‘What are your influences? I’ve never heard anything like it.’ a guitarist called Andy said to me on Thursday night. I took this as a compliment. There was definitely not a look of fear in his eyes.
In the last seven days I’ve played two gigs.
Two? Two in seven days? I hardly ever play gigs, what’s going on?
It just so happened I was asked. Ever now and then I put a few feelers out to find gigs, but my main policy on gigging is that if someone asks I say yes, and apart from that I don’t really gig.
Why is that? Don’t musicians want to perform?
Yes, I love performing I would happily do it a lot more. But music is not my full time gig and I am committed to only doing musical things that bring me joy, given I don’t have bags of time to commit to it. At the start of 2022 I put a lot of effort into trying to find gigs. The result of that was I ended up with about 15 gigs in the diary for the first 6 months of the year, all but two of which never actually happened.
All right, it was bad timing. We were only just coming out of Covid, things were in flux, ticket sales were hard to predict. But that was an awful lot of time and effort spent on admin that could have been spent on new music.
So, for the moment we are back to my main gig policy. Do ’em if someone asks!
And that’s how I ended up playing the two gigs I did this week. Chris Parkins off’f London Prog Gigs asked if I wanted to support IT at the Camden Club, and Steve Jones (who I had contacted back in early 2022 during that rare bout of gig admin) who promotes Corn on the Cob, a acousticy, Americana ish night at The Hertford Corn Exchange.
The Camden Club is a new venue in an old building, having opened about 6 months ago. It is, it might shock you to know, in Camden, in that London.
The gig was a very civilised Sunday afternoon affair, with me opening followed by instrumental prog outfit Pandamoanium and the aforementioned prog ROCKers IT. I like IT, particularly because unlike a great many prog rock outfits, they don’t ignore the second half of that genre name and are happy to actually rock every now and then.
Pandamoanium were also lots of fun, great players with to my ear a bit of an Iron Maiden influence in chord and mode choices. Although that double-neck guitar had far too many strings. You don’t need that many.
My set was a mix of new and old – two songs off this year’s subscribers EP The Beast and Mr Knock plus a couple of brand new songs from the acoustic project I’m currently working on, including There’s Nothing You Can’t Buy. Here’s a video of that:
This was a great gig and being a prog crowd my weird stuff kinda fit in. No-one thinks you’re weird for playing songs in odd metres at a prog gig.
Corn on the Cob was also a great gig, but I was definitely more of a fish out of water there. I was part of the first act, which was a songwriters round – three acts on stage, playing one song each. I hadn’t done that before and I really enjoyed it. I was on stage with Pete Crossley, and Kate Ellis and playing right next to two other completely different songwriters was a nice contrast.
Now you may know, I like to get a bit of laughter from the audience between songs. I regard laughter as an appropriate reaction to the world cos let’s face it nothing really makes sense and being all serious about stuff is, well, unrealistic and a bit adolescent. So I introduced my silly songs in the way I usually do – this one’s about a brain in a jar, this one’s about evil clowns. And a few people laughed, a few people smiled. I think I got the right reaction.
Hard to tell isn’t it? I mean people laugh cos they think something’s funny. but they also laugh when they’re nervous or scared.
It was probably fine.
But then Andy, Kate Ellis’s guitar player did ask what my influences were as he hadn’t heard anything like it before, and there might have been a bit of fear in his eye. Hard to tell.
I’m sure it was fine…