From the Blog

Concerts and other miscellania

Three Sixty at the Illawarra Folk Club, Heather Boardman photo.

A Facebook memory reminded me a few weeks ago that it had been 3 years since our group, “Three Sixty” had their first public performance at Illawarra Folk Club in Wollongong. I remember the night vividly as I was very new to the performance scene and was so nervous I can’t even begin to tell you.

I need to explain that, while I have been playing for almost 50 years (1969 was when I started), almost all of my playing has been for private enjoyment and, of course, at school, where my guitar was my constant companion and where I sang nearly every day. It has only been in the last few years that I have started performing publicly and that has been an outgrowth from doing nursing home concerts with Elwyn and Henry (pictured above).

So when we were asked if we’d like to perform at the Folk Club it meant a considerable change for me. Both the other boys have been performers for years but the rigmarole of sound checks, microphone levels and standing up on the stage were totally new to me. Indeed, at that stage I didn’t even owned an electric guitar of any kind and I played my classical nylon string guitar at that first show, much to the bemusement of most at the concert.

Last night we were invited back to play again for a “Sixties” night at the club. The advertising poster said, “If you can remember the Sixties, you weren’t there” Well, not having ever participated in mind altering substances, I can tell you that I DO remember the Sixties and I WAS there! We were allocated a half hour slot that grew in size somewhat when one of the bands that were booked, had to withdraw due to an outbreak of laryngitis amongst its members.

Since that first gig three years ago I have acquired (or been given) two acoustic guitars with electrical pickups so I used the Art and Lutherie Canadian dreadnought guitar last night. We arrived early (always a wise idea) and were first to get on stage to do the sound check. All went well except that my guitar decided not to integrate with the sound system. Basic systems checks indicated that the fault was with the guitar. I had no idea how to remedy the situation and, anyway, I was happy just to play acoustic as my two mates both play much better than me and I’d just concentrate on the singing.

But the sound guy insisted. “Have you replaced the battery recently?” he asked me. Battery? What battery? He explained that all guitars like mine have a 9v battery inside to power the volume controls and interface with the amplifier when the lead was plugged in. Well, talk about learn something new every day, I’d never even heard of such a thing so I certainly had never replaced the battery! I peered inside and, what do you know, there it was clamped to the back of the volume control. “I have a new one if you’d like to try and replace it,” said Phil, the sound engineer. Ha, only a few seconds ago I didn’t even know it existed and now he says I can replace it on site. Elwyn remarked that you can only really do this when the strings are off so I pretty much decided to give it a miss. But the boys insisted and, using the little screwdriver on the penknife that I always carry in my pocket, I undid the volume control and the PCB with the battery attached came free. By dint of a great deal of huffing and puffing we managed to replace the battery, re-attach the sound control board and the guitar sailed through sound check and performed flawlessly for the rest of the night. As I said, it’s a good thing we got there real early.

As noted, we were booked to go on second on the night and had been allocated a half hour slot but then were asked to prepare two more songs and a possible third “just in case”. It’s a good thing we did. As it was a Sixties night, we stuck rigidly to formula and here is our playlist.

World of our Own
It ain’t worth the lonely road back
Red rubber ball
Last night I had the strangest dream
All I have to do is dream
The times they are a’changin’
Tom Dooley
The water is wide
With my swag all on my shoulder
Don’t think twice it’s all right
Come the day.

In the end we also used our “just in case” song which was Donovan’s “Catch the Wind”

It was a great concert. I felt far less nervous and concentrated more on just having fun and going with the music. It is amazing what some good practice can do as we were much better prepared and “slick” than some of the other acts. No point putting on a show if you’re not going to do it professionally. AND, speaking of professionally, it turns out that it was a paid gig, the three of us pocketing $50 each for our efforts, score!

Yesterday I got new tyres on the bike, PR5’s front and rear, the first time I’ve done both tyres together for a long time. I was SO looking forward to a long ride on them today but last night a gale blew up here and it howled all night and this morning. Only now it’s starting to show some sign of abating so I may get a ride of some sort in today after all.

On to other subjects. The Minibago has now been prepared for sale and my local motor trimmer guy is anxiously looking forward to fitting out the new van. Preparing the Minibago wasn’t that difficult as there is no fixed furniture, however, the solar panel on the roof IS fixed and, boy was it fixed. Stickaflex is the stuff I believe and it took some shifting. Since my doctor told me straight after the accident 8 years ago that, under no circumstances am I to climb ladders, I had to rely on my brother for a bit of help with the last bit. Possessing the same sense of humour as me, it didn’t take long before the whole process quickly degenerated into farce, not assisted at all by both of us remembering the Sue Thompson hit from the Sixties, “Jame, James, hold the ladder steady.” It’s hard to work when you’re laughing so much. For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, here it is..

Anyway, we got it done and we move on.

Last weekend I was due to speak at a WorldPress conference in Sydney as I mentioned, but I ended up not going. Family commitments and having to officiate at two funerals last Thursday did me in. Chris said that the conference went well. I hope that I’ll be able to deliver my prepared talk the next time the conference is in town.

So, that’s about it for now. It’s Brno for the MotoGp teams this weekend but I missed FP1 & 2 last night due to my singing commitments, ah, the life of an international superstar. Have a good one and I’ll catch you soon.