Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Christmas Bash

Here’s a problem.

I really want to write something fascinating about our much looked forward to gig at the Grapes on Saturday just gone……but although it went well, it wasn’t remarkable and I can’t think what to write.

Mind you much of this might have to do with the fact that Mrs Rock God has been extremely ill with a chest infection for the past week and the Rock God of these pages has been assigned to the sofa in the living room and having had very little sleep….I’m wrecked.

Being honest I am not as young as once I was and I am feeling the effects of not having my standard seven hours a night.

Anyway, away with such mundane things, what of the gig I hear you cry.

Well as I have written before in these columns the Grapes is like home to us and having not performed there for over a year we have been really looking forward to returning, especially as they have had a major refit.

I did my usual ‘blatting’ of our mailing lists and sending press releases to the media and newspapers etc, which is something I have to do every single gig (oh boy what I would give for a press officer who could do this one particular task for me). We really wanted the venue to be rammed to the ceiling with excited punters, celebrating Christmas and having a good time.

We practiced a special ‘Christmas set’…..which due to time constraints meant a rocked up version of ‘We wish you a merry Christmas’ and an acoustic sing-a-long version of the ‘Fairy Tale of New York’.

And I ate vitamins like Smarties in an attempt to avoid my wife’s illness (all performing singers live in terror of the rogue chest infection).

We found as much festive tinsel, lights and hats as we could muster and we were ready.

And then the day arrived.

CJ & I arrived at the pub having almost flattened a Chav with the trailer (would I be right in thinking that the British Chav’s are equivalent of the American ‘Trailer Trash’ that we hear about in the movies? – either way for those not of the English Isles, Chavs were said to have originated from Chavington in Essex…however for the most part it is widely recognised as ‘Counsel House and Violent’).

However, some stiletto heeled Doris in a skirt that was more like a belt than a garment and displaying thighs that would not have been out of place on an all England Rugby Full back, decided that she could not wait until we had passed into the ally down the side of Grapes and jumped between the trailer and the car.

If she had gotten one of those dainty heels caught in the light wiring she could have ended up becoming an ornamental accessory on the back of CJ’s brand new company Vectra.

She narrowly missed becoming a tasteless joke (what do you call a Chav who has been crushed under the wheels of your trailer?........a start!). However, being a good, loving Christian boy I won’t make such tasteless observations.

We met Aaron at the pub who had come straight from work……and I did the stupid thing of entering into debate with him.

I have learnt that one should never talk to my son for about half an hour after he has got home from work. His world is full of musicians, would be musicians, and teenage boys who aspire to rock stardom. Aaron does not suffer fools gladly……and his world is full of them.

The normal protocol is to sit him quietly down, feed him cups of tea and allow him a rant on the stupidity of the average moron that are the stock and trade of his profession. Once his spleen has been vented, he is then in a more settled frame of mind to discuss his preferred passion…guitars…at this point his mother and girlfriend leave the room.

However, we were in a hurry and we all too quickly got into a heated debate about our stage positions as the stage itself was too small to take all three of us. Accusations of ego were banded about…nothing serious mind you, but enough for CJ to shake his head in that familiar way as he recognised the ‘Loaders’ were having their usual ‘domestic’.

Anyway, I showed the better part of valour and went with Aaron’s suggestion as I was just too damn tired to argue….besides which, we both knew that our argument was really being fuelled by the fact the growing worry that the pub was almost empty and a growing dread that we might be playing to an empty building once again.

It was 7pm on what was supposed to be the busiest day of the year for the pub trade and there can’t have been more than 20 people in the whole place.

It wasn’t going to happen to us again was it?

Anyway, we set about putting the whole stage set together which this time includes Fairy lights and Tinsel.

Out of the side of eye I got drawn into the conversation of two young chaps who were deep in a very emotional conversation, which included one of the more, bearded and masculine fellows balling his eyes out like a baby.

Talk about making you feel uncomfortable.

Anyway, we managed to get set up quickly and in good time and so we trotted off to find chips (for those reading this over seas, you cannot, and I repeat CANNOT beat the good British chip…for that read ‘Fries’). Our ‘chips’ are made with real potatoes and not Maize and are a meal in themselves.

“All Hail the British chip”!

The only thing that killed this whole argument was that our fettles were served to us by a couple of burley Greeks called Stavros and Spearo.

However the chips, British or otherwise hit the spot and were now ready to rock.

CJ furnished us with a pint of our traditional Guinness (real beer) and we got laden down with a couple of pints of water each.

Then Aaron and I went off to change in the cellar.

Back in the day of Mudheads Monkey, we had a fantastic Mercedes truck that had a cab big enough to change in, with curtains and everything. Nowadays, if we want to make an effort we have to change in the toilets…..but not tonight…believe me…not tonight!

The basement would have been Barney’s (from the Simpsons) dream….bottles of beer and cider, wine and other weird and wonderful concoctions lay everywhere.

However, we were here to change into our suits (yup, we were going smart again), and this time Aaron was outdoing me by wearing a waist coat under his.

Then we were ready to rock!!

As we took to the stage, we were thankful that the place had begun to fill up a bit more.

A few of Aaron’s mates had shown up. About six of CJ’s apprentices had made an appearance, and Tim our unofficial Roadie as well as Kieron, who has helped us out from time to time and his good lady wife (getting a baby sitter when you have four kids is the holy grail believe me….I’m sure that Nicky would have probably have preferred to have used such a rarity to be wined and dined in a good restaurant, maybe with a show thrown in. sadly all she could hope for tonight was having her ears pinned back by us lot and a Kebab on the way home…oh and Kieron getting pulled by the police on a random breath test…thankfully he is a sensible lad and doesn’t drink and drive…although Nicky told me that he did get involved in taking the micky out of the police officer by accusing him of making a sexist assumption that Kieron is a bloke…you meet him, there is no doubt that he is ALL bloke).

As I said the gig was good, but not exceptional.

We were greatly enjoyed by a whole pack of drunken (mainly male) revellers who cause the poor bar manager untold grief as the evening when on, and nearly took my front teeth out on several occasions when they fell into the stage and into my mic stand.

We gave it our very best and by the end the crowd had warmed up and the place was fairly full.

We got ourselves a couple of encores, something which you can no longer take for granted…and treated the punters to a screaming version of the Clashes ‘I fought the Law’ and ‘Two Princes’ by the Spin Doctors, then it was over.

We played ‘I dreaming of a White Christmas’ over the PA and got off stage.

Taking down and packing the trailer was harder than it normally is as we were all so tired.

However, we got it done and we headed off home through the crowd of drunken revellers…I caught myself thinking that cliché that proved I must be getting old “I wonder if her dad knows she’s gone out dressed like that”.

We drove passed the ‘Out door urinals’ for the men that would normally have peed into the fountains. What are we coming to eh?

As CJ drove me back to our house (Aaron had gone back out with his mates and girlfriend) we agreed that we needed to come up with a game plan next year to try and keep it exciting.

We need to draw a fresh new audience and we need to do something that will keep it exciting for us.

All suggestions gratefully received.

See, and I didn’t think I had anything to write about.

If I don’t speak to you before, have a fantastic Christmas and a wonderful New Year.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Followers of the blog

Does the Rock God have an Ego?, you can bet your bottom dollar he has....well, I have a little left.

One thing that will help to inflate my ego just a little is to know that people are out there reading this blog.

So why don't you encourage me...just a little, and sign on as a follower.....and in case you are wondering that isn't some kind of weird discipleship thing...I'll leave that one to others. It's just an acknowledgement that you read the Rock Gods blog.....relieving past glories...and hopefully chuckling as you do!

Anyway, The Mudheads are preparing for what we hope will be the gig of the year this coming Weekend..our mammoth Christmas bash....please Lord I don't break anything at this gig.

Anyway, as always you will be the first to know.

So go on, sign on...you know you want to.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008


I have penned a short piece on one fellow band member I thought that I ought to have balance and tell you a little of the other.

For those of you who don’t know, Aaron, guitarist for The Mudheads is actually my son (yes I AM that old).

I had a very fortunate escape in that Aaron’s mother, my lovely wife, wanted her beloved son to follow in her families tradition of being mad about football (that’s soccer for anybody reading this over the pond).

Aaron was ‘encouraged’ to play in various teams as child and dragged along to local matches with one of our two football clubs, Bristol City. However, it soon became apparent that Aaron has inherited his father’s aptitude for the game (two left feet and no sense of direction) and agreed that actually ‘watching’ the game was about as pointless as….well….the most pointless thing there is to watch really (my apologies to anybody who is in fact a fan of ‘the beautiful game’ each to his own I say).

Anyway, at the tender age of 16 Aaron brought joy to his old dad’s heart and a cold chill to his mothers….he picked up a guitar.

From that point on Aaron became obsessed and he was generally caught wandering around the house strumming an old Spanish guitar that my parents had bought me when I was lad.

I tried to teach him a few chords, but I am not known for my patience and for the sake of family harmony and father and son unity Aaron took off on his own.

Aaron and his school mates had their first band and I was encouraged (for that read, ordered by my wife) to go and set up a PA for them at gigs and do the sound for them.

I had a note of nostalgia as to the cacophony Bassbin and I used to make when we were boys. Yet, we were never that loud.

Then. When Aaron was just 17, events conspired to change everything.

I had been persuaded by work mates to get back into performing again, and I managed to get myself a booking with my friend and former guitarist Matt Sims.

Sadly Matt had to pull out of the gig at the last minute due to work commitments and my wife suggested that I take Aaron along instead.

I wasn’t as negative as I had been with the thought of CJ’s audition, after all Aaron was my lad and I wanted to encourage him. However I wasn’t hopeful that he was going to make me look amazing.

We took to the ‘Robin Hood Retreat’ in Bristol armed with two acoustic guitars, a small PA and about 90 minutes of songs that I knew (that Aaron didn’t), un-rehearsed and totally unprepared.

All I can say is “fair play” to Aaron. Despite not having a clue as to what I was doing he kept up, and proved conclusively that he had what it took to be a guitarist.

It also got me back into performing after a break of about 8 years.

We got the bug almost immediately and many acoustic gigs followed and Aaron just kept on getting better and better and better.

He also managed to fight down his natural embarrassment to sing and very soon was happily singing along with me. Many have said that his voice is very similar to mind, which gives us a kind of chorus effect.

He also developed an unhealthy obsession with buying expensive guitars.

I had married young and had been pretty broke before that, so all my guitars had been copies, that was until when I reached 40 and my parents bought me an amazing acoustic guitar (I’ll tell that tale another day).

On the other hand Aaron had by the time he had reached his 20’s procured three Gibsons (including two of the legendary Les Paul electric guitars). A Fender Telecastor (top of the range I might add), a Fender bass guitar, a Takemine Acoustic guitar and a beautiful (and much envied by me) Taylor acoustic.

In order to satisfy this addiction Aaron decided that University wasn’t for him and went to work as an acoustic guitar specialist for a major music equipment retailer.

By the time we had teamed up with CJ he had also started collecting Marshall Amplifiers and has a guitar stack that is taller than he is.

However, bottom line, take away all the expensive instruments, and Aaron is still a mighty fine guitarist and we play well together.

I have often asked him why he doesn’t go off and join another band (as performing in a band with your old man isn’t the coolest thing in the world). His reply is always the same, “are you mad, I get to play regularly and I get paid…..I’m not giving that up”.

For my part it’s a privilege to play in a band with my son. So many fathers struggle to find any common ground with their sons and yet Aaron and I have a massive thing in common and are good friends.

I am not however, his mate….Aaron has loads of mates, he’s a popular guy. He only has one dad though, and I am proud to say….that’s my job.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008


Mudheads Monkey had hit a bit of an impasse.

Bassbin and Goodbin had decided that their days of living the rock & roll dream and the demanding needs of the groupies had become too much for them (in their dreams) and had decided that they would call it a day.

This left Matt and I in a bit of quandary. Did we continue as an acoustic duo, or did we try and find another drummer and bass player.

The bass playing bit was easy as I could return to those duties, but the drummer was bit more tricky.

Our original replacement for Goodbin, Sally (yes that’s right…a girl! a real girl...who had an aptitude for belting the hell of the skins) had gone off to college to study Social Work, so we were stuck.

Then Matt suggested this ‘kid’ called CJ.

I had known CJ for years, mainly as a child (he’s 15 years younger than me) and so I was not too keen.

The last thing I needed was another teenager with more enthusiasm and ego than actual talent. I had played with one of those many years before and to be frank he had been a pain in the backside and made the whole touring thing a nightmare. I had enough to cope with my own short comings without dragging a hormonal wannabie ‘metal head’ around with us.

However, Matt insisted and for the sake of friendship I said that I would at least audition this ‘young un’.

We planned to have a crack at a couple of songs and see how it went…I wasn’t hopeful.

CJ arrived at our rehearsal space with the largest drum kit I had ever seen. It was red Premier kit that his mother had helped him buy and it dwarfed him.

CJ had been coming to our gigs for years, since he was still in nappies I suspect, so he said that he was fairly comfortable with our material.

Then we were off.

I do not exaggerate when I say that the hairs on the back of my neck stood on end.

CJ was absolutely, totally and blindingly amazing…without doubt the best drummer I had ever played with.

I have never seen anybody inject so much enthusiasm, passion and personality into their drumming…and yet keep it as solid as King Kong’s first movement of the day

We had planned two songs….we went through about ¾ of the set.

My bass guitar locked into his bass drum and we played tighter than I had ever played in a band in my life.

Also as his heroes had been Tico from Bon Jovi and Tommy lee Jones from Motley Crue, he belted the life out of his kit, and this in turn made Matt and I play and sing with a far more rocky edge, which was right up my street.

I didn’t sleep that night I was buzzing so much.

CJ didn’t only join Mudheads Monkey, he transformed it, and many of the experiences that I have recalled and will recall involve CJ sat behind me laying down his solid rhythm and torturing his drum kit.

Drummers traditionally have been painted as total meat heads with a fondness for beer and drugs.

CJ in contrast is now a successful business man and family man who worships his two daughters (just don’t tell anyone, it will ruin the image).

He is generous of spirit and if you ever need anything CJ will get it for you or help you move it (I will never lose the image of CJ hacking my sofa apart with a crow bar……to get rid of it not to retrieve lost change you understand).

And nobody, I mean NOBODY can pack a van with more kit than available space like CJ…he’s a flippin genius at it.

I am honoured to perform in a band with him and to count him as a friend.

I had a CJ moment last practice night. The three of us launched into an old Mudheads Monkey song called ‘Mr Mr’. We were so tight musically you couldn’t have got a sheet of rice paper between us.

I was left with warm feeling of satisfaction……we were a band!!

Now all we have to do is stop CJ breaking wind in our air tight practice room and everything will be hunky dory.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

I played with Elvis!

Well I didn’t, but I knew somebody who did.

Our original guitarist (Matt Sims) and myself were asked to support a guy from America called George Hamilton the 4th on the West Country leg of his British tour.

I wasn’t that thrilled to begin with, firstly because he was a ‘Country & Western’ singer, and secondly because he was about the same age as my own father, if not a bit older. Not exactly cool for a rocker to play with somebody as old as your dad (note to Aaron….you may want to re-think your position son)

Anyway, even though I had never heard of him, we thought that it might be an opportunity to sell a few copies of our newly made album ‘Shout!.

Well, it transpired that in his day George Hamilton had been absolutely massive (no, not in the ‘way too many beef burgers' kind of way, the famous beyond the dreams of Averis way).

Back in the 50’s and 60’s he had played with all of the greats; in fact many of them had supported him at gigs.

When Matt and I met George, he turned out to be the nicest most gracious bloke you could wish to meet.

The point of my story is that we must have done about six or seven gigs with him and even performed a couple of numbers with him at the Christmas shows, and we grew to not only like the guy but to be in utter awe of him.

During the wait for the shows to begin, he would regale these two youngsters with tales of his early days on the road. Here was a guy that had performed with the Beatles for crying out loud.

He didn’t boast, he didn’t name drop to impress, he just told the story as it was.

His two closest friends were Chet Atkins and Patsy Cline, both giants in their own way. He had grown up with and had become Country royalty. Perhaps a difficult concept for us Brits, but for those over the pond he was something to be revered.

However, my favourite story was when he told us about the time he met Elvis.

He said that it was at a party after one of his gigs and this ‘kid’ walked in.

He was about 18 years old, had a face full of spots and gingerish hair (yes Elvis dyed those famous locks black).

George said that Elvis wasn’t exactly that good looking as fellas went, however, not one person in the room could take their eyes off of him. He was captivating in a magnetic way.

As we sat there with our mouths wide open George said that you could tell at an instant that this kid had something special….the X-Factor if you like, and that he would be a HUGE star.

History proved to bear out that belief.

And here we were sat in a room with a guy that in his day was both bigger and more successful than both Elvis and the Beatles.

And yet, you’d never know it as he was such a gracious, humble man.

I learnt a lot from that guy……never get above yourself, even when you are a Rock God.

Oh, and we sold more CD’s at that those gigs than most of our own gigs.

Ironic eh?

Monday, 1 December 2008


Well, the evening of ‘the big gig’ arrived and we were well up for an evening of rock & roll excitement……..it was going to run smoother than an Italian waiters chat up lines.

You know it wasn’t going to happen don’t you.

Can I say right from the start that the organiser of this event is a REALLY nice guy. He is well thought of by everybody, and he has been really good to us as a band.

He just has one small defect…..well two really!

He couldn’t organise a booze up in the proverbial brewery and he works on ‘Greek time’ i.e. it’ll happen when it happens.

The Mudheads and the opening support band (Mid Life Crisis) had been asked to arrive early at 6:30pm in order to set up and sound check. The organiser and his band, who had to set up first as they were the headliners, didn’t show until about 7:15pm (the doors open prompt at 8pm).

There was no sense of panic……well there was…but that was only coming from us and the Crisis.

Our guitarist, Aaron is young. He still has much passion running through his veins, and he was becoming very passionate indeed. I had to remind him frequently that it was not appropriate to use language like that in front of his aging father (i.e….me!).

His passion rose to new heights when the Mid Life Crisis told us that they had been promised the use of our equipment and hadn’t brought any of their own.

This is generally accepted practice amongst bass players and drummers, but NEVER the guitarists…and it is always good form to enquire if this is the case BEFORE arriving at the venue.

Aaron’s rage was beginning to surpass itself and I had to remind him that we were playing for an honourable cause and inserting guitar heads into places that they were not meant to go, would not generally improve upon the good humour of this auspicious occasion.

Anyway, ruffled feathers were soothed with the promise of beer, but only just.

Anyway, bottom line, we went up to sound check, and they opened the doors, and the sound engineer turned all the lights and the power to the stage…off! Plunging us into darkness.

This did not help Aaron who had suddenly discovered that his amplifier was not working.

Anyway, drummer CJ is always a clear thinker and talking softly to the passionate one, and dabbing his heated brow with a damp copy of guitarist weekly ascertained that Aaron had in his haste and passion, not plugged his pedal board in properly.

Anyway, there was nothing we could do now, and we placed ourselves into the caring hands of the God of Rock & Roll (sponsored by Guinness and available for weddings, Bar mitzvahs and funerals) and went off to find supper.

When we arrived back at the venue it was already heaving, which was an extremely good sign. The other good sign was that a good contingency of Aaron’s mates, formally known as the Mudheads Mob, had arrived and were eager for a good night of Roooccckkkk!!

A crowd of CJ’s friends from the school PTA had also shown up so we were well on a way.

I discovered however, that not a single friend of mine had shown. I really am ‘Billy no mates’….such is the lonely road of the Rock God.

We had decided that as it was such a good gig we would push the boat out and CJ and I wore suits….yup! the Mod look was back in as we donned our best bib and tucker, ties the lot, all topped off with bass ball boots.

The opening two bands had warmed the crowd and then it was our turn.

The promoter warmly introduced us and we took to the stage launching into our opening number, the crowd went wild (I’m serious, they really did, they really loved what we were doing, which was fantastic).

The suit was probably not such a great idea despite the fact it added something to the over all look.

We may have looked ‘cool’, but I sure as hell didn’t feel like it…I must have lost a good few pounds in perspiration the first few songs.

Each song flowed into the other and the audience were becoming more and more enthusiastic.

Then, disaster struck!

About two thirds of the way in, my amp much shaken by the volume of the bass fell off the speaker, bounced, and then fell off of the stage onto the quarry tiled floor, ripping leads and all asunder with it.

But there was a worse blow to come. My glasses (spectacles) were on top of the amp.

My bass guitar was still coming through the PA so I ascertained that I was still ‘coming through’ but I screamed at Tim, our Roadie to find my glasses (I am quite literally blind without them).

Whilst I tried to regain my flustered composure, Tim scrabbled around behind the stage until he appeared triumphantly with ‘half’ my spectacles.

The amp had sadly landed on them and snapped then clean in two.

I have to sadly admit that I did not enjoy the end of my concert as I was already being faced with a major problem. I had to drive home at the end of this gig….in the fog….blind!!

We eventually left the stage to enthusiastic applause and cheering and being forced back on for a much enjoyed encore………enjoyed by Aaron and CJ but not by me. All I could think about was “How the hell am I going to drive home”.

Whilst we cooled down in the dressing room and having failed to duck tape the specs back together, we came up with a solution…….I borrowed Aaron’s.

Now Aaron may be my son, and has inherited some of my physical short comings (well, not that short, he’s a good 6 inches taller than me) but I have 25 years on him so wearing his glasses was a bit like viewing the world through a goldfish bowl.

Anyway, we survived….and what a gig it was.

Considering how despondent I had been before the gig, this was a blast and we are now REALLY looking forward to our last gig of the year in three weeks time.

Maybe just a little bit of the magic of the Rock God Remains……….however, next time I am going to rope the amp to the speaker…ands leave my flippin glasses in the dressing room.

Ho Hum!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Todays the day

We have finally arrived at the date of the 'big gig'.

We have done all the publicity that we can do....now all we can do is go and play...and play to the best of our ability.

As with every day on which we have an important concert I find myself clearing my throat a lot and thinking 'heck I've got a sore throat'...I now know that it is nerves (yes, even after 35 years I still get a little edgy on the day of a gig.....mind you, with some of the venues we play it's because this could be the day that I die).

Today could be fun as CJ (Drummer) is Snowdon, Wales with a load of telecommunications apprentices.

For those of you not familiar with the UK, it's a flipping long way from Bristol. So we are hoping that he doesn't a) Have an accident, b) Break down, or c) Get lost....well, he is a drummer after all.

Even then, CJ and I are going to have to take all the kit to the gig on our own as Aaron is working until the time we are supposed to get in (besides, being a Guitar God is hard work enough according to our won guitar hero and this is a belief that he firmly hangs onto...."being this cool doesn't happen all on its own you know").

The venue we are playing tonight is one of our favourites. It's a place called the Fleece and it essentially an old Victorian warehouse.

It's retained a lot of its original character with a stone floor and metal pillars running right through it.

Unlike most of the venues we play in now it has a large stage, an in house PA and a decent light rig.

The venue takes about 450 people and when full its a brilliant place to play.

However, the last time Aaron and I played there we performed t0 30 people and the only sound you could hear between songs was the gentle scraping of the tumbleweed and the crickets chirping in the bushes.

Tonight however, the ticket sales have been good and we are looking forwards to performing to a capacity crowd.

The band that is opening for us is called 'Mid life crisis', which fills me with a sort of dread. Judging by the average age of the musicians playing I suggest that they have defibrillator standing by.

The star of the evening is called Mark Venus.

He sadly lost his little girl to Leukemia about three years ago and he puts on this concert every year in order to raise money for the Hospice who took care of his little one.

Being parents ourselves, CJ and I are passionate in supporting this.

Anyway, as promised, you will be the first to know how the evening went.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

My Tone Deaf Mate Won TWO Ivor Novella Awards

My good friend Stephen (or Quick Sketch) from the 'How To Be an Inspiration' blog got me into writing these things, and so I thought I would return the favour by pulling down humilation upon him.

Actually, I would like to blow his trumpet for him and share with you an article I had previously written setting the record straight on a modern day tale of rock & roll success dreamt of by all of us would be rock stars....well sort of.

Oh incidentally....to be fair...and to set the record straight, Steve is NOT tone deaf. It was artistic licence and made for a more interesting headline...sorry buddy!

You all know what it’s like; you are 14 years old and you are going to become the greatest rock star this world has EVER seen.

There were four of us with that hard and fast belief. First off there was Gary. All the girls loved him, so he had to be the in the band even though he couldn’t play a note on any musical instrument of any kind. We might just attract girls by default if he were around.

Darren (Bassbin), as hopeless with the girls as I was, lanky with unmanageable hair but fancied himself as a bit of a drummer.

Me, face full of spots and mocked by all for being the ‘the preachers kid’ and yet I owned an acoustic guitar and I was known to be able to hold a note in tune and so I was going to be the singer.

And then there was Steve, or Dylan as we all knew him (yes, just like the rabbit from the Magic Roundabout). He actually owned a ¾ length bass guitar and an amp and speaker to plug it into so he had to be in. From this unholy rabble ‘Phaze One’ was born upon an unsuspecting world.

It wasn’t that we were crap; it was just that we didn’t have a clue.

I was the only one that could play a single chord at that point. Well, when I say single, I mean about four and it would take me the best part of a week to get from one to the other.

We didn’t have a drum kit, so we used Steve’s mum’s sofa, no PA (that’s probably where my ability to scream my head off came from). Gary used Darren’s black Les Paul copy without any kind of amplification and not even an inkling as to what to do with the thing.

Steve was able to make the most noise because he was amplified. The more power, the more volume, a concept I grew to lust after over the years. However, he barely knew which way round to hold his bass guitar, and in that his favourite bass player of the time was Paul McCartney from Wings (and he plays a left handed bass) confusion rang.

The only thing that we could bang out (and I use the word ‘bang’ advisedly) was the opening riff of ‘Satisfaction’ by the ‘Rolling Stones’. And I belted out the only lyrics we knew “I can’t get no….Satisfaction” over the top of that riff. We didn’t know any more than that and as not one of us owned the record in any shape or form we couldn’t even consider what might come next.

To say that we were truly awful would have been an understatement. Even the early Punks would have turned their heads in disgust as we polluted Darren’s mother’s garage with a row that could wake the dead.

It didn’t last long, mainly because one of Darren’s neighbours called the police. As Steve had the only amplification, it had to have been down to him; even I couldn’t make that much noise without a PA.

I don’t think that the officers that arrived were particularly narked by any of this, more wildly amused by the sight of these lanky, scruffy and acne riddled teenagers making more noise than a cat being stuffed through a garden shredder…slowly……!

By now we had been booted out of all our practice spaces for crimes against domestic peace and quiet by our parents and had even tried the school music rooms. Trouble is at that point the head of the music department was heavily into Swing (the music not the sexual activity) and our particular brand of unpolished rock & roll was an anathema to him and so we were duly and unceremoniously kicked out.

By this point I think it became transparently clear that we were going no-where fast.

Gary was going out with way too many girls to be able to spend the time and commitment to take our band stratospheric and we discovered that although he was becoming a mighty fine writer, our suspicions were being confirmed that Steve was probably tone deaf. Apart from that he had aspirations of becoming a literary giant as opposed to anything as crass as a rock star (writers command a more refined and educated groupie…….I didn’t care at 14 years old, all they needed was a pulse and be into scruffy, skinny, spot addled preachers kids……and before you say it, no none of them were).

So musically we went our separate ways. Gary did one last musical leap and played the lead role of ‘Tony’ in the schools production of ‘West Side Story’ (damn his good looks). Darren and I went on to be those rock gods we dreamed of…….hang on a mo, I mean we continued to DREAM of being those rocks gods…and still do.

However, our tone deaf pal went on to much greater things, if only by accident.

Steve went to London (being the only one of our group that could actually string a sentence together he went to University) and he became of all things a playwright. And a damn fine one too I might add.

He was involved in writing the script for a production that contained several songs, and in order to fulfil a particular point within the production Steve took and old classic pub song, ‘Auld Lang Syne’ and put the biblical words of the ‘Lords’ Prayer’ to it’ (you have a sense of where I am going with this haven’t you).

Well the production was a great success and nothing more was thought about it. Until that is, Steve got a call to say that one ‘Sir Clifford of Richard’ wanted to take this song from the production and make it his BIG single of the decade, his Christmas No1 that would ensure him a hit in Lord knows how many decades.

And that was it. Cliff Richard released the ‘Millennium Prayer’ at the end of 1999 and as you know the outcry was massive. Cliff parted company with EMI over it. Radio stations refused to play it and George Michael described it as ‘Vile’ (coming from somebody who was caught in the gents in the same year, a bit harsh really).

There was litigation over rights, the lot (I think that by the end Steve had begun to wish he had stayed with trying to play the bass guitar).

Steve (Dylan) Deal, Cliff and Paul Field.

However, good Christian people everywhere went out and bought it by the truck load (I did, but only because my mate had written it). Anyway, once the dust had settled, there were enough writers’ royalties left for Steve to buy a shed for his son to keep his push bike in…..what a rock and roll life style.

Once the dust had settled even further it was discovered that ‘Millennium Prayer’ had become the biggest selling single for 1999 and Steve won two….yes ..TWO Ivor Novella awards and flippin heavy beggars they are as well. I have often sat in his living room cradling the statuettes, day dreaming of what might have been.

Steve doesn’t write so much these days as he is not in the best of health, he suffers with a condition called Muscular Dystrophy, which has left him in a wheel chair and very dependant on the care of his wife and carers.

I certainly do not mention this in order to get Steve the sympathy vote, blimey no! Steve doesn’t do sympathy and he is as determined (and bloody minded) as ever he was. The mark of a good writer.

The reason that I mention it is that Steve is helping to raise the understanding and often plight of the disabled community in this country by writing a blog about his day to day life of living in a wheel chair often at the mercy of bureaucracy and quite often morons.

If you want an informative, but often hilarious read then go to.


Not bad for a kid from Whitchurch who couldn’t hold a note if his life depended on it.

Paul Field singing the original Millenium prayer in the original production

Moi in the one of the lead roles in West Side Story.....and not the one in the dress either......she werre luverly, but wouldn't look at me twice!!

Tuesday, 25 November 2008

The Rock God Humbled

I must apologise for my mealy mouthed rant yesterday.....that was how I was feeling at the time, and one of the beauties of a blog is that you can keep it real.

Anyway, following some words of encouragement from friend and former band member Bassbin, a cheque for four tickets arrived in the post this morning, and I have received promises of more who will attend...confidence restored.

I have to be real and honest to myself, it is not an easy time to be a live performer at the moment. However, we are not in it alone so.....chin up and live the dream.

Rock & roll dudes.

Rock God

Monday, 24 November 2008

D-Day approches

The 'Big gig' draws ever closer (this Friday to be exact...and today is Monday).

The set has been chosen and rehearsed...the equipment has been prepped and checked.

the costumes have been ironed (I've decided on a three piece suit and flip flops theme).

the last minute publicity has gone out.

How many tickets have we sold to date....yup!, you've got it...just the one...just the one!!

For those of you that are local to Bristol.....it might be a good idea to check us out before the end of December as you may well not get another chance!

Yours miserably

The Rock God

Friday, 21 November 2008

"Just go for it"

The life of a Rock God isn’t all about partying hard and fighting off the attention of adoring fans, at least it isn’t at my end of the field.

The life of a rock god is spent promoting, rehearsing, promoting, travelling, and even more rehearsing and sometimes you get to the point when you wonder if it really is worth all the hassle.

Let me explain.

One of the joys of performing in venues where they sell alcohol is that you often get approached (at speed) by people who wouldn’t normally even talk to the man reading the gas meter they are so shy. However, after three or four glasses of the good stuff they will talk to absolutely ANYONE!

That usually ends up being the band.

Of course most of these good folks have been raised on a steady diet of ‘Fame’, ’High School Musical’ and ‘Britannia High’. They have grown to firmly believe that when some wide eyed student began tapping the edge of their soup bowl with a spoon in the school canteen that indeed the whole place did erupt into a crescendo of musical excellence simply plucked from thin air; with singers and musicians performing unknown songs to a studio produced perfection as if it were spirit born.

With this firm and unyielding belief grasped firmly in their grip, they don’t half get the hump when you confess that you “don’t know how to play ‘Sweet Child of Mine” by Gunz & Roses or something similarly complicated

“Yeah you can” they slur “Just go for it”.

Just go for it!! How many times have I heard that phrase.

What these connoisseurs of all things heavy metal don’t see is the rush that all three bad members have to make on a Thursday evening to get to CJ’s where we have our own little rehearsal studio, to spend hours, days, weeks even months learning the songs that we perform.

We are far luckier than most bands we know as the norm is to ‘hire’ some rehearsal space in a local studio. This involves loading the van at one end, unloading it at the studio, setting up, practicing…taking it all back down again and loading into the van and probably unloading it into the bargain. Oh! And you normally have to fork out 40 to 50 quid into the bargain.

As I said, we are extremely lucky as in between bands, CJ built himself a rehearsal studio in his double garage and the hardest thing we have to do is plug in the guitars and open a beer (we are also blessed that CJ had the fore thought to add a fridge to the whole equation).

One draw back to this blessed rehearsal space is that it is sound proof. Now to those of you that have heard us this may seem somewhat of a blessing. However, in being sound proof it is also air tight….we have used a test meter in there to read the air quality but have found that the surest indicator that we need to open the doors and fast is I begin to sing in Klingon.

Anyway, this weekly ritual happens every Thursday come wind, hail or snow and we spend hour upon hour debating (arguing) about what songs we should consider and then week after week learning them and perfecting them.

Some songs are easier than others. Believe it not, the more badly written a song, especially lyrically, the harder it is to learn. A song by Billy Bragg or Sting, not a problem….Jacko? I’m stuffed….even now after about 5 gigs performing it, I still can’t get the words to ‘Beat It’ in the right order. I am beginning to develop a new respect for soap opera actors who have to learn HUGE chunks of script week after week and get it right!!

Even then probably only about 1 out of every 3 songs makes it beyond the first or second gig.

This represents an immense amount of time and emotional energy, so when some lager fuelled impresario demands a song by the latest X-Factor victor, you will understand me when I say that something inside me dies just a little.

I have learnt to refrain from making sarcastic comments as it doesn’t always go down very well.

When one ‘well oiled’ traveller of life traversed the length of the bar as if a sailor walking the deck of a sailing ship in a heavy wind and asked “Do you know any Donavon? My response of “What? Jason?, was perhaps a little ill advised.

Ah well, as the great CS Lewis once wrote “Upwards and Onwards”, but woe betide the next idiot that tells me to play some ‘Puff Daddy’ and to simply “Go for it!”

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The Country Pub

My apologies that I haven't written anything for a few days....its the joy of getting old and responsible.
My wife has had a major operation and so I have been the dutiful husband....and spent time with her rather than at work typing up this blog! (when I of course should have been working)

However, as there may be those that are hungry for more tales from the Rock God (I've even had people from Pakistan reading this thing.....talk about global) I thought I would quickly submit something that I have previously written for Bristol Rocks for your interest and edification.

The article was for the 'Worst gigs'section...and was taken from a terrifying night at a hostelry in Midsommer Norton near Bath, England.

Read and shudder.

Every so often, you get a few clues as you arrive at a venue which should, if you are on the ball, encourage you to turn the van right around and drive on home. Last night, we saw the signs, and ignored them….totally.

The first sign is when you start driving down a long dark muddy country lane to get to the pub….warning!.

When the only sound that you hear as you arrive at the venue is the hum of a generator that is supplying all the power…..warning!

When, as you enter the pub, the punters re-enact that scene from An American Werewolf in London, when the two American hikers walk into the Slaughtered lamb and every head turns to stare them………warning!

When the first person who greets you looks like an extra from Mad Max 2 that they had to let go as he was a little too over the top and a little too scary, and he turns out to be the barman……..warning!

When the band that you were supposed to be supporting and who have played there before, pull out just a few days before leaving you to cover the whole evening……warning!!

All these clues and more were evident as we arrived at the Iron Fist * in deepest darkest Somerset ready to perform for the first time. And yet, as I have already mentioned, we failed to spot any of them until it was too late.

The audience, such as it was, would not have looked out of place on the film set of The Hills have eyes and were totally pissed, probably on a combination of Scrumpy and sheep deep. Of course, as all gigging musicians can and will testify, drinking three times your own body weight in a liquid owning the quaint moniker of ‘Bishop’s old Scrotum’, or something equally enticing gives anybody the unshakable belief that they can sing like John Lennon, play guitar like Hendrix or worse still, play the drums like Cozy Powell. Years of experience has taught us that you keep your sticks and mic's in your back pocket until they are needed and the guitars remain firmly in their cases. However, you have to take the things out at some point and it was at that point when three of the most plastered caught sight of our instruments and descended upon us with glee.

Not upsetting the punters is a pre requisite for not getting glassed and for being asked back for a second time, other than to apologise. So untangling ourselves from these boys was not an easy task, especially when one of them grabbed me from behind in an attempt to get his hands on my guitar. However, I had no idea what form of entertainment these lads indulged in to get their kicks. Put it like this, we saw some particularly worried sheep on the way to the gig and so I was taking no chances and managed to wriggle out of his bear like grip. CJ our drummer wasn’t having a much happier time as he endeavoured to keep a wanna be drummer away from his kit!

By the time we were ready to play we’d already had enough and were dreading the prospect of two hours playing to this lot.

Now you know it’s going to be a tough night when the audience start chucking things at you. Aaron, our guitarist soon found out how tough it was going to be when somebody threw a drunk farmer at him and nearly sent him flying. Aaron’s girlfriend who apart from looking after the merchandise, was trying to get on with some college work wasn’t going to be left out of this free for all and once the drunk had been retrieved by his mates, then had him balled at her knocking all the tables flying. Fair play to her, she hardly missed a step, raised her eyebrows disapprovingly at him and returned to her studies.

To say we felt like Gareth Gates on an oil rig would be an understatement. The pub was quite clearly catering for every serious Punk rocker this side of Birmingham. When I say Punks, I don’t mean the kind that listen to a little bit of The Boomtown Rats or the Undertones. I’m talking about guys that drank their own vomit if they had run out of funds for scrumpy. One of them became totally pissed off with me as I took a leak during the break. As I was one of the only ones in the building that wasn’t covered in tattoos, chains and studs he had assumed I was the old Bill on a raid (he had come from the other bar and had not seen us playing) and flushed his entire stash down the bog! Things were not getting any better.

We didn’t go down well, at least, not to start with. We were giving it our all at one point to a single person!! The drunks had run out of money, potatoes or what ever the hell they were buying their brain killer with and left during the first set punching and kicking the crap out of each other as they went. This was not a particular disappointment to the band I can assure you. However it did leave us playing to just one 80-year-old punk who probably would have legged it as well if he had been able to get his legs to move.

We didn’t play particularly well, mainly because for the most part we were in fear of our lives, but also because the pubs stage lighting was connected to a sound to light system, which meant that any break in a song resulted in us being plunged into total darkness. This meant that both Aaron and myself ran into, mic stands, each other and the drum kit.

If only the generator had packed up then at least we could have gone home.

However, we survived it. Two hours later and a desperate urge to return to civilisation saw us packing the gear up in record time. Not least because another aging Punk (who looked older than my grandfather) had arrived and was intent on convincing us of the virtues of Internet promotion despite the fact that he didn’t even own a computer. “You see them Artic Minkees”, he slurred “they did it, and their crap!. But you guys rock!”. We thanked him profusely and legged it…..straight into a rain storm that soaked us and the kit as we tried to get it in to the van………great!

We’re sticking with The Bunch of Grapes. You get some real characters, but they’re our own kind of people. We feel accepted! And understood……and they don’t throw people at our guitarist.

* Names changed to protect the innocent………well……us!

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Respecting your roots

After my last little moan I thought I really ought to write about something a little more positive.

I was reminded that we all need to not take what we DO have for granted when I walked past one of our local pubs recently. It’s a venue that The Mudheads have refrained from playing as it would probably end up being a little more hassle that its worth (yup, it’s a rough house).

A poster in the window told us that the band performing that weekend was ‘The Glitter Band’. Yes, THAT Glitter Band.

Talk about your boss dropping you RIGHT in it. I admire their courage for hanging onto the name. Old Gary’s crimes weren’t theirs but you know how the British like to hang people on association.

Mind you here was a good example of treating people well on the way up, because sometimes you don’t even get the time to flap your arms on the way back down.

The last time I saw the Glitter Band was with Mr Glitter himself performing to a thousand or so students at Fresher’s week at Bristol UNI. Now here they were playing in a pub that even I wouldn’t play in.

But hey, massive respect to them for sticking with it.

Now, there is one venue that we The Mudheads call home. Not that we will ever become the Rock Gods we dream of being, but even if we did, we would still play here, even if it meant playing under an assumed name because of the crush that would be caused by adoring fans (I can dream, I can dream).

That venue is The Bunch of Grapes situated in the dead centre of Bristol.

The Grapes and I have history, and it has a secure place in my heart.

Firstly, three generations of Loader have now played there if legend is to be believed.

My father, that would be Aaron’s granddad, played jazz piano there when he was a teenager (not that he claims to remember doing so…but I suspect he did). I play there now, as of course does junior.

I used to go there a lot with Bassbin when we were teenagers. Not because the beer was great, but in the vain hope of meeting somebody famous. You see the Grapes is right next door to the Bristol Hippodrome and it used to be the favourite haunt of every star that graced the boards there.

Not that they did once me and Bassbin started going there of course, but you know what kids are like, we didn’t give up hope.
Anyway, many years passed and Aaron and I who were performing as a duo at this point managed to persuade the music promoter there (Alfie Kingston) to give us a 20 minute show case at the beginning of an acoustic evening.

We went mental…I don’t think that they knew what hit them.

We were subsequently booked again on the spot, this time a little higher up the running order. The next time we played we were again re-booked with the headline spot at the end. Not because we were better than the other acts mind you, it was just that nobody would follow us. A trend that has followed us “ I ain’t following that bunch of ruddy nutters”.

Alfie decided that he would try his hand at putting on electric nights and we pulled in CJ who had already begun playing for our acoustic set up and persuaded Alfie to give us a shot.

This was the very first gig of The Mudheads as it is now.

We only got to play for about 20 minutes as the opening band went well over there allotted time and so we got cut short.

The audience was almost non existent apart from one man of distinction. Bassbin. He had been in so many bands with me before this and now he was encouraging me to go for it again.

Well one thing led to another and we became one of the Grapes most requested bands, and we became very fond of the place.

Run by two ladies, who shall we say, ‘wear comfortable shoes’, they always made us feel at home and encourage us to perform to the best of our ability.

Of course being a city centre pub you get all sorts in there. Like the guy who stood infront of the packed crowd (and us) and got his dick out, confident in his drunken knowledge that every girl in the building would REALLY want to see it.

The guy that insisted on telling me at length about his ‘Barrel Organ’ collection.

Girls that are so hammered that you spend most of the gig praying that they will keep their clothes on (well, I am in the band with my son after all).

And a barman that has so many tattoos and piercings he made the cast of Mad Max 2 look like a bunch of fairies, wandering around proudly in his Mudheads t-shirt.

Sadly, like so many music pubs, the attendance began to dwindle and the landladies could no longer shell out good money on bands that couldn’t fill the place (which was sadly becoming most of us).

We haven’t played there for over a year now. That is until this Christmas…hoorah!

We really do hope that it won’t be for the last time, but The Mudheads will be returning for a proper right royal Christmas bash on the 20th December 08…and yes, we are REALLY looking forward to it!

I wonder if MY grandchildren will get the opportunity to play there.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Use it or lose it!!

I have been asked to write an article for Bristol Rocks based on the old Post Office campaign of, if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it.

Its something I have written on before as the live music scene in the UK is dying on its backside (or at least it is, as my good friend Quick Sketch calls it, ‘at the bottom of the barrel’).

However, I am finding this hard to do as all I want to do is have a ‘damn good whinge’, which probably wouldn’t produce a fine, unbiased piece of journalistic text.

The reason for my wish to vent bile is that The Mudheads have been asked to support a gig at the end of this month, which is in aid of The Jessie May Foundation a children’s hospice that cares for sick and dying children and their families.

We are to perform as part of a benefit concert, which is to be headlined by a chap that lost his three year old daughter to Leukaemia.

Sure the tickets are £10 a pop, but I thought that in light of this amazing cause, people would be flocking to purchase tickets to enjoy an evening of live music and support an extremely worthy cause into the bargain.

Do you know how many tickets The Mudheads have sold…..one…yup! ONE!

I am utterly gob smacked at this.

Despite pushing it everywhere and anywhere, we have achieved the promise of one sold ticket….and that is to the bloke that often roadies for us! To be fair, he should be getting in for free anyway.

Could it be that the need to sit and watch television on a Friday night has captured people into refusing to leave the safety of their sofas?
Could it be that reports of the rising crime rate has frightened the good folk of Bristol into not leaving their castles after dark (at least not without the support of an armed guard).

Or could it be that people are all ‘good caused’ out. There is no compassion left! Nothing left to give.

I don’t know, and I do have to remind myself that I too will probably be sat on my backside with a glass of wine of Friday watching ‘Children in Need’ as opposed to being out there, actually doing something about it.

However, I was inspired by Quick Sketch’s good lady wife (Polly) who despite many MANY other responsibilities ran the London marathon in aid of Muscular Dystrophy. If she can do it, then I am not giving up….perhaps it might be time to start mugging people.

Oh, and you will be the first to find out how we got on!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

"Remember, remember the 5th of November"

It has to be said that it is a sad factor for any band when one of the highlights of their annual itinerary is a gig at a children’s fire work party, and yet that is just the case for The Mudheads.

CJ does a lot of the practical work for the band, building cases, restoring the trailer etc, so in gratitude of this the band perform once a year, free of charge, at the primary school, at which both his daughters attend.

For some reason CJ has never secured us a gig at one of their ‘summer’ affairs. No, it’s always on firework night, and it is ALWAYS freezing.

That being said, it is a highlight for the band as we normally perform to about three hundred enthusiastic kids and parents.

The whole idea is having a live band (of hopefully high enough quality) prevents the punters from legging it as soon as the last firework has popped, and keeps them around long enough to drink all the beer and polish off the hotdogs, thus raising more funds for the school.

As always, it’s a bit of a rush as we are on at 6:30pm and Aaron in particular doesn’t finish work until gone 6:00pm. This leaves him about 20 minutes to get all away across town in the rush hour!

I managed to get there early and CJ and I got all the gear up (although to be fair, poor old CJ had emptied the trailer and put everything up in place...on his own...he is a diamond). Although we had to scale the PA down, which was a bit of a shame, as everything including the lights were running off of a single 13amp plug. CJ who is a lot more knowledgeable about such matters assured me that by using the ‘full’ PA, we could take out half of Bristol…or at the very least….the bandstand in which we were playing.

Aaron (who doesn’t drive….and anybody who has tried in one of the UK’s major cities wont blame him) had his erstwhile chauffer at the wheel (his girlfriend) and they found themselves endeavouring to re-enact the scene from the Italian job with the three minis through the back streets of Bristol.

Against the odds, he made it to the gates of the school at bang on 6:30pm only to be halted by a bit of a snag. The bloke on the gate.

“You aint coming in here mate unless you've got a ticket”

“But I don’t need a ticket, I’m with the band”.

“What band?”

“The band that is playing over there in the band stand”

“I don’t see no band”

“That’s because one of them is stood here talking to you, you twit”

Thankfully, the chair of the Parent Teacher Association” heard what was going on and came and rescued Aaron who made it to the band stand just as I was going to plan B and getting the old acoustic out!.

Now bear in mind that most of the music coming out of the speakers until that point had come from ‘High School Musical’ we could have been in for a bit of a long night. However, it would appear that the majority of people from South Bristol like their music loud and fast, which is just as well as this is exactly what we specialise in.

The fact that we must have looked like the Teletubbies we had so many layers of clothing on didn’t appear to deter anyone and we performed as per plan and thankfully on form and had a great time.

Thankfully the electics held and the only bangs and flashes came from the fireworks and not from any of our equipment.

After about an hour Aaron’s fingers started turning blue and the crowd were beginning to disperse, and so we decided to call it a day.

It was then that somebody bounded up and asked CJ if we could play in somebody’s living room for a surprise 40th birthday party…and CJ said yes!

Now that would be hilarious! We turn up with a couple of tonnes of amplification and drums…and somebody has a heart attack!

I think we had better get the acoustics out!

Hey, but at least it will be warm.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Release the hounds of hell!

As the lack of an audience seems to have captured people’s imagination I thought I would reminisce about one of the many gigs that I have played at that might bring back a few memories for at least one person.

We were young, we were hip, we were cool, we were stupid that’s what we were.

The band was called ‘The Stand’ and was made up of myself, the boy Bassbin and Goodbin on drums.

We had been invited to perform at the annual British Legion dinner dance in Pill near Bristol, England. Don’t ask me why, but we had.

We arrived, van crammed with gear to be greeted by the administrator of the BL a nice (yet eccentric) old lady called Darcy, who was bedecked in her purple rinse, tiara, pearls and a fur coat, with a yappy little dog tearing around her ankles.

I think she’d had the great idea of putting on a rock band to try and liven this annual octogenarian shin-dig up a bit. However, at the first sight of speakers, amps and especially the drummer her courage suddenly failed her.

We dutifully put the equipment together as quietly as we could, yet even the strumming of unplugged electric guitars appeared to elicit a sense of panic amongst the pensioners.

Darcy approached us looking nervous. “Look lads, we won’t be finishing our meal for an hour or so, here’s ten pounds, why don’t you pop off to the local hostelry and get yourselves a beer”.

Bassbin and I have never been those that would turn down a free beer so we grabbed the money and ran.

Goodbin was driving and so we drank his share, and after about an hour and four pints, we tottered back to the hall where we discovered an open bottle of wine by the stage. I like wine…..especially red wine.

Darcy could hold off the inevitable no longer and we were introduced.

Now normally I am respectful of most situations and endeavour to perform accordingly. However, four pints of what ever, and half a bottle of wine had helped to dampen what common sense I had in those days and I went for it.

Amp on 10, yelling my head off into the microphone, I was having a great time.

The aging audience however were not.

Most of these dear souls had done nothing so strenuous and so quickly in many a good year as to a person, they rose from their seats and fled!!!

Quite literally, by the time we had reached the end of the first number we were playing to an almost empty hall. I say ‘almost’ as the single individual that remained was Darcy’s Dachshund called ‘Domingo who was going absolutely bonkers, he clearly hated the music as much as the audience did.

However, fuelled by falling down juice we were not perturbed and continued to play at our usual break neck speed. That was until the hall’s caretaker walked in and simply turned the lights out.

I promise you, you can’t make this stuff up.

Packing the kit up in the dark, Goodbin kept putting his head in his hands and I could distinctly hear him asking himself “what the hell am I doing here”.

I have only played at a British legion twice (the other time we got hijacked by an aging drummer who insisted on playing with us, and then insisted that we pay him….but that’s another story). However, I honestly don’t think that there will ever be a third.

They say never work with animals or children….I think Goodbin may have added a third to that list…..me!

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Never Work With Animals or Children

I have never been a great fan of Halloween. Its not that I am against it on a major religious conviction even though I am a Christian, its just that I think the whole concept of ‘Trick or Treat’ is a polite way of mugging people on their doorsteps; and in that we are being expected to tone down Christian festivals the concept of Halloween niggles a bit……..and there he goes, he fell off his soap box.

Anyway, The Mudheads were asked to perform at an alternative gig to Halloween in a huge old church in Bristol, and thinking that it might be fun we accepted.

We knew that all was going to be hard work when we arrived and the place was crawling with small children all dressed as witches and a variety of demons and monsters.

The look of horror on Aaron’s face said it all “were not playing to this lot are we”?

Thankfully we were not playing to the ‘little horrors’, but it did mean that we had to set up two bands in total silence without the aid of the partition we had been promised.

The Mudheads were also responsible for supplying and setting up the PA, something that we were happy to do. That was until the other bands sound guy arrive and on shaking hands pronounced his professional credentials “I of course spent two years being professionally trained on a PROFESSIONAL engineering course, not one of these crappy ‘Music Tech courses’. I could sense Aaron’s hackles rising. Not only had he gone to University to study ‘crappy music technology’, but this usurper looked like he was 12 years old.

From that point chaos ensued, mainly because nobody knew who was in charge and the 12 year old was marching around and announcing to everybody that he was ‘professionally trained’ and not actually doing anything and this was creating a little tension amongst the troops.

Oh, and had I mentioned that we were setting up in the dark? (Or as near dark as I can cope with as I am as blind as the proverbial bat in poor light).

All in all we struggled to get the kit up, and a job that normally takes us an hour, took two and a half!!.

We were still sound checking as the doors opened….and I hate that.

Mind you, we needn’t have worried, only 25 people turned up.

Picture this, a HUGE gothic church hall…..echo that would have made Brian May envious. Months of active promotion from the poor old promoter who had put his heart and soul into this gig, and two bands prepped and ready to rock…and 25 people.

Sometimes I ask myself why we do these things!!

Ah well, the show must go on, and we went for it! And I have to say, I really enjoyed myself as we performed to the void (the 25 hugged onto every bit of wall space they could find). It was a nice big stage area that gave us plenty of room to rock!....bless the man that invented guitar transmitters.

CJ’s two young daughters enjoyed themselves happily, as they ran around the room in their funky t-shirts that said “I’m with the band”.

Perhaps we should have played to the kids party after all.

Friday, 31 October 2008

Things NOT to do after a gig

My guitarist is my son, which means we live together. This did in fact create an embarrassing scenario when one of CJ's (drummer) youngsters asked why we kept on arriving to rehearsals together. When CJ explained it was because we lived together, she thought he meant as 'a couple'.....some thoughts are best left where they lie.

Anyway, me and the boy tend to have a post gig tradition...that is a glass whiskey, Star Trek (yes I know, don't say it) and a Pot Noodle.

Please don't ask me how that tradition started and I know that there is probably more nutrition in the plastic tub that the noodles come in than the food is contains. However, it's our tradition and we are sticking to it.

Anyway, post last gig, we are huddled in the kitchen, kettle boiling preparing our late night vittles when Aaron announced that he wanted to 'pep' up his supper.

Now like most rock stars, we like our food hot and spicy and I always have a bottle of Hot Jamaican Pepper sauce at the ready for just such an occasion.

However, tonight I had something special.

A friend of mine, who is a Drugs worker had given me a bottle of something that bore the moniker "Ouch- I'm hot".

The fact that it had come from a complete Chili head should have been warning enough, and given the name we should have left well alone. But no, I just had to open the bottle didn't I.

I gentle unscrewed the lid, mindful of my friends warning that it might "fizz a bit".

Fizz is probably an understatement.

It had the appearance of a small volcano spewing magma over the kitchen top.

Groaning I placed the lid back on the bottle in order to stem the flow and wandered off to the sink to get a cloth.

As I was at the sink I heard and audible 'pop', a yell from Aaron and felt a strange burning sensation in my scalp. The bottle had quite literally exploded.

Aaron and the kitchen were dripping with bright red chili sauce, burning and staining what ever it touched.

Thank the Lord Aaron was wearing his glasses or I think I might quite possibly have blinded him.

He simply stood there...chili sauce dripping off the end of his nose, and crying with laughter.

The stuff even got inside the microwave. It was three days before we managed to locate the bottle top.

It took us an hour to clean up the worse of it, floors, ceiling, cuboards, kitchen utensils.....Aaron....by then it was 2am and we'd had more than enough.

However, I don't know what created the bigger explosion. The chili sauce or my wife, when she discovered the mess that we had made. I tried explaining what had happened but to no avail. Mind you it didn't help Aaron rolling around on the floor laughing his socks off!

Now I have a small understanding why Rock Stars do stupid things like take drugs after a gig...it doesn't make such a mess of the kitchen.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Tulips from Rotterdam

Life on the road can be fun....it can also be flippin hard at times.

I thought I would share with you one of those hard times. I wrote this short article for Bristol Rocks and it is taken from when 'I were a lad' in a band called Amaziah.

The band was called Amaziah. I was 18 years old and it was my first (and last professional band). This was our first big European tour, and we were as arrogant as hell.

We had met a band called Liquid Gold in a café on the Dutch docks. They were currently at no.1 in the UK with a song called “Dance Yourself Dizzy” and were sick of the whole thing. We on the other hand were at the beginning of a two month tour and we believed that we were going to be the biggest thing on the planet (that’s what comes of listening to a manager who talked it rather than putting it on his roses). The Liquid Gold crew wished us well, but you could tell by the look on their faces that they suspected that by the end of this tour we look even more hacked off than they did at the point in time.

Hey, guess what! They were right. Talk about a nightmare tour. And it would seem that the Dutch eat nothing but cheese….our tour bus smelt like the inside of a packet of dried roasted peanuts and the nightmares the cheese induced were terrifying.
Anyway, after several weeks of weird gigs in prisons, tents, army camps and Borstals we were booked to play a gig in Rotterdam.

Now bear in mind that as a band we had three and a half tonnes of kit, with at least one tonne of that being attributed to the keyboard player (that would be his keyboards and not him in case you are wondering). You can imagine our unbridled joy when we arrived at the venue to discover that we were playing on a barge. Not just any barge mind you, no! we were playing on a barge that was four barges deep out into the river that runs through the centre of Rotterdam.

The first barge was owned by a congenial Dutch alcoholic called Klaus who was eager to share his Dutch beer with this scruffy bunch of youths…….at 6:30am in the morning. Now I have sunk a few in my time, in fact I got alcohol poisoning on that particular tour (something that I am neither proud of or endorse) but there was no way that I was going to drink beer at that time of the day. The trouble is, he was very persistent and every time we slipped, fell, stumbled and crashed back over the four barges to get yet another bit of kit from the bus, we were greeted with “You drink beer now please”.

Dave’s keyboards were the peist de la résistance. A Mini Moog…..no problem….a Clavinet…..okay. A Fender Rhodes…dangerous….a Leslie cab….flippin ridiculous and as for a full on rock & roll Hammond organ….well for goodness sake.

Then, that manager I mentioned earlier, well he doubled as our tour manager and sound man, he wanted the full PA. Personally I would have turned the fold back around and let the audience get the music from that. But no, our very own Harvey Goldsmith wanted the full enchilada. Pratt!
It took us the best part of a morning to get everything into the barge without a single bit of kit ending floating down the Nis River, although our manager got pretty close to taking an early bath I can tell you.Setting up that much equipment in a combined space it not easy, but we did it….eventually… and we were just about ready by the time the doors opened.Now, the secret of a good gig, and I mean a REALLY good gig is that you tell people that it’s actually happening. You can see where this is going can’t you.

There we were, four young energetic band members, leading the new wave of British heavy metal. Our small road crew including the manager/sound engineer, our publicist and of course the event organiser and NOBODY else. Nada. Zip, diddle squat. Not a single person turned up! The argument that followed between our Harvey Goldsmith and the organiser was not pretty, especially as the organiser kept on swearing at our boy in Dutch. I don’t think either had checked what the other had been doing, or not doing as it turned out. I kind of think that the organiser had assumed that we would get a crowd by osmosis.

Do you know what really hurt though? In order to save money, we were booked to sleep on the barge after the gig……and it leaked!I completely ruined my day, if that were possible, when the drummer and I slopped of to a late night showing of the Omen and helped by all that cheese, I had nightmares that ensured I would never sleep soundly again.Mind you the keyboard player, for ever the optimist, did a deal with Klaus and exchanged one of our albums for a Dutch Bicycle, which we had to cart around with the gear for the rest of the tour.

The rest of the tour went as smoothly as this fiasco and ended up in my making myself seriously ill when I emptied somebody’s drinks cabinet and as well as the medical bill had to foot the bill for all the booze we had drunk. That just about blew any money I might have made from the tour. No wonder we musicians suffer so much from depression.

As a foot note, our manager did a Reggie Perrin several years later and staged his own disappearance/suicide. They found his clothes, glasses, wallet etc by the Feeder river in Bristol. Made a Crime Watch reproduction and everything. He’d only gone a done a runner, left everybody financially totally in the lurch.What a pratt!

Piece of cheese anyone??

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Hello, Good Evening and Welcome

Hi all,

Under some gentle pressure from my good friend Stephen from "How to be an inspiration" I thought I would have a go at writing my own blog.

Although I write for several Internet magazines and pen copious amounts of type for my band The Mudheads (hence the blog address) I have never actually done anything like this.

Please excuse my poor spelling and atrocious grammar. I am after all but a humble student from a school on one of Bristol, England's largest council housing estates...that's my excuse and I am sticking to it.

So why the title?

Well, I play in a band, and like all performers I once dreamt of being a major Rock Star. Those days are now sadly in the past. However, in celebration of those once heady days on the road my friends (well, one of them anyway) still refer to me as "Rock God".

I hasten to add, that I don't in any way believe my own publicity, and any sense of over inflated ego was beaten out of me years ago as I toured the pub circuit of the south of England.

I had a few moments, celebrated but few near major successes, but alas that it now in the past. I will never achieve my aim of performing in front of 120,000 adoring fans in a Mexican football stadium. Nor will I have that much coveted 126 weeks at the top of the charts spot.

My albums are now collectible, not because they are early renditions of a stellar star sought out by music lovers, but because they are rare......most people presumably binned their copy.

However, I still perform with my trusty band, who are are either aging like me, or related to me (the guitarist is my son), and for that I am eternally grateful.

I have no axe to grind, no manifesto to promote. However, I do hope as I maybe share a thought or two from my journey and day to day life as a Rock God, it may entertain and amuse maybe just a few.

Anyway, here's hoping.

Watch this space.