Monday, June 05, 2017

Here we go again! Catch-up time...

So much for my resolution to keep this more up to date; now where did I put my 2016 diary..?
Ah yes - a distinct dearth of gigs for the latter part of the year - a festival in Westbury in October was cancelled, then we had to cancel our last two gigs of the year when drummer DFP managed to fall off one of his horses and dislocate his shoulder... he was just about recovered from that when he slipped over in the yard and badly damaged his hands. Drummers, eh? From now on, we'll be putting him away in a nice padded box after each gig and not letting him out until the next one.
Around this time we also had to say goodbye to our banjoplayer Johnny 'Iggy' Gould, whose dayjob was keeping him out of the country for ever-longer periods, and he just couldn't spare the time anymore. His vocal prowess in particular will be missed, but we wish him well.
Soundcheck at the Three Horseshoes. It's a dog's life...

Mark on the banjo - pic by Richard Clarke
Happily, we were quickly able to fill the banjo vacancy with the excellent Mark Styles - his banjo-picking works brilliantly with the fiddle, and he's a lovely bloke as well, so that's a win-win!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               He's also a very quick learner, which is just as well, as we launched him onto an unsuspecting public at our first gig of the year at the Crown Inn, Lechlade - it went swimmingly, as did the following Saturday at Mr Wolfs in Bristol (supported by the excellent Hedge Gods).

Some more good news in March when we learned that our album 'Ticket to Somewhere' had won a listeners poll on Bristol radiostation BCFM for Best Album of 2016 from a local band, which was a nice feather in our cap!
The next gig at the Three Horseshoes in Bradford on Avon was also great fun, and some very nice photos came out of it courtesy of Richard Clarke - thanks Richard!

Two more rural pub gigs followed at the Village Inn in Nailsworth and The Bell on the Common in Broughton Gifford, both of which went well if memory serves, and then at the end of April, the Allnight Chemists had their second gig in, er, 26 years, at an all-day fundraiser in Bristol organised by the Bristol Banshees. We were on first at 12 noon, not exactly a brilliant timeslot, but we didn't care, it was just nice to get the practise in playing live, so in a way the fewer there the better! What would have been good is if the promised backline amps had actually been there... Alan had wisely brought his guitar stack with him 'just in case', but I had foolishly trusted the guy who said I could borrow his bassrig, only to find nothing on the stage, so a mad dash back through Bristol traffic ensued to get my rig from home. Made it back on time though, and we played pretty well - Rich's missus said she only had to put her hands over her ears once... ("...for an hour!" me and Alan chorused as one.)

The somewhat 'unreconstructed' poster for the gig - it's OK though, 'cos the Banshees are an all-female club! ;)

The next Billy in the Lowground gig on the books was the Golden Lion in Bristol - one of my favourites, and not just because it's around the corner from my house. We decided to get this one videoed, as increasing numbers of festivals in particular are asking for live video footage when booking bands nowadays, and we didn't have anything up-to-date. The film-maker was a very nice young chap called Michael Sides and we were rather chuffed with the results - we put 5 songs up on YouTube, here's one of them:

Next on the list was Bearded Theory Spring Gathering at the end of May - the 10th anniversary of this mid-sized (10000 people) festival and a real honour to be asked to play it. We were on the Woodlands stage, which was made of solid oak and sat in the middle of a shady and highly decorated wood, looking for all the world like an Ewok village - a really amazing space, definitely bags the award for best stage we've ever played on!

Woodland stage during our soundcheck...

Everything about this festival was spot-on, especially the organisation of the Woodlands - a real pleasure to do, and it went down well too, well at least we sold 21 CDs, which is the most we've ever managed in one go - many thanks to Ali for her stalwart efforts on the merch stall, and for all her backstage organisational skills!

Bearded Theory 2017

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