Band at the Grand Hotel
Hello!! Maybe it’s the shorter days, the slight drop in temperature, or the fact that we are so so busy which is making the days fly by. Was is really a week ago we were performing for Victoria & Piers at their wedding at Priston Mill in Bath? Aye it was. *wipes forehead and exhales*. What a night that was. Read the blog about it here.
Today we’re headed to Leicester. We’re performing for a very lovely couple, Catherine & Phil. Let’s flash back for a minute. It’s Saturday. I’m pretty sure it’s November or maybe it’s December 2013. We’re at gig. It’s a 60’s themed night. The room is packed. And I mean packed. I think the ceiling is sweating. It’s so 60’s, we could actually be in the 1960’s. Somewhere under the the bopping bodies there is a dance floor and perhaps a carpet of sorts, but I can no longer see it. People are dancing dancing dancing. In the crowd around are Cat & Phil and they are loving it loving it loving it. They smile at us. We smile back. They like us. We like them. They say hello. We wipe the sweat from our brows and say hello back. They would like to book us for their wedding next year. We are happy.
Band at the Grand Hotel
Fast forward 10 months or so, we’re back, on the road, en route to Leicester. To THE GRAND HOTEL in Leicester. It sounds so grand. Situated in the town centre nestled amongst shops, little side streets and historic buildings stands THE GRAND HOTEL. We had some difficulty locating the car park down the one way streets so I forgot to take a photo of the outside. Instead I got this one from the Internet. Thank you Internet.
I hope you can see the photo through all of the pixels. It was a very cool and ‘wow’ building. It was grand.
We arrived and it was all went a bit fast here as we had a bit of trouble finding the car park but it was OK IN THE END, we had a map, our iPhones and a poor to average sense of direction. We parked as close as we could to the room we were playing in, ‘The Queen’s Hall’, and began to load in. The lovely Paul from THE GRAND HOTEL had rung us a few weeks previously to let us know all about the load in and parking arrangements. It was a jolly good job he did! The room was up a 2 short flights of stairs, which doesn’t sound like much but when you have really really reeeeeally heavy (and very top-notch) equipment like we do, it’s a long way. Luckily Paul’s heads up meant we were prepared physically and mentally prepared for the task ahead. We had completed some extra difficult sudoko’s & crosswords and we also took a few moments to do a couple of lunges and a few arm stretches before beginning to load in. We were ready. I was very mentally focused at this point so was only able to take one rubbish photo. Here it is. It’s Zoots lead singer Jamie walking out to of the ‘Queens Hall’ building. You can’t really tell it is him as it is shaky and the light is poor. He’ll probably delete it so you’ll never get to see it anyway.
Band at the Grand Hotel
It was tough. The longer you held the really heavy equipment, the heavier it became. Imagine picking up a small car, perhaps a Robin Reliant. That is what is felt like. Now hold on to that car. Keep holding. Keep holding… A tear escaped from my face. I wiped it away as quickly as it had appeared, *mustn’t show any weakness* and continued. I took a breath and smiled through the pain, everywhere. The guys never suspected a thing. I am strong. We encouraged each other and powered through. We patted each other on the back and hi-fived where necessary. Zoots lead guitarist Ben was on fire, sprinting up and down those stairs, like, well, a sprinter. Zoots bass player Stuwas super good at manning the van and pointing to the heavy bits of equipment the stronger Zoots needed to lift, well done Stu. Finally everything was loaded in. *pheeeeew*. Set up began.
It was quick. We were quick. We felt good. We met with the lovely Austin at THE GRAND HOTEL. He was super friendly and helpful and deserves a special mention. Thank you Austin for all of your help, you are brill. Once set up, we sound checked. This is where we check the sound. We have to spend time checking each level of every instrument and then setting the level to come out of the speakers. It’s a delicate task, so the more time we can have doing this, the better. This is what sound check looked like.
We got the sound just right, set up Cat & Phil’s iPod for their wedding breakfast music and cleared out, pronto. The new bride and groom were on their way!
Cat & Phil had very kindly arranged a room for us to use as we had a few hours to wait before our wedding band performance. This was super super nice of them, and really lovely for us, to have somewhere warm, homely, where we could make tea and warm up before we went on. The couple had also arranged some grub for us too as we were there over dinner time and our tummies were rumbling. Lovely Lewis, at the bar brought us our food. It was loads and loads and loads of delicious sandwiches and a massive bowl of chips. “a-nomnomnomnom‘ (in a nice way, not like savages), we went as we ate. There was even vegetarian stuff for our newest veggie, lead guitarist Ben. He loves vegetables. After eating the food we rubbed of full tummies and talked about how delicious the food was. Thank you Cat & Phil for sorting it all out. And thank you to ‘Lovely Lewis’ for looking after us so well. Below is a photo of us eating and drinking. You’re welcome.
Before we knew it night had fallen and we were due on. The time is 815pm and the day is running quite close to the original schedule. We get changed into out Zoots outfits and prepare. We were psyched to performing with Si Small on the drums. He’s totally totally brilliant. If you’re one of the lucky ones who gets to see this guy perform – enjoy it. He is so very brilliant. He has been a nominee for Blues drummer of the year three times!
We head back to the room we are performing in. It’s busy. People look lovely in their lovely clothes. They have had a good meal and a few drinks. The room feels happy. We begin. For their first dance, Cat & Phil have chosen ‘Wonderful Tonight’ by Eric Clapton. It’s very apt. It really is Wonderful Tonight. I tried to take some photos but they are not that good. You might have to use your imagination.
Following Cat & Phil’s first dance, we launched into our first set. It was brill. Cat & Phil had chosen some cool tracks on from our repertoire which we were looking forward to playing, some of the ones they had chosen, we don’t get to play them very often. These included Led Zepplin’s ‘Rock and Roll‘ and ‘Whole Lotta Love’ as well as some really cool tracks like The Rolling Stones ‘Sympathy for The Devil’ and ‘Satisfaction’. We also had some hits like Roy Orbison’s ‘Pretty Woman’ and a few tracks from The Beatles. It was super fun performing some of The Zepplin tracks which were very well received! The first set was totally brilliant. Everyone was on fire. It felt so good to be making such good music. The dynamics and feel of the night were just perfect. We could feel it and the crowd could feel it. Si was out of this world awesome on drums. Ben’s raw talent on lead guitar never ever ceases to amaze me, I love watching guests enjoy his solos in awe, jaws dropped in amazement. Stu Morrell’s tight bass playing glues everything together. He is one groovy guy. Keep on eye on him. He has some very original dance moves.
Talented on the bass and talented as a DJ, there is no end to Stu’s talents, except maybe finishing the teas and being bin moniter. In our break he took the decks and DJ’d for Cat & Phil before we came back on for our second set. We really didn’t think it could get any better. BUT IT DID. I think at one point, everyone in the whole room was dancing, even the staff. It was such a great feeling.
Here’s some photos from the evening. There’s a couple of shots a dude who is absolutely loving it! He really did not have a care in the world at that moment. He made my day. Look out for him. There’s also a photo of me somewhere. I’ve found that photo’s never really do the night justice (or me so it seems). You really do have to be there to feel it. But I hope you can get the gist from the words I’ve written and expressions on peoples faces in the pictures. One of the guests, also a Stu, also took the time to write us some nice words about our performance the following day. Read what he had to say here.
After our second set, Stu DJ’d a little more until the night came to a close. Cat & Phil said how much they’d enjoyed it which was brilliant to hear. We got changed and packed away, loading out heavy (*cries*) equipment back out. We said our farewells, loaded the van and went on our merry little way back home to Wiltshire feeling very happy with the world. The journey back was a pleasant one, and 3 hours later we were home in Wiltshire with the band. I went to sleep making a mental note to work on my photo face. And stance. And general posture and positioning in photographs.
Band at the Grand Hotel
Soon The Zoots will be playing a wedding at Dewsall Court, Priston Mill, River Cottage, Pynes House, Wellington Barn in Calne, The Beacon, Assembly Rooms in Bath, Reid Rooms, Sonny and Julias, Dani’s wedding, wedding in Hertfordshire, Party in Kimbolton, Halloween concert, Beeston Manor and lots of 1960s theatre shows.