It seems that our website is generating a little interest in just what us three old farts are up to. So, here's an insight into what makes 'The fabulous Grandads' tick - apart from the Pacemakers, that is.......
Saturday 1st June
Blimey - it's been a while since the last post on here but, to be honest, Facebook seems to be a much more successful way of communicating with our friends.
Our ZZ Top vid now has nearly 20,000 views - and counting. The last four thousand or so views seemed to be all in Scandinavia. One nice lady asked where she could buy a concert ticket to see us. Seems a bloody good excuse for a trip to an English pub to me.
New Years Eve 2013 is sorted gang. We'll be at The Chequers in Loose (where I used to go fishing for Sticklebacks as a kid). It will be a limited numbers, ticket only gig with a buffet. You can call Shaw, the landlord on 07977 289171 or 01622 743125 to reserve a ticket.
Monday 29th April
It was a triumphant return last Saturday at Buddies Bar - the first gig since Neil's little ailment. A great audience and host, Dave Cross looked after us so well. I'm sure we'll be back soon.
It's been a while coming but the first of our two new videos is now uploaded to you tube and can be seen either on our facebook page or by clicking on the Demo Videos button on the left.
We recorded it pretty-much live in our studio and our mate Ian helped with the filming. Hope you enjoy it.
Here's a pic at Buddies Bar. You can just see us through the throng of dancers.
Friday 4th April
Sorry folks, we've had to cancel two gigs for the first time ever this weekend - Bar10 and The Albion. Neil had a heart attack on Tuesday and an emergency operation on Wednesday. He's home now and making a quick and full recovery. No other gigs will be affected. More later and on our Facebook page.
Wednesday 20th March
Carol, Ian and Mark have sent us some cracking new piccys taken at a recent gig. Here they are. And Steve Hole has written a review of a recent show. Just click on it on the sidebar.
Monday 18th March
If you've been following this Blog and our Facebook page you'll no doubt be bored stiff with the constant references to our gear and the modifications we keep making. So please excuse one more little Blog entry about it. You see, our goal posts have changed since the old days when we were working hard to feed our families and we didn't have much spare cash to spend on the best gear. These days all three of us are constantly fiddling, replacing and tweeking our own gear in the search for the Holy Grail of a studio sound at all our live gigs. And we reckon that at last weekend's two gigs, we've come closer to it than ever before. It really is a great feeling of personal satisfaction for us when it all comes together. But it would all mean nothing unless we were able to share it with our audiences. So, to everyone who has ever come along to see us - a huge great big monstrous giant THANK YOU from all three of us.
Friday 15th MarchI guess it's human nature to become more nostalgic as the years roll on and sometimes it's too depressing to dwell upon but I thought I'd just share something that made me smile the other day. I came across a couple of my old band diaries from 1976 and 1982 that had been shuffled around from drawer to drawer over the years and I thought I'd compare the fees we were getting then and now. At the time, my band 'JET' were becoming established as a Comedy Band and we were pretty high up the local-band earnings ladder. We had moved on from Pubs to (mostly) Clubs but we were not yet fully into the Function and Cabaret scene. If you're our age and you remember the local music scene back then, here are some of the Venues we played and the fees we were getting around 1978. I've also calculated todays equivalent, inflation-corrected fee in brackets.
Ham Hill Club £100 (today £485), Ashford Working Mans Club £120 (today £583), Faversham British Rail Club £150 (today £728), Ditton Community Centre £96 (today £466), East Peckham Working Mans Club £120 (today £583), Junior Ranks Club, Caterham Barracks £200 (today £971), The Crest Club, Leysdown, mid-week residency £65 (today £315), Ramsgate Club, New Years Eve £450 (today £2186). Now, if we were still in the Dinner-dance / Function / Cabaret scene I guess the modern, in-brackets, prices would seem to be about right. But we're not. Pub fees are, understandably, much less but probably still in-line with pub band fees way back then.
What has changed dramatically however is the price of technology. Here's an advert from about 1977. Someone in Medway was offering a Studio 8-Track Tape Recorder for £1250 - a whopping £6576 in todays money!! The Tascam we record our demos on will record 8 tracks and do much much more for just £500.
Monday 4th March
Unlike the old days when we had our single microphone hanging from a string from the ceiling because we couldn't afford a mic stand and we fed that one mic and three guitars into one amplifier because that's all we had, we're in the fortunate position now to be able to afford the gear we need to put on the best possible show we can. But that doesn't always mean that we get it right every time. A recent pub gig started with a failure of our Lighting control Desk - in a really dark pub where we really needed some lights. Despite working perfectly for the last eighteen months, it decided to give up the ghost - dying peacefully in it's sleep in the van between gigs. It's done pretty well though despite being drowned in a pint of coke and dried out under the toilet hand drier in it's youth. Fortunately, we have a new, more professional controller waiting in the wings. A couple of evenings programming will have it in action for our forthcoming three-gig weekend. A steady process of upgrade and refinement has always been the way we've improved our show over time. After the major vocal sound improvement from our new JBL PA. I decided to upgrade my Synthesizer amplification from Wharfedale to JBL. So, I took the new PRX 612, powered speakers along to the same gig to check 'em out. I heard a couple of little 'pops' as I plugged them in but the buggers would not work - not even the little tell-tale LED on the name badge. After a half hour's investigation in the dark with a torch I discovered the voltage settings were on 115 volts instead of our UK 240 volts. One cab survived with a change of fuse but the other suffered more internal damage and had to go back. Is it unreasonable to expect equipment bought in UK for use in UK to be set to run on UK voltage? There's a lesson right there. If that wasn't enough hassle for one gig, we had to stop playing just a few seconds into the first song because of the awful sound. We're quite used to playing in small pubs, often in another room to our audience, sometimes high ceilings, sometimes low. Sometimes wooden floors, sometimes stone and sometimes carpet. Pub customers are almost always in the pub when we arrive so we try to avoid an unprofessional run-through sound check. And we can usually get away with it, dialling the sound in within a few seconds. This one was different. The overtones, feedback and reverberation were awful - and different for each of us. We eventually sorted it out and had a great night.
We always aim for the controlled sound we're able to achieve in our studio so John took advantage of a few days off to take his new stage Marshall 4 x 12 cab and 300 Watt Laney Bass Amp into the studio for a direct side by side comparison with his old 60 Watt Laney valve Amp and battered Carlsboro 1 x 18 cab. There was just no comparison. We could not get the new rig to sound as good as the old rig so they've changed places in the van and on stage. Go figure, as they say.
Loads of great gigs coming up in March so we hope to see you.
Monday 11th February
A SURVIVING CANCER PARTY? Yup - that was last Saturday's gig and it's tough to think of a better reason for a celebration with your family and friends. So, our thanks to Frank and his lovely wife Frieda for booking us and looking after us so well. Incidentally, Frank is 72, sharp as a tack and still works three days a week in London. Here's to you Frank - you're an inspiration.
Thin lizzie's 'The Rocker' is getting a severe pounding this week. 'I got my Cickle outside - you wanna try. ????
Monday 28th January
What a great weekend we had at two packed pubs - Thanks once again to Ken and the gang at The Fox and Goose and John and Victoria at The Chequers and of course to our fantastic audiences. Proof, if any were needed, that a good pub with a good landlord and regular entertainment can pull-em-in - even in these austere times. We're back at The Chequers again in February and March. Happy Birthday to Carol - a Rose between two thorns!!.
Wednesday 16th January 2013
You may recall that Chris's band 'The Hustlers' supported 'The Beatles' at The Wimbledon Palais in 1963. Well, someone who was working backstage at the gig came across The Grandads website and contacted Chris to send him some pictures he took almost fifty years ago. And here they are. Chris recalls that the promoter had built three Stages, side by side with The Beatles in the middle, The Hustlers on the left and the third band on the right, behind a wire fence to keep the screaming fans at bay. These photos were taken pretty much from The Hustlers stage. Their gear was just off camera to the right. Chris has some interesting recollections of that gig. Maybe we can get him to recall them on the blog someday.
Thursday 10th January 2013
Phew - that was a tough Christmas - with all of us fighting off the Lurgi. It hangs around so long when you get over thirty doesn't it? Back at it this weekend with our friends in The Kent Kit Car Club on Saturday and back to The Albion in Boughton Monchelsea on Sunday afternoon at 3.00pm.
We thought it was about time we had some new promotion piccys so we found a great photographer - Debbie Bryant www.debbiebryantphotography.com to squeeze some off for us. Here are a few. We'll put more on the Gallery soon.
Tuesday 27th November
One more week before the Christmas rush begins and we've been brushing up on a few festive ditties. Tonight we're also gonna take a look at 'Spooky' by 'Atlanta Rhythm Section' - the closest to Jazz we're ever likely to get - could be interesting.
I've finally got around to making a demo video about my gear in response to the many friendly and inquisitive chats I've had about it at gigs. The film turned out a bit longer than expected so I split it into two for You Tube. WARNING to non-technos - ZZZZZ - rated - you'll be asleep in five minutes.
Thursday 9th November
I've seen a lot of live bands over the past 45 years. Many have impressed me but only twice have the hairs on the back of my neck been raised and I've fought back tears of amazement with a lump in my throat. The first time was back in the early eighties when I went to see Manfred Mann's Earthband at The Town and Country Club in London. Their album "Angel Station' had recently been released and they put on an amazing show leagues above anything else I'd ever seen. The second time was at Roy Wood's Robin 2 venue in Wolverhampton two years ago when I made the Pilgrimage to see the band that was a huge influence when I first started playing as a job - The Sweet. I saw them once as a three-piece at The Rainbow just after Brian Connolly died and they were pretty dismal. But their album 'Sweet Fanny Adams' still remains my favourite of all time. Although guitarist, Andy Scott is the only original member, the show at The Robin2 resurrected long-dormant emotions and I found myself grizzling like a child at the slick, powerful performance of all my favourite songs. The sound, the atmosphere and the excitement once again raised those hairs on my neck (the only ones I have left now).
Unfortunately, Sweet rarely play in UK - they're much bigger almost everywhere else in the world so I was mildly excited to discover that they were coming to Folkestone's Leas Cliffe Hall in a show with those other Glam Rockers, Slade. I say, 'mildly excited because over the years I've seen several bands perform there including sixteen-year-old Gary Moore with Skid Row and I've even played there a couple of times, once with Shawaddywaddy and I can attest to the place having appalling acoustics.
So, a crowd of us went along at thirty quid a ticket in the hope that modern technology could deliver a good quality sound but it wasn't to be. Sweet played and sung brilliantly as expected and received a warm reception but the sound was wooly and boomy. To be fair, it was the first night of the tour so the crew may have been getting used to the gear. Slade (only Dave Hill and Don Powell from the original band) don't even deserve a mention. Disappointed.
Monday 5th November
Well, we've been around for a while and there's nothing much that surprises us any more in this game. But our gig at BAR 10 last Friday was a first for all three of us. Firstly, it's a great venue that overflows into the impressive (if a bit echoey) Star Arcade and the audience were a friendly and enthusiastic bunch of all ages. What was different was that, from the first to the last song - all 2 1/2 hours' worth - they were dancing. Sometimes just a few but mostly, the dance area was full. So, our thanks to all the gang at Bar 10 - we'll be back there soon. And thanks to everyone at The Fox and Hounds on Saturday for a great rocking evening. We're back there in January.
Wednesday 24th October
Our two-in-a-day Saturday turned out just fine with cracking gigs at The Dog and Bone and The Clothworkers. Our thanks once again to Dave and Rob for your continuing support. We're back at both within a day or so at Christmas. We felt sorry for Dave at The Dog & Bone because the girl singer following us at his all-day festival failed to turn up. No phone call or apology. Not good.
Our music stands have always been a mild embarrassment to us even though these days they're more of a prop than a necessity. Months ago we shrunk our songbooks from A4 to A5 and chopped down the size of the music stands to suit. But they're still big and a major distraction. So, I've taken the plunge and transferred all the song and effects preset information from my little black book to an iPad. All my guitar sound and synth preset numbers for each song are there at the touch of the screen and I can change to any of our fifty or so songs in a second. The battery lasts at least four gigs, it doesn't need a light and it's about half the size of the book and stand it replaced. Technology's a wunnerful ting innit?
I saw an interview the other night on Sky Arts with Leiber and Stoller, legendary songwriters of the fifties and sixties. Mike Stoller played a few of their huge hits with a singer called Solomon Burke. One of the songs they played and sung was (I think) 'Stand By Me' and guess what? Mike Stoller had the sheet music on his piano and Solomon Burke was reading the Lyrics from an Autocue.
I had four people ask me about my gear last Saturday - how it all works and stuff. I'm more than happy to show people around it all but maybe I should think about doing a video. Hmm.
Monday 8th October
As I look out of my office window it's chucking it down - monsoon-style. Just like it was last Friday when we were unloading the van at the George and Dragon. The place was packed and there was a buzz of anticipation. Apparently everyone had checked out our You Tube videos beforehand. We had a great time and we even sold out of CD's - so thanks to our hosts Rob and Ronny. We got soaked again loading up though - that's Rock & Roll folks.
The Pelham Arms' Landlady, Cindy bashed out a rocking Mustang Sally with us on Saturday and fellow muso's were out in force at Sue & Dave's, Market Inn in Faversham Sunday afternoon.
Gig by-gig, our show is gradually taking shape. Our sound is becoming more consistant and Graham is starting to settle into his daunting job of synchronising the lights with each song. Thanks to everyone for supporting us and our hosts we'll be back to all three for sure.
Monday 1st October
We had a great couple of gigs last weekend. Thanks to all at The Golden Lion where there was always at least one audience member singing all the words to every song - amazing. And to all at The Crystal Palace for a riotous evening raising money for the worthiest of all charities - Cancer Research. We were very happy to be there and help out.
There's a busy weekend coming folks with Friday at Swanscombe, Saturday at Gravesend and Sunday afternoon at Faversham. Gonna need a week in bed after that lot!! Love it though.
Great news on telly this morning - the long awaited lifting of Live Music restrictions in Pubs and Bars. Now, no-one needs a music license for entertainment to less than 200 people between 8.00 Am and 11 PM
Thursday 13th September
Our mate, Matt has managed to lift the restrictions on the size of our website so, we've updated the Gallery with loads of Ian's great shots.
Monday 10th September
Well, the weekend's three gigs turned out to be more interesting than expected. Our fantastic audience (mostly) of fellow musicians at The George were joined by a nice feller from the "Performing Rights Society". He was there to make notes of the titles and composers of all the songs we performed that evening. He took the information to process it to award each performer or composer their few pence from the PRS fund of money collected from all Music-licensed venues. For the thirty or so songs we played I guess a total of £1.50 would have been shared between all the pockets of the composers. Fair enough - we have no problem with any of that. Strange though, that of all the muso's in the pub (and there were quite a few) none could ever remember such a visit happening over the last fifty years. Strange too, that doing this a few nights a week is this fellers job (sorry I don't remember your name) and I estimate that for the 5 hours or so that he was on our particular assignment he must have earned at least forty quid. Go figure, as they say.
Friday's Request Night at The Kings Head was a great success and a bit of an eye opener. Most of the requests were for songs from our regular set list anyway so we ended up doing pretty-much our regular set, in a different order. It's a reassuring confirmation that we seem to be doing it right.
The weekend was rounded-off with a lovely relaxing, laid-back afternoon at The Albion. Thanks to everyone concerned. We're booked back at all three venues.
Finally, our mate, Dave Caulfield's book 'The Semi-pro 60's has been published. It's a great chuckle and full of nostalgic memories for anyone who was involved in the scene back then. We all feature in it many times. If you fancy a copy you can email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday 29th August
New Live You Tube Video - Go Down (To view it just click here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dsx8_9beC5s). It was recorded by our mate Ian at The King and Queen, East Malling last Sunday with a Panasonic video camera and only it's built-in mic. Nice one Ian.
Sorry - this site is full and won't allow us to upload any more pictures - We're working on expanding it.
Monday 27th August
Our thanks to Alison and all the gang at The Black Horse & Hoodens on Saturday and to Chris, Dave and a great audience in the garden at The King and Queen on Sunday afternoon. What was booked as a short appearance turned into a marathon evening playing just about every song we know - just as well, the weather was fantastic. (Sorry - piccys waiting but this site is full and won't take any more. We're working on it)
Monday 20th August
New times for Sunday at The King and Queen, East Malling. Just noticed a time change from our gig list's 8.00 start. It's now 5.30 start and we're in the garden with a Hog Roast (weather permitting).
Thursday 16th August
A great night at The Clothworkers last Saturday and thanks to new Landlords Rob and Sue for their hospitality. We're back again in October and at Christmas plus a few next year as resident band. Our new Lasers got a little airing too but they're difficult to photograph and they rely on some Haze in the air for maximum effect - and it just kept blowing out of the door. There's a sneak preview piccy below.
We're back at The Crystal Palace in Tunbridge Wells on Friday and on Saturday at 9.30 we're Topping-The-Bill at the 'Dog and Bone's' all-day festival in Gillingham. It's outside in the garden and the weather forecast is very good so - fingers crossed and hope to see you there.
Tuesday 7th August
Back to rehearsals tonight after a busy weekend. We've been throwing in a few of the old songs in preparation for our 'Request Night' at The Kings Head in four weeks time. More about that later. This weekend also saw the testing of our new Lasers. You can see them in action this coming Saturday (11th August) at The Clothworkers. If you've never been there it's a cracking little pub with a great atmosphere and from it's patio out the back, without doubt, you'll see the best view in Kent. Hope to see you there.
Thursday 2nd August
A short-notice one gang. Next Saturday, 11th August. Back at The Clothworkers Arms in Sutton Valence - scene of our first ever gig - eighteen months ago. New Landlord, Rob seems a luvverly guy.
Thursday 2nd August
Saw a large printed sign in a local pub the other day. "Swearing will not be tolerated in this Pub. If you wish to swear or use bad language, please find another Pub" What a refreshing attitude from a brave landlord.
Wednesday 1st August
A new last - minute gig just in folks. The Port Arms in Deal on Sunday 5th August. That's three again this weekend. No peace for the wicked.
Monday 30th July
Another great night at The Victory. Thanks to everyone for your support. Here's the new look fab Grandads. Pic by Ian as usual (more to come, I'm sure). Nice one Ian. Went Laser shopping today - Interesting........ The last time I looked into stage lasers you couldn't get much for less than ten grand. Now they start at just a few hundred quid.
Friday 27th July
Our new stage outfits have arrived and it'll be a toss-up which is louder - them or the music !!! We'll unleash them tomorrow at The Victory. Here's a clue - 'The 50th State'
Thursday 26th July
We've lost a couple of our old muso mates in the last few weeks which got us chatting. Would we even bother going to every funeral that came along? John and I struck a deal - I'll go to his if he comes to mine.
Started recording some of the backing for our new album. So far - Go Down, Tie Your Mother Down and Don't Believe a Word. There's a long way to go but it's a start.
Monday 16th July
New gig for Saturday 28th July. The Victory in East Farleigh (right next to the bridge and railway crossing)
Monday 9th July
Our 'fabulous' supporters were certainly out in force this weekend at The Dukes Head and Black Horse & Hoodens for two great gigs. We thank you all for coming along. And, of course, thanks to the appreciative regulars and Landlords Chris, Lorraine and Alison for being wonderful hosts. (Oh, and to the generous anonymous benefactor at The Black Horse who topped-up our winter heating allowance for playing on till 5.00). Great stuff.
Ian has captured a few more great shots.
Thursday 5th July
New gig just come in for next Friday, 13th July at The Barming Bull, Maidstone.
Sunday 1st July
What a great audience at The Valiant Sailor last night. Dancing and singing along from the first song till the last. Thanks to Vicky for looking after us. See you all again on CHRISTMAS EVE.
Tuesday 27th May
Just about recovered from a tough weekend. Thanks to Neil & Michelle for a steaming night at The Man of Kent and to Landlord and ex-muso Dave at The Market Inn for looking after us so well. We love the intimacy of small pubs but It was a nice change to play at a proper 'Venue' where we had space for the full lights and effects show. Our fantastic photographer, Ian was there to capture some great shots and who knows, maybe even a live video soon. Nice one Ian.