The second weekend in October is always a good one for me. Marsden hosts its annual Jazz Festival and I get to play a couple of gigs with my old friends from Somerset, The Gents. We've known each other for over thirty years, and played together in various formations/combinations during that time. I first met the singer Paddy Mounter soon after I left art college, and we've been pretty much nose to nose ever since. We must have done a thousand gigs together, most of them with The Glad Band - a kind of jug-band outfit that's still loosely existant in that we're all alive ( to the amazement of some) and kicking. We did a wedding gig in Devon during the summer. Never again, we said, but then we say that every time.
On this occasion we fell out with the catering manager over where exactly we were supposed to be set up. (We'd assumed it would be in the marquee, where all the people were, when in fact we were supposed to be out on the cold and windy patio where the people were not. So we more or less refused. Big argument.) It's one of the basic rules of function gigging: ALWAYS stay on the right side of the catering manager, otherwise you don't get fed. We didn't get fed for a very long time. Mind you, that might have been more to do with the chef than anyone else. I never saw such a massive guy in all my life. I reckon he must have eaten the biggest part of everything he cooked, and he was cooking for a hundred and fifty. He was dressed all in white, and so you couldn't really miss him, and yet Pete Bendall, the bass player, didn't seem to be able to bring him into focus. This will come as no surprise to those who know the original Mr. Dazed-and-Confused.
'Where is he, then?' says Pete. 'Is that him over there?'
'Nah, that's the marquee,' I said. 'He's the BIG guy next to that.'