Before I head off to the US for my Autumn solo acoustic tour, here’s a few photographs taken at some of the festivals I got to play this summer with my band The Chancers backing me…
Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, The Railway, Ipswich, UK 26/8/18
I received a text message from my friend Shane. It read: “Do you want to see Dan Baird play at The Railway?” I replied, “Dan Baird?” “Yes,” he said. “Dan Baird from The Georgia Satellites?” “Yes.” “At The Railway?” “Yes.” “I’m in,” I said.
For the uninitiated, The Georgia Satellites were a band of Southern rockers plying their trade in the late 1980s. I saw them at The Town and Country in London (now the O2 Forum). It was one of the best gigs I saw that decade (up there with Springsteen, Bon Jovi, The Who, Ry Cooder, and John Hiatt).
The Railway was a premier rock music venue in my hometown of Ipswich, UK during the nineties and early noughties. I was last there when playing on New Year’s Eve 2003. The landlady was notorious for insisting on kissing whichever band member came to collect the band’s money. This could range from a peck on the cheek to full-on snogging depending on how she felt about the band member in question. No-one ever went willingly. Bands would often draw lots to decide who had to go to the office. I was told that on one occasion, a guitarist with a face that would have looked at home on the cover of a glossy fashion magazine offered to forego his earnings if someone would take his place…
Walking into the venue, it looked like time had been frozen on that New Year’s Eve. It looked like the same crowd as that night, albeit that everyone had put on 30lbs and dyed their hair grey or shaved it off. There was clearly a competition for ‘oldest tour band T-shirt’ going on amongst the men-folk, whilst some of the women were channelling Stevie Nicks circa 1978.
Dan Baird doesn’t seem to have aged a day since that London gig. The music hasn’t changed, either. He is still writing insanely catchy songs to a good old southern groove any of which would have sounded right at home on the debut album from The Georgia Satellites.
At the start of the show I was standing halfway back; the guy in front of me insisted on recording the whole gig on his phone (don’t get me started on this phenomenon!). Several times I moved his upheld arm out of my field of vision but after it drifted back a fourth time, I decided to make my way to the front. I’m glad I did – because a gig such as this is best received by being in the thick of it.
A band like this needs a cracking lead guitarist, which is what they have in the former Jason and The Scorchers member, Warner E Hodges. His rhythm playing entwined with the riffs coming from Baird in a manner that would have pleased Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood (plus it was my favourite mix of guitars – A Gibson Les Paul and a Fender Telecaster). And his soloing was sublime – never a note wasted. And yet there was no ego there; Hodges told the crowd that last week in Nashville he had seen Jeff Beck performing – and said it was enough to make him give up playing the guitar.
The rhythm section were no slouches, either. A seasoned drummer, and a bass player who wasn’t born when the Satellites were in the charts, effortlessly set up grooves for Baird and Hodges to sit their riffs on.
Baird is a charismatic frontman who is totally at ease with himself. When he wasn’t happy with the way one of the songs had been started, he just stopped the band, made a joke and started the song again. That takes a lot of confidence to do well.
It was so nice to see a band having fun on stage and they made it look so easy. If you like your rock with a southern feel, you should go see them if they’re playing near you. You won’t be disappointed.