First of all, sorry it’s been a while, but I thought now was the time to post a little update for you!
July has seen LaVendore Rogue return to the scene after a 6-month hiatus. Lots of things went on behind the scenes, including the appointment of David Rogers as our manager, signing up with French agent, On The Road Again (www.ontheroad–again.eu/), and writing songs for a potential second album. Several of the songs have been publicly aired over the last year anyway, but it’s always good to actually sit down and work these things out!
Our first gig of the summer came at Bures Music Festival. My fifth time there in six years, with five difference line-ups! I was fortunate enough to be asked to open the Friday night of the festival with a 30-minute solo slot before Stevie Nimmo, Alvin Youngblood and Dr Feelgood. All these acts just 15 minutes from my home town – of course I was thrilled to be involved!
LaVendore Rogue’s gig was on the Sunday afternoon, sandwiched between a Stax-soul band and The New Town Kings. Always a little interesting for us to be on the bill with bands people know, as we’re still a bit of an unknown quantity, but nevertheless, we put on a good show, blew away some of the cobwebs and after walking off stage at the end, thanked ourselves for organising five rehearsals leading up to the gig!
Next stop was Upton Blues Festival. JoJo, Cupsey and I played here with Hokie Joint back in 2011 (?) and had a great time then, so we were particularly looking forward to this one. Second on the bill, with just Ainsley Lister left to play after us. We’d spent a long time working out the best set for the festival season, and one of the things we realised from Bures was, we needed some songs people could relate to – especially at gigs that aren’t specifically Blues-based – where the Hokie Joint material we’re playing means nothing to the audience! In preparation for Upton, we had another rehearsal, where we went through many covers, ranging from Johnny Cash to Sam & Dave, and eventually settled for The Rolling Stones, which no member of the band had a problem with! The cover we opted for was “Get Off Of My Cloud” – and judging by the reaction at Upton, it was a good choice!
The gig at Upton was one of the best we’ve done since our formation in 2013 and really cemented the fact that all the hard work has been worth it. Big thank you to everyone who came along and for the fantastic support of this great town!
Since Upton, we’ve covered a few miles…
Jon Amor and I had been booked to play Maryport Blues Festival for almost a year and since then, LaVendore Rogue was also offered a slot (second on the bill again – could make a habit out of this!). One problem – Warren, our keys player, couldn’t make it. After much thought (5 minutes and a phone call), we drafted Jon in to play with us, and be Ronnie to my Keith.
Before we get onto that, Jon and I played at one of our favourite little venues, The Kings Head, Carlisle on the Thursday before the festival. Knowing that the 300+ mile drive is a nightmare and we’re always shattered when we arrive, we decided to stay with our good friend, Matt Briggs in Ashby-de-la-Zouch on the Wednesday night. This broke up the journey into a more manageable 2 x 3 hours, which definitely helps. Thanks to Matt for his hospitality and extensive selection of beers!
So, off to Carlisle on the Thursday lunchtime (after a much needed Wetherspoon’s All Day Brunch). We arrived at the venue, caught up with legendary landlord of The King’s Head, (or The Gaffer’s Napper) and all-round great guy, Mike Vose. Offloaded the gear then went to our accommodation. Different to the last time, which was a Travelodge; we were staying in The Crown & Mitre, in the centre of Carlisle. We were greeted by Denis, who took our bags, gave us a tour of the hotel, including the bar, restaurant and Jacuzzi (!), and then presented us with a complimentary glass of wine each!
We were slightly worried about the weather that evening, as despite the gig being under cover, it was still outside and the rain was creeping in. Turns out we didn’t need to worry – almost a sell-out and two thoroughly enjoyably 40-minute sets, doing our usual thing – some of my songs, some of Jon’s and some covers. A pleasure to share the stage with Mr Amor again. Always enjoyable.
On to the obligatory post-match analysis, which amounts to a few drinks at the bar with Vosey after the gig; we made it back to the hotel around 1am.
The Friday ended up being a day off for the both of us. We were due to play a gig in the fantastically named “Cockermouth”, about 10 minutes from Maryport, but after some discussion with the festival committee, we decided two gigs that close together on back-to-back days would have a negative effect on the gig at Maryport. No bother though, as we knew the festival line-up was strong on the Friday night, so we managed to get our backstage passes sorted for that evening too.
As we arrived at the festival, we bumped into Stevie Nimmo, who was slightly worried that his band was stuck in traffic on the M6, two hours away, and he was due on stage in an hour and a half. It all came good though and they turned up and put on a great show.
We hung out with our good friend, Ian Siegal and his band, for the majority of the evening, chewing the fat, discussing why one shouldn’t leave guitar leads around a full pint glass, when Ian inadvertently knocked over said pint with said guitar lead.
Ian took to the stage and did his thing – still one of my favourites and despite seeing him many times over the past 10 years, he still never fails to impress. His band really is one of the best out there and ask almost any guitarist who the best on the “scene” is and Dusty Ciggaar will probably be the one!
Had a great chat with Stevie Nimmo after his set too, talking guitars, amps, pedals, and generally putting the world to rights, as most musicians do, I think!
A lift back to the hotel, followed by a nightcap at the bar, and then it was on to Saturday.
Jon & I were on stage at 3pm and to be honest, neither of us was sure how the set would go down in a big marquee. The Fisk & Amor Duo is generally a hit in smaller, more intimate venues, so we’re never certain if it will transfer to the bigger stage. After a couple of numbers, we settled in and it all seemed to go to plan. We had to make some big changes to the songs I was singing, as most of them were being played by LaVendore Rogue later on in the day but fortunately with it being a shorter set, it didn’t seem any weaker than the night before.
Halfway through the set I noticed the LaVendore Rogue boys turned up, so that was reassuring, considering they’d left at 10am for the 350 mile trip!
LaVendore Rogue hit the stage at 8pm, ahead of Elkie Brooks, and despite being guitar-heavy in this line-up, everything sounded good from the off. We did our usual set, plus a couple of additional Hokie Joint numbers. Speaking of Hokie Joint, Giles King and his band “Goofa Dust” were playing “the trail”, so we thought it might be a good opportunity to get him up on stage with us for a couple of numbers. Coincidentally, our set ends with 3 Hokie Joint songs – “Back Where We Are Going”, “The Way It Goes…Sometimes” and “Mrs Jones”. We haven’t played “Back…” since Hokie Joint finished, and it was always one of my favourites. To play that with Giles and Jon was a special treat. Giles and I used to throw “Hoax” riffs into this song anyway, so to have Jon up there with us really was the icing on the cake!
The set drew to a close, we had a quick change of clothes, ran over to the merchandise stall and sold the most CDs of the weekend (I was told!)
After a much needed beer or two and a bite to eat, we settled in to watch Elkie Brooks. What a voice. Her version of “Gasoline Alley” was really something special, as well as “Pearl’s a Singer” and “Lilac Wine”.
Onto the Sunday…
The relatively early start (for musicians) of 9:30am saw us hit the road for Newark. A drive through the beautiful Lake District on the A66 certainly eased the headaches that had somehow appeared from the night before. We were on our way to another of our favourite venues, The Flying Circus. We arrived at 2:30pm, were greeted by Tony and after unloading our gear, we were quickly whisked off for a Tex-Mex meal at “Amarillo’s” before the gig. We finished our meal 15 minutes before show time, which is never ideal, but we managed to bloat our way through the set with no worries. The slow-release carbs of the fajitas, burgers and nachos must have helped things as the second half of the show certainly picked up. A real contrast to Maryport, but it’s great to play small and sweaty venues like The Flying Circus. I’m starting to believe that a gig is only as good as its audience, and these gigs never fail to disappoint!
All in all, a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, back doing what we do best.
Next stop, The Convent, Gloucestershire on Friday 12th Aug, The Bullingdon, Oxford on the 13th, and The BlueFunk Club, Poynton on the 14th.
It’s only rock n roll…