Sunday, August 26, 2007

Sunday, August 26th, 2007:
Helsingborg to Bjuv:
CSI: Helsingborg's first gig

What I think:

I had my first gig as a singer in a band yesterday. CSI: Helsingborg finally played at Bjuvsfestivalen, and I'd say it was pretty successful.

I started off by approaching the microphone while putting on a pair of latex gloves, and said, "Good evening Bjuv (pronouncing it "be-jewve"). We're with the crime lab."

It was kind of a weird venue really; the stage was set up under a marquee in a carpark (US/CAN: parking lot) just off the main festival road. I've got a few photos of the event to share with you.

Here's one taken when we were playing our first song. As you can see, the crowd's going wild.

But the angle of that photo is a bit deceiving, as is the apparent enthusiasm of the crowd. It was actually taken from quite far back, inside the beer tent. People were not really sitting very close to the stage.

This is actually a truer picture:

Here's one of me realising that the beer can I'm picking up is actually empty. Luckily, bassist CSI Per had stocked up, and there was a cooler full of chilled beer behind CSI Nils. So, when CSI Nils went into a guitar solo, I went into the cooler and helped myself.


Drummer CSI Bengt seemed a bit jealous. Tough, innit?

After a few songs, someone finally decided to start dancing to our rockin' hits. I just had to snap a shot from the stage.

It wasn't really what I'd had in mind for an adoring fan, but what can one do?

Why's it always a drunken old fart who's the first to dance at these things anyway?

He soon had a lady friend join him and they two-stepped and foxtrotted merrily for most of the show, displaying amazing dedication and stamina.
I was particularly fond of his stylish socks and sandals accessorising skills. Note the impeccable choice of navy blue socks to provide a refreshing counterpoint to his lighter blue hat. Eat your hearts out, Trinny and Susannah. You don't need to tell him what not to wear; he's a natural at it.

Also present was my good friend and co-pub toilet inspector, Badlands. He was quite keen to show that he too is a great fan.
I also managed to get a shot of CSI Nils as he was in mid-guitar solo. Cool.

It was a really fun experience.

Bjuv, famous for Findus Frozen Foods, and frozen peas in particular, held a Miss Pea contest during the festival. Alas, I didn't stick around to find out which of the chick peas won, but it was great material for pea jokes.

I mentioned that we had considered playing a version of John Lennon's "Give Peas A Chance"...

I put forward that the question of when Miss Pea is finally crowned, would one call her simply "Miss Pea", or would the more formal "Your Royal Pea-ness" be more appropriate?

I mentioned Bjuv's importance on the world stage. I said that the fine folks at Findus Frozen Foods, whose products are exported to many countries, are partly responsible for peas in the Middle East.

I don't think that the majority of the members of the audience got these jokes, but it was the thought that counted, right?

While festivals like this are usually fun occasions, having drunken old men wearing socks and sandals dancing in front of cool bands like CSI: Helsingborg is simply scandalous.

It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.

P.S. Many thanks to Andy Dolphin for some of the pics.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Saturday, August 18th, 2007:
CSI: Helsingborg -
The Press Release

What I think:

There's one week to go before my band's debut performance at the grand Bjuv Festival. It's sure to be a cracking event (US/CAN: awesome gig).

In preparation, the following press release is about to be translated into Swedish, and sent to all of the relevant Swedish media.

This means to Helsingborgs Dagblad newspaper:

CSI: Helsingborg investigate Bjuvsfestivalen 2007

On Saturday August 25th, CSI: Helsingborg will make their stage debut at Bjuvsfestivalen.

But who are CSI: Helsingborg? And how serious are they about what they’re doing? Let’s put them under the microscope.

The band was formed by guitarist and trainspotter Nils Hornfalk just over a year ago. Nils, whose other hobbies include stamp collecting and dentistry, decided that a really rocking blues/rock cover band with a difference was necessary to make people wake up and examine the meaning behind their lives.

So he teamed up with bassist and zoologist Per Cedergren and drummer and Yoga instructor Bengt Svensson. All they needed was a singer.

Nils soon recruited British-Canadian singer and Royal Navy Admiral Mark Base.

“Mark’s voice is a little bit punky for the music we play, but at least he understands what the words mean,” explains Nils.

Bengt and Per agree.

“His vocal style is like a cross between Johnny Rotten and Julio Iglesias,” says Bengt.

“I like his shoes,” adds Per, “but his Swedish is pretty bad.”

Mark says, “I chose the name CSI: Helsingborg because I have this thing about latex gloves and examining bodily fluids.”

CSI: Helsingborg play at Bjuvsfestivalen on August 25th at 17:00.

It's actually fairly unlikely that it will be published, but it was fun to write anyway. I can't wait to see the Swedish version.

Here's the poster that we're going to...errm... post around town, and use for our many future gigs:
Everyone's welcome, except the Swedish government. I'd like to see them try to do something about it.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007:
CSI: Helsingborg to appear at
Bjuv's 2007 Festival

What I think:

I don't think I've mentioned this before, but I'm a singer in a cover band here in Helsingborg.

I'd been in bands before, but never as just a singer; it's always been as a rhythm guitarist, back-up vocalist, with the occasional lead vocals for a few songs (while playing guitar).

When my guitarist friend asked me to join his band, my biggest worry, besides my actual singing voice, was what I was going to do with my hands.

It turns out that I play a mean tambourine, and I get to whack a cowbell for a couple of songs as well. The rest of the time, my various gestures make me look a bit like a cross between Morrissey and an angry Italian.

Because I was asked to join the band, I had very little say as to what songs we'd play. I was told that it's mainly a blues band.

One can sort of tell by looking at me that I'm not really a bluesy kind of guy. But I thought, what the hell; if I could sing a version of "Kung Fu Fighting" with Rude Guru in the 80's, I'm sure I can pull this blues vocals thing off.

When I first saw the song list, I recognised some Stones songs, some Hendrix, and some Creedence Clearwater Revival. A total of about six out of around thirty songs. But at least they weren't all blues numbers.

I joined about two years ago. We've been practising nearly every Sunday. It's always been more of a fun hobby more than anything else.

It eventually came to the time when we felt we should start looking for gigs. As I've mentioned previously on this blog, Helsingborg is not exactly a hotbed of live music venues.

The first obvious place seemed to be the Charles Dickens pub, as they have live cover bands on most Saturday nights.

But they were fully booked for ages, and wanted a demo CD before agreeing to let us play - which is fair enough.

Then there was the issue of a name for the band. The other guys didn't really like my suggestion of The Lesbian Boyfriends for some reason (I thought that name would rock), so I suggested CSI: Helsingborg.

They were a bit reluctant at first. They said "What's CSI stand for?", so I said "Crime Scene Investigation." They thought that was boring, so I said, "No-no, I mean Coolest Shit Imaginable." And everyone was happy. Bloody Swedes.

So anyway, we finally managed to record a few songs in our little rehearsal space. They sounded OK, so I brought the CD to Dickens and left it there.

The owner said he'll listen to it, but not for a while, as Helsingborg's Festival would be starting soon, and he had lots of stuff to do in preparation. Plus the Saturday night bands thing was off for the summer, to be started up again in September. So he'd have a listen as soon as possible and book us at some point after that.

I can't see how listening to three songs would interfere with his busy schedule, but nevermind. I bet he still hasn't heard it.

But then we found out that we could probably get a gig at the Bjuv Festival, which is like Helsingborg Festival's poor retarded herring-breathed half-cousin whom nobody likes very much.

Just what we were after - our big break.

Talking about it to my guitarist friend and fellow CSI, I found out that the last time he played there with a band, there was a huge crowd of...five. I'm not kidding.

And this guy knows how to count, so I believe him.

Then the woman who was organising the event told the bass player (who was the one dealing with her), that it wasn't actually confirmed that we'd play. Oh, and would he re-send the songs and band info, as they had been misplaced?

Apparently, last time they played, they were informed just days before the event that they were on.

But, today we got confirmation that CSI: Helsingborg will be playing at "Bjuvsfestivalen" on Saturday, August 25th, 2007, from 17:00 until 18:30 (UK/US/CAN: 5:00 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.).

I found out after lunch when our bass guy called me at work. Yay!

But then he said, "Do you still have those photos you took? She wants a photo of the band, and she needs it today".

Err...I'm at work, and this is a bit short notice.

But he called her back and told her that I could email a photo to her tonight, so she'd get it first thing in the morning. This was acceptable to her.

I should bloody well hope so.

But here's the thing. I took individual photos of us once, and with each of us playing another's instrument.

So, in the photo I put together as a collage from the different shots, the guitarist is makin' sweet throbbin' luv to the bass, the bassist is pulling a Clapton on guitar, the drummer is getting funky with the microphone, and I'm doing a wicked backbeat and a few quick rolls of the skins.

Oh, and just for even more of a laugh, I made the bassist (who's on guitar) left-handed.

The photo below is what I sent to this (dis-) organiser woman. But exclusively for this blog, I've added the blue bits around the border. What do you think?

My girlfreind says that it looks like a really bad cheesy 70's album cover.

I agree, and it's one of the things I like about it.

So if you're reading this, I hope you'll be able to make it to this fantastic festival to see our very first gig ever.

It's just such a shame that more effort is not put into events such as this. I mean they only happen once a year, for the love of God in Heaven 17.

I'd request that the Swedish government did something about it, but I'm getting 1,000 Kronor for my part (£73 / US$149 /€108), and knowing them, they'd probably tax it all away from me. That's what I think. Bastards.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Wednesday, August 1st, 2007:
Helsingborg's Festival and
a Yank's crayfish party
in Helsingborg

What I think:

Every year, I think it's during the last Thursday-to-Friday of July, this fine little city hosts a festival, with loads of different music, interesting food stalls (your chance to try a moose kebab), and stalls selling loads of crappy stuff no one needs but just might be drunk enough to buy (your chance to purchase a t-shirt saying "HELSINGBORG FÖR FAN" - translated (roughly) to "HELSINGBORG, DAMMIT"). Wonderful.

Some kidding aside, there's actually a very good atmosphere in the city during these three days (days known as "summer" here). People come from miles around to check it out. I think there were even some from as far away as Ramlösa in the south, and Tågaborg in the north.

The variety of music is pretty impressive, although many of the tents dotted around the city have cover bands: Sixties stuff, general "right on" (yawn) stuff, and some old Swedish faves, including the dreaded "Dansband" genre (this actually deserves a separate blog entry all its own. Remind me.)

Other than that, there are a few oldies (for the Old Age Party animals), and one or two OK shows.

In short, although the atmosphere is nice, the music during the festival is not my pint of lager.

However, my girlfriend has a colleague who moonlights as a drag artist. He's in a drag "troupe" (for want of a better word - would a "gaggle of drag artists" be more appropriate?) called Champagne Safari.

We went to see their six o'clock show on Friday evening.

They're quite fun. And at least two of them look a bit too much like babes. Here's a random photo that turned out OK from the distance we were standing:

The show was quite good, but the beer looked like this:
After the show (and another beer), we decided to go out for another beer (and another beer).

We went to PL13 first.
But it wasn't open yet, so we went to The Bishops Arms instead.

Here's me at Bishops with a nice pint of expensive imported beer:
After that, we went back to PL13 and had a couple more beers there.

My girlfriend, already tipsy at this point, proposed that it was her turn to get drunk, as she'd dragged my "sorry ass home enough times" to deserve at least one good night of debauched abandon.

Because I was drunk, I agreed. This would be fun.

As it turned out, I was in "looking out for someone else" mode, so I actually did alright. Phew.

On Saturday, my mate the Yank was hosting a crayfish party (US: crawfish party), as his dad was visiting from Yankland (US/CAN: the U.S.).

I brought the potato salad. No really, I'm serious, I did.

Once a year, during late-July to mid-August, many Swedes have these parties. That's because this is when they're incredibly plentiful, and there's a massive national cull of the little buggers. That's the crayfish - not the Swedes (or the Yanks).

Those who don't live near lakes where crayfish breed (i.e. most of us) buy boxes of pre-prepared frozen ones, let them thaw out, stick them in big bowls, and plonk them on the table.

They're usually accompanied by bread (garlic bread's nice), Mark's Potato Salad®, and maybe some regular salad, and consumed with beer, and seemingly never-ending shots. And copious amounts of paper napkins are required for wiping off the dill water and crayfish guts. Some Swedish songs from the Midsummer are usually recycled during these festivities as well.

Here's the Yank looking quite happy and proud of the success of this memorable event:

When I went to the balcony for a cig, I managed to get a pretty cool shot of a couple of the other guests. Then I Photoshop'd it so that you'll have no idea as to whom these people are (hint: they're not from Champagne Safari): Me and the girlfriend rounded the evening off by going to an outdoor Festival gig; a band called Svenska Akademien, who are from a city called Landskrona, which is even further away than Ramlösa. It's got a reputation for having a very high crime rate as well.

Then we took a couple of little fun fair (US/CAN: amusement park) rides, and went home.

Via the Charles Dickens pub.

I think.
Anyway, here's a shot of that band:

It was a brilliant weekend.
But the Festival seems to be the only time in this city that people actually all go out and have a good time together. There's not nearly enough to do during the rest of the year. It's sad, it sucks, and it's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.