Tour Diary Page 2
Other notable events from 2005......
Kicking off the New Year with a couple of dates in Holland.. first at the "Blues Route" in Assen. The crowd at the Bulls-Eye gave us a great welcome and we played for nearly three hours.. new numbers include the old Little Walter tune "Blues with a Feeling" and a reworked version of our own "Bed of Nails".
The following night saw us back at one of our "homes from home".. the Cafe de Noot in Hoogland, Amersfoort with our old friend Henk Hak and a solid fan base. Thanks to everyone at both gigs for their welcoming support.
Good to play a rare date in North London when we appeared at the Green Man in Barnet. This is a dedicated music room with good stage and PA, and is being promoted by London blues rock chief Pete Feenstra. A crowd of friendly faces showed up, despite myself forgetting to contact our mailing list on this occasion.. sorry! Especially good to see ex MC Band member (you can check out but you can never leave..) "Dangerous" Dave Newman who joined us on stage for Muddy Waters' "Gypsy Woman", "Don't You Lie to Me" and "Produce Row". Plus, of course the Celebrated Walkin' Blues. Thanks Dave.
And a great night at the "Rocking the Blues" Festival in Tring, Hertfordshire (12.3.05).. good to finally work with a band I idolised in my youth.. The Yardbirds, now including Billy Boy M'skimmin, Gypie Mayo and John Idan. Always good to see "Buddy" McAlpin and our favourite Ozzie exile Gwyn Ashton. Also "Grapevine" featuring Dr Ika, a superb guitarist all the way from Georgia. the venue was sold out and all the bands gave it their best - many thanks to Derek White for his excellent organisation.
High Wycombe is still the centre of the British blues universe! Carrying on the proud tradition of the old Blues Loft (one of the country's top blues venues way back in the last century), the Red Lion is currently featuring a regular blues night every Tuesday. We had a great night there (22.3.05) and an enthusiastic crowd turned out to enjoy the music. thanks to Rupert www.rupesgigguide.co.uk for the photos.
On to The Stables at Wavendon, Milton Keynes, who welcomed us to their Bumper Bank Holiday Blues Sunday! (27.3.05) A purpose built venue to play at with great hospitality. We shared the bill with Ian Siegal, Gwyn Ashton and Marcus Malone, who all did an excellent job to a full house.
Over to Belgium for the Bierbeek Bluesd'Up Festival (2.4.05). It was, as promised, a rocking night, and we rounded off the evening with a full two hour set. Many thanks to Johan and the crew for their hospitality and general enthusiasm.
At last... a South London blues rock venue where I can get pissed and walk home from! Here's a toast to Mr. Peter Feenstra, promoter of this parish, for setting up his fine blues club at Jack Beard's drinking establishment in Tooting Broadway. We had a great gig on a sultry June evening to a reasonable crowd considering the weather. Special mention to drummer Russel Chaney filling in for Chris who played a blinder. Also good to see Mick the Jug, untouched by time and bearing gifts in the form of cassette tapes of "the legend" himself Steve Waller. Cor.
Back to Belgium for the Patersdreef Blues Festival in downtown Tielt (2.7.05) - we last played there in 1992.. thought it was time we popped back. Thanks to Franky and the guys for their organisation and hospitality. We had a great time.. really good to see so many old friends who remembered us from previous visits to Belgium, going back many years. We had a good nosh-up after the gig and retired to our Bucolic retreat De Mankeberries, a barn conversion out in the Belgian countryside, attended to by our friendly hosts Hugo and his wife. All in all an excellent trip.
Later the MC Band was back at the Bergen Jazz & Sail Festival in Holland, which we last played in 2002. Once again the town showed us great hospitality and we rocked out three raucous sets from an open air stage in the town square. "Dangerous" Dave Newman joined us for the evening with some fine harp playing, replacing the usual keyboards. Once again the evening was rounded off with the unusual delicacy of a fish roll..(eel I was told on this occasion) and another great night was concluded. Thanks to Buddy from THE YARDBIRDS crew for delivering us safely to and from the gig and to everyone at the festival for their help and hospitality.
And another great night at the Red Lion in High Wycombe (27.9.05) .. they're really taking the blues nights seriously here with some top bands booked in, and no admission fee! Get down there!
OLD BOY RETURNS TO SCENE OF THE CRIME DEPT
An unusual but very worthwhile evening when I returned to my old school, Rutlish in Merton Park, to play a number or two with a new generation of Rockin' Rutlishians, The Revival, as part of a charity concert held in aid of MAKE POVERTY HISTORY (29.9.05)
I had last walked out of those doors 40 years ago, circa 1965, muttering "free - I'm free!!" as I headed out into the wide world and my exciting new job working in a West End recording studio. (A month later I'd been kicked out of the job and was a clerk in a city office!) Anyway, returning to the old place was an amazing experience, and it was great to be joined by a couple of old school friends Pete and Ivor, for a stroll around the grounds. Memories were everywhere... There the spot where I slipped on the ice running to get to the tuck shop and broke my violin in its case! There the dreaded Gymnasium, a place to be avoided at all costs, over there the science wing.. and nobody's managed to blow it up yet! Fascinating stuff, and, as Ivor put it so succinctly "Yes, and nobody's going to hit us!"
Although I'm sure the ghost of Harry Hathaway the maths master still roams the corridors muttering "you haven't done your homework, I'll have to fetch my slipper".. However the present generation of teachers seem like a nice bunch and I was warmly welcomed as an "Old Rut". Even the head teacher stopped for a chat and I didn't have to call him sir or anything.
The concert was great with the Revival brimming with energy and enthusiasm.. the audience responding with 100% support at every stage. A varied show included everything from "Sweet Home Alabama" to Pachibel and Monthy Python songs. I contributed a version of Jimmy Rodgers' "That's All Right", and at the end of the night the show had raised £300 for MAKE POVERTY HISTORY. Congratulations to Keiron and The Revival for a job very well done - keep rockin' guys!
Blimey -not bad eh? Tis a grand life rockin' the blues. If I could just balance these books... Take care - Mick.
So you wanna be in a rock'n'roll band? You'd better be sure about that. This weekend we decided to do a two date driving tour of Germany. One date in the North and one in the South. Most people thought it was a misprint, but no, it was real.
I'd originally turned down the idea as being impractical, since the distances involved were too great, but after some reflection I decided that well, I liked the gigs and if we didn't do them now it would probably be a while before we could get back to them. And anyway, we're troopers. Right? So..
The problem was that the weekend booked for the tour turned out to start with the worst night's weather of the winter so far. When everyone else was struggling home from work and saying well Thank God we don't have to go out in THAT, we were setting out on a long overnight journey to Bremen in North Germany.
The first problem was that Dave Lennox, living in North London, found his car under four inches of snow. He then had to drive off to meet us in South London through what has been officially described as the worst traffic gridlock in London ever. Well he made it only an hour and a half late and we set off to Dover for the ferry. Fortunately the Dover road was clear, unlike the M11 where people were stuck in their cars for up to 20 hours!
The trouble began from Calais where we ran into a full scale blizzard. Even chugging along at 30 mph it was still treacherous and a car in front of us spun right off the road. There was zero visiblity and little grip on the road as we listened to the ice crunching underneath the tyres. After a couple of hours of this the road started to improve and we were able to get a reasonable speed up.. but it was disconcerting when we had to apply the brake to find our vehicle crabbing sideways across the motorway on the ice.
As we got into Northern Germany there was a spectacular sunrise.. the sun a vivid ball of fire with a vertical shaft of golden light shooting up above it. We had time to admire the sight as this is where the traffic jams began. Listening to the radio we found that just about every motorway in the area was blocked by traffic accidents, jack-knifed trucks and so on.
Eventually we made it to the club in Bremen, much later than planned, and with no time to rest up before the show. Still it was a great night and thanks to all those who turned out for it. The next day we had a full day's drive down through Germany with snowy fields on either side of the road. Fortunately the roads were clear, and our only problem was a constantly iceing up windscreen which made driving interesting, until we finally wised up and bought some de-iceing window washer like all the sensible German drivers around us were using! The club in Meidelstetten is up on a plateau which is snowy through most of the Winter, and the scenery was picturesque. The Adler welcomed us as always and it was another great night in one of our favourite "home from homes".
So the next day it only remained for us to return to Calais.. the third 500 mile drive in 60 hours! Though I have to say it was considerably brightened up by listening to the excellent Dr Boogie on Belgium's Radio 21. This is a guy who knows how to put on a blues show.. ZZ Top, Chuck Berry, The Stones.. this guy rocks! Anyway, totally knackered, cold and generally not very well, we finally got home around midnight. You wanna be in a rock'n'roll band? Be very very sure about that!
Just had a great night down at The Antelope in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. A healthy crowd turned out despite the snow (well they didn't look that healthy actually) and we had a great time. Should be back again in April.
Last year finished with a couple of excellent evenings in Germany. Many thanks to all those who turned up at the Rex Theatre in Lorsch.. particularly my old schoolfriend Nigel and his wife and friends coming down from Frankfurt, Peter and Ilona driving all the way from Nurnburg and Carlos down from I don't know where. Anyway we had a great evening and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Special thanks to Margit for putting it all together.
Back at the Blues Garage in Hannover on Saturday for more madness - our friend Henry once again excelling himsef with hospitality - I've never eaten an entire pig before. Another rocking night and I hope we'll be back again soon.
The Rex, Lorsch. Photo by Peter Koers.
Thanks to everyone concerned at the Blaublues Festival in Haringe, Belgium. We had a great evening and were able to enjoy some great music from other artists, particularly Doug Macleod and the sensational harp of Nico Wayne Toussaint. The organisers could not have been more helpful.
Also had a great time in beautiful Thun, up in the Swiss mountains near Interlaken.. thanks to Roger for booking us at the Thun Blues Festival. (His band was great too.. Los Conejos - Texas blues!)
And... Wet but still rocking! The Bergen Jazz and Blues festival took place in the town square of Bergen, Netherlands and I'm happy to say that we were rockin' it up on the main stage. I'm also happy to say that the good folk of the North came out to join us, bopping about in the rain with their brollies. Well done everybody! By the way, herring rolls are very nice after a few pints. Recommended.
A merry time was also had by all at Baarlo, also in the Netherlands. The venerable Hans van Horck, world famous modern artist decided to throw a party and invited the MC band to perform! Great fun playing to people better dressed than us and even more drunk..and good nosh too although I did notice that we were the only people there to hit the red wine. Anyway, thanks to Hans for a great evening and thanks also to our old mate Henk Hak for his sterling work on the PA.
Previous.. Thanks to the good folk down at Canon Frome for their hospitality - we had a blast, hope you enjoyed the show. (Dave Lennox is recovering nicely in a nursing home near Bournemouth). Special thanks to old mate and Killing Floor bass player Mac (Stuart MacDonald) who supplied PA for us. He and his wife Jan also gave me, Lin and Daniel a great break at their home in Presteigne. Thanks guys.
Recently played a short run of festivals - Thanks to Dragan and all the crew at the Big Blues Festival, Luxembourg. We had a thoroughly enjoyable gig and a great day enjoying Bo Diddley, Dave Hole and others. Bo was great, with a fine band - spends a lot of time fiddling with all the gimmicks built in to his extraordinary square guitar - but it rocked! Dave Hole played his heart out although not feeling too well at the time. Also featured were Anna Popovich and Mick Taylor.
Harelbeke Rock and Blues Festival, Belgium. Many thanks to Eric Hautekeete and his crew for an excellent, professional job done. It was a pleasure also for us to meet up with the Inmates and Big Joe Louis, not forgetting Danny Bryant and his RedEyeBand. This man will go far!!- Mick O'Brien and Roberta - thanks for the photos - but I've lost your email address! I keep deleting things!! I'm not fit to own a computer! Please write. Thanks to Roland for re-submitting his photos.
Bury Blues Festival near Manchester. Good to meet the legendary Hubert Sumlin.. what a nice fella! I was given the job of tuning his guitar - man that is scary! Especially when he refused to check it and then walked around for twenty minutes wearing the thing before going on stage. Well it's the blues.Also met some old friends such as Gwyn Ashton and the lads... an excellent evening - thanks to Ged Kelly for inviting us. Nice also to meet Mr. Zoot Money who did a great solo act, and also an old old friend of ours, Kevin, who was driving for Hubert.
band relaxing by the wall..who is the squiffiest one of all?..after gig bevy in Habach, Bavaria. Photo courtesy of Peter and Ilona Koers.
Recent tours included the Netherlands - thanks to Cees at the Cafe Schout in Ede - organiser of the local "Blues Route". Thanks to our old friend Henk Hak over at the extraordinary Cafe de Noot - who else sells customised wine with a picture of Stevie Ray on the label? And thanks to Ben at the T'Musikhoes in Roermond, just down the road from the dodgy coffee house with the funny smells coming out of it. Anyway, another great visit to the low countries - thanks to our agent Erik for his hard work.
Also - Hootsmon they're a braw bricht lot up there North of the Border - thanks to Chris Simmonds and Mike Hellier for our short Northern tour which we have just thoroughly enjoyed.
Best Regards go to the Lemon Tree for their startling efficiency (and Linda loved the vege dinner) - Vans at Deacon Brodies - Mark Dixon at Barrels in Berwick ( some-one had to point out to me that I was no longer in Scotland!) for his great hospitality and Davy and his friends at the Fairmile Inn in Edinburgh for their enthusiasm and hard work. Hope to see you all again soon.
Aaaaarrrr.. they be a-rockin down in Banbury, Oxfordshire last night at our big Banbury blues/rock extravaganza at the Mill Arts Centre. Many thanks to Dave Gardner - ( a man who can remember Killing Floor at the Blues Attic in 1968!) for his enthusiastic promotion and his mate Albert who we never did guess the age of.
Nice to meet up with Rod Demick, currently bass player with Paul Lamb and the King Snakes who was along for a boogie with his good lady. Thanks to a great support band and thanks to Mick Hawksworth for his fine musicianship, along with Dave Lennox and Chris Sharley.
By the way, if you're the couple from Utrecht who bought two CDs.. did you forget to pay Linda? Happy to hear from you anytime!
Just back from two rocking nights in the North - the excellent Black Bull Blues Club in Blaydon near Newcastle. A packed house and friendly people - what more do you want? Thanks to Ken Bell for putting it together and Mick for the PA. Thanks to also to our friend Billy Smith, bass player to the stars, for cooking us an excellent curry. What a man.
Sunday night was a return to the Clowne Blues Club near Chesterfield. Again, a great atmosphere and thoroughly enjoyable evening. Thanks to Alan Robson and Jo Dickinson for putting it together and an excellent PA sound from Sean Roe of Mansfield. Good to see more old friends including Steve Swithin from Kirkby, home of Millers Snooker Club - another great Northern blues scene. Happy to report another new booking for the North - the "blues of the month club" in Cleethorpes. We'll be there in June
Good to see our friend and very fine harp man "Dangerous" Dave Newman at the Torrington in Finchley, London Sunday 2nd December. Dave joined us for a lively "Rocking the Blues" and some Diddleyeyedie on "Mona". Thanks to all those who came along to see us and to Pete Feenstra for his help and support over the years.
Friday 23.11.01 at the Textielhuis in Oudenaarde, Belgium.Full review(in Belgian) with photos at Bobtje Blues. Thanks to all who helped organise and a great crowd. Thanks also to all our friends who turned up for more boogie madness at the Bluescafe in Apeldoorn and Loons Quartier in Loon Op Zand. Special thanks to the organisers Jan and Toon.
Rocking at the Schwarzer Adler in Rheinberg 26.10.01. Thanks also to all those who came backstage to give us their support - glad to know that rock-blues is alive and well in Germany - hope to be back again soon.
And a rocking night at the Tawe Delta Blues Club in Swansea 16.10.01.. an excellent blues venue for South Wales. Nice to meet Ian Stroud, brother of drummer Peter, and a jolly good chap. Thanks for your help with everything Ian!
Also, been hearing from the down under chapter of the ex Clarko Musos association - our drummer Mike Hirsh, now resident in Oz again and still playing regularly - keep rocking Mike! Listen out for Big Al's Rhythm Roundup on breakfast radio from Melbourne - PBS 16.7 FM.
30 August 2001..
Saturday at our friend Richard's 40th birthday party. We don't often play private doos but Richard's an old mate - anyway it was a blast and thanks to him for his hospitality and to everyone who joined in the spirit of the evening. We ended the evening with Ian leading the band on "Goodnight Irene" complete with guest accordion player. Great.
Our last European gig was the Blues-Rock Open-Air at Gross Lindow (Live in Reitwein)where we shared the bill with Gwyn Ashton. An excellent night for all the bands involved.. many thanks to Wolfgang for his hospitality - the fireworks were good too. Gwyn played a great set as always - and so did we!
The next morning we got a chance to pop into Poland for a look around..(as you do). Reminded me a bit of the old GDR ten years ago, but of course with plenty of western touches these days. If we'd had any zlottys we could have picked up some wodka and a smoked sausage. Never mind.. all we got was the mysterious Polish Knee Disease which afflicted us all later in the day.. nothing to do with sitting in a van on the autobahn for ten hours of course..
Nice to meet a new friend, Sacha, an old mate of Dave Lennox's. Born in Russia, now lives in Berlin. He helped us out when we were looking for our non-existent hotel address and also took a load of photos..don't forget to send them on Sash!
The night before we were back at the Blues Garage in Hannover to see Henry. Another great night despite me having all of one and a half hours' sleep the night before..(looking for another non-existent hotel address). Very nice people at the Blues Garage.
And not to forget our earlier date at the Amersfoort Blues Festival on a blazing hot Sunday afternoon. Again, many thanks to the organisers..it was great - hope to see you again next year.
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