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So it looks like we're going the full whack bidding on this house we want, some two roads away from us here in leafy East Dulwich. I say leafy because the streets are full of the blighters; Autumnal and golden; sodden in the rain and adhering to cars, pavements, walls, and shoe-soles. Our golden October has extended somewhat: and this part of London has only today turned chill, with small but noticeable bite in the air. Keats' season, or Eliot's season, it is its own thing, but yet also harbinger of winter. And mayhap we move to a bigger house in the New Year.

Plans for Christmas. Somehow to include the Mother.
Seeing the New Year in at Hackness with Fra and Cressy et al.

In the meantime, I had a gig with the 'Wedding Band' on Friday.
Orchardleigh House in Somerset.

I took my new Line 6 Pod X3 Live out for its first live airing. I knew that this was going to be an interesting test because:

1) The nature of the venue (pretty small room) and
2) The set-up requirements (set up between meals) and
3) Costs (cheapo gig, bid because we weren't getting much work when it was booked)

Ergo, we went minus a PA and engineer. Jane had bought an interesting bit of kit: one Bose L1 Model II PA for the vocals and sax. The band had to rely on their backline apart from Martin, the drummer and our leader, who played acoustically, and could still have overwhelmed the backline and PA at any point he chose. Dexterity and taste from the recognised beast in the band (it's in the job description: drummer - ride motorcycle through hotel bedroom window into swimming pool - ask anyone who's ever been in a band) is not expected, but with Martin....well, he's just too damn good to let a cliche overwhelm him, however much fun it may be to do so.  I'm going to start calling him 'The Colonel' though in fact he's much more like a perfect Adjutant: his organisational and motivational skills have kept the Wedding Band in work and getting to and from venues for almost twenty years. It wouldn't work without him, and this stripped-down-system experiment was his call.

Got to say it was a bit good, actually.

Jane's piece of kit worked really well in the small space. We all turned down: I could get decent sounds at listenable volumes with the POD, though without some of the more interesting programming I had done for the GNX3. Such is. Good and usable sounds nevertheless.

My ongoing wrestling with EVH's 'Beat it' solo continued with mixed results.

We sight-read, first time played without rehearsal, 'I've got you under my skin'. Which I should have known; but most published versions are in Fm; Frank S did it in Ebmin, and I'm too occasional a player and arranger these day to transpose easily in my head. As an aside I used to have a guitar in my hands for four-to-six hours a day every day, and kept musical arrangements in my head like I had previously (in another life in a decade or more before) kept bridge hands. These last four or five years have left me rusty beyond embarrassment. And it's not going to change. And I'm not certain how bothered about it all I am anyway.

So some small wins then.

Today we went to the Whisky Exchange and I bought a brace of Ardbeg's Airigh Nam Beist and a single cask they decanted from the barrel into a 40cl bottle for me called 'Ord Mor' ABV 62.5%. I've had this one before last month, and so it must be coming to the end of the barrel. I almost bought a brace of them too, but the three bottles were already hitting my wallet to the tune of £170-(mumble)-odd. I can only drink one of the Beists as the other one is to keep for twenty-one-odd years, give or take however many months.

So, another small win there too.

Scored the tiniest amount of weed for high-days and holidays, but actually feel no need to smoke it regularly.

Blimey, it's wins all round: of expensive kinds, admittedly.

Now comes the biggest test of all: the scan. Fingers crossed. Let's hope our luck is holding....
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The function band have a gig on the 17th of July. When I will be in Portugal. Apparently the gig has been on the FB's books since March, though I didn't receive the notification, or if I did, it completely passed me by for some reason. I'll have to find a dep, but it doesn't look too good at present.

Doghouse here I come.
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Up at 6am on Friday morning. The boss and Frankie turned up in the people carrier at 8am. Mark (bassist) was on time, Nicki (sax) was late....then realised she had forgotten her passport. After a small detour to retrieve aforementioned passport, we headed for the chunnel. We arrived at the terminal at about 10.30am. Delays abounded and it was 2.20pm before we actually embarked. Through the tunnel and then Martin (drums and our leader) drove solidly for some four hours to get us to the venue, which was a farmhouse somewhere on the Le Mans circuit, where we had just enough time to set up, change, and eat, before we went onstage. Three songs into the first set my amp blew up.

Now as an aside, my Fender Blues Deluxe, though a wonderful sounding beast, ain't exactly the most reliable amp I've ever owned, but it is a damn sight more portable than either my Marshall half-stack or even my blackface 'twin'.

So I called the soundguy over and asked him if he had a direct box, into which I plugged my Digitech GNX3, and used one of the stage monitors as a surrogate amp. It took less than a verse and a chorus to reconfigure and get a proper sound together. Good job from the soundman.

Difficult gig, and not because of blown amp. Too many chaps of a certain age not interested in dancing at all: which rather makes a dance band redundant. However, by the end of the second set we managed to get a few of them moving, so all not lost there.

We got offstage by midnight, local time, and packed up and then started drinking.

All stayed in different B & B's in local villages, then back to the farmhouse for breakfast the next morning. We left to try to reach the tunnel for 3.30pm. Back home by Saturday evening.

So, today I picked up the Fender Blues Deluxe from the soundman and took it to Dickinson Amplification, in Crystal Palace. Now I knew Jon Dickinson when he worked in Tin Pan Alley, so we bantered a bit about old chums and then I asked about the possibility of customising the Blues Deluxe. We looked at various options, including a hand rebuild on a point-to-point hand-wired board. Then I tried a single channel, volume knob only, 45W 2x12 he had built some weeks ago as a prototype.

The upshot of all this is I've got him to fix the Blues Deluxe, and I've got to try to persuade SWMBO that we have enough room to store the 2x12. Now I'm going to get myself a new floorpod from Line6, and I'm rather hoping that set-up will be pretty bulletproof. Fingers crossed.

Le Mans

Jun. 9th, 2010 07:29 pm
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Amp, second guitar, stands etc. going in the PA van. Taking my no.1 strat, fx, and cable-bag in the band bus. Leave early on Friday morning. A couple of new songs to learn. No set list as yet, which would enable me to put my 'book' in running order: oh well. Gig Friday evening. This is going to be one long day. Been trying to practice and my hands ache. Really not match-fit. Bleurgh! Tomorrow looks like a complete lock out until I've learned these newbies. Bugger.

We won't stay for the race: too many of us have too many things to do, and I'm uxorious enough, despite the normal levels of rock 'n' roll sleaziness endemic to many of my calling, to prefer being at home with SWMBO.

Gods, I grow old....I grow old,
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled...
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It appears we're playing at the Aston Martin hospitality bash in Le Mans, at the 24 hour race next month. Should be a bit of a laugh.

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