Dring - ring – ring – dring – ring – dring. The phone rings at 38 Kipling Avenue, Warwick. It is a hot summer day. Joyce ( mum) gets to the phone first. Joyce answers in her slightly Mrs Bouquet / posh telephone answering voice. “Hello Warwick 43859”. It’s an agent in Birmingham who we have been pestering / harassing to get a gig for The Original Roadrunners ( our name at the time ). He has been let down by a pop group ( sneer!) and asks if we can play at a club in Birmingham called the Elbow Room. This is a coup. Not only that but we will be playing the background music for two strippers. The agent asks if we can play the gig that evening. We agree. We always did at this stage of proceedings. A gig was a gig and it didn’t really matter where or what it was. Later we drive in the dark to Birmingham and find the gig.
As we approached the Barton Arms I glanced across the street and noticed a sign over a small club. It proclaimed The Elbow Room. A small wave of pure nostalgia washed over me for a moment. I was back almost where the story of the EBB began. Full circle and what a journey! I have to say I was pleased not to be playing The Elbow Room though.
The venue was a surprise. We ate some Thai food and I checked out the upstairs room where I was to play. Victoriana and good acoustics. It was obviously a room that had seen some extraordinary scenes. In it’s heyday the Barton was host to the great luminaries of the stage who appeared at The Hippodrome nearby, now sadly gone. The whole building is still in fine condition even though it was set on fire during the recent riots. It must have been a very grand place to drink in and be be able to rub shoulders with the famous stars who stayed there.
Pete the Scouser ( roadie ) had collected an amp for me but it was more suitable for an electric guitar. He immediately suggested going back for another and re-appeared soon after with a nice little acoustic amp. What a super nice bloke! Thanks Pete.
pete the scouser and crew
Ensconced in a meeting room behind the bar I tuned up and chilled and tried unsuccessfully to finish writing a song I am still working on. Soon it was time to hit the stage and meet my audience who proved to be warm and receptive just like it is on all of these gigs.
I am always pleased and proud to find that so many of the folk, and their friends, who book me to play at their private function are “people workers”. They are social workers, youth workers, nurses, people who work with young offenders and so on. This event was no exception.
steve and yours truly