Sunday, 16 November 2014

Brittany Speared

There was a rumour among musicians at one time that Brian Ferry's controversial son Otis would marry Brittany Spears.  But she decided against it because she didn't want to be called Brittany Ferry.

Regular readers of this blog would by now be expecting a report of the DM's planned visit to Brittany.  Unfortunately the planned jam session with un groupe francais could not be achieved because our venue with our previous drummer was not available.  So le voyage has been postponed, perhaps until next spring.

Your intrepid guitarist however - who had arranged to combine his trip with a visit to relatives was still able to go...

Mist appointments - DM guitarist in Bordeaux, forlornly clutching music pad.
Mmmm...macaroons!  In Quimper
St Emilion in the sunshine

Back in the UK, the DM's played gigs at the Bedford Hotel on 5th October and 2nd November with their usual aplomb.  Next event will be a charity event in Plymouth which is a private function - and the Desperate Measures will be back at the Bedford in February 2014.

As some comepensation for the missing Brittany trip a substantial proportion of the Desperates gathered in the wilds of Devon for a bit of a French themed party.
Du vin....

Du fromage!
We enjoyed some boeuf borgignon, pommes dauphinois, tarte tatin, charlotte pudding, French wine, French cheeses and excellent company.  Sadly missed our bassist Mick and drummer John however, but maybe we can do the real thing next year.

Speaking of musicians rumours about mariages, years ago there was also one that jazz musician Ben Castle, son of famous Roy Castle would marry Beyonce.  But then she would have been Beyonce Castle.  (You have to say it out loud....).

Monday, 22 September 2014

Banana Man Comes Out

Holy crinkled tights, Batman, what could this mean? 

You'll have to read to the end to find out, Robin.

Playing with Fire

Ring of Fire - Desperates at the Yealmpton Show

More pictures from this event below

What we did this Summer

Time has slipped by and the blog has been neglected for the joys of family holidays and excursions.  But the Desperates have continued to meet occasionally and play a gig or three. 
The full band was available for our regular session at the Bedford Hotel Sunday lunch on 7th September and yesterday (20th September) we were able to enjoy the tail end of our Indian Summer with an outdoor performance at the Morwellham Quay Beer Festival, where we kicked off musical proceedings with our "party" set list that includes a few rock and soul pieces.
We used this set list first at the Yealmpton Show.  Despite the band arriving late and frazzled after being stuck for an hour or more in a traffic queue from Plymouth to Yealmpton, this was an enjoyable afternoon with a great atmosphere.  Nerves were soothed by a refreshing drink and we played to some of the itinerant but interested crowds at the show.

Silver Serenade

Outdoor sax, from the side
Outdoor sax, from the front

Batman and Robin are still wondering about rival hero Banana Man, but Robin has an observation.

Am I bananas?

Peel of drums....not Bananas

Too cool to be bananas

Which of these could have a secret superhero role?

Going bananas?


Yes, we have no....well, you know.

Driven Bananas?

All this silly stuff has probably been too much for you. But Desperates attended a party on August 30th where several members' secret identities were revealed.  
Of course, all knew our band leader was a super hero.
Banana Smoothie - Charlie Lowe
But that outfit wasn't quite what we had in mind.  

Next time - news about our first international gig!

Monday, 21 July 2014

Nobody Here But Us Chickens

There's an old joke amongst guitarists that rock guitarists play three chords to thousands of people, and jazz guitarists play thousands of chords to three people.

Well, that's jazz.

Desperate Measures guitarist plays chord number 437
Owing to a slight lack of publicity for our performance after the prize giving at the Totnes Canoe Festival on Sunday 20th July, most of the sun-burnt public and exhausted competitors had headed for home by the time we started.  We were however rewarded by the attendance of some of the event officials and the cheerful bar staff who no doubt were disappointed by the bar takings.  We did our best to improve that during our interval of course.

We don't play 'Empty Chairs at Empty Tables' but it might make a good caption...

Actually 'Willow Weep for Me' - which we do play - is quite miserables enough. Thanks.

But it was fun.  Unlike for our Sunday lunch gigs, we were able to play at a more natural volume. And we dug out some of our party numbers like 'High-Heeled Sneakers' and 'Mustang Sally'.

Nerd time.  Mustang Sally was written by Mack Rice (often called Sir Mack Rice after being "knighted" by a record company) who got the idea after the drummer of a band said he wanted a Mustang car, rather than a Lincoln.  He called the drummer "Mustang Mama" and the song was born, with a chorus of "Ride, Sally ride" taken from a children's rhyme:

Little Sally Walker sitting in a saucer,
Ride, Sally, ride!
Wipe your weeping eyes!
Turn to the east.
Turn to the west.
Turn to the one that you love the best.

When he played the song to Aretha Franklin, she suggested he made the song "Mustang Sally" rather that "Mustang Mama" and the rest,as they say, is history.  It is now one of the most requested songs of any band playing any gig, anywhere.  So it's just as well we learnt it.

Next gig Yealmpton Show, Wednesday 30th July.

In DMs, no music stand is allowed to be level with any other.

Monday, 7 July 2014

13th Desperate Diners Club Meeting


A further successful dining club meeting was held at the Bedford Hotel. Tavistock on Sunday 6th July.

Apologies for Absence

Despite clashing with other major social events, there were no apologies for absence.  We congratulate members for finally mastering the vagaries of their video recorders to enable later viewing of sporting victories by L Hamilton at Silverstone, and N Djokovic at Wimbledon.

Group Photograph

As has become traditional, a group photograph was taken at the meal.


Agenda item 1 - Pre-meeting Music

At previous meeting our drummer has established that pre-loading is essential to maintain his position as the éminence grise for the pre-meeting music enjoyed by the dining club.  Chocolate croissants were also adopted by other members of the band.

Agenda item 2 - Public Attendance

It was decided to continue to allow the public to attend the pre-meeting music.  The meeting was well attended and the public appeared to be smiling.


It was agreed that the guitarist would assemble the video evidence of the pre-meeting and present it for review at the earliest opportunity.

Date of Next Meeting

Facilities are unavailable in August, so the next diners meeting is set for September 8th.  Other outings will take place as scheduled, starting with the Canoe Festival at Totnes on the 20th July.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

28 June 2014 Off to a Tee

For the second weekend in a row, Desperate Measures were gathering to play - this time, for a retirement party at Boringdon Golf Club in Plympton.  Following early doubts about the space available for the band, we squeezed into a small hole at the end of a function room.

No room for dancers
At least we could store our instrument cases in a handy storeroom.  Which appropriately enough we called the green room. We putted our stuff in there.  So we didn't flag later even though
terrible puns drive a wedge between us.

Watch the Birdie
Getting back to the music, all musicians know that gripping a glass is an essential finger warm-up exercise.

Cup of tee?  Yes sir, I'll get the caddie
Although we were supposed to play quietly as guests arrived, it emerged that the party was for folk involved in the medical profession who are unable to converse quietly once three or more are gathered together.  Whatever level we played at, it was background music for them!

After a break for some nice speeches, we returned to play some more party tunes which may not have provoked actual dancing, but certainly a lot of swaying about, nodding and foot tapping.  As Brasil played football, we appropriately belted out Mas Que Nada.  No need for penalties for us.

Although running a bit behind schedule, we finished around 9.30 pm  - an early night for us.  And we were offered a visit to the buffet, which was met with enthusiasm.  And we could all still get home at a reasonable hour, even if we had come a fairway.

21 June 2014 Barn To Be Wild

In the wild, unexplored moorland beyond the frontier with civilisation at Tavistock, a strange tribe dwells.  They speak an almost unintelligible dialect, full of tales about creatures that are somehow involved in producing the smartly packaged food we find in our supermarkets.

The Desperates' expedition to this secret and dangerous land was planned carefully and led by a native guide known as Teth. Following her instructions, we were directed to a remote shed where native musicians were inciting the gathered tribe into a frenzy.

The Barn Trilogy

Frenzied Wee Barns

As we doused ourselves with insect repellent, we were handed small pieces of red parchment which is used as currency in this region, and were able to purchase bowls of local potions which proved very refreshing.  After much native festivity and dancing, there were initiation processes for the tribal young who sang strange songs associated with mating ceremonies and customs.

Finally we were able to play.  Our introduction of our more sophisticated music was obviously unknown to the natives who danced feverishly to the new rhythms.  As the midnight hour approached, we attempted to leave but were urged to stay and play more.  We relented and ended with an upbeat tune that exhausted the locals and allowed us to make our exit, following the flaming torches held by our local guide to the nearby dark fields.

7 July 2014 Coming Soon

Next Sunday lunchtime, Desperate Measures at the Bedford Hotel, Tavistock.

Sunday, 1 June 2014


It sounds like one of those old Soviet Baltic states from the Eurovision Song Contest.  “Ici les votes du jury Dystonia:  Royaume Uni - nil points”.  Of course, they probably wouldn’t be saying that in French, but my Dystonian is non-existent....
But no!  Dystonia is the name for a problem that affects many musicians - otherwise known as musician’s cramp.  It can affect guitarist/bass players, pianists, clarinettists and many others.  So if the audience noticed one or two glitches in today’s performance at the Bedford Hotel, they noticed the effect this problem can cause.
Guitarist Dave had to rest in a couple of numbers, but the gaps he left were filled nicely by our stalwart pianist.  However, when Mick the bass had a problem, Jo had to quickly reset with a rendition of the head to wrap up the tune.  
Such is the dedication we provide to entertain our lovely Sunday diners!
In future, the band is planning to introduce some pieces that will be played by the front line only - so that the rhythm section can have a break during the two and a half hour set - which will help avoid the problem, and also make a nice contrast for the audience.


It has been two months since the Desperates last played the Bedford and, in that time, the hotel has built an entirely new entrance from the car park at the rear with automatic doors.  (The entrance, not the car park.)

The old door was at the top of a metal fire escape to the first floor.  The fire escape has gone, but the door is still there, labelled “Reception”.  Caused me a little confusion at first.

You've probably heard about the door to the maternity ward that's marked "Push, push, PUSH!"

Master of ceremony

Our esteemed leader Charlie was away this time, so Richard of tenor sax fame assumed the role of addressing the full restaurant with great aplomb.  And it was good to hear some different jokes (but we missed you Charlie, honest!).

The band greatly enjoyed being back at the hotel, and several members of the audience said that they had greatly enjoyed the music.  And we weren’t even blocking the exit at that time.

Coming up

We’ll be back next month, but we also have a few other gigs lined up now:
On Saturday 21 June we’ll be at Huccaby Farm Hexworthy, for Jazz in the Barn, supporting a fund raising gig for the pre-school and Widecombe primary schoool.

On Sunday 20 July we’ll be at the Totnes Canoe Festival again - and a new gig this year is the Yealmpton Show on Wednesday 30th July.
The later in the year, on Saturday 20th September we’ll be one of the many bands at the Morwellham Quay Beer Festival.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Sunday 6th April 2014

The Bedford Hotel again.  Same place, different room.

An art exhibition by local artists occupied the normal large dining room, so we were tucked away at the other end.  Things were a little more compact than usual, but after a little adjustment or two the rhythm section were clustered around the sole power point like butterflies on a buddleia, but with our wings firmly closed.  The front line made a tight line in front of us and we sacrificed the usual monitor.

Our cosy corner

We won't be there next month for the planned first Sunday of May as the hotel has other events booked, but we'll back on June 1st.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

All music is beautiful (Billy Strayhorn*)

While most of the Desperates dodged the rain to assemble at the Bedford Hotel on Sunday 2nd March, band members Geoff and Felicity were basking in the gentle warmth of Gran Canaria.  We pictured them there, knotted handerchiefs on their heads, trouser legs rolled up, skirts tucked into their knickers, as they dipped their toes into the pool and sipped the local rum.
We knew we would miss them, but we had the consolation of the presence of Piano Pete - a one-time member during the formative years of Desperate Measures who has now moved on to fame and fortune with the Cuckoo Collective where he plays in black and white.

But today, he was in colour.
Purple haze
We were greeted by a restaurant extensively tabled - the Sunday lunch was fully booked.  Obviously the DM fan-base is growing.  Although they may have just come in out of the rain.
Fully be-tabled restaurant
We did however recognise a few familiar faces among the audience.  And with a possible regular audience, we have to change the set list a little each time.  This time we debuted “Come Sunday”, “Something Cute” and some new pieces for the small combos, including anothe chance for Charlie to practise his vocal skills on “The Very Thought of You”.
After two and half hours of playing and watching people eat, we were anxious for a well-deserved drink and looked forward to our own finely cooked meal.
Hunger Games
*Billy Strayhorn, beside being another candidate for nominative determinism, was a jazz musician whose compositions/collaborations include Satin Doll and Take the A Train. 
Ever up and onward (Billy Strayhorn)
To infinity, and beyond! (Buzz Lightyear)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Double Measure

As an added bonus to the initial blog entry below, here's a few more pictures from the Bedford gig on 2nd Feb 2014.  These were taken by our excellent alto sax player Richard Linney who has revealed himself also as no mean snapper.  Thanks Rich!

Also check out our page on the hotel website

A good year for the roses

Half measures - small combo plays while others take a break

I only have eyes for you

I'll handle the paradiddles thank you

One two three - Le Trio concentrate on their walz time

Sunday, 2 February 2014

A Measure of Success

Desperate Measures continued their run of gigs at the Bedford Hotel with another jazz lunch offering on 2nd February 2014.

Publicity for the band in the bar of the hotel

Turn again

Debbie’s absence (tenor sax) was planned but was nearly compounded when Felicity (who was to play tenor this time) and Geoff (piano) found that the A390 at Gunnislake was closed in both directions because of an accident.  The detour took them almost into Launceston before they could get on the B3362 down to Tavistock, while the band waited anxiously and diners started to arrive to silence.

And where was Debbie you may ask?  A picture is required...

Debbie acts a Dick
Yes, Debbie was rehearsing for her starring role in the Meavy AmDram production of Dick Whittington.  Oh yes she’s behind you, or something.
So, meanwhile back at the Bedford, the band was pretty much ready.  Charlie warmed up his instrument...
A Bone of contention
Mick the Bass - worth his weight in gold
So, this time,we featured an additional "vocalist".  Our dynamic band leader Charlie has been practising his skills, so we allowed him one duet and one solo number.  His duet on 'Stompin' at the Savoy' went down well and 'Makin' Whoopee' continued his penchant for songs with present participles in the title. 
The audience seemed happy enough with the band, applauding the tunes and also many solos.  And soon it was time for our own meal.  Like all Bedford blogs, we have to include a picture of food.
I had the Lion of Pork (pride of the hotel)

 This singing lark might be starting a precedent. John tried to convince us he could do an Al Jolson song......

How I Love Ya, How I love ya