LA - Day #2 (18th February 2015)
Another side-splitting blog entry from the expressive Dan Clark...
The Megan O'Neill Band are having lunch.
In a moment of vanity, knowing we have to play a celebrity party tomorrow and that paunchy guitarists are not known for their international success, I have ordered whet I assumed would be a light and healthy sandwich. Of all the tempting menu options likely to induce instant obesity, the hummus pitta seemed a reasonably safe bet.
Our waitress brings me a paper wrapped package roughly the size of a small dog. "Enjoy your meal".
Welcome to America.
Megan O'Neill demolishes a Cumbrian hillside on a plate that the menu calls a Cobb salad. She is hungry because she got up at 5am and went on a five mile run before breakfast.
Did I mention that Megan O'Neill is - and I mean this as a compliment - mad as a box of frogs?
Another facet of Megan's irrepressible bloody positive cheerfulness is her propensity for wholly unnecessary bouts of self induced strenuous exercise. This year she's entered a marathon. For fun. Fun!
As both exercise and fun run contrary to everything I stand for, I am wholly disapproving, but if anything this encourages her.
This morning we played the first of two industry showcases and in an hour we play the second. "Industry showcase" sounds grander than it is; in reality this means busking a few acoustic songs in a boardroom to some lucky executives.
The three of us have at various points played theatre shows to audiences of hundreds, festival shows to audiences of a few thousand, and tv shows to audiences of a few million. None shred the nerves so much as playing to an audience of 2, in a small carpeted room in an office building.
Tom and I do our best impersonations of competent guitar players while trying not to look too hard at our fingers, or pull the face of intensely gormless concentration known as the White Man's Overbite.
The Voice of An Angel nails it as usual. I make a mental note not to give her the satisfaction of telling her how good she sounds, but our audience do it anyway before I can stop them.
As ever she takes the inevitable compliments with modest good grace and genuine humility, which if you ask me is if anything more annoying than the conceited smug arrogance that any ordinary person with her talent would be forgiven for radiating.
This afternoon we're playing for Disney Music Group, involving a surreal trip to their offices at Walt Disney Studios. We're a bit early so do a group photo in front of a huge building featuring effigies of the seven dwarfs carved into the stone frontage as if they're holding up the roof.
As Tom towers over Megan and I - who are both, shall we say, more diminutive in stature than the general average - I realise too late that posing in front of those particular Disney characters is a gift for impertinent caption writers.
The best loved dwarfs in the world...and behind them some characters from a Disney cartoon.
Anyway, we play another few songs in their showcase room. Behind us is a piano that they tell us belonged to Richard Sherman, the Disney songwriter behind such critically acclaimed masterpieces as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and It's A Small World After All.
I am not sure how I feel about this.
Megan O'Neill, of course, thinks this, like everything, is possibly the best thing in the entire history of things.
If Megan O'Neill didn't already exist the Disney organisation would have invented her as a character anyway. It would smile all the bloody time and tell everyone it met to just think positive. It would have its own range of lurid merchandise including animatronic Megan O'Neill dolls that brightly repeat "Just think positive!" every five seconds when you pull a string.
We return to the house where I again manfully attempt to conceal my enjoyment of sitting by the pool sipping a large gin and tonic for fear that it will conclusively prove Megan's positive philosophy correct.
This is the life though. It's 5.30, so it must
be cocktail hour. The info pack for the hired house says Sinatra lived a couple of streets away. Standing at the kitchen island adding a slice of lemon to my g&t having finished a hard day's musical work (read: being driven around LA stopping occasionally either to strum some songs or have lunch) by 5pm, with only a pleasant evening in our mansion to look forward to, I feel I could get used to his lifestyle.
Tomorrow we play at the Oscar Wilde Awards party at director JJ Abrams' offices surrounded by the great and the good from Hollywood cinema and music including Stephen Fry, Carrie Fisher, KT Tunstall, Stephen Colbert and JJ Abrams himself, who will introduce us to the audience.
Just like any other day really.
A leisurely dinner, more g&t, an hour or so just to flick once through the 1500 channels on the enormous TV, and bed.