Last night I ordered a new DMX light controller. This will give me more control over my LED par cans, enabling me to produce better quality light shows for my own band and performances, not to mention other performers I work with.
Today on my second day of work experience with Paul, we started at South Molton school and gave some children guitar lessons. After that we came back to Braunton for my own guitar lesson. Next it was my sisters lesson which I played the cajon (small drum) for, and assisted her along with songs that Paul had shown her recently. Next we headed back to Ilfracombe to collect the equipment for a ukulele workshop that evening, once everything was packed up it was time to go. For this particular workshop, we drove to Simonsbath house on Exmoor. The workshop was full of enthusiastic children, and ran very smoothly. After the workshop we headed back home. A very long tiring second day, and much of the same tomorrow.
An article in the North Devon Journal, about ukulele workshops for Mother's Day.
Another par can has arrived.
It will be used has a new addition to The Backtrackers stage lighting. It is also available to hire on it's own, or with other lighting effects.
PA and Stage lighting hire. Also great for parties.
Put a sail on this boat and it would be perfect for me. It would turn a few heads in Ilfracombe Harbour.
This scooter would turn a few heads if I wheelie it up Ilfracombe High Street
If you'd like to learn to play the guitar, click on this link here for more information http://paulclews888.weebly.com/guitar--ukulele-lessons.html
Click on this link if you would like to become sexier. http://paulclews888.weebly.com/guitar--ukulele-lessons.html
The Vaults Bar used to be underneath the Collingwood Hotel in Ilfracombe,
North Devon. It was an L shaped room with awful acoustics. As a young band in North Devon, it was a great venue. It could be hired, with the bar for £20. Bands would charge £1 on the door, and always get 100 or 120 people through the door. The ceiling was very low, the walls were a very rough texture, but despite the acoustics, the atmosphere was always electric. Sweat would be dripping down the walls.
The first band I saw there were Cut & Run. This was the tail end of 1985. I had not long moved to Ilfracombe, from Great Wyrley, Staffordshire. I thought they were great. I remember them playing Silly Thing on that occasion, still one of my favorite Sex Pistols songs. I later became friends with members of Cut and Run.
My own band, The Pyromaniacs From Outerspace played many gigs there, both as headline and support act. I have many videos of the gigs. Sadly, they are all on VHS, so consequently, have not been seen for years.
Some of the other bands I saw there were, Cult Maniax, Fatal Attraction, Beat the Retreat, Burning Fantasy, Blyth Power, The Gotham City Gangsters and The Stan and Eddie Chain. The first time ever saw Jive Turkey was at the Vaults Bar. They were a Torrington band, doing Stranglers covers. They went on to to become a great band with Radio 1 air play.The last gig I played at the Vaults Bar was with The Backtrackers. It was a party for the Sure Start. Someone stole my capo at that gig.
Of course, the Collingwood Hotel is now knocked down after a fire, and the Vaults Bar was closed years before that. Whenever I walked past the derelict bar, before the fire, I would have a tear in my eye, and a lump in my throat. I could hear the muffled sound of ghost bands still bashing away. But they've all gone now, not even the ghosts can be heard.
There is nothing like it in Ilfracombe now. I do miss the venue and the great times I had there as both a performer and as a member of the audiences. What memories of the Vaults Bar do you have? What bands did you see gig there?
The Backtrackers http://paulclews888.weebly.com/backtrackers.html
This video contains some of the bands that played at the Vauls Bar. It was recorded about 1986, on Ilfracombe sea front, next to the Carousel Bar in the Victorian Pavilion. Also knocked down, and replaced by the Landmark Theatre. It was uploaded by Guy Roberts. See me with the Pyromaniacs From Outerspace at 1:55 with my Tokai Strat. I am still using it today. You can also see Eldon Evans on drums. Beat the Retreat, Fatal Attraction, and Burning Fantasy are also featured.
50 Dollar Bill
Never Say Goodbye Johnny Ray
Cult Maniax (do not watch if offened by strong languge)
No More Beach Boys
Road To Nowhere
The Amazing Adventures Of Johny The Duck And The Bathtime Blues
Poison Pen Letter
Cool Cats Dancing
Inside the Horse
The Bishop At The Gate
I've heard it said that learning to play the guitar is fun. Well, I completely disagree. I remember when I was learning to play some 35 years ago, the little fun that was to be had, was soon replaced with frustration. Many times, I could have happily just chucked the guitar out of the window. I believe, that anybody can learn to play the guitar, in this respect learning to play is easy. But not everybody will. What stops them? Why do people give up having started to learn?.
Motivation. I'll say that again, motivation. What motivated me all those years ago was 'to play in a band'. It was the age of punk. All you needed apparently, was three chords (not true) and a safety pin. The band was put together and named before any of us could even play a single note.
The band had two 'guitarists'. Neither of us could play a thing, so I use the term 'guitarist' loosely. We came to it from opposite points of view. He took all the strings off his guitar except the bottom two, cranked up his expensive amp, and sounded what I thought at the time, fantastic in about a week. He had tuned the two strings (what I now know to be a fifth apart), and played with one finger. Me on the other hand, started the long process of learning to play properly. It took me ages. The motivation was to play in a band. I kept the motivation bigger than the problems.
It seems simple doesn't it? Practice for 15 minutes every day. What's stops these well meaning people from doing this? The answer has many versions as wanna be guitarist quitters. What's your excuse? Too tired? Not enough time? We don't have any chocolate ice cream in the fridge? After all, one excuse is as good as another.
I somehow kept my focus. Once I had mastered the bar F, a momentous moment in any guitarists career, (ask any of them), It was a very short time after this, the band recognised me as the best guitarist. Not long after this, the other guitarist in the band quit. He'd given up on his rock star dreams, and I don't think he ever played the guitar again. Well, let's be honest, he never really learned to play anything.
Me on the other hand kept going. Wouldn't it be great to play that classic Chuck Berry intro to Johnny B Goode? 'It's the only lick I'd ever want to learn' I said at the time. Having mastered that, I thought Layla by Eric Clapton had a great riff. I didn't like the song much, but loved that riff. Mastered that, and so it went on. You never stop learning the guitar. In fact, that's true for any instrument, except the kazoo and maybe the triangle. You learn to live with the frustration. So what are the benefits of learning to play a musical instrument? For me, that first punk band was great fun. So have the 20 or so bands since. All have been tremendous fun. It has enabled me to meet and converse with some amazing people. When I moved from Great Wyrley, the village I was brought up and schooled in, to Ilfracombe, playing guitar enabled me to meet people, and make new friends. This list could go on for ever, but ultimately it has given me a career and business. This started, not with guitar playing, but recording other bands on my 4 track recording studio. I still record demo's, jingles and other similar things today, but the technology is far more sophisticated now. I ran Flipside for 7 years. This was a shop in Ilfracombe selling records, CDs, videos and of course, musical instruments. I play in a band called The Backtrackers. A function band playing weddings and parties all over the Uk. My main income is from teaching. All day long, 6 days a week, privately and in schools teaching guitar and ukulele.
Well, what a life playing music has done for me. From punk band to teacher, a fantastic, and in many ways unplanned journey. I didn't know back in the early 80's where I'd be today, but I'm glad to be here. I never made it to rock star status, but then again, I don't think I ever really want that.
So what is your motivation to carry on? What is your excuse to quit? I look forward to your questions and replies.
If you would like to book guitar or ukulele lessons in your home, school or by Skype.
If you would like to book The Backtrackers for your party, wedding, corporate event, or function.
If you would like to book time in my recording studio.
I have been meaning to write this blog for a long time. A couple of years in fact. I keep putting it off because I know it's a little controversial and I want to get it right. In other words, I've done my research. Many of you may disagree (I have had many debates on Twitter and Facebook about it). It makes my blood boil.
Now just to be clear, when I say 'why you should not play them', I also mean, you should not watch them, or eat or drink in the venues that promote them.
The pub landlords that promote such events will tell you, they put them on
'to give new talent an opportunity to play in front of an audience', as if they are doing the 'new talent' a favour. Well let me tell you, this is a big fat lie, they put them on for profit. Now profit is not a rude word, but everyone contributing deserves a slice of it. They are using the musicians skills and talent to line their own pockets, and not share any of it with the musician. Okay, they often give you a 'free pint'. Let me tell you about that 'free pint', it's not free, you worked for it. I wonder if the landlord pays his plumber and staff in pints. Pints do not pay your mortgage, kids shoes, or even a packet of guitar strings. They should also be declared to the VAT man by the landlords because, as an accountant informs me, they are in effect making a taxable supply to the musician in exchange for services, so the VAT on the full value of the pint should be paid over. I hope you landlords are declaring them. Equally, musicians should be declaring them to the tax man. You are accepting beer as income. I suspect the whole thing is a hot bed of petty tax evasion. I suggest musicians should try going down to Soundpad in Barnstaple and offer them a couple of flat pints of beer for a packet of Ernie Balls. I can ensure you they will laugh you out the building. Musicians are consequently 'paying to play' as the old musicians slogan used to say.
Another trick that the landlords and agents use to pull you in is, 'come
play the open mic night, and we'll see how good you are. If you are good enough I will book you'. This is another lie. They rarely give gigs this way, although they will deny this. I know many venues that book a whole year or seasons entertainment on this basis, abusing the good will of hopeful entertainers.
Entertainers need to stand together, say no to this rip off, and put an end to this awful practice, that is in all but name slavery.
People have argued 'but they're fun'. I don't think putting musicians out of work and treating them as slaves is fun. I take no pleasure in it. Where are your principles? It's a nobel art.On occasions, I've had other musicians tell me, 'I only play for fun, I work in the week, I don't need the money'. Again, I don't see how putting other musicians out of work is fun. How would you like it if I go to your boss and say to him I'll do your job for free, because I work as a musician, therefore I
don't need the money? There is a minimum wage law, some how musicians fall through the net. Has this musician got public liability insurance? I have never
met one that has. Therefore any accident, such as taking someone's eye out with
a guitar neck, or burning the pub down with your untested (PAT) electrical equipment, is not usually covered by the landlords insurance policy. You're taking a hell of a risk.
When it comes to these practices, I want venue owners to give up, and pay up!
I'm off for a walk to calm down.