BtP presents • Procol Harum's 40th Birthday Celebrations • 20 / 21 July 2007
On 21 July 2007, the second day of the Procol 40th Birthday Celebrations, The Palers' Band will play at the Party taking place at 2–00 pm in St John's Smith Square, on the stage where Procol Harum played the night before. Later that evening The Palers' Project will open for Gary Brooker and Guests, who will be unveiling 'Procol Rarum', the Lost Songs of Brooker and Reid.
What's the difference?
The Palers' Band is the scratch ensemble of musician-fans who set out, following a spell of intensive rehearsal, to replicate favourite Procol / Fisher / Brooker / Trower tracks in the penumbra of the real band's performances. This has previously happened, to great mutual enjoyment, at Guildford, UK, in 2000, Kristiansand, Norway, in 2001, Manchester, UK, in 2001, Hollywood, USA, in 2003, and Lejre, Denmark in 2006.
The Palers' Project is a studio project that has so far not played live: it has released three double CDs of Procol Harum song-treatments – Lost in the Looking-Glass (2002), From Shadow to Shadow (2004) and Trace of a Feeling (2006) – and 21 July will be a first-time airing for some arrangements from these recordings. The essential distinction is that the evening's performances will not sound like the Brooker / Reid originals: they will sound like the re-invented, revisited tracks featured on the Palers' Project albums. The personnel will overlap with the Palers' Band players from the afternoon, but it won't be exactly the same.
The Palers' Band will be based as usual on musical fans who respond to the sign-up page here, with one difference from usual: because of restricted performance time, and because of the nature of our rehearsal facilities, we won't necessarily be able to take all comers (in 2006 we were about 25 players), and participants will possibly get to play fewer numbers than has been the case in the past.
The Palers' Project personnel will be invited to participate, based on the requirements of the particular Brooker/ Reid songs to be featured; they will probably find themselves working rather harder than the Palers' Band (above), since they will be performing to the London public rather than to a partisan audience of friends.
Afternoon: in the past we've solicited repertoire suggestions from would-be Palers' Band participants; this time, the aim is to play only songs that the Palers' Band has never tackled before. This freshness will make good fun for players and listeners alike at the 2–00 pm party.
Evening: The Palers' Project repertoire will be Brooker/Reid songs, chosen by the BtP team (in consultation with Gary Brooker), with performability and variety in mind.
Where do we rehearse?
Studio space and accommodation are pricey in London, so BtP has hired Rehearsal Room No 1 (28 feet by 28 feet) and backline in a studio complex in Southend-on-Sea, home of The Paramounts and arguably the ancestral breeding-ground of Procol Harum. Guitarists and bassists will need to bring their own instruments but piano, drums and clone-wheel organ will be supplied, along with all necessary amplification (for guitar, a Marshall 4 x 12 JCM2000). Because of the demands of playing later in St John's Smith Square, we will not this time be using the full panoply of musical exotica (marimba, balalaika, mandolin and so on) that distinguished the Lejre outing. Southend is not a part of London – it's 42 miles from where the gig is, c. ten pounds on the train – so we shall not be using the same gear in rehearsal and on stage.
When do we practise?
Rehearsals are on Monday 16, Tuesday 17, Wednesday 18 and Thursday 19 July 2007. Friday will be a day for travelling to the London Basecamp Hotels and resting before the Procol Harum gig. You don't have to be there for all the days, but please don't absent yourself from a session you previously signed up for, as that skews the schedule for everyone.
What will it cost?
On this occasion 'Beyond the Pale' will cover the hire of gear and studio (from 10 am to 11 pm daily) for these four days' rehearsal: participants' expenses will be accommodation, travel and food, which we are not providing. [Nobody's expected to rehearse for all of that time, of course].
Where do we stay?
BtP has arranged good prices in a Southend hotel, where Palers habitually stay when Gary Brooker / No Stiletto Shoes play in Southend. There is a mixture of double and single rooms and holiday apartments to suit all probable requirements; all those prices include tax and breakfast, and they are in force from Sunday 15 July until departure on Friday 20th. Don't book yet: you'll need a special code to get access to our reserved accommodation. Full hotel details are here
The hotel is about fifteen minutes' walk from the studio; in a shared taxi, or 'cab', one will end up paying less than two pounds a head each way.
What else is there to do in Southend-on-Sea?
Most of our overseas visitors will be intrigued to sample the quintessential British holiday experience that Southend has to offer: the very long pier, the amusement arcades, the pubs and hotels, and the general Thames Estuary feel of a resort that (some would claim!) is to an extent trapped in a time-warp. It is not a place of great architectural or historical renown but the people are friendly; no doubt some pilgrimages to formerly famous musical sites can be contemplated.
What do I do now?
Respond to The Palers' Band sign-up page, and the Southend Accommodation page.
More about the 40th anniversary celebrations