Sorry, no Land Rover stuff this week, just music, moans and groans and lots of:
I have long held the belief that being a musician is a bit like having another ‘sex’. I’m not talking about gender, I mean it’s yet another psychological illness that one unwittingly acquires. Unless regularly fed, it upsets the delicate equilibrium of mental state, a bit like trying to give up smoking, it’s best not start in the first place. A good gig restores the balance of the mind but a bad one can start a week of negativity and doubt. It’s now getting a bit like that with the Land Rover, I work long hours all week in the hope that I’ll get a Sunday afternoon’s tinkering to make things right, and without that it really feels as though something is missing.
This week I had a lovely gig and come Sunday, the weather was perfect but I’d been looking at the hedges and lawns all week, and I knew these had to be done first. It’s all too easy to just ‘make a start’ on the Land Rover and by teatime decide that the garden can wait until one evening.
I’d had the excitement on Tuesday morning when my beautifully packaged binnacle mount arrived from Raptor Engineering (ordered Sunday Evening). I carefully opened it and marvelled at the quality, the clean lines, the smooth edges, flawless powder coat finish and the sheer weight of it. I left it on the kitchen table and admired it daily, counting down the hours to Sunday….
I started on the hedges before lunch and by late afternoon they were done. I was still feeling a bit rough from my man-flu so progress was slow. Strimmed, mowed, then…. the skies darkened, some spots of rain and it was time to pack up. I put the binnacle mount away in it’s box, had a bath and went for tea at the local cheap-food pub. Weekend over, even oven chips seemed like too much effort.
Saturday’s gig – depping on bass with Kenny Lee and Hustler
After last week’s country gig I was looking forward to a ‘proper’ night at The Sea Dell Club, Hemsby. I haven’t played here for a few years and had heard that following the dreadful news that poor Jem’s place (The Seabreeze) had been severely damaged by fire a few weeks ago, the regulars from there had moved to the Sea Dell. The good news I understand is that Jem will be rebuilding The Seabreeze in time for next year’s season.
After the failure of the band’s bass preamp last week I had brought along my workhorse ‘compact’ rig, a Phil Jones Suitcase Combo with extension cabinet. However, the boys were insistent on getting the bass to work through their system – understandable as they would need it next week. Once the gear had been assembled on stage, Kenny called regular bass player Laurie who was enjoying a Majorca-beach stroll with his (understanding) wife and he gave instructions from afar. Within five minutes my bass started coming through the massive PA speakers and a cheer of elation went up from the band and early arrivals in the audience clasped their ears as if some horrible Armageddon had begun. It’s just human that when gear goes wrong, everything gets turned up to full as if that would cure it, hence the almighty boom when it started working.
I wasn’t particularly happy with the bass sound (it’s set up for Laurie’s wonderful 5-string Status bass with blue LED fret markers!) but didn’t dare touch the rack for fear of causing a new problem. Luckily my bass has active circuitry so I was able to EQ from the instrument.
Using no back-line does require a hefty monitor system (to my mind negating any advantages of the rack system) so when we realised that my monitor wasn’t working another call was made to Laurie. This time no amount of instruction could help so the call ended in disappointment. Spotting a ‘line out’ from the powered sub I suggested running an XLR direct from it to my monitor. For some reason, as I made the connection, the others took cover. Luckily it worked, albeit with an unedited FOH mix.
The place filled up and we had an enjoyable night, this band is popular here and the dance-floor soon filled up and much money passed through the tills at the bar. Kenny, Mick and Sonny are lovely people and I always get Mick to show me some of his fabulous guitar licks, he is generous and patient in sharing his skills. This week it was James Burton’s riffs from ‘Working Man Blues’ – not part of their repertoire, but he was picking it during sound-check and I immediately ran across the stage demanding a quick lesson. Mick showed me how to play it, or more precisely, how I could play it if I had half his talent. Even played on a Strat, it sounds like a Tele, it must be the picking style.
Many years ago, we would have two guitar amps, a bass amp, a 100w PA with two 1 x 12″ speakers. We would have asked at the bar for some crates on which to stand the PA speakers, and position one so we could hear it a bit on stage.
The modern guitar processors and amps that we spend hours lusting after, then many hundreds of pounds purchasing, all seem to have one aim in common – to recreate the sound of a 1960s AC30, or a 1970s Marshall.
Because all the sound is routed front of house but we need to hear it ourselves, we use wedges that far exceed the quality of those bygone PA speakers. Power amps are rated in kilowatts, yet we are still playing, most of the time to two hundred or so people. Even 500 watts would cause damage to their ears. Was the sound of a 1970s band really that bad? I don’t think so. So now we have a great big van, packed full of expensive gear and connected by miles of cables. All this has to be packed away at the end of the night.
Most of all, did we have any less fun doing it the old way? I don’t think so but maybe my memory is going….
End of ramble.
So, although there was no Land Rover progress, the weekend had its moments, and at least the garden looks smart again for a while. Maybe there’ll be a few ‘shed evenings’ in the week if work allows.
Thanks for reading, a few photos of the gig: