Saturday’s Kindred Spirit gig was one of the best attended and best appreciated pub gigs I think I’ve ever played, with any band. Well, OK, count out St Patrick’s nights and special pleading for the Yellow Book being a ‘bar’ not a pub. Whatever. It was an excellent night with a crowd that were attentive at the right points and energetic at the other ones. Kindred Spirit follower Carlos Atkinson even found someone to agree with his established labelling of me as ‘the Lindsey Buckingham of the violin’ (which I’m going to stop quoting before it ends up on my tombstone).
Anyway, it kind of deserved to be a good gig. The band were on fine form (I thoroughly enjoyed solo duelling with Becky Menday, guesting on sax, whistles and BVs). We had excellent interval support from a drummerless incarnation of Grand Union, with close harmonies, textured stringpicking and jazz-channelling double bass wrapped around trad songs and convincingly folky originals. They reminded me a lot of Pentangle with a mandolin (which is a real compliment in my book!), and not just because their second number was ‘Blackwater Side’.
And I really shouldn’t let the venue go without a mention. Live music twice a week in the bar is an impressive schedule; the Cross Lances takes the community hub concept seriously enough to run darts, pool, poker and raffles too, but music is definitely at the heart of what makes it distinctive. I had to pop back the following day to reclaim a mislaid blood sugar meter, and not only had they found and carefully retained it (bonus point), landlord Adie was insistent on showing me round not only the cupboard containing half a dozen guitars, an amp and a perfectly adequate 6-channel PA (most bands could gig on that no problem), but also the piano he had saved from scrap and is in the process of getting up to proper playing scratch (it needs its second round of tuning at time of writing, but is already playable). How myself and long-suffering girlfriend ended up playing it in turn is a story for another time …
Rather more private goings-on on Friday, when I head down to Brighton for some home studio overdubbing, digging out my jazz chops (in one form or another – arrangements still being thrashed out over email). An overnight shift of gear for Saturday’s gig then, as the String Project support a rare live performance by ex-CRASS vocalists Penny Rimbaud and Eve Libertine, at East Oxford Community Centre. Tickets will be available on the door, but I’d recommend turning up early as this one will surely sell out. See you down the front … it’s an intimate performance space, you’ll be down the front unless you’re at the bar!