Working With Metal and a “Whole Lot of Love”

Just imagine having to remember in minute detail what you did over forty years ago and repeat it in front of five hundred people. That’s what happened to me earlier this summer.

Many years ago I lived in the heart land of England, just a stone’s throw  from Birmingham, known as Brum by the locals. Like many would be musicians I began my singing career in a band at the ripe old age of twelve. I soon found out that everyone wanted to be the lead guitarist but me I loved the bass guitar. I took lessons with this old guy (he was probably thirty) called Horace Jonson and soon I was playing bass at Youth clubs, Pubs (bars), Social clubs, Weddings, in fact anywhere “our manager, the lead guitarists father” could get us a gig and get paid. Three or four nights a week we learned our trade sometimes playing four hours a night.

By this time the influence of Elvis, the Mersey sound of the Beatles and the London groups like the a Rolling Stones had seen better times. New bands called power trio’s like Cream and Jimmy Hendrix’s Experience were the rage so our band reformed and became a trio. Amps and speaker cabs suddenly became larger than life, towering over band members at college gigs like South Bank Polytechnic. Where we played with bands like Hendrix, Cream, Super Tramp, Roy Woods Wizard (later to become ELO) and many others. Glen Hughes soon to be of Deep Purple even used my gear. We had several different names over a three or four-year period in the seventies but a musical change was on its way.

Back in Brum Heavy Metal was on the rise, bands like Judas Priest and Black Sabbath with Ozzy (John Osborne) were on the rise. It was a crazy time rubbing shoulders with Robert Plant at JB’s but the music was something else. Just listen to the musical progression of the albums from Led Zeppelin.

Many people ask where the name heavy metal came from? Well if you’d have been in Brum forty years ago you would hear it, see it, smell it and work in it, it was “metal bashing”. The whole area was one massive manufacturing hub and the sound day and night was like a deep rumble. The only way you can experience the sound is if a bass player is playing bottom E through four 15 inch and eight 12 inch speakers at around 200 watts of sheer power.

This summer with two friends Nathan (guitar) and George( on skins), we played live after many hours of rehearsal  for five hundred friends for two hours.  I did remember most  of the music I played and loved over the years. But I do wish I had taken an EXAIR Digital Sound Level Meter with me……WOW!

Ivan Banks
Business Development

The Trials and Tribulations of a Would Be Traveler

Bob, a friend of mine, spends his time-saving money (he’s not married) so he can go on jaunts around the world.  I’ve done my fair share of traveling but he seems to have been almost everywhere. In March of this year 2010 he already had plans to visit Shanghai. I thought I’ve been to China and enjoyed my visit immensely but why rave over Shanghai ? He never answered apart from saying the Expo 2010! I didn’t question  him further.

Months later I had an invitation from a friend to visit China. I had previously learned to eat with chop sticks and cannot pass a Chinese restaurant without my mouth-watering so it was no hardship for me to accept. My wife was just happy to get me out from under feet so she could tinker in the garden. So off I went the bag in hand, with a very eye-catching ice blue pull behind so I could easily see it among all the hordes of black bags.

I checked in, waved good-bye to the pull behind and made my way to security. I don’t have one of those  frequent  traveler cards that allow you, for a fee of cause and back ground check to breeze through security so I was in for “the full Monty”  which means removing belts, shoes, being scrutinized and formally introduced to the latest screening gizmo. Even the Fiji water had to be discarded for some tasteless substitute only to find all the retailers are buying a substitute.  Oh for the days of yester year when traveling was exciting, there were no security level alerts and no one monopolized the choice of water. Don’t get me wrong I like to feel and be safe but where do we go from here? What is the next step?

Twelve hours later the FUN began: the connection arrived  45 minutes late, giving me only 30 minutes to catch my last flight. Obviously the connection was in another concourse, one floor up at the last gate.  I ran like someone crazy but when I saw security my heart dropped, but something miraculous happened,  I showed my ticket and they rushed  my bag through while I went through the metal detector which beeped, thirty seconds later after the” wand  treatment” I was on my way and caught the plane.

Remember that  very eye-catching pull behind which could be easily seen  among the hordes of black bags it was nowhere to be seen. When everyone had gone this very official looking  Chinese man approach, he asked if there was a problem? I explained the situation, he keyed in my claim tag number in his smart phone and one minute later he said it’s in Japan!? He confidently said the pull behind would be my hotel in two days. Wow I thought that’s efficient but then came the paper work. So many printers without  paper or ink so he settled for the old-fashioned  way  pen and paper.

The next installment of this trip will show the wonders and surprises found at EXPO 2010 Shanghai.

Ivan Banks
Business Development