Aside from being a fantastic drummer, my fellow Boogieman Kerry had a second equally impressive talent. Back in the days when I needed to pay my way through college, and then university, I had joined a functions/party band, called The Boogiemen. Kerry was already installed as chief hitter of stuff when I joined.
I sort of knew Kerry at that time. We’d both been to Wakey College and had a few friends in common. Kerry had been on the Wakefield music scene with an indie band called Cherry Bus Pass at roughly the same time as I was making a grungy racket with Homegroan, so I’d seen his band’s posters up around the music venues we both frequented of a weekend. Oddly, our paths never really crossed until we found ourselves at a charity dinner, getting changed into our Boogiesuits in amongst stacked up tables and chairs in a glorified cupboard within the bowels of whichever hotel we were performing at that night. It wasn’t at the charity gigs that Kerry’s additional talent came to the fore, however. No, it was at the wedding gigs that Kerry truly shone.
Now, in my experience wedding gigs can go one of two ways. They can either be a joyous, relaxed, affair at which everyone is unified in their happiness for and goodwill towards the happy couple, or they can be soulless, uptight, affairs at which everyone is unified in their desire to let it be known how much the thing cost them to attend, dress for, cater for, book for, hire for, decorate and accommodate, verbally and/or otherwise.
I’m happy to say that, also in my experience, the former proved to be the case more often than not, but I remember one night the father of the bride coming into the dressing room to give us all an extra fifty quid each, which was tremendously generous of him, I have to say. The cost of being on the receiving end of his generosity was, however, for a good fifteen minutes, to stand and listen as he openly boasted, in a way that only self-interested, self-made, middle aged men full of their own self-importance can, about how much money he’d spent on his daughter’s wedding (£40,000 if you’re interested). It was almost like he had, in his head, a mental inventory of every single thing he’d paid for, from the hired Rolls Royce to the wedding dress to the expensive champagne right down to the napkins. Not once did he mention how happy and proud he was of his daughter on her special day, which I thought was quite telling and really quite sad.
I also remember a truly bizarre night in Bury. There were two weddings in the same hotel, in two separate rooms. During the first set, the wedding party who weren’t being entertained by us, or any other band, invaded the wedding party that we were entertaining. Words were exchanged. There was a scuffle. There was a fight. A big fight. The police were called. Two police vans showed up. Many well dressed people were unceremoniously thrown into them and swiftly taken away. The celebrations ended. We went home early.
The best wedding we ever played at was at The Royal Armouries in Leeds, mainly because we all got to dress up as Muskateers and very dashing we all looked too. For proof of this, please see the photo below.
Regardless of the who, what, wheres and hows, Kerry only had one thing on his mind when the weekend came around and The Boogiemen prepared to hit the road to our next wedding gig and that was the buffet.
It has been quite well documented that keeping well fed and watered whilst on the road is quite a difficult thing to do. Many musicians have suffered from terrible malnutrition while out there in the cruel, hard, world of fast approaching white lines on never ending Tarmac in their completely altruistic quest to entertain the masses. Back when The Boogievan was eating up miles of motorway, service stations weren’t the complete shopping/dining experience that they are now. Not all the food groups were fully represented and if, like Kerry, you were a vegetarian, well then, you were pretty much fucked. While the rest of us were chowing down on a hot Burger King or KFC, Kerry would be making do with a sorry looking, pre-packaged, cheese salad sandwich filled with rock hard cheese slices, brown lettuce, smelly onions and moist tomatoes that turned the bread soggy. It was a heart-wrenching sight…
So a good quality buffet, with plenty of veggie options, could really perk Kerry up and provide him with the sustenance required to carry him through the gruelling two 45s, plus encore, that constituted The Boogiemen’s spectacular and unpredictable show. The trouble was, as he wasn’t officially invited as a guest of the bride or groom it wasn’t very often that Kerry was ‘officially’ invited to partake in it. A minor detail, as it often turned out.
There are ways and means for a determined, hungry, drummer to get fed, one of which is to put on your smart looking, if a little musty, Boogiesuit, grab a paper plate and simply join the queue, preferably next to an old dear ripe for the charming. Once your plate is stacked full of exceedingly good, meat free, nibbles all you have to do is excuse yourself, slip unnoticed out of the room and head back to the dressing room. Job done.
Usually, we would arrive at the reception venue early, to get set up and soundchecked while the happy couple were still at the church getting spliced with God and all their wedding guests as their witnesses. Occasionally, upon arrival, the buffet would already be meticulously laid out, hermetically sealed under layers and layers of cling film but still looking mouth-wateringly tempting.
Set up and soundcheck complete, we would retire to the dressing room to sit around scratching our balls and take the piss out of each other, for want of anything more interesting to do, until show time came around. Kerry would often hang back in the function room to ‘fix his kick drum pedal’ or ‘tune his drums’, which we all came to know as code for ‘raid the buffet before the wedding party returns from the church’. The first time this happened, I was absolutely gobsmacked.
After just five minutes or so apart, Kerry returned with his plate so full of buffet that I refused to believe that there was any left for the bride and groom and all their guests, so much so that I went back to the buffet table to have a look, fully expecting to find huge gaps where sandwiches, vol au vents, bhaji’s and buns used to be, along with masses of hurriedly torn up cling film resting on top. When I got there I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was as pristine as when we had left the room just minutes earlier.
I don’t know how he did it but Kerry had pulled of the greatest buffet heist known to mankind in an unfathomably short amount of time and without being spotted by any of the hotel staff, carefully peeling back just enough cling film to gain access, extracting the food then rearranging the rest of the platter so as to fill in any gaps, before sealing it back up and moving on to the next one. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, give it a try yourself and you’ll find out.
These days Kerry is playing bass guitar in a band called Wonders of the Yukon, who I’ve just joined as third guitarist. I’m very much looking forward to getting out gigging with Kerry for the first time since our Boogiemen days, but I reckon he’s probably a bit rusty when it comes to raiding buffets. Still, it would be fun to find out…
The Boogie Muskateers!