Sunday, 2 February 2014


Haddy called at about six-thirty.
She’d arrived, changed and along with the rest of the family had gone straight off to catch the ferry.
Apparently a few of the guys are making the crossing with her and have got a van they can all fit
into ?
Well they got over the river ok and then the van decides to break down just before going through Senegalese customs.
That’s not good.
Apparently they were stuck there all night as the part they needed to fix it would not be there until morning.
They finally got it fixed just after daybreak and drove straight to her Uncle’s house in Dakar.
As you can imagine, it was a very sad occasion.
Apparently they are staying until Friday and then making the return trip back to The Gambia, so it’s quite likely that she’ll be ‘on the road’ when I head off to do the gig ?

So, it’s Friday night and I’m off to the Leisure Centre or The Gordon Craig Theatre or whatever you want to call it ?
At least it gives me something else to think about rather than just hoping that the wife and kids are ok, not that I could do anything stuck here, but if you’ve ever had to go through that sort of enforced separation then you’ll know approximately how I was feeling ?
When I arrived, the P.A. was already erected and ready for testing so all I now need do is get a vocal level on the two mic’s and drop slightly on the guitar, then plug in the cd player for Francesca June’s backing tracks.

Setting up. photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
As soon as somebody else turns up I can get them to test to the back of the room and we’re ready to go.
Thankfully, it’s Grant who’s the next to arrive so we’re all done and dusted in five minutes.
As soon as Nick arrives we can soundcheck his guitar and we’re ready to go with forty minutes spare.
Well we would be if he’d remembered his guitar lead…
I cannot believe he’s not put one in because he forgot at the last one as well ?
Oh well, he’ll just have to cope if nothing can be found.

I’ve brought along one of my minidisk recorders, none of which are actually working properly at present, which I’m going to test later by recording the second half of the gig.
None of the damn things are working properly at the moment and the one I’d brought with me I’d unscrewed and rescrewed a couple of nights earlier and apparently I’d got it recording again ?
The way things are set up it’ll be Grant’s introductory poem then Joy T. and then me.
I’m not prepared to keep switching it on and off because the truth is I just want a recording of my long piece so that I can edit and mess about with it afterwards.
I’ve cut it from fifteen verses to nine but it’s still going to be about four minutes of non-stop verbal and sometimes it’s fair to say that the audience has the attention span of a gnat…
Oh well, whatever ? 

Everybody is beginning to appear.
All the artists are here, Jackie, who most of us meet for the first time.
Seems ok ?
She’ll fit in to the madness without too much tweaking which can only be a good thing.
The Mayor, and his wife the Lady Mayoress.
He’s an old friend of Parnassus.
It was his late wife Margaret who founded us with Tom Hulley but that was a while before I bought my ticket.
The Lady Mayoress is named Margaret also…
I hope she enjoys it.
I also hope Jack (The Mayor) has warned her ?
It’s just one of those things.
We can sometimes be a bit…

Oh well, whatever ?
We seem to have a small audience too.

Grant’s up for the opening poem and then he introduces Graeme.
Graeme’s set is ok.

Graeme Lloyd. Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
I wish sometimes he’d vary the tempo and style a bit ?
Don’t get me wrong, he’s damn good at what he does but sometimes I wish he’d try a different style.
But it’s very ‘likeable’ and he’s a lot better with an audience now.

Francesca June is singing show tunes and standards’ tonight.
The backing cd she’s brought along has some reasonable backing on it.
A small group playing in a more jazz style rather than orchestrations, which can only be a good thing.
I have to say that she sounds good.

Francesca June. Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
She’s definitely got a voice for this sort of stuff even if she does happen to be Grant’s daughter.

Besides which, she’s been coming along to Parnassus shows for nearly twenty years to support the old man so it’s about time she got her own spot again, and it’s a few years since she appeared for us.
Parnassus is definitely a family thing.
Ok, it’s more a mixture of The Munsters or The Addams Family or even the Corleones or The Sopranos at certain times, but it’s a family nevertheless.
Nice applause from the cheap seats.

Nick’s up next.
Well, I for one was disappointed.
It’s not that he can’t be good, he can.

Nick Brown. Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
But his set was totally puerile and vulgar without any comedy.
Material that might just have made a twelve year old laugh or possibly a drunk or two and the sad thing was, we didn’t have too many of those in the audience.
And the tragedy is, he’s capable of so much more.
It's like he turned up but couldn't be arsed.
Bummer !

Ok, let’s take a break.
Without Murray, Sarah and Jon this year the sets have got longer.
We’ve all got our fifteen minutes of fame tonight.
Usually it’s a cram job for six to seven minutes but tonight we can actually stretch out a bit.
Oh, the Mayor and Lady Mayoress are leaving…
Shame, but that’s the way it goes.
I wonder how much that decision was influenced by Nick’s set ?
At least the rest of the audience seems to have elected to stay for part two.
Blimey ! Jon’s here, I never even saw him come in.
‘Hey mate, how are you ?’
We hadn’t heard from Jon Falconer in a few weeks because of his health problems so it was great to see him up and about.
He’s looking a bit tired but then so would you if you’d been in and out of hospital with infections.
It’s like two steps forward and one step back followed by one step forward and two steps back and it’s been going on for about a year, but he’s still Jon, the spark is still there and that’s the main thing.

Grant’s going up to start part two, so ‘scuse me while I switch a couple of things on.
First things first… Switch on the minidisk recorder. 

Grant does the intro’ and finally his ‘Old Folks Home for Rockers and Freaks’ gets another airing.
I like that poem.
It has just the right amount of reality and just the right amount of humour.
And then he introduces Joy T…

Joy T. Chance.  Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby

Whose set goes off like a rocket and there is welcome applause when she’s done.
Ok, she went ten minutes overtime but who cares about time when you’re having fun ?
An excellent set and I’m going to have to push it if I’m even going to come close to that one.
Get the corny introduction out of the way and I’m up…

Me.  Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
Start with a little bit of hard and sarcastic humour, bring in a bit of observance of people, keep the humour but keep it hard and then hit politics where it hurts, preferably in the soft underbelly of hypocrisy and by Christ there’s a lot of that over here right now.
Shame our M.P. wasn’t here.
There were rumours that he would be but never mind…
There’s always a next time.
And end with Africa.
I actually managed to keep the long one going.
I finished with it and got fifteen seconds of applause at the end.
Wow !
They were actually listening.
And I feel drained…
Usually if it goes off reasonably then I’m on an adrenalin high, but not tonight.
Tonight I feel absolutely drained.

Another song from Francesca June...

But it’s not over yet, Jackie’s up next.
I don’t think any of us have seen Jackie perform yet so it’s going to be a first for most of us, but she’s been doing it in her own patch for a little while and she seems quite confident so here’s hoping ?
Jackie actually performs and is published as J. S. Watts so that’s the name on the posters.

If by chance you get a chance to buy any of her stuff or go to see her then I seriously advise you to do just that.
She’s good and she has the confidence to hold an audience.
Nice set.
I’m impressed.

Francesca June. Photo courtesy of Grant Meaby
Which leaves one more song from Francesca June and we’re done for another year.
We just about finished on time too.
Now I can go home and worry about my wife.
I know it’s this that’s dragging me down and I wish I was with her right now.
Jon’s off as soon as it ends.
He says he feels tired but it’s been a good night out for him and he’s glad he came along.
Say all the rest of the goodbyes and then pack up and offer Grant a lift.
I think we did alright over the whole event but I’m sure we’ll find out if we haven’t  ?
And the Rhythms of the World gig will be upon us before we know it.

Please note Photo Credits. All photos not credited are mine.
If anybody wants to compare notes, CIA, MI5 and all the rest, then you can always read Grant's take on the events here