So, there I was in the car park at some soulless sports center just outside of Bath.
I was a 2 hour drive away from home, a bit knackered and sweaty and feeling my age – about the only time I ever do – as I struggled loading a flightcase of electronic shite into the van.
Yes, it was another gig.
I’ve been playing in bands ever since I was about 14 and that was over 40 years ago and I think I’m coming to the end of my gigging life.
Last Saturday was typical – get picked up from home at 3.30pm, drive to Pete’s house, load the PA and other gear into the van, drive to gig – typically a one and a half to two hour journey – unload, set up gear, soundcheck, try and grab food and drink, play gig, take down gear, load van, drive home, unload at Pete’s, get lift back home, get in about 2.30am.
That’s 11 hours from start to finish and although the money’s good, work it out at an hourly rate and it’s far less than I earn the rest of the week.
I’ve been doing this for over 40 years now and I still don’t really understand why. Yes, it’s paid employment, but there are easier ways to help make a living and after all these years, it’s not an ego-driven thing but I always try and play well, and if someone thinks they can do better then they’re welcome to form a band and fucking try. I’m always well-prepared musically and gear-wise. I know my shit and I always give my best.
In the band I’m currently with – a ceilidh band – we’re an integral part of the evening – it’s not like we’re background wallpaper music. If we play well – and the caller’s good – then we can really lift an evening. Especially if the dancers are enthusiastic and/or experienced.
It’s not like some crappy pub gig where you’re largely ignored even though you might be playing really well.
So…there are a few gigs between now and Christmas and after that I may well not be in this locality as Shark Towers goes on the market next week.
That rather puts the tin lid on things then.
Regrets? Of course – it’s been a major part of my life since I was very much younger. I’ve been all over the UK and even abroad – only last year we played in Belgium. I’ve had some fantastic times with the people I’ve played with on both a personal and musical level. It’s been lucrative and it’s even put food on the table in the lean times…
The upside is that I’ll no longer have commitments at the weekend and I won’t have to lug bloody great flightcases across car parks at unsociable hours.
I’ll miss it though – it’s been fabulous.