So, just in case you’ve never heard of us (…a lame excuse for another introduction to the sophisticated and evolving world of Banjaxeld)…here’s the first post, and part 1, of a three part Banjaxeld ‘evolutionising’ history lesson;
Part 1 covers from our inception, through the first six tender months and our development from a three piece to a four piece unit.
Part 2 picks up from June and sweeps us through the summer months as the pace begins to heat-up, and we increase our number to five members.
Part 3 brings us up to date for this catch-up… through the autumnal change of pace that brings us to the brink of our first year as a band with our focus very much to the future.
We’ve all got to start somewhere…
16th December 2012 was a typical cold damp winter’s day… it was also the day that our band name was officially chosen and settled… during a cosy Sunday afternoon gig at the Mariner’s Pub in Great Yarmouth… confirmed with the audience’s enthusiastic blessing… and thus were we creatively born as ‘Banjaxeld’.
Formed from the ashes of two local bands, originally as a three piece with a lead bass, great songs, a knack for harmony, and the occasional guest guitarist standing in and jamming along… Jeff, Sack & Vinny boldly embarked on a journey through 2013 with a clear aim to put Banjaxeld firmly on the musical map for their original and uncompromising creativity, talent and determination… and music…!
In reality we had been rehearsing for a couple of the later months of 2012, but by the 2nd of January 2013 we had just over an hour’s set of mostly original material, and a ‘different from the norm’ selection of covers that we carefully selected and ‘Banjaxelised’ (ouch!). However, the early part of the year saw some tough times, a few good gigs, a lot of un-paid gigs, gigs at places to never gig again, things occasionally not coming together, availability for gigs hampered by outside influences… problems with rehearsal places… all the usual stuff I guess…!
There were some very nice moments and highlights, including our first live Radio session on the James Maas Show for the UEA’s Livewire Station in March. With Jeff & Sack on acoustic guitars, and Vinny on cajon all going into one studio mic…!
We were made to feel very welcome by DJ James, and spent about an hour chatting, playing tracks from our demo CD, and even managed to perform three live songs.
Sadly the program output wasn’t saved successfully, and being a live broadcast wasn’t recorded by us, but luckily we had Guy Turner along with us to capture some video, and we were able to get some half reasonable sound from that for the videos: Bnajaxeld @ Livewire 1350FM
March was particularly significant (although we didn’t realise it at the time…!), as we played a short set at The Vic in Martham, Norfolk for the first time, as Jimmy Roe’s backing band… a young blues guitarist whose own Trio had taken a musical break. Guy Turner managed to capture the event on video too: Jimmy Roe with Banjaxeld at Martham …And it was there that we met Matt Graver and Lee Pally Pallett, who ran events / gigs under the Broken Seven Events banner… and they kinda liked us enough to offer us more gig opportunities.
The Mythical EP and other Metamorphosis
We’d started recording what was intended to be an acoustic EP in February, while gigs were still slack. Sack got out his old Tascam 488 II Portastudio (…yes that’s real analogue recording in a digital age!), and through grabbing the odd sessions during the following two months, which had become much busier with gigging, managed to get some nine tracks recorded.
The fact that the EP never materialised, except for a few um-mastered recordings we put up on soundcloud, actually became almost immaterial in the long run. The sessions were a great learning curve for team working and band bonding, and with Sack’s partner Anne regularly providing the delicious home-made catering it really began to feel like a good working cooperative was developing.
Have a listen to our acoustic version of Jeff’s original song ‘Summer’s End Blues’ with Vinny on Cajon and Sack taking the lead on acoustic guitar:
A couple of other good things did also came out of these early sessions, via providing Sack the base material to fuel his creative alchemy. Have a look at one of the Mystik MIM Mix samples of these acoustic sessions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRUc85Xkic8
Then before you knew it April arrived and before the month was out we decided Jimmy Roe should become an official part of the band… Banjaxeld were now a four piece unit… the musical dynamics within the band changed and the EP project kinda got shelved, in favour of the idea of starting from scratch and making an EP which included Jimmy.
The first half of the year had also seen the intermittent metamorphosis of a ‘duo form’ with Jeff & Sack both on acoustic guitars, with the occasional addition of Vinny on cajon, for an acoustic styled version of Banjaxeldness! Our mission was basically to get out there, introduce ourselves musically, and show our versatility of style, approach, presentation… and just enjoy ourselves a little. We actually ended up developing our idea of having an acoustic Banjaxeld set where the songs are a different in treatment and composition, and worked entirely for acoustic performance, as an alternative to just playing the electric set acoustically! This was further expanded with Jimmy’s acoustic guitar inclusion and Sack reverting back to a light Fender Bass sound. The harmonies also began to develop as Vinny took on more backing vocal parts.
May saw us doing a variety of acoustic and full band gigs, and continuing to make new friends, as we started to define our base gigging area, and begin to look at expanding our joy-giving vibes further afield, to more diverse audiences. It was also the start of the festival season for us starting with a 3 piece acoustic set at Mayfest, North Walsham, Magstock in Norwich, and indoors for the Great Yarmouth Beer festival at the newly refurbished St Georges Theatre in the town.
A chilly start to June saw us consciously starting to move away from the limitations of our Suffolk base and look more towards developing gigs in the Norwich and Norfolk areas. Another small 3 piece acoustic set performed at The Birdcage in Norwich proving to be the unlikely impetus to progress through meeting original music friendly bands such as Stromm and The Indebtors, and making an impression on local photographer, gig reviewer, and blogger Richard Shashamane who now has several reviews of several of our gigs in the city on his Norwich Blog: http://norwichblog.com/tag/banjaxeld/