Any band is only ever as good as its drummer, and this one is surprisingly good.”
Sting, Men’s Journal
We head out into the rain looking for another bar. Another upstairs room, another live band, a packed, smoky club, and this time the band doesn’t sound half bad. Any band is only ever as good as its drummer, and this one is surprisingly good. In the bio I pick up from the table he lists Vinnie Colaiuta, my erstwhile trapsman, as his main influence. I am duly impressed. The jazz-funk of the five piece vibes up the room nicely, and after a few Nepalese vodkas I am in the zone, although one of my fingers of my left hand is throbbing painfully.
We reflect on the interesting day we’ve had, whitewater rafting on the Bhotekosi River, which saw Jake and me catapulted into the flood. The boat was suddenly at the base of a deep trough and then almost capsized by a ten-foot wall of oncoming water. Only we two mugs in the front got thrown out, still clutching our paddles. But as a bonding experience for father and son it had to be in the top ten, the two of us struggling to stay upright in the raging torrent and the rest of the crew frantically trying to get us back into the boat before the next set of rapids. I was deeply proud of my boy though. He was calm and cool in a dangerous crisis. But I many have fractured a finger during the incident. Although I managed to wrench it straight when we got back into the boat, before feeling came back. I knew it would be sore tonight.
In the late afternoon, my finger in a splint, we went shopping for the provisions and equipment we would need on our trip to the forbidden kingdom. A few prayers were offered at a Hindu shrine in Durbar Square for good weather tomorrow, to get us through the narrow gorge to Lo Manthang safely.. But tonight we are determined to enjoy our last night in civilization.
There has been a buzz of recognition building in the club since we arrived and ensconced ourselves at a discreet corner table, but the buss has now percolated to the band. I’m a practiced reader of body language; I’ve grown used to detecting changes in room temperature when celebrity is recognised, subtle waves of energy and gesture that indicate who knows you and who doesn’t, who doesn’t care and who’s pretending they don’t. It’s a complex and fascinating anthropological dance. The band now begins to play with an increased intensity and flash energy. There are a lot of smiles thrown in my direction. They know I’m here, and during the break the drummer makes his way over to our table.
“That was very cool,” I tell him. “My compliments to you and the band.”
“Man, I can’t believe you’re here. It’s such an honour for us.”
I look suitably abashed and proceed to sign autographs for him and the band – and now that the ice has been broken, for everybody else in the club.
“Hey, man,” says the drummer, “would you play with us?”
I raise my bandaged finger in the air and explain: “Boating accident.”
“Aw, man, that would have been solid. How about singing with us?”
“And what would you like me to sing?” I ask, stalling for time.
“‘Walking on the Moon’, man. It’s one of our favourites.”
“I can’t sing that song at this altitude. It’s too hard. It would kill me. How about a 12-bar medium-tempo swing, in F?”
“You bet,” he says. “You’re first up after the break.”
The blues standard ‘I’ve Been Down So Long Being Down Don’t Bother Me’ has served me as an impromptu jam on many an occasions like this. Nor does it let me down tonight, even with a throbbing finger.
Ladies and gentlemen, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you, for the first time in Katmandu, international singing star…