On Saturday Mimosa had a gig at the Burnham carnival. There were 3 funk bands due to play on the music stage and we were the first that was due at 5PM. The music side had been organised by our good friends Barflyz www.barflyz.co.uk and they were the headlining act, with us and another band as support.
I didn't know what to expect as I wasn't sure if Burnham carnival was some kind of tin pot fete on a village green or a huge event that brings together a whole town for a day. When I got there I realised that it was closer to the latter.
Satellite navigation was largely responsible for my prompt arrival. I am now a firm convert to satnav and wonder how chaps in far away places, like Wales, manage without it. The only thing I find disconcerting about it is that, on my system at least, you can't get a general overview of the journey you are about to embark upon. With an old fashioned map you can spend hours looking through pages, flicking back and forth, before you get a general idea of the journey. With satnav I tend to just follow the instructions as they are spoken to me by the kind woman. That often means that I just drive along, without the faintest clue where I am, and turn left or right, or do a legal U turn, when told to. It usually works but I prefer to have a rough idea of where I am going.
But it got me there and I parked up and proceeded to trudge across a field whilst carrying my heavy cymbal bag, my snare drum and my "drum bag", the one that contains sticks, drinks and stuff. People were everywhere. There were ice cream vans, kids doing martial art displays, bric a brac stalls, some particularly scary looking clowns and even a fun fair. Yes this thing was a large scale event and, when I finally found the music bit, I was excited. There were thousands of people and it looked like it would be the biggest crowd I have ever played to.
So we set up our stuff. I was lucky to be using my friend Fabio's kit so I didn't have too much to do. The setting up was interesting as it involved a generator, a 40 foot trailer and lots of musicians. It went surprisingly smoothly, the only snag was that we couldn't soundcheck so had to start "cold".
It was a nice, relaxed atmosphere. At 5 o'clock the sun was out, the crowds were mooching around, ice cream vans were making a mint, the clowns were scaring children and the martial arts kids were kicking everything in sight.
Deeper people than myself dream of writing theses, publishing books, winning Wimbledon, headbutting Italian players in the World Cup final, inventing new forms of energy and getting it all done before breakfast. But not me. From an early age I have dreamed of playing the drums and being in a band. I have realised that ambition now, well the being in a band bit at least. The other ambition I had was to do a gig whilst wearing sunglasses. I can now announce exclusively for you, the reader that I have now done that one too. I played the whole gig with my Aviators on. There were a few worrying moments when they slipped down my nose, and I did have to delay the start of a song in order to straighten them but I managed it with style and sophistication. Imagine the latin one from CHiPs playing drums for a funk band and you get the picture, although I didn't look as gay. Poncherello was his name, but I'm not positive on the spelling.
So, at 5, we started to play to a field full of people. At about 14 seconds past 5 I looked up from the drum kit and noticed that they had all gone. Airlines spend vast sums of money to find ways of getting a couple of hundred people off a plane in 5 minutes. They practice and practice, they have teams of stunt people to slide down chutes in simulated wet weather ( I know because I saw a programme about this on the Discovery Channel once). But the most effective way to get these desperate people off a stricken plane is clearly to get a 8 piece funk band to do a short set. This can also be done with 7 people if Tom, the sax player, is on holiday. Some of the sax parts will have to re done a bit, but it's usually ok.
Honestly, I kid you not, it wasn't really because of us, our music is not everyone's cup of tea but nor is it that bad. In their wisdom the organisers had decreed that the music would start at the end of the rest of the carnival. Presumably some old ladies in floral dresses and sandals had sat down over tea and scones, probably at the vicarage, and decided that the music should only start after people had gone. Otherwise they might stop spending money at the carnival to listen to the music. A dilemna that I can appreciate and I would have had much sympathy for if I had been wearing my "how do we raise as much money as possible for the Burnham carnival?" hat. Unfortunately I was actually wearing my "I'm a groovy drummer in a funk band" one so I wished we had been asked to start earlier.
Never mind, we played well, we had a laugh and we went. I enjoy playing live, whether it's to an audience of 25 people or even if it's to one of our poorly attended ones, it's a buzz. We chucked in an extra chorus to "Tell me", when Debby forgot to sing, we had a silent bit in the new one with no name when Rich, the guitarist dropped his plectrum and we had some missing bass drum notes in "Get it on" when Fabio's bass pedal didn't stick to my shoes like my own one does. After a 30 minute set we said thank you and left the 40 foot trailer (stage). Most of the audience consisted of the other bands due on after us and a few friends and families. They clapped politely. We mingled for a bit, as stagediving didn't look feasible, and drifted away. I did hang around to watch a bit from the next band, a funk quartet called Tonic. www.tonicmusic.net
I was glad I did as they were rather good, quite raw sounding and all very talented. The singer looked like Kylie Minogue doing a cowgirl thing, but sounded a damn sight better. They played to an even smaller audience than we did but they made the most of it too. I took a few pictures, chatted to a few people and then trudged over to the car park to be satellite guided back home. I felt sorry for the other bands on afterwards as, the way things were going, they may well have had more people up on stage than in the audience. Barflyz would have put on a good show whether to 500 people or 5 people.
All in all it was a great afternoon. The only improvement would have been a bigger audience.