Wednesday, 14 March 2018

A Measure of Success?

Poor neglected blog!  A year has passed and you might be forgiven for thinking that Desperate Measures had disappeared.  But actually the band has been quietly getting on with regular rehearsals and during 2017 and performed publicly on nine occasions.

The band poses last November in the Bedford Hotel's beautiful restaurant

Snow Joke

Folk in the South West on England are used to mild winters.  The price for that is an all pervading wetness and greyness.  This year, the week before we were due to play at the Bedford Hotel, a storm from the continent collided with Siberian cold air and result was a dramatic whiteness.

Band members were snowed in – and not just those hardy souls who live on the moor.  These were the scenes in Plymouth and Totnes.

Fortunately, by the Saturday, the band members had been sufficiently thawed out to play the next day.

That was our second jazz lunch at the Bedford Hotel this year and we thank our regular lunch attendees and the hotel staff for having us to play.

Desperates Play Calstock

The old chapel at Calstock is a venue that many great jazz artists have appeared - and now the Desperates have played there too........admittedly, that was because it was a private celebration of our bass player's significant birthday...

The striking interior of the old chapel

View of the Tamar river and railway viaduct from the chapel balcony
We were also joined for the musical shindig by musicians from the Shack Band, so named because their rehearsal venue was originally a chicken shack.  Here's a few pictures of a great afternoon.

Sunlit Desperates

The Shack Band and Desperates play together

Room with a view

Looks like Tessa's joke didn't go down well

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Music and Murder

Darkness fell like a widow’s veil and the mist above the Avon drifted across the road.  As silence blanketed the countryside, the lights in Totnes glowed dimly and the sweeping arcs of light from the rush hour traffic lit the hotel with a deathly pallor.  Then a low rumble in the distance marked the approach of a powerful car.

Passers-by looked anxiously down the road past the hotel.  Was this the ghost of the Bentley found in the river five years ago with its brake lines cut and the body of the lord’s wife slumped at the wheel? 

A modern car turned into the hotel.  In the dim light, two shadowy figures emerged and began to move heavy items from the boot of the car.  The passers-by shivered and passed by.  Somethings are best not seen.  The Desperate Measures band had arrived.

For our last gig of 2016 we played for a private party in the Seven Stars function room, where we were joined by actors from the Moonstone Theatre Company who were to perform a murder mystery for the assembled diners.  Every now and then someone would (appropriately enough) make the “cut throat” sign and we would pause to hear the unfolding tale of the submerged Bentley and the intrigues of unrequited love, mercenary marriage and murder most foul.  Quite a pleasant evening really.

To join in with the spirit of the occasion we attempted to arrive in clothing styles that reflected the 1930s era in which the mystery was set.  I asked my wife what I could wear in 30's style and she remarked that it's been a long time since I've been in my thirties.

Our elegant bassist flashing his double-breasted suit (but sadly facing away from us here)

Perhaps our bassist was distracted by other double breasted folk

Waiting for our turn to perform
Our dashing dapper dynamic drummer (with imaginary drumsticks)
Christmas is upon us now and we’ve been out shopping and going to parties.  Actually, I met a member of UKIP on his way to his office party.  I advised him to avoid the punch.  He didn’t seem too pleased but I got my come-uppance when I got home.  My wife had bought our tree in BHS.  You can tell because it has no branches.

The Totnes evening was our tenth outing this year – three more than 2015.  And we already have dates set for the Bedford Hotel jazz lunches in 2017 (see the dates page on our website or the blog below this).  I guess we’ll have to revise some of our tunes.  We could do “There’ll never be another EU”?  “Afternoon in Portsmouth”?  I’m sure you can think of a few....

Anyway, we are hoping for an equally enjoyable new year.  We wish all our followers the same.

Finally, do you know how Christmas will be different after Brexit?  No brussels.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Dates announced for 2017

Great news!  The Bedford Hotel has asked us to continue providing the music at their jazz lunches every couple of months next year.

The dates for your diary are

5th February
5th March
14th May
2nd July
3rd September
5th November

We look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

All along, down along, out along lee

Approached by an avenue of lime trees planted in 1802, the church of St. Michael in Spreyton is built in granite with a tower that is a landmark for miles. A Latin inscription in the chancel roof suggests that the church was completed in 1451.

In the churchyard is a headstone to Thomas Cobley, gent., of Butsford in the neighbouring parish of Colebrooke, d. 1844, aged 82.

He was reputed to be the nephew of the famous "Uncle Tom Cobley" .  Locals will perhaps tell you Uncle Tom also lies in this churchyard and that he was a substantial yeoman of Spreyton, who died at the end of the 18th century at a great age. His companions on the famous ride to Widecombe Fair all came are claimed to be from this district. There are various versions of disputes about inheritance and promiscuous behaviour which apparently led to the old uncle Tom being interred without a headstone.

Despite some doubts, Spreyton probably has the strongest claim on the story and was therefore a worthy choice for the Desperates to play in support of Devon Air Ambulance.

Jo, our clarinetist and musical director, has the honour of having a brother in Spreyton.  Tony and his wife Judith organised the charity event and were kind enough  to ask us to play for them.

Our venue was the fine village hall where we were warmly welcomed by the enthusiastic and hard working team of helpers.  We converged from our wide ranging homes and set up our equipment.

Our stage setup is a bit tidier than it used to be - we might be getting the hang of it.
The audience gathers...

Then we had a cup of tea and awaited instuctions...

Management meeting
As well a working in the kitchen with her helpers, Judith also took some pictures for us.

The audience was kind to us
Our audience wasn't huge, but there were a few more than shown in that picture!  We enjoyed playing despite some false starts (one, two, one, two three, er no, hangon) and moments of confusion (shouldn't we be changing key now?).  And the audience seemed to enjoy it too.  Some of them even showed off their dancing skills.

The rhythm section taking things very seriously
Despite our serious expressions we had great time and really appreciated some excellent food in the interval having been offered a choice of three dishes.

It was a late finish for musicians who are normally tucked up with a cup of Horlicks by the time we left.  But arriving home in the small hours, as Debbie the sax said, made us feel like proper musicians.

We have to thank Tom Cook for sitting in for our usual drummer John who was busy with other engagements.  Tom will definitely be added to our list of deps (as we jazzers call them).

We also thank Tony, Judith and the helpers for asking us along and treating us well.  And all for a good cause.

Debs and Rich show off their sax appeal

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Keep right on....

To the end of the road.  And it was at the end of the road that the Desperates set up on Sunday 17th July 2016.  We were invited to play at the Totnes Canoe Festival again where we've played in various locations and various weathers.

This year the weather was fine - in fact the first day of a mini-heatwave that will probably constitute the best part of the summer this year.  And we were located more or less at the far end of the festival - only the wellie wangling was slightly beyond us.

As a result, the audience wasn't the biggest we've had but swelled to eight or so at times.  They valiantly supported us and even had a go at hula-hooping in time with the music.  As a river cruise boat approached, we thought we'd have some more appreciation for a few seconds.  And then the generator stopped.

Well, it's all part of life's rich tapestry.  While most of us sheltered from the sun in our teepee, Rich on alto sax stood out the front; truly dedicated to his art.

We must also thank Steve who played bass for us at this gig and the one at Bigbury golf course on the 24th June.  As our "outdoor bassist", he has stoically withstood a drafty, chilly outing on the golf club patio, and now a gig at the far end of a festival watched only by squirrels and wading birds.

Next time out for the Desperates is Sunday 4th September for a jazz lunch at the Bedford Hotel, Tavistock.  Our regular bassist Mick will return, and although our clarinet player has other commitments, we'll be joined by our favourite pianist, Pete. 

Saturday, 25 June 2016

We're Still Here

Already half way through this year...we've had the longest day and the nights are drawing in.

What have we been up to?  We played for Jazz lunches at the Bedford Hotel, Tavistock on January 3rd and May 1st and then a short set at the Totnes Party in the Town.  This is a new event put on by the Dartington International Summer School and Festival.

Over 400 acts appeared at various venues throughout Totnes, and we were scheduled to be the last band of the evening at the Seven Stars hotel venue.  After watching the excellent acts before us, we went on with some trepidation, but the audience were very kind to us!  We greatly enjoyed it despite turning up for a only short set.  With the cheers ringing in his ears, one band member declared it the best gig we've done!

And on the 24th June on a blustery summer evening, we headed out to Bigbury Gold Course for a charity function organised by the Rotary Club.  As the day on which the results of the EH referendum were filling the airwaves, we'll no doubt remember this gig.

But while politics can divide people, the things we have in common can bring us together.  Music does just that.

Next up for us is the Jazz Lunch at the Bedford on 3rd July (booking required). And then the Totnes Canoe Festival on the 17th July.  Come and join us on Sunday afternoon at this fabulous event with canoe races and many stalls. We'll be playing from 15:15 and then a bit more after a short break beginning at 16.15.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Desperate New Year

We'd like to wish all our followers a happy new year, and we hope to see you at one of our outings.

So far this year, we are lined up to continue our Sunday Jazz Lunch performances at the Bedford Hotel in Tavistock.  The first one was on Sunday the 3rd of January, and we'll be back on the first Sunday of the month, every other month until the end of the year.  The dates are:

Sunday 1 May
Sunday 3 July
Sunday 4 September
Sunday 6 November

We shall also be back at the Totnes Canoe Festival on the Sunday 7th July.

Titanium Tessa

It was a desperate end to the year for one of our band members!  Tessa, our vocalist and flute player, had a nasty horse-riding accident in December and managed to break all sorts of bits of herself.

Thankfully, a pioneering procedure at Plymouth NHS Trust bolted her ribs back together and - thanks to the medics and her determination she was able to join us on Sunday to play the flute - and even managed a couple of songs.

So it wasn't a heavy new year's eve that resulted in her being seated on Sunday, and we have no doubt that by our next gig, she'll be bopping away like her old self.

Oh, and the horse was fine.  And congratulations to me for not saddling you with lots of horse related puns.  Doh!