Chapter 11 : Present Day -
"Third Tour of Ops"
Most of the conversations about staying together as a band
and continuing to play, had all taken place late-night, after numerous
beers.... which, as has been said before, is usually not the best scenario ! So
in January 2006, a band meeting was arranged to seriously discuss this. The
meeting took place again at the Victoria Hotel in Beeston - the very
place where the first band "reunion meeting" was held almost a year earlier.
All six band members and Coop attended and everyone aired their points of view,
wishes and concerns.... an awful lot had happened and changed since 617
were doing this 14 years ago and all of those things had to be considered.
But the important thing was that everyone agreed that
617 still had something to offer and everyone seemed quite keen to carry
on doing something together - as long as everyone's personal issues were taken
Basically, everyone had many more personal commitments
now, than before, whether it was work, family, or whatever. So in principle, it
was agreed that the band would stay together and aim to play just a few gigs a
year. It would be for enjoyment and so gigs had to be found and arranged on
dates that everyone agreed on, so that it wouldn't interfere with "normal
life". It was a very productive meeting and everyone seemed happy with the
outcome, even agreeing a date for the next rehearsal !
Geoff obviously then spent quite a bit of time thinking
things over and reconsidering everything, because shortly before that
rehearsal, he informed everyone that he was leaving the band again.
Once again, this came as a bit of a shock to all and
everyone was sad to see him go - again. But he explained that it was going to
be very difficult to fit things in around his work and also that he had enjoyed
playing again, but had now "got it out of his system" and didn't have the
desire to carry on.
So, 617 settled back into it's "familiar" and
current 5-piece lineup of Keri, Ady, Gary, Kev and Muz.
That previously arranged rehearsal still took place as
planned. But considering that when the band first got back together again
almost a year earlier, they had to re-work the old songs for two guitars, the
first priority now was to rearrange all the numbers back to how they had been
20 years ago, with just one guitar and keyboards ! But that was sorted after a
couple of rehearsals and the band even began to learn a few entirely new songs
Because 617 only want to do a few gigs per year, it
was generally agreed that it was fairly pointless approaching Agents again.
Instead, the band decided to agree an the dates when they were all available
and then try to find gigs for those dates, from "personal contacts",
word-of-mouth and (hopefully !) re-bookings. But also, if anyone offers a gig
on a certain date, the band will always try to see if they can accomodate.
The first gig of 617's "Third Tour of Ops" took
place in the Coach and Horses, Draycott, Derby, on Saturday 22nd April
2006. It remains as probably one of the smallest venues the band have
ever played in, having to leave some of the gear and half the new
lighting rig out ! But it was a great night, with lots of old friends coming
down to see the band, including a "surprise guest" in the audience -
617's original Agent, the almost-legendary Reg Enderby of Stables
Since then, 617 have continued to perform all
around the Midlands area, doing a few gigs per year and having a lot of fun
doing it ! Different songs are added to the set on a regular basis and the band
have invested in more gear and have a new, more compact P.A. system.
The latter was brought about by a more recent
change in the 617 lineup, when long-time Sound and Lighting Engineer,
Coop, decided to "retire from the Music Biz" in 2008. Coop had been with the
band pretty-much every step of the way since 1983 and there's no doubt that
without his influence and all his many contributions to the band, the
617 show would not have been as successful as it was - and hopefully,
still is !
But Coop's departure meant that, without the "extra man",
the band had to re-think they way they do things and the answer was a
smaller-sized but more efficient P.A. system, allowing the band to now do
on-stage mixing - plus, making it easier to fit in smaller-sized venues
Coop's "presence" is still missed by all, but... the band
carries on as before...... :-)
This brings the History of 617 pretty-much
The band still operate the same way today, sourcing and
playing just a few gigs per year - but always welcome booking enquiries and
gigs from anyone, which can hopefully be accomodated.
617 are now doing this (almost) purely for
enjoyment... but keeping to their old "values", the band still deliver classic
songs and try to use the full lighting rig and P.A., no matter what size
the venue - it's all about "putting on the show" !
And there are few acts who are better at
doing that, than 617 !