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Audrey & I ran our own club in Battersea until we became semi professional and were asked to be resident at Bunjies; a small club in Litchfield Street just off the Charing Cross road, roughly in Soho.
It meant that we could go away and not have to worry about the club, plus a big benefit was that Bunjies didn't have guests since the audience were all tourists and changed every week, so we could work up our songs more easily.
The two other residents were Ron Simmonds and a short mid session singer called Big Theo, whose story line to the girls was that he had flown in by plane. His own, and he had a photo to prove it.
Ron however was one of these brilliant players and singers you stumble aross every now and then with such talent that it makes you wonder why they were not famous, until you realise that what they want to do is just play.
Rons style of playing was unique. For the guitarists amongst us, he played in C with a capo on the 4th fret, but within this simple arrangement, he played accompaniment, melody and harmony sometimes all at the same time, together with base riffs & runs.
He was such a brilliant player that he made it look easy - just like Ronnie O'Sullivan does for snooker.
I was so taken with his style that I spent weeks trying to copy it, especially a song called The Seeds of Love, which was the first song Cecil Sharp ever collected and the singer was his gardener John England.
Eventually I did get it, and one day we arrived early at Bunjies, and I sat there playing the song in the Simmonds style when he walked in.
I don't think anyone had ever copied him before, but as most players know it is a compliment, and usually a passing phase towards developing our own style.
Ron didn't see it like that.
For the next 2 months he covered his left hand with a duster while he was playing!
Bunjies was a cellar club, and you went downstairs to it from the street, but just before you went into the club (there was no door, just vaulted arches, you stood at the counter for the restaurant area.
The club & restaurant were owned & run by Louis, an Italian with a flare for the dramatic, a short lived but very expressive temper, and a passion for the temp girls there on a 'working holiday'.
He used to soak the spaghetti in a bucket over night to save on electricity, and on the menu was spaghetti, and spaghetti, and you guessed it, spaghetti. Beside the counter was a huge fan (no airconditioning in London yet!) mounted on the wall in an attempt to keep the cooking area (behind the counter) cool. The trouble was, it didn't keep it cool, and what with the heat, Louis' frustrations (you could hear the shouts and screams from his office upstairs) and the fact that I think Bunjies only just manged to pay its way, Louis would throw a tantrum now and again.
That happened when someone complained about his cooking. Mostly the Italians!
Louis would take the customers plate, and the first thing the diners knew of there being a problem was that they got a free serving of Spaghetti Bolognese.
He'd chuck it at the fan, plate and all.
Then all the diners would start shouting, and the folk club would have to wait until most of them had either let off enough steam, or left the building, then we could go back to playing music.
Last time I visited Bunjies, Louis had gone, so we didn't stay, but as we walked back down Litchfield Street, I happened to suggest that we have a glass of wine at the new wine bar a few doors down. So we went in.
Guess who ran it? Yep. And Louis looked so much more relaxed, casually sitting in the dining area chatting to a friend & smoking a cigar. All the worry & strain seemed to have lifted from his face.
I said something to the fact that everything changes to Audrey, but it got cut short by the girl dropping some crockery in the backroom kitchen and Louis storming out with a black face and colourful Italian swear words.
He capped it by coming back into the wine bar & throwing a gateaux at the wall.
It was a relief really.
Edited by - John T on 15/05/2008 9:49:28 PM
Edited by - John T on 15/05/2008 9:53:56 PM
The string theory proves that everything is connected, though it may just be in a different dimension.
I wondered where I was going wrong!
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