Sorry we missed our birthday

Apparently I’ve been wasting time around here for over four years (first post Oct. 17th 2003). I forgot all about this until the hundreds of birthday cards and gifts started rushing in – Guitars from Ruokongas, SGL, Fender and Taylor, to name but a few, amps from Laney, Grainger Blues, and effects pedals and t-shirts galore! It looks like a music shop in here, you should see all of the stuff I’ve been sent, and I’d like to thank you all!

Fender Broadcaster

If it turned up on ebay as a home made project, it wouldn’t get much interest. However, they say:


This may not be the most beautiful or finely crafted guitar in the world (in fact, it’s downright butt-ugly), but it is undoubtedly
one of the most historically important instruments of the 20th century. In 1949, Leo Fender completed his first solid-body prototype,
which became the template for one of the most popular and enduring electric guitars ever built, the
Broadcaster (which was later dubbed the Telecaster). Although the prototype differs slightly from the final version of the Broadcaster (the prototype has a three-on-a-side
tuner configuration, a small pickguard, angled controls and a crude sliding pickup cover), it has the same body shape,angled bridge pickup and bolt-on neck construction as the Broadcaster.

1948-49 Fender Broadcaster Prototype

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Medieval Ulnaby

We’ve been driving past here at least once a week for months and months. We finally visited last weekend. A very nice farm shop, good cafe (great fruit cake) and the medieval village itself all made the trip worthwhile. They’ve been visited by Time Team and they’ll be on the telly next year. Well worth a visit.
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Review – The Bandits

As far as Bandits gigs go, this was only my first full gig (I saw a shortened set at Rocketfest). As any gig goes, this was, er, weird! There was a pretty small audience in The Grand Hotel, Bishop Auckland, but some of them at least had come to see The Bandits (Happy Birthday Tina and Holly!), and some were just there for the (apparently excellent) beer. I’d decided to take a look as I didn’t live too far away and Black River Blues weren’t playing. Also present was young Tom (tubepigeonvictim chimera thingy) and his young lady. As soon as the first set started I knew I was going to enjoy this show – tight, fast and angry rock music. Pretty soon the regular beer drinkers wandered into the room, attracted, some of them, by “Substitute” – a cracking version. As the first set progressed, the crowd got a little bigger and a lot more enthusiastic. I can’t pick out any particular favourites – they were all great, but “Werewolves of London” dedicated to everybody from Stanhope made me smile! Then, just like Stars in Their Eyes, it appears that Bad Bob Bates symbolically turned to Matthew Kelly and said “Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be………Brooce Springsteen!” and cracked off “Glory Road” just for Tina on her birthday. To say that Tina was ecstatic would be an understatement – she was beaming from ear to ear and clapping furiously. The set ended with drummer Brad featured on one of my all time favourite tunes “Wipe Out” by The Surfaris.

In the Gentlemen’s Club at the break, I overheard 2 guys talking:
“These are Bloody Good!”
“Yeah, especially for a 3 piece”
“Yeah, I keep looking for a 4th person on stage”
“Yeah, I know what you mean”

The second set cracked off pretty quickly and as expected the songs just kept on coming. Bad Bob broke a B-string at one point and had some tuning problems too. So, Whalebone Pete stepped up to the mike and gave a solo bass and vocals extended introduction to “Hey Joe” – which went on a little while due to guitar issues. We then had Bob play a verse or two, and hand his tele over to Tom. At this point, jaws in the room dropped – hardened musicians (me included) and punters alike were held in awe as Tom ripped us all a new reality. We didn’t want it to end, Tom didn’t want it to end (I think Whalebone was getting a bit tired at this point!), but eventually, crescendo after crescendo, we were left grinning, clapping cheering as Tom brought the spectacular that was “Hey Joe” to an end. I heard grown men around the room say to their friends: “Who the f*ck was he!?” I heard Bad Bob cursing under his breath, and I heard women swooning left right and centre!

Almost impossible to follow, but follow it they did. Then it got even weirder. James, Tina’s son, had brought his guitar and was hoping to play in front of his first live audience. So we had Bob on bass, James on guitar, James’ friend on drums, and Nirvana’s Teen Spirit blasting around the room. When it became obvious that James wasn’t going to sing the song, up stood Whalebone and gave us the chorus and verse. Bizarre or what? James got a well deserved round of applause – it takes a lot of cojones to get up in front of any audience, and I hope he enjoyed and learned from the experience. The set finished with Tom sitting in on drums as Brad was otherwise engaged – and the crowd went wild. A great night by a great band – I’ll certainly go and see them again, maybe sit in on some harp or slide somewhere.

The Bandits have a site here

My new guitar

With some guidance from a friend, and a quick whip round at home, I’ve been able to buy this very very reasonably priced Vintage VRS100 – a copy, of course, of a PRS. It is a couple of years old, but hasn’t been gigged – in fact has hardly been played at all. It has 2 humbuckers with coil tap on both of them, gold fittings and a very nice flame maple top over a poplar body. The flame top is so nice, that PRS wrote to Vintage telling them to stop making guitars with this finish, so the new models don’t have it – or the coil taps. I got it with a hard case at a price I couldn’t refuse. It isn’t the guitar I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it’ll do to keep me going, and it is good enough and cheap enough to keep as a spare when I do get a better guitar. I just need to block off the trem with a block of wood (just like Clapton) and raise the action so that my slide doesn’t rattle on the frets. I guess this means that Ainsley will have to have his ESP Telecaster back – it played very well over our 3 weekend gigs – it is a lovely guitar too.