SES­SION SHENANI­GANS

You may re­call our hero had been booked to play a solo piece and also ac­com­pany the lead­ing ladies in a ‘folk’ episode of Mid­somer Mur­ders. Here, the ten­sion mounts, cer­tain mys­ter­ies are solved, and Mitch gets a free lunch…

Guitar Techniques - - Intro - Mitch’s cred­its in­clude Her­bie Han­cock and Melody Gar­dot, Rob­bie Wil­liams, Monty Python and Van Mor­ri­son; James Bond movies, TV shows and com­mer­cials. Meet Mitch Dal­ton & The Stu­dio Kings is out on Regius Records.

Scene 2. May 31st. Wood­stock Record­ing Stu­dios, Shep­herd’s Bush. 10.30am

I’m booked for four hours. I ar­rive and am greeted by a wel­com­ing com­mit­tee com­pris­ing Jim (pro­ducer), Renny (direc­tor), the stu­dio engi­neer, a TV pro­duc­tion co-or­di­na­tor, a pho­tog­ra­pher and a ‘be­hind the scenes’ cam­era man. I’m of­fered a cof­fee. It never ar­rives. Re­laxed and con­fi­dent, I pre­pare to record – some­thing.

Ah! It’s go­ing to be The Mid­somer Bal­lad (writ­ten by folk leg­end Seth Lake­man). And there is Seth. Joy of joys! As far as I’m con­cerned, he is In­ter­na­tional Res­cue made flesh. He plays me the song. On a bouzouki. The ‘strange sound­ing guitar’ demo mys­tery is solved (re­mem­ber I couldn’t work out how he’d played it?). He tells me he tunes his guitar to DAD GAD with a capo at the 10th fret to repli­cate the sound. Ob­vi­ous! I learn the tune and the tun­ing. Very fast. Lu­cie ar­rives (ac­tress Lu­cie will be mim­ing to my guitar play­ing). We record the song to click, hav­ing rou­tined the ar­range­ment for about 10 min­utes. A cou­ple of changes, then a clean take with me lis­ten­ing on cans to Lu­cie’s pre-recorded voice and the click. Done!

“Great! See you on lo­ca­tion. We’ll record Rakie’s songs and your rag on stage on Tues­day (Rakie is the other ac­tress for whom I’ll be pro­vid­ing back­ing; the ‘rag’ is the tune I ‘com­posed’ on the spot last time). You’ll be re­quired on Fri­day, too, when we shoot Lu­cie’s scene. We’ll need you to act as a con­sul­tant to en­sure that she mimes to your play­ing in a suit­ably au­then­tic fashion.”

At 12.30, I’m back in the car. It’s taken two hours and I don’t have a park­ing ticket. Re­sult! Two min­utes later, I can re­mem­ber noth­ing of what has just oc­curred. Or what needs to hap­pen next…

Scene 3. June 3rd. Ex­te­rior: Sy­den­ham, Oxon. 10.00am

I ar­rive at a pic­turesque vil­lage that has been trans­formed into ‘Lower Crosby’, the fic­ti­tious set­ting for the ‘10th An­nual Folk Fes­ti­val’, com­plete with bunting, posters, a pri­vate house con­verted into a pub, a crowd of ex­tras and a tiny stage on the vil­lage green. It’s cold. I rapidly lose all feel­ing in my hands. We go straight into it. Jim, Rakie and I run through her song in about a minute and a half. Rakie (look­ing like a mil­lion dol­lars) sings and I (look­ing like the ul­ti­mate Shabby Failed Folkie) play her guitar part. Then she lip-syncs to a play­back of her vo­cal while she mimes to my/her part on her cheap prop-style guitar. Con­sid­er­ing she can’t play, it looks pretty good. Renny doesn’t hang about. Mime is money.

At this point I lose the abil­ity to com­pre­hend sim­ple in­struc­tions, let alone ex­e­cute them. I can no longer sep­a­rate fact from fic­tion, and the day takes on a dream-like qual­ity. I lurch through the sec­ond tune, en­act some busi­ness rel­e­vant to the plot and some­how re-in­vent Mitch’s Mid­somer Rag to the re­quired minute-and-a-half length. We film it. A lot. The au­di­ence love it. Ev­ery time. Why wouldn’t they? They’ve been paid to be there. “That’s a wrap!” booms out from some­where near fake Lower Crosby Vil­lage Hall.

No such thing as a free lunch

A black BMW limo ap­pears and trans­ports me to lunch. Lo­ca­tion cater­ing. Very ac­cept­able. I like this and the fact that I’ve fin­ished for the day. Ex­cept that I haven’t. “You’re in shot dur­ing the next scene”, ex­plains Renny. “Barn­aby in­ter­views Rakie and you can be seen play­ing your rag.”

And so the merry day wears on, punc­tu­ated by cries of “Cut!” as a suc­ces­sion of trac­tors, RA F jets and geese ruin 50 per cent of the scenes. The countryside is louder than Jeff Beck. Trust me.

Next time: the fi­nal scene. But things don’t start well as I ar­rive at… the wrong vil­lage.

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