Thursday, October 05, 2006

Expensive Date

It seems like nobody wants me except the people who can't afford me at the moment.

I'm not talking about my love life (for once) I'm talking about the sorry plight of our gig diary.

After a year of indulging our every whim, Lovely Tom at the Shepherds Bar has noticed that our monthly residency is bankrupting him. Bless him though, he hasn't actually sacked us, he's presented me with the harsh economic reality of the situation (never a pleasant experience for a girl), and invited us all to come up with a solution. So what we're going to have to do is take a brutal pay cut. Which means I'm going to be saving for 8 months for a new gown from Hollywood, instead of 4. Oh well, the old ones aren't looking exactly shabby yet, I suppose.

The biggest downer of this new state of penury is that Bobby Fresh will now be actually paying for the privilege of playing a gig, because the taxi fare to bring his drums to the venue will actually be more than he'll get paid for hitting them. He pointed out that it wasn't any of our faults that he'd never learned to drive or bought a car, but I still feel bad about it. Especially as they are such a cute set of drums. Maybe we should pass the hat round for driving lessons?

Spurred on by the realisation I might have to look further afield for a home for my cheeky slinktet, I've been busily firing off emails in all directions to every bar, club and agency I could think of. But clearly my email account must be malfunctioning because, mysteriously, I haven't had a single reply.

Frankly I'm baffled. Who wouldn't want to pay through the nose for the privilege of squeezing a seven-piece band into their venue - with not one but two sultry songstresses in slinky gowns? (not to mention Sir Fitz and his fruity brass, and don't even get me started on what the rhythm section get up to). I know I would. If I had a venue. Or any money.

Which brings me on to my antics this evening.

Meet Tricity Vogue, Jazz Gatecrasher

I was strolling up Newington Green Road on my way home from the recording studio this evening and as I passed the Alma pub I heard the unmistakable skitter of jazz drums, and the fruity plunk of a double bass. Sure enough, there in the window was a poster advertising a performance that night by BBC-best-jazz-soloist award winner Anita Wardell. I was all set to mosey on in when I noticed that tickets were £30. Bugger.

I must have looked like a little puppy with my nose pressed against the window pane, because this dapper gentleman in a smart black suit came out and ushered me inside, telling me not to worry about tickets, just put something in the hat when it came round. I went up to the bar to get a drink, opened my purse... and discovered the grand total of £1.95 inside. Did they accept cards? Not for under £10. A half pint of Kronenberg was £1.65, leaving me exactly 30 pence for the hat. Luckily it was all in ones and twos, and the 'hat' turned out to be a proper collection bucket with a discreet slot, so my coinage made a lot of noise when it went in, and nobody was any the wiser.

Anita and her trio tripped delightfully through some favourite standards, and a few I hadn't heard before (which is always a delight) while I took tiny ladylike sips of my half of lager and made it last an hour. Lovely warm vocals over properly feather-light piano, bass and drums. As the Fast Show guy would say: "Nice".

Now all I've got in my purse is two plectrums. Handy in case the sudden urge to play the guitar comes over me (I haven't touched one for about three months, but you never know) - but not much good for anything else.

There is something fundamentally awry with the economics of being a jazzer. Have you ever heard the joke about the jazz musician who won the Lottery? They asked him how long he was going to carry on playing jazz now he was a millionaire and he said... "Until the money runs out."



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