Tuesday, May 01, 2007

My gigs seem to get stranger by the minute...

Well, week after we got back from Ireland, Bryan was ill so I stood in for him on a Sunday night gig in Cambridgeshire. Now, that's a big county as you may or may not know - but this one was near Pondersbridge between Peterborough and Ramsey. In an area known as 'the Fens'. The fens are big, flat, and pretty (in a desolate, agricultural sort of way).

It's spring, so the fields are yellow with rape, and the air full of its cloying scent. As Penni and I drove... and drove... to reach the village of Pondersbridge we could feel our throats closing with the thick aroma and pollen of this ghastly, but no doubt financially rewarding, crop.

We hit Pondersbridge and had to phone Richard, who'd booked us for a 'pub folk night' because we couldn't find the pub on this Roman straight road. Ah, turn right towards Peterborough, and about two miles... in the middle of the middle of nowhere. An enormous pub! Huge grounds, marquees in the garden, bouncy caste (oh no... we're not playing in there are we? Visions of the spike on my stand up bass....) and a big old roadside coaching inn type building.

Around us was nothing but huge open expanses of field after field - some yellow, some chocolate brown, some green. The birds sang, the sun sank slowly in the sky - you could see for miles and miles.

We met up with Richard, his wife Bridget, Mari and Tony. The four of them are in a band and Penni and I (yeah yeah, I know it was supposed to be Bryan, but they got me!) as 'support'. We went in and met the landlord. Richard had arranged everything with him, and we were in a nice room just off the main bar (next to the dessert display cabinet ... lemon cake, chocolate gateaux... mmm.....). Penni and I had filled up on chocolate raisins on the journey there - but supper looked like it might be fun later.

Not many audience (er, is the singular of audience 'audient'?), but a couple turned up who'd seen an advert in the paper, so we started off. Penni and I played OK - our Irish 'rehearsal' came in useful (we don't normally play together). We sang some, and a few more people came in (wow, six!). The landlord came in, smiling and obviously enjoying the music (if not the lack of paying customers).

After we'd done our stint, Richard's band went on. They rehearse every week - Tony on his whistles and flutes, Mari on her bodhran, Bridget and Richard singing (with Richard on guitars as well). They did some lovely tunes, but then it went a little bit awry. Tony told me later that Richard had, in his impromptu way, changed the set at the last minute. They didn't like that. But it sounded OK, and the audience enjoyed it.

Then Richard asked Penni and myself to join in, so we had six of us on stage - matching the six in the audience. If one of them left there'd be more of us than them... Adding the bass and Penni's powerful rhythm guitar lifted the evening and we had some fun. We did another unaccompanied version of 'I guess it doesn't matter' with Richard adding a third (and sometimes very peculiar and at other times wonderful) harmony.

We played through till 10.30 - Sunday after all - and the landlord kindly paid us and we wended our way home. Supper? We finished off the rasins on the journey home.

Another odd gig. Not quite as bizarre as some, but certainly odd.
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