Back when I was about to release my debut EP, we were thinking of ways to launch it. Since I’m a nobody right now, it can be really difficult trying to sell tickets to my shows (whilst I cry inside). I knew that we could hire a room somewhere and showcase the EP, but nobody would turn up. So I thought, why not bring the music to the people and force them to listen to my music with no escape. And that’s when we came up with…’Band On A Bus!’
In September 2016, the band and I hired an open-top, vintage, route master bus and plastered my massive face on the side of it. We met the big red beauty in Brick Lane and loaded all of our gear onto the bus. This was a very stressful day for many reasons. Our first problem of the day was the fact that we thought the company were gonna take a few seats out of the top deck so that we could set up our instruments. Of course all the seats were still bolted to the floor so we had to somehow set up a keyboard, a double bass, a mic for vocal and brass, 2 giant speakers and PA equipment in the aisle…oh yeah and a drum kit. Also when we plugged all our equipment we had to make sure the engine was running otherwise we would have blown up the bus!…at least that’s what I was told as the power supply up to that point was pretty much un-tested. After a long set up and having to climb over seats to maneuver (I was wearing a mini dress) we were finally ready to go.
Time for the second problem of the day. None of us took into consideration the fact that we were on the top of a moving vehicle so balance was gonna be an issue. Drums were rolling, the keyboard was wobbling, the speakers nearly went overboard. We had Dave Swift on double bass that day too, fresh from touring with The Jools Holland R&B Orchestra, who stood in the aisle with his girlfriend holding onto his legs making sure HE didn’t fall overboard. If anybody reading this knows Dave, then you will know he’s a tree of a man.
So you have to imagine us and a very tall Dave playing on the top deck of this open-top bus (that was travelling way too fast FYI) and the fear that would run through our bodies, mainly Dave’s, when we’d see low-hanging tree branches coming in our direction very quickly. When the day was done we got very used to ducking.
After a little while we managed to find our balance. The day was going brilliantly. London was loving it, stangers were dancing in the streets, the police (another fear and potential problem of the day) LOVED us. My mate was throwing leaflets out the windows, nearly taking people out. I had 4 of my dancer friends with me who would jump out and perform a dance routine whenever we stopped off to get the crowd going.
This brings me to the next problem…stopping. The point of the day was to promote my EP, SO we decided to pull up outside the ITV Studios. If any of you have been to the ITV Studios, then you will know that it’s on a road that NO bus should be going down, especially stopping. But we did it for the love of music! With nowhere to pull over and park the bus just stopped in the middle of the road. The girls jumped out to dance, the band started and of course we began to create a rather large traffic jam, which caused a bit of a stir. Angry car and lorry drivers were beeping and shouting, security came out, so I did the courteous thing and just carried on singing and smiling and waving. The girls continued to dance, and eventually the security gave up – they didn’t wanna get in the way of the high kicks and leaps. After a while the drivers stopped complaining and just watched (they were tapping theirs toes secretly). Once we finished the song everybody jumped back on the bus and we went on our merry way.
After we caused a bit of a scene at ITV, we went onto the BBC. We pulled up outside Wogan House, home of BBC radio, and did the same thing. Everybody came out to see what was going on. I looked up and saw everybody with their office windows open, cheering. This was the reaction we were looking for! As a jazz band, this was a pretty ‘Rock N Roll’ thing we were doing and I must say, I felt like the dog’s bollocks up on that bus.
We made a few more stops like this throughout the day around London and got the same reaction. “Dancing In The Street” outside The London Live TV offices in Kensington High Street. We heard later that The Sex Pistols did a similar stunt back in 1974 and brought SOHO to a standstill pissing everyone off. In contrast, and whilst we did cause a few traffic issues, the nicest part was the fact that by doing what we love doing, we were able to bring a smile o so many different faces.
After 6 hours of singing and playing, my brass boys’ lip’s were blue and my voice had well and truly had enough. So we celebrated in the pub, as you do! It was an absolutely incredible and memorable day and I wouldn’t have changed any of it. Performing to a few hundred thousand people that we passed by throughout the day it was by far the biggest and best gig I’ve done. And being able to make a stranger’s day a little bit better was the best part. Thank you Expeditional! I will conclude this post with our biggest fear of the whole day which thankfully didn’t come true, ‘What if it rains?’ You see. Even the gods were smiling down on us that day 🙂
Click here if you wanna see my ‘Band On A Bus’ in action!
OR if you would like to listen to the EP that we spent the day promoting, then click here.
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