Dennis Derby is also a keen writer of journals and poetry. Below are some pieces he would like to share:
Here I had it, hot foot from Derek Sivers who once owned ‘CD Baby’, the international distributor of recorded music throughout the entire world. It was a personal invitation to me and a selection of other musicians who had their recorded music under this auspicious roof.
We were to gather at the famous Troubadour Club in Earl’s Court for a get-together, free of any charge except to visit there hungry for food and drink, which would ensure the special downstairs bar would be open to we few special ones who love to perform our music.
With it’s stage which once held an original American star at one of his first British gigs in the late sixties, this was a unique place. That star was the amazing Jimi Hendrix and this was reason enough for me to get my backside down to the ‘Smoke’ even though I was not too good health-wise, my body protesting at the very thought of this craziness.
I answered the invite on my computer screen; logging on and entering my street name, ‘dennis derby,’ and clicking the box that would render it almost impossible for me not to travel all that way, regardless of the trials and troubles that might entail. This was ‘mission impossible’ but somehow I was pleased to be doing it, having been a singer/songwriter for most of my life.
I tried to get the early London bus but missed it and instead took another bus to the train station, where I parted with rather too much money for the ticket. The journey was quick and uneventful apart from a few drunks buying their beer from the online cafe and getting rather exuberant. On reaching St Pancras Station, I followed the other passengers buying a tour ticket for the underground that day, which would take me most places.
Somehow, I boarded a crowded compartment full of individuals all with different directions and intentions almost blind to one another’s presence as we rotated this way and that while the rocking box on wheels dashed beneath London’s busy surface. When would this end? The destinations streaked past and I was delighted to see Earl’s Court finally appear outside the window as I gently pushed my way from this madness down through the sliding doors of the tube train onto the hard, narrow platform with it’s yellow band near the rail edge. This looked a frightening place and I wanted to be away from it now. Again, I followed the others as they dashed urgently through the exits and out of this tangled place full of smelly, jostling people.
Getting into the sunshine on the pavements, I took a breath of fresh air. Peace!
The venue could not be far away and I asked directions that did not register too well and I found myself having to retrace my footsteps in the opposite direction until I saw ‘Troubadour’ in unpainted wood above what seemed to be a cafe front. After entering this strange place, I asked the tender where Derek’s group were and he pointed downstairs where I quickly went trying to look as casual as possible.
There were small gatherings of people here and there as I reached the bar and ordered an apple juice looking this way and that for a space to be part of this event. Sitting at a nearby table, I introduced myself to others around it and we exchanged handouts and cards, which proclaimed our talents and hopes for the future. Mine were not that intent because my cynicism tells me these things rarely happen by accident, being made to occur through back-hander’s and the like.
However, it is all good for a laugh and I was in London for an experience of busking here and there and merely having a pleasant time. The main reason was to be able to state on my next CD that I’d been to the Troubadour and also met the famous Derek Sivers who would not be back in London for a year or two and probably not within my lifetime, who knows?
There were all sorts of nationalities and races, an enjoyable mix with various talents; violin players, a harpist from cruise ships, guitar vocalists group players etc. etc. all with tales to tell and handouts to give anyone who would take them, which was about everybody! Later, I said ‘bye to Derek as he sat in the garden sun down in that tiny space further below. I waved and made my way out of the milling throng towards the nearby underground station as I looked for a place to busk.
Earl’s Court Station soon appeared and crossing the road I pitched up outside the bank, which was closed fortunately. This gave me an opportunity of grabbing a place on the street that was fairly narrow and on a crossing. It was almost ideal and would have to do, I said to myself as I took the acoustic guitar from it’s bag and dropped it onto the pavement followed by a few coins to get things going. After a quick tune-up I struck a chord and began singing ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’ which usually goes down well and it did!
An hour later, I moved on through the busy underground and having been passed by what looked like part of the cast of the ‘Cats Musical’ with their blackened nose ends, I realised night was approaching. These slight looking, attractive young ladies, scantily clad, hurriedly moved on and eventually Leicester Square exit came into view. Outside, having looked around the Square, finally I did another busking pitch on the narrow pavements as the busy ants pushed by. All had different things to do and the odd actor hurried past still in the greasepaint that holds the delusion of life as it might be. With blue around the eyes that from a distance might be spellbinding but up close is really ridiculous.
However, that’s how real living is, damn it! About forty minutes passed and time was running away and the realisation of my homeward journey trickled me back.
Time to go. Time to go home. ‘Up North’ as we say.
Finding King’s Cross, I managed to reach Paddington rail station, missing my 9.30pm train by two minutes. This left me the next train that departed around ten twenty five p.m. and having detoured around the Midlands, finally got me back at my home station about two hours fifteen minutes in the early hours of Sunday morning. A short walk to a taxi office followed and the driver dropped me off near my car parked just out of the city. Home was just a mile or so away and that felt good.
It was a day to remember!
Copyright 2012 – Dennis Sleigh
Yes, wear that bright new poppy
But don’t support the wars
Do all our troops agree
With what they’re fighting for?
With vehicles that won’t stand
The blasts of bombs and mines
And money more important than
The man too many times
But, They took the Queen’s new shilling
Trained hard for what they do
So, they are always willing
To do their job for you
And all the many others
That watch them on the news
And sometimes their dear brothers
Are saluted from our pews
Yes, always buy a poppy
But don’t support the wars
Support our troops instead, you see
Our government closed the doors
Not giving them the money due
Or compensation cash
There’s far too many, not a few
Of lives changed in a flash
So buy that poppy, if you will
And don’t you be afraid
Whether your a Jack or Jill
That debt must be repaid
No, don’t support the wars
But support that serviceman
Who deserves so much more
So, buy a poppy while you can!
Copyright 2012 – Dennis Sleigh