YORK vegetable string band King Courgette have a new recipe for “Good Friday electric reincarnation rock happenings on your doorstep” at The York Vaults, Nunnery Lane.
“It’s free, which, given the price of electricity, is pretty good value,” says band member String Bean Slim, alias York musician, writer and history tour guide Alfred Hickling.
“It’s been a while. We know all kinds of weird **** went down during the lockdown; not least that Poppa ‘King’ Courgette decided to have a bit of a clear-out at the Clifton Delta.
“Now, nobody has been in Poppa’s box room for years, excepting some really mean-looking spiders that hang out there paying no rent. But Poppa gave me a call to say he’d found a bunch of old boxes and was wondering what all the knobs were for.”
What happened next? “‘Well, those don’t look like boxes to me,’ I tells him. ‘Them is amplifiers. Mighty big ones too’,” String Bean recalls. “‘But I can’t hear no noise,’ Poppa says. ‘No, that’s ’cause you gotta plug summin’ into’em,’ I said.
“‘What, like my old banjer?’ Poppa asked. ‘No, not a banjo,’ I told him. ‘No-one in the right mind would want a banjo to be any louder. But what about that electric blue Stratocaster you devalued by putting on a ridiculous- locking whammy bar in the 1980s, when you were still in Spandex trousers?’ ‘What – that old thing?’ Poppa looked at me quizzically. ‘You mean go ‘lectric…?’.”
How did String Bean respond? “‘Sure,’ I told him. ‘Just as long as we can persuade Wild Zucchini Bill that it’s time to stop bashing bits of old luggage and get himself a real drumming kit’.”
Long story short, it turns out Wild Zucchini Bill had bought himself at least half a dozen real drumming kits already and was making lockdownmerry hell for everyone within earshot.
“And then Hot Chilli McGrath had an altercation with a woman at the council dump who was trying to throw a ‘lectrical guitar into the skip; so he jumped right in there after it and fished it out,” says String Bean.
“He was so pleased with this bargain that he went right out and bought a set of hot, custom-wound pick-ups. And some new tuning pegs. And a different scratch-plate.”
Hot Chilli then decided to replace the body and fit a new neck. “But since he’s now the proud owner of the world’s most expensive free guitar, he’s real keen to try it out,” says String Bean.
“That left only Bad Apple Two T’s Curtis, and there ain’t no way he wasn’t gonna join the fun, so he fished out this really funky ’lectronic keyboard that had been in the back of hisbox room.
“Then he went out and got a real flashy new one, which is bright red – a much cooler colour. And so, Two T’s was transformed into Two Keys.”
How did King Courgette put this electrification to good use? “Cuttin’ to the chase, we used the rest of the Plague to write a whole new album,” says String Bean.
“We recorded it on a boat: it’s called Amphetamine Stew and we think it’s about time people heard it. So, we arranged to go back to one of our oldest haunts, the Victoria Vaults, only to discover that it ain’t called that anymore, but at least it’s still in the same place.
“If you wanna come and hear what we’ve been up to, the place to be is The York Vaults on Friday from 7.30pm. Best news of all is – it’s free. Yep, no charge.”
King Courgette will be joined on the April 15 bill by the blues band Jonny And The Rizlas. “It ain’t gonna be a Good Friday; it’s gonna be a Great Friday,” vows String Bean. “See you down the Vaults for the post-lockdown Electric King Courgette, Mark II. Because what doesn’t kill you makes you louder.”