Sunday, 16 December 2012

It looked like rein deer...

...but fortunately the weather stayed reasonably clement on 9th December in Plymouth town centre. 

Red Ar-mee
For the preivous year's Santa Run organised by the Rotary, we assembled a band of waifs and strays, but this year the real Desperates played, apart from our vocalist Tessa (who'd better bring a note next time) and Geoff our keyboard virtuoso, who wanted to keep his instrument dry.  So to speak.

Double entendre was the order the of the day, starting with discussion about which way to dangle.

Charlie dangles to the rear
We were of course discussing our santa hats. 

Our little grotto was smaller this year.  I blame the cold weather.  So some brave members were left a little exposed, regardless of elf and safety.

Debbie shows her jazz knowledge by playing outside

Despite attempts by a local character, we were not persuaded to change the set list to include any AC-DC hits.  Maybe the runners felt it was a "Highway to Hell", but we thought "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" was more encouraging.  As it turned out, the runners didn't sleigh us.  Or give us the sack. 

Here's a few pictures...

John always gets the drumsticks

Happy pluckers

Yule like this one
Plymouth Ho Ho Ho
Our rehearsals begin again after the Christmas break, so until then we wish you all a warm and happy time at Christmas and into the new year.  And some of the band can sing....

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

O! it came o’er my ear like the sweet sound
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour.

Harberton Village Hall 20th October 2012

To continue with the slightly pretentious litererary allusions...October reminds us that summer's lease hath all too short a date but, for us, the carefree feeling of summer returned to Haberton on Saturday 20th October, when Desperate Measures hosted an afternoon of music to celebrate the life and compositions of Andrew Burnett.

Andrew is no doubt presently admonishing the heavenly choirs to sing what 's written and not to rush it, but many still earthbound miss his inspiration.  And this was ably demonstrated by the number and variety of musicians who enjoyed giving up their normal Saturday activities to join us and play.

Desperate Measures plus
Andrew made friends at jazz workshops, played in several ensembles and was instrumental (!) in encouraging many of us to get involved.  So the mix of musicians that afternoon included established professionals, long-term friends and several of Andrew's protegés.  Old bands reformed, and current bands mixed and matched, to provide a variety of groupings.  We played many favourite standards, and a lot of Andrew's own compositions. 

The Shack Band

Just Jazz
Lewis Riley leads a big band
Here's a little experiment - video!  Just snippets of three of Andrew's compositions:

Credit for the organisation of the event must go Mick Johnson, the ubiquitous bass player on the day, and to Charlie Lowe and Jo Talbot of Desperate Measures.  We were also well supported on the afternoon by many helpers who set up tables, served tea, washed up and provided general conviviality. 

Oh, and delicious cakes were made...

Somehow, our events always seem to involve food.

I hope that video of much of the event will be available in a week or three for those interested (I need a few free days to put it all together). 

My words really cannot do justice the music we enjoyed that day, nor to the atmosphere that surrounded us, so I'll sign off the way I started with the same slightly pretentious thespian style:

"The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not moved with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;
The motions of his spirit are dull as night
And his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted. Mark the music."
(Merchant of Venice)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Magnificent Seven

Monday 27th August 2012

Things to do on a rainy day in Devon?  You could watch the DMs play outside the Royal Oak in Meavy!  Brian and Yvonne did.

Our audience
We were without Jo our esteemed clarinetist and our usual drummer John -  and on the day Geoff (keys) and Felicity (bari) couldn't make it either.  So with Tom-the-drums on loan from the Cuckoo Collective it was a magnificent seven of us that huddled under our little gazebo.  But as the spanner said, the secret of a happy life is to be adjustable...

Spread out guys, only seven of us
Richard's essential accessory - drinks holder.
Richard showed off his new drinks holder accessory which allows him to play like a well-oiled machine.  However, our band leader, Charlie, was prevented from imbibing alcoholic drinks after several examples of outrageous compere anecdotes.

Milky bar kid
 This did not prevent him using his 'perfect pitch' joke however.  Neither did the irony of our set list escape him when after "A Very Good Year" we offered "Summertime".

Prophylactics for our equipment after our first set.
 Whic reminds me of that other musical joke.  "Why are drummers/guitarists/trumpeters (delete as required) like prophylactics?  Because you know you should use one but it's better if you don't."


Here's some nice pictures courtesy of the Royal Oak facebook page:

We finished appropriately enough with "Nobody Here but us Chickens".

Meavy chicken: "We got eggs to lay,
we've got worms to scratch..."
 Actually the gig went pretty well really.  Brian and Yvonne stayed for the whole thing.

Yay for Brain and Yvonne!

Sunday, 15 July 2012

What is this thing....

..called sun?  Today a strange light was seen in the sky over Meavy where the Desperates assembled to play.
On the sunny side of the street

Although it wasn't exactly sweltering when we arrived.  (Click on images to see then bigger!)

Coats and warm drinks required
Pete has a line for every situation
Debs admires Felicity's parts

The lunchtime gig at Meavy was in support of ‘Jeremiah’s Journey’ a Plymouth charity which supports bereaved children.  We played over lunchtime to add to the atmosphere for people doing a 9-mile charity walk (called the Parish Plod) starting and finishing in Shaugh Prior and passing via the Skylark and Cadover. They stopped for lunch - and live music (the Desperates!!) - at  the Royal Oak

Walkers mingle with Sunday lunchers

The uneven cobbles are a familiar setting for the band who tend to lean at odd angles after playing.  Except for John the drums who brings a selection of woodwork to insert at strategic places.  When we talk about checking our levels we don't mean the sound check.

John sets his levels

I don't think those guys are checking out the band...

For a change, the whole gig was rain-free; we were able to play Summertime without a trace of irony - and our audience enjoyed the nearest thing to summer we've seen for a while.  Oh, and we all thank the lovely Pete for stepping in on keys as Geoff couldn't make it. 

Pete on keys (also provided young dancers)
See you all next time....

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Woke up this morning.... a warning on the news.  Woke up this morning, to a warning on the news. Well, the river done flooded, and ruined my new shoes.

Yes! Risk to life, severe final warnings!  Covering South Devon rivers, including the Avon (the baby brother to the Bristol one) where we were to play on Saturday evening.  At risk were Low lying properties and roads at South Brent, Avonwick and Aveton Gifford". Avonwick was where we were going!

Saturday 7th July, in the middle of a British summer, ladies final day at Wimbledon, and we were to play at Avonwick Tennis Club to celebrate their anniversary.  Would we make it?

Er, actually, yes we would. The river level dropped during the day and by the afternoon the warnings were downgraded.  So, appropriately enough for a tennis club, we were able to play three sets.

The intrepid band arrives and prepares to make a racquet
We set up next the toilet facilities, which was a convenience (!) considering the age of some us.  Felicity and Richard were unable to make it to this gig, but we were honoured by the prescence of Chris Montgomery who had in fact played with the DMs in their embryonic stage - before the Desperate name was even thought of.

After the first set (to love of course) the tennis club kindly offered us food, including strawberries and cream for dessert.

First Service

Geoff aces his second serving

Notice Tessa and Mick concentrating on the beer supplies in the background (click on pictures to enlarge). 

Our second and third sets merged into one with a brief rest as the club members had started to demonstrate some deft footwork.

No foot faults here
With an appreciative dancing audience we extended some tunes and played a bit longer than planned but eventually emerged into the night to find that it had been raining.  Again.
As we splashed our way home, we could refelct on the fact that the name "Avon" is a cognate of the Welsh word afon, "river".  So yes, the River Avon is really the River River.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Oak Fair on Saturday

It's all coming together for our next gig on Saturday16th June on Meavy village green.  The Oak Fair opens with maypole dancing and includes a BBQ, Hog Roast, Cream Teas, Ice Creams, Cakes, Produce, Craft Stalls, Bouncy Castle, Coconut Shy, Skittles, Face Painting, Children's Entertainer, Pony Rides, Family Fun Dog Show, and a Grand Draw....

And as if that wasn't enough, Desperate Measures will be there to provide music.  Yay!

Our regular bassist and drummer can't make it, but Mike Trevarthen will stand in on percussion, and Peter Furnish will, er, furnish some bass notes for us.

The band will play from 15.15 to 16.00 and then from 17.00 to 18.00.  Or quarter past three to four o'clock and five o'clock to six, as us old-fashioned types would put it.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Don't miss the boat

 Saturday 9th June.  The Desperates played on a Dartmouth riverboat cruise....

View from the riverboat before all the guests arrive
Jo, our esteeemed and talented clarinet player, joined me (aspiring guitarist) to travel to Dartmouth from Plymouth.  Just after 6.30 pm we slotted into a parking space a few yards from the quay.  Everyone was there working out how to squeeze into a tight space at the back of the boat. 
The space for the band
But, hang on - not everyone was there!  Geoff and Felicity hadn't yet arrived from their Sabar drumming course in Launceston.  The captain was anxious to sail.  Phone calls were exchanged.  Time passed.  The captain drummed his fingers.  Maybe he should join the band.

Where were they?  Seven miles away.  Shaking of heads from the crew.  The boat sailed.  The captain started a long commentary... the band began to play.
We are sailing

Rock and Roll

Some of the band looked alarmed as the boat headed down river and out to sea.  With just cause, as the boat started to pitch and roll.  The band played on - but with an unexpected crash of cymbals.  Music stands toppled; half of the drum kit crashed to the floor (er, deck).  The audience began to think they were at a Who concert.

Heading up river, all became calm and, once more, the band played on.  The Rotary guests seemed happy and announced their thanks to the band - with special mention of the "lady with the voice" - our very own Tessa.

The band played until the very end, and our last note ended just as the boat stopped at Dartmouth quayside.


Oh, and we had some lovely food.  Sorry Geoff and Felicity!

Mmm, desserts!

Back at the Chicken Shack

Accompanied by ravenous hens, the Desperates played all afternoon last Monday (4th June 2012) as part of the Jubilee celebrations at the Royal Oak in Meavy.  Unlike the previous day, when another band that featured some of the Desperate members played to a rain-soaked and deserted village green, Monday was a fine day so we were watched by a happy crowd sitting at the tables on the green and tucking into hog-roast and no doubt sampling the fines ales available.

By late afternoon, the hens were roosting contently, full of hog roast and bread rolls scavenged from the area around the aromatic hog and we were thinking of wrapping up our two-set performance to make space for another band due to arrive at 5 pm.  That's when we heard the other band weren't coming after all, and the landlord offered a free drink if we played on.  Not that free drinks are what motivates us, but the rush back to the bandstand told its own story.

Fortunately we had another set of tunes in hand - our repertoire has grown since it all started three years ago - and we were able to play on until 5.30 pm or so.

Wearily we packed up our kit, reflecting on how many of our tunes related to chickens....apart from "Back at the Chicken Shack" written by Jimmy Smith, we played "The Chicken" by PW Ellis. 

We are also finally getting the hang of "Ain't Nobody Here but Us Chickens" by Alex Kramer and Joan Whitney - recorded by Louis Jordan but also famously by "Gonzo the Great" on the Muppets.  Fortunately, there was somebody there, apart from us chickens.

Welcome to the new "blog" about Desperate Measures!