It’s May ball time again! For the last few years the quartet have been fortunate enough to play at a number of different college events, and this year we visited some new venues as we were booked to play at three May balls during May week.
We started the week playing at Newnham college. We didn’t know much about exactly where we would be playing before the event, so when we arrived we asked where we’d be. We were somewhat surprised to be told that we were to be on the main stage! We’re game for anything, but it did seem a bit odd to put an unamplified sax quartet in the middle of the main stage of a ball. A few minutes later someome came to find us to say that there had been a mis-communication and we were in fact in one of the side rooms, which sounded a bit more likely.
In the end we didn’t make it into the room – it was so crowded that they decided we wouldn’t get in, so we retired to a courtyard just outside. The set went well and we had a group of dedicated followers who stayed right the way through. A good start to the week.
The next night of playing was a double header at Sidney Sussex and Trinity Hall. We were to play at the opening of the Sidney Sussex ball. We had a nice quiet spot in one of the gardens, but were rudely interrupted just as we were about to start by a very loud samba band playing to the queue on the other side of the wall. We pushed on and were somewhat surprised when the other band stopped after about 5 minutes and we didn’t hear them again. We found the garden a really nice venue to play in and enjoyed the set. We later found out that the reason the other band ended so quickly was because they’d attracted a lot of complaints from the local residents who didn’t appreciate loud music as they were trying to put kids to sleep!
Between balls we went for our traditional noodles in Yippee! from where we had a good view of the queue of people still going in to the ball. We then wandered over to Trinity Hall to do our final set of the night. Their ball was themed around Mari Gras, which explained a lot of the wild and wacky costumes we’d seen going past earlier in the evening! We had a nice comfy green room to set up in where we met a bad from Great Yarmouth who’d turned up at 6pm only to find that they weren’t due to play until 2am! They seemed to be taking it well and were dozing the time away until they got on stage.
When we made it onto stage we were in a slightly odd position – we were on a tight stage facing out over a very dark auditorium. The unusual thing was that directly behind, and at the same height as us was a bar full of people, so we had at least as many people immediately behind us as in front. We did more of our darker jazzier material since we were now late into the evening and the crowd seemed to enjoy the set.
What we really didn’t need to finish the evening was to go back to find that someone else had blocked our van in, so at 1am we were hunting around the original ball to try to find someone to move their van. We ended up having a nice chat with a few of the traders at the ball who were also stuck, but we only found the right driver when not only us but an ambulance got stuck, which suddenly made everyone a lot more motivated to sort things out. At least we had Maria’s nice camper van to wait in. We really need to get her a kettle – we’d have killed for a cup of tea!
We finished the week by taking another trip to the Bourn Proms. We’ve played at this event for the last few years and were delighted to be invited again. It’s a variety evening organised by Bourn school and is a mix of music from both the school children and other local groups. As we weren’t having to dash off to another gig this year we were able to stay around for more of the other groups and we heard some excellent acts – they really do manage to assemble a great selection of groups. This year Maria finally got her way and we finished our set with a full rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody – complete with audience support with the singing. The evening finished off with a last night of the proms tribute and we were singing along and waving our flags at the back. It was a really nice way to end a busy week, and the event raised over £1000 which goes towards funding musical activities in the school.