Alternative Elvis Impersonator

Elvis Costello and Gary Stewart Smith

Gary Stewart Smith gazes longingly at Elvis Declan Costello’s stylish hat. Thinks: “if I wanna get ahead, I gotta get myself one of those.”

Last night, I went to a place called Glass Studios in downtown Birkenhead to meet up with my good friend and part-time Liquorice Allstars drummer Nick “The Drum Doctor” Lauro and a couple of his associates, with a view to forming a working band (as opposed to Liquorice Allstars, who are mainly a non-working band).

They’d sent me a list:-

“Excellent choices!”, I thought. Early 80s New Wave/New Romantic stuff that I used to listen to in my formative years. I remember seeing Gary Numan on Top of the Pops at the time and thinking: “Wow! Someone called ‘Gary’ on Top of the Pops who’s quite cool in an odd sort of way and who’s not Gary Glitter, a chap who will many years from now be both Cockney Rhyming Slang for an intimate part of ones body and Persona Non Grata in the showbiz industry due to his sexual proclivities”. Yes, even way back then I knew big words like “proclivities”.

Back where he belongs: Gary Stewart Smith at the White Lion

Back where he belongs: Gary Stewart Smith at the White Lion

So anyway, I’d been looking forward this meeting of minds for quite a while. Unfortunately, I’d had a terrible night’s sleep the night before, a nine hour day working in the shop, my elderly mum had a fall and had to be taken to the local GP, dinner was late and the green beans got overcooked, so I wasn’t in the best frame of mind or physical condition. And singing is very much both a mental and physical thing. On my way to the rehearsal, I was thinking that I’d much rather have a couple of pints and an early night.

As you might expect, it was not my best performance. Half the songs were beyond my range (these days, I’ve learned to change the key of a song to suit my voice); I hurt my throat trying to sing like Sting (“Sting, oh Sting, why must you sing, so high?” – a nod to the poetry of Rik Mayall there); I’d forgotten how lousy the PAs are in these kind of rehearsal rooms (I sounded pretty dire, just like the old days before I shelled out for a decent PA of my own). All in all, fairly dispiriting. Enough to put one off being in a band… almost.

Still, Saturday night it’s back to my monthly residence in the White Lion. Think I’ll roll out some Elvis Costello, Glenn Tilbrook, Justin Currie, Neil Finn and a bit of James Taylor, to reassure myself than I can actually sing.

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