Christmas Concert

After several months of Thursday night rehearsals in the chapel, the prison band collective put on another performance. As per usual, we had to firefight a bit in the last few weeks, this time because the main drummer dropped out leaving us in the lurch.

The morning rehearsal went like a dream. Even my vocals on my song choice, “ Pain and Sorrow “ by Joe Bonnamassa finally came together. I’d been struggling to find the “ rock and roll “ in my voice.

We did a small performance in the afternoon for the over-60s club. I did “ The 12 Days of Christmas “ ( rock and roll, man !) – what a hoot. They all sang along using the unused family day booklets (see below ).

Predictably, we were unlocked late for the evening concert. It should’ve been 5.00pm but was 15 minutes late. Consequently, the servery didn’t open until 5.23pm. The guys going to the concert had to be at the gate by 5.30pm. Their stark choice was – food and no concert or no food and concert.

Unsurprisingly, despite the unpalatable food, we lost quite a few. Then we were told only 16 prisoners, including band members, were allowed off the wing for the concert. There were originally 25 names on the B wing list. Including the other wings we would have had 100 prisoners plus staff as the audience. It’s a sad fact of every prison I’ve been to that puts on these types of activities that there are staff who make it their mission to derail these events.

Playing time was meant to be 5.30pm – 6.30pm but because of the shenanigans we didn’t start until 5.38pm. That was potentially 1 or 2 songs that could have got dropped. This put me on edge as my song choice was around 7 minutes long (big guitar solo). I spent the night clock – watching ( even when I was playing other people’s song choices ). One of the most challenging songs to play was Lyndsey Buckingham’s solo version of “ Big Love “. Your forearm gets really fatigued playing all those rapid fire eighth notes with your thumb. We augmented that version with some extra instruments coming in at different points. I was really pleased with how it went. However, when “ Pain and Sorrow “ came round I forgot to put the guitar “drop D “ tuning and had to do it mid-intro. I then had to shorten the solo by about 3 minutes ( what a travesty!). Then…then…I forgot to retune my bottom E string for the next number! So, again I had to do it mid-intro. What a sap!

I must admit, for certain reasons, I’ve not enjoyed the last 3 concerts as the previous couple.

The set list: Rebel Rebel ( Bowie ); The Man Who Can’t Be Moved ( Script): Mollymauk ( trad. Folk tune): When September Ends ( Green Day ): Waiting (original): Big Love (Lyndsey Buckingham ): Pain and Sorrow ( Joe Bonnamassa ): For Whom The Bell Tolls ( Metallica ): and, Born to Run (Springsteen ).

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