Tour blog January 8-9

Wednesday 8 January: Crystal Cove & The Beach House

The last blog post was incorrectly titled “day 8”. It wasn’t, it was day 7.

Today started with a very late breakfast and lounging around the pool, or walking to the nearby beach for a swim. Our first gig wasn’t until 4pm, so most of the day was free to relax and rest. There were intermittent showers of rain, but mostly bright, warm sunshine that cast a clear light and glistened on the sea in front of the hotel. Where we a staying is right on the waterfront. Waves lap at a sea wall just beyond the swimming pool. The sea is clear and warm.

We had two gigs today. The first was at Crystal Cove, one of the many all-inclusive resorts in Barbados. There we played under a gazebo right on the beach, facing back towards the audience around the bar and restaurant with the sea behind us. It was a very pleasant spot, though a but tricky playing in the gusty breeze. Pegs were the order of the day. Roshan even managed to rope in RC as a page turner.

It took a little while to set up and figure out the PA system we hired for Barbados. But once everything was set the gig went well. We are finding that it is harder to get motivated for afternoon gigs. Nonetheless, the band played well and with good spirit. The Andrews Sisters song Rum n Coca Cola got its first run at this gig. A night in Tunisia sounded excellent here, with solos from Jack Purdon (trumpet), Joel Smith (trombone) and Jack Stoneham (alto).

The second gig was a longer one at the Beach House restaurant. The JWA band played there on the last couple of tours too and have always been well received. There were people in the audience who said they’d heard all our gigs there over the years and came back especially to hear us.

The first set, before dinner, was gentler dinner-music, though did include a firery, swinging rendition of Prime Time with some fine solos from Roshan (piano), Joel (trombone), Matt (tenor sax) and Nick (guitar). There was also our best-yet performance of the Paquito D’Rivera tune Lorenzo’s Wings featuring Casey Allan on the six string bass.

For the second set we really opened up and gave it everything. It was swinging, entertaining, looked good and done with polish: a great gig. We were very well-received and enjoyed our time there immensely.

It was a longish bus trip back to our hotel at St Laurence Gap along narrow, bumpy roads. Our driver expertly weaved his way through tight corners, overhanging awnings and tottering, meandering drunks. Unfortunately the bar over the road had loud karaoke music blaring, making sleep for some a bit hard, but most people in the band seemed to turn in at a not too unreasonable hour. The novelty of touring is still high, however, and some of our musicians are making themselves more tired than they need too, simply by not going to bed. As I write this tonight, all is quiet (except for more karaoke) and a chorus of whistling frogs outside (they sound remarkably like birds).

Thursday 9 January: Turtle Beach and The Colony Club

Another late breakfast, sleep in and lazy day around pool and beach.

The first gig was a single afternoon tea set at the Turtle Beach resort. The band squeezed into a little gazebo but managed to play in the cramped conditions just fine. As usual the two singers Rosie and Sophie were popular with the audience who loved their songs. Bassist David Quinn did a great solo in Go Go, and so did Bec on bari sax. James’ soprano playing on Riverscape and Joe and Jack’s duet on Neal Hefti’s Duet were other popular highlights.

Following a snack of fish fingers, tuna sandwiches and egg sandwiches, it was off to the next gig on the other side of the country.

The second gig was at The Colony Club, a lavish and beautiful resort. There we squeezed into an even smaller gazebo than the last one. This time it was on a small promontory jutting out into the lovely swimming pool. It wasn’t quite big enough and drummer Luke Andressen was half outside. This was fine until the rain started – a torrential downpour quickly soaked poor Luke and parts of his kit. We set up a makeshift shelter over him with a canvas umbrella, but it didn’t help much. He did a fine job continuing to play despite the tying conditions. Lesser players would certainly have stopped and carried on, but he got on with what he needed to do. He is a fantastic drummer and a fine character too!

After dinner (no macaroni pie or flying fish!) we re-set the stage so Luke was behind the band under his own waterproof shelter. Not ideal, but it kept him dry. Where the first set was just about all instrumental tunes, while the audience ate their dinner, the second set was mostly vocals. Rosie and Sophie did a good job and were, once again, well-received.

Another longish drive back to the hotel and straight to bed. Tomorrow we begin a tough 48 hour period with early starts, lots of gigs and a plane trip. Friday we do two school shows, one morning and afternoon, followed by a couple of sets that night at the Barbados Yacht Club. Then it is an early flight to Miami, an early evening gig followed by a drive up to Orlando. It is going to be hard but great fun too, with so much playing and so many fantastic places to see.


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