This is how the end of 2014 went:
We don’t like cancelling gigs, it’s one of our pet hates, so it was quite painful to find that we had to do this for the second time in a month, with illness causing us to miss our last gig of the year at Bury’s Molloys on Friday 7th. What made this even worse was the fact that we’d very cleverly arranged a Saturday night gig in the town for the first time in order to make the trip work…
By Saturday we were back up to a reasonable level of strength, so headed up to play at Bury Bowls Club. On the very night that the local fireworks display was being held up the hill with plenty of bands on an outdoors stage. As a result, the audience wasn’t as big as the organisers were expecting, but it was still a reasonable size. The room was low ceilinged and intimate and we had a great time dealing with people who had no idea what to expect.
A week later and we were back in Tipton at the Kings Head. The pub has been taken over by new owners and the atmosphere was a little different, with a much louder, more appreciative audience than normal. Considering a large chunk of the people present had been to most of our gigs here, it seemed odd, but it turned out to be our favourite here so far.
Next was The Malthouse. The last time we played here was as hot as we’ve ever experienced, but it was the end of the summer. This time it should be cooler, shouldn’t it? No. Apparently not. Not quite as hot as last time, but that’s saying little. Another soaking wet, great fun gig.
And so, onto a pub we haven’t visited for a time. The Hen and Chickens in Bridgnorth (now renamed The Friars) is a very small pub and we always found it to be very quiet, but it has recently been taken over by a new owner who was adamant she wanted us to play there. We turned up to discover that the town’s Christmas lights were being switched on and the top end of the road the pub is situated in was blocked by vehicles dealing with this. On the whole this wouldn’t cause us a problem as we had our usual spot to park in, albeit on double yellows in front of a gated car park. Normally this isn’t a problem as the car park isn’t used during the evenings, and of course it’s legal to use double yellows whilst offloading, but this time there was a car inside the car park. Whilst unloading, we kept our eyes open for the owner returning, which he did as we were getting the last bits out. As we crossed the road, a group of girls came round the van complaining that Santa was being grumpy. Paul went to investigate to find him on the phone reading out our numberplate. Paul asked him whether he would like us to move for him and was met by a very rude comment in return. Si tried again. This time he was off the phone but still as abusive. We moved to let him out, but soon all received texts from Paul’s wife explaining that the police had received a complaint that our van was illegally parked. Christmas won’t be the same again for us.
Unlike last time, the pub was rammed. Seriously rammed. We barely had enough room for even a stripped down setup, but managed and succeeded in winning over a great audience.
A week later and we were back in Aberystwyth playing at Rummers. We were originally booked to play both Friday and Saturday nights, but were asked if we could cancel the Saturday night as local legends Aber Jazz were performing their final ever gig. We saw this as a great opportunity to go our for the evening to see some live music and enjoy some beer and food, unworried about having to play. After a curry we headed down to catch the end of the support band’s performance (some lovely harp and bass playing) before Aber Jazz took the stage. I’d recommend you catch these guys, but as this was their last gig, it would be pointless. The pub was rammed and we ended up deciding to move on as Paul and Si were unable to see a thing past the taller people. Whilst deciding where to go next we bumped into a group of students who’d come to see us the previous night and joined them for some more beer in another pub before catching the train home. Sunday saw us stopping of at The Telegraph in Shrewsbury on the way home.
The following Friday saw our return to The Barley in Newport to what was possibly our best audience there yet and then we were into the last week of gigs before Christmas.
Unfortunately, Ed has a habit of getting ill in the run up to Christmas and this year was no exception. Thursday at The Crown was as good a gig as ever and all seemed fine, but as we headed for The Old Post Office the next night (with tame keyboardist Si Carswell in tow for a rare appearance) it was clear that a cold was starting to manifest.
By Saturday at The Swan, Stone, Ed’s voice was starting to crack and finally became a tuneful croak by Sunday’s gig at The Green Man in Milwich. Fortunately the pub was full of caring friends and bar staff who kept his throat lubricated with whiskey all evening. Rumours that Ed consumed a full bottle of 1923 single malt unaided are greatly exaggerated – the whisky was far younger.
And that was it. Christmas was upon us. We had a get together after Christmas with our families for some curry, wine and silly games (and Ed was still ill) and before we knew it 2014 was over.
We’ve been together almost three years now and our diary for 2015 is almost full, so this would be a good time to tell you all that we’re quitting the music game and becoming a touring band of jugglers. Except that no-one has ever accused us of being musical.
See you in 2015.
Happy New Year from Ed, Paul, Si and Hugo.