Friday, May 29, 2015

Organising a Gig in the Olden Days

I wonder if I've written about this before... in the early 1980s there was a whole bunch of us who had been signed to record labels and who were kicking our heels waiting for things to happen: or 'between labels', as you might tactfully say.
Lester Square and myself had started a country and western band with Mike Slocombe as our drummer; this was the band that accidentally became Helen and the Horns, but that's another story. We decided to hire the London Musician's Collective building for an evening, for the princely sum of five quid plus light bulbs (someone always seemed to have stolen them). Mike did his drum kit up as a steam train and even had cotton wool smoke coming out of it's funnel; he dressed as Casey Jones with a little navy blue cap, a red neckerchief and striped dungarees. I made a cowboy shirt out of one of McDad's old shirts dyed blue, with sewn-on fringing and pink and red embroidered roses.
We learned the Marty Robbins song Big Iron On His Hip and also played an early version of Freight Train, Truckdrivin' Girl and I think Pioneer Town, which I'd sent a demo version of to Mike that had programmed drums on it, and that he said sounded like a drum kit falling downstairs. We invited King Kurt, who were suitably rude, along to play; and Igor's Night Off who did a hilarious song called Dead Man's Gulch sung by Suzanne who had a cushion up her dress; with child, you see. Aptly, the cushion had a life of its own and worked its way out as she sang.
The Simonics played too, all dressed up in Buckskins and calling themselves The Red River Mountain Boys, shrieking and booming their way through Family Reunion and Rose Marie in an assortment of false beards, semi acoustic basses and fiddles.
Lester Square bought a barrel of rough cider and an electric frying pan. I brought sausages. the venue wasn't licensed but for a nominal fee people could buy a little raffle ticket and then eat as many sausages and drink as much rough cider as they liked. They liked!
You didn't need the internet those days to pack a place out. I still don't know how we did it: bush telegraph, I suppose. We weren't organised enough to tell the music papers or make flyers; we just talked about the idea and then we did it.
I suppose people must have phoned each other up, passed it on at Kensington Market while chatting about clothes, talked about it in the pub. With quite a large cast of characters if everyone brings their one best pal you've still got a big audience.
My abiding memory of the night is of chaos and laughing. Chaos and laughing are the best things, sometimes.

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