It's been a busy few days music-wise. Kicking off with a floorspot on Sunday at The Horn in St. Albans. I must confess I certainly wasn't "feeling it" that day, perhaps Dr. Evil had gone back in time and stolen my Mowww-Jowww... or perhaps I was just in a bad mood. I played okay (I think), but the evening was kinda subdued, and to cap it all the train home was 45 minutes late... harumph!
Moving swiftly on. Wednesday brought a debut performance at The Castle in Portobello Road. I was amongst friends as the outlaw Robert James and the wonderfully witty Wayne Myers were hosting and performing respectively. The Castle is a lovely pub with a friendly atmosphere. It has plenty of people to play to (as opposed to some open mic nights, where you are only playing to other performers!) but the downside is the high volume of background noise (ie chat), but I don't mind that. I feel it's my job to entertain and get the attention of the audience, and if that fails, at least enjoy yourself and that might rub off on a few people.
Robert James opened and in a worrying omen managed to break a string. I was next on, so after a slight haitus I kicked off. I played I Need Your Love, Minneapolis, Tomorrow, Vulnerable, Lullabies and Do You Want To Dance? And it went down pretty good. I was encouraged by people watching and nodding their heads in time, and I grew in confidence as the set went on. Set done I relaxed at the bar, well for a moment or two anyway. The string breaking maladies continued as Wayne broke one of his. As my guitar was tuned and ready to go, I quickly loaned it to him and he was able to finish off in good form. He's a very good player and it was great to get a chance to hear my guitar from the punter's point of view. I was pleased to hear it sounded great!
Wayne, Frog Morris and myself then had a suitably jolly remainder of the evening, when much alcohol was consumed and we enjoyed all the other acts. Robert James (guitar re-strung) was a rousing finish to the night. I shall be back, and I thoroughly recommend the Wednesday nights there. Great fun and great entertainment. Thanks for coming Frog!
Somehow in all the frivolity I managed to sign myself up for a return visit to Edwards! Rob was the host again and a mixture of pre-booked and floorspot acts performed. The standard, I have to say, was very high and all the turns played well. In fact as my spot approached and then was put back I was nervous about playing, and considered sneaking out. In the end I managed to stay sober and performed with gusto. It's a truism that a good performer will encourage the others on the bill and it certainly seemed true that everyone was trying very hard and, for the most part, succeeding. During my performance a chap sitting to my left added some percussion which sounded great. It made Vulnerable slightly challenging as I tend to vary the speed quite a bit, although it works very well with a fixed beat too, I think it was one of my best performances of this song. In fact it was quite a night for percussionists as the worlds saddest percussionist in a red top accompanied a couple of other acts. It's a highlight of Rob's performances that he passes out percussion instruments and encourages the audience and performers to join in. This tends to make for a rousing night, even if occasionally the song finishes only for the percussionist to continue on oblivious to everything!
It was hard work doing two gigs in two days and I came off sweating, but very happy. My guitar's work wasn't finished though, as one act had come without a guitar (who does that!!) so I loaned mine out again. The evening climaxed with more stomping, slapping, strumming and howling (and in Wayne's case self-harm as he preceeded to bash himself all over with a shell covered shaker). You really must check out Robert James some time if you are able, as he's a real performer who can make two hours worth of other (good to very good) acts seem entirely pedestrian. I'm looking forward to the next one already!
P.S. There were way too many other excellent acts to mention here, but if I was to pick one other out then do check out Mike Davies an excellent blues guitarist/singer. He only got one song, but he made the most of it.
P.P.S. The photos are Robert James at The Castle (top) and Wayne Myers at The Castle (playing my guitar, bottom)