This is by way of catharsis an explanation to all the people I have played with in the late 80’s and early 90’s as to why I toured the West Midlands with a hair dryer and talcum powder in pride of place in my kit bag.
As you play and gig you accrue the odd item here that you found you did not have the last time you played. At first things don’t break as they are new and highly polished and have spent most of their life either in the Music Store or in the bedroom but when things start to get more serious equipment gets left in lockups or garages. My equipment is located in lockup [x] and at home I have practice keyboards that I use for recording ideas and general learning and rehearsing. I do miss the Hammond on a daily basis but when I am gigging regularly its at the lock up.
So when you play a lot, and by which I mean I only do around 25-30 gigs a year but to my standard (and remembering that I like many have a day job) I think that this constitutes a fair bit of gigging. So when you are out and about your instruments get subjected to changes in temperature, my Hammond has 2 valves in it, things get damp or ,God forbid, even wet on occasions. Beers get rested on stages and always get knocked over and people dance by PA cabs and end up with them on their nose – one of my early bands ended up renaming their tour from “The compulsory Hat Tour” to “The Bose on the Nose Tour” after a particularly drunken dancer fell into a stack of Bose 802’s and found one balancing on his nose for a split second until he took a very close and long look at the floor.
So what are the essentials in my kit bag? I have 3 bags. One for the Piano, one for the Hammond and the third for unexpected items (guitarist has forgotten his lead, or run out of batteries etc…). The idea is that if I am hired as a Hammond player the Hammond case accompanies the organ and if I am hired out as a Piano player the Piano case comes out. And if I am hired as both my suspension falls out!
I have all the things I need to play the instrument; my Hammond bag has my 11 pin Leslie Cable, mounting screws for the Leslie2101, Hammond volume pedal and half moon switch etc.. It also has my Neo ventilator and peripherals. The piano bag is the same, Sustain, volume, (er) Wah etc… but in amongst these items are:
- Gaffer Tape
- Glass internal fuses
- External 3amp fuses
- Multipurpose Leatherman screwdriver thingie
- Flyers promoting the months gigs
- Posters for the above
- Walk on / off stage music both MP3 and Audio for the desk
- Two extra setlists for Sound engineer and light engineer
- Pen and Paper
- Mini Torch (to get to the back of things)
- Business Cards
- Loose change in case you can’t get a free drink
- My car keys
- My essential ACS custom fit flat attenuated ear plugs (more later surely!)
- Antibacterial liquid – so useful for cleaning yourself up.
- XLR to 1/4″ jack converters, all different types
- Euro lead extension cables
- Mounting brackets for Optikinetics Solar 250 lighting shows
- Spare Oil wheels for the above
- A towel (you really need to know where your towel is)
That’s nearly about it. basically every consideration that I needed to perpetuate my (and others) existence on stage for that evening.
But no talc or hair dryer…..
Well, it was the 80’s! What happened was that I was gigging in a lovely little Progressive Rock band called India Tag in the West Midlands or England. We were famous on the south side of the Pershore Road in Birmingham but that was about it. My keyboard setup was a Hammond clone (Yamaha SK-20) which I still have in my loft. The only mod on it was to extend the hard-wired power cable from 5 foot to 15 foot and to attach in the audio chain an Aria OD-1 Overdrive pedal. I had some great looks in my local music store walking into the Guitar section and leaving with a handful of overdrive pedals to try in the Keyboard section. You gotta get it right though right?
My Prog bits and pieces were the indestructible and gorgeous Roland Jupiter-8. I am still not sure it has been surpassed, certainly not for the lush string sounds that it created, especially going through my Boss Dimension-D Chorus pedal. For flashy light and coloured buttons alone its a winner!
To my right (oh yes it was a Wakeman setup) was an Akai X7000 Sampling synth and above it my Moog Rogue (which I later sold and regretted every day at my leisure).
Whats my point, oh yes the talc and hairdryer. I was always violent with the organs that I had, I had to replace the rubber stems on my Hammond XB2 a couple of times and even broke a key on both the XB2 and SK20 after some over exuberance. My problem, then, was friction. Too much of it, so I used to talc my right hand down like a one-armed weight lifter to ensure I could glide and swoop effortlessly up and down the organ keys entering and leaving bars with impact.Eventually the talc idea was dropped in favour of better technique, that and it got between the keys of the Organ and caused contacts issues!
There is a actually some footage of this madness on YouTube:
If you turned up early you would see the band set up. The very first instrument on the stage and switched on at the front on the floor was my Moog Rouge. When cold it was half a semi-tone sharp and it needed a good 20 minutes to warm back to concert pitch before you could tune the two oscillators. As we got more and more casual and turned up later and later to gigs and supports the time wasn’t always there so in the swap over I would be getting my gear on-stage and then getting a hair dryer onto the back of the Rouge near the power supply. I could get the tuning down in 3 minutes if I did that!
Hope you have enjoyed this little piece of frivolity and remember, I am a hammondforhire so do get in touch!
See you soon