Part Four: "On The Road"


Musicians are masochists. This is the only reason I can think of why they would contemplate, even for a second, the notion of going “On The Road". Apparently, it isn’t enough to play in front of nobody in a pub down the road - oh no - your average local band wants to play in front of nobody a long way from home too.



For whatever twisted reason, a local blues band have managed to play a gig in some woodworm festooned shack in a minuscule provincial ghetto in the middle of nowhere. This is perceived as BIG NEWS by all the other sad local outfits and they begin to pump the aforesaid three chord bluesmurderers for information. Being stout fellows all, they lie on a massive scale and elevate their tragic half hour of slaughtering Elmore James tunes into an event akin to Hendrix at Monterey. They also inflate the fee they receive. This has a strange effect on all those within earshot... Within minutes, you make a grovelling and undignified phone call to the pub, where you claim your nasty little fourth rate beat combo is outselling Madonna, Oasis and Aqua in your home town. Grudgingly, the landlord books you for the highly sought after fourth on the bill slot, on a Tuesday night, for a tiny fee. You are pathetically grateful. Then, like a slap in the face, reality appears. The only transport the band has is the keyboard players’ 1976 Mini and this has a Guinness label for a tax disc at the moment. This is clearly unsuitable for carrying an entire bands gear; even such a tragically poorly equipped one as yours. The only van you can afford is a clapped out Transit from ‘JustLegal CheapoVans’. Someone’s brother is conned into driving so now you’re ready to rock.

'It gets a load of passing trade...'
The big night is here. After just a few near death experiences you make it to the venue, which bears a striking similarity to a portaloo with a carpark. In time honoured tradition, you play without a soundcheck to three people, one of whom is clearly mad, while the other two are too busy beating each other up to even acknowledge the fact that there is a band in the room. After twenty-five lengthy and humiliating minutes, the plug is mercifully pulled and your first out of town gig is over.

One of the band sheepishly asks the landlord for the mythical fee. He mumbles something derogatory and hands you £25 in damp fivers. Clutching this like the Holy Grail, you run back to your comrades.

'You can use the back bedroom as a dressing room lads...'
Of course, you get lost and the van breaks down. You limp to a motorway service station (nearly always Newport Pagnall) and feast on a plate of lukewarm beans and chips. By a miracle you repair the van and at seven in the morning, with just enough time for a shower and a quick nervous breakdown before work, you arrive home. A swift calculation later and taking into consideration the cost of the van, a pint of Fosters each, your service station "banquet", the road map of Leeds you had to buy to determine where the bloody hell you were, twenty five Twix’s, thirty packets of Monster Munch and the Bass players Taxi fare home (well he was crying a lot, and he had turned a funny shade of blue), you come to the grim realisation that this sad and sorry night has cost the band about £200.

Welcome to Showbiz.