Ollie: This year, I'll admit, being away from home so much, there have been times when I feel as though I've entered into a state of suspended animation. When life moves around me and the knowledge of everything going on at home seems like a distant remnant of another self that I get to revisit every now and then. This is, of course, not necessarily a bad thing. Playing in a band that I'm immensely proud of and being given the opportunity in the last three weeks to run on the Ancient Greek site of the first Olympic stadium, dodge bicycles in Amsterdam then wander the white, cobbled streets of Mykonos is a wonderful thing. But there are times when it's all a bit surreal. This month however, was different. My worlds came crashing together in the most wonderful and kaleidoscopic way. The Bluejays wrote and performed our very first theatre show, I proposed to my beautiful partner (girlfriend no more) and I lost more sleep than two years will allow me to catch up on.
Norway, although the most expensive place I've ever visited, is also the most beautiful. I had known this trip was coming up as a Bluejays destination since early in the year and accordingly planned the marriage proposal. It would entail hiding the ring in all sorts of eclectic places but the effort would be well worth it. I counted about eight spots in total; including an empty whisky box, inside, yes inside my acoustic guitar, inside my Bluejays guitar case, inside my amplifier and then tucked away in an array of undergarments. Perry's got a keen nose for sniffing these things out. The jewellery that is, not the undergarments.
Optional sentimental segment skip point...*
I had this image in my head of a Norwegian fjord that I couldn't shake. A kayak trip or maybe a little cabin in the mountains would be the ideal location to ask the big question. Then 'Trolltunga' stepped forward. 'Trolltunga' is a large wedge of rock, sticking out the side of a mountain, about 700 metres above the ground. It's still relatively unknown and doesn't attract a huge number of tourists as the only way to reach it is on a twelve hour hike, round trip. Not just any hike though. Most of the climb is vertical. We encountered a snow storm, total white out, baking sunshine, hard rain and all tackled in what would soon become sodden, freezing cold walking boots. It ain't for the faint-hearted! On rereading, this doesn't sound so romantic does it? There's a euphoric release though when you hit the top of the mountain, you have trudged up the last peak and Trolltunga, or 'the troll's tongue', suddenly opens out before you. You can see the waterfalls cascading down the other sides of the mountain, the lake is shining hundreds of metres below and the sky comes to swallow you up. We were incredibly lucky that of the ten people booked on our overnight camp up the mountain, eight dropped out. We had a private guide who disappeared off to set up camp and I saw the chance to get down on one knee. Heart pounding through my rib cage, on a jut of rock, in the most beautiful place I could ever have imagined... well... Perry's first reaction was to laugh uncontrollably and drop to the floor (she wasn't that near to the edge). She did say yes, eventually, and then proceeded to smile for the next... well, I think she still is. I think that might have been the best day of my life.
* Hopefully you have jumped on down here if you're not much one for mushy sentiment or tales of romance in the Norwegian fjords. Speaking of best days of my life though, the excitement of Norway was sandwiched with the anticipation, the graft, the tension, the brainstorming and brain busting , the problem solving, the downright terror, fear and ultimately the wonderful, glorious, soul saving relief of successfully delivering The Bluejays' first ever theatre performance of Rock and Roll Revolution. As far as vintage, 1950's 'rock and roll' acts go, The Bluejays like to think we're doing a pretty decent job. We know a lot of great songs and we play them as best we can, with as much authenticity and respect for the originals as we can muster. When it comes to performing in theatre shows, collectively and individually, we've got a wealth of experience. When it comes to writing theatre shows... ahh... turns out that was something new entirely.
We got creative utilising our respective skills for all they're worth; Chris being a whizz with Final Cut Pro, all things digitally related and idea-editor extraordinaire, Dan with his logistical expertise, tech spec spreadsheets, strong creative vision and a canny ability to make everything happen, Greg with his on stage energy and comedy timing and me doing some silly voices in a wardrobe and working out how to not bore people with facts (I do like a fact). We were truly overwhelmed with the positive reception we got for the show at the Hammond theatre, Hampton on Sunday the 4th. The sight of all four of us running around the dressing room before the show like caged monkeys on steroids, babbling out a mish-mash of half remembered lines, will stay with me for a long time. "What was that Chris? Something about Buddy... In seventeen-thirty what...?!" The reason being that we had all run ourselves into the ground with the logistics of running and technically rehearsing the show. Some of us left learning lines a little late in the day... absolutely no fingers being pointed.
My favourite memory from 'the writing sessions', as they shall be hereafter known, was recording Chris and I making clucking chicken noises whilst Dan bellowed, in his deepest South American drawl, the immortal line "Happy Pappy's Deep Fried Chicken..." into a microphone set up inside a cupboard. There can be no confines in the pursuit of greatness. If you haven't seen the show yet, I won't spoil it.
The girls involved with the production are such a huge part of the show and if you are reading this ladies, that's Amelia Rendell, Emma-Jane Morton and Louisa Beadel please know how much we appreciate how fantastic you are. We had so many people tell us about how much of a positive impact you made.
I suppose another shout out should go to my parents, who at the last minute came through for me, as they always do, by providing a telephone prop for Greg's great rendition of Chantilly Lace. What started life as a white stick-on bath handle ended up spray-painted black and attached to a cord to become The Big Bopper's telephone for "Hello Baby...".
The amount of people that said it was a wonderful prop is testament to my folks ingenuity and general 'outside the box' thinking. Thanks. Greg is hoping the paint will wash off his ear very soon.
If you saw the show at the Hammond Theatre, thank you so much for coming and being a part of that night - you were an amazing crowd. If not, don't worry, we've got loads more coming up in the diary. We'll be playing the O2 Academy in Islington, London (but that's hush hush right now), we've got the Isle of Man Classic TT coming soon, an afternoon gig at the Watermill Theatre in November (tickets almost sold out!) and, of course, we'll be opening The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch's 2018 season with Rock and Roll Revolution. You can book tickets here. We've got loads of weddings, corporate functions, vintage events and all the usual gigs too so, as always, check out the dates section of our site for the latest dates and we can't wait to see you around the country for some more great music.
We're now sitting in a cafe in Bruges planning how we sell the show to theatres across the UK and Europe. We're making it up as we go along but it's an interesting and exciting learning experience. See you soon!