Mitch Dal­ton’s ses­sion shenani­gans

The studio gui­tarist’s guide to hap­pi­ness and per­sonal ful­fil­ment. R is For Rich, Rus­sia & Rat Pack.

Guitar Techniques - - INTRO - For more info on Mitch go to: www.mitch­dal­ton.co.uk

Un­less you’ve been liv­ing un­der a pile of plec­trums for the last cou­ple of decades, it can­not have es­caped your no­tice that the terms ‘oli­garch’, ‘bil­lion­aire’ and ‘ob­scenely wealthy per­son with lit­tle or no taste and the abil­ity to in­dulge it’ have be­come a fea­ture of our me­dia lex­i­con of late.

And if you’re a mu­si­cian (or an event man­age­ment com­pany, in­ter­na­tional sing­ing su­per­star or ac­ro­bat) the news just keeps get­ting bet­ter. You’re work­ing! Th­ese chaps have birthdays, an­niver­saries and wed­dings just like us. How­ever, un­like Dave Cameron’s “hard work­ing fam­i­lies”, they’re only too happy to spread the word (and a minute pro­por­tion of their wonga) by mount­ing a se­ries of ever more os­ten­ta­tious bashes in what ap­pears to be a sur­real cater­ing arms race. But be ye not afraid. It’s not the road to ar­maged­don. Arm-and-a-leg-aged­don, more like. With ex­tra serv­ings of he­li­copters, yachts and olives.

Only last month I was flown to Moscow with one of the UK’s finest orches­tras. ‘Twas the 50th birth­day of a cheeky chap­pie from Chech­nya who had de­cided to hire the Olympic sta­dium to mark the oc­ca­sion. For the week. For two hundred guests. For the sheer hell of it. The usual avalanche of en­ter­tain­ment en­sued – dancers, gym­nasts and An­drea Bo­celli fea­tur­ing promi­nently.We played Let Me En­ter­tain You for three min­utes. And flew home.

Then there was Schloss Hei­del­berg – the place, not the man. A step down, I ad­mit. This par­tic­u­lar ‘high net worth’ in­di­vid­ual could only run to hir­ing Ger­many’s most fa­mous cas­tle for his birth­day weekend. And he wanted value for money. No less than a full 45-minute feast of Si­na­tra, Martin and Davis Jr im­per­son­ations ac­com­pa­nied by the finest big-band mu­si­cians that Eu­ros can buy. Or rent. Here are my im­pres­sions from the world of con­spic­u­ous con­sump­tion. The names have been redacted to pro­tect the guilty.

Fri­day. Frank­furt air­port. We ar­rive and I am im­me­di­ately re­minded of a Char­lie Watts in­ter­view in which he was asked to sum­mGarUiIsTeARhiTsEcCaHrNeIeQrUwESithMTAGhAeZINE Rolling Stones.“One year of play­ing – and 29 years of hang­ing around”. Trans­fer by Mercedes MPV to Ho­tel Ad­e­quate. Din­ner at far-too-late o’clock cour­tesy of our hosts at a lo­cal tra­di­tional restau­rant: ie. Pork n Pil­sner.

Saturday. We are herded to the cas­tle at 8.30am af­ter a per­fectly pink pigfest. We then march to the cas­tle walls, don ga­loshes in order to pro­tect the pris­tine venue from the rav­ages of global storm­ing, spin out the sound­check un­til 11am, hang about some more, schlep to an­other part of the vast ed­i­fice where we are shown our dress­ing room, and traipse across the court­yard to yet an­other me­dieval ex­ten­sion where we are of­fered lunch – potage du pork (or

veg­e­tar­ian al­ter­na­tive) fol­lowed by – frank­furters. No bun, roll, fries or ac­cou­trements of any kind. Just frank­furters. Un­less you count some weird ra­dioac­tive yel­low gunk that looks like a sci-fi cross be­tween mus­tard and gravy, prob­a­bly from Planet Pig­gon.

I de­cline and walk back to the coach and thence to the ho­tel at 1.30pm. I change gui­tar strings and re­turn to bed. I set the alarm for 5pm and wake early, grumpy and hun­gry. Sadly, Snow Blonde is nowhere in ev­i­dence, although she is due to jump out of her Mar­i­lyn Meringue at the con­clu­sion of our set while we at­tend to our rous­ing ren­di­tion of Di­a­monds Are A Girl’s Best Friend. There is no be­gin­ning to an event or­gan­iser’s orig­i­nal­ity! Still, one mustn’t grum­ble. This two-minute ad­den­dum to our 45-minute work­load is about to cost them an­other 50 eu­ros per man. All that re­mains is for me to don my din­ner jacket, coach it back to the venue, pig out (lit­er­ally), do our thing to ap­par­ent ap­proval, and get the hell out.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got time for Jezza Cor­byn and so­cial equal­ity. But let’s be frank. We need to look af­ter th­ese peo­ple. Give ‘em what they need. Tax breaks. Anony­mous off-shore ac­counts. En­tire util­ity in­dus­tries. And the age old as­pi­ra­tions of Lib­erté, Egal­ité and Bey­oncé will just have to wait a while longer.

I mean, af­ter all. A gig’s a gig. And a pig’s a pig, for that mat­ter.

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