Thinking - a Whole New You!' self-hypnosis tape again...
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Yes, the very same pub in which King Arthur burned the cakes he was baking for Joseph of Arimathea. Or something.
...well, this pub was a new one on me, and They said that space was at a premium; suffice to say, if we'd been any closer together last night we would now all be legally betrothed in at least 47 states, and up on charges in four of them.
Despite spatial limitations so severe that Nick had to remove his hi-hat just to reach the bar (yup, every bit as painful as it sounds), we managed to get through the whole first set without serious injury.
The second set saw the appearance of the Pub Nutter.
Now, this particular beast appears in Many Forms, and moves in Mysterious Ways, but some things are always predictable:
He (and it always is a He) works alone - I wonder why?
He sports an unusual haircut (in this instance no hair at all)
He dances like a Kangaroo on Acid.
He will not go away. Ever.This one, bless him, had a twist! Just when you thought you had the Measure of the Man, he vanishes into the car park & reappears with a length of UPVC drainpipe, incorporating several elbow joints. With these unlikely Dark Materials he manages to fashion a range of obscenely contorted shapes, several of which slide dangerously into regions of non-Euclidean Geometry hitherto merely hinted at in the Forbidden Necronomicon of the Mad Arab, Abdul Alhazred...
Several punters disappeared into realms of unnameable nightmare without even waiting for last orders, but the survivors that retained their sanity pronounced it "a bloody good night out", and who are we to argue?
Monday, September 11, 2006
The Fishes in Highworth was a return visit - last time the place was pretty much dead, although the landlord apparently heard glowing reports. Things didn't look promising as we set up; no-one in the place apart from a dodgy drunk of the type that veers unpredictably between maudlin self-pity & extreme violence...
"'Ere, Lemmy!" he'd occasionally slur, one eye pointing vaguely in my direction. "Lemmy, yeah..?"
How precisely am I supposed to respond to that? Do I point out that I am not in fact Lemmy, and risk him flying into an uncontrollable rage? Or should I gargle with gravel and start wearing a cowboy hat? In the event I settled for pointedly ignoring him, whilst radiating quiet menace (which probably came across more as mild annoyance).
Thankfully our soundcheck proved too much for the cretin, and he staggered off into the night.
Things started fairly quietly, but were soon livened up by a large contingent of US servicemen from the local airbase, evidently intent on having a good time by means of splashing a lot of beer about & dancing with any women who came within range - much whoopin' and hollerin' ensued, and we were generally quite relieved to escape with our lives...
The Stroud Fringe was a new one for us, and turned out to be a nice little do in the Cornhill market in the middle of Stroud - loads of punters there, though a little difficult to actually see them through the 3rd degree burn-inducing lighting rig... onstage sound was awful, with Chris unable to hear what he was singing, and no-one being able to hear the drumkit, but it must have sounded OK out front judging from the applause.
My commiserations to the hapless stagehand who offered to carry my bass rig down the steps when we finished - he missed a step & it fell on him; as anyone who's ever tried to pick up my bass rig on their own knows, this could well have been fatal. Luckily he was relatively unscathed & went off to count his blessings (and possibly his ribs).
There may, or more likely may not, be some pictures of this gig to come - Ruth tried to get a business card from the photographer, but it seems he was in a state of altered consciousness, so they might all be close-ups of Ruth's toenail anyway...
Thursday, September 07, 2006
Wednesday, August 30, 2006
More holiday pics at: http://www.byphotos.com/album/1334810
Anyways, what about those gigs? About the Glastonbury one, the least said the better - what with holidays etc. we haven't got together for a few weeks now, and it certainly showed... at one point, we were playing two different songs at the same time. Still, the punters loved it - must be something in the water. Or possibly the beer.
A very strange woman wanted to take a picture of Nige & me with a woolly cardigan. No, I don't know either... I suspect there's a 'specialist' cardigan website somewhere, which now features a snap of us holding said garment & looking baffled - whatever floats your boat.
The Wheatsheaf in Thornbury was a new one for us, and our first e-gig, sorted out entirely on the net on the strength of our website. Didn't look too promising when we arrived, as we were playing in a lean-to out in the garden, but as it turned out we got the best sound I can remember for years, some damn good IPA and a lively crowd as well.
Looking forward to a return match there, especially as the Landlord's missus is related to the near-godlike Dave Pegg of Fairport, a man whose bass-playing left me open mouthed with envy last time I saw him. We were supporting them at the Cheese & Grain in Frome a few years back, and after our set he came and shook my hand and said "Nice amp, mate!"
I didn't wash my hand for 2 weeks.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
YeeeHarr! Eight thousand sweaty, swivel-eyed drunks in a huge marquee, a proper-job stage at one end, and a dazzling array of over a hundred different beers ranging from the sublime (Coopers WPA, 3.5%) to the ridiculous (Old Freddy Walker, 7.3% - old Freddy fall over, more like) at the other.
My idea of heaven, and quite a few other peoples by the look of it. We were meant to take the stage at 6 p.m., but swapped our slot with the next band. This worked out rather well, as I then had time for more beer (Village Idiot, 4.1%)
Suitably refreshed, we played from 7 - 8 and went down a storm, if I say so myself. It's always a good sign if an audience who doesn't know your songs bellows along with the choruses! Like the idiots we are, we forgot to bring some CDs to put on the merchandising tent, but hopefully we'll sell a few after via the website (http://www.billyinthelowground.com/ since you ask!), as I reminded everyone what our name was after practically every song...
By the time we'd finished, the place was a heaving mass of horrendously inebriatoxified humanity, which it took me a good quarter of a hour to fight my way through for more beer (Son of a Bitch, 6.0%)
Ruth & Chris poured me out of the van later that evening, taking care not to disturb my nice foamy head...
(pic by Mike Lang, www.imagery.org.uk)
Monday, June 26, 2006
Bit of a problem in the soundcheck, as my bass amp decided to go on strike for the night - luckily the P.A. was big enough to handle it though. I'm now waiting to hear what the prognosis is on my poor stricken Laney...
Support was provided by Shaico, an acoustic 4 piece with a John Martyn-ish feel to them; incidentally it said in the venue's website that we look like ZZ Top, which upset Ruth a little as she shaved her beard off ages ago.
A mainly young crowd (well, everyone looks young to us now) started to filter in from 10ish onwards, and by the time we'd done a few songs the place was hot, sweaty, rammed & jumping, which is always gratifying, apart from getting a microphone in the teeth at one point. When we'd finished a DJ took over, and the merrily bouncing crowd promptly spilled onto the stage, necessitating a speedy pack-up & withdrawal on hands and knees - quite tricky in the dark with people treading on you. Ah, the glamour of Rock 'n' Roll...
Friday, June 23, 2006
Yes! A set of Sex Pistols fridge magnets!
Not only will they brighten up the fridge, but they're educational too - just watch your kids' vocabulary expand.
I was dead chuffed with these...
Hello, what's that noise? Is it the manic cackling of Malcolm McClaren as he stuffs more cash into his coffers, or is it the whirring, high-speed rotation of the corpse of Sid Vicious..?
Monday, June 19, 2006
...on their wedding this Saturday at Cricket St Thomas, near Chard.
Ian's a lucky bloke - Nicola's lovely, and is obviously very good for him, as he looks happier than I can ever remember seeing him.
Nicola's looking a tad worried in this shot though, as well she might be..!
Everything went off like clockwork on the day, apart from a perfect comically timed vocal interruption from little Rossa just after the "if anyone here present knows of any reason..." bit in the ceremony.
Later on, we were treated to the sight of Ian dancing - a rare thing indeed, and who would have guessed he knew all the actions to YMCA? Unfortunately, that picture didn't come out. Much drinking was done, and the mongooses (or is it mongeese?) and parrots in the courtyard of the pub were suitably startled.
These nuptials are obviously catching, as Grayboots & Lorelei are at it in 3 weeks time - well done, that man!
Monday, June 12, 2006
... from our holiday in France, here:
Here's a weird and wonderful beasty; a nice fat antlion we found on the beach at Plage de Veillon.
These vicious looking critters lurk just below the sand and leap out to grab passing ants - when you dig one out, it immediately burrows backwards into the sand again - hours of fun.
Yes, I know it was a week ago, but I was waiting to see if anyone sent me some pictures - they haven't yet, so here's a stock shot courtesy of http://www.pembrokeshire.net/
Fantastic blistering hot day, right on the western tip of Pembrokeshire at Newgale beach, down the road from Ian's new house. Haven't been to this bit of Wales before, but I'll definitely go again - huge sandy beach, campsite, good pub and a pretty decent cafe as well - good call, Ian! It's a 3 hour drive from Bristol, but due to a momentary lapse in my normally unerring sense of direction, I ended up going completely the wrong way and ended up in a different county, turning it into a 5 & a half hour one...
By the time I got there, everybody else had tired of surfing, swimming & kayaking and was ready for some serious drinking, which suited me fine. An excellent barby, a lot of wood and some meths were involved somewhere as well, though the details are all a little hazy now...
Great to see Ian again, it's been quite a few years now - ditto Grayboots, Paul, Steve & everybody else.
Woke up the next morning with the sun beating on the tent and a small army of dwarves with mallets beating on my head.
A bloody good night, but you can tell we're all getting old - there was still beer left over the next day...
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Some gigs everything goes just right - no major cock-ups, no broken strings, Chris even remembered the words to his own songs, and hardly insulted anyone. We played pretty well too, even though I say so myself.
One small fly in the ointment was the distinct lack of audience, but hey, that's never stopped us before. The worst night I can remember was in Germany at a club called Poison, in the middle of a godforsaken industrial estate somewhere near Reutlingen - an enormous P.A., a dazzling lighting rig, and we played to the barstaff. Apparently they didn't usually open on a Wednesday night...
Still, there was a small but sturdy band of the sort of ne'er-do-wells who usually come & see us there, and they did us proud, all except the large alsation who slunk off next door with his ears flat & his hackles up...
To cap it all, the extremely charming Landlord offered us a drink when we'd finished - that's free drink! Which I had to turn down! AAaaghh!
Saturday, May 13, 2006
These shocking pictures of real live nuptials are brought to you courtesy of the webcam at the Isle of Wight registry office!
Alex can be seen looming ominously behind them, looking rather like Ozzy without the shades and dispelling once and for all the persistent rumours that he doesn't come out on film (or indeed in daylight).
Just one question though - Nigel, what in the name of all that's unholy is that around your neck?
Monday, May 08, 2006
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
We missed the last two because of medical malpractise so it seems like months... oh, er, it is months apparently.
Good to be back in this friendly bikers pub on Saturday - it's always been one of my favourite gigs, not least because I get a lift there & back and thus get to make a thorough pig of myself on the Guinness!
Nothing seems to have changed since last I played here 3 years ago - a nice big stage, and loads of jolly bikers who amiably refuse to fill that big ol' gap in front of it until the last couple of numbers...
My only problem with the night was my hearing - I'm now more or less completely deaf in my right ear, due to an unseemly accumulation of wax. This was caused, I'm sure, by a night a few months back when I went to a Granary reunion (http://www.thegranaryclub.co.uk/) at which I spent the entire night leaning on the bar with an old mate screaming into each other's ears to be heard; is it me, or is music louder than it used to be? I guess I really am getting old...
Anyway, I spent most of this gig with my good ear glued to my speaker, trying to minimise the appalling number of bum notes coming out of it - it's no good, I'm going to have to get 'em syringed...
Friday, March 31, 2006
Monday, March 20, 2006
What do you do? Obviously, you need a pub, but the one you're about to play in is a toilet where mein host last cleaned the pipes in 1977 - anyway, if you stick around at the bar he'll inevitably regale you with the standard landlord line of "You should have seen it in here last week, we had a fantastic band on, marvellous they were..."
Step forward the Good Pub Guide! Just text goodpub to 60300, and they'll send you the location of the nearest decent boozer - genius.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
This looks like a good 'un - cheers to Steve for pointing it out - Here & Now are playing it, which is reason alone to go, though saying that I probably won't make it for one reason or another...
Ahh, Here & Now... happy memories of a free gig in Meanwhile Park in London, Stonehenge in the early eighties and many, many others... I wouldn't say they were very clear memories, mind you!
Monday, March 06, 2006
After 41 years of managing to stay relatively intact, I've contrived to break my ankle...
When asked how it happened (in an A&E corridor filled with huge men with horrific rugby injuries and burly bikers holding their severed limbs between their teeth) I was going to pretend that it was a 'Parkour' injury, which occurred as I dismounted from a garage roof with a particularly tricky triple back somersault, as part of my mission to explore the urban environment in new & exciting ways... but in the end I had to mumble shamefacedly that, er, I jumped off the climbing frame in the playground...
In my defence, I was trying to stop Rory from falling off, but in the event he just blinked with surprise before toddling back down the ramp to the ground.
Now for 5 weeks of hobbling about on crutches.
Still, on the plus side, there'll be half the amount of socks to wash...
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Me, I'm holding out for that good ol' bizarre gardening accident, & Chris is a shoe-in for one I'd imagine - he's the only man I know who's had a ride-on lawnmower explode under him & lived to tell the tale...
Monday, February 13, 2006
At first the silence was deafening, but eventually we were rewarded with the gentle snoring of the recumbent patron at the back of the room, closely followed by the dull, wet thud as he rolled off the bench & hit the flagstone floor.
The next couple of songs elicited little response save the howl of the wind, the distant tolling of mournful church bells and (someone must have opened the back door) the appearance of a lonesome tumbleweed, which came to rest in front of the monitors.
Looks were exchanged, eyebrows raised, & grim determination set in...
Sure enough, by half ten most of the pub were leaping around like... well, like drunks, frankly, & none the worse for that! As we stripped the gear down at the end of the night, we were surrounded by genial & barely coherent people who wanted to buy the CD, which of course Chris had forgotten to bring... ;-)
All in all a good night, & a nice gentle reintroduction to gigging after my 3 year absence - I don't think anyone noticed my copious mistakes?
As we loaded the van, a couple of Highworth yoof lurking outside the chippy commented: "Blimey, it's the Magic Numbers!", which was a bit depressing - I know we've all put on weight over the years, but please..!
Friday, February 03, 2006
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Sat. Feb 18th @ Mr Wolfs in the centre - be there, or be somewhere else...
I apologise in advance for my cock-ups, as it's only my 3rd gig after a 3 year break, & of course I'll be heavily fortified, which won't help.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Thursday, January 05, 2006
...with the brass band playing Tiddley Om Pom Pom... well, not quite!
Very weird to watch the lads & lass playing @ the Prom wine bar on 22/12/05 - it's the first time I've heard some of those songs without me playing. This was the last outing for Nick Sorensen on bass, and it went very well from my perspective out the front - sound mix was excellent, and on stage sounded great as well by all accounts.
Not a vast crowd, but not bad for a freezing night at the arse-end of December, & they were appreciative, which is what counts...
Couple of very friendly punters, who bought me a pint because they were convinced I was the band's manager & also I looked like Silent Bob. Tried to persuade them otherwise but they weren't having any of it, so I gave in gracefully... was mystified by the "silent Bob" reference, but it turns out this is he - can't see the resemblance myself..!