Thursday, 1 March 2018


Hello Brummies,

Well here we are the beginning of March and its soddin snowing!  The only thing that's keeping my spirits up are the Mighty Villa and Mrs Bob, always fun to be with.    Ok off we go!!


Well for my younger American friends out there in cyber land there has never been anyone who has come out of Brum who is better than the mighty Steve Winwood, not a vocalist, organist, or guitarist, in his field.  He is the Master of All He surveys and is currently touring the USA and selling out rapidly.
I first met him at Ringway Music in 1963 and we chatted for a while about guitars and things then I saw him play with the Spencer Davis Group at the Silver Beat Club, an old dark cellar under what is known today as "The Ramp". on Stephenson Place, in the heart of the City.  I was 14 years and 6 months old, and he had just reached the dizzy heights of 15, fifteen was a real step up on the teenage mental plane. That aside we were both too young to be allowed into the club under normal circumstances and even though we were both of a tender age he seemed to be from another place where they kept the best of everything, just like a Stephen King book you know?, he walks into a mist and comes out the other side with all those amazing gifts.  I felt knocked back on my heels, not just by the power of his amazing voice but the amount of soul and maturity within it.   His confidence and 
musicianship was astounding too and I felt shattered by comparison, I resolved to improve and changed my approach to music from that day forward, upping my practise rate to at least three hours a night.  

I was clever but never was I going to be a scholarly type, my evening practise sessions soon became full day and evening sessions I got absorbed by all the subleties and tones and ways of injecting feeling into my playing.  I was the champion of wagging off from school for months at a time, sometimes I would relent and go for a day or so but since seeing Steve play and contracting "Winwooditis" it seemed a lot more important to learn something by Muddy Waters than put myself through boring classes.   In those days there was no future for Comprehensive school students other than leaving school at 15 and working on a production line at a factory for the rest of your life.  There had to be something better.

We had a visiting Careers Officer come to the school and a mate in my class, who was equally sure of no great future, wrote on his "What Job do you want to Do" Form as his First Choice "Making Swarf" and as a secondary choice
"cuckoo clock shit shoveller".    

I got a massive 2 percent on my final French school exam and straight D's for everything else apart from art and music.  The only thing they could say about me on my school leaving certificate was that "having been a milk monitor might help me secure future employment".   So there I was out of school 15 years of age with but my guitar playing had advanced in leaps and bounds and I was playing in a great little band 3 or 4 nights a week sometimes making much more money than by working, although you couldn't guarantee on 3 nights a week or getting paid either!

Steve had already recorded "Dimples" and within the same year was in the Charts with "Keep on Running".  I was playing at The Silver Beat and other Brummie venues at night and for a while, because of the early finishing time, I was a milkman!! Those teachers were uncannily correct.

My encounter with Steve had indeed ruined my education prospects
but had greatly increased my passion for music despite all the crap that came along with it and, as a bonus, had also perfected my milk delivery techniques, three bottles each hand or four each hand if it was sterilised milk.  I was like the Tom Cruise of Fox Hollies Road and its environs, my rapid delivery style was almost legendary.  The long haired, Gold Top Kid however, like most things, my milk delivery stardom only blazed bright for a short while before I luckily got to turn Pro.    Steve was a star by then whisking up and down the British charts.

So anyway, fast forward 54 years.......Ringway Music and The Silver Beat has gone, along with all the other beautiful architecture in the city centre, and bizarrely so have milkmen!!  I am still a few months younger than Steve Winwood, still playing but not in need of a job and so is Steve but he is on a Tour around the world playing His Greatest hits, a kind of Winwood Candy Reserve, all the best bits in one box, and that's gotta be good for everyone.  

Any Brummie band would have been a success with young Steve Winwood in it as any band, anywhere, would have been.  Any band in the world today would love to have Steve Winwood in it, such is his status.

He simply is a "must see" and if it wasn't enough for him to have all those amazing attributes, he is the coolest of the cool.  A true one-off... you have the opportunity get yourself a ticket now!! on the Link below for more ticket and date info.......Gimme Some Lovin.

My first proper' guitar was a Gibson Les Paul Junior 1964 which I loved. The last guitar I bought was a Gibson 2015 Double Cut, kind of completed the circle if you will.   At the back end of January came the dreadful news that Gibson, the guitar giant could be facing closure in the very near term with staggering debts of half a billion dollars.  They had sold their factories already and were leasing the premises back, it would appear that massive loans they acquired and bond re-financing are coming up for payment and the well is dry.

In the early years you could guarantee that every instrument with that brand name was going to be a quality item worth paying for. There were only a few models available.   Sadly that is no longer the case unless you aimed at the higher end custom shop models.

Corporate greed in all music companies has flooded the market with cheap end instruments or the incredible quantity of "Signature" models from people I've never heard of.  Gibson also manufactures all Epiphone, Kramer, Steinberger, Dobro and Baldwin and included in those makes are their ubiquitous signature models too.   I remember back when Epiphone was a great guitar, I played one of the first "Casinos" and it was beautiful. 
They were hard to come by and anyone who was anyone bought one. Not so today with the brand regarded as a beginners cheapy.

I looked on Ebay yesterday and on the site alone there were 13,482 electric guitars for sale.  Staggering.  To add to Gibson woes are the Chinese copies which people buy because they cant afford the 4000 thousand pounds for a good Les Paul but can look like they've got one.   The Chinese copies are shit and I strongly advise anyone thinking of getting one to save your money, they are not cheap for no good reason and they don't give refunds if you're not happy and then no-one wants to buy them off you after you are pissed with it falling to bits.

It's a sad day to hear the news but in today's corporate, money grabbing businesses Pride and Quality are brushed aside for the easy buck and bollocks to the Trade Mark.  It was all so predictable.

If you have a nice early Gibson don't sell it. If the firm goes under you will at least have a quality item that will only attract increasing value.  The guitars that are available for sale now will decrease in price as mega stores try and dump them.

What a shame.

SHORT AND CURLIES Right I'd best get outside and do some path clearing.  We are being visited by the Ladies of Sparkhill Curling Team, we're such slaves to fashion and Mrs Bob has been out the back with the hosepipe spraying it constantly onto next doors large patio area, they're currently away on a cruise so they'll never know. They very thoughtfully installed some outdoor lighting too which we will be taking advantage of if we fancy a Night Slide. 

  It took a while for the water to freeze because it kept seeping in under their conservatory door but we soon found a way round that by drilling holes in their front door to allow the water straight through the house, they'll thank us for our quick thinking when they get back!  The ice will soon be frozen enough for us to have a "Slide or two" Don't you love being "On trend"?  Wrap up warm and keep yourself well during this cold snap my friends.

I hope I don't get banned for doping?

Take Care

copyright Bullsheadbob

No comments: