Jun 11, 2015

My 'local' Rock Pub

It isn't really local by UK standards, being 50 mins drive from my doorstep, but I suppose if you were American, it would be, ' I'm popping next door to the pub', seeing as they think nothing of driving 150 miles to go for a days shopping or sightseeing and that sort of thing.

I first discovered the Iron Road when Damon Johnson, late of the Alice Cooper band, and currently playing for Black Star Riders, AKA Thin Lizzy, announced he was coming to the Uk to play some acoustic gigs, in small venues around and about. Having seen him with Alice and with TL, I thought it was defo worth going, and I was not wrong, he is brilliant. I don't really do acoustic, really. But I loved it, such a treat for me I really enjoyed listening to him.

 I bought his album and it has become one of my favourite driving cds. Well, actually it's on my ipod, but I did listen to it exclusively for weeks after the gig.  Funny int it, how nobody really listens to whole albums any more, it's more a case of listening to playlists........................When I think of how it used to be, one LP on the turntable for 3 months, having to  pick off the needle to listen to the same track again and again, thereby rendering the vinyl scratchy, jumping and useless...............I never imagined in my wildest dreams that I'd be able to make a playlist of songs I wanted to hear, without having to listen to any of those tracks that were a waste of time, y'know what I mean.............





 


 brought along pal Ricky Warwick from Black Star Riders. It was flipping awesome to see these

Anyway, I am rambling. Since that first Iron Road visit, I have been back twice to see Gallus guys and it's a treat to see them in such a modest setting (it's a teeny weeny pub, with a stage the size of my dining table). And they are truly heroic in their efforts to pay homage to The Master, driving all the way down from Scotland with as many props as they can cram into their van - sadly the Iron Road is just too small for the gallows, but there are plenty of other things to make up for it, of course.  Alice's snake Veronica, straightjackets, whips, a manic nurse, canes, baby dolls, a noose hanging from the lightfitting and a multitude of awesome costumes for my friend Bill Crowe to wear (made by another friend Rachael!) - Cyclops, ('it smells in here' lol ) The Black Widow Spider),  Igor, and Frankenstein to mention but a few - and of course, they do all those songs you wish Alice would do. And I can't remember any of them atm, duh......

 Umm, wait, they did 'You Drive Me Nervous', which I love!! And it's a bloody good chance to yell your head off, singing along to all yer fave Alice songs. Seeing as the man himself has deserted us for the last 2 years.........................:(




So, back to Damon and tonight. It was clear from the beginning that Ricky was in charge.....and he is an awesomely powerful singer, they have an amazing chemistry, they know each other well and they play fantastically well together...............................And there were lots of TL hits, plus solo stuff, and some completely random and brilliant songs, like for instance. Ace of Spades! Bloody brilliant.

I saw Damon on his own last year, and I have to say, I preferred his slightly more laid back style, lots of rock tracks, sure, but also lots of his own ballads (oooh, did I say ballads??), so, I hope when he comes back, that he leaves Ricky behind.............. (oops, did I say that out loud??)

I did hear the bar owner asking Ricky if he would bring back some of his other band mates.....(eg Scott) but clearly that's not going to happen, it's a teeny pub.......even Ricky was saying, 'Well, he is Scott Gorham...',  and then, whilst waiting to speak to Damon, some chav pushed in front of me and shoved his girl inbetween DJ and Ricky, saying, 'Stand next to Scott and Ricky luv, for a pic'. I tried to tell him it was Damon, but he ignored me, and kept on calling him Scott. Damon was a gracious as ever, not correcting him, and letting him take silly amounts of photos.....grrrrrr.
But, what a fabulous night out, and not even an hour from my house, lol.

Ah well, bed is calling,  roll on the next gig......Foo Fighters at Wembley, omg, not excited, not at all,

Jun 4, 2015

Lechlade Music Festival

Wow, what a fab weekend I've had! Whole Lotta Led headlined Friday night , and Light Led were on the Shire stage Sunday afternoon. And, inbetween all that, I did the Tall Ships Fest at Gloucester Docks AND  the Prescott Hill Climb at, er....Prescott.





 


So,  Friday, I finished work at 1pm, rushed home and had a quick siesta (getting old y'know, I neeeeeed my sleep), then set off for the Lechlade Music Fest to see my good friends Whole Lotta Led, headlining on Friday night. Ann and I drove the cross country route, and got there about 8 ish - we drove into the vip parking area and met with the security guys - told them we were getting our passes at the BO., Good job Ann is so pretty, once she smiles they'll give us anything, lol.
We were on the guest list so we got the red wristbands, but apparently you need the purple one  for all access, luckily Geoff managed to get us those whilst we were hangin around backstage.  The guys had all their equipment there, but it was still gonna need setting up later.........

Lots of bands, on but the first one I saw was Bon Giovi, a great tribute band...saw Bon wandering around earlier and clocked him as the lead singer, but he didn't really look the part til he came on stage with his shades on - WOW, he was really good, what an AMAZING voice.



 

 Shame they got the timings mixed up, he did the encore Livin on a Prayer and then got told he had loads more time..........so, he did a few more songs, went down a storm :)

Eventually it was time for Led...........I know I' ve seen 'em 30+ times and may be a bit biased........but they are so brilliant.And I got to take pics from the front of the barrier and on the stage, my god, that was soooo much fun!

So, afterwards we went round to Geoff's for the 'after gig party' - coffee and a nitpick at their peformance -  and I finally got home at 2am, crawled into bed and waited for the alarm at 4.35am......
What a joyous morning at work I had on Sat......


Apr 25, 2015

It's been a long boring winter, and, although the New Year brought a few future gig opportunities - Foo Fighters, Robert Plant, - nothing was very immediate sadly.....except for Black Star Riders in Wolverhampton............... when I was so excited to be going out at last after all the illness and hibernation, that I drank a gallon of wine in about 10 mins (I exaggerate. Slightly)
 I had to go outside for fresh air and chips halfway though the show........(sorry Steve), what a flipping lightweight I am..........so, I never got to see them really, I'll have to go again sometime. But not while they are supporting Europe, I prefer the smaller venues when they are headlining.........couldn't get anywhere near the front, by the time we had finished meeting up with and chatting to mates Peter and Tibbsy - which, to be fair, was one of the more important aims of the night, lol. Was great to meet up with you guys!











Ah well ,such is life. At least I have lots of Led gigs lined up.......ah, except that I was ill (again) (gastric flu, yuck) so I missed a lot of the nearest ones ffs.........finally managed to catch up with them at Stroud in March.  Such a great gig, missed them so much!! And then this last weekend I caught them at the Bierkellar in Bristol, what a great venue, loads of space to dance, a decent sized dressing room to dump all my stuff in, great sound, thoroughly enjoyed myself! And, afterwards,  I followed fellow Led enthusiast and photographer Richard around Bristol's various road works to find a great kebab house for an after gig meal! Owing to the nefarious twists and turns of the Bristol roadworks, it wasn't actually the same kebab house that Richard ended up at, but hey, the lamb shish was awesome, so I'm not complaining.



And then Saturday night beckoned. A Light Zep acoustic charity do at a stone barn in the middle of nowhere/Oxfordshire.  Having got home at stoopid o'clock the night before, and had a number of exciting things (ironing, washing, Craft Fair) to do during the day on Saturday, I was feeling just a little jaded late pm, and reconsidering my decision to go out...........in fact, I had  totally abandoned my going out plans, and settled down to watch episode 7 of Vikings, when my gig buddy Ann, phoned and said 'leaving in 10 mins, are you coming??'

Well, what could I say? Apart from yep, I'll be ready in 5..? And I was. And we went. And it was great! Huge stone barn in middle of nowhere, lots of rugs and cushions to keep us warm, a pizza van outside, bar inside,.....SORTED :)
 


 


 


Spent most of Sunday asleep, lol, but what a great weekend, looking forward to the next one.

Am also looking forward to July, when I get to see Alice in Norway and Sweden!





Mar 8, 2015

Adventures in Aliceland

What can I say? Every time we do a trip , it seems to outdo the last one. I mean, Vegas, WOW! It's been a long time since I went to Vegas, but I never stopped wanting to go back, love it.

SOOO,  anyway Steve came up to stay at mine the night before, and we got up very early, so that John could drive  us to Gatwick, where we met up with Peter at 8.30 - 9.00am - plenty of time before our flight at 11.20, right? And it would've been, if only Steve hadn't given me the wrong passport number when I booked, DUH, COLEMAN, YOU MORON!.........thereby invalidating his ESTA visa thingy, and throwing us into major confusion until we discovered what the problem was! We managed to complete another one eventually, duh, and got thru security just in time to have some breakfast.

Still thought we had ages, as the gate number wasn't even up when we started - and then 30 mins later, we checked the board only to find it said 'Gate Closed'. Wtf??

Of course, it was about 2 miles away, so we had to run..........and I don't really do running y'know...........and when we eventually got there, it wasn't closed at all, ffs. All that panic for nothing.........and now I am knackered.....

At least we'll spot our cases easily

ANYWAY....Plane was half empty, we could've stretched out and slept the whole way there, but I for one wasWAY too excited to sleep! And guess what was on the movie channel?? Shep Gordons biodoc, Supermensch, which none of us had seen , so that passed a happy hour or two, as we tried to keep up with each other.
Virgin are pretty good with throwing food out at regular intervals, plus free drinks, AND I got the window seat, which allowed me to look at all the snow as we crossed America. I watched it slowly fade as we got nearer and nearer to Vegas, and then we landed at 1.30pm in bright sunshine. Oh the warmth!!
An unbelievably Stoopid amount of waiting to be let in (fingerprinting, and retina scanning, etc etc ), and then a 2 hour luggage delay, meh,  followed by hours q'ing at the car hire, meant we didn't get to the condo and meet up with Steve's aunt Susie (and Charlie) til about 5pm.

And the Wyndham resort is absolutely beautiful!! Although the apartment looked a bit small to start with, just one bedroom. And no beer!! Hmmmmmm,  then Susie said,'Oh well, lets see what the neighbours have', and barged through the adjoining door, into a much larger apartment, and rummaged thru the fridge. Once we'd picked our jaws off the floor, she laughingly told us that we actually had both apts, and she just wanted to see our faces when we thought we'd have to cram into one room!


OMG, What a fabulous place to stay! Two beds, two baths (inc jacuzzi), two living rooms, four tellys, 2 kitchens complete with dishwashers, massive fridges, enormous microwave, washer dryers etc etc  -  I could happily live here!!
 We overlooked the swimming pools, there were BBQs, table tennis, fire pits, even a shop and a cafe. I have a feeling we might be so spoilt that our next accom is never going to match up to this.......


We sorted ourselves out and went off to Bellagios to find a restaurant. Trouble is, it's so bloody big, (like all Vegas hotels) that by the time we found the all-you-can-eat-buffet, we were starving. And it was $36. But we were too hungry to go in search of another one, took long enough to find this one, so we decided to go for it. And it was fabulous - diet went out of the window as I tucked into about 6 plates of salads, fish, paella, weirdo asian dishes, prawns, more prawns and double helpings of sweet potato mash...mmmmmmm
Then we went out to see the dancing fountains, and on the way, I managed to drop my camera, thus breaking it and rendering it forever unable to zoom......*cries*.....Good job Peter has a zillion mega pixel Samsung S4 phone camera..........
  

All in all, an excellent start to our week in Vegas, so we retired for the night and waited to see what the morning would bring.

After a lovely sleep in my huge bed, complete with fan above, oh how the other half live, I managed to drag myself to the massive, several person sized shower and get up. We decided to go visit Aces and Ales, Keri Kelli's pub/bar for brunch , so off we went, lucky we have a satnav, don't think we'd have found it otherwise. Food was great, staff very friendly, I would love to go there when it's full of people, t'would be a great night out I think. Especially if Keri was there, he is a party animal!!

Today, it's Steve's aunt Susie's birthday, so we all met up at the Hard Rock cafe for dinner, and also to check out the acoustic band playing for one of Susie's friends. Food was average, music less so, but the company was great, I'm just pissed that my pic of all of us didn't come out very well.

Steve, Pete and I went off to Luxor, to see if the boat ride was still going - it's been a while since I did it, so I wasn't surprised to find the whole place was completely changed - shame, I wanted to do that virtual ride thing that I couldn't do last time cos I was pregnant...... 

Anyway, a quick shuttle off to Mandalay Bay ( I REALLY want to stay here one day, it all looks so beautiful), and some aimless wandering took us into a bar with a band playing rock requests! They seemed pretty good, so I asked for Schools Out........and they didn't know it! I kid you not...............................

To their credit, they had a go, the singer got the words up on his iphone, for the guitarist to sing -  but they made a complete shambles of it. I stood right near the stage, trying to prompt, but the guitarist was a complete moron, didn't get it at all...........Larf, I nearly wet myself! And some peeps in the audience came up to us and said 'can't believe they don 't know that, we must be getting old'........

TUESDAY.
What shall we do today? I know, lets go to the Grand Canyon, it's only a 4 hour drive away, right?

So off we went. Stopped on the way at the Hoover Dam, and then a bit later,on the old Route 66 at a small diner for lunch. LOVE AMERICAN DINERS! We had chicken fried steak (still not sure whether it was chicken or steak, but, hey, it was definitley fried) with gravy, eggs over easy, hash browns, and (extremely OTT) buttered toast. I asked for brown sauce, but they'd never heard of it and didn't have a clue what I was talking about! (Note to self, take HP next time, plus extra, to educate them).



We eventually made it to the canyon, just before dark....the sun was going down rather quickly, so the colours were pretty damn spectacular - bloody cold, though well worth it.

Eventually got back to Vegas (I fell asleep on the way, woke up just in time for a SPECKTACKLIER
 view of all the lights in the distance) and we decided that we all needed an early night.

WEDNESDAY

Ooooooooooer, it's gig day! And we have to move out of our lovely apartment - but into the PALMS, which is not only the concert venue but also the band hotel. And whilst Steve was struggling to get the cases out of the car, who should come along but to help him, but Tommy Tommy TOMMY , who had been out shopping for his secret santa present (he got Sheryl). (Hope she liked her Starbucks gold coffee cup!) He helped us in with our cases and then disappeared with a promise to meet up later. We checked in and went up to our room and chilled for a bit.
And then I cannot for the life of me remember what we did next. But I do remember meeting up with Stan Ray (FB friend :) ) who was sitting by the lift, waiting for Alice to come back from his golf game (been there, done that! *Germany*) and also meeting up with Ryan and Nita, freshly back from the gym, where Ryan, bless him, introduced me to Nita,' this is Penny from the UK', without any prompting from me. I LOVE RYAN!


We went down to the theatre (a mere stones throw from our room) having dressed in our best gig finery -  and of course, Steve got mobbed as usual (He loves it really!)
 People were thrusting money into his hands for photos with him, we shoulda taken it, but of course we didn't. Next time, I am gonna say, yep, thanx, and then donate it to Alice's Solid Rock charity. (Assuming I can get in there next time)








MUCH LATER, we made our way into the auditorium, second row thanks to me, awsome tix aquirer or what!!

No barrier, bloody AWESOME gig, so close we coulda leaned out and touched him.........again, lol....
 So what that it was Raise The Dead for the fifteeeeeenth time, I still LOVE it........

I so NEARLY got the cane, was reaching out for it to fall into my hand, when some BASTARD who had sneaked into the front row caught it first. Grrrrrrrrr, if only I was taller. If only I had sneaked into the front row first. Well, actually, I did try that, but I fell over the chair back, duh. (Got some very colourful bruises the following day!)  But he didn't bother to go to the bar later, and so he missed seeing Chuck, Tommy Ryan and Glen do an impromptu set on the teeny stage, with one Chad Cherry (he does the AMAZING jeans the guys wear onstage). They did a song each and then repaired to the bar for, oh, about 5 hours of drinking and generally making merry. We met some other crazy fans, and a guy who does a Rod Stewart tribute - mad my jaw drop looking at him......
Rod is that you????
met up with some mad fans
Some of our friends in the crew joined us and a great night was had by all! 

 


Nita and I are blurry together
 



I think we finally quit at about 4am ish, don't remember getting to the room, but I'm sure there was an Alice poster in the lift........


Steve and Pete meet Rod

Andy, my favourite lighting guy


Stan!!

Chas and I have a deep meaningful convo about, er, something


46 beers later.....

First thing I remember when we surfaced the following morning is Peter saying ' Well, that was a crap night', with major sarcasm, lol. And he was right, nights like that don't happen very often, such an awesome evening, great company, fab venue.....


So, having decided to stay 2 nights at the Palms, we then went off to Target, so I could buy another camera - I got the same model, the Nikon Coolpix upgraded RED version, OOOOOOO,  complete with case and new 16gb card for an amazingly cheap price of 7 bucks (just the card, lol - the camera was about $130, still a bargain. If only I hadn't lost the case enroute to home, woulda been a really good result!

Later, we went to a Mexican supermarket for some beer, and then on to Susie's for an afternoon of American football, (ok, I went to sleep for a bit then),   AND,  my very first Thanksgiving dinner  - flipping awesome meal with massive turkey, sweet potato mash (my new favourite food) lotsa veg and GREAT company. SO much fun! I love the idea of TG, you join hands before the meal and say what you are thankful for. (Thank you family, for letting me come!) Can't thank Susie and Charlie enough for this, I have been to Vegas many times before, but never seen a slice of real life whilst here.  I think we should do Thanksgiving in UK, not only is it awesome, but it makes the Christmas thing start a bit later.......always a plus in my book, bloody hate Christmas..........

ANYWAY,  off we  went back to our hotel, briefly went out for a wander and met up with James for a drink in the bar, but  we all decided that it was gonna be an early night.

So, in the morning, we packed up, checked all corners of the room, (badly, as it turned out) becasue I left my camera case somewhere, grrrr....... and off we went to California, spotting Alice signs, and a Greyhound bus along the way.





Several hours later, we checked  into the  Harrahs Rincon Hotel. Nice room. Even nicer poolside bar, where we ordered a jug of Mai Tai and relaxed. Never seen sunbeds like these before, I could get used to this.



















Later on we went to get ready and I decided to go for the whole make up thing. Peter didn't,  so we had to attack him.
We met up with Tommy in the bar and he said he would get us guest passes. which he did later, bless him. We had quite a long chat with him, and he got us some of his cds. He mentioned a few songs he'd like to see included in the set, including Escape - how great would that be!
And later, we crept on down to the hall past security, sneaked into the auditorium and watchedAndy messing with his lights.
Discovered a panoramic setting on the new cam, here is our room!

After changing into our gig gear and wandering into the casino, Pete and I went off to get the passes, leaving Steve behind - unfortunately, he got mobbed by loads of people wanting pics, think it was a bit scary for him, lol! Defo gonna charge for it next time.
We all met up with Ryan and Nita, got a few more pics, and then we went in and found our places, SECOND ROW again, which is awesome, right? But not as good as first row......lol.....never satisfied, that's me :)
Somehow, after we were seated, I managed to swap places with Steve, wish I hadn't. He caught the cane, very early on grrrr. After I got over my extreme envy, I was very happy for him. Honest. :)





 



 


 





 



We hung around after the gig and all of the band came out to chat, I got Chuck to sign my BB cd, and Tommy came to talk to us again. There were lots of people waiting to see Alice, inc a few that had been 'comped', ie they got free passes becasuse they were high rollers - these are the people who get  free accommodation on the top floor of the posh hotels, that kinda thing, because they bet ridiculous amounts of cash, because they are super rich.
We were hoping we could get to see Alice, cos we had passes an all, but Toby wouldn't let us as we 'weren't on the list' ..... To be fair, it was the last gig of a very long tour, and Alice was probably desperate to get home to see the new grankids, so I do understand, but it was still very disappointing not to get to at least see him.

We stumbled back to our room and collapsed. And then, in the morning we had to get up and drive to Phoenix!

We saw Andy as we were packing up the car - love this guy! He was so gobsmacked to see us in Vegas, it was almost worth the trip just to see his face. He told us a story about the awful plastic thing he bought for Chuck's secret Santa - not repeating it here but, trust me it was very funny :)

And then it was a long drive to Phoenix - we listened to Tommy's CD for most of the way, singing along in the end, and trying several times to use it as a soundtrack for our driving movies. But somebody always talked at the crucual part.....
The last bit was extrememly frustrating as we tried to get to Alice's Attic in time. Having read on the website that the store was open til 6pm, we thought we might just make it, so we went straight there. Arrived at 5.10pm - only to find that it was shut - sign on the door said 5pm :(((((. If only there had been someone around we woulda explained our plight and begged to be let in, but it was completely deserted. I briefly toyed with the idea of breaking in, and leaving some cash, I really did, so desperate was I to buy a pair of Alice's jeans,or something , but it just didn't seem right........................
 
 But we had to admit defeat in the end and, instead we went to Cooperstown, in the hopes of buying loads of wonderful merchandise there instead. But it was not to be, they had about 3 T shirts, size childs, and a few old menus and that was it. I felt compelled to steal a wineglass, and Peter offered to buy some of the plastic glasses. When they said 'no', he said he was prepared to steal them, then they gave in and let us have them :)
 


 




We drove around and found a decent motel not too far away, changed and showered and went back to Cooperstown for a meal. Guess what we had? Yeah, it was The Big Unit, but it was between the three of us. We went for the Adam Richman, it had lots of add ons, fries, salsa, pickles etc etc, and it was very good, best hotdog I've ever had, actually. Then we asked about going downstairs - they said there wasn't much down there, but we insisted, and so we got to see all the stashed promo stuff, and the couch where Alice has given intervews from. All in all, it was a dream come true, but I know I will go there again, because I have to see the inside of Alice's Attic before I die, lol., and I could hardly go to Solid Rock without coming here again.

Our motel was pretty good, but no brekkie, well, coffee, yuck, and some kind of cakey thing - what is it with Americans, eating cake for breakfast?????.......so we packed up, and drove on up to Scottsdale and Alice's local golfclub, and had breakfast there. And it's so beautiful! Even without Alice!


We sat in the cafe and had burritos, looking over the beautiful waterfalls at the start of the course, and the perfect greens beyond. How the other half lives, lol!!

But, sadly, we eventually had to re-enter the real world and head on back to Vegas for our flight home.........dropping off the car wasn't nearly as problematic as picking it up, and we sat glumly in the airport waiting for our flight and feeling completely knackered - or maybe that was just me. And before long, we were on our way home again....Roll on, next trip!