In December 14th 1985 I wrote in my diary that I was “going to see Swanny to play some rockabilly music in his kitchen”. A few days later again I wrote that I am “meeting Swanny to go busking with 2 other lads whom I have not met before”. So I guess it was December 19th 1985 that the Red Aligatorz formed in the line up that is re-forming on March 10th 2018.
Yesterday I met Swanny in his kitchen for a practice; we had not played any music together since the late 80s; but it was like yesterday. He had written a list of songs to play that lasted about 45 minutes. We ran through them pretty smoothly and it seemed that we had not forgotten the chord changes to the songs. We added another 20 minutes to the set list to fill out the performance with more of a Skiffle/Country style. But it was done…amazing how music stays in the memory.
But there are other things do not stay in the memory, gigs for one! There are so many gigs I cannot remember doing…like supporting The Hayriders; or having regular residencies at 2 London pubs; and doing a gig at the Carlisle Great Fair wearing dresses! We had found out that some of the other bands on the stage were getting paid for the gig. We were not, so we went to a 2nd hand shop and we all bought cheap dresses and, to the council’s annoyance, we wore them on stage, to show what we thought of the organizers.
Another gig we did was playing at Talk of the Border, in Carlisle. This was a disco for the older generation (to us) to meet older people…it had a sort of a reputation. It was a bit strange, like playing a gig to your parents! It was dark I remember that, and we played for a few songs then we got told to stop as there was not enough people in the audience. So to show our appreciation we started “humping” our equipment…I do not think that went down too well either.
Sitting in Swanny’s kitchen yesterday it was like we had just stopped jamming last week, it all fitted in so easily and effortlessly. The acoustic guitar was the same, an Eko re-strung left handed, with “Swanny” painted on the top of the guitar, this was painted by our friend “Fib” whom I see quite often when we talk about music, he knows Swanny as well; in fact although Carlisle is a city it is like a village, people know each other and I think that closeness stays with you, it did then and it still does.0