Anecdotal sotries of life in the band…
No 1 Presence in the Presents
At a wedding ceilidh in the village hall at Halfway House, Ray had taken to going down onto the dance floor to physically assist the dancers in the walkthrough. His route from the stage was via a flight of stairs sidelong to the front of the stage, next to which was a table with all the gifts to the happy couple. In a momentary loss of concentration, during one descent too many, Ray overbalanced and calamitously disappeared into the table of presents. As Ray told it, “Everybody rushed forward, picked the presents up and left me there!”
No 2 The Silent Scream
The stage access at Wistanstow and Ralph’s short cuts on and off the stage brought to Sue’s mind an occurrence which happened a few years ago at Whitchurch. We had arrived early at the venue in Whitchurch and were setting up in readiness for the evening ceilidh. The stage was quite high and there was a door each side, through which you accessed stairs to either side of the stage.<br />
Returning to the stage from a pre-performance comfort break, Ralph though it would be expedient to get straight back on stage by way of a through vault he’d learnt during schooldays in the gymnasium. Unfortunately, the tip of Ralph’s right boot caught the edge of the stage and took a downward path with his shin dragging against the edge. Nonchalantly, he completed a second go, strolled behind the curtains and gave out with a Silent Scream.<br />
Sue contends that he was showing off to a couple of young girls who had arrived early. Injured leg or injured pride? Or both? Whatever, ever since he’s preferred to do a side vault!
No 3 Not Only Edric is Wild
This one’s a shortie and recent. We had just finished playing for a fairly hectic dance at this ceilidh, when a member from a very energetic ladies only set (regular dancers maybe?) remarked to Terry as she left the floor that, “During the basket swing, someone ripped my bra off!”. She added that, “I wouldn’t have minded if it had been a man”.It seems that not only Edric is wild when our ceilidhs get going!
No 4 Get On Our Land
The Edrics play all manner of venues,including true barn dances. For those it’s best to take extra clothing, suitable footwear and get exacting directions, but then, variety is the spice of life. Recently we played for a wedding in a posh hotel followed the next evening by a church fund raiser in a farm building. Just as well it wasn’t the other way round, because, our equipment got covered in concrete dust. In such circumstances, it’s best to dress casual, if only to stumble around in the dark finding the Loo. Last year we played in a field barn with one side open to the elements. The floor was dried cowmuck on black polythene and when the dancers feet got going it powdered the brown stuff, the finer of which, lifted gently into the air! Everyone was having such a good time I don’t think they noticed, or maybe they were snuff takers!!! Two farm gigs this summer fell nicely into place. An afternoon birthday party at the first and an evening reception at the second in the next village. Both went very well. Kim came up trumps on the second. Many of the guests were French, so, ever resourceful, Kim racked her brains for her schoolgirl French and was able to call the dances in their own language. Not just the farms, but many other venues including hotels, put on a hog roast; so if you think any of the meat-eater Edrics are looking a little ‘porky’, you’ll know the reason why.
No 5 Last Minute Caller.com?
How did Kim become our Dance Caller? Our long time caller with the band, the late Ray Schnellmann, had a prior engagement, so, the teenage daughter of some friends was going to call for us. The girl had grown up within a ceilidh going environment; with both parents being involved in folk music and dancing. Ralph collected Kim, who fairly often played melodeon with us at the time as a stand-in musician, and then they went to pick up the Caller. The girl’s mother met us at the door; her 16 year-old had got ‘cold feet’ about doing it. We were gentle with the girl and talked it through. Kim offered to call and we encouraged the youngster to come with us on the understanding that we wouldn’t expect her to call unless she felt able to. That way, ‘stage fright’ wouldn’t have a lasting effect on her. On the way to the gig Kim started jotting down some dances on the back of another band’s business cards. The evening went very well. By Kim’s stance and delivery no one knew she wasn’t a regular caller. She was a natural. On the way back we joked about Kim being www.Last-minute-caller.com Don’t click on that, it doesn’t take you anywhere, try www.wildedric.co.uk Oh, and by the way, the girl also had a go at calling and she did quite well.
No 6 On Yer Bike
Before its closure, the S.A.H.A. Club, Shrewsbury, had a ballroom and stage where various shows and dances were held for the hospital staff and general public alike. When we played there half the depth of the stage would be curtained off. Behind the curtains we used to find all sorts of props, some of them we used in spontaneous idiocy. One night we found a metal coffin which we brought on unbeknown to Ray, who was explaining the next dance to the bemused dance crowd. Ralph lay down in the coffin with a cardboard skeleton with movable joints on top of him. Sensing that something was going on behind his back, Ray turned and saw the coffin and as he began to say, “What are you lot up to now?” the skeleton started to rise, so did the hilarity of the dancers. After settling down, sanity reigned for a while, but not for long. Ray was talking through another dance when Richard suddenly came hurtling out from the wings on an old bicycle, shot across the stage and disappeared into the wings opposite. Almost immediately, Ralph peddled back across, then “Sir” stopped Rich midst his next go, but, he didn’t say, “On yer bike”.
No 7 Two for the Price of One
When Ray got his radio microphone he was so pleased that he could go out on the dance floor to physically guide some of the erring dancers. One of the nights, while it was still a new toy, Ray was down amongst the terpsichoreans (dancers) helping them with their moves. The dancers nearest the stage were looking from one band member to the next and so on, then back across. Ralph thought, “We’re not wearing anything unusual tonight”, then realised that they could hear Ray’s voice coming from the stage, but, they couldn’t see him! For a bit of fun, Ralph took a microphone cover from his box-of-tricks, put it on his thumb, held it in front off his mouth and pretended to be the caller. To his astonishment, the ‘lost’ dancers started following his gesticulated interpretions a split second after Ray’s vocal instructions. It wasn’t evident to Ray for a while what was going on, because Ralph kept Ray in the corner of his eye and pretended to be doing something else whenever he came under surveillance. Ever after, we had some fun with that, not as a routine or even each time, but, always spontaneous to the mood of the evening.
No 8 Taking the Mic/Mike
Whenever Ray caught any of us out, he feigned exasperation, but really he enjoyed the antics as much as the audience. He was such a good ‘straight’ man, and because he could still keep his instructions clear, in spite of the distractions, we were able to (forgive us) take liberties. At times when Ray was out helping the dancers, Ralph would sneak off to the opposite end of a long set and help them at that end. It was a joke, but, in truth, it did help them because Ralph acted out Ray’s vocal instructions. The dancers couldn’t actually tell who was doing the calling! “Never mind that idiot there, I’m over here”, Ray would cajole, and at the same time lip-synced by Ralph furiously gesticulating on the other side. With both of them trying to draw attention their way, the dancers still didn’t know who was actually speaking. At a later gig when Ray replaced his worn black mic cover with a new bright yellow one, he thought that would settle the confusion. Yes, he thought it would. However, at the following gig when we were well into the set and Ray’s back was turned, Sue presented the rest of us with bright yellow mic covers that she’d made. Ray sensed that something was going on behind his back by the distraction of some of the dancers. Imagine his surprise when he found it wasn’t just Ralph mim-mic-ing him, but, the whole band taking the mic/Mike.
No 9 Blow by Blow
One of the band, forgotten who, maybe Richard, brought a red & white blow-up parrot to one of our gigs, which caused a bit of chortling when placed on Ray’s shoulder. Before we knew it, gig after gig, one or other of the band would bring along a different blow-up until we had a menagerie of air-filled critters around the stage. Amongst the blow up paraphernalia we had was, a monkey which would sometimes be put to ride the giant banana; a red Fender-style guitar for miming air guitar, an uncoiling snake which settled upon Ralph’s head and a pair of mis-matched life-size legs strategetically placed below Sue’s keyboard. There was a big green frog, a green and yellow crocodile, a large non-descript flying insect, the skeleton mentioned in entry No 7 in the Book of Edric and a full size Stag’s head which will ‘star’ in the following entry.
No 10 “Stag-gered”.
We had to allow extra time for blowing them up and as they aged they started to leak air; it happens to people too ! They were fun for quite a while, but, other capers took precedence. They weren’t disgraced, but they certainly let themselves down in public. No 10 Stag-gered Burns Night at Adcote School was always a good one. We’d all endeavour to wear something Scottish as did the students parents. Following a tasty meal of haggis, neeps and tatties the diners were always ready to shake it down with a few jigs and reels. Terry’s contribution to the hall decoration was a full size, air-filled, stag’s head; Lord knows where he got it, but, he had folks wanting to buy it from him. However, Terry found a nail, centre stage at just the right height in the timber panelling, where he prominently hung the stag’s head, like they used to do in the manors of the hunting crowd. It added an air o’ the hielan’s to the festivities. Anyway, on to the content of this related tale. Heading home after an enjoyable night, the equipment was piled high in the back of the car with the stag’s head residing atop so it didn’t get punctured. It took so long to blow up that it was never let down. Talking over the nights events on the way back to Shrewsbury, Ralph missed Terry’s turn so carried on until he could find a suitable place to turn around. We hadn’t retraced very far when we were pulled over by the police. Apparently they had been following us discreetly for about 3 miles. As they enquired where we were going, where we’d been and why, they were casting their eyes over the tumble of gear in the back. Satisfied with our replies they relaxed their demeanour. They’d seen the silhouette of the stag’s head and thought we were rustlers! They didn’t say so, but, they were stag-gered by the outcome of their apprehension. Oh, well, it stops their duties getting in a rut !
Sue, on keyboard, started to play an unrehearsed, but, very classically sounding melody by O’Carolan. Richard recognising the air, joined in on guitar. This sent Terry furtling in his case, where upon he produced and joined in on whistle; Ralph couldn’t, because he didn’t know the tune. The melody meandered up to a climatic note then started again. The melody was repeated and as they were building towards the melodic pinnacle, Ralph, feeling a bit spare, produced a triangle, stepped mock pompously to centre stage and pipped them on the top note. There was hilarity all round. It was a spontaneous one off, but, next time the band wanted to play it, they built up an introduction for Ralph as a triangle “expert”. So now Ralph, on the occasions it happens, has to try angle a different way to amuse the band and the resting dancers, from a very basic performance.