Latrobe Valley Rhythm and Blues Club
November 2005

Ralf Koss informed me that this months gathering would include a barbecue. Ah, now that's my scene. Just call me the 'Barbecue Man' :) Follow the logic here, a barbecue would be outside were it's quieter and more accessible to an acoustic act. Not so long ago I saw Sandy Clark (Clag) attempting to perform a purely acoustic set outside on a nylon acoustic guitar. We discussed the finer points of 'Tears in Heaven'. Ten points for Clag's effort, but the sound didn't travel far enough.

From my busking experience, food areas and the best for solo gigs. I packed up my busking gear and headed off for the Newborough Football Club Social rooms. For some reason, best known to someone else, I arrived an hour before the usual start. I must have confused the start time with Boolarra. Perfect opportunity to restring the Dobro. I had just finished the last string when Peter Gray rolls out the chalkboard with todays features on it. (Three Bands, Barbecue and free entry.) Peter seemed most surprised to find me there. I asked if it was all right to perform outside. Peter said "That's fine!" he replied.

For those who may want to know, I find the volume inside very loud and unpleasant. I understand that the 'Chicago Style' is electric and 'full of beans', but I have also noticed that quite a few people leave after a short while and hang about outside. Sometimes it's just too loud!

I set up my gear on a concrete pedestal facing the barbecue and started off on lap steel and then later switched to the Dobro. I need to explain that I do use a little bit of amplification, courtesy of a set of small Bose speakers and a JBL car amplifier all run off a twelve volt battery. I just need a bit of support so as to not tire my poor old fingers. No microphone though!

The number of patrons that turned up today was most gratifying, and most were outside. I still had stiff competition from the bands inside, but I kept at it. One of the patrons was a 'harp' player and he joined in on a few songs. He told me later that this was the first time he had been able to hear what he was playing and really enjoyed the experience. He explained that when he performs inside with the band over the PA, he can never hear what he is playing, even though the patrons tell him he sounded great.

I made a 'faux pas' in not having charged the batteries before the gig and quite soon found out that I had exhausted both the main and backup batteries. What to do? Plan C, the battery in the car. I took the battery out of the car, after chasing around for a spanner, and finished the rest of my set. A lesson learnt here.

I hope the commitee takes a bit of notice that there are other ways of presenting 'The Blues' that does not require an enormous amount of decibels. I've reached the point where I want to keep what's left of my hearing, and acoustic is a viable alternative!