Nights with friends old and new

Derek Allan with Martin Stephenson, who performed at Newbiggin Maritime Centre.
Derek Allan with Martin Stephenson, who performed at Newbiggin Maritime Centre.

Northumberland musician Derek Allan, of We Steal Flyers, continues his weekly diary.

April 15

It was back to Chester-le-Street Butchers Arms today, but for a gig this time as We Steal Flyers. We packed it out. It’s such a great feeling at any level to fill a venue when everyone wants to hear you.

Shaggy had a broken soundcard on his computer, which is an important piece of equipment as he uses it for his recording studio. He had to spend a few hundred pounds getting it fixed so he can record again.

I have the flu-like illness everyone has. Hopefully, it will not last much longer, it’s been a week so far, but my singer was broken today. I’ve just got to keep going and between the two of us mostly someone can sing more at the gig and help the other. Also, we can continue with the new album.

April 16

I spent the day with Ellie trying to make sound come from my voice, it was half-way there.

The Rothbury gig is always a brilliant one. The Queens Head was where we played our first gig together and we have been friends ever since. Melanie was running an all-dayer and Sam Gibson was running one for us in Hartlepool.

Ellie was so excited to go we had to wait at the door playing catch, waiting for Shaggy to come and pick up us, the gear and the car. We had some laughs, then set off early.

The car is broken again. We did not make it to the gig. It’s sad times when this happens as so many people, from so many places, come to see us, the venue suffers, and we are poorer too. But it will be ok.

When we wake up we will live the day, and on Tuesday Melanie will fix it and we will get more gigs.

April 24

I look forward to running club in Blyth with Rebecca, just to see her enjoying it so much. There are more competitions for her now, and along with Ellie in cricket, they will have a busy year, which means Melanie and I will have a busier year.

My guitar was dropped off to be repaired, £40 for new frets. It does cost a lot of money to keep everything working, but as long as I am working, things will be ok.

My ankle is pretty bad from stepping off a stage onto a half-step so all my weight went onto half a foot. The 10-day cold is almost over, but the voices for Shaggy and I are struggling. It is not easy singing all year.

April 25

I love the friends I make in life, especially in music. Hungrytown were a couple in America, tired of everyday work and the cold winters where they lived so they went on the road as musicians and tour eight months around the world. They still gig when at home, but keeping on the road is now their full-time job.

They stayed and played at our house. A few friends and music lovers came along and a good night was shared.

April 26

Shaggy is in Spain for a few days with Maria. He asked me 13 months ago to book Martin Stephenson and whilst sitting in my hotel room in Switzerland I did, so tomorrow is his gig.

April 27

The usual house things, promotion work and bookings were done, then a relaxing night at Newbiggin Maritime Centre.

With 50 tickets sold, it was always going to be easy, and 30 more were sold on the night. People travelled from Sheffield, Liverpool, Sunderland, Darlington, Manchester.

Steve Wilkinson is one of our best friends in music, so kind and caring, he played first and well. We Steal Flyers’ set was great fun, and then Martin was up and it was brilliant. The whole night was well worth the 13 month wait and promotion.