A week of highs and lows, well I suppose that's the way life goes when you are a blues
musician! A busy week though!
Last Friday we had the pleasure to share the bill with American artist Crosby Tyler,
we in this case was Walker Broad. That is Sandy Walker on piano vocals and myself
(Andy Broad) on guitar and the odd vocal as well. The gig was in the back room of the
R.M.A. Tavern (often referred to as The Gun Room) it's an intimate venue seating
about 40 with a nice little stage (with Red Velvet Curtains!) and a simple warm
sounding in house P.A. It was a perfect occasion to try out the new set on a listening
audience. The set is a 70% originals with a couple of well chosen covers / standards,
our folky blend of blues and jazz went down well.
Saturday found Burnt Ice in the newly reopened Fawcett Inn in Southsea. We did this one as a
three piece as Martin was in Sweden and Chris had a prior booking. The pub has
been cleaned up somewhat from the 'previous version' and a had good size stage area
and the three piece achieved a good solid sound. We weren't sure what to expect
audience wise and in the end it was quieter than we would have liked, though by no
means empty, it seems that many people were heading straight passed the pub on
there way to Halloween parties on Albert Road. We got a very positive vibe from the
new landlord and landlady though and look forward to it developing over time...
Monday found me back in The Gun Room @ the R.M.A Tavern to man the door for the
Kent DuChaine gig. Kent is a great performer who I've worked with many times and
never fails to give a great show. We had done a few ticket sakes on-line so I was
feeling optimistic, however it was not to be! Unbelievably there was almost no walk-
up and the end total reached only nine, yes nine! Usually we do three or four times
more walk-up than on-line sales for this type of gig. For Kent who usually draws
around 70 at Bullfrog gigs this was unbelievable! Kent went on and did a great gig,
leaving nothing out and playing just as well as he would have to 90, a great tribute to
his talent and professionalism. It was a last minute booking, a Monday night a
different venue to usual but you still have to wonder what is going on in the world...
Dan At His Informal Session
Tuesday was yet another gig at the R.M.A. this time in the front bar with Walker Broad
. Dan Ogus was running "an informal session" of acoustic music and had asked
to join him for the evening. Also playing was Dave Auton, Ade Cull, Glen Malo and
Dan Ogus himself. It was a very enjoyable evening with a great range of music mostly
played acoustic literally unplugged (although our set was plugged in to balance the
acoustic with the piano...) Look forward to more of these the next is on November
16th I understand.
Oh I forgot about the guitar lesson I gave on Monday! My new student Gavin is
showing promise and is happy to go with my more philosophical non spoon feeding
approach to teach finger style blues, I'll write more about that in another blog later,
also think of making a guitar lesson video...
The Juke Joints
Thursday brought the Bullfrog at the Pier. The guests this month were The Juke Joints
from Holland, they had last played the Bullfrog in 2003 and I new them to be a
great act, however after Monday's turnout for Kent DuChaine I was feeling
optimistic, JR had given them the option to pull out as it was their only UK gig of the
tour, but they wanted to go for it, more power to them! They are great blues band
with a full on sound, fronted by the drummer who sets his kit up on a portable
podium at the front of the stage, all the musicians are top quality, the harmonica
player doubles on cajun style squeeze box for a few numbers. well this time my
pessimism was proved wrong! We had nearly 50 in not a huge audience admittedly
but enough to give an atmosphere and to pay a reasonable amount to the band, they
had come a long way! Their faith in them selves was justified! I have to say though
the pier itself is slowly falling apart it's a great shame that such a fine resource is not
better maintained. I think the Bullfrog is going to have to move venues to survive as
more and more people are put of by walking past smelly bins, no lighting, etc.
Obviously it's JR's decision, but I know he is investigating options. Good things could
be happening next year!
Stage Set Up at Milkwood Jam
Friday the 5th. was Blue Graffiti
at The MilkwoodJam
in Swansea. We had been
booked for this one a few weeks back, one of their first Friday blues nights as I
understand it (traditionally they had blues on Tuesdays) I'd enquired after the gig
after noticing that Dave Acari was playing there, I knew we would be compatable
with an audience who liked Dave. We got a little worried just before the gig as up till
the week before everything had been going well communications wise but suddenly I
couldn't get in touch to confirm sound check times PA requirements etc. But it all came
good at the last minute, emails suddenly got through, correct telephone numbers
communicated etc. So we set off with great enthusiasm it was a three hour drive
about 200 miles so we left plenty of time for problems. And what a journey it start
drizzling just out of Portsmouth, then it just got worse and worse, some moments we
could hardly see! There were accidents traffic jams all sorts! Chris kept me
entertained with anecdotes about his former life in Wales and the sites would could
have been seeing if the weather wasn't so awful! We stopped off in Porthcawl for a
cuppa at Chris' dads, then made it on to Swansea, the satnav confused me complete
referring to non existing roundabouts and telling us to turn into one way streets the
wrong way, but we got there in plenty of time for the get in. In fact we beat the
owners there :-) The venue is wonderful really nice room, great PA system, Carol, &
Rich were really friendly. We got a great sound in the check, the dressing room was
really nice with fruit bowl tea and coffee etc. All seemed to be going well. The bubble
was burst by the turnout it was disappointing to say the least, but taking a leaf from
Kent DuChaine's book I was determined to give a good show anyway and we went on
a played a strong acoustic set. It well received by those that were there and every
single one of them bought a CD and got us to sign it. Lets hope they spread the word.
It's hard to work out why gigs like this go wrong, it hadn't made the venue website,
but on the other hand plenty of posters went up. and they had had CD to play on the
previous weeks. Maybe it was the weather? It was fireworks night as well so maybe
people were otherwise booked who knows? All I know is next time it will be better!
There are always ups and downs in this business but in the words of Muddy Waters
"I love the life I live, I live the life I love" so I just keep going and know people will
join me when I get there...