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band members on Ryde(UK) esplanade

It's Showtime

Summer Season

Touring, one-night stands, recording sessions, flitting between jobs, all are part of a musician's life. On occasions, however, some set down roots, albeit temporary ones, for the duration of a particular show. The Summer Season was like that. Many British seaside towns catered for their visitors by putting on entertainment of a quality usually unavailable except in the big cities. The main draw-cards would be the well-known artists topping the bill, and I expect their salaries would have been commensurate with their standing in the business. But even if the rest of the cast and the orchestra weren't paid anywhere near a fortune, there were other advantages that made these gigs attractive. When simply getting any work was difficult enough, and keeping it was even harder, taking a holiday could mean professional suicide, considering that their current job might have been sharked by the time they got back. A Summer show was a way to secure a regular spot for however long the show ran, and provide a vacation into the bargain. They might have to play matinees and evenings, sometimes three performances a day, but there was still enough spare time to experience whatever the resort had to offer - exhilarating sea air, a bit of fishing, the joyful ambience radiating from people with nothing better to do than relax and, if the sun stayed out for more than five minutes, the lucky ones were in the market for a tan of sorts.

Playing in the pit, of course, was a bus-man's holiday for musos, and the band room was pretty much the same as would be provided at any venue, often cramped and Spartan; but there were compensations. For some reason the boys seemed better appreciated by the stars of the show here than they were in "town". Maybe the big names were also inclined to enter into the spirit of seaside living. One well-known personality in particular was a definite favourite behind stage, stopping by each day or so to visit the boys in their glorified “cupboard” for a friendly chat and, most importantly, once a week to share a drink, then leave a full bottle of scotch for them to savour at their leisure. What muso wouldn't regard such a man as a good guy and a friend for life, or at least for as long as the show lasted and the tipples kept coming? But not every personality was so amiable: some were positively distant and annoying. One comedian was very popular with his audiences, particularly those who tuned in to his regular radio programme, and you'd expect this exuberance would make him pleasant company off-stage. Instead, he would bore the pants off anyone in range as he told the same jokes he used in his act, gags the band boys had heard a hundred times; and as a bonus utilised his repertoire of voices, almost as if he was never sure who he really was. As for shouting the band a round of drinks once in a while, presumably he didn't do that sort of impersonation.

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