Real live music at Italia in Bocca Canary Islands restaurant in Tenerife. An impromptu gig by Bard of Ely
A performance against all odds
It was a gig that happened against all odds and a real impromptu live music performance by myself the Bard of Ely, and it happened at the Italia in Bocca restaurant in San Marcos in Tenerife. It had originally been planned to take place in Casa Maria, a bar that looks out over the Canary Islands beach but a fire had taken place there in the afternoon so it had to be called off at the last minute.
This was the final problem in a run of bad luck that had threatened the gig happening and going well if it did. But my motto in such cases is "the show must go on" and so it was to be.
Bard of Ely plays a song
The show must go on
The gig at Casa Maria had been arranged by my neighbour Dennis a couple of weeks before it was going to happen. I had been talking to him before about how I thought we really needed a venue in the Icod de los Vinos and San Marcos area where performers could sing and play. He agreed this made a lot of good sense and any bar owner that wanted to give it a go should do very well.
I went with Dennis to meet Miguel who runs Casa Maria and agreed it was a brilliant venue for an acoustic gig, but there was only one problem because there was no mic and microphone stand and no PA for my guitar to be plugged into.
I told Dennis that whilst I have done these unplugged gigs before they are not ideal for a performer because if there is too much chatter and background noise you have to sing louder and play louder too! I was hoping we could sort something out in time.
A friend had said she would see if she could sort out a microphone stand for me and would be in touch on the Friday before the gig the day after but I heard no more so was ready to play without any amplification. On top of this problem the knob that fixes the guitar strap to the bottom of the instrument had come off and the screw that holds it in place was lost somewhere. I hoped it was in my guitar-case but no such luck.
Dennis said he would make a point of telling all the ex-pats in the local community in the hopes of a good turnout. I was hoping for one too because the more people that came and the more they spent the more I stood to get as a share of the takings, which Miguel had said he would sort out.
Both Dennis and I thought it would be a great place for our mutual friend Rod to play too. Rod is a busker and plays a very unusual instrument known as a hang drum. It looks like a flying saucer and produces beautiful musical notes when the player taps it with his fingers.
Miguel had said he could put music on to give me a break and I thought that if I did two long sets, if Rod did a set and we had some recorded music played in the intervals it should make for a very successful night.
We take the gig to the Italia in Bocca restaurant
On the evening of the gig after a practice in the afternoon, I met up with Dennis and friends at the Italia in Bocca restaurant on the sea front of San Marcos. As it happens it is one of my favourite local haunts and I often go there for a pizza and a beer as I watch the sun go down over the bay.
In the afternoon I had seen a large cloud of grey smoke going up from somewhere down below where I live. My balcony looks down over the bay but it is impossible to see with any detail what is going on down there.
As soon as I met up with Dennis though he told me the bad news: that the cloud of smoke I had seen had actually come from the Casa Maria and so the gig there was now off. Not only that, but that he had seen Rod, who had told him he now couldn't make it along after a death in his family had occurred.
But like I say I work with the motto of "the show must go on" regardless so was wondering what we could now do. Dennis had made a poster and displayed it earlier on at the top of the promenade which said that I would be playing songs from the sixties at 9.30 at Casa Miguel.
Well, anyone going there would find it closed, but as San Marcos is only a very small place that wouldn't matter if we could find an alternative venue. Dennis, who had brought his Spanish guitar to back me on some songs too, suggested we asked if we could play where we were in the Italia in Bocca. The owner agreed so after our meals I began.
Syd Barrett: "Love You(Take 2)"4/11/69
Syd Barrett and Marc Bolan would have been proud
Now I had brought a long set list with me on a scrap of paper and I set myself up in the middle of one end of the restaurant and began to sing and play. Dennis had his guitar out too and followed the chords I strummed.
I started off with my own song, Superhero , in which I call for a "Yee-hah" from the audience, and always get one! The other songs I played were my covers of Neil Diamond's I Am I Said , Bob Marley's Redemption Song and No Woman No Cry , America's Horse With No Name , The Searchers big hit Needles and Pins , Please Release Me by Engelbert Humperdinck, Bob Dylan's Knocking On Heaven's Door , Let It Be by The Beatles, Jimmy Ruffin's What Becomes of the Broken-hearted? , Honky Tonk Women by the Rolling Stones, The First Cut is the Deepest by Cat Stevens, Rockin´in the Free World by Neil Young, the rock ´n´ roll classic Be-Bop-a-Lula , Marc Bolan and T. Rex's Hot Love , Wild Thing by The Troggs, Stand By Me by Ben E. King and The Drifters, Love You by Syd Barrett, and Sloop John B , the traditional song made famous by The Beach Boys.
I played my own songs Kingfisher, Real Love and Communication and Mañana , as well as my version of the Coco Pops advert which always raises a smile. I had brought a kazoo in a harmonica holder for the kazoo solo in Kingfisher and also made use of it in a medley of Brownskin Girl , Honey, Just Allow Me One More Chance , She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain , When The Saints Go Marching In and Mama Don't Allow .
There was a Spanish couple with their child sat a nearby table and their little one was hammering on a xylophone while I was playing and was also fascinated by my blue beard.
When I did the Syd Barrett song I asked if there were any fans present but amazingly nobody had heard of him so I explained he was the founder of the Pink Floyd. My cover of his Love You was one of the highlights of the night's performance though when it came to audience participation, especially by the Spanish people who were in the restaurant, even though they had never heard it before.
I had everyone singing the "la-la-la-la-la-la-la" chorus of Marc Bolan's hit Hot Love too. All in all, I think I can safely say that my performance went down really well, and I am sure that both Syd Barrett and Marc Bolan would have been happy to see a crowd of British and Spanish restaurant-goers clapping and singing along to their songs on the island of Tenerife!
Italia in Bocca links
- Restaurante ITALIA IN BOCCA en ICOD DE LOS VINOS (TENERIFE) - Reserva Restaurantes - Reserva tu Rest
Haz tu reserva en Restaurante ITALIA IN BOCCA en Icod De Los Vinos (tenerife) (Santa Cruz de Tenerife). Por slo 15.00 podrs degustar nuestros magnficos platos. Nos encontramos en Av. Martima, 3-4.
- Dining on the seafront at Italia in Bocca
The Tenerife News Online is the premier information portal and newspaper for anybody living or visiting the Canary Islands
© 2011 Steve Andrews
More by this Author
Garachico is a seaside town in the northwest of Tenerife that was once the island's main port until a volcanic eruption destroyed much of it. Today it is popular because of its natural swimming pools.
Calimas are dust clouds from the Sahara that blow across the sea to Tenerife and the Canary islands. They are as thick as fog and make visibility very poor but at the same time the temperature is hot.
Former Beatle John Lennon claimed that "God is a concept" in his song God.