Video & Gallery:The Talent have it covered

Making money out of music isn't easy but Suffolk-based band The Talent have been working on the circuit for some years.

James Marston

Making money out of music isn't easy but Suffolk-based band The Talent have been working on the circuit for some years. JAMES MARSTON went to one of their gigs to find out more.

IT'S just gone 8pm when the white van turns up.

And Baggy, James and Steve know the routine.

While they carry the equipment needed to put on their show up the stairs into Felixstowe's Cork Bar, Baggy - real name Barry Trower - chats about the band.

The 30-year-old said: “We knew each other from the music circuit and we formed five years ago this summer. We play what people want us to play - it depends on the gig.

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“We're a cover band and we make a living out of music. There's a choice you make - keep on going with original stuff or play covers.”

Drummer James Ivey, 32, of Catford in South London, said: “I've been in a few bands and never really progressed to the point of getting a record deal and I want to pay the mortgage. You can make a good living out of doing what we do.”

Tonight the band will play a mixture of soul, pop and rock. At their more lucrative corporate gigs and events like weddings they play in accordance with the customer's wishes.

Baggy, bassist and lead vocalist, said: “We get to play more of what we like at pub gigs. We do two or three gigs a week, tomorrow we have a corporate event and then on Saturday we're playing at a wedding.”

Though the pub gigs aren't as lucrative as some of their other work, playing enables the guys to showcase their work and hopefully secure other work.

James added: “We keep busy, the second you sit back it falls away.”

Charming and seemingly relaxed the guys take their work more seriously than they let on.

Baggy said: “You can get away with a lot at a pub gig, you can banter with the audience and have fun but we have to be professional.”

Their equipment alone is a mark of how seriously they take the band.

The gear includes lighting, a PA system, the instruments, amps, drums and if necessary staging and a back drop - the guys estimate the whole lot is worth the best part of �15,000.

Baggy said: “We are all trained musicians. We put the work in on our instruments. The only way to have any living out of it is to take it seriously. You've got to turn up and be reliable.

“We don't drink when we're working. You can have fun and if you look like you're enjoying yourself then the audience will too.

“If we are playing in a new venue we scout the place beforehand, check out how we are going to do the get-in and work out what we will bring in.”

By 9pm the gear is almost set up. The guys are fixing up leads and doing sound checks. The bar is still fairly quiet.

Baggy said: “You never know how many are going to turn up. It can be packed or we can be playing to 12 people.”

At 9.20pm there's just time for last checks to make sure everything is working.

Baggy said: “We go everywhere to work, all over the country but 50 per cent of our work is in Suffolk and Essex. We do a pub gig every couple of weeks. I wouldn't want to do anything else. It started as a hobby for us.”

The guys have quite defined roles with Baggy doing much of the talking on stage, working the crowd and engaging with the audience.

James said: “He's the mouthy one, he's a bit of a salesman and our mouthpiece. I'm the technical one, I'm a trained sound engineer and Steve is a trained electrician.”

Guitarist Steve, 43, of Grange Road, Felixstowe, said: “I've been doing this for years. You start out and suddenly 20 years have gone by.

“We all do it because we enjoy it. I juggle my family around the gigs. I also teach guitar and repair guitars.”

The father of two said his favourite is rock music.

He said: “I usually have a two hour drive home, tonight it's two minutes which is great.”

For Cork Bar landlady Louise Juggins The Talent are regular fixtures.

The 42-year-old has run the venue for the last three years.

She said: “The Talent are a popular band. Baggy is good with the crowd.

“We've always been a music venue and you have to keep bringing in what the punters what, you've got to change with the times and keep the punters interested.

“Bands will approach us and ask us to play. If we like the sound of them we'll give them a go.”

With bands regularly attracting crowds of 200 on a Saturday night, the Thursday night gigs are less predictable.

Louise said: “You never know how many you're going to get in. I enjoy running a music pub. There are a lot of young bands out there.”

Opening with Are You Gonna Go My Way by Lenny Kravitz, the band play 11 numbers in the first half of their set including songs by Queen and Abba. By the end of the set the crowd has grown and the bar's busy.

Baggy said: “We play for 45 minutes until 10.15pm then start again at 10.45 until 11.30pm. We have a repertoire of about 500 songs.

“It can be difficult to remember the lyrics but we like to be able to play requests if someone shouts something out. We all rely on each other.”

It takes 20 minutes to clear away the gear and another gig is over.

James added: “We're all tired at the end of the night. But we're friends, we get on. We'll do it again the next night.”

Have you seen The Talent? Which is your favourite music pub? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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