The Cork Board

The inexhorable slide downhill………from Talking Heads to The Wurzels

So, the much vaunted gig was last Sunday. You may recall that the plan was for me to play two solo sets to an appreciative audience in my local pub as the start of their attempt to get something musical going on a regular basis. I’d agreed to play for nothing, “Oh , it’ll be fun. Just pay my travel expenses,” I said, “ I only live 200 yards away.” Notices were posted “ Live acoustic session with the Single Malt Monkey”.

I’d checked in with ‘mine hosts’ during the week to find that there were to be a couple of other people playing too. “Okay, no problem.”
Then, with a few days to go, up went the sign outside “Live Acoustic  Jam…”

“Jam ?”

I pulled into the car park and unloaded my gear. It was around 8.00pm on a lovely sunny evening. The car park was full and I quickly realised it was not for me. There had been a village cricket match –the team had won – and they and their supporters had been in the bar since “tea” and with a quick glance I realised they were already well on their way to a state of oblivion.

I set up, met my three( one a duo team) fellow entertainers, and we agreed to run the evening as an Open-mic type evening (but not open to anyone else, it could have been a nightmare).

Conversation was loud – I decided to turn up louder – and thought I’d better take some
responsibility for the evening so kicked off with a bashing rendition of Talking Heads’ take on “Take me to The River” to try to get some attention.

Fifteen minutes later I handed over to Sam and his son who swung through some notable Springsteen hits, and then on to Psy who clucked away on his banjo  throwing out some traditional stuff.

A break and I kick it off again about 9.45 playing self-penned heart-felt ballads and love songs. Sam and son come on just after 10, deliver some Beatles, and then they hand over to Psy about 10.20 to round everything off. Psy is clearly a pro. He knows a drunken audience when he sees one and rips straight into his “Singalonga Pub” songs routine.

In seconds the crowd were “coming round the mountain when she comes”  and chasing “runaway trains” as they go over the hill.

45 minutes later the remaining 20 or so punters can hardly string a sentence together or stand without swaying uncontrollably but they can throw out a stern “I am a soi-der drink-ker” .


I have temporarily slipped into a different dimension. I profess to be a Northern boy of some refinement, don’t ya know. I am in a pub in the South West. And everyone is singing “I am a cider drinker”.      It’s true. It’s true.

A baldy leans into my face and shouts “ The Wurzels. The best f@#%ing band in the World.” I grinsmile and try to find words of agreement to cement our new relationship (He Bloody Loves Me). But they…just….just….won’t come.

He begins to elucidate as best he can on a pre- and post- Cutler world but I’m saved as he dashes to the answer the more persistent call.

The evening ends – more drinks are poured and backs slapped.
My fellow entertainers are new friends who also have seen the evening as a bit of a lark.

I wander home in the early hours, carrying my guitar, reflecting on the positives;

1. I’d had free beer all night (though not much).

2. Everyone had had a good time and the landlord was delighted.

3. I had at least half an hours new material so far unused for another day…..

Lesson learned – check the cricket fixture list next time.

18 thoughts on “The inexhorable slide downhill………from Talking Heads to The Wurzels”

  1. That actually sounds very enjoyable. Reminds me, however, of my friend Berni who played in a folk/roots band called Cartouche. He recalls, once, ploughing on through a set of serious/worthy numbers constantly bombarded with leery requests to “playsummatweknow!!!!!” He doesn’t play in a folk/roots band anymore.

    1. I have to say that Psy was prepared, but he is a trad folk man at heart, I think. Whereas me ? I’m not and not likely to be. Oh well. He admitted to liking the villages because they like a good singsong whereas in the cities it’s all contemporary stuff. The cities it is then 🙂

  2. This sounds like an interesting evening, maybe not so much in a good way for you, but you still got to play. I’ve never had to do this before, but I imagine that one day I may have to do a book signing or an excerpt reading in front of a bunch of young adults, and they’re probably just as rowdy as winning-cricket players.

  3. Hah! What a description…I could almost imagine the whole thing. Almost 🙂
    So a rowdy evening enjoyed by all. You DO sound a BIT disappointed though….

    1. Maybe, yes and no. I confess to being a music snob, I suppose. All those years of studying jazz progressions, substitutions, harmony, and so on and “The Runaway Train” gets the biggest cheer. The irony wasn’t lost on me. 🙂

  4. A telegram for Single Malt Monkey from me today might go like this.

    “An inexhorable slide downhill Stop Single Malt stop”

    Smashing. Loved it

  5. “The cities it is then…” I can see why! I suppose I’m a bit of a music snob, too. I’m glad you found a bit of enjoyment, some irony to ponder, and an amusing blog post in the evening.

    I’m still reeling from the sign touting the Live Acoustic Jam. “Jam?” Nice of the promoters to work it out with you first! 🙂

  6. I don’t think the owners realised how confusing it was to call it a “jam”. Sam came along expecting to riff along to some songs, which would have been fine, except that straight forward progressions help a great deal in open “jam” situations (of which I have few). So rather than have chaos I figured 3 individual spots were best. I’ll probably volunteer to run a proper Open Mic for them and run it as such. Then everyone is clear including the players.

  7. lol it still sounded fun s m w try some of ozzy crazy train or mamma im coming home hes my hero id sell my soul for him lol sweet dreams xxjen

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