Archive for the 'Nice Guy Eddie' Category

August and everything after

So as summer comes to an end with a cold, damp, miserable thump (what a surprise) it’s time to review some of what i’ve been up to over august.

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I was at a wedding in a castle in Edinburgh (though not edinburgh castle) where they had the most wonderful humanist wedding ceremony. (I think we need more humanist wedding ceremonies, but that’s another blog.)

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There was great food, good wine and even some dancing – of which i did not partake i must confess. Even the Bon Jovi.

I picked up the guitar and grew some balls and played my songs in a wee cafe in Portadown. And after the first 4 songs i even started enjoying it.

And in a fit of musical enthusiasm I picked up the old electric again and played with the old band in church. Lamenting my dying guitar amp and how rusty I’ve got at playing the electric guitar.

I await my new valves in earnest in the hope i can resurrect the Hot Rod deluxe to do another 10 years of loyal service.

On a more positive not the new Pod X3 rocks. While a little on the complicated side to set up and run it does sound pretty sweet. These are the days i wish i hadn’t sold my strat to Woodsy.

In between I have actually enjoyed my work. Which is kind of new for me. I have found myself too often pisssed off and frustrated in work so it’s nice to have a wee bit more enthusiasm and positivity about the whole thing. being there less helps. Which i know sounds weird – “I love my job as long as I’m not there…” – but when I do less hours I sleep better and am more sane than usual. This has got to be a good thing.

I look forward to dropping a day a week in the middle of september and going back to cutting up dead bodies with the students.

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And then most recently was Jonny and Lynne’s wedding. Dear Jonny, whom I’ve known since I was 6 when he arrived in P2 and stole my lego. Not that I’m bitter. Dear Jonny, who I shard houses with and tears and joy with and made 9 platiunum selling albums with in the Turf Brothers. Good times.

Great wedding, though running around doing musical stuff all day. Including the first ever live turf brother’s performance.

And it was mighty craic playing in Nice Guy Eddie again (my old wedding band) and even nicer to move from dance floor to band and back to dance floor again getting to play just the songs that i remembered.

There was dancing. There was me dancing. There was me enjoying dancing.  But i blame Transfarmer for that. I blame her for everything really.

But above all else what made the wedding was the fact that we didn’t have to drive the 1 1/2 hours back from the Killyhevlin at midnight. Instead we sat about the hotel till 0130 and then dandered back to our little chalets at the riverside for a cup of tea and a nice kip.

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And so began our little two day holiday in damp fermanagh. Like the donegal trip simply transplanted to a pre-fab chalet on the bank of the river.

I took the good ship pudge out on my own for the first time but was slightly annoyed that the brisk wind meant that i couldn’t get the thing turned and embarassingly had to reverse the canoe to shore just to turn it.

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Everyone else seemed to enjoy their trip too. No one got wet anyhow.

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We visited an ice-cream shop, just for the adventure of getting lost in the Fermanagh countryside. Sat-Nav is great and all that but only if you tell it to go to the right place.

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Extended weekends rock. And it’s still only sunday morning.

Rockin the suburbs

Now I don’t want to make my life out to sound more busy than it is. In the words of Goldilocks’s narrator, two and a half days a week is ‘just right‘.

This week has been somewhat of an exception. Such that Friday, 8am on the train out of Portadown is the only time I’ve had all week to put pen to paper. Or perhaps fingers to keyboard…

Part of the busyness was good old fashioned work, part was a joyous reunion with the Belfast Empire at a Josh Ritter gig. The other part was my farewell outing with the legendary stadium rockers Nice Guy Eddie.

It was my 6th wedding of the year. Not bad seeing as I missed the first 6 months of it.

It was a good one. A CE wedding, where there’s nothing but wonderful people I know and love on both sides of the family.

Add to this the fact both the wedding and reception were in Portadown so it avoided the long, dull and awkward, three hours between service and reception. Everyone went back to someone’s house to play cards and lie around comfortable seats and drink their own tea.

One of the joys of being in a wedding band is that people know they can get you to play on the cheap no matter how bad you are. Kidding… honestly.
So as long as you have a steady (though rapidly diminishing) group of friends marrying themselves off then you’re guaranteed steady work.

Maybe it’s a good thing but some people have been to all the same weddings that we play at and surely they’re getting fed up with us. Though maybe not. We have added red ties, waistcoats and many a contemporary pop tune along the way.

By my own (admittedly low) standards it was a good night. Though I still stand with Woodsy that Build me up Buttercup and Dancing Queen are what they’ll be playing in the elevator on your way to hell.
Right we’re at Lisburn, better hurry up.

People dance, even Christians, even sober people dance. I rejoice to see them all with a smile on their face, there’s something about Northern Irish Christians dancing that brings a smile to my face. And I don’t mean a Monty Python sketch type smile. More of a rejoicing over the fact that though we’ve filled ourselves (in fact substitute myself for the ourselves…) with reservations, inhibitions and legalism, that just occasionally we remember how to celebrate and rejoice and bust some moves on the dance floor.

Though it takes a while to get the reserved, inhibited prudes to the floor (we call them adults). Instead we play the first few songs to a packed floor of 4 toddlers, Peter Kay style knee sliding included.

It takes me a while to realise that some of the kids are those of couples whose weddings we first played at some 5 years ago. In fact we’ve played at the weddings of half the couples there (editors note – the last statement is a gross exaggeration under article 4 of the bloggers code pertaining to atistic license. Because 5 didn’t sound near as dramatic).

This does not make me feel old or lonely or scared or angry – which many weddings do make me feel.

As the train rumbles through past Adelaide (‘past old building full of slogans…‘) I see my work here is done. I don’t mean the babies, they had nothing to do with me (your honour…), but I mean it’s a good gig to end on.

It’s like bonehead, the really crap guitarist from Oasis (yes even worse than Noel) being politely asked to pick up his Epiphone casino and royalty cheque on his way out the door. Or maybe it’s more like Robbie leaving Take That.

Though I suspect in reality it’s more of a Pete Best thing. Leaving me old, bitter and peniless as the boys move on to bigger and better things.

It has indeed been a pleasure.

Ahh. Now how did I end up in Bangor…

I bet you look good on the dance floor

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I would like this to be an epiphany. But really it’s just more of a climb down. With cap in hand and sheepish look I confess, that I just may be a dancer.

By that, I in no way mean that I can dance, or indeed show an inkling of promise in the field. What I mean is that I just may enjoy it.

Background.

I have not danced, nor even tapped a foot in anger on the dance floor since a horrible ‘club’ experience when I was 19, when I first made a commitment never to dance in public again.

I dance in private regularly, head banging to Bloc Party with the best of them.

My problems with dancing are legion, but far and away the most significant is the self-consciousness of my white boy self making an idiot of himself in front of both beloved and complete strangers.

I am not alone in this I know.

Today I was at a friend’s wedding. Indeed this was a regression wedding. A wedding of a founder member of the GFA (Garden Football Association). The GFA was not as some suspect, a paramilitary organisation but a bunch of 15 year olds with two much time on their hands and a back garden and some footy.

This was a wedding of one of those guys that in many ways I don’t know nearly as well as I would like but just enough to know that it’s been well worth knowing him. One of those guys that you see once a year but remains solid in the ‘people I’m glad I’ve known in my life’ list.

The music was neither a dodgy cover band, nor a DJ, but just a ‘throw your iPod in the ring’ type of thing. And so we were all busy regressing into our 16/17/18 year old selves, and trying to reconcile this with our 26-year-old selves and catching up on what happened in between.

There was Mr Brightside, there was also Last Night, there was indeed most of the Nice Guy Eddie play list. There was Living on a prayer, and yes there was jumping up and down and realising that a high G is beyond my vocal range.

I loved it. This is no dirty, secret confession. This is proud and true, that dancing just may be an awful lot of fun. I will always be more comfortable dancing to Mr Brightside and Love will tear us apart than Build me up buttercup. I feel some kind of identity with the former. I feel nothing but contempt for the latter.

Today was in many ways ideal conditions for breaking my dance-fast. It may not happen again any time soon, but I am glad, no longer to be a secret dancer, but perhaps one who will require less encouragement to make a move on the dance floor. Though I would warn you still to keep your toes well clear.

Anyone can play guitar

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Among the myriad of things I missed when I was away was music. Not the piped music from my computer, but the sheer joy of making (and indeed simply regurgitating) music with other people.

I have had the pleasure of playing with some wonderful musicians, and some even more wonderful people. The only way you get better is by playing with people better than you. Though by that argument I should maybe be getting on better than I am.

Of the 5 weddings I’m at in the 6 weeks I’m home, I’m playing at two of them. The old Nice Guy Eddie reunited tour. The Spice Girls have nothing on us. And tonight we got round to practicing again.

I’ve been without an electric guitar for the guts (and indeed heart, liver and lungs) of a year. I can do G, after that it gets a bit fuzzy. I picked up the guitar from church before the practice. It took me a while to figure out where to plug things. I gave it a go. It sounded awful. I would like this to be the passage of time and old strings, and possibly a blown valve, but alas no.

The truth is I’m crap again. Now I’m still better than most of you. I’m still a decent guitarist. That doesn’t change. But I’m about 10 steps backward form where I was.

The guys play their new version of Mr Brightside that they came up with to cope without a guitar. And it’s stunning. It’s everything I love about the three of them. It’s them at their very best. And I realise I have missed out in being away a year.

It’s so good, I have no desire to find a niche to fit some guitar into the song. I like playing covers, cause I can copy what someone else played. I can copy other people quite well. When it comes to originality I struggle somewhat. Horrible noises come out of the guitar. I get more angry and frustrated at myself. I get angry and frustrated at my frustrated anger.

I am crap again. I know not why this annoys me as much as it does.

Adventures of Eddie

Part 1 

I have become a tad lazy in the old blogs. I could blame work, but laziness is probably a bit nearer the truth. It’s not that I’ve not been busy, I’ve done lots of fun things since last we spoke.

I have my whole life set out on iCal (the calendar thingy you get when you buy a mac, following the good old tendency to insert a needless lower case i in front of all products. I have three calendars set up on it to cover my rota at work, ce stuff and various other projects. “Other projects” tends to involve our little wedding band gigs (or as we’re now apparently known Nice Guy Eddie in an obscure Reservoir Dogs reference, though I still Jonah And The Whalers was our finest hour…).

We’ve had five in four weeks, as busy as we’ve been, which took a hell of a lot of practice and a fair amount of traveling. I suppose i could give you a quick summary of each one, it’ll fill a few minutes of your lives if you’ve time on your hands, why else would you be reading this?

Thurs 16/2/06 Bloomfield Collegiate Formal – Clandeboye Lodge.

Now we’ve been around the block a few times and played at lots of hotels so we’ve a tendency to rate them, kind o a like a poor man’s michelin guide. Nice enough place. Enough sense to confine the drunk sixth formers to only one set of toilets and set a bouncer to guard the others. Nice wee stage for us to play on, cosy enough but enough room for me to turn round without cracking Steve’s cymbals with my guitar.

We tend to set up early before the meal gets going so we’re all ready to go in a very professional manner. In reality we set up early so we can head to the restaurant to get a big feed and do a verbal practice – involves the four of us sitting around a table doing air guitar/drum/bass/piano respectively and running through all the songs. It does tend to attract a look or two.

This was our first gig in a while and we had stacks of new songs to try out. The more we do this the more we realise the song order is key, if you can get the crowd up and dancing and then hit them with a few jackson 5 numbers then you’re sorted.

So some horrendous mistakes and some wonderful noise later we were done.

Fri 17/2/06 Dalriada Formal – Royal Court Hotel Portrush (the really nice one overlooking white rock beach).

Bit of a marathon drive to the north coast. Another pleasant addition to these gigs is that i now get skeno to drive everywhere cause both our stuff fits in his car (but alas not in mine). So we have a lovely two hour journey and his iPod for company. He also has the wonderful spoken bible by Mike Kellogg (as in the corn flake) so we just listen to that mostly or the fast emperors whichever takes our fancy. Somehow different when you hear the bible spoken as opposed to just reading it.

Another top notch feed, need we say more. And what a gig. Definitely down as our best so far. Folk who’d dance to anything. The Baywatch theme tune is our new favorite song, so many people running in slow motion. Goes down a treat. Alas broke a string, which on the strat is a bad idea so i missed two songs while changing it and the boys struggled on without me.

And then the old pack up. We take a lot of gear and PA stuff so it can take a fair while. In bed by 4.30 am. Not sure if Skeno was in fit state to drive home, eyes kept closing on him. at least i didn’t have to work till lunch the next day.

By the end of two gigs with my amp blaring in my right ear and Steve blaring in my left i was beginning to feel the pain of tinnitus… what?… speak up, i can’t hear you…

Part 2

tour diary – day 91 on tour and woodsy has fallen asleep with his face in last night’s pizza. Steve is passed out in the corner snorting coke. Skeno is tripping on the roof of the bus with a selection of teenage groupies. Andy still can’t get flippin 7 across….

Ah yes.

Wed 22/02/06 Church of Ireland Center Formal – Europa hotel.

Cool gig on a number of different levels. Firstly, it’s in Belfast so we don’t have to drive as far. Secondly we get to use the sneaky back entrance to the hotel. Which isn’t particularly glamorous as it’s just past a skip and lots of smelly rotten food into the bowels (not an inappropriate term) of the hotel. It’s like something from 28 days later, you’re waiting for zombie like creatures to burst through the ventilation pipes at you. You’re in the lift and you’re just waiting for it to judder to a halt and blood to pour from the ceiling…

So the Europa isn’t that glamorous, it’s just a poky room on the 13th (ooh er) floor. Though you do get a nice view of Belfast. Food tonight courtesy of Red Panda across the road, though Skeno wasn’t happy with the service cause no one would give him a glass of water no matter how may times he asked.

Quality ould gig, broke another string (i shall not use the green plectrum, i shall not use the green plectrum…) and the crowd danced from start to finish. Though dancing is a loose term. That’s the thing about playing at Christian gigs, so few of us ever go to clubs and as a result we’ve never got over that nervous self conscious shuffle that we do. Sends a shiver down my spine… Marks for enthusiasm though.

Baywatch moment of the night, three people in the corner incorporating CPR and the kiss of life into their dancing. Skeno moment of the night “God Bless the Anglican Church” incorporated into it must be love .

Clear up was the usual bant. Though we were left with one rather scary eastern European guy who was doing the dishes and was playing his most scary porcupine 3 (don’t ask) album. All very German goth esque.

Wed 8/03/06 Derryvolgie Formal (Presby halls in Belfast) Ramada Hotel

As always trying to be their early but i was working till 5pm and of course the 16 month old starts to have a seizure at that time so Andy sits in resus poking needles in babies and trying to get their temperature down (you wouldn’t believe how you can get paracetamol into a child…). So we end up leaving at 6.20 instead of 5.20. Oh well.

The Ramada’s a nice type of a place. We had some lovely duck and watched a terrible Scottish first league footy game while waiting for the meal to finish. Now this was a fun gig cause there were at least six CE folk at it so we knew a few there. Funny moments include me starting the wrong song at the wrong time in the wrong key. And the first “moshing” we’ve had at one of our gigs along with our first crowd surfer. Which is impressive with only 4 people dancing.

And I managed not to break a string.

Clear up fun as always. Me and Skeno just tried to work out the relationship of the people working behind the bar, they were flirting away with each other and it’s always fun trying to guess who’s leading who on. Yes we had too much time on our hands.

Quick reflection on the meaning of life on the way home and to bed.

Busy few weeks. I need a holiday methinks.


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