Last weekend saw another jaunt Northwards and an appearance at The Diamond in Sutton-in-Ashfield for Bootleg Counterfeit Sweet. The Diamond is an unassuming venue, yet one steeped in music history, some of the great rock bands of the last few decades have trodden its well-worn boards. We rattled off the Sweet canon in fine style, energized by our fans, some of whom had travelled from as far afield as Jersey for the gig. The people who put this kind of commitment, effort and expenditure into supporting what we do are the lifeblood of any band, and we salute them!
Playing a venue so close to my hometown also gave me a chance to catch up with family too, so that was cool.
2014 will see B.C.Sweet step up its on the road activities – see you further on up the road!
“I get around” , sang some Beach Boy or other back in the day, and that’s something I can relate too. This weekend was…..interesting. One of my bands, Bootleg Counterfeit Sweet (formerly BC Sweet) was back in Germany for the first time in a long while, and me and the guys were looking forward to it.
Our first clue that things might not run smoothly reared its head some weeks back, when we discovered the show was being advertised under our old name of BC Sweet, a moniker which, due to our refusal to line the pockets of any more lawyers is now put to bed. The new name reflects, if nothing else, some heavy irony….but that’s a whole other lawsuit….er, story.
Anyway, we got in touch with them expressing our dismay, and implied that we would pull the show if we weren’t advertised correctly. We specifically make clear in all contracts how we should be billed. There’s simply nothing more you can do in these situations. Well, everything seemed to calm down, so come Friday, I dutifully arose at the crack of dawn, dawn in this particular instance going by the name of 7.30 am, and made the two and a half hour drive to Alicante to get my flight to Berlin. I arrived in good time, strolling into the Airport at 11.30, my flight due to leave at 1pm. I scanned the departure screens….to no avail. No flight was advertised for Berlin anywhere near the appointed time. As luck would have it, the AirBerlin information desk was situated adjacent to this, your humble and now visibly palpitating writer. The lady manning the desk braced herself to receive the full force of “Kev in Panic Mode”, as I stammered something to the effect of “w-w-w-wwhere’s my flight? – it’s disappeared!”
Motioning for me to produce my booking reference, her fingers danced across the computer keyboard while mine drummed out paradiddles of pensiveness in concert with her on the counter. With a flourish, our performance drew to a close, she fixed me with a gaze of undeniable finality and delivered three announcements that might as well have been bullets:
“The Berlin flight was changed. You should have been informed. It left at 11 o’clock. “
I had barely time to ingest and process this triad of bombshells before she surged on, relentless:
“And not only that. Your return flight on Sunday has changed also.”
It transpired that I would land in Alicante a full three and a quarter hours earlier on the Sunday than I first thought, being routed via Palma instead of Dusseldorf. “Oh well, every cloud” I thought, temporarily oblivious to the fact that I had yet to find a way to leave Spain, never mind return.
My AirBerlin saviour’s fingers were already dancing again, however, and her face was a picture as it ran the gamut of expressions, through hope, expectancy, frustration, despair, and so on ad infinitum. She helpfully provided a running commentary to accompany her admittedly riveting gurning.
“Ah, so…ve can take you via Palma….ach nein! es ist voll….there is even no Air Berlin personnel we can remove for you…”
It suddenly dawned on me as she meandered through cyberspace looking for empty seats, that they didn’t actually have to do a damned thing. It was pretty clear that air berlin had almost certainly sent an email to the promoter informing him of the flight changes. They had clearly assumed it was just a confirmation of what they already knew. Except it wasn’t. Thirty odd years of international travel in bands has taught me that, if there is a possibility for something to cock up, then cock up it most assuredly will. And here was Miss Air Berlin, quite prepared to give her fellow workers the heave-ho off a flight in order to get me to me destination. “As long as it’s not the pilot, I suddenly thought, worriedly….”
Finally, and almost apologetically, she announced:
“Well, I can put you on a flight to Munich that leaves at 2.30 pm, but your connection to Berlin means you won’t arrive at your destination until 8pm.”
My original, and now patently useless itinerary had me setting foot on Berlin soil around 4pm, but fortuitously, I assured her, my colleagues in the band were arriving from England around 8pm also, and so that would be just dandy, vielen danke! Well, her little face lit up and she went on to tell me that she had also arranged for my passage home via Palma on the Sunday. So, Palma Sunday coming a little later than Easter for me this year. Not only that, I had the VIP lane option upon arriving in Munich, to smooth things along, so to speak. Just for the record: Air Berlin rocks!
Now, prior to boarding anything, I made several calls. One to the carpark, so they knew to get me at 4 on Sunday and not 7, and one to Marc, our bandleader, to inform him of my rescheduling. He gave me my driver’s number, and I texted him to tell him of my new arrival time. So I landed in Berlin fully confident our problems were behind us……
‘My’ driver, Karsten, turned out to be ‘Our’ driver, as I quickly discovered, following collecting me in what looked suspiciously like a builder’s van, as we made our way across Berlin from Tegel (my airport) to Schoenefeld (their airport). Karsten informed me that we had ‘about 300 kilometers to drive to Wolgast.” This of course set me thinking. What if I’d arrived at 4pm? It occurred to me that I would have been kicking my heels for 4 hours waiting for the others to arrive anyway.
Anyway, the lads were patiently waiting in the cafe, and we all piled back in the builder’s van and hit the Autobahn, driving into what used to be East Germany. By that I mean, it’s no longer East Germany, the country, but it exhibits many of its communist traits, such as no amenities. Some time into the journey, we asked Karsten if we might stop at a motorway services to grab a snack and a coffee.
“Why yes!” he said jovially, “In fact it is the ONLY service station between here and Wolgast, we are in the East now!”
Well, we all had a jolly good laugh about that, as I availed myself of a curiously Franco-Prussian snack that appeared to be a perfectly serviceable croissant that had been raped by a bratwurst.
It can only have been another 20 kilometers or so down the road when Teutonic mutterings started emanating from Karsten’s mouth, accompanied by the occasional worried glance at the fuel gauge. After several unsuccessful attempts to engage him in conversation, and a further 20 or 30 kilometers, he finally volunteered some rather startling information. We were running out of fuel.
General weariness and a desire to get to bed prompted me to announce: “If we run out of fuel, you will be getting us a hotel or a taxi, whichever comes first. I’m not up for freezing our nuts off in subzero temperatures for the night waiting for some bloody farmer to turn up in the morning.” We exited the dark and empty motorway at the next available opportunity, which delivered us into some dark and empty farmland. The one town we did find was pretty much empty. Karsten ventured that this was probably due to the gang fight there the previous evening which had resulted in multiple arrests. Evidently they must have arrested the proprietor of the local petrol station, because it was closed.
However, there was a group of rather lost looking individuals gathered around under the ailing neon lights on the forecourt. God knows why. If this is what passes for a party around here, then they need to legalize drugs. Somehow Karsten managed to convince one of them to get into his car, and we followed him into the night, across some disused railway tracks, down a potholed lane into the middle of nowhere….and there, in exactly the middle of nowhere, was a single, solitary petrol pump with an automat. Never let it be said that the Germans have no sense of humour.
When we finally reached Wolgast (it was now the following day) the need to tarmac the roads seemed to desert them, and our last 500 yards were so rough it would have been ruled out as a suitable site for a moon landing. Nevertheless, we had arrived at our hotel, and, apparently, our gig. For there in the compact and bijou bar area was a small stage with a backline that made a Sony walkman look impressive. We were given schnitzels, lots of them, as the reality of the situation began to sink in..it wasn’t long before I decided I was better off in bed.
The next morning, I headed downstairs to check it wasn’t a dream. It wasn’t. There were the tiny amps, staring at me balefully, as if daring me to defile them with a power chord. I defiled the cornflakes instead, along with a few other comestibles as we had the slightly surreal experience of eating our breakfast in front of the stage we were to be performing on later that evening. I thought it wise to eat all the bread rolls, in case anyone wanted to start throwing them later.
Looking around the vestibule, I noticed a small poster advertising the show which looked familiar to me, but for a strange reason. It featured a piece of artwork by my partner Miki, of our band. (See top of article) Now, we don’t use this piece of art in our publicity, and it’s not supposed to be reproduced by anyone without permission, (she wasn’t even credited on the poster!) but that didn’t seem to bother our mate the promoter, who’d also used the old BC Sweet logo against our express wishes. (I’ve changed it on here) To compound matters, I saw at least one more poster about the size of a small bus on the outskirts of town too. So, clearly some fell on stoney ground then….
That afternoon, Mike, Marc, Pete and myself convened in the gig/breakfast room to run through a couple of songs and see if we could get some kind of sound out of the equipment. After an hour or so we had a passable sound, given the limitations, and we declared ourselves able to gig.
Cut to 8pm, and a room full of eager German punters, as the strains of John Carpenter’s “Halloween” theme fade and Pete counts us into ‘Action’. The mics aren’t working. At all. The first verse grinds to a halt and instead of greeting the audience, at only a minute into the show, I’m apologizing to them. Marc disappears offstage to consult with whoever is looking at the mixer like it’s an alien, and Mike, Pete and myself entertain the crowd with an impromptu 3 piece blues jam that lasts 5 minutes but feels like a lifetime.
We start again. And an entertaining game of ‘musical mics’ begins as, during a second attempt at ‘Action’, Marc, Mike and I juggle the mics around between us to see if any actually work. They don’t, and a smell of burning wiring signals the end of this particular attempt to entertain the Germans. The mixer has exploded. Detleff, the guy who brought us over in the first place, is looking seriously harried, as well he might. Trying to get away with using ‘My mum’s PA system’ for a grown-up rock band is always going to leave you in a heap of scheisse.
Nevertheless, against all the odds, he disappeared into the night and returned with a replacement. I have no idea where he got it, or how. There’s probably a dead sound engineer lying in a ditch somewhere near the Polish border. Take three, and off we go! It’s still bloody awful, but the crowd, sensing we’re really up against it, seem to take to these four idiotic blokes who don’t know when they’re beaten. At one point, I moved away from the mic, and screamed the vocal at the audience, complete with expletives, just to get it out of my system. They loved it. They like a good shout, the Germans. Against all the odds, the evening was success. The meal we were expecting following the gig, less so. It took us half an hour to locate it. Apparently it had been waiting on a kitchen table in a hidden room somewhere and consisted on schnitzel, in a bun. It seems that, around these parts, the answer is schnitzel, regardless of the question.
Now, I was the only one who could remotely string a German sentence together, so I was charged with the task of making sure the promoter knew that I had to be on the road at 7am in the morning, other wise I would miss my rescheduled flight. This proved confusing, when another guy called George, who I’d never seen before, and who was pissed, insisted he was driving me to Berlin in the morning. Thankfully, before I retired to my room for a bit of kip, it was established that, for reasons best known to himself, this was a lie.
The next morning, as the clock struck 7 am exactly, Detleff and I were sat in the drive thru lane at the local McDonalds waiting for the shutters to open. He treated me to an Egg McMuffin, and we hit the road. how the other half live, eh?
Just back from a festival in Herentals, Belgium, a lovely little town with a Fairy-tale feel about 40k east of Antwerp. The festival drops a syllable from the town’s name for some reason. Go figure. Probably influenced by ‘textspeak’. Because we were taking quite a bit of kit, we opted to approach this as a ‘road trip’, and so I flew over to the UK to join the rest of the lads from BC Sweet and we took Marc’s van and drove down through the Channel tunnel.
We had a bit of fun on the way, just like the old days, with an exhaust splitting in two courtesy of an unmarked speed bump near Tunbridge Wells (thank you, local council) and had a couple of stops en route, deciding to risk getting to our destination and getting it repaired there, which proved to be the best solution. When we arrived in Herentals, we found the whole town in the grip of a local fair, and access to the Hotel was nigh on impossible, so we parked as near as we could and lugged everything by hand over there between the fairground rides and beignet stands, before collapsing into bed to grab a few hours kip before the show.
We were due onstage at 1 a.m. , directly after The Boomtown Rats, who, even without the presence of a certain Mr. Geldof, played a great set, and a particularly interesting version of “I don’t like Mondays”. As it happened the show was running late and we were still belting it out as 3 a.m. was fast approaching! I think it’s the latest I’ve been on a stage since I ‘earned my spurs’ playing in clubs in Denmark back in the 70’s!
As we were preparing to go on, the sky was treating us to a spectacular light show – forked lighting ripping across a thunder-laden backdrop. The vicious tail-end of Hurricane Katia was caressing the city of Antwerp, and looked or all the world as if it was going to rain on our parade, but mercifully, she grumbled her way Northwards, shaking her bad-tempered petticoats elsewhere.
These kind of shows are our bread and butter, and if they are successful, it’s usually in spite of themselves. By that I mean, all possible obstacles are stacked against you – the lateness of the hour, the lack of sleep, the long hours of travel, the unfamiliarity of the crew and the equipment. This makes it all the sweeter when you get out there and rock, and we did. I was very happy with the show, and we even managed about four hours sleep and a (relatively) leisurely breakfast before hitting the road and heading back to the tunnel.
A big thanks to the people of Herentals for making us feel so welcome – it was a great weekend!
Onstage photos by
Although I’ve been flying hither and thither around Europe with BC Sweet this summer, 2011 has also seen me perform a few more shows with my good mate Mario, both in Mezcaleros, and also in a 60’s music project called Mo’Bitz up in Cabrera, a village up in the mountains that bear it’s name ( or is it the other way around?)
Anyway, we played a set comprising all the classics from Small Faces, Spencer Davis, Kinks, Beatles, etc, and a good time was had by all, despite the bitter cold. Yes, you heard right. the bitter cold. It seems hard to believe, as I sit beneath my fan in the office sweating profusely, that a mere few weeks ago, the night time mountain air took away all feeling in my fingers! I even sat at the side of the stage in the car to keep my fingers warm before going on! So, for all you envious of us Spain-dwellers – it’s sometimes cold here too!
Since doing this show, Mario and I, together with drummer Francis have performed a rock set as Mezcaleros at a biker festival up near Granada, and it looks like we’ll be doing another one in August. Mario’s also hoping to arrange a beach bar bash at the end of July down on Mojacar playa – which would be very cool. So, busy times at home and abroad!
Just got back from a very successful three-dayer in Germany with BC Sweet, playing three shows in the East, including Spremberg, and a re-visit to Chemnitz where we played with Christie around a decade ago. It was great to catch up with old friends such as Dozy, Beaky , Mick & Tich, as well as Bill Hurd’s Rubettes, and my old mate Ricky, their sound tech.
All of the shows were outdoor affairs, performed on some of Germany’s impressive Freilichbuhnes – huge stage constructions serving natural amphitheatres – ideal venues (when the weather holds!) Thankfully, apart from a little light rain on the first night, it did!
Spremberg on the Saturday was a lovely gig, as was the town, where I’d also been last year with Christie. Quintessentially German, it has a lovely town square, immaculately kept, with great coffee shops.
It was Chemnitz on the Sunday, a city that in the communist era bore the name Karl-Marx Stadt, and a huge statue of his head dominates the city centre, ironically not a stone’s throw from that symbol of capitalism, The Golden Arches!
We were playing, unusually, on Sunday afternoon, at the Braustolz Fest -a huge party held at the local Chemnitz brewery. We were well looked after, with great food and drink (as you can imagine!) and the fans were fantastic. These three shows were invaluable to us as a band, the more regularly you play the greater your sense of identity and togetherness, and afterwards we felt like we could take on the world. We’ll use that energy and momentum to push on and take BC Sweet to the next level.
Unusually then, for us, the Sunday night was a relaxing one. The view from my hotel room took in the beautiful Opera house across the Square, and later that evening we headed out for coffee, beer and a bite to eat, reflecting on a successful weekend. Roll on the next one!
Now available on Jamendo to download ABSOLUTELY FREE is my ‘new’ album, The Songwriter Diaries. I put ‘new’ in inverted commas because, there’s very little new about it really, and I wouldn’t even call it an album as such, more like a peek inside an artist’s sketchbook, a glance at pieces worked on, nearly finished, unfinished, polished and rough, but essentially, what the artist is about. I’ve purposely avoided messing with these songs and instrumentals, I wanted to give a snapshot of some of the work that, for one reason or another has ‘fallen through the cracks’ or not been generally heard before. The result is eclectic to say the least – download it by clicking on the image below and see what you think!
All Music & Lyrics © Kev Moore – 2009, 2010, 2011
Finally my new album, Blue Odyssey has hit the streets! In real terms, this means you can order online now at MIKISMART for immediate shipment, or pick it up locally from a number of outlets here in the Almeria region, and those of you who pre-ordered will have them mailed out first thing tomorrow.
In the next few days, I’ll be setting up a dedicated Blue Odyssey page on this website, featuring all the lyrics to the songs, plus anecdotes and photos of some of the guest musicians involved.
I hope those of you that have bought the album, or will do so, get as much pleasure from listening to it as i had from making it.
This weekend saw me head back to the UK on a four day visit, taking in seeing relatives, friends, and musical associates (some of them a combination of all three!) I saw my son Corey, who has played on my forthcoming Blue Odyssey album, and Jeff Christie, who I’ll be working with this weekend.I also spent some time with Saxon’s Graham Oliver, who kindly previewed the latest mixes of the forthcoming Oliver/Dawson Saxon album – and I can tell you, it’s all killer, no filler!
Spent a little time with my Dad and sis, and on the day of the gig in Great Yarmouth, met up with my old mate Stef Cybichowski, who also plays drums on several tracks on Blue Odyssey, and Nick Grice, brother of British R&B legendary vocalist Jess Roden – reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ of music, and exciting developments with his brother’s legacy.
The show was fun, and edgy, as we had Paul Bailey standing in for Mike on this particular show, but he did a sterling job. I came home with a killer of a cold, so I’m trying to keep myself ‘awake’ to run through the Christie show for this weekend!