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February 29, 2008

Thursday Night Open Mic, Nelson Arms Pub

Last night I dragged myself down to the Nelson Arms pub in Merton, South London. I wanted to check out their regular Thursday night open mic session.

I'm not going to lie to you, the standard of musicianship was not as high as it is at the Spice of Life in Soho. That's not necessarily a bad thing, though. The atmosphere was definitely more informal and inviting, though there was a hint of cliquishness as most of the performers seemed to be regulars. Something tells me that if you stand up and put yourself out there then you'd get accepted, though. The thought of performing at the Spice of Life terrifies me. I can imagine playing at the Nelson.

The format of the open mic is pretty random. The host is a singer-songwriter who presents his material up until 9pm at which point lesser mortals are allowed on stage. There's no limit on how many songs you can do and no apparent limitation on the type of instrument that you can... and cover songs aren't frowned upon! Score! One of the guys bashed out a workmanly acoustic version of Duran Duran's "Hungry Like The Wolf". Five open chords (if you count 'F' as open)... job done. Nothing wrong with that. Hey, maybe I'll give it the 'Fillmore' treatment if I can trick Tim into contributing his rather convincing Simon Le Bon impression.

Lots of acoustic guitar. Some electric. Bongos and harmonica supplied by the peanut gallery. One girl, who had a fantastic voice but who sadly had to sing over the noise of the punters, was accompanied by a MacBook, plugged straight into the PA system!

It even looked like in a pinch you could use the MCs own equipment. Brave man!

I have to admit that I cut out just after 10pm as I was crashing... This week hasn't been a good one for sleep! I also have to admit that when I did get home I decided to have a nightcap, go online and check email.

Email led to googling Duran Duran chords...
Chords led to strumming...
Strumming led to queuing up backing tracks...
Which led to a late night acoustic blues jam!

I stopped playing when my fingers hurt so much I couldn't fret another note. It was LATE! How late? Well, suffice to say that the alarm clock made it to my shit list this morning. If we ever win the lottery (which we plan to this week) I'm going to go out, buy a baseball bat and smash that sucker into a million pieces.

Tomorrow is the next WAES Guitar Improvers class. I'm not ready for it. Not even close. I figured out the chord inversion progression we were given as an exercise but haven't practiced it. My version of "Taylor" is still basically a crap rendition of the intro/outro but with no middle. And I'm not going to have much time to play tonight.

I've really started feeling like I'm ready to get going, ready to record stuff... ready to jam with other people, get creative. When I'm strumming on the acoustic my eyes keep wandering to the Les Paul's case. I so want to play Red, but I promised I wouldn't until the end of the acoustic course.

I'm thinking that when the time comes to cut some demos I should basically do the singer-songwriter thing, knock up some acoustic toons then add electric (and possibly harminica) fills. Blackie's actually easier to record than Red, anyway. The volume level required to get a good sound is significantly lower. Red just wants to ROCK OUT all the time!

Your time will come, Red. Your time will come...

When Tim's off on his residential course next weekend I'll stock the fridge with beer, print off a copy of the somewhat magical Circle of Fifths and get to composing.

Notes to self...

"Hungry Like The Wolf" chords:
E - D (Verse)
C - G- F (Chorus)

Lyric idea:
If I don't bend
I know you'll break me
You hate me too much to leave
I love you too much to stay

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