Harry Potter and the Bastard Ska Band from Hell

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Been hammered with the cold last week. Since we finished in the studio last Sunday, I have felt like death.

So I wasn’t looking forward to last weekend’s Wizard Festival near New Deer up in Aberdeenshire. At least Joe was driving the whole weekend, so I could sit in the back, feeling sorry for myself with a blanket, an MP3 player, and the world’s smallest bottle of whisky, for medicinal purposes. The plan was to play on Friday evening as Bombskare on the main stage, the Voodoo Stage (ooooohh!), then play a Skaramanga set on the smaller stage on Saturday, the Banshee stage (aaaahh!), and then drive back down to Aberdeen and play with none other than the Root System boys at our beloved Café Drummonds (wehaaay!). However after some confusion, naturally, we only discovered on the Monday beforehand that we were expected to be up there at the Wizard Festival at 5pm to kick start the whole event off. If we had known this, we wouldn’t have agreed to do it, because it was too early for us to get up there. With so many of us unable to get off work at such short notice it was looking like we wouldn’t be playing on the Friday, and possibly not the Saturday either. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, and also by sheer luck that Joe was on holiday, seven of us out of ten had managed to be off on Friday, so we agreed we could do it. However that plan was far too straightforward and likely to succeed for us. After even more confusion and some general tardiness we set off an hour later than planned and by about a third of the way up we realised we were not going to make it on time. In fact we would be hitting Aberdeen in rush hour at approximately the time we were supposed to be playing. After some phone calls back and forth, it was agreed that we wouldn’t be playing on the Friday, because they couldn’t change the running order at this point in the proceedings. Darkwater would be filling in our slot on the main stage and then heading over to do their own set on the wee stage. We were gutted obviously, travelling all the way up there and not playing. At least we were still playing on the Saturday, and I liked Darkwater, I’ve played with them before in Aberdeen.

We arrived a good hour and a half late. It was a pity because it looked like a great festival. Definite memories of Shetland in 2004, travelling a distance and not playing at a great festival, and The Undertones headlining the night we were supposed to be playing. I couldn’t help but thinking The Undertones were bad luck for us. Or was it The Bluetones. Andy came back with a bit of good news at this point. Fortunately for us someone from Eddie and The Hotrods injured themselves when they fell over drunk or something, so they had to bow out of their slot on the Saturday afternoon. Ouch for them, great success for us. Isn’t that always the way? One man’s Angel Delight is another mans kick in the balls! We would be playing their slot and we now had the time to get the rest of the boys up in time. Nice. I love it when a plan comes together.

We scrapped the Skaramanga set on Saturday and just got ready for the main stage at around four. We were going on after, wait for it, The MacDonald Brothers, of X Factor infamy. Yes indeed. They played a set of covers and came off stage to a bit of a mob of autograph hunters. If I hadn’t had the cold and wasn‘t feeling rubbish, who knows what I could have said or done while I had the chance, I mean, they were right there! Curse this mortal frame!

So we came on and played for forty five minutes, in between The McKaraoke Brothers and Sandi Thom, strange bedfellows for us. It was surreal. I thought I was having a psychedelic experience brought on by the potent combination of max strength Lemsip and Bells whisky. Anyway the sound was awesome, and the crowd was excellent, maybe close to a thousand bodies, including kids. I broke a string. Thanks to the organisers for having us up and rescheduling us, after all the confusion and panic, our normal bedfellows. Thanks to Dod and Sally as usual for the photos, and our mate Dod Copeland who unfortunately had a run in with the local constabulary. We hung around for the rest of the afternoon and early evening to catch some of the other bands including Sandi Thom and The Cuban Brothers, but we had to leave before the great Hayseed Dixie. Still not managed to see them live. Didn’t see any real magic either. Don’t know why it’s called the Wizard Festival.

Another late one At Café Drummonds and not the busiest night we’ve ever had mainly because of the competition; two festivals within an hour of Aberdeen, but it was still a cracking night in Drummonds as always. We were supported by Root System who were awesome as usual. Kev insists that their band is more attractive than our band. That’s nonsense. He even suggested that our Papa Joe is so scary he looks like he eats people. Crazy talk. I will admit that the Roots guys do have that certain boy band charm about them, a rough sweaty boy band perhaps, one that you definitely wouldn’t want to meet in the back streets of Glenrothes, but a boy band charm, nonetheless. They definitely have that X Factor factor, or maybe it’s the X Files factor. And they have Handsome Dan, their secret weapon. Also, admittedly there are a few bodies in our band that might be described as ‘could do with losing a few pounds’, such as myself. In spite of that, I would say that the overall beauty of our band is far greater than their’s. Our beauty is of a more spiritual quality, a harrowing, appalling beauty, kind of like a Picasso. You could say that we’re so beautiful, you might be sick. Anyway, by the time we came on it was about midnight, and it had been a long day. We still managed a ninety minute set at least, and included a cheeky cover of Root System’s ‘Don’t Worry’ as a tribute to the boys, who unbelievable weren’t even upstairs when we played it, so they missed it. That’ll teach them to be relaxing in the green room while we were full effect on stage. Prima donnas. We also had a small fridge on stage with us, that we squeezed in behind one of the amps, so we had chilled drinks on stage. Excellent. Thanks again to Nathan for the photos, and to Eric and Callum. Back into the van around three and down the road to Edinburgh, rolling in at dawn.

Next gig is in Hartlepool. Note to self; don’t mention the monkeys!

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One Response to Harry Potter and the Bastard Ska Band from Hell

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