News: The Half Moon All Stars ride into the sunset

So.  The Half Moon All Stars will perform their final gig some time later this year.

Not sure exactly when, or where, or how. But I can reveal why.

Due to a series of mini-disasters, band commitments just became impossible. First we lost Sam Twigg, after ‘the incident of which we never speak’. Then Mando Josh was kidnapped in the Pyrenees, and we lost Hannah G when she went out to rescue him. Laura’s past finally caught up with her when she was arrested for zoo animal theft. Vince got religion (don’t even get me started on that). Tracey got the lead in Pitch Perfect 3. Uke Josh became the next Doctor Who. Louis became obsessed with being an opera singer. And all the while Calum, as the world knows by now, was just on the verge of becoming a globetrotting multi-platinum Trap DJ.

I should really have seen it coming, I suppose — it was all pretty inevitable to anyone who was paying attention. But maybe there was a deeper underlying problem…

Basically, the transition from acoustic good-time pub band to serious gigging PA band never quite worked. And I think part of the reason might have been that it was always one project too many for me: if, just as the band was too big for playing unplugged gigs, I had taken the opportunity to really sit down with the band and thoroughly take apart what we did, and how, and work out a way to take it to the next level, I think that could have worked.

But even then, for many in the band the chief advantage was always that it was never an all-consuming project. They could have a busy life and still be a part of it. And it has been about as flexible and low maintenance as a band is ever likely to get, I think. (Albeit not so much for me, maybe.) It was always a band where the fun came first, and that’s great, but that will always have a certain shelf life. There will come a point where you either need to take it seriously or wind it down. We reached that point, and we went and had a pint at the Fir Tree on Iffley Road and talked through it, and the general consensus was that now was the right time. Band members hang out with each other socially ayway. We’re all likely to see each other at the Bastard English Session — if not every month then at least from time to time.

Notably, though, we didn’t meet in the Half Moon: the pub that gave its name to the band. And… I slightly feel that in a way the fate of the pub and the band were sort of intertwined. Just as band enthusiasm was starting to dip a bit, the Half Moon had a renovation. A severe renovation. A renovation worthy of Austerity Britain. All the cushions went, the fairy lights, the money from around the world pinned up behind the bar. I had learnt quite early on that the band had a momentum all of its own because everyone enjoyed showing up for a Monday Half Moon rehearsal for the social aspect: drinking, gossiping with friends, and showing off to random pub customers. There was an energy to the fact that we rehearsed in a pub. It always felt to me like our best performances were there. Every time I’ve passed the Half Moon recently (the pub which for many years was ground zero for the local folk scene) it has appeared to be just an empty husk of its former self.

So anyway, I think everyone’s agreed that now is the right time, just before it really started to become a drag on everyone’s time. And it makes a big difference to me because it frees up a lot more time for me to concentrate on recording more music, which, as you may have gathered, is the thing I want to do most.

I think we managed to squeeze many metric tons of fun out of the band. There were no band-related fall-outs, hissy fits or fisticuffs that I was aware of. And we’re planning to do some sort of great big epic send-off. Fireworks. Elephants. Slap-sticks. (Ask me about that last one: it’s highly amusing, as the band will no doubt agree.)

But for now, here we are at what I think might have been our first ever performance, with the song that for me always summed up the band best:

Hope to see you at the grand farewell!

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