The trio has started the autumn campaign in style. We've been back in Fortress Studio continuing work on the second album. And when we haven't been doing that we've been out and about playing a string of really neat shows. We went back to the Boom Boom Club in Sutton with the evercool Rollin' Stoned. Then to The Miller, a welcoming upstairs room near London Bridge. Lovely PA equipment in there, good crowd, a great sound, and the final resting place of George's long jacket. He's got a new one now - on trial. The shades are still in place, natch! Then we hooked up with Ruthless Blues for a splendid show at The Music Palace, a new venue in Crouch End. Michel (Brian Jones) from the Stoned was in the house to case the joint for their forthcoming show at the same venue. And it was Marilyn's birthday, so trebles all round! Then, last night we sat in at an open mic night at the Cardinal Wolsey in Hampton Court.
That was an eye-opener. We haven't done anything like it since our first public appearance in January 2006, when we gatecrashed a soft-rock/acoustic troubadour-type get-together at a tourists' bar in Covent Garden. This time we found ourselves among the worshippers at a suburban temple dedicated to the blues, the whole blues and nothing but the blues. Thank God for Eight Rounds Later
, our ever-dependable homage to Chuck Berry, and the only genuine 12-bar in our set. We hammered that one out straight away and got an amazing cheer - then followed it up with a swift one-two combination of London Dust
(inc. big solo!) and Going To Do Something
. Home and dry.
But this blues thing....! The Cardinal Wolsey is part of a thriving circuit in which an audience inclusive of all age groups gathers to hear live music - which is great. But it is live music of a highly specific type, comprised mostly of three basic chords and innumerable, anything-but-basic guitar solos. There is an approved repertoire of songs which must be cover versions, and generally-speaking the older and more familiar these are, the better. So we heard Going Down
and Going Down Slow
and Little Wing
and Long Train Running
and Honky Tonk Women
and many more. We had a chat with Tony the organiser afterwards. He's an experienced drummer himself and he knows the ropes. He explained that in order even to get started on this circuit you have to play long sets, stuffed with standards and covers. Otherwise, forget it. We were the only people from start to finish, at the session, who ventured an original song. Our mini-set went down great and we are welcome to go and do it again. Just don't expect anyone to book us until we can muster a passable imitation of Hendrix, Clapton or Stevie Ray Vaughan or preferably all three. Fair enough. It's a buyer's market and that's what they're buying.
So how exactly is a boy fronting the snappiest guitar trio in West London supposed to get on? I'll tell ya.
The second album - which I'm calling Trio
for the time being - is now taking firm shape. We have just about finished all the recording, and have got some time booked with Gareth to start the mixing next month. It is a big step forward from Hey
, with songs which speak to a much wider musical and emotional range - from a scorched-earth rocker called Feedback
to our first ballad(s).
Oh and did I mention we are about to sign a deal with an American record company? I'm just going over the contracts now. How exciting is that? It's Very Exciting Indeed!!! I'll spill all the details once it's done and dusted. But I can tell you right now that they have not asked us to record Stormy Monday Blues
or Hoochie Coochie Man