Songs from The Blue House has always been, in terms of line up and repertoire, what we like to refer to as a moveable feast. Certainly the rhetoric of the early bluegrass ideal has given way to folk, country, blues and even grindcore* influences, but the organic feel of the group has been maintained throughout by a plethora of struck, strummed, plucked and bowed instruments which have both emphasised the rootsy feel of the songs themselves and meant that in terms of stagecraft all I have really had to do up until now is thrash away at an acoustic guitar during the songs and make jokes about the banjo player while Our Glorious Leader tunes up in between them. And so it will be interesting to see how we go down at The Big Finger Festival, upon whose publicity material our name has started appearing alongside those of Impaled Existence, Ignominious Incarceration, Bleed from Within, Viking Skull and of course, in The Scuzz Arena, the Extreme American Wrestling. In advance of deciding on a suitable set list the temptation here, of course, is to butch everything up, play it a bit faster and make sure the chicken wire is taut across the front of the stage before we start, but since we have tried to avoid conforming to the prevailing orthodoxy of the pub band ethos wherever possible in the past, we have reserved this approach for the folk festival we’re playing the month before instead where, due to a dearth of available strummers, pluckers and bowers, OGL and I have taken the opportunity to sneak in a couple of electric guitars for the occasion hoping that no-one will notice, in pretty much the same way that a fourth form schoolboy having a sneaky woodbine behind the bike sheds at break time would do. We’re also going to play an entire set of unrecorded material, with a drummer, and in front of one of the few audiences in the country that would actually be familiar enough with our oeuvre to ask for one of our old songs by name in the first place. It’s not a deliberately contrarian approach, but it certainly helps pre-empt any discussion about why we didn’t play the one about the rabbit this time round. It has also given me the perfect excuse to dust off the Gibson Les Dawson, sling some new ultrawound lights on, order a replacement for that toggle switch I broke back at The Pickerel, buff up the fretboard and start practicing a few (chord) shapes - albeit only after a couple of internal discussions as to whether it would be safer, more sensible or sonically appropriate to go in gently with a nice Telecaster with the tone control set on tickle and season the sound with some myxolidian tones, gentle arpreggios and the occasional flat-picked major pentatonic-based lick in the choruses. And then I thought, bugger that for a laugh, they can have that when we’re following Reality Killed Us at The Big Finger.
Songs from The Blue House will be playing at Acorn Fayre on September 18th this year. Also appearing at the festival are Colvin Quarmby, Red Shoes, Circus Envy and a host of others - please see http://www.acornfayre.org.uk/ for more details.