Saturday, June 26, 2010


Crumbs, loads of stuff I could have been writing about, and now the month is almost over.

The last entry finished with the family trotting off to the Plaxtol village duck race. Amazingly, Emma won the duck decorating competition for the second year running. They had raised the age group to under-6, so she had the advantage of being one of the older entries, but it was still pretty impressive to beat the dozens of other entries.

Since then we've had a lovely half-term break down at the cottage in Dorchester, rediscovering old haunts from my youth, such as the beach at Burton Bradstock, and finally visiting Portland Bill for the first time. It's not a bit how I expected; I assumed it would be quite bleak, but it's really quite beautiful in places, not unlike villages in Cornwall. All the more impressive when you realise there are no trees.

Since then I've been preparing for TMC's first public performance of the year. It was at a school summer fair last Saturday, where the bass player's wife is a teacher. We played the same 40 minute set twice (with a 90 minute gap) in the main school hall. Most of the events were taking place outside, but it was noticeable how many more we had watching us for the second set - presumably good reports had spread. I reckon we had about 250 people across the two performances.

Since it was a infant/junior school we thought we'd better play some more modern tunes. Then we realised that just about everything we play has featured in a TV advert or programme in recent years, so they were all introduced in that context.
  • Stand By Me (Ben E. King). One of the dullest songs I've ever played - the verse and chorus are identical, but it gave our violinist a chance to be heard during the strings refrain.
  • Take it Easy (The Eagles). Given the lyrics, we thought it was hardly appropriate for a school fair, but it's a fun song to play, so we kept it in.
  • I'm a Believer. It's all about that organ sound, isn't it. Fortunately I've got it.
  • Baker Street. Our sax player bought an alto recently - I always thought it sounded OK on tenor, but he's nailed it with the new one. I love the piano part for this, it never takes over, but it's always there holding the song together. It was always a challenge getting the piano, strings and pad sounds at the right time, but the s90xs makes this a breeze now.
  • Make Me Smile. We have got this very tight now - although I forgot to tweak the mixing desk for the spanish guitar solo during the first set, much to guitarist Aaron's annoyance. We need a sound man!
  • Glorious (Natalie Imbruglia). For obvious reasons, vocalist Chris really doesn't like doing this. We play a much rockier version than the original, but then with three guitarists it's hard not to.
  • Don't Stop Believing. The Journey version rather than the Glee cover. This wasn't my choice, but when somebody suggested it I jumped at the chance. I seem to remember rehearsing this with some success back in the early 90's with the legendary "Fishmongers", but I must have improved since then as I can play the right-hand chord rhythm against the syncopated bass-line without too much trouble now. I always used to simplify it before. We got this to performance quality in the space of three or four rehearsals, so I'm really pleased how well it sounded (and was appreciated).
  • New Shoes (Paolo Nutini). Just about the first song we learned when we got together last August/September, and still a band favourite.
The audience applauded politely after each song, without ever going mad as it were, so it was a pleasant surprise to have people coming up afterward to ask where they could see us again. The teaching staff have asked us to play at their end-of-year party and one of them even inquired about playing at her wedding!

We'll be reconvening on Wednesday evening to see what we want to do next. The original idea last year was to get together to see if we could play a few songs at this year's works barbecue. Ironically that was yesterday, and we didn't play - having played in front of the staff last November we didn't have anything to prove. I know that both myself a Chris the vocalist would like to move away from what we call "busking" songs into something more challenging (we'd started work on Carpet Crawlers and Romeo and Juliet), but when you have nine members it's very difficult to keep everybody happy.

Still, onwards and upwards.....


Cyberkim said...

A nine-piece band! Blimey! When you consider how much internal strife "the Police" managed with only three players, I'm not surprised that "'s very difficult to keep everybody happy".
It sounds like you had a good time though.

I know what you mean about "Stand by me". Not terribly thrilling, but it does have the virtue of allowing everyone to get settled in if you use it as an opener. You could possibly demote it to 'sound-check' when you find something better.

As for "Don't stop believing", my band have been gigging this since well before I joined and it is almost always popular with most audiences.
I found that the hardest bit to get right was the "ba-bomm" that follows the guitar arpeggio crescendo, leading into the second verse. The drummer and I couldn't seem to get it synchronised at all, so for ages it was all a bit like Corporal Jones from 'Dad's Army'.

Jon Sandys said...

I don't think we get the "ba-boom" quite right, but it's drowned out by a splash cymbal, so you'd never know.

It's a tactic our drummer uses a lot. ;-)