Thoughts of a Fruitcake: Carolyn Aldis reflects on her magical musical tour

The legendary Geno Washington.
The legendary Geno Washington.
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So, last weekend I had the rare treat of a night out, listening to live music at the “This is Peterborough Calling” event.

I wouldn’t normally go to a Scooterist Weekender…the only scooter in my household is a Disney Princess one that would sooooo not fit in and my days of staying up all night are long gone, but there was a very good reason that I went there Saturday evening.

I arrived on my own as my friends had been unable to join me…I don’t know about you, but I find it quite daunting to walk into a venue alone. There were groups of people outside the marquee, a vast array of broad shoulders, tattooed arms, all drinking pints…and that was just the women!

I quickly made my way to the bar to get a drink. A guy with a huge beard turned and smiled, asking me if I was ok. I said yes and thanked him and went and sat on a bench. I was joined by two women who chatted away, including me in their dialogue. I relaxed as I realised that everyone was a lot friendlier than they looked.

The real reason I was there was because my eldest brother is in The Skatonics, who were supporting the legendary Geno Washington. Some of my earliest memories as a kid was listening to my brother playing ska music on our old upright piano…Madness, The Specials, he played them all, practicing for hours, perfecting every note until he sounded like the real thing. His hard work paid off and he got the job in the band.

It was the first time I had heard him play with them and I wasn’t disappointed. From the moment they started, the atmosphere changed from pint-glass-holding-indifference to energetic-ska-induced dancing and singing, providing great entertainment to those watching. The different characters in the band came across and you couldn’t help but have a smile on your face as they played. Whether you like ska music or not, it is worth travelling to see these guys, or booking them for an event. I know I am biased but I was not the only one that thought they were fantastic that night…

As I said, they were there to support Geno Washington. When I first saw him at the back of the stage, surrounded by his young fans, I wondered how well he would perform…talk about not judging by appearances. When he took to the stage, he acted like a man half his age, dancing about, cracking jokes and his voice was amazing to hear, a soul sound that rang out as we bopped on the dance floor. His band were brilliant musicians too.

After Geno had finished, my brother and the other band members had an opportunity to chat to him backstage. He held his drink in one hand and fixed them with a steely gaze.

“You guys are never supporting me again,” He growled at them all “You’re too (unprintable word) good!”

They all laughed, shook hands and went back to their tents, the words of a legend ringing in their ears.