Archives for posts with tag: DJ Amma

Simon says ‘Breathe in for 5, breathe out for 5’. I do what Simon says. Really nervous: very dodgy stomach. The thing about being a non-reading guitarist (the dots I can’t join up) is that I have to remember – how many verses/choruses? is the form under solos ABA or AB? or do we just go around the 1-6-2-5 progression, and how many times? etc, instead of reading the arrangement from the score, like the horn section (13 of them) do, from left to right. If I or the other rhythm players get it wrong, we could be on collision course. The awful responsibility.

It gets better every year, though. This time it’s really tight and punchy, and though a smaller audience (Chelsea v Bayern Munich: there is no life-form visible on Brighton’s streets), there’s a great atmosphere, and DJ Amma’s got them in the mood with her classic ska selection. Concorde2 has a big high stage that’s become crowded with 19 of us. At and over my feet there’s a tangle of cables, a music stand with my crude charts, spare guitar – yes, I break strings – monitor, and two guitar amplifiers pointing directly  at me.

Once you’re on stage, and playing, the nerves are gone, and the trick is to get the right balance between concentration, performance, attention and sheer pleasurable excitement. I lurch between these – mostly veering towards the latter. Our guest singer, Matty Eeles, steps up and delivers a passionate, belting Diamonds Are Forever over the big horn arrangement, and then we rip into the James Bond Theme at a fast skank.

At 10pm (we’re the early shift) we’re finishing with our big brassy Walk Don’t Run, and the Concorde man in the battered cowboy hat at the back is making evil throat-cutting gestures, and when we finish, the crowd roar and immediately start chanting for more. I look round: the throat-cutting has become more of a sawing-head-off motion, though the crowd can’t see. They just want more…

Advertisements

The sky is very blue, and the sea a lovely milky turquoise, glittering in the late May sun. I’m waiting for the Madeira Tower lift, topped with a peeled globe, dolphins and a scaly roof, and it’s taking me down into Concorde2, Brighton’s music venue on Madeira Drive.

I’ve been back in the UK for 24 hours, and I’m feeling fine after the flight from Tokyo. Nervous, though: tonight is Ska Toons’ Ska-Kestra gig. It’s our annual big-band gig, featuring at least twenty musicians, in the Brighton Festival. We soundcheck, and it sounds terrific out front. Then we adjourn for coffee and cake to the café on the beach.

There’s a big crowd queueing at the door, and an excited buzz backstage. Helen’s nervous as well, so we wind each other up, enjoying getting rather hysterical. DJ Amma has got the crowd sweating, and they roar as The Ska-Kestra troops on stage. The band kicks into our opener – ‘Garden of Love’ – with the fifteen horns punching out the tune.  And the crowd are dancing, and they don’t stop.

Finally, Helen and I are cheek-to-cheek, sharing one microphone, singing the rousing closer, All Of My Life, and dancing. Heaven.

The next day, of course, I feel groggy. And the next. And…