Right, I said in the mini-post that it looked like things were going to be rough, but that was an understatement… please try to keep in mind as you read this that Ned and I aren’t Spinal Tap, and this shit actually happened…
So, the back story is that the promoter – Blooz Promoz, run by a guy called Nigel in Leeds – was someone that Ned had worked with last year, he’d organised a few gigs that had gone OK, so it seemed like a good idea to go there again. I’d not had any dealings with him, but as a proven entity, was more than happy to just let Ned take it from there. We had two gigs booked on a £250 promise for each gig, and a clinic at Sound Control in Leeds.
We drive to Wakefield, get to the gig, and the venue owner says he hasn’t heard from the promoter for weeks (at this point it’s worth pointing out that he was booked as ‘promoter’ not just ‘booking agent’…), but we assume he’ll be turning up.
It gets to gig time, still no promoter, punters start to show up, in small numbers, all via my mailouts and friends of those people. Not one from any contact with the promoter, and he wasn’t there to collect the money on the door, so WE DIDN’T GET PAID. Not a penny. The people that were there loved it, and we sold a lot of CDs and t-shirts etc, but still nowhere close to the £250, and anyway, merch money wasn’t in anyway factored into that figure.
So we head to where we’re staying (with Nicola from Greenbelt – thank God we weren’t in a hotel as well!) and crash.
Friday morning we head into Leeds for a wander around, and serendipitously Ned recognises in the market the area where Nigel promoter-monkey has his stall. We head down there, and some dodgy mate of his is looking after it, who clearly not knowing where we were playing, let it slip that the venue was ‘shite’ telling us that Nigel wasn’t booking there anymore… uh-huh.
Nigel eventually appears, and after some chasing around and half-made apologies, claims he’s been ill (an email or two telling us that if it was true would have gone a very long way) gives us £100 for the previous night’s gig (hmmm – £100? what happened to the other £150?) – I’m in a rather strange position at this point as I’ve had no contact with him up to this point, so can’t argue from any real knowledge of what has been said/agreed/emailed, but Ned does a sterling job, and Nigel assures us that the Oceans Eleven gig is going to be fine, and he’ll have someone there to meet us at 8ish, and we’re on at 9. We then say ‘so we’re all fine for Sound Control this afternoon then?’ – er, apparently not. That’s not going to happen. WTF? excuses blah blah bullshit blah blah fucking nonsense etc. etc. Cancelled. Not happening. Let’s face it, almost certainly not booked in the first place.
So we head off back into Leeds city centre in search of wifi, and notice that there is NO mention of the gig anywhere (remember, promoter not booking agent) – no posters up in the music shops, no nothing. The guys in one of the guitar shops haven’t even heard of the venue…
Out for a much needed and much appreciated curry, then down to the venue. Which is closed. And by ‘closed’ I mean closed as in ‘in receivership’. Notes on the door saying ‘this property has been purchased by ************, please phone *************** for details’. So our fuckwit promoter has added barefaced lies to his catalogue of fuck ups (remember, this is Blooz Promoz in Leeds).
So grand totals for Leeds area leg of the tour –
- gigs ‘booked’ – 3
- total guarantees agreed prior to this leg of the ‘tour’ – £600 (£250 for each gig, £100 for Sound Control – all of which are low figures anyway, but you figure when a promoter is planning to give the band £250, there’s going to be an audience, and therefor decent merch-ops, and the chance to make it all worthwhile…)
- gigs played – 1
- total income – £100
- petrol costs – about £30
- curries eaten – 2 (each)
- venues no longer in existence – 1
- effect of stench of bullshit from the catalogue of lies and misinformation – overwhelming.
Now, at this point we meet up with Greenbelt chum Steve Thackray – lovely bloke, very friendly and helpful, who in 10 minutes (10 minutes!!!), gets us closer to having a gig than Blooz promo buffoon does in four months. Given 24 hours, Steve could have given us a range of venues, and found us an audience. Next time I go to Leeds, I’m talking to Steve first – he’s a man with his finger on a pulse or two…
So Saturday we get up and head to Stockport for masterclass at Riffs Guitar School, which was much fun, but underpaid. But hey, it actually existed so we’re already ahead on Leeds, and we met lovely people, sold lots of CDs, had a great time, and we had a gig in the evening anyway, so all in a fab way to spend an afternoon.
We then head into Manchester to Iguana – it’s funny how after the nonsense of the previous two days, normal treatment suddenly feels luxurious. We get there, one of the bar men comes to help us with gear and there are lots of staff there to advice, provide drinks, and the venue has many posters up advertising the gig (OK, so their own adverts say that I’m an ex-member of King Crimson and Level 42, but you can’t get everything right).
Once set up, we head to the MEN Arena, where Ned’s buddy Curtis Stigers (yes he of the mullets and power ballads in the late 80s) is opening for George Benson, and we’ve got time to catch his set before we play. Yes, you read that right, I’ve got a free ticket for a George Benson gig, and I’m leaving before he comes on. I’m crying as I type this. No, really, it hurts. A lot. George frickin’ Benson – one of the greatest human beings ever to pick up a guitar. I’ve half a mind to blow our gig and stay to watch. But we don’t, we watch Curtis, who is actually not bad at all, perfect for the audience, does a rather cool little beatbox thing in one tune, and scats a hilarious and very impressive upright bass solo in another, and while not being world-class jazz singer material by any means, does a pretty fine job and was worth going to see.
Back to the venue and lots of lovely friends have arrived – students of mine, web buddies, greenbelt friends, and people from MySpace. A proper gig with a proper audience that actually know where the gig is, and a venue that’s real, open, and has a cheque waiting for us when we finish.
We play well, sell CDs, chat to all the lovely people (special treat to see L1z there – yay!), and eventually head off home at about 12.30. Without the cheque. It’s made out to Ned. Doh! It will be sorted, no problem. Iguana’s a lovely place, and I really hope to play there again.
And we drive home through the night. Laughing about the fuck-ups of the last few days, glad to have had the last fine gig, and wondering what on earth can be done to get the dismal promoter to pay up. Believe me, if he does, I’ll amend this blog so it’s less likely to be the top hit on Google should you go looking for info on Blooz Promoz in Leeds. But right now, they’re on my black-list, shit-list and every other list that says don’t even think about working with them in a million years. We’re down £500 on a tour, Ned’s had to fly from Boise Idaho for this!!!
Next on the tour list is either Saucy Jack or Jazz Odyssey.
What’s wrong with being Sexy?by