Elementary my dear bleeding hearts
For the obligatory, commercially, media over-hyped Valentine’s evening, we were the very ‘anti-hype’ guests of Doug Brown for another of his ‘On The Menu’ sessions at ‘The Murderers’ in the centre of Norwich just around the corner from the Castle. Otherwise known as The Gardener’s Arms, it’s one of the oldest pubs in Norwich, and it’s got to be one of the friendliest. Matt and Emma managed to find a puppy-sitter for the evening, so we have more pictures taken by the lovely (and unselfishly productive) Emma.
Kicking the evening off was the talented Grant Ley, looking and sounding in much better shape than the last time we had the pleasure of bumping in to him, he was just getting over a touch of man flu then. Tonight he sounded confident, polished, and a sweet voice… combined with some beautiful songs, Grant is a man who’s surely going a long way in the music universe.
Check out Grant Ley’s superb new video… ‘Down for me’:
New artist Lee Davey was up next, deep voice, acoustic guitar and a bottle neck slide! Not sure how new Lee is to performing, he started off a little nervy, but then I would if I was following Grant Ley! Lee soon settled into his set and banged out some great old bluesmen’s blues. By the end he’d managed to earn a great reception from an entertained and appreciative crowd.
We had been advertised as the 5 piece Banjaxeld for tonight, but we were in fact a Jimmy Roe short, so it made us feel a little better that the penultimate band ‘The Trailers’, who had been advertised as a 4 piece, were also a body down. Nice original stuff, uncomplicated and often direct. Would have been nice to hear them with a bass, but the three of them carried it off pretty well. The drummer using a bare minimum ‘kit’ of one floor tom, snare and a tambourine found a myriad of ways to use them to get different percussive sounds.
No such complicated drum set-ups for us, Vinny brought his Cajon along for this evening, so it was a fairly quick change over which was good as the evening had gotten on beyond our expectations of our start time. Nevertheless, we were feeling comfortable and fairly relaxed. Doug Brown even grabbed his mouth harp and jammed along to a couple of songs which threw up some very interesting possibilities. We were pretty happy with our set, Matt was a bit nervous being thrown in at the deep end having to cope with doing Jimmy’s parts, but he did a great job despite his back giving out at the end.
The crowd there were obviously all loved up, they were great throughout the evening, and all the artists were shown respectful attention and enthusiastically appreciated. And it didn’t matter whereabouts you were in the place the whole gig was being shown on the screens in every nook and orifice in the pub… although the screens above the urinals in the Gents loos thankfully were not switched on this evening…! Great audience, great venue, great hosts… we’re looking forward to playing there again.
The Murderers is now about to have a re-fit of the pub which will turn the Top Bar into a dedicated music bar with a purpose built stage, P.A. and lighting, and they’re hoping it will become a full-time live music venue. Luckily for us we’ve been invited to be a feature band there, and we’re hoping to start running some very different ‘musicians’ jam nights there with the focus very much on creating and creative music, and jamming and improvising… definitely not for the ‘open mic’ enthusiast, or ‘kak factor karaoke krooners’…! We’ve already had a lot of interest from some prominent local, and not so local musicians interested in getting involved in getting this project going, the question is… can they handle it?
Here’s a little sample of the sort of thing we’re looking to create at these sessions:
Some things are meant to be, and some things are made to be meant to be
At the second attempt (see previous blog post), we actually managed to get ourselves down to the bottom corner of Suffolk without falling off the crumbling eroded edges of terra-firma, or being swept away to sea in a beautiful pea-green wave.
We didn’t get there entirely unscathed, Matt had to pull out last minute due to ill health, so we had to cut our cloth accordingly and focus on the best of the four piece live tracks. We also had a charming little detour down to the sea front where the sea was unusually calm given the recent coastal turmoil. We even stopped to ask a friendly taxi man, whose advice was to go to the Sola Centre (as if we knew where that was!)… but, eventually the sat-nav got us there, and we were still early!
The front of ‘Felixstowe Radio’ is a music shop (…very handy in a musical emergency, or just for shaky eggs…!), behind which is an office with the studio / soundbooth in a separate internal soundproofed room with a nice big window! We managed to arrive before Bryan Halsey, our host on his show ‘The Band’, so we grabbed our gear and stacked it in the office area, before nipping off for a coffee and a set list discussion. Jimmy and his lady Grace then arrived and got his gear in, Bryan arrived, and we started to transform the office as we prepared for the live set.
It was the first time ‘The Band’ had had a full live band perform in their studio / office, so it was uncharted territory for all of us. Mike from ‘Felixstowe TV’ was there to film the session as well, so it was getting to be a crowded little space. The basic set up was full drum kit, bass (amped), lead guitar (amped), acoustic guitar (direct in), main vocal mic, and occasional hand held vocal mic for Vinny. There were two monitors, and we played live into two studio stereo condenser mics, with just the acoustic guitar and vocals added into the stereo mix.
The format was fairly straight forward; Bryan did the introductions, played a couple of tracks by local(ish) artists, and then we played ‘lay me down’ live, and it kinda went on from there with bits of chat interspersed and we managed to do about half a dozen tracks from the forthcoming album. There was also a live message from Matt, sat at home listening to the broadcast, giving instant feedback and mixing instructions to the studio! Its all on the Felixstowe TV video, follow the link below.
Support a great little community TV station and watch the Felixstowe TV video of the show:
The live sound for the show was mixed by Joshua Halsey, Phil Ashby and Taylor. The sound on the video was recorded direct via the cam mic, so the quality isn’t so good at the moment but I’m assured that they are being sent the radio sound files to sync in. We’ll also add the sound from the broadcast mix as soon as we can get a copy. Other credits / thankyous for the day go out to Vinny’s lady Manorma who made the coffees, and Bryan who did the DJ thing and did the interview / chat thing! Oh, and Banjaxeld did the guest thing.
Mr Puppyhands and Mr Sticks
At last we got to see those pups in the flesh! Yes it finally happened… on the way to our last gig of February a Private Party booking at the ‘Hog In Armour’ pub in Norwich to play for Dave and Alice’s Engagement Party.
It all came about because Vinny wasn’t available for this gig due to being kidnapped by the train to Leicester for the weekend, so we were really pleased to be able to persuade Martyn Macarthy (‘Mac‘) to deputise for him for the evening. Mac, probably best known for drumming with ‘Monkey Spanner‘, and will undoubtedly soon be associated with his latest project ‘The Osborne Files’, didn’t get the chance to rehearse with us beforehand, but handled the set like a pro. It’s not really surprising given that he’s one of Vinny’s biggest influences, both have mutual respect for each other’s playing, and inevitably there is some similarity. Of course it helped that Mac’s been to see us play quite a few times now, and we did send him a load of recordings of our stuff, however we also had some fun with some of the variations in beat from a different drummer as well.
However, as I was eluding to previously… because of a lack of Vinny, Jeff and Sack were freed up to go over to Matt’s nice and early, with the intention of dropping off gear at the ‘Hog In Armour’ mid afternoon and then heading back to Matt’s for an afternoon jam (…without the scones..!). That was the plan. What actually happened was that when we got to Matt’s we had to help him load the puppy pen into his car to drop off at Emma’s place on the way to drop the gear off. So the puppies were there, all cute and distracting, and the plan kinda got modified as we decided to have a coffee and a little jam before going.
By the time we got the puppies to Emma’s we just had time for a quick coffee, before heading into Norwich. We got there a little bit later than originally planned… only about four hours later… but still with loads of time to get set up. We did manage to get a little warm up / soundcheck with Mac before the guests started arriving which was just as well, as we found there was a problem with the house P.A. desk. Luckily for us Matt just happened to have his ‘big rig’ in the back of his car (…he takes it everywhere with him…!), so with a bit of combined effort we were able to swap the systems and save the gig.
We were scheduled to do two 1 hour sets basically… with a half hour gap between, but somehow we managed to talk Dave and Alice who perform under the name ‘Fuelled by Rose’ into doing a few songs in our break with the loan of Matt’s guitar. It seemed appropriate that their friends and family got to see then perform on their happy day, and I think they enjoyed the opportunity to get up there. They were certainly well appreciated and in the end we had to persuade them to let us on to do our second set!
We also finished the evening with a couple of encores and lots of love from the audience (which was a relief, you never can quite be sure whether you’ll even get a reaction at some private functions!). In fact to quote Jeff’s post gig analysis; “lovely couple, great crowd and one the best private party’s we’ve had for a long time.” I think we all had a good time, and I think we’ll be seeing a bit more of Mac playing with Banjaxeld as Vinny’s ‘dep’, which means you’ll have even more opportunities to see Banjaxeld this year. Once again we received some very nice feedback and comments from guests after the gig, especially the comment from Lizzy, one of the Woodland Creatures, who really enjoyed our set so much she even got up and danced to some of it. Basically she said that she thought we played ‘happy music’, a sentiment that was echoed a few times that evening. We were really happy because it seemed that everybody enjoyed their evening, especially Dave and Alice… who said they’d like us back to play at their wedding.
Meaningful imperfection is the soul of art
Just got a copy the March edition of The Gig ‘n’ Grub Guide, and a very flattering review of our gig at the Blueberry (see last blog post) by Robert Barker… Not a bad review of the Blueberry either, seems a shame to just keep it to ourselves (…and the readers of the Gig ‘n’ Grub Guide), so we thought we’d share it with you. Grab yourselves a copy and find out what’s really happening in Norfolk. Thanks Robert.
Enjoy your weekend people…!
The Gig ‘n’ Grub Guide: www.facebook.com/gigngrubguide
Doug Brown: www.facebook.com/doug.brown.184881
Felixstowe Radio 107.5 FM: www.felixstoweradio.org.uk/
Felixstowe Community TV: www.felixstowetv.co.uk/
Lee Davey: www.facebook.com/lee.davey.944
Grant Ley: www.facebook.com/grantleyofficial
The Osborne Files: www.facebook.com/osbornefiles
Fuelled by Rose: www.facebook.com/FuelledByRose