Thursday, July 12, 2012

Scruffy Buzzards

As I entered my teens, I knew I was going to be a rock guitar god when I grew up. That or an astronaut. I had started to suspect there wasn’t likely to be much call for a sword-wielding barbarian warrior in late 20th century Britain, which had been my other desired career path only a couple of years earlier.

I remember in my early 30s waking up one morning and realising I’d missed my chance to be an astronaut, and commercial flights and holidays to the moon weren’t likely to be happening any time soon. I experienced a distinct pang of grief and moped around the house for several days.

A few years later I realised I’d also missed my chance to become a rock star. I was married, had children and was so busy running my web design business I hadn’t even lifted up my guitar for a couple of years. Indeed I didn’t start playing any instruments again until several months after I’d sold the business and we’d moved to SW Scotland and the chimney sweep noticed my dust-covered mandolin sitting in the corner of the room [see Blistering Fingertips].

For a couple of years I would take my mandolin, and then my bouzouki, along to The Storytelling Café – a monthly event led by singer and storyteller, Tony Bonning. When he strummed his guitar he would insist I joined in, and periodically would talk about putting a band together. It took him a couple more years, but eventually he invited me along to join him with bass player John, and guitarist, Richie, on Tuesday evenings, and we started to work out arrangements around some of Tony’s favourite songs – mostly ‘60s and ‘70s covers.

However, Tony is a busy man and with growing frequency he was elsewhere on a Tuesday evening, so Richie, John and I started playing around with our own tunes – each of us would periodically bring along chord sequences, guitar riffs or bass lines that we’d made up and see what the others would put with it. Richie was already a singer in his own right so took over the role of front man when Tony eventually bowed out altogether. John’s daughter suggested Scruffy Buzzards for the name of the band, and it stuck.

John and Richie both knew Bruce – a singer and guitarist who also played drums. He still does his own stuff away from the band, but with Scruffy Buzzards he decided he’d stick to percussion, and in keeping with the more acoustic sound he bought himself a cajón (pronounced ka-hon – emphasis on the second syllable – it’s a box with wires inside so if hit in different places, it creates different percussive sounds). We were now ready to start tidying up some of our songs and presenting them to the public.


One of those tricky photos I had to take and be in at the same time

We tested the water by having a sort of practice session in the back room of The Masonic Arms in Kirkcudbright to an audience of about 6, which I got my son to record on my camera.



Since then, we’ve set up the Facebook page (facebook.com/scruffybuzzards), gained over 300 “likes,” played half a dozen local gigs and are thoroughly enjoying ourselves.

Although I haven’t become the rock guitar god I envisaged as a teenager – indeed, I’m not even playing a guitar in the band – and we’re not likely to become chart-topping megastars, it is a great deal of fun. For brief moments we get to pretend we’re playing to stadiums of 20,000 people even if there are only a few dozen people in the audience. But so far each time we’ve played, the few dozen watching have been responsive and appreciative, which is really good for the soul.

If anyone either side of the Atlantic (or Pacific) wishes to book us for a gig, we'll do it for travel, food, accommodation and a bit of pin money (and I'll throw in a photoshoot as well).

33 comments:

hope said...

Can't offer you a gig but at least you have fans across the pond, thus adding to your "World wide" reputation. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Hope - I'll tell the guys we can now start putting "internationally acclaimed" on the posters :)

A Daft Scots Lass said...

I'll be posting about you guys on my MOnday Music Moves Me this week.

Lets hope you can get even more views and gigs from it.

Kim Ayres said...

Gillian - you're a star :)

Carole said...

I am glad you posted this link on Facebook. I haven't been on blogger in months and wouldn't have wanted to miss this post.

However I am still using the same old trite phrases to describe this post. How in the world do you do so many things and do them so well. You definitely are a rock star.

Kim Ayres said...

Carole - your visits and your comments are always warmly welcomed and appreciated :)

I'm not aware of doing so many things - it's the illusion of blogging - it's only the highlights that ever get written about. A lot more of my day is spent doing the mundane everyday stuff.

Mary Smith said...

Great post. Will definitely get to a gig one of these days. Sounds like you have a lot of fun and make good music, too.

Kim Ayres said...

Hi Mary - thanks for dropping by :)

We're next playing in Dumfries town centre, under the midsteeple at 4pm this coming Thursday, as part of the "In Our Town" events across July. Then we're at The Wickerman in the acoustic village on Saturday. But we'll be cropping up at other venues as the opportunities occur. If you "like" the Scruffy Buzzards Facebook page, it'll keep you up to date with events :)

debra said...

Would that I could book a gig on my side of the Pond. I would, I surely would. (o)

Kim Ayres said...

Debra - I guess you'd either have to book enough venues to cover the costs of flying us out, or find a rich patron :)

Pat said...

Like! I think I've shared it.

Kim Ayres said...

Many thanks Pat :)

Jacqui said...

Always good to achieve a dream - even if scaled down a little. May your fan base continue to grow :)

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Jacqui :)

mapstew said...

'LIKE'
(Sorry I'm late, have been singing all the hours (which means MONEY!) this month!)

Great sound lads! :¬)

Kim Ayres said...

Mapstew - thank you! And glad to hear you're getting the gigs and keeping busy :)

Mimi and Tilly said...

I have just listened to you play on the video and have to say "You're ruddy bloody brilliant!" I loooooooove that song. It's a shame you're so far away as Steve and I would definitely come and foot stamp along at your next gig. Steve was, until very recently, a drummer in a band and there are some great pubs/bars in the Liverpool area that would bite your arm off to have you play. Well done to all of you for making such fantastic music. I genuinely love it. Em :)

Kim Ayres said...

Em - thank you for your kind words :)

If you fancy being our Liverpool manager/representative and can book us a couple of paid gigs to make it worth while coming down, I'm sure the lads would be up for it :)

Eryl said...

You may become a rock god yet!

Kim Ayres said...

Well, I can pretend :)

Theanne said...

good stuff...got to go back now and listen to the video!

Kim Ayres said...

Theanne - enjoy! :)

Falak said...

You play 3 different kinds of instruments? Along with photography and writing....

:o

Kim Ayres said...

Falak - not at the same time... ;)

Besides, the writing is pretty much limited to the blog these days. It's the photography that takes up most of my time, and the music when I can :)

Sayre said...

I love it! In fact, I'm going to forward this post to my husband so he can give a listen. He is a sometime musician as well with dreams of producing his own music and putting out a CD. His music is pretty wonderful too!

Kim Ayres said...

Sayre - tell your husband he has to go ahead and do it! :)

corky said...

nice raw sound, good to put down the electronic gear sometimes...looks like fun...good will ... Corky (Sayre's dude)

Guyana-Gyal said...

When you become a rock star, will you still talk to us? :-D

I'd love for you and your family and the band to come to Guyana, rock the town, share your art, take photos.

Maybe you can have a word with the Bonnie Prince, patron of our rain-forest...?

allencapoferri said...

Very cool music...and I still love your writing!

Conny said...

Ahhh, I wished I could see you guys perform! But I can definitely see you as a rock guitar god!!! Congrats!!!!!

Kim Ayres said...

Corky - welcome to my ramblings and thank you for your kind comments. I've just put up another video in my latest post if you're interested :)

Guyana-Gyal - now if you could get us some gigs that would pay our flights and accommodation and a bit of pin money, then I'll throw in a photo shoot for free :)

Allen - thank you :)

Conny - we'd happily play in Germany - fancy being out Manager for Deutschland? :)

LegalMist said...

Awesome! One of my fondest memories of my one visit to Scotland was visiting a local pub and enjoying the local, very talented, musicians, as they played to a few dozen appreciative locals and tourists. Loved it! Would love to see you play some time. :)

Kim Ayres said...

Legalmist - well, if you fancy becoming our American agent and promoter I'm sure we could come to an arrangement :)