Sunday, June 10, 2007

The new village hall

Last night I played with the Brookfield Band - I sometimes play bass for them. Always hard work for me as they are 'dots' people, and I don't do dots. Dots means they play from the music, those black tadpoles that swim on the lines and if I study really hard, just about make some sense, but to read like words? No way, not my talent.

Thankfully, however, the chord names are under the bass cleff so I can read that and play along. I'm not the speediest reader (mostly I play by ear) but if I say the chord names out loud (quietly of course!) then I can usually bluff my way through most of the stuff. Playing with a band led by accordion is more challenging for me than melodeon. Melodeons just play in a couple of keys, accordions are free to play wherever and whatever, and thanks to Roger's interesting arrangements, quite often they do. Roger is the lead in Brookfield and the band is made up of him on accordion, a whistle player, a fiddle and bass. No fixed members, he finds who's free, who's nearest, and books whatever combination works. Oh yes, and a caller.

Last night the caller was a chap called Keith. I recognised him. I'd played with him as caller before - about ten years ago when I played with Goose & Gridiron (another dance band that I was actually a formal member of for some time). He sort of remembered me. Mind you, when Roger and Peter (recorders) turned up, Peter didn't recognise me! Well, sunglasses and a new hair colour, I guess I could forgive him.

We set up and Keith ambled up to me. He had photos in his hand. "Look." he said, and showed me a picture of me playing with Goose and Gridiron (and, unusually including Bryan) that was at least ten years old. He keeps pictures of every band he's played with!

The dance was for a village hall association - and a mighty fine village hall it was. So brand spanking new that the road up to the hall wasn't even finished and you had to drive over rough earth to start. Good thing it was a dry day. The hall was situated between two villages really close to eachother in rural Bedfordshire. About 35 miles from where I lived it wasn't a bad drive (though going through Luton and Dunstable was slow because of all the speed cameras). The hall was on a hill on the rec and in the distance I could see the Dunstable Downs. A sunny summer's day, birds singing, new grass all round, the clop of a horse as it was ridden down the main street below, the hum of distant, distant traffic. A peaceful environment.

It was a nice gig, lots of dancers, Keith doing his usual "Shhh.... shhh... listen..." every five minutes as he explained the dance, and a really nice friendly atmosphere. Fish and chips for tea, and a reasonable finish at just 11pm. That meant I was packed up and home by midnight.

People don't realise that as a musician the hard work is never the playing, its the rehearsals (OK, I never rehearse with this band, but in princple...), the travel, set up and take down of gear that are the real hard work. Playing is fun, easy (mostly, except for that darn tune with the Bb and the C# which took me by surprise), and as I was paid at the end of the night, it was a good one.
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