2016 has been an important year for the band, not least as our latest album 'Ticket to Somewhere' finally came out on sale, and we were dead chuffed, not only with the album itself but with the reaction to it - the 'Dancing About Architecture' blog and 'Rock & Reel' magazine gave particularly pleasing reviews, and a track was featured on the latter's 'UnHerd' CD.
The gigging year got off to a slow start, partly due to our concentrating on the album and forgetting to book gigs, but also the traditional post-Christmas slump, but our first outing in February to the Rose and Crown in Longburton was a hoot, especially as our old friend Elodie was in charge there.
My next gig was a bit different, as it was with my old 1980s band The Allnight Chemists - our first for 26 years! I've kept in touch with Alan the old guitarist, who's been playing with the hardest-working covers band in the South West, Angel Up Front, for years, and also Rich Harding the singer, who has been fronting prog rockers (he'll hate that) Also Eden, and we thought it might be fun to get together and see how much of our old material we could remember. As it turned out, not very much, but with the aid of a few dodgy cassette recordings, Angel Up Front's drummer Stuart and Rich's carefully hoarded setlists, we cobbled together a decent set and promptly landed a support slot with Antimatter at the Exchange in Bristol - this went better than we'd dare hope, despite my determined efforts to cock something up in every song, and we decided to keep our hand in by meeting up regularly and keeping an eye out for a few other gigs. Watch this space...
|The Allnight Chemists at the Exchange - how does this one go, again..?|
It was a great idea, but the downside to April in Merrie Olde England is that it's a bit, shall we say, nippy out... the assembled medievally-costumed multitude showed every sign of enjoying themselves, but when they'd finished eating most of them disappeared inside to the roaring log fires of the pub, leaving us shivering minstrels to play to our highly inebriated ex-guitarist Simon and his good lady wife, who were dancing on a table, and the landlord, clad in a complete St George outfit including chainmail. Believe it or not it was enormous fun.
We had a whale of a time, I particularly enjoyed a band called Kilnaboy who came on after us. And the beer tent, I really enjoyed that. Drummer DFP did his best to get me into the Drum'n'Bass shenanigans at the Club stage later on, but I was having none of it and went weaving unsteadily off to my tent, where despite being fully clothed and with 2 sleeping bags I spent possibly the coldest night of my life. Hope this one happens again next year, though I'll be packing my thermals if we go back...
By May I'd more or less thawed out, in time to return to the Southgate Inn in Devizes - another great night in this snug but welcoming pub, and onwards into June we played a double-header with Alien Stash Tin at the Louisiana in Bristol. First time we'd played here in years, and it was a real pleasure, although the mid-week slot didn't do us any favours and the crowd was distinctly thin. Great sound, though!
|At the Louisiana - where is everybody?!|
|Golden Lion Backyard Bash!|
Next on the list was the Village Pump, always a favourite of ours and a real pleasure to do. Once again we found ourselves in the late-night slot on Stage 2 starting up as the Proclaimers finished '500 miles' on the main stage - the space in front of the stage rapidly filled with everyone onsite who didn't want to go to bed just yet, and we rocked the place till 1.30 in the morning, by which time Chris had cast caution to the winds and ripped off his shirt, he was so hot and sweaty... I kept mine on, discretion being the better part of valour...
|The Village Pump - Chris bares all...|
From a nice big stage back to a small one for the Crown Inn in Lechlade next, an idiosyncratic little pub where we went down a storm - expect to see us there again in 2017.
|Firsdown Festival - could've done with more than 30 minutes..!|
The following week saw us back at the Golden Lion in Bristol, my new favourite pub venue, but not as busy as last time, probably due to it being a scorching Bank Holiday weekend, and most everyone had gone away. Much kudos to the faithful few who turned up though, and we will be back here before too long I'm sure.
|FestiBell - LASERS!|