Friday, 14 March 2014

Birth of a Band 11

In all the bands I have been in over the past 35 years, I have never known anyone like Nige for getting gigs. I came to describe him as a ‘ferocious gig getter’. And he is. His determination and conviction, thick skin (and you need it as any salesman will tell you) and immunity to the concerns of venue owners and managers are second to none.

Thus my getting a £400 gig sent him into something of a frenzy. By June 20th he had come up with a gig in Devon and was negotiating £800 plus accommodation. Impressive.

Unfortunately, at the first mention of this, Angus announced that he couldn’t make it and George said it was ‘a bit far’. £800 and a bed?! Even as a four piece (which we were still exclusively) this was worth it. I would have dropped my mum to do it.

Next came an outdoor event in Basingstoke, then an emergency gig, found and (to be) performed on the 22nd – this time it was me that couldn’t make it. Then a gig in Hayes (at The Old Crown). It was impressive to see – and anything that came in at under £250 he apologised for!

On June 28th we had a gig at the Golden Retriever in Bracknell. It was the pub’s tenth birthday, so they had a whole weekend of barbecues and bands – all outside…

This is England, of course, so on this particular June 28th, it was bloody freezing! The band was to set up in a sort of gazebo on decking. I swear there was ice, water and algae on this decking and any sort of foot movement brought with it the risk of breaking a bone somewhere where the body might strike the ground in a fall!

What was important about this gig, however, was not the risk of fractures or hypothermia, but the fact that this was the first time Custard Cream had gigged as a trio.

Without George, there were a handful of songs we couldn’t perform, which, owing to our being a little short on material anyway, left us a good 45 minutes short of a gig. So we jammed it. Songs such as Spoonful, Voodoo Chile and Roadhouse Blues came out at ten minutes plus, and blues numbers such as Red House and Worried Life also benefited (is that the right word) from highly extended instrumentals.

It is hard to tell how we went down, as the ‘audience’ were all behind a hedge in the secondary seating area. (We were still very loud at this time.) Despite this, everyone we saw complimented us on an enjoyable gig – and we had an absolute blast!

All my life I have been wanting to be part of a band that would be happy to just jam on a theme – and here it was. A bit rough at the edges, sure, but again, for me, that was a big part of the appeal. The next gig we played (my mate Chris’ 50th birthday party) gave us the chance as a four-piece to expand our arrangements into the free form – and this time it really did go down a treat. There was a lot of congratulations from people whose opinions I hold dear. In short, we were damned good. We knew it and those that heard us play knew it, too.

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