Issue No.24 – Bournemouth Bound!

After scraping up the remnants of van and gear (fortunately Dave was still in one piece) from the inside lane of the M4 we had no choice but to decide on our next move. Stepping back to look at the big picture I suppose it was all too obvious that we were left with very few options. In the end Mick went back up to Walsall, Dave somehow managed to get to his parents in Swindon and I returned to my caravan out in the woods (did I mention that?… probably not… don’t ask!).

The three of us would actually end up working together again some time later but for the moment we could only kill time by twiddling our thumbs and licking our wounds. During this time, and unknown to me, Dave had been spending a lot of his free time checking out ads in the national music papers on the off chance that something suitable might turn up - not sure what he was hoping to find but as it happens he spotted a vacancy for a drummer in a band based in Bournemouth. Anyway, off he went and (to his great surprise!) he managed to get himself hired. As luck (or fate) would have it, the guy in charge (the bass player) happened to mention that the band’s guitarist was leaving soon, so of course Dave put in a good word (I think he may have embellished my talents) for yours truly with the result that I packed my bags for a trip to the South Coast.

At this stage I would venture to enlighten you as to what we ended up letting ourselves in for. Back then, Mecca (they of bingo fame) had a large number of clubs/ballrooms scattered around the UK and each of these venues employed a resident band who, along with a DJ, provided music for every function. Yes, the bands’ repertoires included current rock/pop/chart songs but they also had to cover ballroom and black tie evenings. As you can imagine, this was all well out of my comfort zone, so whilst I had been lucky enough to worm my way into the guitarist slot, I did feel a long way behind the curve. Added to this the Bournemouth band were very keen on covering a good mix of Motown/soul/disco tracks so I needed to do some serious homework (and invest in a chord dictionary!)

Mind you there were some benefits to all of this thankfully, the gear didn’t have to be lugged around from one venue to another and at the end of the week you were guaranteed a regular wage (which came as a refreshing change). We did however have to play for three hours every night for five nights, but the bandleader John Peters was a nice guy and pretty easy to get along with. In fact along with two girl vocalists he did most of the singing, so most of my time was spent just playing, although as time went on I did come to find myself more and more behind a microphone. The choice of material may not have been ideal for me, but looking back now it was certainly a worthwhile (if incredibly steep) learning curve, and I have to say that by and large it left me with lots of good memories.

John's previous band ‘The John Peters Progression’ based in Portsmouth.

For some inexplicable reason the Mecca powers to be decided to change the format of the Bournemouth venue and so John came to us all to tell us that he had been offered a residency at another Mecca club in Newport and did we all want to make the move with him. The keyboard player Bernie declined but the rest of us agreed, so off we went to South Wales.

Now with the greatest of respect to all who live there, I have to say hand on heart, that Newport was never in my top ten bucket list places to visit, although alphabetically I suppose it does come shortly after Mauritius… so we dropped our bags and hurried off to find the nearest beach and hit the mojitos!

Croeso i Gymru! (Excuse my French)

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