Free Gig

Last year I wrote about Neil Grant, a mate with whom I was fortunate to share the stage on many occasions and who sadly passed away far too early. This is the post. 

Tomorrow night, we’re playing a memorial gig for him at The Vault, Wind Street, Swansea. You are all welcome – even those of you from foreign parts. It will be a great night as all of his former band mates are turning up and in addition to the three bands playing, I’m sure there’ll be jams and guest appearances. It’ll be a sad night too, as Neil won’t be adding his unique sound (and unique lyrics) to the set.

At the request of Neil’s widow, we will be collecting for The Stroke Association.

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Man Porn

Haha! Three thousand extra hits already, thanks to my clever title, and I’ve only just started typing this blog post. The power of search engines and that four letter word!

So, we all know what porn is. Don’t we? (If not there are a number of good, and not so good, sites on the Internet that will help explain it to you). But what about Man Porn? Well, depending on his (or her – Man Porn is gender neutral despite the title) particular interests it could be a car, lorry, train, plane, yacht, oven or vacuum cleaner (I knew someone for whom a particular vacuum cleaner was an object of slightly more than desire). And most importantly, I am not here to judge. It matters not what your particular ‘thing’ is. We are all adult and the world is free so unless you are causing harm or suffering (in which case, shame on you), be happy with, and celebrate, your particular item of Man Porn.

This post started because I’ve started working on my bathroom again and noticed that I had three power tools and lots of accessories for them, and all of it was strewn around the floor. It struck me that power tools were probably a form of Man Porn for some. I actually don’t like them but I appreciate them for the labour saving devices they are. I have the same approach to computers. I don’t really understand them but they do what I want them to do (for the most part) and they have an off switch.

I shall bare my soul to you now and reveal my objects of desire. Those who have read previous posts may be able to guess at some of them.

Cameras. Well, technically, any nice bit of photographic equipment really. A camera just does what you tell it to do and records what it sees in front of it. Nothing more. So how can it be an object of desire? I guess it’s a combination of look, how it feels in the hands (let’s be clear – size does not matter, okay?) and the satisfying clunk of the shutter. Interestingly, although the quality of the final image is important for photography, it doesn’t count on the Man Porn scale. I have several cameras and they are tools. I have one or two that are more than tools. They look nice, feel comfortable in the hand and they inspire me to take a particular kind of photograph. In the case of the DSLR, it’s the combination of lens and camera that works for me.

Musical Instruments. Guitars, actually, although I can well understand how someone would feel about an antique violin or piano. I find it hard to think of a modern keyboard as an object of desire and I’m not sure why. My first thought was that it was to do with the organic feel of a guitar made of wood, but that’s not it – the cameras I hold in high esteem are all metal, glass and electronics. So it must be look and feel – sensory stuff. My all time favourite guitar has been and remains the Gibson Les Paul. I love the shape and curves and the weighty feel. It had a fabulous smell of glue and wood. I owned one for several years and it made me learn to play better. I like the bass guitar I play in the band at the moment, an inexpensive Ibanez I got second hand. It’s rapidly becoming an object of desire, so it’s not monetary value, either.

Cars don’t do it for me, although I can appreciate a good looking vehicle. Neither do planes, bikes or boats, although the yachts racing for the America’s Cup this week are pretty cool. I don’t want one, though. It wouldn’t fit on the pond in the back garden.

So, what is your Man Porn?

Prepare for some Man Porn in the photos below.

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This and that

What do you do with a week off and doctors orders to rest?

Today, I spent the first part of the morning doing mundane shopping things and paying in my insurance claim cheque. I was very pleasantly surprised at the speed and efficiency with which my claim was dealt with – thank you Direct Group. My heart usually drops at the thought of dealing with this kind of thing – last time it was a claim for damage to my car by someone trying to park where I was parked. It took the best part of a week of phone calls to sort out and in the end I did most of the arranging rather than the third party company engaged to do it on behalf of the insurance company.

Back home, I was out in the garden taking some portraits of the local Garden Spider when I saw a bit of a life and death struggle between a daddy Long Legs and a smaller spider. In the end, the Daddy Long Legs broke free of the web and escaped and I was secretly pleased. I know it’s all part of nature but it doesn’t mean to say I have to like it.

Then, for the rest of the afternoon, I was going though and editing video taken at last night’s band rehearsal. Rehearsals are so rare these days that when one comes along, I always try and record it in some way. I took a video camera last night and managed to catch the whole of ‘I wouldn’t believe your radio’, a Stereophonics song we’re putting in the set. It has ended up on YouTube  although there is some clever editing to make it look as if I’m playing – in fact, I was videoing and if you listen carefully, there’s no bass guitar on the soundtrack.

Last day of the holidays tomorrow – not plans as yet but I’m expecting rain.

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Gurgle

This time, the phone call came on a Friday. I was in the gym, working up a sweat (it was hot in there) but I managed to answer the phone. It was Stuey.

“Mumble mumble mumble gig mumble mumble Sunday.”

Maroon5 were blasting away in the background. They were moving like Jagger. I was moving like Jagger’s granddad on some machinery of torture.

“What?”

“Mumble mumble move like Jagger.”

“Stuey, are you okay?”

“Can you play on Sunday?”

“Yes. Where, when, what… Stuey, are you there?”

He rang again on Saturday. I missed the call but managed to get a message to say it wasn’t that Sunday but the following one – yesterday. I had another call to say it was at the Gelli Aur club in Grovesend. I dug out the kit and got myself ready. I didn’t bother to try and find out what songs we’d be playing. There’s no point. It won’t be the same list on the night.

Another phone call told me we would be a three piece. The same line up as The Insiders (note the s, not z) first gig at the Fleur de Lys club in 1997. The classic line up. I was looking forward to it.

On the day, I headed out for the club only to find it had changed it’s name. In the confusion, I sailed past and it took a little while to find a place to turn around. By the time I got there, the others had set up. I quickly got the gear in and started to tune up. I looked around.

“Stuey, what time are we starting?”

His reply of “Heroes in E, one… two… three… four…” was not the one I was hoping for. Luckily, I know Heroes well and was able to start on cue. Luckily the bass was in tune. Luckily, the amp and speakers were working properly. I noted a microphone in front of me, too. I hadn’t sung with the band for several years. Some would say I had never sung with the band and only made odd, vaguely musical sounds.

After the first couple of songs, it felt natural, as if we’d always been playing together. Chris is a loud drummer, but he has a great sound from the kit and his harmonies are spot on. It was reassuring to have that familiar sound behind me. For the songs I hadn’t played before, I could see Stuey’s fingers on the fretboard and I could figure out what he was playing. We had dancers up from pretty much the start and that always helps. I found I was enjoying myself.

The second half was better, apart from when Stuey went in to ‘I Predict a Riot’. I know and like the song but I haven’t played it for five years or more. I fumbled through the crib book of chords but couldn’t find it. By the time I’d located the page, we had segued into another song (I think it may have been ‘Hound Dog’). I may have played three notes of ‘Riot’. One of them may have been the right one.

It was an early finish (school in the morning) and we spent some time talking about future plans. As we always do post gig. “It’s gonna be great,” etc etc. Then we packed up again and after a 38 point turn in the car park to get my car facing the right direction, it was off home to a cup of tea and bed. Ahh, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle!

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