It’s more than 18 months since I ended my involvement with Sherwood Chapter of the Harley Owners Group and posted an explanation here on this blog. At the time, I was quite clear that this was final.
However, life is never quite so cut and dried, so this weekend, we loaded up the disco gear and went to play for the Chapter Director, Pete and Partner Sam’s long-running weekend in the Vale of Belvoir (in which “Belvoir is pronounced “Beaver”). With HOG being either the Harley Owners Group, or a nickname for the bikes themselves, we arrive at Hoggin’ The Beaver.
I have to admit that when I was asked to do the disco for the Saturday night, I was a little apprehensive about how I would be recieved. I really should not have worried.
There have been a number of changes in the time that I’ve been away from the politics of the organisation. In particular, the people who were behind my departure have themselves moved on, leaving behind a far better atmosphere.
It felt really good to be greeted so warmly by so many people that we used to ride with and meet at the monthly chapter meetings. I really did feel that I was among friends.
Yes, there were some people who, I am sure, consciously blanked us and others who did nothing untoward, but just saw us as “the disco”, but I was very touched by the number of warm handshakes from the blokes and hugs from the women who took the trouble to come over and say “hi”.
So we arrived at the Dirty Duck at Woolsthorpe and started setting up the equipment. Just as we were finishing, the band arrived and we struck up a good working relationship straight away – something that doesn’t always happen between a band and a disco. If I get to work with the Nathan Wall Band again in the future, I will be very happy.
We shared the space on the stage between us and even reached an agreement that the band would use my sound system for their vocals to save them setting up their own speakers in front of mine.
Having done a number of gigs for the chapter that always involve bands, I really must stress how great these guys were. They set up smoothly and efficiently, their soundcheck was quick and to the point and I was able to start the disco bang on time. We had to come up a little jiggery-pokery with cables and plugs to make the change-over from disco to band work, but this was OK
I was delighted that a couple of people were straight on the dance floor, even before the band’s first set. Thanks, Jane and friend.
The band were also happy to give me a set list that was mostly indie rock, but inculded a few sixities classics. This is always an enormous help as I know what not to play and can try to lead in to the band’s sets with tracks that complement, rather than clash with their music.
As soon as they started playing, I realised that they were a cut above the average. I really enjoyed their first set and when I got back onto the stage, they left me a fairly full dance floor to sustain.
After about half an hour of me, it was presentation time and I was gobsmacked when Pete called Sue an I forward to present us with an engraved tankard in recognition of our support for the event. That really put the icing on the cake for me in making feel that I was still part of something that I had walked away from.
There were a number of other presentations, including to the winners of the bike show. Then it was time for one of the highlights of Hoggin’ The Beaver, Yi-Aye Man’s charity auction. Jeff had a new glamorous assistant this year who was an imporvement on her predecessor, although keeping the auction shorter than previous years also helped to make it effective.
The auction must have raised well over 100 pounds and was followed by the raffle with loads of prizes (alough none wo by Sue who had splashed out on a fistful of tickets.
After a quick tune or two from me, it was time for the band’s second set which was as good as their firstand as the evening went on and the alcoholic beverages started to hit the spot, the dance floor was quickly packed.
After they had played for over an hour, and been called to do a couple of extra, unplanned encore songs, I was given free reign. Musical highlights for me were Led Zep;s “Rock and Roll” and Meatloaf’s “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”. The sound in that small function room was really good and I loved the whole vibe.
I didn’t even let one very drunk idiot spoil things; he objected loudly when I started to play a Smiths track, so I dumped it and hit another track instead. Although I am still wondering what Morrissey had done to upset him.
By 1am, it was becoming clear that the weekend had taken its toll as people started wandering off to bed and by about quarter past one, I wound it down with a pile of bodies on the front of stage (Pete, Sam, Beasty and one or two others) and I finished with a most unlikely biker anthem – Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World”.
It was great to be asked to do Hoggin’ The Beaver and now I know that I can look forward to my next outsing for this bunch of reprobates when we spend three nights working at the Sherwood Chapter’s Rally at Thoresby Park in September.
It also looks like we’ll be back at the Hoggin’ The Beaver next year. I can’t wait.