Sunday, 6 October 2013


So I’d planted the idea…
Well, you’ve got to admit if it comes off then it’ll be a laugh if nothing else, but then if Nuzz comes up with anything then it’ll probably be ten times more effective ?
Oh well, whatever ?
His list of contacts is a lot better than mine in that regard because he was there for a lot longer, plus he was the face of the place, whether he likes it or not ?
A week later the ‘phone goes…
‘You alright ?’
‘Yes mate, what’s happening ?’
‘I’ve dropped the idea into certain quarters, now we just have to wait…’
‘There’s more to it than that and I know it, come on, what else have you got up your sleeve ?’
‘The Drug Prowling Wolves might be reforming for a one-off gig…’
‘Brilliant.  Anything else I ought to know ?’
‘No, not yet, but hows about you do a poetry set and then the Wolves come on afterwards ?’
‘Sounds fine to me, what sort of times are we talking about ?’
‘Well, with our four songs about half an hour…’
‘Try and go for two sets.  I’ll go on first and you guys follow then we’ll have a short break to let anybody there get a fag break or crap ‘emselves, whatever ?’
‘Probably the latter after they’ve heard us…’
‘Yeah, but you know what I mean… Any idea when the museum closes ?’
‘Five, I think ?’
‘Ok, how does this sound ?   I’ll do a fifteen minute set and then I’ll introduce you guys, then we’ll break and then after about half an hour we’ll do it all over again… If we reckon on finishing at about four-thirty then we can get out before they shut and they won’t be too pissed off… Oh, and I’ll bring some hand drums and percussion’y bits in case there are any youngsters there with their parents who might want to join in, how does that sound ?’
‘Sounds fine if I can get the band together ?’
‘Yeah, but it sounds promising, now all you’ve got to do is talk them into it…’
‘That could be easier said than done…’
‘I have faith…’
And that’s where we left it.
If anybody can pull this off, then Nuzz can.
The guy possesses the cheek of ‘Old Nick’ in certain areas and this is definitely one of those areas…

A month later, one and a half weeks before the museum is due to close the exhibition, we’re off and running…
The gig will take place on November the 17th the last day of the exhibition, and we’re doing the two sets.
Nuzz will be doing it with Roger, the Wolves vocalist, and I’ll be bringing along some implements of noise for any children who might have the bottle to hang about…
God… This is gonna be a laugh.
Hard work, because I’m going to have to tone down the set and change a few words just in case, but there’s no point in pissing off the museum if they are trusting us to do it.
After all, we might get offered another chance at some other time ?
Apparently with Herts Music Service and Anji on his side, Nuzz had managed to pull it off again.
(God, that reads badly, but you know what I mean...)
The fact that I was intending to involve the younger children that might be dragged along by their parents was apparently also a plus factor.
There are a few rules, but in all honesty we can actually accommodate them.
No advertising it all over social media sites on the internet.
We can live with that.
Only advertising the gig through word of mouth and at the museum.
We can live with that, too.
It’s looking good…

Now a few months before this was all to take place, back in the so-called summer, my ex-guitarist Emma had up-sticked from Australia and had moved back to England with her family (husband and two children) in the hope of going to Canada instead, and I kept bumping into them whilst working in the town centre.
Imagine her surprise when I dropped this bombshell into the conversation ?
‘No…  Really ?’
‘Yep.  Why not come along and bring the kids…’
‘You’re on… Send me the date when it’s happening.’
‘Ok… Don’t suppose you fancy playing a bit of guitar ?’
‘I can’t… I haven’t picked it up for about five years, I’m well out of practice but I’ll definitely be there…’
‘Hey Frank… Guess what ?’
‘You’re joking…’
‘Hey Chris… What’s this gig with you and the Drug Prowling Wolves that Frank was telling me
about ?’
‘Hi Hugh…’
‘Hey Dawn, if you want to hear me do that poem I dedicate to you, then be at Stevenage Museum on November 17th…’
‘Really ?  Right, e-mail me the time and date…’
And so it went…
Now the thing I hadn’t told Nuzz until all the arrangements had been made, was that I’d asked Marcus and Sarah, our regular ‘Rhythms’ film team from (Shameless plug) Big Ideas Productions to film it.
Sarah had been a regular punter down there, and had been in the same class as Emma at school and she hadn’t thought twice.
‘We’ll be there…’
And that was it.
The filming was arranged.
Things were coming along nicely.

A week before the gig was due to take place, Nuzz asks to borrow my acoustic guitar for the event.
‘Yeah, ‘course you can but you know it’s got no electric output, it’s pure acoustic and you’ll have to mic’ it at the front…’
‘Not a problem and it’ll probably sound better than mine in there…’
‘Ok, you’ve got it… how are you guys doing ?’
‘Well… We had a practice in the kitchin last week…’
‘You ?   Practiced ?’
Please forgive the total incredulity on my behalf but that statement was certainly not expected.
Those guys NEVER practised… Well, not in the sense that actual musicians do…
‘Yeah… We haven’t played together in over ten years, so I thought we might as well have one at least…’
‘Right… Oh, one other thing… I’ve made arrangements to get it filmed… Just for posterity…’
‘Really ?’
‘Yep…  Sarah and Marcus are doing it…’
‘Well it’s gonna go down in Drug Prowling Wolves history, so why not ?   This could be a laugh…’
'We just need a snappy title, that’s all…’
‘Seemed like a good idea at the time…’
‘Ok, you’ve got it… That’s the title… The 'Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time', gig…’

Yes, I know… We’re past total madness and in another zone completely, but what the fuck ?

Haddy is just taking all this in her stride.
I think she knew when we got married that she was possibly marrying a total madman, but then its love, and that conquers all.
Besides, she now knows that occasionally her husband does things that cannot really be explained in any sense of the word ‘normal’ so she goes along with it, although it has to be said there is sometimes a raised eyebrow or a quizzical look aimed in my direction.
The thing is, it’s fun and if you can’t have a bit of fun with a few of your compadres then what’s life for ?
One thing I do know, without the escape valve from reality sometimes, then life would be thoroughly boring and I have no plans to go that route any more.
If there’s one thing that the heart attack taught me, it’s that you only get one bite.
I was lucky.
I survived the first one, but forty five per-cent of people (Yes, that’s the percentage figure, folks… Frightening isn’t it ?) don’t.
Have fun while you’re alive because we’re all eventually going to be a long time dead.
And if it harms no-one, then why not ?
It doesn’t matter how outlandish or crazy the idea is, if it feels right then do it because you’ll probably never get another chance.
I’m not saying it’s going to work for everybody, but if you give it a chance then you might even surprise a few people and yourself if the scheme comes off.
Ok, enough personal philosophy, let’s get back on track…

Three days before the event, Nuzz hits Facebook with the info’ and I have to admit it worried me because we’d promised we wouldn’t.
Sod it.
Consider it shared…
If it turns into ‘Woodstock’ and we get thousands of people then it’ll put this little town where very little is ever allowed to occur, on the map.
Haddy, ever the realist, points out that should that occur then I’d probably (being a council worker like the museum staff) lose my job…
That’s the least of my worries right now.
My main one is sorting out two sets of older material that I can do in front of children without upsetting their parents which I finally manage to do by the morning of the event.
Ok, I’m ready…

Come the afternoon and we’re down the museum at two o’clock.

Here we are again...
Of course being Saturday afternoon you can’t park anywhere near it, so I stick the car on one of the Church’s car parking spots as the museum entrance is on the other side and sort of underneath it.
Thankfully we got everything in without having to go back and forth as the weather looks like it’s getting a bit blustery to say the least.
Talking to the museum staff as we’re going in, they are looking forward to it because it’s something new for them, although one of them does say that there was a little opposition in council circles.
There’s always bloody opposition in council circles.
I swear, if this town could actually get rid of some of those people then it might actually rid itself of its 1950’s image and move into the next century.
There are enough people who want to do things, not just me and Nuzz, to have a vibrancy that is up there with places like Cambridge or London even, and it’s not like people haven’t got the will or the capacity to do it because they have, but they are restricted by this 1950’s outlook which basically says ‘we control everything that is going to occur and you will be told what you can and cannot do.’
Christ ! 
My step-daughter has more problems and more ‘control’ over her life than some people who may be reading this will ever or could ever imagine or be party to, and you know what ?
Her ‘mantra’ since she heard it, is ‘Gonna do it anyway,’ and she’s thirteen years old…
And what’s more she’s prepared to live it.
Thirteen years old, and she understands that she has to throw off that ‘control’ to be able to fulfil her own vision.
And CONTROL is the operative word.
They want control so as to be able to say that ‘They’ did it.
Fuck that.
Come on kids… Stand up and say NO.
Tell them that whatever obstacles are in the way, you’re going to do it anyway.
Ok, it may be smaller than you’d like, but show the powers that be that they DO NOT control you.
Show them that your vision is the equal of theirs and take responsibility for it.
They HAVE to show that they are responsible, so what’s wrong with you taking some of that responsibility and showing them that YOU are responsible too ?
After all, if it harms no-one then why not ?
Who needs a town where the only places to go are shitty ‘chav’ bars with dj’s, advertising their fucking ‘happy hours’ where you can get totally wrecked on spirits for about twenty quid ?
Who in their right mind needs that ?
Certainly not me, and if he’ll pardon me for speaking for him, certainly not the Nuzz Prowling Wolf either…
But I digress.

About three minutes later Nuzz and Roger walk in, closely followed by Marcus and Sarah and we all get to setting up with a will.

Marcus. Setting up...

It’s not the biggest gig that any of us have ever done, but it’s the current gig and that is more important.
Marcus has decided that he’s going to be predominantly ‘hand held’ so it’s definitely going to be a ‘cinema-verite’ look, however it turns out ?
Fine by me.
Let’s face it with less than an hour to go before we start, I’m past caring.
I know what I’m doing, and that is now where my responsibility ends.
Everybody else involved is responsible for keeping up their end, and that’s the way it should be.
If people turn up then they turn up, and if they don’t then we’re still going to do it, even if we do it for ourselves.
And slowly people start drifting in…
The room should hold about fifty people, possibly a few more, but if we get about thirty to forty then it’ll be a success.
We’d made it known that it was going to be ‘children friendly’ and we were going to stick to that promise.
It’s a small event for Stevenage Museum not a freaking great rock gig, and it’s being done because we thought that the idea of actually becoming part of the exhibition that actually featured some of OUR work in OUR town was something that even in its own small way, was something to celebrate.
Why not ?
We were responsible (That word again...) for a fair bit of it in its heyday.
Me and Nuzz, albeit with a lot of help from some other people, who, hopefully might turn up just for the craic, if the advertising has done its bit ?
I dunno about Nuzz, but I suspect he feels the same as me, but I’m quite proud of having brought artists like Flaco Jimenez, Jeff Buckley, Steve Young, David Halley, Tom Russell and Tom Pacheco amongst others to our venue in our town.
It isn’t a bad thing to have on your c.v. I know that.
As for Nuzz, he can list an alphabet of bands to his...
So yeah, this gig is a sort of ‘thanks’ to the museum and to the kids from ‘After Dark’ for actually thinking of us and getting it out there.

A last cigarette for the condemned man outside the front door and it’s three o’clock.
Let battle commence…

I thought the first set went reasonably well as it goes…

A little introduction about why we were there and I’m off, and I won’t say ‘running’, but ambling happily toward some sort of conclusion fifteen minutes down the road…
My big problem was wanting to stop half way through a poem and greet people coming through the door.

From left: Dread Ed, Nuzz, Roger, Sarah's back, Jonathan, Grant, Frank and Frank
Two Frank’s, Hugh,

Hugh and Frank
Mark Astronaut,

Me, trying to hypnotize Mark Astronaut into giving me a couple of cd's while Dread Ed looks on in amazement...
Chris, Anji and her children,

Dread Ed: 'And then I used scissors to cut them off...'

Dread Ed… Finally… Where the hell had he been ?  He’d been as much a part of it as me or Nuzz but thankfully he was here now, still totally manic, still ‘Dread Ed’, Nothing much has changed except we’re all a bit older.

Emz, with Hubby and the two boys.

Me with Emz and family


 and Graeme from Parnassus

A bunch of 'After Dark's...

Emma and Jack from After Dark...

Rockin' Jonny T

Graeme, Haddy and Rockin' Jonny T
It’s cool.

Ok, I’m done…
Introduce the Drug Prowling Wolves and get out of the way.

Roger does the ‘Wolves’ introduction about why they were there, and they’re off and running too…

They made it through the first number, but unfortunately in the second Nuzz managed to break a string and of course I hadn’t thought to bring any replacements.

Oh well, it’s the Drug Prowling Wolves, so you expect that sort of thing, but they carried on and he managed to break a second string at the end of the number.

But… He’d brought his own guitar along just in case, proudly emblazoned with the legend ‘This Guitar Kills Music…’
That’s a joke on Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Guitar Kills Fascists’ if you don’t know ?
But they managed to get through their first set…
That practice must have done something, normally they’d have cleared half the hall by now ?
But they were great in a primitive punky sort of rocky way AND this time you could hear the words and not have them buried in a muddy p.a. mix.
Good set despite the setbacks of broken strings.
Right, time to mingle and then go for another ciggie break…
Suzanne, stuck at a meeting, finally managed to get there in the interval.

I thought I was too slow in the second set and needed to speed up a bit, but then today I’d swapped manic for clarity so what do I know ?
People said they enjoyed it and understood what I was on about so maybe slower is best in some
situations ?
The 'Wolves' were great in their second set.
They managed to screw up one number and cancelled it halfway through and then after their anthem 'Get A Life' they invited all the kids and anybody else who wanted to join in...

Sarah & Jonathan

It was chaotic but so typically Drug Prowling Wolves.

Dread Ed, banging on about something...

Rockin' Jonny T played a four stringed acoustic...

It was great and you should have been there.
There are some who would criticize but what do they know ?
If you KNEW, then you'd maybe understand ?
But the 'Wolves' had pulled off another classic gig.
Anyway, I’ll let you decide…
Here is the link that’s going to play you the complete second set.

And that was it.
To steal one of Nuzz’s expressions, we’d done what it said on the tin.
Goodbye’s all round, a big thank you to the staff of the museum and we were outside in what seemed to be the teeth of a gale, only to find a parking ticket on the car for being parked six inches (I measured it) over the fucking pavement…

If Stevenage’s useless and lazy town centre cleansing team had done their fucking job properly and swept up the leaves and not sat drinking tea in their cosy warm office, then that wouldn’t have occurred.
Yeah, I know…  Pride comes before a fall !!!
There's going to be one mutha' of a row when I get to work tomorrow...

The following day I got a ‘phone call from Dawn…
Her mother had been rushed to hospital that morning so she couldn’t make it to the gig.
Thankfully, her Mother was recovering at the time of her call.
Ok, Dawn mate… This one’s for you…



Splendid write up, it was one of those gigs that if you were there you were not only part of it but will always remember it, if you weren't there, well you missed a very special event.

Chris Ripple said...

Why thank you kind sir. I have to admit that it was a bit difficult being on my 'best behaviour' for the whole event with not a single 'swearie' being uttered, but everybody who commented on it to me after the event thought it a cracking wheeze and were glad they turned up.