Looking at the tiny Mitre pub, down a residential road in Richmond, you would never imagine it to be a raucous music venue. Indeed most nights it isn’t, functioning discreetly for locals to enjoy the odd pint. But a few weekends ago, my well rehearsed band joined the list of other musicians to support Mad Sea Dog in a night of musical fun.
Turning up fashionably early (!) with guitars and amps in our hands, we were shown inside and told of the running order: four acts performing before Mad Sea Dog, each allocated enough time to power through five or six songs; we were up second. Oh, and to thank us for our efforts we were kindly allowed four free drinks, which my thirsty family members gladly used for me.
The event felt comfortably low key - the pub is small enough to not require any amplification so, much to my relief, I got to sing sans mic. Previously named the Lemon Golf Clubs, we felt this was an inadequate moniker for a second time and so discussion led to the temporary ‘Hell in a Hat Box’, which has little relevance but sounds quite slick, we thought so anyway. Actually I thought it sounded better suited to a heavy metal band but I had the minority vote so agreed nonetheless.
The venue worked wonders for our image: the men dressed in crisp black shirts and me in a full length, brightly patterned vintage dress - we looked strangely smart against the shabby wood-brown pub decor. After a very impressive performance from the singer-songwriter girl before us, we took the makeshift stage in the corner of the room. The pub was now full of eager punters, chatting and having a good time; it was a lovely atmosphere. We introduced the enthusiastic audience to our set of standards: Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby?, Nobody’s Fault But Mine (dedicated to Amy Winehouse, who passed away that day), Meet Me Where They Play The Blues, Someone To Watch Over Me (for Lucian Freud, the other tragic death of the week) and finally Ain’t Misbehavin’ – our signature number. The set went well, and the audience seemed to enjoy our performance, I only wish we’d been up there longer; it went by so fast.
The rest of the night was spent enjoying the other acts and tucking in to those complimentary drinks. After a rather aggressive protest singer (eventually) finished, Mad Sea Dog performed their set. A fantastically layered sound resonated from this chirpy band thanks to the clever multi-instrumentalists: acoustic and electric guitars, violin, ukulele, accordion. Just goes to show - never write off your local, you don’t know what you might be missing.