This post is the third part of a three-part summary of Banjaxeld’s first year as a working band. It might help to read parts one and two first… if you haven’t already done so…!
Blues for the last of the Summer’s Shine
In the middle of September agreements were reached, a deal was struck, and so began the process of planning and preparing to make our much requested debut album later in November.
In the meantime… continuing the 3 piece semi-acoustic theme, the start of the month had seen us playing at the first EpicFest an exclusive, private, invite only day of music and relaxation as guests of Linda and Jonathon Thursby in the grounds of their Norfolk home. Very much a ‘musician’s day’ with a whole host of bands that have graced Epic with their emerging talent over the last year, with their friends and families invited too. It was a chance for us to catch up with friends and see bands we’re normally too busy to get out to see, with food & booze laid on, and the entertaining spectacle of a midnight dip in the pool for those party hardy souls from Killamonjambo… before doing their set…!
The very next day we headed over to the Blueberry in Norwich to do a support slot for Millie Manders, as part of her 2013 ‘Brought To You’ UK tour. We were really impressed with the other acts that we got to see especially the energetic Martin Oliver, the mesmerising Rhiannon Mair, the feel happy Nakisha Esnard band, and of course the very effervescent Millie Manders herself.
Even though we still didn’t have Vinny, we did have Matt with us, so the four piece version of Banjaxeld got up, did our slightly adjusted set, and were promptly invited after by Millie on a potential tour in 2014 to Portugal (Watch this space..?).
Somewhere squeezed in there we also managed to make it to the surprisingly delightful Ferryfest to do another early Sunday slot, but this time because we had already booked another gig to rush off for! By the way, I say ‘surprisingly’ because I don’t think we expected such a professional, well organised small festival, in a good location, on a camping and touring caravan site, with hard standing facilities, and decent tracks for vehicles, right by the river and ferry, in the Norfolk Broad marshes!
We had only agreed last minute on doing this gig, and festival organiser Melissa Mitchell fulfilled her clinching offer by supplying the band with coffees…! Our three piece unit, of Jeff, Sack, and Jimmy, were joined for the gig by an old drummer friend Andy Parker who just happened to be there working as part of the festival sound crew with Howie Marsh. Andy grabbed his Cajon, and with no rehearsal at all did a pretty good job of laying down the beats. It was a shame we had to rush off after playing, but as I said we had another gig at The Mariner’s in Great Yarmouth to do.
A pleasant consequence of playing the Addison’s Uncle festival was that we were booked to headline the Saturday evening at Henham Steam Fair in Suffolk, toward the end of September. We had a superb time, got there early enough to have a wander and some of us even got to have a go on some of the fair. The gig kicked off in a packed marquee… and just our luck, one of the speakers popped just as we sound checked! No option at this stage but to carry on regardless, however I don’t think anyone really noticed, and most seem to have a bloody good time. Even though it did start to get a bit nippy by the end of our second set!
Check out some video shot by Emma French: Banjaxeld @ Henham Steam Rally
October is the Beer Festival month, and our first gig of the month reflected this. Sack celebrated his birthday in his usual downbeat style as we played the Wash and Tope Hotel Beer Festival in Hunstanton… this was also our first band outing where we had accommodation, so no need to worry about driving the 90 miles home directly afterwards! It did mean that four of us shared one bedroom,,, which made for a cosy evening… interjected, of course, with strange bodily noises! It was great to wake up to the sea view over the Wash as well.
Check out some video shot by Emma French: Banjaxeld @ Wash and Tope
October became a busy month… not least of which because we were finally, officially confirmed to support Tony Brook at Epic Studios on the 24th during his UK visit. We did however manage to persuade him to come along to our Sunday afternoon gig at the Blueberry in Norwich to do a solo spot for us in-between our two sets …just a week and a half previous to the Epic gig. It turned out to be a nice little gig all together and we kinda hit it off.
The Epic gig was a whole different bag of ball games though. The attendance was disappointing, but the whole gig was being live streamed all over the world, it was also our first appearance for Epic as a five piece band. Befitting a slightly larger band, we were given a slightly smaller dressing room…! but that didn’t stop us jammin’ in there again! We’d been asked to do the semi-acoustic thing, which we don’t mind now and again, but we’d been working on the harmonies for the album, and although not yet perfected at this stage, man did they sound good here!
We did a great little set, followed by a superb solo Tony Brook whose presence really held the attention with some great, intimate songs. Tony is also a really nice, unassuming guy, he even invited us over to Alabama, and offered to put us up at his place if we manage to organise a little tour over there next year. We may yet take him up on his offer!
Banjaxeld @ Epic Videos
Tony Brook @ The Blueberry Videos
Norwich’s annual Magdalene Street Celebration was a nice surprise, with shows, dancing, expeditions and a carnival atmosphere about the place. We’d been booked to appear on an acoustic stage in a converted church, but I don’t think they were expecting the five of us to turn up! We played acoustically except for Sack who brought his amp, and after assurances that the heavy bass vibes wouldn’t actually shake the foundations, and that the comment to this effect was purely a rock ‘n’ roll metaphor… he was allowed to make noise slightly quieter than the acoustic instruments…! Nevertheless, it was a friendly crowd, a nice gig, and the place filled up quite rapidly once we started playing.
Still buzzing from the gig we were invited for hot beverages by Shaun and Holly Speight back at their new residence in Norwich. Shaun is a talented graphic artist who will hopefully have time to do our Album artwork, cover, inserts etc. We managed to moot some preliminary ideas, and got to see some of his really nice work!
Before October spat out the last of the taste of the summer, we also pulled in a very enjoyable visit to record a live session at Future Radio in Norwich with Richard Harrison. Having been suggested as guests by Antony Baldwin of local group The Indebtors, he duly insisted on lending Sack his Acoustic Bass for the session, and even delivered it to the studio! (Really big thanks mate!). Richard seemed to like what we were doing, and we had a really good chat session focused on music, influences, aspirations, and general good humoured banter!
Ok, I’ll be honest and spill the beans… the show was ‘recorded live’… in ‘live time’… 11am, on the Sunday morning (the night after a gig!), for broadcast 11am on the Thursday morning! But to some of us it matters not, a Sunday or a Thursday… a morning is a morning, and there’s a reason vampires shun them…!
Despite the surreal time of day we really enjoyed our visit there, recorded four live songs, and came away feeling we’d had a really positive experience. The broadcast went out four days later, the morning of the same day we played at Epic with Tony Brook.
You can listen to our Richard Harrison Show session here: Banjaxeld live session @ Future Radio
Autumnal Blues and Great anticipation
The start of November was one of those frustrating periods that happen now and again, where motivation is hard to say let alone do…! Our gig at the Wash and Tope in Hunstanton had to be cancelled due to irritatingly expensive last minute transport problems. The initial recording dates we’d set also had to be put back a couple of weeks due to this setback. We had been invited, and planned to do a little acoustic set to open the three day Halloween on Fire festival at the Mariner’s Rest in Lowestoft… but we thought… why not go and give it the full whack…? So we managed to get a lift to the gig… and we did the full Banjaxeld …and had a great time zombie grooving at 2 in the afternoon…!
Because of our original recording schedule, subsequently changed, we had just the one Sunday afternoon gig during the first two and a half weeks preceding the start of recording, so the emphasis changed to focusing on working on tightening up and arranging the songs for the Album. I’ll cover this stuff under the ‘Making of the Album’ kinda thing… later.
Some interesting jams and ideas came out of these sessions, and believe it or not, we’re already starting to put together some new material and thinking about the next album, mini album, and possible EP…! While we try not to run away with ourselves… get your ears around some of the stuff we’ve been funking around with… Loose Grooves stylee!
That one gig was a return once again to the Mariner’s Pub in Great Yarmouth for a chilled Sunday afternoon session. It was the first time we’d played there as a five piece, and with now having witnessed four incarnations of the band, the feedback from the audience there was that this was the best line up so far! Actually it turned into a very lively Sunday afternoon, and we ended up doing an extra forty minute set by popular demand! And with our next gig there just four weeks away we were reminded that it’ll be our first birthday as Banjaxeld then!