Mac Holiday Monday [Acoustic Covers & Originals]
The Mermaid, St Albans8 Sep 2021The Mermaid, St Albans Mac Holiday Monday, but on a Sunday! What would we call it?Well, we should call it an Outstanding Success, a Hugely Successful Choc-a-Bloc Evening with Talented, Fun Singers, who entertained a to-capacity crowd for over two and a half hours on an otherwise unremarkable, cloudy August day.Despite the cautious nature of many live music goers - post pandemic - every seat was filled. Until now, the landlords had sensibly insisted on no standing, but this rule was relaxed and we saw the familiar huddles of friends, all there for the music, glad to be out again, glad to be catching up with their buddies and long-lost social groups.The music was tip-top, as always. So many people were blown away by the melodic, fresh, inspiring songs of Ilanah Zsigmond, sung with humility-tinged confidence, a heart-felt yet light-hearted set of original songs from this elegant, charming singer-songwriter from Liverpool.Mac's second guests were Two's a Crowded House, otherwise known as John and Neil from The Landlords, playing an upbeat set of songs from Crowded House and the Finn Brothers. The vocal harmonies were delicious to behold, and hearing great songs stripped back to their basics allowed you to really appreciate the clever structures, flawless melodies and inspired bass lines, even though everything was played on just one guitar.Shameless plug - we were next. My long-time (suffering?) singing partner, Melanie Wall, she of MacLaren Wall, shook off the lockdown cobwebs and made the audience her very own. They loved her for her gutsy spirit, her cheeky attitude, and her energy-filled singing, with me helping out on backing vocals. I must admit it was fun to play again.Next up, making their Mermaid debut, were the Carnegies, a 5-piece band from neighbouring Wheathampstead. I must admit I was a bit worried about the noise levels, but the boys were perfectly scaled-down, with a sat-on cajon instead of a full drum kit, and - to everyone's delight - a tiny bass guitar that looked more like a ukulele, but which delivered a real punch when plugged in. The Carnegies were packed full of energy, playing a tight set of well-loved covers, both modern and old. Vocalist André Carnegie gave his everything to the songs, and the band interaction was palpable. Hugely engaging, professional, enthusiastic, and modest. I hope they make a return to The Mermaid soon as a main attraction.We kept our secret well - our final acoustic powerhouse duo, Katie Plus Juan, had already played a gig earlier in the day at another venue, so we had to keep things hush-hush. People were delighted at the extra add-on band, and the pair entertained the enthusiastic crowd for another 30 minutes or so with upbeat guitar tunes and tightly-interwoven vocal harmonies, leaving everyone wanting more at the end.My deepest thanks to all the musicians who played on this amazing day. And to everyone who supports live music in general, and especially the staff at the Mermaid, where Mark and John continue to push the boundaries of possibilities.See you all at Christmas - keep tuned to Lemonrock for details!Mac
Possibly the Best Bank Holiday Monday Ever!4 Apr 2018Possibly the Best Bank Holiday Monday Ever! Another amazing day at The Mermaid in St Albans! Yes, it rained, but we forgot all about the dreary outside (on both sides of the microphones!) while some of the area's best musical talent oozed out like the sugary yolk from a warm creme Easter egg...Faeries sang beautifully - you *must* buy their recordings. Sweet and bittersweet songs with impossibly beautiful tunes and lyrics.Dodo Bones absolutely nailed it with a pounding set from Steve, Robbyn and Ian.Melanie gave her everything as she and I bounced our way through our favourite upbeat tunes. Thanks to the regulars, and all the newbies, for coming along to see us!Bill Johnson's set was impeccably chosen - a quick re-shuffle took place as he cleverly read the audience - and he had everyone's attention, whether you'd seen him once or a hundred times.And a brilliant finale from one of the best acoustic folky rocky bands around, the Caution Horses, joined this day by Ellie on fiddle, making a fuller sound and giving a definite country flavour to every song.Everyone sounded great: the vocals sounded particularly clear, possibly due to the mid-frequency lift on the vocals - a touch I added using a new Behringer microphone mixer.Hope to see you at the next Mac Holiday Monday on 7th May - keep tuned to Lemonrock for details! We're going to have some more great weekend holiday music!Mac----(Pictured: Ray and Ellie, Caution Horses. Thanks to Barry Lang for the photo. See more of Barry's photos on Facebook.)
Not X-Factor. Real Stuff, Brilliant Fun.2 May 2017Not X-Factor. Real Stuff, Brilliant Fun. "Who needs X-Factor when you've got this?" said my mate's friend on the way home from yesterday's amazing gig at The Mermaid in St Albans.Well, he had been spoiled. Five local acts on a drizzly, unsettled May bank holiday Monday, a pub packed full of enthusiastic live music fans... what could possibly go wrong(*)?The audience were treated to the amazing vocal talents of Gemma Salter, who sang covers from the Kinks, Beautiful South, and Christina Perri. Welcome to the amazing St Albans live music scene, Gem!Next up were the Faeries, who - traditionally - sat down on the floor to play some beautiful self-written melodic songs. The interwoven harmonies of Robbyn and Lauren are pure magic; they feel like one enchanting big voice when they sing.DoDoBones gave a superb performance, a mix of originals and covers, with a tight and rhythmic band driving Robbyn's gutsy vocals forward. Their own material is really beginning to shine, with some great arrangements.The Caution Horses - a slightly different lineup without Jonny on banjo - had everyone's attention with their expertly played acoustic guitar / cajon / double bass setup. These guys can play! Male/female vocals from Ray and Lauren were delivered with gusto and many smiles.One of my favourite bands, Indi and the Vegas, finished the evening off with a spellbinding set of originals and culminating in a double-cover delivery of Prince's "Purple Rain" and Bowie's "Let's Dance". I think the band has always played these, and it's sobering to realise that both original artists are no longer with us. Indi and the band did them justice, and more.It was my pleasure to be involved with so many talented musicians, and not an ego in sight. Thanks to everyone who played and entertained us hungry real-music fans, and thanks to the Mermaid for supporting local live music.Hope to see you at the next Mac Holiday Monday gig, which is on Monday 29th May 2017 - details on Lemonrock at:https://www.lemonrock.com/gig.php?id=513863Also, keep tuned for Merm Aid : a marathon live music charity concert (hopefully outside!) on Sunday July 2nd, in aid of local hospice Grove House. At the Mermaid, of course!See the photos here (thanks, Barry!)Mac MacLaren* Important sanity check: after putting on new strings, *always* check your guitar bridge is not the wrong way round. Otherwise, you will sound like the worst guitarist who ever touched a guitar. Like me yesterday. Apologies to Gemma, who did a sterling job of pretending that nothing was wrong! (Caption competition, anyone?!)
The Mermaid, St Albans31 May 2016The Mermaid, St Albans Yesterday afternoon at The Mermaid in St Albans was amazing - a pub full to capacity (and a garden full of people) witnessed the most diverse set of bands ever at a "Mac Holiday Monday", now a well-established music event for the Mermaid's bank holiday beer and cider festivals.This time, Anja and I started the 3-hour session with some beautiful close-harmony acoustic songs from "Raising Sand", the album by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.Next up was Pat and the Butchers, a local covers band with tons of energy, fronted by Julie ("Pat") who had the audience captivated with half a dozen rock classics. A really good sound considering the small PA and the drum sound coming from a small monitor speaker connected to the Aerodrum kit played by stand-in drummer Mark Frazer. It really is amazing to see someone waving sticks around and creating a real drum sound!The third act was ARC, the trio of Rodfords who treated us to some sisterly harmonies from Anja and Cara and punchy guitar accompaniment from Russ. Their rendition of "Mrs Robinson" went down really well.In his signature braces and cap, cor-blimey chappie Harmonica Lewinsky had us in stitches with his fine comic lyrics and timing. "Has anyone here ever eaten any fruit or vegetables?" cries Lewinski, before launching into "Keep Your Mince Pies Off My Bristols", which bewildered our foreign visitors and delighted the rest of us. A real treat.Finishing up was IntrEagles, the brand new Eagles covers band of which I'm a founder member.We sang 5 very different Eagles songs from the 70s and 80s, with Aerodrums Mark, me on bass, Neil Oxtoby on electric guitars and Jon (birthday boy) from the Mermaid on acoustic.The 3-part harmony wasn't too bad, I have to admit. We had rehearsed these to death (I thought) and yet when the moment comes, panic sets in and there I am singing the words of the second verse in the first verse. Never done that before! It was quite exhilarating nonetheless, and I hope we'll do it all again one day before we forget the harmonies for ever!It was great fun to be asked for an encore, as we'd never played "Take It Easy" before on those instruments, and I must say I thought we made a decent job of it.The music finished at 7pm, People stayed until well gone 9, and the pub had one of their most successful days ever!I'd like to thank all the musicians who played and sang yesterday, keeping live music exciting, fun and inclusive.Thanks to an exceptionally attentive and appreciative audience, and to all the music people who turned up to see our IntrEagles debut.Hope to see you at our next gig, which is on Monday 29th August 2016 at The Mermaid, St Albans - details on Lemonrock at:http://www.lemonrock.com/gig.php?id=443485We'll be hunting down bands for the next gig quite soon, so please get in touch if you'd like to take part!Cheers,Mac
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