There are many classic pub conversations. Dream teams, greatest movie..." /> Jamming on a Sunday afternoon – Cheers North East


Published on June 5th, 2019 | by Alastair Gilmour


Jamming on a Sunday afternoon

There are many classic pub conversations. Dream teams, greatest movies of all time, how much the local area has changed, worst job you’ve ever had, best night out of your life. Every so often, the question “who are your dream party guests?” comes up, and, depending on the company, Nelson Mandela, John F Kennedy and Dr Martin Luther King are usually trotted out, despite the fact you know your mates would pick Caligula, Rasputin and The Rat Pack if they were honest.

It did get me thinking though, what would be my dream pub gig? The bar jam band from heaven. If I arrived at the pearly gates and there was a queue, so I just popped into the local till it died down a bit. 

Picture the scene, a Sunday afternoon in my fantasy pub, where it’s permanently Sunday afternoon. A real ale place, lots of wooden furniture with some quirky pictures and old gig posters on the wall. They definitely do full roasts and it smells amazing. They’ve got a jukebox, a Wurlitzer 1050 original, full of rare vinyl. 

There’s a nice in-house sound system, nothing ear-splitting, mostly held together with gaffa tape and expired PAT test stickers. The drummer arrives first, as they often do, having the most heavy lifting. He’s a slightly manic looking cockney chap, who definitely partied in his youth.

“Alright Keith?” a manc voice with just a touch of Dublin pipes up as the lanky bass player ducks through the door. The rhythm guitarist turns up, plugs in and tunes up, an angular scouser in NHS granny specs. He says something appropriately sarcastic about how his usual bandmates won’t play live anymore and asks if Jimi is late again.

There’s a knackered old upright piano in the corner, attended by a permanently smiling American in dark glasses and full tuxedo. A shockingly skinny bloke who seems to have odd eyes asks if he can sit in on sax. They agree and dutifully sit around and wait. Singers and lead guitarists are never on time. In due course, everyone budges along to accommodate the left-handed lead player and his unfeasibly large pedal board.

There’s no stage, just the nearest corner to the plug socket where the bar staff have moved some tables around. They decide to knock out a few old blues tunes while they wait for the singer. When he arrives, he’s an impossibly handsome, shy looking man with a deep southern accent. He calls the landlady “ma’am” to the amusement of everyone. It turns out he stopped at the burger van outside and he thinks he’s getting a taste for them. 

The setlist is, of course, all classic. Every song performed imperfectly but enthusiastically. Most importantly, the band look like they’re having a great time, but for one moment when the rhythm guitarist gives a death stare to one of the punters who requests Mull Of Kintyre.

Several encores after the gig’s supposed end time, band and audience drink and chat until it’s time to wander off and see who’s on at the next pub. Apparently it’s a blues singer called Janis who they all want to see, and she puts on a real show.

I can already hear you disagreeing with me, but that’s kind of the point of these things. If there was one definitive greatest movie of all time, one all-star England team, one ideal set of party guests, then the conversation would end. Having an answer to everything and everyone agreeing would actually only happen in the pub in hell (I believe it’s called the Fire And Brimstone and it’s got nothing on tap). Here’s to eternal debate, limitless possibilities and never-ending pub conversations.

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Alastair Gilmour

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