The summer lobotomy is a no-brainer
Back in the ‘old days’ peoples who journeyed over vast continents, through scorching deserts, over ‘Charlie-topped’ mountains, across ferocious raging rivers and traversed great bulging glaciers, were called pioneers. I had a Pioneer stereo once, and it did none of these. What it did do was to bring into my little world the sounds, and lives, and hopes, and dreams, of a world I had yet to experience, beyond my local imagination, painstakingly crafted with the resourcefulness of the artists and etched into one continuous groove that was like a roller coaster for my mind… it’s a groove I’ve been riding ever since… I am the DJ of my own life, and I can choose to play whatever I want, to explore whatever I want to explore, to groove to my chosen groove… play pancakes on shrove Tuesday… eat badminton on a Thursday… and hide and seek with the bailiffs on a daily basis!
In reality it wasn’t that far to travel to Vicfest in Norfolk, but every mile takes exactly the same effort as long as you’re focused on reaching your goal…
We’d been booked to play the Main Stage on the Sunday, despite the fact that one of the Vicfest creators and organisers was our very own guitarist Matt! What that did mean was that Matt was once again stuck there all weekend, and consequently we could only do the one gig. However, Jeff & Sack, having nothing much better to do, decided to volunteer our services for the Friday, Saturday & Sunday… cleverly avoiding the set up and break down days, before and after, respectively… some may mischievously suggest?
Things became more interesting for us, when the band who were due to do the ‘after-party’ inside The Vic pub for the late Saturday night slot, pulled out at short notice and we kind of got volunteered to fill the session with a jammed set including originals and whatever guest musicians would care to come up and play.
The festival itself is situated on a small field behind the Victoria Inn, in Martham, Norfolk, the festival opened on the Thursday with a Charity evening to raise money for the Norfolk Air Ambulance, and all the acts gave their services for free. I am assured that a good first evening was had by all, but Sack and Jeff didn’t get there until Friday, and strangely there was relatively little to do by then, other than mingle, catch up with friends, listen to some great bands, soak up the rays, sell our ‘Feels Good to Feel Good’ album as much as possible, and generally chill out. Saturday was a different matter… to start with we were informed that our Sunday afternoon slot on the Main stage had been pushed back, and we were now playing early evening, and would be doing a full hour set! Saturday was a working day for us… although admittedly not until about 9pm when we started to set the stage up inside The Vic, ready for the 11pm change over from the Marque outside.
We’d had the day to unwind a bit, watch a few other bands, but then all of a sudden it all got very hectic. I don’t remember how we started, or much of what we played, all of a sudden the pub got very full, the beer flowed, and everyone was up for a late session.
I know we jammed a couple of songs, like Dancing in the moonlight, and at some point Sack and Vinny actually got a twenty minute break, but then things really started cooking when sound engineer, Howie Marsh got up to jam half a dozen songs with Sack and Vinny. We finally wound it up about 2am. It was all exceedingly sweaty, claustrophobic and intensely dehydrating… but great fun, and thoroughly enjoyed by all present.
For our Sunday set on the Main stage we’d arranged to be Videoed by Crossfade Media, we were also recorded live by Gary Frost (…who also played rather nice keyboards on ‘Rolling Home’, as he did on the album)… and we certainly think they both did a superb job to capture all the energy of our set, including the odd little mistake… but hey… it’s a live recording…!
In fact, Crossfade Media did such a good job that rather than write about it, it’s probably best if I just recommend you view the videos… and the sound is Hi-fi quality too. You can watch the individual tracks on our YouTube playlist:
Or you can view the entire 52 minute set complete with banter on Crossfade Media’s YouTube site:
We all had a great weekend, but unfortunately the overall turnout wasn’t so good as previous years, which was a shame for a great little long-weekend festival, that was packed with top class acts, of both local and national artists, with two distinctly contrasting stages at the opposite ends of an enormously long Marque, offering an expanding eclectic fare of original and covers bands.
The real hard work putting this festival on is down to Lee Pally Pallett and Matt Graver a.k.a. Broken Seven Events. They put an incredible amount of work, not just booking the bands, but hard physical labour to get this all together. Together they’ve put together a great little team and deserve all the plaudits for their dedication and application. Hopefully by next year they’ll have sorted out the glitches, and maybe a few more people will turn out to discover and support this evolving festival of music and life.
Happy returns and happy new turns
Weekend two began with our first return to the Fat Cat Brewery Tap in Norwich since our ‘Feels Good to Feel Good’ album launch there at the end of June. With another good audience, much dancing it feels like a real home from home here, and as always we manage to feel relaxed and enjoy ourselves playing. It was a notably odd feeling for most of us that it was only six weeks since we were up here doing the album launch, but every night is a night in its own right, and this was no exception… as usual…! And that sure feels good.
Saturday brought an opportunity for individuals to practice their own particular methods of relaxing during the day… followed by an enchanted evening at the Lion Inn, Thurn, in the beautiful surroundings of the northern end of the Norfolk broads. This was another debut gig charged with the glow of anticipation and curiosity, although a couple of us have played here before with other units, but this was all about Banjaxeld’s first venture into the Lion’s mouth, and I think we bagged one here. Great little gig, friendly people, still a few tourists about, fantastic visa of the broads at sunset… and another really relaxed gig.
It would be easy to say that Sundays at The Mariners pub in Great Yarmouth are quite a laid back, chilled affair… but that’s probably because it’s a fairly accurate statement of our experience there. The biggest problem today was the weather… it was so nice everyone was sat outside in the beer garden where they could hear us nice and clearly, and only a handful of people were inside for the first set. That did change as the second set got warmed up… very warmed up indeed! Another place we feel right at home, and get great interaction from the audience every time.
More time off…!!! A whole week to frolic and fritter away with tales of the good old days, and dreams that always seemed to be just beyond your heart’s reach…! Well not exactly, bloody life has a habit of persecuting us ordinary folk… and yes, when we’re not being musical people, we are just ordinary little worker bees… although, only one of us actually works at anything other than being a musician full time, and we’re not really populating a hive… although we do like the occasional buzz…! And there goes another week of investigative investigating, and digging right down to the important questions of life that are the fuel of the musician’s creativity.
It is almost insulting to think that some people deem this to be ‘not real work’. Bigotry is so Bourgeois in this vile Big Brother Bohemia of fiscal fisted fantasists and effortlessly flattered tat-factor failures that wallow in the shallow puddles that were once the insincere oceans of their egos… oh this green and rotting land, with its septic traditions and emotional shackles, drowning in the mire of its own making, quaking in the fear of its ultimate demise, like a falling man grasping at thin air to get a hold of something to save him… too late to buy a parachute… and even if he happened to have one, the weight of all that money and greed would still carry him down to his demise even faster!
Talking of pizza… I prefer mine thin and crispy with an over-generous spicing of freshly ground black pepper.
If you want a Feast… just take the ‘olk’ out… and leave in the soul.
It may have surprised a few people that we were playing at this year’s Folk East Festival in the stately grounds of Glemham Hall in Suffolk. It certainly came as a real shock to our systems that we had a 12.30 start time! Even more so, when we realised we’d need to be there for 11.30am to set up and sound check. At this point you may recall our previous chats about the ‘musician’s time zone’… well all that applies here, and then some! In fact we were the opening act on the Broad Roots Stage, run by established Folk Musician John Ward. It could have been fairly accurately billed as ‘the stage where folk meets the outside world’, but that can work both ways as the lines of definition become interlaced with evolving opinions on more trans-genre bands, whilst questioning the validity of the accepted versions of ‘traditional’ and ‘stereotypical’, and the dumbing down of a politically driven agenda to ‘influence’ the self-limiting of choices that it’s subjects are groomed to accept as being in the ‘moral brow’.
For us it was much simpler that that… we just did our acoustic / back to the roots set, started with a less than half empty marquee, finished with a near full marquee, got generously introduced by BBC Radio Cambridge’s lovely Sue Marchent (…and we didn’t even have to bribe her…!)… lovely words Sue… although we do feel as though we should have bribed you!
All in all, time of day considered, we had a great time, saw one or two familiar faces as well, got to spend a couple of hours wandering around the site, lots of crafts, entertainment and things to do, but unfortunately we also had things to do… namely; perform another gig the very same evening…!
A few short hours later and we were heading off to the Green Gate in Caister for our very own evening gig. We’ve done the ‘three gigs in a day’ thing a couple of times last year, but having two gigs with six hours off in-between was surprisingly difficult! I guess having thoroughly wound down from the Folk East gig made it twice as hard to motivate the muscles into action for doing the second one. However, we do love what we do, and we love to get that adrenaline hit, and by the time we’d got the gear in we were well up for it again. Also helped by having great hosts in Dil and Darren, they like to keep it lively, happy and entertaining, and we like to tick all those boxes too… judging by the response we got, we did. Tired bones seeking homes at the end of a long but pleasing day… we drove off into the sun rise, brain-dead, aching, and stubbornly determined to drive down the road less travelled that others had previously stumbled and bumbled along.
Blimey…! Just enough time for a quick couple of hours visit to the dream chamber, then another early start (…we have spoken about this before..!), for a Sunday afternoon / early evening session at The Blueberry in Norwich. Actually it’s probably not that early a start for normal people… however, it meant that it gave us time enough to re-charge our batteries, pace-makers, and coffee cups sufficiently to deliver another cracking set. It was beginning to feel a bit tough on the fingers though, I think we need to stop soaking them in Fairy Liquid… even though I personally like to hear the little buggers squeal as you wring the juice out of them! Solution… bathe the finger tips in Surgical Spirits… remembering like me, to roll a couple of nicotine sticks beforehand… so as not to get a liberal taste of the nasty stuff all over your papers!
The ‘weekend’ starts on Monday!
In this blog we often jump from one weekend to the next, as though the week days are meaningless bit-part actors on the set of some pointless soap opera… and in fairness some of them are. But to keep up the creativity and work rate we manage to achieve takes a certain amount of discipline and a lot of self-management. None of us in Banjaxeld could any longer be considered to be ‘boy band’ material, and at least one of us never was likely to be (…boy bands never seem to have a bass player… thankfully!), at our state of life, with our accumulated individual inconveniences’ and consequential damages of having survived our respective years, ‘gig-fitness’ becomes an important consideration in our planning. Basically this just means not knocking ourselves out during the week, and building up psychologically for the weekends. Sounds simple but it’s easy to allow yourself be complacent and leave yourself short.
Having a complete couple of days rest after the weekend is fine, but there’s still a lot of stuff to do in the week as well. Jeff and Sack spend many hours drinking coffee whilst attempting to do admin stuff, working on songs and arrangements, plotting for the next phase of our evolutionising, editing rehearsals and jam recordings for our analysis (…and ultimately consistent improvement). Added to which, Jeff spends hours on the phone with landlords, event organisers, musicians, illustrators, promoters, foreign exchange agencies, the odd dodgy charlatan, and a certain local guitar shop proprietor at Lister’s Guitars who lures him in with exotic shiny stringed objects of great expense, and other ‘precious things’. Matt also puts a lot of time into working on the music, and promoting the band, as well as doing most of the gear maintenance stuff (…he’s a bit weird though, he likes waking up ridiculously early in the morning!).
Sack is having ongoing therapy to enable him to move away from his computer screen without having extreme panic attacks; in the meantime he vomits words all over the internet and fiddles about with sounds and visual things. He’s also pretty much in charge of the worrying dept. Vinny’s probably the only sensible one amongst us, he actually has a job outside the band…!!! We still get him to do some stuff though, and in fairness he does take a great deal of pride in promoting Banjaxeld whenever he can.
On top of all that we do like to get at least one rehearsal / playtime in per week if we can. ‘Rust never sleeps’ …to quote the timeless Neil Young!
I suppose we’re a bit like a finely honed sports team… except… not so sporty…! …And probably not so ‘honed’! But we do have to consider what we do in our lives outside the band, so that we’re ‘gig fit’ for the real reason why we’re still alive… the music! And as we don’t want to just do Banjaxeld as some pointless hobby to fit in around the allotment and washing the car, but as a way of creatively expressing our experiences and emotions, we are after all, still human. Moreover, it seems to me to be imperative to buy into the philosophy of taking responsibility for one’s own actions and reactions if one is to maintain an ability to meet the demands of earning a living the hard way! ‘No gig, no money!’ …to quote the penniless Sack Thebassman.
Set the controls for the heart of the Broads
Débuts probably have their own pattern, but I’m sure if I made up some dubious sounding statistic that compared them to the frequency of London buses in the 1950’s you’d probably just go along with it, unless of course, you happen to be a ‘Wiki-phile’ and obsessively check it up…! Assuming, like me you really couldn’t be bothered how many buses you can fit into a fable… let’s not even consider going there! We did, as it turned out, go to Martham Social Club, for another in our rapidly growing collection of debut gigs, in lovely Norfolk. Home ground for our Matt this one, and not more than a few hundred metres from the legendary Vicfest site, about the same distance real punks used be able to spit back in the late 1970’s.
Nice little gig, this one, and with a few of our local friends along as well. I think we may have made one of two more friends by the end of the evening.
We played the annual Broken Seven event at the Falgate Inn, Potter Heigham, in the heart of the Norfolk Broads last year, and it was bloody freezing cold in June! We were back again, but this time in August, and it was thankfully quite a bit warmer. We didn’t manage to find the jam that we lost there last year… I think that we best let that one go off into the ether, and hope that ‘compassionate cosmic karma’ was listening!
It was another damaging early Sunday rise, inadequate coffee preparations, and a breakfast of painkillers and expletives. When Jeff, Vinny and Sack got there, Matt had already been there for a couple of hours, and had set up the stage area, P.A. and was both stage managing and mixing the acts for the day. Of course he was also playing guitar with Banjaxeld when we got there.
We had opted to go on a little earlier than planned at the request of one of the other acts, who had to come from a previous engagement the same afternoon. It wasn’t a blazing hot day, but at least this year we didn’t get frozen numbed fingers! A very pleasant and relaxed gig, slightly spoilt by Sack’s trusty little canon camera being inadvertently given a glass of tap water to drink! It may never be the same again… so much for ‘compassionate bloody karma’!
It felt like a Sunday… but it was just a Bank Holiday Monday (… Sack thinks every day’s a holiday for Bankers…!). It was the final day of the ambitious annual Carlfest event at the Mariner’s Rest in Lowestoft, and the weather was quite frankly a disappointment…! You’d have thought they might have organised some lovely sunny weather…! However, they did have a plan B, and we have a song called Be-e… so we played inside the pub instead of getting electrocuted out on the main stage, which coincidently is right in front of the local electricity sub-station! It was all a bit hectic, we did a concise but somewhat sweaty set that went down well, but we didn’t get to see much of the other acts as we couldn’t hang around too long. I’m told it was another successful year for the C.A.R.L. Charity though, so well done to all involved.
For the Ron up the road
Once again, as the despotic steam-roller of another weekend trundled mercilessly into the disputed territory of Friday, claiming to liberate it from the more liberal school days union, we found ourselves doing another first-timer, this time at the enigmatic Peggottys bar in Great Yarmouth. Formally a night club venue, we were only the third band they’d had playing there for their new ‘Live Music Fridays’, and it was a bit quieter than we might have expected, but we did see a couple of familiar faces, including one in particular with a broken foot, and a hound…! Always good to see Wolf and Tia, not sure though, whether he was limping or staggering on his way home? Those that were there all seemed to have had a good night, and no, we didn’t put drummer Vinny up on the DJ Rostrum, four feet above the floor… he’d have melted like ice cream up there…!
We’d been looking forward to finally getting to play Raveningham Country Fair, firstly because it’s a fantastic event, a proper country fair with steam engines, animals, straw, loads of country stuff, motors, loads of other stuff, food, drink, and lots of good music. The other reason we were looking forward to it was because we had the talented Pauline Goffin playing her saxophone with us… well on half the set at least! After… yes you’ve guessed it… just one rehearsal… although she did make it sound like she’d been doing the tunes with us on a regular basis! Great atmosphere, friendly people, and we had the pleasure of being entertained by El Gato’s Men on the outdoor stage while ourselves, and headline band The Little Red Kings set up our stages next to each other in the beer tent.
A really enjoyable gig this one, Pauline played well, and we didn’t do too badly either! The dancers were out again, which we always encourage, and all seemed to have a thoroughly good time. We also had time to relax and watch The Little Red Kings superb headline set before heading off into the rapidly cooling night with more disturbing thoughts of another early rise a mere few hours hence.
After the success of our first little Music Day at the Green Gate in Caister, it was time to prove that we could do it again, and so came the second Music Day at the Green Gate. And what a superb line up for a Sunday afternoon into early evening we had to look forward to. Once again all our acts were being introduced to the Green Gate for the first time, and we were pretty confident that they’d all go down well there given the quality and talent we’d managed to pull together for this little event.
We didn’t have Matt with us last time, so it was all new for him, but he’s part of the team and in no time at all we were starting the afternoon as people began to drift in. Our first act up was Coral Cross, normally the lead singer with The Gifted Circus, she did an intimate yet powerful solo set that was a perfect way to ease into the afternoon. Cranking up the dial a notch or two was our second act, the Jimmy Roe Band making one of their maiden performances, and sounding good, tight, and bluesy in a funky kind of way! Jaimie Roe, whom some of you may know, has played with Banjaxeld over the last year and a half, finally getting his own band together and his own sound. Sack even went up to Jaimie after they played and told him to give up the day job and concentrate on his music… he was that impressed!
Following the Jimmy Roe Band we had, all the way from the nation’s capital, with a bit of a local following as well, our very respected friends, Millie Manders, accompanied by her guitarist, producer and co-writer, all in one; Davide… oh, and he’s a thoroughly nice bloke too. Probably better titled ‘The Millie Manders Explosion’, there’s no holds barred with Millie, default party mode, great energy, superb voice, a real stage presence. Every time I’ve seen her perform she gives it her all, and this was no exception. Davide was on form, even managing to wait right until the last few bars before breaking a string! A great mix of covers and original material delivered with two smokin’ barrels.
Local celebrities, emerging folk colossuses, and also very respected friends of ours, Addison’s Uncle, had the pleasure of following Millie, and they did it with aplomb. Recently featured on BBC and local media with the release of their video for the song ‘B1159’ they certainly pulled in a few people as well today. Addison’s Uncle are a band that just seem to get better every time we hear them. Fantastic musicianship, great songs, dodgy story telling (…sorry Phil…!), and an enthusiasm for their music that you can see as well as hear, make them a really entertaining and watchable band.
Initially formed, and lead by the confidently enigmatic Philp Pearson, the main songwriter (…who incidentally, quite literally does have a niece called Addison!), the band have matured into a really tight unit, effortlessly going from a folky Ballard to a raucous song, often via a traditional tune, with superb harmonies, or the soaring violin of Georgia Shackleton, and tails of being tortured as a child by selfish parents…! Oh, and of course our old young friend and the smileyist ukulele player in the entire world, official, Mister ‘Jack-in-the-box James Mass’ (…he smiles so much you need sunglass on just to watch him!). With the addition of the rhythm section (…in addition to Philip’s bare foot bass drum..!) they’ve really kicked on (…yes it’s a pun!), and they’re now playing and sounding like a band.
I think we’d have been happy to let them play all evening… but it was rumoured that there were some people there that did actually want to see Banjaxeld play as well. There were only the two of us playing last time (… and a half, if you include being Hank-bombed…!), but today we had the full complement of all four generous slices of the Banjaxeld cake complete with candles…!
And in keeping with the flavour of the afternoon we did our ‘Folk East’ rootsy styled semi-acoustic set, but with Vinny on drums, which worked really well. I think we were all a bit tired from the long day by the time we got up there, but good ol’ adrenaline kicks in pretty quickly and we were soon having a great time ourselves. Wrapping up a memorable day, we had to finish the outside music by eight, but it was still buzzing when we finally got away… and so were we.
So, another satisfying weekend of work, work ,work, and another three notches etched into the guitar case… no honestly… that’s why they’re there…! In fact it’s been a busy month, a good month… but tiring… and the Banjaxeld horse ‘n’ cart rolls on… anyone got any spare tasty carrots…?
Groove on people.
…and here’s the one from Vicfest with Gary Frost rockin’ the keys…
Our new album ‘Feels Good to Feel Good’ is now available to make you feel good… why not make us feel good and get yourself a copy…. they’re available either at our gigs (…don’t be shy!)… or you can order from: www.banjaxeld.co.uk
Gary Frost (MDM Recording / Icecube Records Ltd): www.Icecuberecords.com
Broken Seven Events: www.facebook.com/pally69
Crossfade Media: www.crossfademedia.net
Norfolk Air Ambulance: www.eaaa.org.uk
Howie Marsh: www.gigrighire.co.uk
Folk East Festival: www.folkeast.co.uk
John Ward: www.johnward.org.uk
BBC Radio Cambridge: www.bbc.co.uk/radiocambridgeshire
Sue Marchent: www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p001d7sb
Lister’s Guitars: www.facebook.com/pages/Listersguitars/260670257366246
C.A.R.L. Charity: www.facebook.com/CareAndRealLovin
Inallhonesty Media: www.facebook.com/Inallhonestymedia
Raveningham Country Fair: www.ravfair.co.uk
Little Red Kings: www.reverbnation.com/littleredkings
The Gifted Circus: www.facebook.com/thegiftedcircus
Addison’s Uncle: www.facebook.com/addisonsuncle
Millie Manders: www.milliemanders.wordpress.com/
Jamie Roe Band: www.jamieroeband.co.uk/