A few years back, I lost my job. My wife and I had not long been married and had recently bought a flat. It was awful. Along with the fact that I felt all kinds of worthless (getting the sack tends to do that to a man), I needed to find another source of income as soon as humanly possible. While I was single and living pretty much hand to mouth, I occasionally would enter karaoke competitions to win beer money and did ok. The odd fifty or twenty five quid here and there kept me from cadging cigarettes too much and allowed my social life to clip along quite nicely.
So, the day after I got fired, I tidied up my CV and fired it to sundry recruitment agencies and waited for calls for interviews. I needed some cash now though. I needed to feel like I was still contributing, so I put an advert on a website for musicians called Party Sounds and offered my services as a singer for working bands. As long as there was money in it, I was willing to sing and if you wanted, I could play a bit of guitar or bash a tambourine.
A couple of nights later, I recieved a call from a guy called Pete who was looking for a singer for a band he was putting together. He was around the same age as me and said he knew a guitar player, a drummer and he played bass. I agreed to go to the guitar players house and "try out" with no hard feelings if they didn't think I had what it took. Had what it took? I remember putting the phone down and thinking "Cheeky bastards!". Now, I'm not certain of many things in this life, but I do know I can sing and I can do it well. I don't know why I thought that though, they hadn't heard me sing had they? I suppose with ability comes some arrogance.
I went to Dave the guitarists house, Pete was there and made the introductions. They had set up a PA in his living room with a microphone and everything. Looks like I'm going to have to put my money where my mouth is, I thought to myself. Pete said, "Well, what do you know?", I said "Well, what have you got?". Pete suggested "There She Goes" by the La's. It's a one hit wonder from about 1990 and a great song. Possibly the second best song about heroin addiction that has been written*. I said that I knew the first verse and chorus and off we went. That was seven years ago, and aside from a years hiatus we have been playing pubs, clubs,functions, wedding and birthday parties ever since.
Playing in a covers band is a steep learning curve if you haven't done it before and I had not. Sure I could sing, but there were about sixty songs to learn just so we could play a variety of stuff depending on the venue and event. I had to learn how to set up the PA, learn how to read an audience and call songs appropriately if the choices weren't working out. I had to learn to chat to the audience if there were glitches with equipment and exactly how many songs made a 45 minute set. When to do an encore and when to stop and pack up. What to do if a fight broke out (the answer to that is keep playing, otherwise they come to the band for improvised weaponry), or when to call a slow number towards the end of the evening. It was a steep learning curve, but I climbed it.
I love performing live. I also love performing with the band I'm in. When we are cooking, we are fantastic. There is nothing better than seeing a full dancefloor and hear them whoop when we kick into a classic track. The opening to Play that Funky Music is a sure fire floor filler, followed by Long Train Running, into Sweet Home Alabama. Then Nutbush City Limits, Brown Sugar, Dakota then All Right Now. Encores of I Predict a Riot and Sex on Fire. We do soul, rock and roll, rock, pop, disco and all sorts in between and it's brilliant. I'll keep doing this till my body won't let me any more. The guitar player is sixty one. Looks like I have some time left to do.
* The best song about heroin addiction is She Talks to Angels by the Black Crowes.