Diary Of A Busker Day 425 Sunday August 4th Stockbridge – Tr**t ‘n’ Ab**t food and craft festival. (In front of the Co-Op, Time: 10:15-11:45am).
It’s that time of the year again. That Tr**t ‘n’ Ab**t time of the year. And this year they’ve got a stage, or rather a roof over the bit of road in front of the Co-Op. Tania’s in Romania so my liason today is Jo, who Doll and I met just after we got here. She gives us two tokens which I notice are just for drinks, non-alcoholic of course. Last year I remember we got a drink token and also one for a burger. When I queried her about this, after Doll went off to look at some stalls, she, rather reluctantly, I thought, gave me some burger tokens. Come on!, I’m not getting paid for this – at least give me a token for a crappy burger!
Just after I’ve set up and am about to play, I meet one of the blokes in the band on after me, Chris Willis from The Tickle Fishermen. A big bloke: tall, bearded, be-capped, tracksuit bottoms with braces. Definitely a ‘character’. He chats with me while he’s setting up behind me. He’s got four small and very old guitar amplifiers. He says, ‘You know who you remind me of?’ ‘No’. ‘Neil Young’. ‘Oh, thanks…you mean Neil Young now?’ ‘No, but you’ve got the same head shape’. So there it is, I’ve got the same head shape as Neil Young. I think he realises I might be offended by that. I’m actually in quite a delicate mental state, from yesterday and I normally wouldn’t have said anything, but he DID ask me, so I told him.
Anyway, we carry on: me playing, him setting up. After an hour, Doll comes back and Chris goes to chat with her, and I can make out what he’s saying – ‘head shape, Neil Young’! Afterwards, Doll related the conversation. He said ‘Hi, you Marvin’s friend, partner, spouse, whatever?’ ‘Yes’. ‘Well I think I offended ‘im. I said ‘ee had the same ‘ead shape as Neil Young…don’t you think? And I think ‘ee was offended, well Neil Young was a good looking bloke in ‘is day, you know – that’s a compliment. I didn’t mean to offend ‘im…Neil Young, good looking…same ‘ead shape, you know…’ Ha!
After an hour and a half, I had a look in the bucket – about £5, oh dear. But then, as I’m packing up, an old guy comes up and he wants a CD, which saved the day. (It’s amazing how just one CD sale can turn everything around: from under the average, to over it. From a disaster to a TRIUMPH!! Crazy). After I’d packed up, the band on after me – Fac***be Hall turned up. Chris’s group were lined up for 2:30. Anyway, Chris didn’t like them at all and I could understand why. They were posh businessmen kind of people, and the worst kind of musicians: weekend musicians. In other words, they weren’t musicians. They had posh, rich faces and wore posh sunglasses and posh shorts. The guitarist says ‘Well, you tell us where we can set up’. Chris: ‘Anywhere’. Guitarist: ‘OK, we’ll set up over here, we won’t get in your way’. Guitarist then looks out at the sky and says ”course, if it rains, we’re not playing’. Why he said this, I don’t know, because the weather was fine. ‘What do you mean, if it rains you’re not playing?’ ‘Well, we’re not going to play’. ‘What kind of a thing is that to say? I tell you what, you can sit on this (he holds up his middle finger) for fuck’s sake!’
Then Chris is swearing at the guy!, which must have been quite offensive, but the bloke was just as offensive in his ‘eager to please’ manner and in his poshness, and I could see how Chris was wound up by him. Anyway, Jo came over and asked if they were all right, and Chris sat down and the other guy and his group set up. We hung around to hear a bit: they started with that bloody awful Eagles dirge – Take It Easy (a bit of snideness?), with the offending singer boringly strumming major chords, the bass player boringly playing only the root notes and perhaps the most offensive part and something I loathe: the shades and shorts-wearing drummer clicking his sticks to count in the songs. Why can’t someone who’s not the drummer just go ‘One, two, three, four’? Anyway, a monkey could play like that.
Me and Doll went off to the car park put my stuff in the car. On the way back, Chris was driving in. He stopped and said he was just winding those guys up: ‘I fuckin’ hate those sort of people – they’re not musicians’, and we agreed. Later on as we were walking up and down the high street, looking at stuff, we heard one of the Trout ‘n’ About people on their walkie-talkies, taking a call: ‘Yeah, can you go over to the stage, that big hairy guy’s shouting again…’ Ha! He’s winding them up again!
Later on we went to hear Chris’s group. Very good, and no drummer or bass player. A bit 1950s rock, a bit jazz. They did a great version of Hello Mary Lou. And there was a funny Spinal Tap moment when, at the start of a song, Chris was trying to open a packet of drumsticks and because of the ridiculous amount of unbreakable vacuum-sealed modern-day packaging, he couldn’t do it. He had a snare drum on his lap and this was obviously his percussion moment, but he couldn’t get the sticks out! After a couple of minutes, some bloke sitting near us got hold of a pair of scissors and gave them to Chris, but he still couldn’t break the packaging! He was laughing – ‘It’s all bloody packaging these days!’ He finally got one drumstick out as everyone else finished the song! Classic Tap, it was – really funny. They were a good group, though. The keyboard guy was great, and there was a guy on sax and harmonica and they all played together well – all very ‘natural’ sounding, not like the other lot: boring chords, root notes, boring drums.
Earnings: £13.94 (Including 1 CD)