I spoke briefly in a post a while ago about Town of Cats being a community rather than a band. Even typing this a second time my stomach tightens, I suck air through my teeth as if cringe is an amphetamine that has found it's way into my bloodstream and is beginning to circulate through my body. The visual imagery of drum circles, polygamy and one singular dreadlock circles like the small birds around the loony-toons bump on my head. Why 'Musical community' summons these depictions I'm unsure; Too many bouts of crusty festivals as a young adult perhaps. Cringe in this instance is the necessary chunder before the good time commences. Currently, as a band apart, nostalgia provides the endorphins the present doesn't have access to. We are a community. Since the early days ToC has functioned as a meeting point, a get-together. Friends have made friends at our shows, relationships have come and gone, love has happened. People who I know as the best of friends today are only so because a few idiots played shows together and politely begged their acquaintances to come along for the ride. Parties, events and holidays have taken place with an hour of my bad trumpet playing and the thumps and blows of 8 others at their core. The eye of the storm, or the storm of the eye. This is true of any band though isn't it. Your brothers band, your best mates band, your cousins boyfriend's indie electro duo. Live music brings together a whole host of humans who walk in all different directions. There though, at your uncle's dog-walker's mum's neighbour's two-tone folk-garage-ska project, we all face the same way. Isn't that nice. There is another aspect to the ToC community (still struggling to type that out) though: The Cat. What is it to be a cat. We have consistently taken personality over ability in the Town. That's not to say there is a lack of ability, I am to this day mind blown that I've ever ended up being able to share a stage with the talent in the Town. Personality though, the misshapen, nonsensical and ambiguous aura of those who play (and have played) with us has always reigned supreme when deciding who sticks. We have for this reason, players who no longer play that we do not consider to have left. We have players have only played a gig or two that I think of as a cat. We have players who barely play with us at all, that to me, have every right to consider themselves a part of what is Town of Cats. That last one. That's our Harry. We needed a trombone player after our last trombone player could no longer play trombone. Trombone. As with anything that smells of music in Brighton, it's always worth asking Tom Bailey. Perhaps you do not know of this name, Tom Bailey, But you've seen him somewhere. He'll have been playing on that weird stage down that muddy passage at the last festival you went to. He was strumming something funky at that pagan wedding your ex took you to last September. He's in your uncle's dog-walkers's mum's neighbour's two-tone folk-garage-ska project. I asked Tom Bailey where I could find a trombone trombone trombone player. Turns out he has one in his house. Just knocking about. I met up with Harry at a rehearsal studio to go over the tunes. He was tall and northern (still is), with the look of a man that was both ashamed and very pleased with his life so far at the same time. The ol' love-hate paradox. I empathise. He'd done his homework, and played his bits on a cheap plastic trombone. He'd only just picked it up again after some time. I would be being dishonest if I said you wouldn't have noticed. But Harry moved along with the music, he let himself into it, and it into him, even with two of us and a pair of shit speakers in a hot little expensive room. In the hour or so we spent going over the songs, I decided I liked Harry a lot. He'd fit right in in exactly the way that the Cat's don't really fit in anywhere. His energy would be great at both rehearsals and gigs, sold as far as I was concerned. "By the way I run a vintage glamping business and will be busy for most of spring and summer" He says to me as we walk out of the studio. If you're reading this you probably know who we are, what we are, and when our services are normally required. So taking on Harry would mean having somebody there in our quieter times, who wasn't around at our busiest. Could be at all the practices in the winter, as we wrote the songs, but wouldn't be around to play them at the shows that were most important to us. "No problem Harry, I'll let you know when practice is, nice to meet you". We took him on. How many gigs has he played with us over the last three years? Not many. Is Harry a fully fledged member of the band that is Town of Cats? I don't even know. But he has a place here. He contributes when he is around, his contributions are always solid. Harry is STILL a big northern bloke, he is STILL a cheeky little bastard (I nearly wrote about the time he triumphantly slapped me with a lamb bone in my vegan-ass face but thought better of it), he is STILL an honest and caring human (contrary to what I nearly wrote about) and he is STILL a loved member of this Town of Cats community. You'll be able to catch Harry's plump and tart little toots on our incoming album The Elephant's Room (release TBC) Harry, it's been a pleasure having you part-time-parp with us. HERE IS HIS PLAYLIST & WHAT HE HAS TO SAY ABOUT IT! KITTIES IN QUARANTINE: HARRY'S PLAYLIST
"I've been starting most of my days with either Solo Piano I or Solo Piano III by Chilly Gonzales so I had to kick off the playlist in the same ilk. My life in quarantine has been somewhat different to most. I've been busier than ever working on an organic farm and trying to keep my own workshop going so, whilst I have been listening to a lot of music, I haven't had much time to discover new records. I go through periods of discovering new (old) music and then I shift back to listening to the same albums I've been listening for the last 10 years. Some tracks on this playlist I have probably listened to 1000 times and some are brand new to me. The old school Trojan ska tunes, of which there are two, come from sunny journeys on a recent trip
through the hills of Spain. It's impossible to imagine now, so blissfully unaware we were of the major changes that were afoot when we would arrive home. Joni Mitchell's album 'Blue', is an absolute masterpiece and it's been a rock for me during current tough times. I included the song 'Carey' as I have two amazing memories of this song. The first is driving back from a late night slot with the Cats at Hootenanny in Brixton around 4am. Me, Toby and Carl were singing on the top of our lungs as the sun started coming up over the A23. The second memory is more recent , hours before the lockdown rules were imposed, belting out the same tune in an impromptu birthday (2mdistanced) piss up with close pals. Two memories I'll never forget. Music has such a way of capturing moments in time and I hope that in 50 years, I'll still associate that song with those good times."
Harry and G run Vintents, a vintage tent glamping business. Check em out at www.vintents.co.uk or over on insta @vintents