If you haven’t already… (and why not?) …it may help to orientate you to read Part 1 of this saga before continuing: Catch-ups, Match-ups and Big-ups! Our first Year. Part 1
Ma..! I’m on the telly
The advent of June also began our relationship with Epic Studios in Norwich, with the filming of our first RAW sessions… basically promo music videos of three songs, shot in the middle of a massive studio space with no audience, just three huge cameras floating around like menacing Daleks, and minimal musical set up! …and just an hour to do it all from in to out…! Sack and Vinny had previous experience at this, but it was still just as demanding and nervy! There were some funny moments too… and one captured on the video for Kickback… was the moment when Jeff’s glasses slipped off his nose and on to the microphone… while he was still singing…!
We were then asked to headline a live streamed, acoustic themed, music evening at Epic Studios a month later, at the beginning of July. A gig that also featured local singer / songwriter Matt Watson, and acoustic duo The Rumours, To date, and the best of my knowledge, video hasn’t emerged from this gig at all, however we did manage to film some of the dressing room rehearsal / jam and create some quirky videos of our own: The outta tune in the dressing room sessions
A review of the gig can also be found on:
This was followed a few weeks later by being given the ‘Ah-ah!’ honour of being invited to play a set at Epic’s Alan Partridge, Alpha-Papa ‘film premier after party’ in Anglia Square in Norwich… on a blazing hot day… under a glass roofed canopy… and no we didn’t get to meet Steve Coogan either! By this point we were aware we were liked at Epic and further suggestions began to surface as to possible future gigs and opportunities… some of which would indeed come to fruition for us, with several others still in the pipeline at time of writing.
Zen blues and the art of schmoozing
Other events did also take place for us in June… a month notable for Banjaxeld’s first appearance at the legendary Triangle Tavern in Lowestoft… a tightly packed sweaty evening of joy! A week later probably one of the coldest small festival experiences within personal recollection also occurred in the first half of June.
We turned up to another Broken Seven Event at Potter Higham in Norfolk totally unprepared for the un-seasonal dip in temperature, and then during the soundcheck and ‘warm-up?’ (no that’s not a blatant pun, I really am being sarcastic!), the improvised soundcheck turned into a full on jam song… from nowhere! Everyone thought we’d started and it was the first song… we loved it, but nobody got a recording of any of it… and playing a set straight after… means we really can’t remember what we played…! And many sleepless nights have since been had about that scenario since.
As the month warmed up we played a debut gig at The Brickmakers in Norwich with guests Lauren Dove & Mark Howes powering out some rootsy acoustic blues to warm the evening up. The remainder of the month got busy again with local pub gigs mainly, and ending the month back at the Mariner’s Rest in Lowestoft, with a little showcase Sunday event of our own, featuring local artists… Jamos, Eastview, Jinxy Love, and the Gifted Circus. A blazing hot lazy day in the new beer garden and great music, brought the first half of our year to a very satisfactory close.
The Sun had pretty much decided that it like us in July, and duly followed us round for most of it! After our acoustic headline at Epic we had the opportunity to relax a little, and headed over to deepest, darkest Norfolk to jam with Matt Graver, but ended up jamming and drifting on his boat out in the middle of the stunningly serene Hickling Broad until the surreal colours of dusk exploded, and as they faded drew their cloak of dark summer sky, peppered with the twinkling whispers of the beautiful violence of our universe. It was freezing cold by the dusk, but even more enjoyable for the fact that we got some spontaneous video of it, taken by Matt’s partner Emma using Sack’s camera… edited by Sack. Emma did a great job and I think managed to capture the essence of the day perfectly… have a look for yourselves: Banjaxeld Jammin on Hickling Broad
Our long planned showcase ‘Schmooze the Blues’ day at Geldeston Locks Inn was yet another highlight of the month. Headlined by Dove & Boweevil, with some great blues acts supporting: Jimmy Roe did a solo set to kick the event off, Jinxy Love came and gave us some rockabilly blues, Little Red and Rooster (Andy Walker) with guest Mark Howes on guitar, and ourselves of course, with glorious weather out in the very busy thank you, beer garden, it was a great day, a great atmosphere, and something we definitely plan to do again elsewhere next summer.
A hot Frost, a thick vest, a Husky, and a man called Wolf
August and Vicfest was a real turning point for Banjaxeld. We had a great day, the sun shone (…and no …we didn’t need a ‘thick vest’ for Vicfest…!). We arrived on site a couple of hours before our slot, so everyone had a chance to chill a little. Jeff had already played a solo slot (with a little help from James Maas) on the opening Thursday, and Jimmy’s Trio got together for a short set on the Saturday, so we were comfortable and relaxed. Our early afternoon slot was predictably fairly moderately attended, although we did have the good fortune to be recorded live by Gary Frost of MDM Recording, who did a wonderful job of making us sound good. I say good fortune because we were so happy with the sound that we asked him to record our first album!
The other reason it was a special day for us was because Vicfest is a festival organised by Broken Seven Events… namely our friends Lee Pally Pallet and the talented Matt Graver who came up and played with us on the final number ‘Kickback’… and when we got to hear the recordings later, his presence made us sound so much better that we just had to invite him to join the band! . Oh and we also had the pleasure to meet (…and obviously impress!) a friend of Matt & Pally’s, a chap called Wolf, who had a gorgeous Malamute called Tia with him. Both have subsequently become friends and welcome regulars at our gigs.
See the videos with Gary Frost’s superb live recordings at Vicfest for yourself: Banjaxeld @ Vicfest 2013 Videos
…or check out the recordings: Banjaxeld @ Vicfest 2013 Audio
This was pretty much when the five pieces of Banjaxeld were starting to fall neatly into place, and a general feeling of stepping up another level became collectively evident.
Cyaneous Nuggets of destiny intrepidly emerge
Full band gigs started to increase again with debut gigs at The Wash and Tope in Hunstanton, The Fat Cat Brewery Tap in Norwich, courtesy of a personal recommendation from Jude Garrod, and The Blueberry also in Norwich, were we supported the up and coming Norwich based group Discharge Lounge. Another great review of this gig is available on Richard Shashame’s Norwich Blog: Dr Clyde, Dove & Boweevil, Banjaxeld, Junior Ras, 23 August 2013
We also managed to made a long awaited return to Club Uniquity in Somerlayton, our first appearance since being there as a three piece in December 2012. Matt Graver was only joining us on stage for the last couple of songs at this point, so we were still being billed as a four piece, but that was changing rapidly.
Another local Radio station had invited us in for a chat & a live acoustic session. Great Yarmouth’s own ‘Coastal radio’ host, Nathan James had somehow contrived to have us on his evening music show! It did seem a little strange to us from the off that he seemed surprised that we were a band… a group of five people… with instruments!!! We had about 10 minutes to set ourselves in the studio… then the fun really started. He clearly had no research about us, and could not (would not?) say our name to save his life… even when written on a piece of paper in front of him by Jeff! … And I fear, the inspiration for the questions was straight out of ‘Jackie’ magazine…! No really… ‘what’s your favourite colour?’ quality! Didn’t he know we’d grown up listening to Howlin’ Wolf, James Brown and The Velvet Underground…? Clearly not judging from the boom, boom, pop of the tots playlist pumped out in-between our very different live acoustic sets…!
Then, in what, I have to say, was not up to that point, a memorable interview, although ironically comically amusing… suddenly and quite literally appeared a nugget of legendary status. At some point during the ‘in-depth’ chat section… Jimmy started giggling then laughing with horror! It became evident very quickly that Matt, sitting directly opposite him in a man fashion, was in need of a new pair of jeans! A nugget indeed… we all lost it to some degree, I don’t think Nathan James had the faintest idea what was going on… which just added to what was actually quite hilarious…! Then all of a sudden just as we were preparing to do our final number, time was up and thank you very much…! The feedback during the show was good, and feedback from those that actually heard the live broadcast of the show was that they enjoyed what we were doing, and how we were doing it… but like us were a bit bemused by the choices of the pop music sandwich. All in all though we did actually enjoy ourselves, and we all got that bit closer to Matt…!
Er! …Sorry but we don’t yet have a link to the recording of the show, or the mp3 of the show that we were promised… so you’ll just have to believe every word!
We ended the month by playing Carlfest, a three day annual charity festival at the Mariner’s Rest in Lowestoft, followed a week later (…with more than a touch of irony), by playing again as a three piece for Addison’s Uncle & Friends, a one day festival in the grounds of the Salhouse Bell, Norfolk. An excellent and diverse line up of artists made it more of a family friendly day with a bouncy castle for kids, and stalls and hog roast for the grown ups.
We also bumped into friends old and new, including session Violinist & Singer Holly Speight, playing a set with the normally solo Matt Watson. Even though we were a Vinny short for this gig, it was almost straight after we’d finished that we asked to headline the Saturday evening at Henham Steam Fair in Suffolk, a couple of weeks later, based on the strength of our three piece set.
The day was late summer warm, the people relaxed and friendly, and as the dusk began to settle into evening, just after we finished our set, it really did feel like the last fading embers of summer were about to expire… but with a smile and a sense of real progress and growth.
Ga Chun Yau Photography has a nice review of the festival on his bog: Addison’s Uncle, Folk & Friends Festival – Review (31.08.2013)