Monday, July 17, 2006

Pirates!

If you've read any of my other blogs about recent gigs, you'll have noticed they have had a slightly bizarre twist. Well, this Saturday was no exception.

The first issue was that for the first time we were just a three piece - no melody instrument. Me on bass, P on guitar and singing, Baz on drums. OK, no worries, we'd get there - just all have to sing a lot more.

P relies on me to provide the set list - I have a big book and a list, and I yell things out and we pick a key and do them. This year I chose, at about the fourth number in, 'The Pirate Song'. I had heard (from P's children) that this was a good song, but P had always refused to sing it. No escape this time!

She lined up some willing volunteers in front of the stage (participation number folks) and then started to sing what turned out to be a song for the under fives. In other words, at this Medieval Fair, it was perfectly pitched! They did the actions, sang the song and loved it.

Baz squeaked at me 'Never again!!!' Shut up and hit those drums man. I'm busy slipping sweatily up and down the neck of my stand up bass and if I'm lucky I'll hit a decent note soon.

P was exhausted having worked all day at the show running some kind of on-site facilities (she told me she was not on toilet duty, which was a relief... har har). But she sang beautifully as usual, and the gig was going fine. The stallholders were getting rowdy (they say they drink mead because they like it - I'm not so sure). They were still in costume and probably getting more medieval by the minute (it was HOT and natural wool fabric hose can get pretty warm I'm sure).

Then - as darkness gently fell across the fenland airfield, and our open sided marquee filled with mildly inebriated knights, monks and maidens, the pirates arrived. About six or seven, in full pirate gear. One waved his pair of muskets at us yelling 'SING US THE PIRATE SONG...' having been told he'd missed it. But no way - it was now far too late (in so many ways).

So picture this - three of us on stage, about 50 tired and slightly drunk East Anglians, Stall Holders, Medieval Re-enactors and a bunch of Pirates. Oh yes, and one bright green leprechaun with orange hair.

As the night ran on we played on - singing everything from traditional folk songs, Ps own material, to Jimmy Cliff and Elvis. I kind of went a bit mad when it came to Blue Suede Shoes - Baz looked at me in amazement having never heard my (usually soft and very folksy) voice belting out a raucous and rough Rock'n'Roller. Ah - what he doesn't know about me - that's a whole other blog!

Then one of the monks (yes, there was more than one) decided to climb the tent pole. 20 foot up, and he clambered up agile as a ship's monkey (aharrr me hearties). Not to be outdone, another chap climbed up the opposite pole, and at the top detatched his wooden leg. Now he SHOULD have been dressed as a pirate (but wasn't).

The great relief for us was that tonight we could stop at 11 because our medieval music pals, Schelmish, were booked to play after us. So, following slightly jazzy folk/rock/whoknowswhat us, was this bunch of 8 large (well mostly) very noisy Germans. They are terrific - http://www.schelmish.de/ - run around half naked, dressed in leather with the most ludicrous shoes, playing enormous bagpipes and many, many noisy percussion things. They were great! We had fun watching them as well as playing.

I was very brave and asked one pirate (in the most amazing full length leather frock coat, with tricorn and some rather strange looking false fangs - not quite sure if pirates were vampires or not but at that stage I didn't really care): "Why Pirates?"

His answer was simple: "Because Pirates are cool." Turns out he bought the coat at a German Gamers Convention for about 160 Euros. I kind of wandered off then, not just because of his wife and very large Wolf Hound, but because I was worried he'd start to tell me all about the Gaming....

But for me the evening was over, and once I'd collected my share of filthy lucre (paid in English Pounds, not Pieces of Eight alas) I donned my rather daft black leather hat (only to fit in you understand, only to fit in), and tootled home.

On my return B told me of his gig somewhere near Southampton. It had gone well but the event had put two stages back to back so whilst his acoustic quartet played lovely music, they were overwhelmed by the backwash of recorded music played very loud whilst colourfully dressed youngsters gave their interpretation of 'Riverdance'.

I still think I win on the weird gig stakes though. Bet there weren't any Pirates at HIS gig.
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