This morning my thoughts were filled with memories of my first steps into music. My first performance was at an old people’s home (who knows, possibly playng to people younger than I am now), with a friend who played accordion. We played, of all things, Bookends, wearing the appropriate matching black polo-necks. A few months after this came my first solo spot at Ayr Folk Club, doing Cat Stevens Where Do The Children Play? My self-absorbed and self-regarding performance provoked mockery from the main guest, who may have been Hamish Imlach, Matt McGinn or even Billy Connolly. I remember the embarrassment but not the embarrasser. Also around this time, a rudimentary band with a couple of guitarist friends, where I alternated between washboard, guitar and hitting a tambourine with a Directional Fish. (What is a Directional Fish? It is a plastic fish pilfered from a church hall at a rehearsal and pressed into services during long vague adolescent walks, as in ‘Throw the Fish in the air and whatever direction it points in when it lands is the direction we walk’.) At one point I recall raising some curiosity by smashing the tambourine at Ayr Folk Club. Well it was only a plastic toy tambourine. Then, at a summer school where we were together with French teenagers for two weeks outside Paris and two weeks in, er, Cumnock, my first performance of an original song, Cumnock Academy Blues, written with my new friend J, a powerful and fearless character, the Lennon to my McCartney. The reception for that song at the end-of concert instilled the craving for attention that drives me back to the stage time and time again.
… to the extent where a new band is a-borning. While I hope it won’t achieve Bespoke’s level of reclusiveness, I don’t want this group to perform until it’s very organised, but the two initial sessions have been encouraging. At the end of the second session everyone declared their willingness to continue. We don’t have a collective name yet, but as individuals we do, and they are James Whyte (bass, guitar, mandolin), Sam Barber (percussion, drums), Alasdair Clarke (Warr guitar, bass), Mary Robbs (violin) and your correspondent (guitars wooden and electrical). Our repetoire is drawn so far from the museum of antiquities also known as the Norman Lamont albums. One day you will hear us and tremble!
2 thoughts on “Bands then and now”
I never knew you played washboard! I am stunned. And awed.
I feel I remember the washboard, Norman. Ayr Folk Club: Woody and Gomez, The Barrow Band, ‘A Tapestry of Many Colours.’ What amazes me is the depth of creativity and connectedness to who we all still are. Brilliant.
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