Thanks for all your thoughts on gigs. Clearly touched some kind of nerve there. I take some of your points about pricing……I must admit I feel I have served my rock n roll dues long enough to allow myself a guest list place. The other main reason for not buying tickets is simple: No sooner have we bought them than plans change and we’re not available that night. For that reason it’s usually a couple of days before an event that I’ll know if I’m certainly going. Occasionally this confidence can be a little misplaced.
A couple of months ago Dolly Parton appeared in the city. As usual I’d done nothing about securing myself a couple of briefs for the show. However we’d blagged our way in to the Armadillo on her last visit and were shocked at how great it was. We had to return. I had to get the serious crawling plan out. Agents, promoters, tour managers….her producer at one point were all phoned. No joy. We sat at home watching something on the telly and regretting not buying the tickets early.
However despite that experience (possibly because of it) the first Dolly show has a golden halo around it in my memory. Seldom do I see things which I want to tell everyone about but Dolly Parton that night was the best. She had with her an 8 piece blue grass band who played at the highest level but in the middle of the show they left her alone with a guitar and a mic and we all realised we’d have been as happy if she’d just turned up with that. What a star.
The other great thing about Dolly, and a lot of great roots artists, is her ability to write a brilliant song on the first few chords you’d ever learn. Any old fool can put a load of diminished 6ths together but only the alchemists know how to turn 1, 4 and 5 into pop gold. Bob Dylan is the master and Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison too are masters but James Brown and Smokey Robinson are in the top league too.
Talking about James. Our great friend The Captain has steered the front of house sound ship on our tours for twenty odd years. A couple of years ago we did a show up in Crathes Castle in Deeside. The night before we played James Brown had been in da house. (or da castle gardens in this case.) The Captain had also been responsible for mixing the sound for the hardest working man. He’d been told by the JB manager that there were to be two DAT tapes made of the show and to save any possibility of anyone bootlegging the show The Captain was to come round to the dressing room after the show and ‘personally put the DATs in Mr Brown’s hand.’ The Captain liked this story and, needless to say, regaled it to the assorted members of our band the next night. We loved it too and wanted to know what happened when the Captain met James Brown. At this point you probably need to know that the Captain is one of the gentlest and most fastidious of sound guys. Never one to leave the poop deck in a state of chaos, after JB had left the stage he tidied up the desk and eventually located the DATs ready for delivery to the main man. If this had been you or me we would have been rushing round to the dressing room with the vain hope that we’d have the bonus of a wee photo opportunity along the way. Not the Captain. He spent so long tidying up he nearly forgot to go round so that when he did turn up the greatest living soul man had left the building, crossed the moat and was winging it back do whatever soul men do when they’ve gone done entertaining you. I guess the Captain must still have the DATs in his house.