Persona Non Grata

The Poet was slouched on a bench in his favorite booth in the Captain Kidd pub in Wapping overlooking the Thames. He had just finished his first Pure Brew from one of those special high glasses that the lager was served in on availability. He didn’t come here as much anymore as he didn’t live in the area any longer and was only here on a very strange and special occasion; a call from his old friend and sometime partner-in-crime Pedro, for reasons unknown only known as Slinger. The Poet, who’s christian name was Jimmy B, had received the call during a quick visit to Liverpool to try and clear up some (as always) unfinished music business. 

The Poet and Slinger met back in 95 by coincidence being introduced in a pub by a girl they both knew. Slinger already knew the Poet as the bassplayer of Burning Desire which was a favorite band of Slinger´s back in the day. The Poet was in between bands at the time and had grown a bit tired of the whole scene and quit playing bass. Slinger on his side was playing guitar with a hardrock band that wasn´t really happening so when the group disbanded six months later he tracked Jimmy down to get him to play bass on some songs that he had written going back to his punk roots. This soon turned into a new band.

As Jimmy sat waiting for Slinger to arrive, he thought about when the band last played. The last show must have been over a decade ago because that was around the time they released their first and last album together. They recorded the album in the basement of famous guitarplayer Willie Paper from Aussieband “The Chapel” who they even tricked into playing some really cool licks on a song as well. On drums they had Lefty Lonnegan from classic punkband “The Arse” and to complete the lineup was Slinger´s old bandmate Johnny Griffin on keyboards. After the album was released they played around, doing the club circuit for about six months before the drummer left the band. He was on loan anyway playing with too many bands. Following the departure of Lefty they had tried out different drummers but never really got the thing going again so the project sort of fizzled out.

After that Jimmy started performing with the Sixteens, a 60s tribute band where he played guitar, sang and actually made money playing music again. This became his band for the next decade which also took him around the world doing sixties- & tribute-festivals in both North and South America as well as in Europe. It was a thankful job playing songs that everybody wants to hear but was this really what the Poet wanted to do? Jimmy couldn't stand the thought of it becoming a non passion play, playing pubs and private parties as a routine for the rest of his life. He wanted to go solo, which was harder than it seemed, but at least he wanted to play originals again. He had written a lot of songs over the past 10 years and was eager to get out there and show everybody what was in the can. The idea came up to convert the Sixteens into a band doing originals instead of covers but it was hard to convince the other bandmembers of the brilliance of this concept.

The Poet and Slinger had remained in contact and got together from time to time, hanging out, playing and writing songs together. After the band went belly up Slinger got really busy with his import/export business and got away from playing live for a long time. He installed a small studio in his house and started recording songs he was writing on his own or together with JB. During the interim years a lot of recording had taken place, some of which Jimmy had actually forgotten about. Drums were played by Stevie Bell from the Sixteens. Stevie also went by the name “Handsome” which derived from the attention he used to attract from all the young girls. The opposite of Slinger who was totally clueless whenever he received the same attention from being accidently charming.

After a while of playing covers as the Sixteens and doing originals under the name “20th Century Ghosts” the atmosphere started to deteriorate within the group and they soon found themselves without a guitarplayer. This led Jimmy to think of his old friend Slinger, would he be up for the job? It turned out Slinger wasn´t too hard to persuade and they quickly found eachother again musically picking up where they had left off. How could they ignore the fact that they have this chemistry when they get together playing or writing songs? That feeling when you have total trust in what the other guy is doing and just letting it rip. The first gig took place just a month and a half later as support act for american singer/songwriter Murph Ellroy and soon more gigs followed.

Now the Poet was thinking of the strange call he had received which had him waiting in the pub nursing his pint of lager. He hadn´t seen Slinger for a couple of months because the Sixteens had been asked to do some sixties-tribute gigs in the US and Wales which Slinger was unable to do so they had another guy filling in.
What was so important that he wouldn´t tell him over the phone Jimmy thought just as Slinger stumbled through the doorway excited and out of breath.
`Look what the cat dragged in! What´s going on in your
little fantasy world this time?’ Jimmy said, sounding almost scornful, giving away nothing of the excitement of seeing his mate again. The Poet could be a jerk sometimes without really meaning to be. It was just the way the words came out sometime.
‘Listen, I finally got around to mixing all the tracks we have been recording over the years’ Slinger said when all the catching up was done.`I took all the songs to famous record procucer Dagwood Branch, mixed and mastered it and voila; we have a new album ready!! Wait till you hear the result, man’ Slinger said with no small amount of pride in his voice.

To have and to have not Jimmy thought to himself and wondered why he could never hold on to things. Perhaps it was his lack of patience, getting bored with situations that didn’t progress and his search for constant change that was standing in his way, not allowing things to grow into something solid. Masses of infinite sadness could sometimes fall upon him like an avalanche for no apparent reason, and this was something the Poet had been battling all his life. And suddenly, through some strange serendipity, Slinger appears out of nowhere with a proposition that could put Jimmy back on the straight and narrow and take his mind off the Sixteens, Burning Desire and all the strange business with the Godfrey King organization.

`Life is strange´Jimmy said out loud as the next round appeared in regular glasses. `How about we rent a room, start rehearsing and put the band back together as a trio? We strip the sound down to the basics. Just you, me and Handsome.´
’I love it when you tell me how to run things’ Slinger said. He actually liked the Poet’s quick thinking and definite rhetoric when it came to making decisions. Thinking too much, taking too long, leading down dead ends seemed to be the story of my past Slinger thought without doing too much of soul searching. 

`Here´s looking at you kid’ Jimmy the Poet said as he finished the last of the last Pure Brew of the evening in the best pub in East London and walked out into the warm spring night with his old friend. `Expecting nothing, things can only get better. Let´s do this without any plans of world domination! We´re too old for that shit!´ Once a guttersnipe always a street urchin. 
`We will always be persona non grata anyway...!´

To be continued....

(The story above is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent…)


 

 

 

 

 



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Granskad: 25 July 2013