Dandy Man Forms The Band.

Ah Dave Grohl, I must be a very very late bloomer. Not sure at the age of thirteen that being in a band seriously crossed my mind. I was shy and small (still am), didn’t play guitar and listened too much to my parents ..lol. Also I wonder for the majority of musicians what comes first? The forming of the band then the writing of songs, or songwriter seeks like minded souls to bring his / her efforts to fruition? For me, definitely the latter. Perhaps a little selfishly, it has always been about the songs. Having written lyrics and the tab how can I bring the song to the fullness that I hear in my head as I strum and sing. You need a band to do that. Fellow creatives, who are willing to step away from covers, try something new, contribute and buy in (well at least to some extent) to your ideas. 

And so, having got a little ukulele duo thing going with Joan, it was time to seek out some bass and drums in the form of John Caudrey and Angus McDonald. Myself and Joan knew John and Angus well from RUG (Reading Ukulele Group). These two characters had many years of experience and music knowledge, John as a ukulele teacher and bass player, and Angus as a long time scholar, of drums and cajon. Both agreed to embark on a cheap and cheerful home recording project, and we set about having some band practices to prepare and arrange my compositions. There followed recording sessions in John’s garden office and my conservatory (yes, looking back I really did not have a clue regards what made a good recording space .. sigh) which eventually resulted in the first ever Dandy Man CD – “Suburban Troubadour (The Home Recording Sessions). I distinctly remember the first band get together. The whole thing was a thrill, to hear for the first time one of your songs filled out with bass and drums. Actually strictly speaking twas not drums but cajon. Still, it felt like the start of something.

Cheekily, I hoped that John and Angus would permanently join the band. I arranged some gigs and they were game, but I was not surprised when John said he had to bow out. Too many other commitments and not living local put paid to any hope of persuading him to carry on. Apparently there is a thing called the “drummer and bass player union”. Once one leaves, the other, I am told, will inevitably follow. To be fair to Angus and John they committed to a recording project, not to join a band. We parted as friends. I am forever grateful to John for his walking bass lines and Angus for his thoughtful rhythms (a reggae feel to the chorus of “Flying Man” .. didn’t see that coming), but most of all for their encouragement, and creating the foundations for what was to come.

Dandy Man was a duo again. I did not hold out hope for finding replacements. Locally based bass players and drummers are in short supply. Throw in you are looking for musicians willing to work on original material and it becomes doubly difficult to attract interest. For drums Angus pointed me at one or two individuals, one of whom Dave Edwards said he was already three other bands and could not commit to another. He was not the only one to give me such a response. Then one barmy evening, bemoaning my luck, my good friend and neighbour, Andy, played matchmaker. His best friend, Rick Sinfield – remember Rick in part 1, the chap who prompted me to start songwriting, boarded the Dandy Man bus. A dude and a gent, Rick has an uncanny intuition for what I might be after when it comes to writing bass lines for my song. As I had done with Joan, vocal prowess and an ability to effortlessly provide harmonies, I had struck gold.

Not long after, another nugget. I replied to a social media post from Stewart asking if anybody was after a cajon player. In fact, the gold strike as far as Stewart was concerned is that Stewart is first and foremost a guitar player – self taught with encyclopedic knowledge of chords and scales. His outings with us on cajon filled a gap but my heart was set on adding drums, especially having experienced Angus playing drums for Dandy Man at a couple of gigs as well as guesting on our first studio outing – “Demos EP”. More about that in Part 3. Finally, three or four months later, my wish came true. Dave Edwards (yep the very same as mentioned above) rocked up to a gig at Global Cafe, and after hearing us play asked if there was still an opening for a drummer. Stewart very graciously stepped away from his cajon playing role and ably took up the challenge of lead guitarist. We are an odd ball group, no primadonnas, just down to earth folk with a passion for original songs and live music. And that suits this Dandy Man.

“At 13 years old, I realized I could start my own band. I could write my own song, I could record my own record. I could start my own label. I could release my own record. I could book my own shows. I could write and publish my own fanzine. I could silk-screen my own T-shirt. I could do this all myself.”

Dave Grohl