As you’ll both know by now, playing live music means a lot to me. I’ve been playing live since student days — before — and at times music has been the only thing that’s kept me going. Many of my closest, fastest and longest-lasting friends I’ve met through music. Whenever I’m not in some kind of combo, Mrs Gee complains that I am wandering round like a lost dog. ‘Go and join a band, or something,’ she says.
So I do.
My most recent combo, the D. C. Wilson Band, has been enormous fun, and also enormously busy. We’ve been a fixture on the pubs-and-clubs circuit in Norfolk for years, and the day when the band doesn’t feature at the Dereham Blues Festival will be like the one when ravens no longer live at the Tower of London. You’ll soon be able to hear what fun it was, as we’re just about to release a live album (hey, I guess you had to be there).
The pandemic put paid to that, of course. My last date with the band was in March, 2020. After that the scale of the pandemic started to become clear. I decided to pull out of the band until a vaccine became available. The band played a few gigs with a replacement organist; the singer did a few solo dates; until engagements petered out altogether.
After a few months spent doing what I now think was grieving, I started to pull things together, at home, arranging and writing songs with the band’s lead singer, as well as writing my own songs, and recording some traditional tunes. After that I started to get the Obscure Prog Rock out of my system. By then, I’d established a way of doing things, and at the weekends, rather than playing gigs, my home office becomes my studio: Flabbey Road.
After a while I was asked to record for other people. I recorded some accordion for a song that a folk-musician friend was writing. I’d met the musician at an acoustic blues jam session and we’d hit it off – but all the recording was done remotely through the magic of the internet.
And, just the other day, I was asked to do a session for a record that people might actually download. The band is the Voodoo Sheiks, a busy blues-rock outfit that’s put out three albums in the past ten years. The drummer and sometime guitarist is a good friend — we’d been in a band together twenty years ago or more (remember what I said about my fastest friends being musicians?) — and he wanted me to add some Hammond organ to their next single.
Flabbey Road sprang into action. The Voodoo Sheiks emailed me a rough demo. I recorded some keyboards to go alongside it, and, this being the New Normal, I emailed it to the band. They piped it into their track and mixed it together. No actual personal contact was involved. The song is called Norm and it’s available to download here. It’s already had a rather nice review (though you’ll need to scroll down a bit).
So I am now a session musician. Fancy!
TECHNICAL DETAILS (only for those who like that sort of thing). I downloaded the Voodoo Sheiks’ demo and ported it into GarageBand as a stereo track. I recorded the organ track alongside it. I used various styles, rhythms and settings, secure in the knowledge that the Voodoo Sheiks would cut and paste, chop and change, copy and edit it to suit what they wanted. Then I exported the track and sent it to the band. Simples!
The organ was recorded using my Crumar Mojo 61 keyboard, which does state-of-the-art Hammond organ simulations. All sounds in Flabbey Road are mixed using a Behringer Xenyx 802 mixer before being fed into GarageBand, and monitoring is through a Behringer Xenyx 302 mixer.