Hey everybody, this is Andrew (Or Androo Deetoo as I’m commonly known in these circles). I play keyboards for Blues Harvest and decided to write an end of year blog about our activities over the course of the past 12 months.
And what a year it has been for us! Close to the start of the year we welcomed in Adam to the band on lead guitar and he’s been nothing short of a revelation for us since his first practice with us and has formed a formidable if at times hilarious guitar and vocal partnership with Nick.
Lost in Wales
Our first gig of the year was at the Sci-Fi Weekender in Hafan y Mor Wales at the Haven campsite where we were very kindly given a caravan to stop in over the weekend. For anyone who knows me, they should know that at any given moment calamity could be just around the corner and the fun started whilst I attempted to drive from Preston to Wales with only my phone and Google maps as a companion. For some unknown reason, my phone added a waypoint somewhere in mid-Wales and by the time I discovered I was going way off course, it was trying to direct me straight through Snowdonia national park. Thankfully I realised the error of my ways and after a 25-mile detour eventually made it to Wales with no further drama.
The convention itself was incredible, with hordes of cosplayers and sci-fi fans attending on mass to witness and take part in the many activities taking place throughout the weekend. It was particularly good to see that our partners in crime Pop up Puppet cinema and our friends Darth Elvis & The Imperials and DJ Level up Leroy had their own shows booked as well. Our gig was on the Saturday night and was a blast. During the course of 60 minutes, it went from a handful of curious onlookers to a room full of people having fun! Other than the gig itself I think the highlight for me was jumping around a packed dance floor with the rest of the gang furiously singing every word to Bohemian Rhapsody with confetti cannons, fire spinners, and a giant robot accompanying Leroy on stage for the grand finale.
A weekend by the sea
One of the things I enjoy about being a part of this merry band of musicians is the opportunity/excuse to visit places I’ve never been to before. The next gig was at Sci-Fi Scarborough, a smaller convention right by the sea! The town itself is lovely and we had a good few hours to potter about trying not to get our chippy tea stolen by seagulls. Upon arriving we were greeted by Stormtroopers (which is becoming weirdly normal for me) guarding the entrance, blaster rifles in hand. The event was held at the spa complex, so named after spa waters coming out of the rocks in the 17th century.
There were a number of workshops and events taking place during the weekend with our very own Nick Brokenshire hosting his comic art stall. Pop up Puppet cinema joined us once again for what turned out to be a very entertaining evening which even included a magician. The gig went off without any major hitches and afterwards we ‘wound down’ with a bit of karaoke at one of the local pubs. As usual, I decided to embarrass myself by attempting to rap Wild Wild West by Will Smith, and convinced Vic to join me. Shouting “Uh, Uh, haha haha, what what what, woooooo!” down a microphone to a bewildered audience will always be entertaining to me.
May the fourth be with you
May was a very special month for us this year. Our first gig that month was at a weekend celebration of Star Wars held at the National Space Centre in Leicester on May the fourth (be with you). I’ve always held a fascination with humanity’s trips to the void so to combine my love of music with my interest in space travel (and of course Star Wars!) was a very unique and
unforgettable experience. The museum was the perfect venue for a band like us, and we all thoroughly enjoyed the gig there, playing to a host of characters from Star Wars and Star Wars fans. There is a video diary of this gig here, where you can see exactly what we got up to.
Just over a week later was the big one. THE gig. Disney-freaking-land Paris. I never got the chance to go to Disneyland when I was younger so understandably I was more than a little bit excited for this one. Andy, Adam, Jess and I got the train from Preston to London and met up
with Nick and Vic at the train station. After a well-earned pint (sitting around on a train counts as work, right?) we went off to Odeon to watch Avengers Infinity War and I’ve never been the same since. We stayed overnight in London with Andy and I occupying the penthouse suite of the hostel where we got a beautiful view of the road with the rest of the band and Vic slumming it in the catacombs (lower floors). We got to St Pancras station in good time and it turned out for the best as the curse of Androo Deetoo ensured that I couldn’t get through passport control with my keyboard due to the size of the flight case which held it. There was a very tense 30 minutes or so whilst I got my keyboard checked in separately at the other end of the train station with me muttering “why always me?!” to myself. I’m glad to report that after that we got the Eurostar with no other complications and very soon we were in the land where dreams come true.
We were greeted by our friend and Disney contact Marushka who showed us to our hotel. Our Disney hotel with Disney art on the walls and even Mickey Mouse shower gel. After we’d checked in, it was down to business and we took our gear down to Billy Bob’s bar, which is where the gig later that evening was to be held. Soundcheck went well and we felt like we’d
‘made it’ when we were given in-ear monitors. The venue itself was the very picture of the Wild West, complete with cowboy boots hanging off the walls. What I liked about the place was that it was multi-tiered, so that not only were the crowd below you but were also above you and to the side. They were everywhere! The gig was INCREDIBLE and the audience was fantastic, despite the language barrier. Music really is a universal language.
The day afterward our friend and Fantha-Tracker Martin took us into the park to visit the many attractions, and before we knew what was happening it was all over. I could talk all day about our Disneyland experience, but instead, you can find our video diary here…
And so began the glorious summer of 2018. The kind of summer you read about in Enid Blyton books, where the weather is always hot and the idea of travelling abroad to get some sunshine feels like some sort of abstract joke. And with the summer and the sunshine come festivals. We were selected as one of the opening bands at Preston’s premier turfed indoor weekend music
festival, Glastonferret. I’ve been to this festival a few times before and it was great to bring our brand of sci fi rock and roll to the event and I feel that we kicked the night off the way it carried on. Upbeat and full of joy.
Our next festival was Kendal Calling and despite the weather cracking flags the week before, the heavens opened and the weather started to resemble that of Kamino from ‘Attack of the Clones’. Fortunately, we had enough time to put our tents up and get acclimatised to life in the campsite. Despite the weather, we all really enjoyed ourselves and it was an honour and a privilege to have the opportunity to play at one of the best ‘small’ festivals in the country. We were given wristbands with the word ‘artist’ on that allowed us to use the backstage areas, which made me feel like a rock star, although there’s nothing quite like queuing up in the mud to use a portaloo after several pints to bring you back down to earth. We played on the Sunday in the House Party tent directly after the Clone Roses, who were excellent. The tent was pretty busy and it was good to see some familiar faces in the crowd having a dance. I left the festival muddy but with flashing shoes intact (I have flashing shoes. They’re shoes. And they flash.) and a smile on my face.
After Kendal came another booking at the Ferret and another convention at Sci-Fi in the city, held at the O2 Academy in Sheffield. We only made it there late in the day so sadly didn’t get to see much of the convention itself but from what I did see it looked good! We were preceded on stage by Foxdog Studios, one of the most bizarre and wonderful live acts I think I have ever seen. To describe them using mere words, I would say they’re a 2 piece augmented reality, robotic fried breakfast making music machine but I’m not sure that does them justice. It was another barnstormer of a gig, and one of the best crowds we’ve played to. They were deafening! It was awesome.
Something strange in our neighbourhood
Our penultimate gig of the year was held recently at the Bowlers Area in Manchester, and boy was it special. Very very special. We were booked to play the opening concert for the ‘For the love of Sci-Fi‘ convention and were playing alongside 2 brilliant musical acts called the Synth Lords and Work in Progress. The former are a 3 piece who use Korg keyboards and some kind
of voodoo witchcraft to perfectly recreate soundtracks from classic movies such as Top Gun and Predator, to name a couple. As a keyboardist I was blown away by how accurately and emphatically they delivered this quite stunning music to beautiful projected backdrops. Work in Progress are all the way from America and fronted by none other than Gaten Materazzo, or as you may know him, Dustin from the popular sci fi Netflix show ‘Stranger Things’. I have to admit to getting a bit star struck when he said hello to us! But this wasn’t the only time that was going to happen that night because joining us to play the Ghostbusters theme was none other than
Ray Parker Jr himself! We have a video of the performance here…
For me, this was a bit of a dream come true, as I was obsessed with Ghostbusters as a kid and never could have dreamt I’d actually get to
play the theme with the guy who wrote it!
And so we get to the end of year, and we have one show left before we say goodbye to 2018 and hello to the new year and I couldn’t think of a better place to have it than with our hometown friends at the Continental in Preston. We’ve got a great night in store for you all tomorrow and are delighted that Pop up Puppet Cinema and The Dark Room have agreed to share the night with us and the audience.
We’ve had so many wonderful experiences this year and couldn’t be happier with how things are going but none of it would be possible without the continued love and support of everyone who has made an effort to see us, mention us in passing, watch a video on youtube or listen to our music. Thank you so much and let’s keep this thing going.