The Obald – Episode 5

Another shortish episode. It’s Friday night. Here’s the link to the episode on Apple Podcasts.

The local music scene. Probably my first ever gig was to go and see my future brother-in-law and his band, Toad the Wet Sprocket, in a back room at the Halfway House, on the border between Dunstable and Luton. I think this pre-dated my first proper gig, the ELO at Wembley Arena. The local scene, though: does it still exist? I’ve had many a pub night ruined by some clown with a bunch of pedals and a beat box, but I’m talking about going to see a proper local band. Toad the Wet Sprocket were a hard rock riff-based band, somewhat connected to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. At least two of them were very talented musicians. I know this because they later played with me in my band, for the short space of time I was able to overcome my stage fright and get on the stage.

We were called Go, Dog. Go! I was the lead singer and songwriter and also the weakest link, the one who couldn’t really play very well and definitely couldn’t improvise. We played a few places. Sometimes half empty, sometimes half full. Our best gigs were at a pub called the Bull in Stony Stratford. We played there three times, I think, and a couple of places around Luton, St. Albans… I’ve blanked a lot of it out.

I never did play a place that was a hangout for bikers, but my friend Roger did, and had to leave in a hurry when the right-wing bikers got wind of his leftist sentiments. Hilarious. I guess you haven’t lived, as a musician, unless you’ve been chased down the street by bikers.

My worst stage experience was at a nightclub in Bletchley: a completely unsuitable venue for my whimsical material (biggest influence probably Jonathan Richman). I started very nervous, completely unable to pitch my voice correctly. And then when I’d just about calmed down, a bloke walked on the stage and shouted in my ear, “MY SISTER FANCIES YOU!” I was mortified, terrified, deep fried.

And my coolest moment came at one of those Stony Stratford gigs. The other guys started improvising at the end of “All Along the Watchtower” (was it?). I was totally lost, so I put my guitar down while they were still playing and strolled across to the bar to order a drink. The crowd parted before me like the Red Sea. So here’s episode 5, which is only an episode because Chapter 4 was getting too long.

Ronnie’s band play a successful gig to a packed house at The Crown. The “two Mels” are both in attendance…

Housekeeping & links

If you’re impatient to read ahead, I’ve published a revised ebook of The Obald:



Other territories are available.

I have also revised and updated the paperback edition, which is now live. Unfortunately, this print-on-demand stuff ends up being expensive. I tried to make a nice book, a nice thing to have. You can see an example of a page spread below. Anyway, here’s a link to the UK store for the paperback, and the same for the US store.

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