Gerry Jablonski & The Electric Band
SATURDAY 15TH MARCH 2014
When Polish-born Peter Narojczyk stepped off the coach in Aberdeen Bus Station, he began to doubt why he had bothered to make the journey. As he walked through the doors, two men fought in the street outside the Criterion Bar. As Peter watched, open-mouthed, police cars screamed past him, sirens blazing, to break up the fight.
Then it rained. For two days. Non-stop.
Peter lived and worked in Aberdeen, playing blues harp in open mic nights and jamming with bands at the weekends, all the while being told that he had to see this guy named Jablonski: he was half-Polish and apparently very good. As luck would have it, Peter noticed that Gerry Jablonski was playing in The Globe one Saturday, and decided to take his girlfriend, who had just moved to the city.
After a couple of young guitarists ploughed through their covers sets, it was Gerry's turn to take the mic. Peter had been expecting an old fart with a big beard playing some stuffy blues, but he couldn't have been further from the truth.
Borrowing a guitar from one of the other acts, Gerry took to the stage and pretended to throw away the music stand in front of him in mock egotistical fashion: he didn't need a stand, having played the blues for years. The top, however, flew out of the stand and across the room, smashing the pint sitting on the table in front of Peter. Covered in glass and beer, Peter was ready for a fight. When Gerry played, however, Peter was converted: he knew this was the man he had to play with.
It was two long years before Peter and Gerry's paths crossed again, but to employ a cheap and oft-used cliché, every granite-grey raincloud has a silver lining…
Meanwhile, drummer Dave Innes moved back to Aberdeen from London and began looking around the city for new musical projects. He called on Gerry, Peter and bassist Grigor Leslie and before they knew it, The Electric Band was born. Now, they've played together for over two years, and nothing will stop them on their way to the top.
Much focus is put on Peter's blues harp ability, or Gerry being a 'veteran of the blues scene'. The band, though, are quick to dispel these descriptions: "We write all our music together, as a band," says Peter. "There are no egos involved in the Electric Band, we're just in it for the music."
Throughout 2009 and 2010, The Electric Band toured the UK, playing packed out venues and festivals everywhere between Aberdeen and London. Of all their gigs, though, two stand out as highlights to Peter: "Supporting Otis Grand during the Edinburgh Festival was brilliant. We only got to play a 45 minute set, but afterwards we had 700 people giving us a standing ovation and wanting more. I don't think I've ever signed more CDs and t-shirts in one night since!
"The second highlight, for me, was playing on the Main Stage at The Great British R&B Festival in Colne. We started really badly, because Gerry's guitar broke, but soon we won the crowd over and ended triumphantly."
But what does 2011 hold for the band? Their second studio album – 'Life at Captain Tom's' – is due out in May, and is to be followed by appearances at 8 major festivals across the UK and a planned European tour. But what Peter dreams of most of all is a gig back in his home: "I'd love to do a tour in Poland, especially Warsaw, so I could invite all my friends and show them this great band I'm involved with."
And who knows, maybe they'll make it there this year: perhaps Peter will get to play for his friends, and Gerry will be able to rediscover his roots (his family decided to move to Scotland at the end of the war instead of Australia or Canada!). All that can be certain, though, is that The Electric Band will continue to take the UK blues scene by storm this summer. For years Peter and Gerry were Poles apart; now, they're rocking together.