No Sleep ’til Wigan

Apologies for the lack of content just lately…

The main task last week was to prepare for my weekend trip to Wigan, that unassuming little town on the outskirts of Manchester which has become the traditional location for the annual musical summit of the newsgroup.

The main focus of the weekend is “Guitar Idol”, which takes up all of Saturday evening (with a gentler acoustic session on the Sunday morning)… essentially a very well-organized and pre-planned jam session. The only criteria are that you submit a song idea in advance and persuade enough people to play with you. I was involved in four songs this year… a nice easy warm up on Zappa’s “Joe’s Garage”, a slight shock to the system with the surprisingly tricky “Live in Japan” by Mike Keneally, some good solid metal riffing on Metallica’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and a relaxed bluesy knockabout with the Beatles’ “Revolution”.

All of my bandmates on those songs were on top form, but one person deserves a special mention… Steve White, a man who can play the drums in a variety of styles at the highest level for six hours with only a couple of short breaks. Without Steve, our Wigan weekends just wouldn’t be the same.

But then, everyone who got up on that stage and had a go deserves credit. Some of us have been playing for years, but a couple of brave souls took their first steps in live performance that weekend. Getting up in front of 50-odd guitar junkies ought to be a terrifying prospect, but there’s something reassuring in knowing that all those faces belong to your mates. When a very tricky Zappa tune (which I attempted on Sunday, backed by the hugely talented Steve Cobham) dissolves into a catastrophic trainwreck, the natural urge is not to quiver with embarrassment, as would normally be the case, but to grin, try again, fail again and leave the stage, laughing like an idiot. *That’s* what’s so great about UKMG!

So after such a total blast of a weekend (not to mention the irregular meals and copious quantities of beer) it wasn’t easy getting up and working this morning. Never mind, it’s events like the UKMG National which inspire you and shore up your creative reserves. And there’s always next year to look forward to…

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