Jiggery Pokery
There’s no doubt that this city is one of Europe’s finest and in its 1100 year history it has been a political, cultural and economic center, but there’s something about the huge volume of tourism in Prague that doesn’t inspire me to get out and about too much. In the melee that seems to permanently be on the famous, historic pedestrian ‘Charles’ bridge, it’s difficult to walk without bumping into camera wielding sightseers determined to shoot every one of the 30 baroque style statues that decorate its length. Since this afternoon I am one of them, I shouldn’t complain. Together with Ianto, we fight our way across in an attempt to fill our torpid lungs with fresh air, the malodorous wafts of late afternoon body odour and horse ordure driving us onward. Interestingly, in 1965 it was decided that the statues should be systematically replaced by replicas. The originals are currently exhibited in the lapidarium of the National Museum.
Most of the day off was spent in the hotel room, listening to music and compiling a new Walk-in CD for Dave Dixon to play when the doors open. I had been meaning to finish it off for ages but the day off seemed like the perfect opportunity. Since I’ve already had queries about it, I’ve posted the playlist at the bottom of this page.
The evening went superbly as Tim sourced a local restaurant which fused local cuisine with an Indian slant. V ZÁTIŠÍ in the heart of Prague1, old town looked a little like a potential fru-fru, nouvelle cuisine over-hyped let down, that is, until the food came. My Indian starter selection was utterly divine and the main courses were each and every one, staggering. The Czech Republic wine was fantastic too with a delicious Riesling and a rich but light Pinot Noir both local and both now firmly on my wine search list for back home.
Show Day –
I finally realize why the air con doesn’t work in the room. A real ‘duh’ moment as years of touring has taught me that some hotels use sensors on the window frames so that the air conditioning isn’t used when the windows are open. It’s taken me 3 sweaty nights to figure that out, a sure sign of dwindling brain power being otherwise engaged. Now I can switch it on, it feels too cold. I open the windows once more. With the sounds of choral singing coming presumably from a nearby church, I suddenly feel inclined to read up about the complex Medieval history of Prague.
..but enough of that, on to the show, which is of course why we’re all here. We convene outside the hotel and climb aboard the Bernie-led Rangers for the short drive over to the O2 Prague arena. Mark and I discuss a possible set for the evening and by the time we are done, the cars pull in to the vast underground load-in bay and we head for the dressing rooms and of course…yes, you’ve guessed it…catering!!! Today’s delicious feast is to be a Thai selection. Chris and the team have been out at the crack of dawn and their shelves are now filled with weird and wonderful goodies with which they will concoct their magical offerings. I love to spend time in the kitchens and Chris, Dave and George are so accommodating. I ask Chris if he’d mind sharing some of his recipes. He smiles and says “ah, we make it all up as we go along”. He’s not joking. There is a real improvisational ingredient which I suppose we can all relate to as there are direct comparisons to the way we look at our evening performances. That’s what cooking should be all about, experimentation and feel. Always keen to learn from experts, I hang around and watch a while. Until that is, it’s time to head to the stage for today’s sound check. Jules awaits at the edge of my keyboard riser and we chat about fine tuning some of the program settings and other nerdy stuff.
In response to many questions and requests I aim to cover each member of this wonderful band and his equipment with the proviso that the reader fully appreciates the old adage ‘it’s not what gear you play, it’s how you play it’. It seems obvious to say, but you’d be amazed at the ferocity of some of the gear requests we get. The plain fact is, if you buy a ’59 Les Paul, a Reinhardt amp and Marshall tweed cab, identical distortion pedals and amp setup, even cables, you will not sound like Mark. You will sound like YOU.
Here are mine and Jim’s keyboard layouts for this tour.
Hammond XK3C organ, double manual, in B3 style case with Leslie cabinet. (my magnificent old brown B3 was retired after 2010 to become a permanent resident of British Grove studios)
Nord Lead 2X synth (in white)
Yamaha S90xs master keyboard (I use this for mainly Electric pianos, Harps and Church Organs)
Korg M3 (mainly string sounds and pads with the occasional Sitar thrown in)
In the Rack –
2x Akai S6000 samplers (all sampling work done with these beauties)
Roland JD990
Syco Logic Midi ‘brain’ (an ancient device but no-one has yet bettered it and I refuse to have a laptop on stage)
Akai MPC1000 (used for generating clicks and simple sample loops)
Yamaha 01V Mixing desk
On the floor –
Roland Midi bass pedals (for when all hands are full)
Volume pedals for Organ, Nord, M3, S90xs, Akai and JD990
Footswitch for sequencer
Jim Cox….
Hammond B3 circa early 1960’s. This Keyboard Specialties B3 has been around for a while now and Jim is a true master of the beast.
Roland V piano – this is mounted in our fake piano ‘shell’ which has been around since the days of the Straits. The V piano is a little longer than previous occupants of the shell so some jiggery-pokery was required to get it in. Stage Manager John Lawrence saw to it that it wasn’t an issue)
Manfrini Super compact accordion.
Walk-In CD –
1. Really Now – The Dreamlets
2. In Care of the Blues – Patsy Cline
3. Ooh La La – Redbird
4. Cant Find My Way Home – Blind Faith
5. New Cut Road – Bruce Molsky
6. Scarlet Town – Gillian Welch
7. Shadows – Native Roses
8. Hold Me In Your Arms – James Cotton
9. Weir Road – The Leisure Society
10. She Left Me Standing On the Mountain – Tatania Hargreaves
11. I’m the mand down there – Jimmy Reed
12. Orpheo Looks Back – Andrew Bird
13. Please Return To Jesus – Bap Kennedy
14. We Live Again – Beck
15. Campos De San Gregorio – Vicente Amigo
16. Worse For Wear – Vetiver
17. Trouble and Woe – Ruth Moody
18. This Is Hip – John Lee Hooker
19. Bryant’s Bounce – Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant
20. Bimini Gal – Bruce Molsky
21. Decimal Currency – The Blenders
22. Moonlight and Roses – The 3 Suns
23. Red Dog In The Morning – Tim O’Brien
24. Broadminded – The Louvin Brothers
25. 44 – Howlin Wolf
26. Feelin’ Good – Junior Parker and the Blue Flames
Shows before Prague –
1. Mama he treats your daughter mean – Ruth Brown –
2. Paddy wont you drink some Cider – Reeltime Travellers
3. What’d I Say – Ray Charles – Best of Ray Charles
4. Lively Up Yourself – Bob Marley and the Wailers – Natty Dread
5. Tennessee Me – The Secret Sisters – The Secret Sisters
6. Blue Bonnet Rag – Speedy West & Jimmy Bryant – Stratosphere Boogie
7. Hop High My Lula Girl – Bruce Molsky – Contented Must Be
8. Other Way Around – Pieta Brown – One and All
9. An Cailleach – Salsa Celtica – El Camino
10. Back Door Man – BluesClub – Rollin’ and Tumblin’ (available at new.guyfletcher.co.uk)
11. Fat Boy Rag – Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys – Take me back to Tulsa
12. Crazy Mixed Up World – Bo Ramsey – Stranger Blues
13. Grey Owl & Victor’s No. 39 – Bruce Molsky –
14. I Will Live on Islands – Josh Rouse – El Tourista
15. Ain’t No Grave – Crooked Still – Shaken By a Low Sound
16. Hipshake – Slim Harpo
17. And It Stoned Me – Van Morrison – Best of Van Morrison
18. Don’t you want a man like me – Jay Nelson – Best of Excello
19. Crazy Rhyme – Django Reinhardt – Chronological
24. Broadminded – The Louvin Brothers
25. 44 – Howlin Wolf
26. Feelin’ Good – Junior Parker and the Blue Flames
A hotel bar in Prague…