Monday, 21 December 2009

Suffering for your art!!

Today is proof that miracles still happen at Christmas.

We have a new UK no 1 single, which due to sheer bullheaded promotion by the British public themselves isn’t a record from the X-Factor… joy is complete.

Add to this that my view from my office window is of a winter wonderland and it has to be said that I feeling slightly festive.

However; I didn’t feel quite so festive at the end of last week when we were called upon to perform our last gig of the year at Aaron’s local.

It’s a great place as they are always so friendly and enthusiastic towards us.

However, tonight there was a slight problem. My microphone kept on giving me electric shocks throughout the whole evening.

Despite swapping mics and leads throughout the set I maintained a steady stream of electrical jolts through my lips. Now not being one of those children that risked getting a stroke by licking the end of live batteries I have never been overly keen of getting electrical surges thrust unwillingly into my face.

My son and heir offered his usual hand of support and sensitivity to my painful plight and just rolled his eyes at his old mans obvious girl like behaviour in the face of unwelcome pain.

This gig was supposed to be a celebration in honour of the Christmas season; instead I was beginning to be in danger of looking like Beetlejuise at a Halloween party. Also, the prospect that one of these shocks could suddenly amp up the surprise a little and send me crashing back through the drum kit and CJ’s waiting embrace did not fill me with confidence. Remember people have died from being fried by their own Microphones (Suzie Quatro was rather dramatically electrocuted on an episode of Midsomer Murder…and yes, before you say it, I know that this particular scenario is ‘made up’). It was noted on several occasions that as I sang I was backing further and further away from my microphone with a look of uneasy concern written all across my face.

Anyway the result for me was that as opposed to rocking the night away full of Christmas vigour and rock & rill excitement I spent the night as the condemned prisoner on death row awaiting the throwing of the switch.

Talk about suffering for your art.

Friday, 11 December 2009

"So this is Christmas"

If I were a gambling man, which I’m not incidentally, I would lay good money on the fact that this years number one Christmas record will again come from the Simon Cowell, X-Factor school of music.

It wouldn’t be so much a gamble as a sound investment. However as the chance of said record reaching number one is a ‘dead cert’ then the odds would be pretty low and I would probably just get my money back with no interest.

I am not having another one of my monumental moans about X-Factor incidentally, I am just lamenting the disappearance of yet another British tradition of weeks of wonder culminating in everybody huddled around their transistor radios on the Sunday before Christmas to listen to the chart run down and to find who had made that hallowed spot that year.

When it’s already been set in stone by a 13 week promotional junket on national television and the press, it kind of loses its excitement.

I am in fact a big fan of Christmas music as well as Christmas itself and every year I hang on and fight the temptation to fling on a few Crimbo tracks before the end of November (this year I crashed and burned when feeling particularly stressed I stuck on a Christmas album by an American band called ‘Mercy Me’ about a week before December. Their rendition of ‘Rocking around the Christmas tree’ is second to none and it really cheers me up).

However, have you noticed that the majority of Christmas albums that are released every year are full of ‘Rat pack’ songs from the 50’s, with the 70’s as a stop gap and that is pretty much it (if you allow the timeless classic ‘A fairytale of New York, which came from the 80’s of course).

Is it that we have lost the vision for Christmas songs? That no matter how hard we sing ‘Let it snow, let snow’ it won’t. That the very mention of ‘A long time ago in Bethlehem’ will send councils across the nation into a state of sheer panic. That ‘Peace on earth, good will to men’ is but a fairy tale that we give to children and that most adults cynically no longer believe in. That ‘Last Christmas’ is likely to be as expensive as this one is turning out to be.

It is a sad fact that we do not seem to be producing the ‘Christmas Records’ that once we did (I know that I ought to mention the all time classic ‘A Millennium Prayer’ co written by our good friend and sparring partner Quick Sketch. However, as it is not strictly a Christmas record I will let that one slide…although it’s addition to any new Christmas compilation does help the Quick Sketch family eat during the dog days and long may it continue).

However, I refuse to give up on my favourite Christmas tunes no matter how cynical we become. The mere happening across a few notes of certain tunes can send me hammering back into the mists of time and memories of happier occasions.

‘So this is Christmas’ by John and Yoko never fails to transport me back to a school, disco in Hartcliffe school and the memory that all was well, and that these girl things, although not to be understood, were actually rather nice and that whenever I got close to one my heart rate would increase….strange that.

‘Slade’s ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ takes me to a party at the Railway Club at Templemeads Station in Bristol, where myself and good friend Bassbin had weekend jobs when were kids (we sold newspapers and the like on the platform…..ah, heady days). I remember bobbing my backside off at the party….and believe you me, this boy don’t dance (normally)

And I am not ashamed to admit that listening to Country Christmas songs by John Denver will always put me immediately into a very good Christmas mood indeed. You see my father was, and is, a huge John Denver fan and so Christmas in our house was not only a happy affair but had that county festive stuff as it’s sound track.

As I type this my Itunes on my PC is playing yet another version of ‘White Christmas’. I mean, it’s been covered more times than a hospital bed during a Norvo virus outbreak, but hey, this is nice gentle version by some Celtic women and so I am feeling relaxed and festive.

Long may it reign.

I wonder for those that are reading this, what Christmas songs ring a certain note with you and would you be brave enough to share it.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Wild Horses

I was traversing the terrors that are the early morning rush hour on the way to work a few weeks back, relieving my growing stress levels by partaking of some breakfast radio when Sir Terry (that’s Wogan for those of you not in the know) played a song that was beautiful.

The song was originally written and sung by the Rolling Stones and was called ‘Wild Horses’. This time the song was stripped back and simply sung by what I assumed was some young Celtic princess from the school of Enya or Clannad.

To be honest it was so moving that it almost brought a tear to my eye. I certainly had a lump in my throat that’s for sure.

I nearly crashed the car when Sir Tel sited that this was the new single from Susan Boyle.

If you have been living in a cave for the past twelve months, on either side of the great Atlantic pond, then you would be forgiven for not knowing who Susan Boyle is.

However for the rest of she has become somewhat of a legend and has been entered for ever into the hall of fame for the greatest televisual moments.

The show was another one of those awful talent shows, Britain’s Got Talent, where the unsuspecting, pre-prepped wannabies are wheeled onto the national stage in order to make utter fools of themselves for the nations delight.

Susan Boyle was a wannabie that guaranteed to bring the television nation to its knees in a fit of collective hilarity.

She certainly had the look of somebody that had been ‘cared for’ for most of her life.

Nobody had told her that you are supposed to have two eye brows and not one. They had also failed to mention that white shoes definitely do not go with light grey dresses and black tights.

I spend 10 months working in a community care home. I had several clients who would have been dead ringers for Susan. And yet some friend of humanity thought it would be highly entertaining to present this vulnerable lady in front of a blood thirsty Simon Cowell for our pleasure and out she came.

The audience and judges in unison collapsed in mirth.

Simon politely, yet patronisingly asked what she would like to achieve from being on the show. She replied that she wanted to be a professional singer. By now, people were wetting themselves and were visibly having difficulty breathing.

She had opted to sing a song from Les Miserable’s. The nation thanked the Lord that she was not going to murder ‘Feelings’ or there could be a couple of fatalities in the audience.

Then she opened her mouth and sang.

I was sent the clip on Youtube, which was where I first saw it, and my reaction was pretty much the same as everybody else. Mouth wide open and staring in wonder.

This ‘special case’ had the voice of an Angel.

Immediately the laughter ceased and was replaced by a gentle sobbing. Many moved by the beauty of this ladies voice. Other’s moved to tears by the weight of their own guilt. They, like us all had judged this book by its cover and now we all felt collectively ashamed.

She didn’t go on to win the competition. Then again, it was almost guaranteed that she wouldn’t with the way these things work.

However, she has become stellar in her fame, especially in America.

Her debut album is the fasting selling début album of ALL time. She is now a house hold name.

Surprisingly the album is made up of mainly hymns and gospel classics including ‘How Great Thou Art’ made by famous by Evangelist’s Billy Graham's resident singer, George Beverly Shea. Not the sort of thing that the great British public would normally rush out to buy.

I wonder, could it be true as sited by comedian Russell Howard that everybody has rushed out to buy the album to ease their guilt and that every mother in the land will discover it in their Christmas stocking this year. I suppose the second album will prove or disproof this theory.

All I can say is ‘fair play’. Susan Boyle took the nations love of humiliating the under dog and she rammed it down their throats.

I don’t know what the future holds for her. The media alone would love nothing more than for her to have a massive meltdown, and if they can help make it happen they will.

I don’t know if she really is nothing more than a novelty act. I hope not.

Either way, her version of ‘Wild Horses’ is testament to substance over style and I for one salute her for it.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

"Just because you are indespensible......."

I am not sure this necessarily has anything to do with the music industry, but I suspect that it has. They also say that getting some of your annoyances out into paper can be quite cathartic.

I have often heard the phrase “Good guys come last”, which normally goes hand in hand with “Nice guys like you make great second husbands.

If you will forgive my Anglo Saxon reference Eddie Izzard did a complete skit on this theory based on his time at school. The nice guys that would hold a door open for a girl would generally receive nothing, not even a smile or a nod of appreciation. However; if they were a bit of a “Bastard……..shagging a plenty”.

I am beginning to think that this could be right. Not the last bit I hasten to add, happily married for 26 years, but the former. Mind you the amount of women I have heard commenting that their husband was “A bit of a lad when I met him, but that was what attracted me to him”, but then complaining bitterly that he remained “A bit of a lad”. You can generally here me grinding my teeth and muttering comments like “bed”, and “lying in it”.

As I work for the British National Health Service I have to suffer the indignity of appraisals. This normally results in a person sitting in a room with their line manager being told that they have either done, or not done a good job during the previous 12 months.

This was the case for me just a few weeks ago.

I received a right royal slap on the back and was informed that I had done a damn fine job and that the service could not function as efficiently without me. Not only that I was popular with my colleagues, service users and other professional alike.

Well done Loader, ego suitably stroked.

However, then came the rub. I am grade wise the bottom of the pile. Many of my clinician colleagues earn considerably more than I do. And many of the more, shall we say, aggressive ones, have recently been re-graded and are earning nearly four times what I am.

I was in an appraisal and so I thought it would be a good time to broker the subject and suggest that if I am doing such a sterling piece of work for the sake of child mental health, that it may be a good time for my boss to fight my cause and ensure that my paupers bowl be just a little fuller at the end of the month.

Now I have faced rejection before in many guises, but none were quite so direct and to the point “You won’t get any more money here, you’ll have to go and work somewhere else if you want that”.

Suddenly the words of my dear friend and comrade in arms Bassbin came flooding back.

“Just because you are indispensable does not mean that you are important”

Now does this relate to the life of the Rock God? I believe at times it does.

My band The Mudheads have a reputation as being “A nice bunch of guys” and for that I am grateful and just a little proud. We also have a reputation that if you are in shtuck or you are fighting for a good cause The Mudheads are the ones to go to.

We find ourselves constantly being asked to perform at benefit gigs or help out in different situations, and we are generally happy and honoured to do so.

However, I have begun to notice that the amount of benefit gigs we have been asked to ‘help out at’ has grown, whilst the number of really healthy ‘paying gigs’ is beginning to decrease.

I have also noticed that some of our colleagues in the industry, who perhaps would fit Eddie Izzards description of being a “bit of a Bastard”, are raking in the paid work.

Perhaps it is time to be a little less accommodating and a little more demanding.

However; I am what I am, and I will not change. Although, I am just hoping that when I stand before my maker he doesn’t announce “Sorry Paul, I don’t have that big a budget for heaven and the charismatic church** will give me hell if I don’t let all of them in so I am going to have to let you go, you don’t mind do you?”

** substitute what ever denomination of religion you like in there, being a nice guy I wouldn’t want to offend anybody

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Rock God ego can cause him to stumble

On those rare occasions when you have a night off a favourite thing to do is kick back, break open a bottle of wine and to watch a film on DVD. Now living in a house that is now weighted in favour of the women in my life (wife and daughter), this usually involves a lengthy debate around what everybody wants to watch.

In this particular instance the film of agreed choice was Tom Cruise’s 'Top Gun'. Eye candy for the ladies and testosterone fuelled jet aircraft for me.

Now I am one of those saddos that enjoy watching the DVD extras once everybody has slopped off to bed. In the Top Gun extras there was an interview with Terri Nunn the lead singer of Berlin who sang the Oscar winning theme, 'Take my breath away' for the film.

Terri Nunn talked about her shame of succumbing to her 23 year old ego when she turned down the opportunity to perform the song at the Oscars as they would not let them play the WHOLE song,
She talked about regretting it ever since, especially in light of her mother’s bitter disappointment that her daughter was not part of such a spectacular event.

This resonated with me as I can remember back into my youth doing something equally as arrogant and stupid.

I was 19 years old and playing in Amaziah. We were a professional band and were hoping to be part of the New Wave of British heavy metal.

We had been invited to perform at the 1980 Greenbelt Christian music and arts festival in Bedford. The festival was at the height of its powers then in that it attracted some 25,000 people from all walks of life and at this point in time this was place to play.

This was the year that bands like U2 had ripped up the main stage and the world’s music media turned its hungry eye towards it.

However, as I said, young, arrogant and stupid.

We were offered the ‘big top’.

We hit the roof. I mean, we were well on our way to being superstars, how dare they offer us a boy scout tent in a back field somewhere. We were indignant; it was the main stage or nothing.

However, as I said, this was the year of bands like U2, there simply was no room for a bunch of relatively unknown upstarts.

Our manager was sent to instruct them unceremoniously that they could bog right off.
However, as with all such tales of arrogance and stupidity there was a sting in the tail.

The ‘scout tent’ in fact was massive. It was capable of hosting many thousands of people and unbeknown to us we had been booked to perform as the headline on the Saturday night. We would have been the festivals main alternative attraction of the night.

We were featured as the centre page spread in the weekend’s program (it’s the only time I’ve been a centre fold I can tell you).

The band that took our place at the very last minute (yup, we pulled out at the 11th hour such was our ego busting arrogance) got a record deal out of the occasion and they informed us with glee that the lively appreciative audience has been standing room only and had been queuing outside the tent. They had all come to see us.

I think I can only leave the final word on the subject to the Western world’s foremost philosopher, Homer Simpson


Monday, 9 November 2009

Dreams can come true

On a recent visit to Lundinium with Bassbin to visit our old and dear friend Quicksketch I had my backside soundly roasted by the pair of them for the lack of blog entries.

I naturally protested my innocence and claimed that it had been merely but few weeks. On closer inspection it was determined that it had been in fact two months come Wednesday. Suitably chastised I sought to make my excuses.

I have mentioned before that I am getting very much in the groove and that each gig is getting, perhaps dare I say it, mundane. I have been feeling that there hasn’t been a whole lot that would be worthy of interest on this particular column.

Then Quicksketch wisely pointed out that the very fact that I have got to a point in my musical journey that is mundane is worthy of celebration, and he should know.

You see, both and Bassbin were there at the very beginning.

We were all about fourteen years old and dreamt of performing in front of an audience, any audience. We would practice till our ears burnt and our fingers dropped off in Quicksketch’s mother’s front room. Her sofa doubling up as a drum kit and what we lacked in talent and ability (which was vast) we made up for in enthusiasm and pure and simple day dreaming.

Three of four years later Bassbin and I would trawl the city of Bristol on our motorbikes seeking out live music that acted as a sound track and inspiration for our lives.

We would sit back and let the music wash over us dreaming that one day…that would be us up on that stage.

It has been a long old journey and that is indeed now us, well me anyway. Bassbin retains his passion for live music but freely admits that his priorities have changed. Although, one day when I have time and I can get into the editing facilities in the school where I work, there is video footage of both the boy and I playing on a large festival stage somewhere on the south coast. It would make a worthy edition to Youtube.

However, Quicksketch’s sage words echoed in my ears as I rocked my socks off in a tiny Bristol pub with my old friend Matt yesterday as part of an acoustic afternoon.

Yes the venue was tiny. No, money did not chance hands and we weren’t likely to sign THAT record deal shortly following this particular gig. And yet, 30 odd years ago I used to dream of gigs like this. I would lie in bed at night and rehearse the entire set in my head, and long for the days when it might, and I mean MIGHT come true.

And there I was doing it.

It was a new and refreshing appreciation and I worked up a sweat.

All I can say to Quicksketch and Bassbin, thanks guys for a HUGE dollop of inspiration and I promise I will be more consistent in my contributions from now on.

Friday, 11 September 2009

"The Worlds Loudest Skiffle Group"

My apologies for the lack of penned material of late. I haven’t given up it is just that we have kind of got into a groove with our performing and as such nothing of remarkable interest has happened that would ensure inclusion in this hallowed blog.

That being said, I was head hunted by another band. In fact not just any band, it was a group of some of the most accomplished musicians in Bristol. Now believe me, that is good for the old ego.

They didn’t intend to take me permanently away from my beloved Mudheads. They just wanted to ‘borrow’ me from time to time.

It all sounded rather good until I enquired as to what time commitment being ‘borrowed’ actually meant. It would have in reality resulted in a gig a month and with a rehearsal every other week.

Now anybody who knows me will lament that I will moan, at length about the lack of hours in the day. Aaron has completely banned me from uttering the statement “I didn’t have the time”.

So it would have been sheer stupidity to take on another commitment, no matter how tempting. So I had to sadly and somewhat reluctantly decline the offer. I hope that the other two Mudheads appreciate the sacrifice I have made for them.

On a different note, having had my ego suitably crushed by the lack of numbers at our last ‘serious’ gig I have gone and put my head well and truly in the lions mouth again.

One of my favourite bands of the last couple of decades was ‘The Gutter Brothers’. Described by Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden as “The loudest skiffle group in history”, the GB’s started life successfully busking in Covent Garden.

When I say successfully, they could clear up to £1,000 on a Saturday performing to the tourists in the London market. Now that is not small change.

They later moved from pure skiffle to a more rock based sound, and replaced their Tea chest bass with an electric bass.

They were signed to Elvis Costello’s Demon Records where they went on to record the sound track to ‘Gone to the Dogs’ with Harry Enfield, Warren Clarke, Alison Steadman and the now internationally famous Jim Broadbent.

They also recorded the sound track and theme song for the ‘Only Fools & Horses’ Christmas Special ‘Miami Twice’

They toured with the likes of Blondie and Dr Feelgood among many others and they general wrote and produced catchy and exciting songs.

I first got to know them through their Bass player Steve Turner and their producer Jez Coad (who was my best man when I got married).

Any way they had a real influence on me and I was inspired by (stole) many of their songs whilst I was writing for Mudheads Monkey.

I was gutted when they closed that chapter on their lives back in 1998.

However, they are back and we are playing with them….how cool is that!

So of course, the Rock God goes and opens his mouth when he hears that they are on a short tour and states…”If you come to Bristol and we support you, I will promote the gig”.

And that is what is happening…and talk about hard work.

I have written to every radio and TV station in the southwest. Magazines, newspapers and websites. You name it I have stuck a flyer on it and I will continue to do so right up until the date itself.

However, if this gig bombs…then my guitar goes off of the Clifton Suspension Bridge.

We shall se what we shall see.

Please be there!!!! I love my guitar and I don’t want to see if falling away from Brunel’s finest piece of work.

Friday, 14 August 2009

"To be or not to be"

To be, or not to be? Whether it be nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortunes…….or just knock it on the head and go and learn to play golf instead.

There has to be fewer and sadder sights than to see the disappointed look on a publicans face when the much hyped band has promised so much, and yet delivered so little. Sadder still, the final debate over the agreed fee, the honoring of which would have resulted in a significant loss for the landlord on that evening.

Why the mentioning of such sad states of affairs??? We went and had another monumental flop that’s why.

The Mudheads had been booked to play in a Bristol venue that has been growing in status and respect and we wanted to play there. It has a proper stage, PA, lights and even a changing room (granted a cleverly placed curtain drapes over the urinals and even as a three piece we were tripping over each other, but at least this toilet had a carpet and a television)

Perhaps common sense rather foolishly took a back seat when you consider that the gig was in the middle of Factory Fortnight and on the same weekend as the Bristol Harbor festival.

However, undeterred we accepted the offer of a whole night to ourselves without a support act and set about promoting the dickens out of said event.

My promoting I mean e-mailing everybody we have ever met. Saturation in media coverage from magazines, newspapers, the radio and even television stations. Then adding the event to every music website in existence, even those in other countries.

After that we went back to e-mailing friends and not withstanding crimes of blackmail, extortion and downright threats of violence for non-attendance.

There probably wasn’t a person in the western hemisphere that was not aware of the gig.

Of course days before the gig the excuses would be forwarded to us. Family members that claimed to be in Africa, mothers dying, that sort of thing. Even one honest statement…”Nah, I can’t be bothered”… but truthful none the less, at least we knew where we stood.

Even so, we were confident of a crowd big enough to impress the venue and guarantee a return visit.

The music scene is oiled, well oiled on optimism. It has to be, why else would any one of us put ourselves through the constant embarrassment of a ‘lousy turnout’ night after night.

Yes, you’ve guessed it. The turn out although enthusiastic and supportive was by any scale ‘tiny’. In a venue that could accommodate 150 people, swigging beer and sipping wine. I think we made about 30.

That was after selling our souls to the Gods of rock & roll…..30 people, and a good 10 of those were regular drinkers in the venue and would have been there who ever was playing.

As I have already mentioned, the conversation with the Landlord at the end of the evening was to say the least embarrassing, He loved what we did; he thought we were a great band; but that did not deflect from the fact that by booking us he had lost money.

Can you see now why so many pubs and clubs are ditching live music altogether and putting in giant video screens to watch the footy.

My only solace was in fellow musicians that had suffered the same indignity over that weekend.

Friends from Vienna in Austria had flown to London (at their own expense) to perform two gigs.

The first night they played to three people. The second night, flanked by a band from Australia and a band from Japan, they got six.

Do you start to think, that as a country we deserve the likes of X-Factor and Pop Idol because that is what we are going to be left with when there are no venues left to play in and no artistes left to perform any how.

Right…….it’s tee not tea! When they say club I don’t have to hit people with it (no matter how tempting it may be), and a handicap refers to my standing next to the professional and not to the fact that I am retarded in any way.

DUCK!! sorry….. FOUR!!....

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

"He could sell sand to the Eygptians"

I have got myself back into the world of promotion, and I have to confess I am enjoying it.

With a lot of the venues we as a band are playing in these days we are there strictly to entertain the punters already provided. This Saturday we are performing at a well respected venue where the responsibility is down to us to get people there......and unfortunately we are going head to head with the Bristol Harbor Festival. I'm praying for rain. Not very charitable I know but I have a band to promote don't you know.

Of course with gigs like this it becomes a bit like trying to sell life assurance. Your first targets are friends and family. They have of course become wise to my persuasive ways and have already begun to make excuses. "I'm in South Africa Uncle Paul". I tell you, the lack of loyalty in my family is outstanding.

As the days pass the excuses for non attendance become almost biblical in their imagination "I would love to be there but I have just bought a field and I have to inspect it".

"I have just purchased a team of Oxen and I must go and plough my field"

"My father is about to be married and I must attend the wedding".

I of course have already gone out into the highways and byways to invite people in the stead of my disloyal following. The only recourse left open to me is equally as biblical in that they all be cast from the light into the darkness where there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth. Naturally if you have no teeth, as charitable as I can be...teeth will be provided.

Obviously my loyal blog readers will want to rush to see this blessed author take to the stage in solidarity with the man himself.

So, with that in mind...if you are anywhere near Bristol, England on;

Saturday 1st August 09

then get yourselves along to The Thunderbolt in Totterdown by about 9:30pm.

I promise you, it will be worth it.

Right, promotion you adequately covered in terms of your life assurance??

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

The Rock God must occasionally audition

Something that I have never understood is people’s earnest desire to go on TV shows like the ‘X-Factor’ and by way of an audition make complete and utter pratts of themselves in front of cynical and critical panellists such as Simon Cowell and Dannii Minogue, as well as millions of television viewers.

I appreciate that ‘public humiliation’ has been part of our culture since we pelted offenders with rotten fruit whilst they languished in the stocks. On a more vicious level the more well to do used to while away an amusing hour or two and pay and laugh at the ‘lunatics’ in mental asylums.

Even though we now firmly believe that as a society we are above such things we in fact take the same bewildered individuals and put the them on national television to have their earnest delusions ‘howled’ in mirth at by countless armchair voyeurs.

Don’t believe me, then answer me this. Why does the opening stages of shows like the aforementioned ‘X-Factor’, ‘Pop Idol’ and ‘Britain’s got talent’ always have the highest viewing figures.

Shows crammed with the deluded and sometimes even the down right scary, making utter fools of themselves in the absolute belief (because one of the producers before the show has already told them that they have every right to have that belief) that they are indeed ‘Mariah Carey incarnate.

Oh what joy is had when they actually sound more like Homer Simpson with a head cold. It’s even better when they stand there and hotly debate with a bored looking Simon Cowell the error of his decision and that he ‘Doesn’t know what he is talking about’.

As I mentioned, I have it on very good authority by somebody who ran one of the mass auditions for the ‘X-Factor’ that many auditonees are set up to fail in a spectacular and humiliating way….for our entertainment.

If we are going down that route, we should have taken Susan Boyle, go all Roman and lobbed a lion onto the stage with her…that would have given her something to sing about…bless her!

So why am I so against this kind of entertainment? Well, it could be that it reminds me of the few times that I had to audition for things and these are memories that I would prefer to forget.

My very first audition was for one of the roles in the school production of ‘West Side Story’. The good news was that I had probably had the best singing voice in the potential cast. The blow that reduced a 16 year old boy, who had virtually no self esteem to rubble was that the producer felt that I was not a good looking boy and certainly not good looking enough to play the lead role of ‘Tony’.

My first lesson in show business was ‘its all about the look’ and not necessarily the talent.

I had my own moments of quiet satisfaction when my very good friend, also one who was unnaturally popular with the girls, got given the lead role and missed the high notes by miles nearly every performance.

You could hear the producers butt cheeks clenching from the back of the theatre, nearly every night. “Shouldn’t have been so shallow then should you pal”. Revenge was a dish best served VERY cold.

My next audition was for my first serious band.

I had created an illusion to get me to the audition in the first place; I had given the impression that I was a virtuoso on the bass guitar. The fact that I knew what one looked like was in reality the only thing I could honestly claim.

So when I arrived with my borrowed kit to a garage in Westbury on Trym, Bristol, I was flying by the seat of my pants.

Unfortunately, the odds were stacked firmly against me. Not only in terms of my inability to actually play the instrument that I was auditioning for but in the fact that the keyboard player had already heard my name before.

Well, not my name exactly, my father’s.

My father was well known and much respected ‘Evangelist’ that is a preacher of the Christian message in case you were wondering. Dave had this vision of Loader junior arriving with greased down hair, a tank, sensible trousers, sandals and socks.

He was so adamant that this ‘oik’ wasn’t going anywhere near his beloved band, that he would quit should I even be considered to join.

I of course turned up with long blond hair, and ripped jeans and jean jacket.

As far as Dave was concerned….I was in…it didn’t matter how well I could play (just as well really, I don’t think I would have ever passed a ‘fair’ audition….I found out later that the younger members of the band were after my singing talents anyway).

Strangely enough, the outcome was exactly the same as my West Side Story experience, only in reverse. I got the gig because of what I looked like and NOT because of any talent. That was the first, and believe, me the LAST time that EVER happened. I’m afraid the ugly stick was used viscously and often when I was being carried in my mothers womb.

I had two more auditions later on from that. One was for local rock Gods ‘Stormtrooper’.

That was embarrassing as they tried to audition me with songs by ‘Rush’. I knew one line from ‘Bastille Day’ and that was it. I kept on singing it over and over again…what a dork.

I was packed off with a cassette and a pile of lyrics with the instructions to learn the songs for another audition. This I did.

My rejection phone call stated that I wasn’t quite what they were looking for; although the bass guitarist’s girlfriend thought I had good ‘diction’.

That was a wonderfully sugar coated way of saying “you were crap, but we heard every word’.

My final audition was for a band that appeared to not have a clue as to what they were going to do. They wanted to put a band together to wander over to Europe and tour around military bases.

I had a crack at the old rhythm guitar for that, but I wasn’t very good. I could tell that as they wanted to hear what I sang like and when an acompanying friend of mine who plays extremely good guitar played for me whilst I sang, they then asked him to audition. I think it was probably a good indication that I had not made a particularly good impression.

My only satisfaction was when Kev was asked he tersely replied “I don’t think so”.

I was generally very embarrassed though.

So the thought of putting myself through that experience on national television and have Mr waist band himself tear my dignity apart does not fill be with enthusiasm.

This could be why I am not famous….or more likely it’s because as I have been told many times…”You have a face for radio my boy”.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

A band must have a van

I had one of those rare opportunities of catching up with an old ‘band mate’.

Dave and I had been members of my very first (and only) professional band Amaziah. By professional I do not mean that we were unemployed and signing on the dole, I mean we actually got paid to play. Alright fair enough, by paid I mean fifteen quid a week, but it was few years ago and even that meagre allowance meant that we were ‘professional’.

We were budding rock stars and certainly looked the part. Dave had the new wave thing going on with black spiky hair and tight jeans and I was going down the new wave of British road, long blond hair and bright green jump suit. Also to quote the Nickelback song ‘We all want to be a rock star’, “we will all be skinny because we just won’t eat”, was a quote that fitted us well. Accept in my case I just couldn’t eat. I was a typical rock god in the making, a whole bunch of neurosis bagged up together. I was so crippled with anxiety that I would puke any time I ate…but hey…it was a great look! (the skinny not the puking).

Anyway, as Dave and I shared a glass or two memories returned to a time when we had to hitchhike the entire length of the country in just one night.

You see, like many bands before and since we suffered from the malady of too much gear and not enough van.

We had an old City of Bath ambulance, which had served its purpose for the band for many years, but by now had seen much better days and certainly was struggling to cope with the weight of equipment that bands such as ours require to make the deafening din that we did.

It had already let us down on a trip to Holland when one of our road crew very helpfully made us a drum riser that doubled as a flight case. Trouble is what he hadn’t factored in was that the case was so heavy it took four burly blokes to heft into the van….empty….Loaded with all the stands and drum hardware it was impossible to lift.

However, they got it into the van regardless of the poor things feelings. It gave up on trying as soon as we reached the Hook Van Holland. We spent the rest of the tour in a hired truck, which pretty much cleared any money that we had hoped to make on that tour (so you can see why we only got fifteen quid a week can’t you).

The final straw for ‘ol Bessie’ came following a short tour of Northern Ireland during the height of the ‘Troubles’.

We had survived the ‘troubles’ and had even got away with telling one of the British troops on patrol that one of the band, who was waiting for chips in a chip shop, that he might be carrying a gun.

We thought it was funny….the soldier did not, and our drummer sure as hell didn’t. Smell it, he was sitting in it!

Anyway, the ferry journey back was pretty much as it was going, horrendous!!

You hit a point in the sea sickness when you are afraid that you are going to die, and then you get beyond that when you are afraid that you AREN’T going to die.

Believe you me. A heavy sea, a huge number of Orange Band marchers, spilt beer and wall to all vomit is probably the closest I will get to hell this side of eternity.

It was so rough that a lorry went over in the hold, and ‘Ol Bessie’ just quietly took it all, sadly sagging below the weight of our kit.

Getting off the boat involved the driver taking a run at the gang way and hoping that the gap between the boat and dock didn’t increase with the swell.

Having ‘hit’ land I fear that ‘Ol Bessie’ got a cob on, whispered in mechanical speak ‘stuff this for a game of soldiers’ and gave up the ghost. With an exasperated crunch the whole underside of the ambulance collapsed and we juddered to a halt.

We were in Stranraer, Scotland It was midnight and we were a very long way from home (Bristol).

The trouble is, I had promised my girlfriend that I would see her before she went to college in the morning (yes we were that young). She had been a bit upset about us going to Northern Ireland in the first place and so wanted to see me back home safe and sound (the fact that she has been my wife for the past 26 years probably meant that she actually liked me).

A promise is a promise and I had no intension of breaking it.

So Dave and I set off at the stroke of midnight to find our own way home.

This involved two scruffy youths in old army great coats and the air of travellers who had recently survived the Belfast/Scotland crossing, hitching a lift with whoever would give us a ride.

Well, believe it or not, we got picked up by several huge lorries that were travelling down south. They were an odd assortment I can tell you, probably why they deemed to give us a ride. One swore back was white that he was the whip playerer in Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick and Titch and another who we suddenly realised to our terror was fast asleep and had been for a good many miles.

However, despite the weirdoes, dangerous drivers and copious amounts of baked beans (they all insisted on stopping and having breakfast…right through the night) we made it to the outskirts of Bristol by day break and hopped on a milk float for the remainder of the journey home.

I got to see my future wife and both Dave and I managed to get to our beds to get a few hours shut eye, unlike the rest of the band and crew that ended being stuck in Scotland for days.

‘Ol Bessie’ sadly never recovered from this final insult and had to be gently but lovingly led into a field where she was shot through the head gasket.

Gone but not forgotten she was replaced by a shiny black Mercedes tour bus…which we loved, as it had proper seats.

From those days forth I dream of expensive tour buses with beds and fridges and even…dare I say it…a toilet.

Sadly, all we have these days is a humongous horse box, which still struggles under the weight. ‘Ol Bessie’ whispers to it from the beyond’, “run away, run away”.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

What a pleasant day for a cycle!

You may need to make yourself a cup of coffee, or grab a cold one before you start to read this; it’s bound to be a long one.

The Mudheads had been invited to perform at the Bristol Mountain Bike festival being held the Ashton Court estate in Bristol and we were really looking forward to it.

They had been using the same band for the Saturday night knees up for years. However, the band had got completely wasted after the last gig and had kept the entire festival awake and being that there was a huge race the following day they were asked never to return.

We had been promised an audience of hundreds, a stage, and most importantly adequate power.

So, this Saturday, CJ and I arrived at the main entrance way to the site ‘over’ laden with practically every bit of kit we processed and all set to reverse the trailer directly into the marquee and unload onto the huge stage that had been provided.


The first obstacle was the track way down to the festival itself. In that it had been raining and was the victim of pot holes you could have drowned a cow in, getting down its mile or so length was like taking a gentle meander down the Somme during the winter of 1917.

One wrong move and we could have snapped the trailer clean off of the back of CJ’s company car.

CJ was so tense he was raised a full one inch in his seat and was in serious danger of needing his buttock cheeks unclenched with a crow bar before we would be able to do anything else.

I simply sat in the passenger’s seat as white knuckled as anything I had faced at Alton Towers.

Meeting cars coming in the opposite direction resulted in a Mexican stand off on more than one occasion, given that they didn’t want to reverse all the way back down to where they came from and we simply couldn’t.

We then met one of the promoters who appeared genuinely pleased to see us (as you might imagine this was new and pleasant experience for us).

She pointed us in the general direction of where we would be playing but looked a little confused when I asked if it would be possible to reverse the trailer directly into the tent.

“You won’t be able to drive anywhere near the marquee” she said. “The main cycle track runs right down the side of it in a huge circle and the main race is on until 9pm”.

With my heart sinking into my boots I tentatively asked how close we could expect to get.

“Oh it’s not that bad” she replied, “It’s probably only about three or four hundred yards”.

Bearing in mind the image I had previously given you of a world war one battled field resplendent with trenches, shell holes and copious amounts of mud then add to it two blokes with 1 ½ tonne of expensive musical equipment, one sack truck and unsuitable shoes and you get a picture of how we felt at that moment.

I think the phrase “here we go again” rose unbidden to my lips.

Anyway, we managed to creep through the rain sodden field until we were at least in the shadow of the tent where we were to perform.

If the film “All quiet on the Western front” had done something radical and preformed the whole thing on mountain bikes then I believe this is what it would have looked like.

Hundreds of men and women, both young and old all on bikes all splattered from head to foot in a thick layer of mud.

Also imagine if you will, this scenario teamed up with a Hong Kong high street on a rainy Monday rush hour morning with a busy motor way running right through the middle of it, and this was what CJ and I were going to have to negotiate with the kit.

However, before we put our lives in the hand of the God of all mountain bikers we though we ought to assess the venue in which we were to be performing.

Again my imagined scene of a cavernous arena, bare and silent awaiting our arrival sank glugging into the glutinous earth. The scene that actually did greet us was utter chaos as the Marquee was in fact the main reception for the 1,500 people who were attending the festival and racing.

The one thing no cyclist will ever do will leave their steeds unattended, so we were greeted by a herd of mud covered racers with their bikes all jockeying for position to find when their next heat was etc ‘inside’ the tent.

No stage, and as far as I could see nowhere to put the kit.

We met the main promoter, who was a friendly, cheerful and genuinely nice guy who waved us over to one end of the tent and told us to “set up where you like”, which strictly speaking meant in between a guy who was running a couple of turntables with loud thumping dance music, and the bar (a BBQ table piled high with cans of Stella and Red Bull.)

Again the friendliness of the disco and the couple running the bar was such that we knew that what ever we faced it would be overcomable and all done with the best possible good will.

Mind you I really didn’t believe my heart could sink any further than it had done until I found out where our power was coming from. One single four way plug that was being run off of a generator. “Don’t worry”, chirped the organiser “I got some extra petrol in, just in case” (I wasn’t really sure if he meant to power the generator or to finish off the job should we set the whole place on fire).

In cases such as this we always politely decline to use our lights as the resulting power draw would normally plunge the venue into silent darkness as we killed all the power. However, a further inspection revealed that the marquee didn’t in fact have any lights……at all!! We were going to have to chance it and plug everything including all our lights through the one four way plug and hope we didn’t overload the whole lot.

We set about unloading the trailer and must have resembled the Chuckle Brothers on parade (if you are not British or have never watched children’s television think Laurel & Hardy without the talent) as we teetered on the edge of the track’ flanked by muddy cyclists, looking for a space to literally leg it across the open space to the safety of the other side.

We were painfully aware of the embarrassment that flooring a winning competitor with the sharp end of a bass cabinet 20 yards from the finishing line would cause.

Anyway, by the grace of God, a good wind and the cheerful disposition of the riders we transferred the entire content of the trailer and the car across the field and track and into the tent. Literally within 30 seconds of us closing the doors of the trailer for the last time Aaron and our sound man Jim arrived (my son’s timing as always being impeccable). I thought if he grumbled just once about how hard his day had been, he would experience what the suffragette who threw herself under the hooves of the Kings horse at the turn of the last century felt. Except instead of hooves, they would have been mountain bike wheels.

Don’t ask me how we did it, but by the hour that we had been told we were to play arrived we were ready to rock & roll.

We had been told 9:30pm and so when it came, Jim cranked up the PA and we were off!!

That was until a panic stricken promoter ran in clutching a haul of medals….it would appear that they had in fact only just started the award ceremony just outside the tent and we had drowned the lot out…..oops!!

We kicked our heels for another 25 minutes whilst the brave individuals who had risked their lives for the sake of bicycle glory were showered with praise and we availed ourselves of some of the 10,000 cans of Red Bull that had been donated to the festival.

When the nod came to return to playing we were as jittery as a Politian who was having his expenses investigated.

What followed was probably one of the most enjoyable two hours of the bands history.

I couldn’t tell you exactly how many people were in that tent but it had to be hundreds and they were mad for it. Bodies flying everywhere, singing, dancing with the occasional reveller being hurled into us by his friends (I narrowly risked having my teeth removed by my own microphone on several occasions). However, the cheer that went up in between each song was adrenalin pumping and was a timely reminder of why we got into rock music in the first place.

Before we left the stage (area) following tumultuous applause, the promoter bounded up and shouted to the crowd that “we have our new resident festival band, for ever and ever”. The crowd roared their approval.

To say that egos had been well and truly tickled would be an understatement.

However, without adding a dour edge to the whole proceedings, the enormity of what was to come was already firmly placed in the back of our minds…the get out!!

The urgency of this whole operation was bolstered by the sound of the increasingly heavy rain bouncing off of the tent and the organiser pointing out that his additional fuel for the generator was almost depleted and at some point in the imminent future we were going to be plunged into the inky blackness of a large field, at midnight in the pouring rain.

The race was on.

I do not exaggerate when I say that Jim was carrying the very last mic stand to the trailer when the comforting chugging sound of the generator ceased and all went silent…and dark.

One more hurdle faced us. Getting back through the Somme in conditions that were fifty times worse then when we had arrived.

Every buttock was clenched as we slipped and slewed across the field towards the entrance way, praying every inch of the way that the wheels wouldn’t suddenly start spinning, because if they did…..we would be there for the night.

However, we made the main gate, which was locked. No worries we had been warned. The key was under a rock.

I unlocked the gate, rain pouring down my neck and waved the two vehicles through. I then locked the gate behind me and set about the risky task of climbing back over the slippery gate in the wet. At this point CJ thought it would be hilarious to switch out all his car lights. Oh how I laughed.

They laughed even harder when having climbed back over the gate, getting soaked in the process, I realised that I could have gone around it.

However, all in all, it’s the rock & roll life for me and I for one am really looking forward to an invite back next year. We had a great night, and as I have mentioned, you couldn’t have met a friendlier more enthusiastic bunch of people if you had tried.

It’s just that next year, I’m buying a pair of wellies.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Back to the blogg

My apologies that I have not penned anything for nearly a month now, this is especially important as articles I write for you good folk are my source for a column that I now scribble for Bristol Rocks called “The Loader Lectures”.

Truth be known it is getting increasingly difficult to write witty observations on an industry that is becoming more and more depressing.

Venues we once loved are closing their doors.

Places that were once reliable and never any trouble are pulling fast ones on artistes and refusing to pay the agreed amount promised on the night.

Once great venues for a good night’s rock & roll are now crawling with underage drinkers, utterly gazebo’d on half a cider and black.

And even the most enthusiastic supporters of local music are generally giving up and moving on to other things.

It all sounds like doom and gloom, however this isn’t always the case. We have discovered that the good folks of Yeovil, Somerset REALLY know how to rock (despite making me look young) and we have the British Mountain Bike festival tomorrow, where we are being guaranteed a crowd of at least 1200 people.

With this is mind, I will keep my finely trained brain open for literary opportunities, which I can then share with you.

Mind you, I had better get in quick. I have just discovered why I keep getting hammering headaches on a Friday morning following our rehearsal nights (no it is not down to an over abundance of the falling down juice). It would appear that making a room sound proof can also make it air tight and as the singer I am consuming far more oxygen than is available to me….hence I am probably getting a regular does of Carbon Monoxide poisoning. No wonder I couldn’t find my feet this morning.

Watch this space as to how we are going to resolve this problem (on the cheap).

Speak soon.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Big, black and beautiful

From time to time the old Rock God ego gets the better of him.

I know that I am supposed to have grown out of such things. I know that now I am in my forties I should be a beacon for sensible living and ‘doing the right thing’.

However, just once in a while something comes along that reminds you that inside you are still a 17 year old rocker at heart.

The time had come to purchase some new speakers for my Bass Guitar. The old ones were beginning to sound a little bit like a flatulent rat in a biscuit tin, which is a not a good sound for a bastion of entertainment.

So with credit card in hand (having blown everything I had on my red-mid-life-crisis-mobile I will not have ‘cash in hand’ for a good many more years to come), I trundled of down to Reverb, musical employer of number one son Aaron.

Reverb (formally known as Sound Control) have been endeavouring to get me to part with my money on a regular basis for many years now and hearing that I was ‘in the market’ I was met by a welcoming reception of senior staff all eager to sell me the very latest in high end bass technology speakers.

They did in fact have an extremely attractive (and expensive 8 x 10 Hartke…(.that’s 8 times 10 inch speakers in case you are wondering what on earth I am talking about) that looked like a heavy metal coffin….and it sounded awesome.

However, and this is where the ego comes in, next to the coffin sat a pair of Marshall 4 x 12 (yes that’s a speaker with 4 lots of 12 inch speakers in it, so 2 sets would give me 8 times 12 inch speakers…are you getting it?).

Now these things were, a) more expensive and b) flippin enormous.

However, they were Marshall’s and as anybody who has ever been to a classic rock concert will tell you are things of immense beauty in a rock & roll kind of way.

Visions of Iron Maiden at the Bristol Colson Hall came flooding back. Thin Lizzy, whitesnake, Motorhead, oh the list is endless. All these rock giants that I saw in my youth who were flanked by row upon roll of black and gold speaker cabinets with the legionary Marshall signature running through the middle of them.

Yes the Hartke was cheaper, yes the Hartke was smaller and yet, yes the Hartke sounded better. Hartke was a bass players dream.

Of course you know what I went for???? Of course you do.

Now all I have to do is break the news to CJ as I am not sure they are going to fit in the trailer.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

A good workman is worthy of his hire

I have noticed a disturbing new trend that has not reared its ugly head before until recently, at least not for me.

However, it happened to us again this Friday, and I know that it is happening to my peers in the musical community with a frightening regularity.

When we are booked for gigs a price is agreed with the promoter or landlord or whoever prior to accepting the booking. This is normally negotiable and not designed to take the mick out of the poor soul who is trying to hire us.

However, we pride ourselves on the level of professionalism and entertainment that we offer and so we would not say that we are ‘cheap’. However, we are also not extortionate (certainly better value that the teen moppets that get paid five thousand quid to turn up at a shopping mall and mime to their latest mind melting single that’s for sure).

However, you can imagine my surprise following an evening of unrestricted rock & roll enthusiasm that left the punters suitably appeased and like the viewers of Russell Crowe’s Gladiator “Entertained” by the spilling of West Country blood, when the Landlord pressed nearly half the agreed amount into my greasy outstretched palm.

Now I am a man of peace and love, I am not known for acts of savagery or wanton thugery. However, we have bills to pay.

“Ere! This aint what we agreed” was probably not the most eloquent phrase ever to leave uttered from my lips, but it did express my surprise at this lapse in his fiscal judgement.

“That’s all I pay mate” was definitely not the response I was hoping for.

However, as he was surrounded by a herd of his biggest (drunkest) mates I decided that diplomacy was going to result in less bone breakage for me than giving him a mouthful.

I gently, but firmly pointed out the error of his statement and that we were a good deal of money light at this present moment in time.

Have you ever heard the expression “The lights are on but nobody is at home”, well that was what I was greeted with.

Then he leaned over the bar and pulled out another 20 quid from the till and placed it in my hand and gave me one of those stares that suggested that I ought to cut my loses and run.

As I was making the best dignified retreat I could muster he called after me “Great night lads, we’ll have you again”.

This credit crunch has an awful lot to answer for I can tell you.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

The Axe Factor

Sometimes you have to ask yourself the question “Why do we do these things to ourselves”.

The ‘thing’ in question on this particular occasion was to be entered into one of the initial rounds of ‘The Axe Factor’ (yes it does what it says on the tin, a competition for guitarists, singers and bands).

Now I don’t normally ‘do’ competitions as I can’t face the stress that appears to go along with.

In our previous incarnation, Mudheads Monkey, we entered a competition put on my GWR (that’s a local radio station) and made it to the finals.

After our set one of the judges sidled up to us and whispered in our ear that the prize was ours (about 5,000 quid, a portable recording studio and studio time).

Having already rehearsed my acceptance speech in my head, we were suddenly whacked in the face by the announcement that the judges had in fact been ‘split’ and that in order to ‘un-stick’ them they added a new category…..commercial viability.

The other band who they were deliberating over were a bunch of ‘Oasis’ wannabies, and it was at that point that I realised that I had a face that was great for radio….as they were awarded the prize.

I believe the band, who promptly bogged off back to Cardiff split up within the month.

So I don’t do competitions.

However, the Axe Factor was being organised by our promoters and friends Mark Venus and Alfie Kingston, and so when they asked if we would perform it seemed churlish to refuse, so we accepted a place………for last night’s heat.

As CJ now point blank refuses to play acoustic gigs (unless there is an enormous pay cheque involved) citing that we wouldn’t expect to play with only one string (as I constantly remind him being a bass player…I am lucky to be able to cope with anything more than one string), and that is pretty much what we are expecting of him when we play unplugged, Aaron and I went to perform at this particular soirée as the Loaders (that’s our acoustic duo).

When we arrived at the venue we discovered that only six of this evening turns had arrived, which levelled the playing field just a tad, hopefully in our favour.

Then I got the shock that was to colour my whole evening.

There was a panel of four judges, looking very stern and fierce from behind a tartan clothed table, sat ready to dispense words of wisdom and hopefully not to crush any fledging ego beyond the point of resurrection.

Then one of the judges, a man who looked like he was presumably in his 50’s, pointed a finger at me and said……you were in Hartcliffe School Sixth Form.

I was incredulous “How the hell did you know that” I exclaimed. “I never forget a face” he replied.

Now bearing in mind that I was a gangly, spotty long haired youth of 17 when I was summarily asked to leave, and the same could not be said of me now, his feat of recollection was outstanding.

Then it was our turn to perform, three songs…….time to impress the judges.

We had missed the first act as we were in the green room (skittle ally) getting ready, so we had no idea as to how supportive or destructive the judges were going to be.

However, it didn’t matter. We knew that we were not going to be chosen for the next round as we are entertainers and not show winners, and we were there purely to entertain the crowd and get them into a good mood for the whole evening’s music.

However, if a miracle did happen, we wouldn’t complain and the fragile performer’s ego would be firmly ‘tickled’.

Then Mark Venus, who was the compare for the evening, introduced to judges to the contestants and the audience.

Horror of all horror, the man with the photographic memory who had a knack for taking middle aged faces and translating them into memories of younger acquaintances was introduced and I realised that he was in fact my sixth form tutor, the very same man that had told me that I was wasting my time and his and that perhaps it would be better if I was to leave that sainted world of education and seek a new life in the world of employment.

Suddenly, I was 17 years old again and was going to require surgery to have my buttocks unclenched.

We crashed into our three songs with an acceptable level of excitement and madness, whipping the crowd into a state of smiles and foot tapping.

However, this time, instead of performing with my usual level of over confidence, I was sweating like a teenager on a driving test.

I had not seen this man for 31 years. I have been successful in many things. I have made a positive contribution. I am happily married, I have co-raised two delightful children, and yet here I was reverting to that rattled teenager who was desperately trying to avoid a right rollicking from a member of the teaching staff.

Aaron could tell that I was nervous as I reverted to many of my old bad habits that has taken me years to get rid off.

I couldn’t stop talking between songs, even during the songs. I said “Thank you” as each song finished, and I was sweating profusely and my hands were so tense I could barely hold my plectrum.

How daft is that!! I am a seasoned performer with 35 years experience, and yet the sight of my old teacher reduced me to rubble. Isn’t it strange how they can still have that kind of hold over you.

Then came the judge’s comments.

I must have had a face locked into a grimace of fear as Aaron jabbed me in the ribs and growled…..”smile”.

True to form my old teacher liked what we did. We played together well; he thought I had a good voice…….BUT!

There’s always a BUT!

He felt that our middle song descended into cabaret.

Now we have attached the theme song to ‘Only Fools & Horses’ to the end of one our songs as quite frankly, the audience love it….and it’s our job to give the punters what they want.

However, this was probably seen as a bit of an anathema to the ‘serious’ music brigade. It certainly didn’t win us any favour with ‘sir’.

However, he said that on the whole he had enjoyed the set, and the other three judges absolutely loved it.

Isn’t it typical then that the only words that really stick in my mind was the fairly innocuous comment that we had turned into a sparkly suited cabaret act.

Bottom line, we didn’t make it through to the next round. But there again, we hadn’t thought for one minute that we really would.

I would be a liar if I professed that the old ego wasn’t dented just a tad. I mean I had about a 25 year head start on all the other performers, but as I have already said, mine is a face for radio and anyway it would have meant having to do it all over again, and I really, REALLY don’t want to be that 17 year old again.

Aaron did make a good comment. The powers that be may not have deem us serious and worthy contenders for the crown of musical credibility, but unlike most of our young peers at the competition we usual get paid for what we do, AND we are having to turn gigs down as we cannot fit them all in.

Also it was rather gratifying to be approached by a bunch of the younger musicians who had really enjoyed what we had done and asked us if we had any advice for them. (The student was now the master).

We may not have won that round, but we distinguished ourselves with honour and members of the audience approached us throughout the evening to say how much they had enjoyed us.

However, in that I would never want to be a teenager again, it was amazing how I felt with that particular judge.

Simon Cowell eat your heart out.

Monday, 20 April 2009

The Rock God is NOT having a mid life crisis

Okay, sure, it is a convertible. I admit that it is rather sporty and fast. AND I concede that it is bright red (Babylon red to be exact), but this does not equate necessarily that the RG is in the throws of some middle aged tantrum regarding the refusal to grow old in some kind of graceful attitude towards ‘greydom’.

I am talking about a car in case you were wondering.

Why is it that when any man finally realises the toy of his dreams, a longing that has been nurtured steadily throughout youth, to marriage, mortgage, fatherhood and beyond, that he is immediately branded as having a ‘mid life’ crisis’.

There’s no flippin crisis about it. I wanted one…I always have….I have only just got to that position in life’s long journey that was beyond the demands for slots for child seats, sick bags and the ability to carry forty five primary school children or three sweat garnished teenagers with more piercings than Michael Caine in Zulu.

It should follow that as I play in a rock band I am automatically having a mid life crisis, and yet I have played in bands almost continuously (apart from the odd gap) since I was 14 years old. There’s no crisis about it.

When a man (or women) has managed to reach some sort of financial stability in their life, this is a cause for celebration not for finger poking and comments about ‘going off the deep end’. I would have brought a Harley Davidson had Mrs Rock God not wisely pointed out that I couldn’t get a guitar or two on a motor bike.

So I stand proud, and unrepentant. I am 48 years old and I have just bought a new car (Bassbin will testify to the state of my old one, which I just happened to own for over a decade).

It just happens to be bright red….and as the sun is shining, I shall drive home with the roof down.

It’s only a Peugeot 307 for pity sake.

Right now let me see………..sunglasses…check…….Nickelback CD….check……..seagull repellent….check…….!

If this is a mid life crisis…..I think I shall have mine in style thank you so very much.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

"A whole lot of Rosie"

They do say that old rockers never die, they just smell like they do. They also say that it is better to burn out than fade away….I’m beginning to think that this might be my destiny.

We have had a fair few gigs crammed into a short space of time, and I am quite frankly ‘knackered’.

It’s been a good year so far, and good offers are arriving frequently. However, as with Friday night, every so often a gig crashes into your consciousness, just to remind the budding Rock God that they should never rise above their station and go and get too big for their boots.

As always, I will refrain from actually naming the venue in question and shall simply call it the ‘Queens Bottom’.

We have played at the venue several times before and have always been met with a warm and enthusiastic audience who invariably refused to let us leave (in the good sense).

Tonight was not going to be quite so enthusiastic and yet they still did not want to let us leave….however, this time the reason was not quite so positive.

The whole tone of the evening met us on arrival and it resulted in one heck of a load in and set up.

A young lady had sadly lost her life in a senseless car accident quite close to the pub a week earlier and friends, family and neighbours all descended on the pub in order to raise cash in her memory.

They were dressed in the loudest and most outrageous costumes they could find…either that or they were bedecked in pyjama’s and dressing gowns. And there were dozen’s and dozen’s and dozen’s of them. Mainly young girls or children and they were all milling around the entrance ways to the pub.

This made getting our 1 ½ tonnes of kit into the building a tad difficult.

Crushing a 7 year old poppet who is dressed as a dayglo Disney princes with the sharp end of 4 x 12 guitar speaker would do nothing to enhance our reputation in the area I can tell you.

It also felt rather churlish to tell this bunch of well meaning enthusiasts to “get the hell out of the way as we are on in half an hour”, and so another route was sought and we found ourselves running the gauntlet of boys on bicycles and outdoor smokers huddled around the entrance way of the kitchens at the other end of the building, who made random comments like “that looks heavy” before collapsing into a fit of smoke induced hacking coughing brought on by the strength of their own hilarity.

One of the oddities of this whole spectacle was observing super charged Renault Clios and such careering around the pub car park driven by teenage mourners sending packs of young dayglo wearing children flying in all directions. There was a very real possibility that this event that had been called to celebrate the life of a woman that had been knocked down by a speeding car was going to end up with somebody getting knocked down… a speeding car.

Anyway, against all the odds, nobody was killed or hurt and we got all of our equipment into the building before it was time to kick off.

With that the hoards of brightly coloured revellers, as one departed, presumably in order to get their children to bed. However this did leave the place in the domain of a bunch of already plastered teenagers and young people. It was going to be a long night.

According to my two colleagues we were well received. However, from my short sighted perception we went down like Gareth Gates on an oil rig.

Then, much to my amazement, into this den of alcohol fuelled apathy strolled our church pastor and his wife.

Now you might not think that this is so amazing as it would be only natural for a man of the cloth to want to support members of his flock in their earnest endeavours. And this of course would be very much what he was doing. However, what you need to know is that although our pastor is a good man his taste in music is so….shall we say…twee….that it makes John Denver look like a death metal artiste.

For Dave to come to one of our gigs is, you will have to trust me in this, a sign of his love and commitments for those that he is responsible for…i.e. me and Aaron.

The horror of what was happening though was not lost on me. Dave and Elaine walked in just as we hammering through “Turning Japanese” by the ‘Vapours’, and as they took their seats just in front of the speakers, I was singing the immortal lines “No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women, no fun, no sin, no you know wonder it’s dark”……..oh joy.

Of course that particular song runs straight into “A whole lot of Rosie” by ‘AC/DC’, which without putting too fine a point on it is about a bloke having wild rampant sex with his 19 stone girlfriend.

Now, I am not one who advocates unsuitable lyrics in songs…I am now a parent after all. However, I maintain that at the volume we play you can’t hear the words anyway, and most people like these songs because of the music.

I had a bright idea to maintain my dignity. As the offending words came to their place in the song, I stood back from the microphone.

My son and heir sadly saw what I was doing and was not prepared to let me get away with this particular hypocrisy and stood up to his mic and bellowed out the offending lyrics in his loudest, clearest voice.

Thankfully, Dave’s ears had been so firmly pinned back behind his head by the volume that he didn’t pick any of that up at all.

Bless him, he made it to the end of the first half before retreating to the safety of his own home and some ‘good old ‘US of A’ gospel music from the deep south’.

It has to be said that my own parents haven’t heard me perform in a band since I was 19 years old so this was a point of honour indeed that was not lost on me.

Any roads we made it to the end of the evening, with dignity but very little enthusiasm left intact.

This was when the problem of getting back out of the building reared its drunken head.

The crowd of sozzled youths that crowded around the entrances had got to the point where they firmly believed that they were a) hard, b) funny and c) in the right to do anything they liked, including preventing the poor gits who had been from performing that night leaving.

Aaron however in a stroke of comedic genius draw himself up to his full 6 foot 3 inch height and whilst clutching his enormous flight cased guitar amp, looked straight into the face of the leading tattooed, baseball cap wearing Chav and quoted Douglas Adams at him (that would be from the Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy for those not in the know).

“Do you know how much damage I would do to this amp if I simply dropped it on your head”


“None what so ever”.

Whether said drunken Chav understood the subtlety of the quote, indeed if he even knew of it’s origins (I sincerely doubt it), either way bowing to a superior intellect or because he truly believed that Aaron would drop a hundred weight of Marshall cap on him he took the better part of valour and got he and his mates out of the way.

We still took out a few back legs and shins with the rest of the gear, but that was their own stupid fault.

You do have to ask yourself why we do this sometimes.

For balance though. Aaron and I under our acoustic duo moniker ‘The Loaders’ performed to an audience so civilised and appreciative on Sunday that we sang the old hymn “When I survey the wondrous cross” in honour of Easter Sunday.

That was just in case you think I have really ditched the entire ‘God Bothering’ and gone instead for a preference for singing about carnal relations with women of a fuller figure.

Of course, the pastor wasn’t there to hear that one was he…typical!

Friday, 27 March 2009

The last temptation of The Mudheads

We really are getting into the groove with this concert lark!

We arrived at the ‘Fight Club’ fully prepped and bang on time.
We set our gear up in record time and we were within the blink of an eye…..’Ready to Rock’.

We then eyed the enormous audience suspiciously. They eyed us back with equal suspicion and with just a hint of aggression.

Now on the face of it, this should be the ideal gig for us. Four hundred or so twenty somethings, all in town to ‘have a good time’. Herds of young women in remarkably high heels and ridiculously short skirts wandered around in packs and kept eyeing us discreetly with that look that suggested that we were not on their list of ‘things they really wanted anything to do with tonight thank you very much’.

This look of distaste was not subdued when we launched into our sound check…..we were loud, VERY loud (more of that later), leaving everybody in a half mile radius in no doubt that we were anything but a fully fledged, paid up, cranked up, heads up…rock band!

With that one of the herd broke pack and tottered up to Aaron and tugged on his shirt sleeve.

What! I hear you cry..had the boy pulled so early. Were offers of drinks and moonlit walks on the cards (his girlfriend might be reading this). Had his heady good looks, inherited from his father I might add, captivated this bright young thing as soon as she had clapped eyes upon him.


She had been assigned by the pack as being the only one that could speak ‘bloke’ and sent on a mission to utter these immortal words;

“Do you play any disco?.....we want to dance”.

Despite the many posters and flyers that littered the venue and the especially large banner that adorned the main entrance way informing all that passed this way that tonight was truly a ‘rock & indie’ night, a large group of office workers had descended upon the place firm in their belief that they would be discoing the night away.

Our first set though left none of them in any doubt that we were about as far removed from said disco as it is possible to get.

That being said, at least two other delegates from the herd were dispatched and were to yell in my ear for requests for songs that are currently in the top of the charts….I can only assume that they must have been referring to songs from the latest hip hop, techno sensation. Either way it got to the point that I had to announce over the PA that “I’m sorry boys and girls, but we don’t do requests”.
At this the herd decided that they must try and make the best of a bad job and set about flinging sorties of about two or three girls at a time bang into the middle of the dance floor in front of the stage, where they would wriggle provocatively, sending their chesticles flying in all directions and waving their backsides at each other in some sort of primitive tribal mating ritual. Then they would fly back off into the relative safety of the herd only to be replaced by another sortie of wrigglers.

It has to be said, that if I had not been there with my son I would have enjoyed myself a whole lot more. Especially as I was trying out contact lenses for the first time and I could clearly see what was going on.

However, in case anybody feels that this resident God botherer has been succumbing to the temptations of the flesh, be assured that having been given a damn good thrashing with the ugly stick at birth, the whiley ways of the groupie have never been a problem for me. I can honestly say that throughout my 35 years of performing live I have only once ever had an adoring fan throw themselves upon me. However, I was already engaged to Aaron’s mother and so I dutifully fought her off, and respectfully declined the offer of a good ‘snog’.

At the ripe old age of……..well lets just say that I am not 21 anymore, I am not about to be so stupid as to throw everything away for the attentions of a cider fuelled Doris in an outfit that would have probably given her father a heart attack should he have clapped eyes upon it.

By the second half of the gig though things were getting a little tiring.

The sound was unbelievably loud as the sound man wanted the music to travel the length of the club to hit the back wall and the entrance way.

That level of noise can become very debilitating after a while and I eventually couldn’t make any notes out from amongst the wall of sound that was crashing into my head. This isn’t a great place to be when you are the singer and you are endeavouring to pitch your voice with the instruments.

I think I presented my self with honour…. However I will never know as all those that were actually listening to us (and there were several hundred taking an active interest) looked as shell shocked as I felt.

As soon as the last note was finished, the herd regrouped and swiftly vacated the building in search of a more ‘disco’ related club in which they could temp the metal of other men who to be honest….had a pulse!!

They want us back….Lord help us!

Monday, 23 March 2009

"Another Caviar nibble Mr Loader?"

My apologies for the sporadic nature of my shambolic postings of late.

As a fledgling Rock God I dreamt of lengthy lie ins having performed at one of my many stadium type gigs the night before. This would of course be followed by a sumptuous brunch in my five star hotel room, with perhaps a manicure or some other suitably relaxing and decedent non activity to follow.

By the time I was in a fit state of mind to face my adoring world, my driver would have arrived to deliver me in style to one of the many radio interviews, album signings, or all factory star personal appearances that I would have to reluctantly fit in before being driven to the BBC for my exclusive interview with Michael Parkinson or Terry Wogan (if you are under 30 years old read that as Jonathan Ross or rather surprisingly, Paul O’Grady or Jay Leno if you are Stateside).

You would then find me consuming slap up cuisine in some 5 star pile in the centre of London being regally entertained by a Hollywood A list celebrity, and then back to my 5 star four poster bed for a good nights kip giving me the strength to do it all over again the next day.

The reality of the matter is (of course) somewhat different.

As young fledgling Rock God, I nearly starved to death in the backside end of some European kingdom, such as Holland (well, not perhaps starved to death, but certainly hungry enough to eat the horse meat we got served on one occasion….and no it doesn’t taste like chicken).

The dream of those 5 star hotels and interviews with the best chat show hosts in the land, died pretty much in the Netherlands really.

Now, like most mid life Rock stars…I have to work for a living to maintain my visions of fame and glory. Believe you me; bass guitar strings do not come cheap.

For my sins I work for the NHS….with children to be exact…..and it can be VERY hard work indeed.

Having somehow lost my way in life I now find myself as the administrator for the service in which I earn a crust.

Most days are spent bashing away at my criminally slow computer and wondering if I should have gone from Holland to Germany as opposed back to Blighty and the welcoming bosom of WH Smith & Sons (that’s a national chain of book and stationary retailers for you outside of the UK), where my desperate slide into ‘ordinary’ began to take it’s deathly grip.

I didn’t stay there incidentally, but that’s a story for another blog in another place.

All that being said, I was apologising for my tardiness in posting blogs, and the reason for that is of late….I’ve been too flippin busy!!

However, I am sorry and I will undertake to fill you in on just exactly what did (or didn’t) happen at the Fight Club as soon as I can find the bottom of my desk.

Please keep the faith and don’t wander off just yet!!

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

The Fight Club

The Mudheads are busily preparing themselves for the “How many gigs can we cram into one year Tour 2009”, and judging my how difficult it has been to get the band together since Christmas simply to rehearse, I would say not many.

Actually, that’s not strictly true as we have already got 11 dates in the diary with plenty more chomping up behind.

Now one of these concerts in itself could be extremely interesting indeed. Officially it has an exciting rock & roll name, a little bit like ‘The Hard Rock Café’ but not (if you see what I mean).

I am reluctant to reveal its proper name as I am in no position financially to get sued for liable.

You see if might officially have a rather vogue name, locally however it is commonly known as ‘The Fight Club’.

We have been asked to perform at said venue by the promoters as part of a charity evening which is launching a Trust that is being set up by the mother of a teenager that was stabbed to death…out side said night club!

I have asked that all our biggest (and ugliest) mates attend this gig in order to protect our backsides.

CJ in light of getting this particular booking then went on to excel himself….he’s gone and got us booked to play in the largest Irish themed night club in Bristol.

The patrons of this establishment warm themselves of an evening by thumping lumps out of the more deranged element of ‘The Fight Club’.

We…are….going….to …….die!

But hey…whoever said that Rock & Roll was supposed to be safe….why do you think that I wear a bass guitar that is made of a particular thick piece of wood……..I’m armed me!

Anyway, first gig of the season sees us performing away from Bristol down in Yeovil…..I believe they eat their dead down there… we may not make it to the ‘Fight Club’ anyway.

I’ll let you know how we get on.

Monday, 23 February 2009

The Rock God MUST rehearse

I have mentioned this before, but it would appear that too many years of TV programmes like ‘Fame’ and ‘High School Musical’ give the average person the unfaltering belief, especially when mixed with four pints of something dangerous, that songs can be plucked on a whim from the air and played like a digital recording even if the poor unfortunates performing that evening have never even heard of said tune.

I cannot count the times that some clown with alcohol breath that could fell a horse, swilling their beer (or gin & tonic, for such an affliction is not solely the pass time of men) and being unswayed by our protests that we do not know how to perform the theme song from ‘Titanic’ and probably never will, has insisted that we should just “go for it”.

We got to a point where we almost stuck up a backdrop that was not emblazoned with the Bands moniker, nor our website details, but with the statement “We do not do requests…..and we do not play the following”….which of course would have included such favourites as ‘Smoke on the water’, ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ and absolutely anything by ‘Robbie Williams’.

There may also have been some reference to abstaining from attempting anything that might have been recorded by an ‘X Factor’ contestant.

However, common sense eventually prevailed in that we only have ourselves to blame for putting ourselves in this kind of line of fire and that for the most part these Simon Cowell wannabies are mostly harmless.

You see, what these idiots (my apologies, I mean ‘music enthusiasts) do not realise, is that weeks of hard work goes into each and every song that we play…..well, that was until we jammed ‘Teenage kicks’ got it right first time, thought that it would be a scream for a bloke in his 40’s to sing it, and it was in. The whole process took under two minutes. However, on the whole the process takes a lot of time and hard work.

Now as a band we are not, for want of a better expression, ‘anal’ about rehearsing songs. We do not unpick each riff, expression, nuance and word. We do however, work hard at getting the ‘feel’ right.

We are also very proud of the reputation that we have been honoured with in that we as a band are extremely ‘tight’.

Now that does not mean that we get on well together (although it has to be said that we are a family… two thirds of our case, quite literally).

It also does not mean that we are permanently ‘plastered’ (the generous consumption of the falling down juice is discouraged at our gigs as we are being paid to do a job that quite frankly is hard enough stone cold sober let alone when you have trouble remembering where your feet are let alone what the opening line of the next song is).

What being ‘tight’ means is that we perform together well. The bass and drums become as one, and we sound as if we are as ‘on the same road’ as opposed to being all over the place.

This is extremely important to me as when I played bass in my very first serious band, the drummer and I had a hard time playing together in time. He being considerably more aggressive then I laid the blame firmly and squarely at my feet. The other members of the band went along with this.

Of course you get told something often enough you begin to believe it.

However, when a gig goes well, and it gets to a point where you couldn’t insert a piece of rice paper between CJ’s bass drum and my bass guitar I get a moment of immense pride.

It wasn’t me after all….yah boo suck to ya all!!

I put this totally down to lots and lots of practice.

As a band The Mudheads are extremely fortunate in that we own our own practice space (well CJ does).

Most bands have to load their kit into cars and vans, transport their equipment to a rehearsal studio, set it up, get the sound right… for a couple of hours…take it back down, drive home and unload…..oh, and pay about fifty quid for the privilege.

Our own little ADHD candidate got bored between bands and built himself a double garage into which he constructed a rehearsal room….totally sound proof and as we have since discovered totally air tight!

When we began rehearsing as a band we had two small practice amps, the drum kit and a vocal PA. We had plenty of room to move. We have since grown about 300 percent equipment wise and we now struggle to get in there let alone practice.

However, spurred on by the knowledge that most other bands have a really hard time with this particular process we gladly sit back, open a cold one from CJ’s beer fridge (for which he insists loudly and on a regular basis gives him an extra and thus deciding vote) and count our blessings.

It does mean however that it can make us rather lazy from time to time, and not all of our rehearsals are as productive as perhaps they ought to be, especially if CJ and Aaron have been in receipt of a good crop of jokes over the previous week. However on the whole we make good use of the time.

We also have the luxury of trying out news songs that perhaps don’t work, as we are not spending a small fortune week after week playing with things that are just not right for us as a band.

And most importantly it does mean that for us as a band, it is for the most part still a lot of fun.

In these desperate times when many bands are knocking it on the head due to poor audience attendance, we continue to look forward to Thursday nights as these are the ‘boys night in’.

And yes, occasionally…between beers, we do learn a new song or two.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The Joys of Twitter

Quicksketch has introduced me a new world wide phenomena called 'Twitter'....I have added a link to the left hand side of this blog, which will allow you updates of what I am doing throughout the day.

So, if you want to know what a Rock God has for lunch.....or how often he goes to the bathroom...check it out.

You can even get updates sent to your phone or e-mail.

Does this have a rather 'sad' element to this do you think??

Anyway, Stephen Fry is a big fan of Twitter so who am I to argue and I want to remain cutting edge............until I finally give up and buy myself a pipe and some slippers and the overwhelming urge to own a garden shed becomes to much to bear.

Monday, 16 February 2009

Guitar Mountain!

This weekend saw a momentous occasion….well for The Loader household anyway……Rock God Junior (that’s The Mudheads guitarist and my son, Aaron) left home.

This wasn’t a tantrum based; let’s throw the guitar out of the pram “I hate all of you” kind of a moment. This was a planned “Oh good Lord how am I ever going to pay this mortgage off” type of occasion.

Aaron is now a home owner…..well ‘part’ owner. He shares it with his partner Sue and of course it’s actually owned by the Nat West bank….at least for the next 35 years……..Rock God senior (that’ll be me) will either be dead, dying or just VERY old by the time they can actually claim that pile as their very own.

With the big day upon us, The Mudheads tour bus (a very large black trailer lovingly rescued from farm yard oblivion by CJ) was emptied of all surplus musical equipment and conscripted into being a removal van.

The first thing we can say about a guitarist is that they own one heck of a lot of cack!........that’s total and utter rubbish to you and me.

I don’t think that my son and heir has had a good clear out (of the tidying up variety) since he was 3 years old. So there was 20 years of tat that had to be retrieved, checked and boxed (the thought of packing before hand had never really occurred to him).

CJ and I had a great afternoon discovering guitar plectrums in every nook and cranny around the room (I now have a pocket full of them).

Old comics, CD’s DVD’s even his first teddy bear (he hadn’t noticed that I had stuffed that in his suitcase to be discovered later), all covered in a thick layer of ‘man’ sized dust was rummaged through in order to pack.

Eventually, in order to get us all home before the end of the age, CJ chose to just wipe everything off of desks, cupboards and shelves on to the floor and we concentrated on the big stuff.

It was the look of sheer horror on Sue’s face that said it all as we unloaded the trailer into what had previously been her pristine new home.

What she hasn’t seen yet is the reason for Mrs Rock God’s joy……Aaron’s half of the 18 or so guitars that we own between us……all flight cased….all used. And Sue thinks she is going to have a spare room……hah!

I’m sure I saw just a glint of evil pleasure on my wife’s face when Sue made her statements of where everything was going to go.

You see what she hasn’t appreciated yet is that she is setting up home with a musician. Just one mind you, poor Mrs Rock God has had to tolerate the injustice of three (my daughter also plays……guitar, piano, clarinet……there’s even a keyboard in there somewhere).

As Sue surveyed her neatly tidied living room she appeared blissfully unaware that it would soon be knee deep in guitars, plectrums, broken strings, cases, music, guitar pedals, and amps…..and everything else that is required to inspire rock stardom to your average guitar hero.

Mrs Rock God hasn’t been able to use our front room for years. Mrs CJ would risk life and limb to get into their garage…..let alone our little studio.

Still…… I sit here smuggling typing…’s no longer my problem it’s Sue’s.

Right…let’s see if the little so in so has left me any of my CD’s.