Rain Doesn’t Stop Play

This anecdote comes from a producer who I work with regularly. He was touring as sound engineer with Scottish comedian Billy Connolly before Billy had become famous.


They arrived at an open-air ampitheatre on a miserable grey day and set up and did a sound check. The day got gloomier and gloomier until about one hour before the gig the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down. Assuming the concert was a wash out, Billy nevertheless took a look at the public area to make sure it was empty. To his surprise there was one man sitting there with his arms folded enduring the heavy rain waiting for the show to begin. Billy said that if he was willing to watch him in pouring rain, then he ought to put on a show for him, so he performed the whole first act. During the interval Billy thought that the man would probably call it a day and not endure another half hour of relentless rain….. but there he was, arms folded, hood up, waiting for Billy to do his thing, so Billy went out and performed the second half of his show.


Towards the end Billy stopped his routine and said to the man “You’re the only person here so if there’s any particular sketch that you’d like to see or a routine from one of my videos I’ll do it for you as you’ve sat through the pouring rain”. The man replied “No, it’s ok Mr. Connolly, you just tell me when you’ve finished and I’ll get the chairs packed up and we can all go home!”



In the Studio with Van Morrison

Van Morrison


















A friend of mine was in Ireland working on a Van Morrison album when the sax player did something minor that upset Morrison and Morrison hurled a torrent of verbal abuse at him. When the sax player tried to defend himself Morrison told him to shut up that he was sacked and that he would never work with him again.


The next morning it was time to record some sax parts and Morrison asked where the sax player was. My friend and the rest of the crew looked around sheepishly and wondered whether or not to remind him that he’d sacked him the previous day. “For Christ’s sake” said Morrison as he started dialing on his phone:


“John, where the bloody hell are you? We’re about to record the brass!”

“Er… you sacked me yesterday Van…”

“Oh don’t be such an over-sensitive big girl’s blouse! Get yourself to the studio in the next hour, I want to get this finished today!”




Rock ‘n Roll Turbulence

This anecdote comes courtesy of Guy Pratt, a bassist who has toured extensively with many great rock bands and thus has many a great story to tell. This isn’t a particularly in depth or scandalous story but just one that makes me giggle and gives a sense of the vibe of life on the road.


Guy was touring with Pink Floyd and a Saudi prince had lent the band his Boeing 737 for the tour (if you can’t join them, lend them your jet) which of course was not your average 737 – this one had been kitted out with marble walls and the latest gadgets. As in standard flights, when the aircraft was about to hit turbulence, the pilot would announce this through the tannoy and recommend that everybody remain seated and fasten their seat belts. This was when the band shot to their feet and, without holding on to anything, starting the competition of who could stay on their feet the longest.



Zorro – U.S.A

I received a call late December from a Producer in the U.S. who told me that Zorro would be produced at the Hale Theatre, Salt Lake City. He told me that they would be using backing tracks for the run and that he was in charge of recording the backing tracks. He had previously phoned various Guitarists on the L.A session scene, including the Guitarist who recorded the parts for Zorro the motion picture, without success. At the time, he was using as a reference the original cast recording from the west end and, having no luck finding someone locally, searched out the Guitarist who did the recording – me! So, he called and asked if I would make the trip to Salt Lake City and spend three days in the studio recording all the guitar parts for the show. Of course I jumped at the opportunity and was on the plane from Schipol Airport less than 10 hours after playing the last note of the Dutch tour in Apeldoorn….

It was a great experience and fantastic to work with such professional, talented musicians. Barry Gibbons, the owner of the studios (The MT Pit) collected me at the airport and took me for dinner with his wife and children before I checked in to my hotel. We began recording at 9am the following morning and spent the next three full days in the studio and even the final day before I flew to New York we squeezed another 3 or 4 hours in to polish some bits up.

Barry’s son Michael Gibbons recorded and produced the soundtrack and was an absolute pleasure to work with. He has the enthusiasm of a youngster but the wisdom and knowledge as if he had been in the business for 40 years, a real pro.

All in all, a fantastic experience and a job well don. This was one of those jobs that reminds me why I love doing what I do.



Zorro – Holland

Zorro De La Mar Theatre, Amsterdam  Zorro NL Press Night















Back to the world of Zorro, this time a national tour of The Netherlands. The has been translated into Dutch with a lot of changes made since the west end run. Most of these changes I am told were made for Paris and stayed in place for the Moscow version and are now part of the Dutch version.

Great to see some of people I worked with in the west end: Adam Poulter, Saulo Garrido, Isaac Perez and of course, the Director Chris Renshaw.

Dutch tours are slightly different from UK and US tours in the sense that you normally reside in Amsterdam and then travel by bus to each city where you perform and return the same night unless the theatre is more than 200km from Amsterdam in which case you stay in hotels close to the theatre.


Here is the bus in which I lived for most of 2011:


Zorro Tour Bus















Tha band were: Kino Haitsma (keys, MD); Bernard Goovarts (2nd keys); Jeroen Rombouts (2nd guitar); Olaf Fase (drums); Door Raeymaekers (percussion); Johannes Adema (bass).

After opening at the De La Mar Theatre in Amsterdam, we toured for approximately 10 months through the following cities: Hoorn, Leeuwarden, Rotterdam, Gronningen, Breda, Den Haag, Maastricht, Venlo, Eindhoven, Gouda, Heerlan, Zaandam, Oss, Zwolle, Nijmegen, Tilburg…. and a few others….




Friday Night Is Music Night

Maida Vale Studios









On Thursday my quartet played at Maida Vale Studios for BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night Is Music Night alongside Andrew Lloyd Webber and the BBC Concert Orchestra.


My quartet were: Jonathan Preiss – guitar, Nick Cohen – bass and Nic France – percussion. All brilliant musicians and an absolute pleasure to play with. Nick has played with many great artists including the legendary Jack Bruce and Matt Bianco, Nic is one of the most in-demand drummers in town having played with Loose Tubes and Annie Lennox, and Jonathan is one of my favourite guitarists to listen to – especially when playing Brazilian music on seven-string guitar with his band Caratinga – check them out, they’re brilliant!


It was a fantastic gig – an honor to be sat directly in front of the 80-piece BBC Concert Orchestra as they played live (with my friend Sarah Freestone on violin) and of course to be on the same bill as Andrew Lloyd Webber. Also a great experience to play at Maida Vale Studios. This is one of those great places like Abbey Road or The Royal Albert Hall that every musician dreams of playing at.




Don’t forget the chair leg!

Spot the broken chair leg!















On the London production of Zorro I was 1st Guitarist in the orchestra pit and understudy to the on-stage Guitarist. This anecdote is about the first time I ventured out of the comfort of the orchestra pit to play the on-stage part.


There was a lot of music to play from memory and this had to be co-ordinated with various stage positions and choreography (moving into the right spotlight at the right moment, following visual cues etc.). All of this made is quite daunting and of course there is the pressure of having to get it absolutely right. The guitar parts (some to be played whilst walking) weren’t the easiest either…


There was no dress rehearsal for me, but we did have a rehearsal during the day of the show just to run through the sequences and cues. During this rehearsal the resident director said:


“David, after the fight scene between Zorro and Ramon (the bad guy) you will go on and play your solo piece before the big cabaret style bows with full company. During the fight scene a chair leg is used as a weapon and will be left on stage. It is very important that you collect this chair leg after you’ve played your solo piece and before you leave the stage. Otherwise it will trip one of the dancers over during the bows. This is VERY important David, you mustn’t forget!”


Ok, another thing to remember, but not a problem. I just have to remember to get the chair leg before leaving the stage….


At the end of the rehearsal a technician came to me and said:

“David, at the end of the fight scene between Zorro and Ramon there will be a chair leg…”. Anticipating what he was going to say next, I replied:

“And I have to collect it so that nobody trips over it, right?”

“Yes, but I can’t stress how important this is, you MUSTN’T forget!”


So if it wasn’t clear before, it certainly was now – I HAD TO collect the chair leg.


The big night arrived and I dressed up, warmed up, and on stage I went. The first half went well, everything remembered, no hiccups and then the second half: the opening went well, Bamboleo scene great, nailed the Djobi Djoba dance break and then for the solo at the end of the show…


… I went through the solo back stage and reminded myself about the chair leg just before going on. As I was waiting to go on the resident choreographer came to me and said:

“David, don’t forget the chair leg!”


So on stage I went, playing the solo piece to end the show. No mistakes, finished nicely. Then the blackout and I have about twenty seconds to find the chair leg and get off stage. I get on my hands and knees in the area where the chair leg should be and… nothing! So I move right a little bit and… nothing! Left a little… nothing! Now I’m thinking:


“Shit, if I stay on my hands and knees any longer the lights will come on for the bows and I’ll be here on stage on my hands and knees like a rabbit in the headlights!”

But at the same time I couldn’t leave the stage without the chair leg. The twenty seconds I had seemed endless…


As I scrambled relentlessly trying to find that damn piece of wood a technician grabbed me from behind:


“David, quick, you need to get off stage for the bows!”

“But I need to get the chair leg!”

“Oh, don’t worry about that! We’ve already picked it up” he replied. “We decided not to take a chance on your first night”



Spanish Guitar at Bedford Prison

Spanish Guitar at Bedford Prsion

















I recently had a call from an agent about a couple of gigs he wanted me to do: the first was to play classical guitar in the drawing room at Syon House for the wedding of Mike Jatania, one of the UK’s richest men, and the second was to play a lunchtime recital for some of the inmates at Bedford Category C Prison. As you can see, this agent caters for all types of event!


I heard the prison gig was part of a Spanish themed day, so I put together a set list of Spanish songs and pieces from my solo album. I turned up with my guitar in one hand, passport in the other, and set about the journey through the seemingly endless labyrinth of double-locked doors and screening rooms to get into the prison.


Just before I began my first set, the prison officer said it would be very nice if I could have a chat with the inmates during the interval and answer any questions they had about the guitar etc. I was fine with this and so after my first set I went over to where they were having drinks and biscuits and started to make conversation. Of course the one thing you really want to ask is “So, what are you in here for?” but I assumed this wasn’t really the thing to say and that maybe there was an unwritten rule regarding it… so, instead…I assumed crimes for each one of them in my head!


I spoke to a big man called, funnily enough, “Big Al” – a friendly and chatty guy who introduced me to the other inmates and said, “they’re quite a nice bunch you know… which is surprising really ‘cos there ain’t ‘alf some nasty bastards out there”! And he was right, they really were a nice bunch who were genuinely enjoying escaping from the daily routine to lose themselves in some Spanish music and food.


The highlight of the day came when “Big Al” asked me where I had learnt to play flamenco. When I told him I lived and studied in Seville for a number of years he paused for a moment as he cast his mind back and then said “oh yeah….. Seville…. we did a job down there once.”



Jamming with The Gipsy Kings

Jamming with The Gipsy Kings - Soho, London















Last Saturday was the world premiere of Zorro The Musical at the Garrick Theatre in London’s west end.


The show itself went extremely well after weeks of intense rehearsals and the reviews that have come out so far have been very positive – all four and five stars! This is down to the outstanding talent and sheer hard work of the actors, dancers, technicians and creative team – they all deserve every word of praise that has been heaped on them. May this be a long and successful run!


And then there was the after party…. No press night is complete without a good ‘ole knees up afterwards. The Gipsy Kings themselves were at the premiere and came along to the after party which was at The Floridita in Soho – a cool little joint on Wardour Street with live Cuban music. The first thing I saw as I walked into the club was Bruce Forsyth on the dance floor wearing a Zorro mask. Live music was provided by Moneda Nacional.


Half way through the night The Gipsy King’s asked me if I would play with them and teach the members of Moneda Nacional four Gipsy Kings songs so they could back us. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds as these guys are Cuban through and had never played catalan rumba before in their lives but being great musicians they got hold of the chord sequences pretty quickly and added their own Cuban touch and we had a great jam. I can’t wait until the next time The Gipsy Kings call in on the show…

Zorro – West End, London

Zorro The Musical - West End, LondonZorro The Musical started previews at The Garrick Theatre on 30th June 2008 with the official opening (press night) on 15th July 2008.

A lot of changes have been made to the touring version but it’s still a fantastic show. The band remains the same and it’s great to be working with all these excellent artists again.

Come and see us!