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GIG REPORTS 2010

Rogers personal view of the gigs he has attended
Not all are Rock'n'Roll - Roger likes all live entertainment

Disclaimer: All the views expressed herein (unless otherwise ascribed) are those of the author and may
be unsuitable for overly sensitive persons of low esteem, or irrational religious beliefs. Any attempt
to sue me over the contents will constitute an irritating social faux pas.

                       


2010

 
Saturday 4th December we were at Ripley Village Hall to help celebrate Jackie Lynton's' Christmas Party with entertainment by - who else? - The Jackie Lynton Band. The event was in support of the SOS Dog Rescue charity, which is a particular favourite of Ronnie Remnant - an old friend of Jacks.   It was a "bring your own food and drink" party, and despite Vanessa Lynton's concerns that she hadn't sold enough tickets, the place was packed. 

Jack met us at the front door and pointed out our table - there were lots of old friends and familiar faces.  Of course the band were there, Colin Pattenden, Spud Metcalfe, Chris Bryant and Mike Windus.

Trisha Metcalfe and Clare Austen were (apart from Vanessa Lynton of course) the only WAGS at the party. It was nice to be able to congratulate Clare and Mike together on their engagement.   Among the faces not seen for ages were Neil Hill,  Chris-The-Carpet, Keith-The-Stalker and his gang, and Stevie Kemp and entourage.  A real old Jack Lynton reunion.  Vanessa, Jack and Ronnie ran a "play your cards right" game and a huge raffle, and the whole event made £300 for the dog charity - well done Vanessa.  Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera with me, so no record here for posterity!

The sound system wasn't the best I've heard, with Colins microphone delivering the backing vocals louder than Jacks singing; and with Jacks microphone being quiet and muddy compared to the others, plus there was a lot of sound leakage from the foldback - but I guess that was largely due to the poor acoustics of the hall.  Despite this the band played brilliantly and the only time it really noticed was when the PA was being used for announcements - the band sounded OK. The audience loved the evening and by their second set the dance floor was jam packed with dancers.
 

No camera on Saturday !
So here's an old one of me and Jack

 

Lynton at The Wheatsheaf

Saturday 27th November found The Jackie Lynton Band and entourage (me Fran and Trisha) at The Wheatsheaf public house in Fulham Road, London.  The pub had been mistakenly advertising this as "The Return of The Jackie Lynton Band", when in fact he had never played there before!  He used to play at The Golden Lion just round the corner from this pub over twenty years ago. Never mind - I suppose it was a generic "return to Fulham".

Chris Bryant couldn't be there because his Mum wasn't well, so Ken Osborn (Nashville Teens) depped for him. It was refreshing to see Ken playing "free" - he is very good;  we normally only see him performing the set pieces with The Teens.  It was great to see Jack again - I haven't seen him for months for various reasons - and he was on great form - partially because some of his old fans had turned up.  Spud Metcalfe had brought his best Ludwig drum kit, Colin Pattenden was buzzing - although in the picture to the left he seems pre-occupied with one of the spotlights which had failed.  Perhaps he had been "Blinded by The Light" ?  Mike Windus played brilliantly - especially one slide solo. He was also buzzing - in his case it was with news that he and Claire have decided to get married!

The pub was large, but suffers sound leakage which annoys its neighbours - so the poor landlord - while loving the music - was panicking about the volume and the possibility of losing his licence. The band tried to play lower and lighter - but that isn't easy with Rock'n'Roll.  A good gig nonetheless.
 

 
Saturday 13th November I trekked up to Telford with Colin Pattenden to The Oakengates Theatre to play at being sound engineer for an evening concert performance by The Merseybeats and The Nashville Teens.  It was a very long day, but very enjoyable.  I was providing backline for The Merseybeats on behalf of my mate Roger Weddup (who was in his role as roadie for The Swinging Blue Jeans on this particular night).  The Oakengates Theatre is very modern and had a very nice digital sound mixing desk and a very good PA system. I have absolutely no experience of using digital mixers so I was very lucky because the theatre also had their own very good engineer - a lovely guy named Gary.  He did a marvellous job of mixing and the sound quality in the auditorium and on the stage foldback was brilliant and crisp.

There was a warm-up comic/compere named Stephan Meredith who was reasonably entertaining, and then The Nashville Teens were on.  It was one of the best performances I have seen them provide for a long time - I suspect assisted by both the reactive audience and the great sound quality on stage.   After the break Ray Phillips, Spud Metcalfe, Simon Spratley and Ken Osborn packed their gear and set off for the long trip back to Surrey and Berkshire,  but Colin and I stayed on because we had to take the backline down after the show.  The Merseybeats were good - very polished professional musicians - a lot of "from the heart" music, but with just  the right mix of "cabaret".  I'm afraid that I only recognised one of their own songs from the sixties, but they weren't my cup of tea in those days. The performance included lots of clapping and singing along, plus medleys of Mersey Sound hits and Beatles songs, all of which both Colin and I found a bit twee - but the audience loved it, and that is what matters. 

A great evening and the audience loved both bands.  Well worth the one hundred and fifty mile drive.

This balance between being saleable to the public as a "twee" cabaret type act - and being true to the genuine music genre (which in the case of The Cavern Club, wasn't polished)  is sometimes a difficult balancing act for musicians.  I remember having a discussion once with Brian Poole (I think at Butlins, Bognor) about the degrees of freedom which a performer has on stage. He told me he was envious of The Teens and longed for the freedom to include what he liked in his act, instead of being restricted to pumping out nostalgic Tremeloes stuff.   I think The Merseybeats managed the balance very well, a good professional band.
 

The Nashville Teens on stage at Telford

 

above - King Earl Boogie Band
below - with guests Ray Phillips and Colin Pattenden

Saturday 6th November we gathered at Carnglaze Caverns in Cornwall to see The King Earl Boogie Band delivering their annual Flash Bang Boogie night.

The first set was acoustic and featured Paul King (Mungo Jerry) as a guest artiste.  The sound quality in the cavern is usually great, but unfortunately the sound engineer wasn't the best I have ever heard and we suffered some annoying feedback (I think the use of old powered speakers with their own mini-amps for foldback was the primary cause - one is much less likely to get problems from passive speakers for the stage sounds - especially in an environment like a cave, with loads of reflective surfaces.)  The band were also widely spaced on the stage, which often disengages the players on the extremities - and in turn can result in a less tight performance than usual. Unfortunately tonight wasn't an exception, and although they all played well, they didn't gel quite as closely as usual.  Paul was on great form for his guest spots - for which he employed his harmonica, his guitar and his banjo.  John Coghlan held the whole band together with his fantastic drumming - ably assisted by Les Calvert on bass guitar.  At the end of the first set the audience then streamed outside to eat burgers and to enjoy the spectacular firework display.

After the fireworks we all filed back into the cavern and the second - electric - set began.  Largely rock 'n' roll based, although Dave Peabody did squeeze in some blues numbers - including a dedication to me for Drifter Blues.   Gordon Vaughan has been standing in Ian Campbell's shoes in this band for just over a year now, and I'm pleased to say that he is an excellent guitarist and has filled that space very well. Drifter Blues is one of my favourites not only because of Dave's vocal delivery - which is great - but also because of Ian's guitar work - and I can honestly say after his solo on Saturday that Gordon does just as well.   Paul King also guested in this set - and the audience were thrilled to hear In The Summertime performed by two original members of Mungo Jerry - Paul King and Colin Earl;  and of course George Leslie Calvert - who played with Ray Dorset's Mungo Jerry for eighteen years.   John Coghlan delivered his amazing drum solo in Who Do You Love - for which he elicited a lot of positive audience reaction.

The band made a second break about 9pm, probably a tactical mistake because it resulted in many of the audience leaving.  However, there were still several hundred there for the third set which had a section for more guest artistes, and featured Ray Phillips (Nashville Teens) on vocals and Colin Pattenden (Manfred Mann's Earth Band) on bass guitar - also supported by Paul King

Despite the sound system and the width of the physical spread on stage, it was an excellent performance, very entertaining and well worth the effort of driving those 300+ miles to Cornwall.
 

 
Saturday 30th October was a private gig - it was Nathan and Lisa's Wedding Party. The band were The Keith Allen Band, and it was all happening at Stirrups Hotel near Maidens Green.  The gig was a bitter sweet one in many ways.  It had originally been booked as The Ian Campbell Band, but Ian has not been able to play since his horrific road accident, which was coincidentally one year ago to the very day. His band had been booked because they were one of the favourite bands of Nathan's late father - in fact The Campbell Band played at Jim Carswell's funeral.   So this was the original; band, but led by Keith Allen on vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica; and with Gordon Vaughan on lead guitar. The rest of the band line-up featured George Leslie Calvert (KEBB) played bass guitar , Simon Price on drums and Simon Spratley (Nashville Teens) on keyboards.

Perhaps predictably the itinerary was already running an hour late by the time the band arrived, but they had a bar tab so they used it.  Eventually we got them on stage and they played one short set and one long set. These featured several Beatles classics, including Hey Jude - which was not previously in their repertoire, but they had worked up an arrangement and rehearsed it  because it had been especially requested.  It was Jim's favourite song, it is Lisa's favourite piece of music, and Nathan and Lisa's son, who is nearly three years old, is named Jude - so the band had to play it!  Gordon set out some truly fantastic guitar solos, especially in Hotel California.  He is a top class performer and while you can never replace personalities or their specific musical influences, Gordon fits extremely well into the niche which had been created and occupied by Ian Campbell. The dance floor was packed all night and there were at least three encores - which made everyone very happy.  An excellent evenings entertainment from a band whom we don't see enough of.
 

Keith Allen Band

 

Warhorse

After what seems an age of hospital operations and recuperation, we re-commenced our life of enjoying live performances on Thursday 21st October when we went to The New London Theatre in Drury Lane to see Warhorse

What an amazing show! A simple, but moving, children's story of a horse drafted into the cavalry in World War 1, and his young master who joined up to seek and find his lost horse.  The imagery was fantastic - a combination of humans and life size puppets. Each horse driven by three puppeteers in and around it - "Head", "Heart" and "Hind" - whom you really didn't notice after ten minutes acclimatization). The story follows the adventures and stresses of both "Joey" the horse and Albert, his master until they eventually find each other.

The staging and effects are superb - especially the mechanicals. The horses are beautifully modelled and the puppeteers have clearly studied the behaviour of horses; the tank advancing across "no-mans land" and scaring the horses was a particularly memorable "mechanical"; and "Goose" is a minor star of the show - you have to see him to understand. The show was emotionally draining.  I have seen many opera, ballet and classical music performances in my life which commanded a standing ovation. This was the first time I've ever seen a genuine standing ovation for a play.  Fantastic. 
 

 

     

Roger Weddup                       Lynton meets Lucy                            Lynton Band on stage                    Nashville Teens on stage
 

Roys back

Free At Last brave the rain

The rain wins :-(

Ken dripping

Sunday 29th August 2010  I walked up the road to The Royal Oak to enjoy The Bracknell Rock Festival.  The sound system was provided by two good friends of mine Colin Pattenden, (Bass Guitarist Manfred Mann's Earth Band) with assistance from Roger Weddup (Roadie for the Swinging Blue Jeans).

Because the Royal Oak is only half a mile from where I live, I planned to make at least three visits to the "festival" during the day, rather than staying through a lot of bands which I knew from experience were good, but not my sort of music. The first visit was just after 1am to find a very loud heavy rock band called Replicant were just finishing their set as the heavens opened.  So I was immediately drafted onto stage to hold umbrellas and mop water from the amplifiers.  There were only about eighty or so audience that early in the day and I seemed to recognise or know most of them. It was good to catch up with Trisha Metcalf, Ken Osborne (Nashville Teens),  Anne and Greg Terry-Short (Free at Last) and Gordon Sellar (Alex Harvey Band).  After an exciting twenty minutes the rain ceased and the stage got dried (a bit) so that the next band - The Dragsters - could take to the stage.  I was very damp and didn't really want to start drinking too early, so I headed home for a sandwich and planned to return later to see Free At Last.

I got back just as Greg was starting his first song . The sky darkened and it started to rain. He managed four songs with the rain getting steadily heavier with each number until Colin P had to pull the plug for safety. The main PA amplifier had blown up. The next few hours were spent re-planning how we could operate (with a different - dry - PA system) indoors.  There were plus and minus points.  Indoors we could continue until midnight, whereas the outdoor licence had been only till 10:30.  However, the re-organisation gap meant that the schedule was running about two hours late.  The music recommenced at five with The Lee Aaron Band, followed by Brainchild and No Way Out.  I missed some of these because I was helping Colin and Roger dry the outdoor equipment.  Of course, after the squall had blown over the sky turned blue, the sun shone and it was generally good weather for drying out wet amplifiers!

I took another break to go home to get some dinner about 6pm, but quickly returned, this time with Fran.  The audience had increased by now and there were perhaps 150 people crammed into the pub and spilling into the car park.  Among the throng were Mel & Ray Phillips, Jack Lynton, and Adam Russel.  We were in plenty of time to see The Jackie Lynton Band who took to the stage at about 8pm. They were followed by The Ed Hudson Band, which I unfortunately missed because we had to pack up the now dried equipment out in the - now sunny evening - of the car park.  However, they sounded very good.  We all went back inside for The Nashville Teens - who were excellent. It is amazing how easily you can tell the difference between a "jobbing" R&B band and a polished professional performance from a band which was at one time fully professional.  It had been a long day and the audience started to drift away as The Teens struck stage.  I didn't want to appear rude by being one of only a very small audience when I intended to leave after only a few numbers of Juicy Lucy's performance; so I elected to help Colin P load his backline amps into his van and then I set off for home as Juicy Lucy were striking their opening chords.  Although I didn't see them, they too had that "professional" ring to their presentation - noticeable in just a couple of bars.

Overall an interesting day, and despite the general dislocation of the event, it was still great value for money. I fear it couldn't have made much profit for it's chosen charities though.  Let's hope that Roy the landlord doesn't give up - it was a brave attempt.
 

 
We caught a train into London on Saturday 21st August to join some friends to re-live our misspent youth by seeing HAIR yet again (see 5th April below). The show at The Gielgud Theatre is closing in the next few weeks, so we thought we had better take a last opportunity for a few years to see our favourite musical.  In fact the friends we met with had been to see it with us in 1968 !  So there were a lot of other memories to share.

The show was bright and full of nostalgia.  Fran and I had dressed for the occasion with suitably colourful clothing and headbands - and at the end we got on stage to dance to Let The Sun Shine In with hundreds of others from the audience.  At this performance - presumably catering to a specific part of the audience, there was a deaf and dumb signer in a hippy type dress at the left hand side of the stage.  I was fascinated to see how graphically she interpreted the immortal line "Fuck Fuckedy Fuck Fuck Fuck!"; she seemed such a nice girl as well!  A lot of her interpretation of song words seemed to be hippy arm waving dancing rather than the actual lyrics.

The show itself was great - the cast had embellished some parts since we saw it in April - but that is the joy of musicals - they are alive and evolve around a common core.

Loads of nostalgia - shame that the show is going to close soon, although we are hoping it may be off to do a UK tour - in which case we might catch it yet again.
 

The stage set for HAIR

 

A Midsummer Nights Dream

I never pictured Puck like this when I read it at school!

Friday 20th August It seems ages since we went to any sort of live entertainment - and tonight it was quite local; just a mile up the road at South Hill Park in Bracknell.  The event was an open air performance of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Nights Dream, performed by the Travelling Globe Company.

For the audience it was a picnic gig - and the travelling players had got a "stage booth" similar to the sort of tiny stage Mr Shakespeare and his players would have travelled round the Country with in the 1590's and early 1600's.  In the tradition of such travelling entertainments in the sixteenth century the whole evening had a bit of everything - comedy, tragedy, music, dance and audience participation. A bit of something for everybody. The "players" were multi skilled, playing instruments, singing, dancing and acting with equal aplomb.  There were eight of them and between them they covered the twenty-one characters in Shakespeare's original play.  (Luckily for the actors many of the characters remain asleep for a lot of the play).

The characters were basically dressed in 1920's fashions and opened and closed with Charleston style dancing; however the script and context of the play remained a solid sixteenth century perception of what ancient Athens might have been like. The character and costume changes were as much a part of the show as the acting itself, with convoluted dances and songs as characters metamorphosed from fairy to rude mechanic to the star crossed lovers.   The show has several sub-plots ; the love story of Helena, Demetrius, Hermia and Lysander ;  the fairy story of love and jealousy between Oberon and Titania; and the play of Pyramus and Thisbe acted - in comedic form - by the "mechanicals".  The play flowed brilliantly using very simple techniques like the wearing of dark glasses to signify when the fairies were invisible; and the wearing of aprons and hats to signify when the actors were "the rude mechanicals".  Brilliantly produced.

An excellent evenings entertainment, it felt very much like "going back to the roots" of good family entertainment, especially as it was open air, there were a lot of children in the audience and the cast managed a very clever - almost circus like - presentation.   Oh! and a great picnic with a bottle of champagne helped too!
 

 
Friday 23rd July I travelled to my old home town of Hitchin to see The Jackie Lynton Band performing at The Sir John Barleycorn pub, right across the road (well the park anyway) from my old School.  I rolled up just after half past seven and found Jackie Lynton, Mike Windus and Chris Bryant in the bar, and only a couple of locals as a potential audience.   Spud Metcalf and Colin Pattenden were only a few minutes behind me, and by twenty past eight the stage was set - but still no real audience.  Most of us wandered into town to find sandwiches but were back and eating them in the pub garden by nine o'clock.  Miraculously the little pub started to fill and when the band started to play just after nine the place has packed!

The band were on top form. Spud had brought his new Ludwig drum kit which sounded brilliant.  Colin's back was evidently a lot better - and he played a terrific gig.  Chris was sparkling and Mike played a couple of really amazing solo's - I particularly liked his work in the "Funk Version" of High Healed Sneakers. The band also came out with George Harrisons Isn't It A Pity, which was spellbinding.  The audience were very appreciative of the whole evening - many were dancing and there was loads of cheering and whooping - which always brings out the best in Jack.  He treated them to a couple of blue jokes and sang his heart out - he evidently loved the evening.

It was good to see Tony Phillips again - he now lives in Hitchin and was the co-sponsor of this gig.  He got on stage to sing a couple of old Rock'n'Roll numbers.  I think many of the audience were quite surprised to find that their old drinking buddy from the bar was actually quite a good singer.   The audience appeared to be really pleased with the evening - a good gig!
 

above: Lynton at The Barleycorn
below: Tony Phillips guest spot

 


Gordon, Colin, Greg and Chris

 

 

Saturday 17th July we drove down to The Half Moon at Northchapel - to see The BluesBlasters perform.   This line-up generally only ever appears at the Half Moon because it is Chris Bryant's local and these are his buddies.  On drums is Greg Terry-Short, more usually the front man of Free At Last; he is complemented by Colin Pattenden (Nashville Teens) on bass guitar to provide the power behind the band.  The second lead guitar - and some lead vocals - is Gordon Sellar (more usually seen playing bass guitar with various local bands) and the lead guitar and lead singer is of course Chris Bryant himself.  Poor Colin had been in the wars - he damaged his back while on holiday a week or so ago, and then compounded the damage lifting a bale of wiring during this week - so he was hardly able to walk and had to do so using a stick. He sat on a stool throughout the gig and even used an older, lighter, guitar (his usual five string Alembic weighs a ton!). However, music is a great anaesthetic and Col was transported and smiling throughout the gig. Even Jackie Lynton made the long journey to Northchapel to watch the first half of this gig - praise indeed for these musicians.

It was a great gig - Gordon sang a few - he has a nice soft Scottish accent which is just right for old Rock'n'Roll numbers like Sea Cruise.  Chris's voice is great too - although more gravelly and of course his guitar work remains as extravagant as it is impeccable - he's a really class showman.  Greg sang half a dozen numbers - his voice is very raw - great for Paul Rodgers numbers - who is his hero, so that helps.  Colin's backing vocals were strong - even though delivered from a stool!   The repertoire was great - the band have been working on additional numbers, of which the most surprising was perhaps a fantastic arrangement of The Beatles Get Back.

Spud Metcalf (Nashville Teens) was also in the audience and he played drums on a few numbers where Greg had been delivering vocals up front of the band. There is no doubt that the highlight of the evening was the drum solo - except it wasn't.  It was a drum duo!.  Greg and Spud sat side by side and played a fantastic drum duo during Wipeout - while the rest of the band wandered off to the bar!  Wipeout is a pretty impressive drum routine with only one drummer - with two of them in unison it was one of the most entertaining performances I have ever seen. The audience were whooping, cheering and clapping for ages - they are going to have to build that into their regular act!

One of the most refreshing live gigs I have seen for months - these guys had obviously been rehearsing a load of new numbers and the audience really appreciated them.
 

 
Saturday 10th July  I found myself at The Hampton Court Flower Show, sitting in the shade with Colin Pattenden (Manfred Mann's Earth Band) sipping Pimms in the summer afternoon heat and watching The Steve Simpson Band playing blues from a bandstand.   The girls had gone foraging for plants armed only with credit cards and huge wads of cash, leaving us to "wait for us here" for a couple of hours.

Steve is good exponent of the strings - and we watched him play a variety of instruments including a mandolin (which isn't easy) and a banjo (which almost is easy) as well as his electric guitar (Fender, but I couldn't see which model).  His voice is fairly mellow, and while the style of his band is very Country orientated, Steve himself is a bit like Mark Knopfler in his guitar style.  The application of this style to Old school R&B, blues and Rock was an interesting combination.

The output was all high quality musicianship, but some of the songs were uneasy on my ear.  For instance their rendition of Let It Rock would almost certainly not be recognised by Chuck Berry, had he been passing ; while their presentation of High Heel Sneakers owed more to Status Quo than to old school Rock.   Strangest were Willie and The Hand Jive and Big Boss Man, both played in definitive "Country" style.   Interesting, but not my cup of tea.

As if to compensate for this unusual mix of styles, at each interval the band played Delbert McLinton through the PA - which was very much to my taste; if you gotta have Country, then have the best !.  Well done Steve, a long gig, and although not to my taste, it was very good.
 

Steve Simpson Band

 


Ready to boogie at The Cleve School

 

Friday 2nd July we drove over to Weybridge to the Cleve School where The King Earl Boogie Band were playing their customary annual PTA Picnic gig.  Of course the best bit of this gig is that loads of youngsters get the opportunity to get on stage and perform in front of their friends and family.  This year the talent was - as usual - of a very high standard.   A few little girls singing karaoke tracks, but also a nice little band, the drummer of whom was excellent and got a few tips from John Coghlan (what a tutor! twenty five years with Status Quo). There was also a really good little black guy with a great voice who sang Edelweiss, a capello. 

This year was a subtly different feel - the school is being rebuilt and the stage was a little more exposed and windy than usual.  Also, the sound system was not the usual robust outdoor one (Colin P was on holiday) - the sound was good close to the stage, but got lost at about 100 yards out.  There were also less gazebos and tables than usual - perhaps a sign that the weather could be relied on this year! (It was a warm dry summer evening - just right for music and wine)

The band were good, and Dave Peabody is a natural children's entertainer.  Colin Earl and Les Calvert were evidently enjoying themselves, and Gordon Vaughan is now settled in nicely as a great lead guitar.  A nice evening out.
 

                                

                         Colin Earl with a young singer                     Colin playing in typical karate style mode                    Edelweiss - a great little voice
 

 
Saturday 19th June found us at Chilham Village Hall celebrating Amy & Matt's marriage.  Chilham is a medieval village in the heart of Kent - exceedingly picturesque and the backdrop for many period drama's and films.  Amy is almost family - her dad, Alan, has been a close friend of Ray Phillips since they were in the army together in the early sixties.  So it was only natural that the family should want Ray to make the music for the wedding reception - hence The Nashville Teens played Chilham on Saturday.

Unfortunately Ken Osborne, lead guitar, was indisposed - so we had to field a "deputy" - in the shape of Chris Bryant Chris normally leads for The Jackie Lynton Band - and is an excellent guitarist - but The Teens play an orchestrated set, so he had spent most of Friday and Saturday with Simon Spratley learning the segways in the medleys, all the integral key changes and the overtures where the lead guitar starts the action (not least of which is Tobacco Road itself).   Colin Pattenden and Spud Metcalf were also on top form - I think the band goes into a higher gear when they are helping a dep.  The effect was that nobody in the audience would really have been aware that Chris was playing the set for the first time. 

Ray Phillips was on top form - performing for friends and family always seems to bring out the extra mile in his already awesome vocal delivery.  The delivery of Put A Spell On You was one of the best I've ever heard Ray give.  The whole evening was a great success and Amy & Matt loved the show.
 

Teens at Chilham

 

The Skatoons

Watch out for them on GMTV during the World Cup

"Come on England"
 

 

Shimmy Slater

Friday 28th May - or was it Saturday 29th May we were in The Rooftops venue in Playa Blanca, Lanzarotte - to see THE SKATOONS - which are a ska band fronted by my nephew Richard "Shimmy" Slater.  And damned good they are too.   We got there on Friday, but the band didn't make the stage until almost 1am and they played until just gone 3am - excellent entertainment.

I hope you will hear The Skatoons on GMTV over the next few weeks, their song Come On England is apparently going to be the theme tune for the Breakfast TV shows' round up on The World Cup.

The band have a large, noisy and dedicated local following - they didn't come on stage till about one in the morning, and the dance floor was virtually empty.  They hit the first note and as if by magic the place was suddenly packed with people jumping and dancing - it stayed packed until the very last number.  The loyal following knew the bands set intimately - and immediately after each number had finished, they would be singing the lyrics for the next one!   A fantastic evening - extreme power, lots of fun, good musicianship and although they played till 3am, it seemed hardly any time at all!  A really enjoyable band and a really enjoyable evening.   I hope that their forthcoming exposure on GMTV gives them a well deserved break into the business.
 

bullet

England 2010 World Cup songs: the rundown

bulletThe Guardian, Monday May 31 2010
bulletDave Simpson
The Skatoons The World Cup's Waiting For You - In the absence (on Fabio Capello's orders) of an official England World Cup song this year, this is one of a number of surprisingly strong unofficial efforts from unlikely sources. As ex-pats in Lanzarote, the seven-piece Skatoons have iffy Engerland credentials but their song hits the back of the net. As their name suggests, (...)

The Skatoons The World Cup's Waiting For You
 

 
Sunday 23rd May found us at The Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage to see the Independent Ballet Wales performing Giselle with original music by Adolphe Adam.   "IDW" is an interesting little company of eight excellent dancers who tour the UK performing classical ballet at venues which are less likely to attract major international companies.  The Gordon Craig must be a borderline case because I have seen National Ballet at this venue before.

However, I had never seen the whole of this particular ballet live before. I have had the music on CD for many years and have seen excerpts at other ballet shows, and even watched a performance on DVD - but that is never as good as watching a performance live.   The ballet is a "rustic" setting but calls for an extreme amount of energy from the dancers.  The men are continually throwing themselves into the air and the girls seem to be bouncing on points almost all the time.  The heroine, Giselle, has two rival lovers. She chooses the rich one, but he turns out to be a two-timing b*st*d, so she grabs a knife and manages to commit suicide at the end of the first act.  She took an inordinately long time to die, getting up for another dance every time you thought she'd nearly gone!  The second half was taken up with the lads dancing with Giselle's ghost and some spooky fairies (called "Willies").  Not much of a story, but very beautiful.

The lighting was not the best aspect of the show and I spend too much of the second half wondering which ghostly character had just flitted on - or off - stage in the gloom.  However, the dancing was terrific, performed gracefully, energetically and exceedingly professionally by this small company.  An excellent night out.
 

Giselle

 

The Bacuma Boys

 

Roger Nunn on Djembe
 

Thursday May 20th Fran and I sallied forth to Reading Arts Centre in South Street, to see and hear FRAN McGILLIVRAY AND MIKE BURKE.   We were a bit late for the beginning, but we got to see most of The Bacuma Boys performance - they were the supporting act. Not seen these guys before - they were very good individually, but were somehow not quite as tight together as a band.  They made impressive - but I thought a bit excessive - use of slide steel guitars; which unfortunately drowned the rest of the instruments.  Some really nice mandolin playing was also almost totally drowned by the piano accordion which unfortunately  sounded vaguely discordant  (I suspect the sound system was the problem rather than the instrument, because the accordion players vocals were also very muddy and distorted.)  The accordionist also played the electric piano which by contrast was clear, bright and very good. Some interesting songs from the 1930's and 1940's, very well presented.

Then Fran McGillivray, Mike Burke and Roger Nunn took the stage.  They played quite a few numbers from their current record, including Dinks Song; This Hollow Room; Researching The Blues and Walk with the WolfRoger started on his Djembe but moved the full drum kit after a few numbers  The sound was great and Fran (my Fran, not Mike's!) remarked to me that every time she sees them they seem even more polished.    After a short break for beer and a chat they came back to the stage with Spoonful.   This is the first number I ever heard them doing, as a duo in St Mary's Church in Hitchin four or five years ago - it's a very moving arrangement and beautifully presented. They went on to wow the Reading audience with numbers like Me and My Chauffeur and In My Girlish Days.  Fran also showed her skills as a flautist during the second half. They encored with When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.  A beautiful song and one which suits them; they are forever flashing smiles at each other throughout their performances and it is very obvious that they are a close and happy couple and enjoy every moment of their gigs - you can easily believe that they mean every word of this song when they sing to each other.  This song has a false tab that usually gets the audience clapping before it has really finished. Fran and Mike enjoy this bit so much that they both exchange manic grins while they are waiting for the audiences mistake (I don't think they'd be very good at Poker).  A great and [polished presentation, can't wait till we see them again in June at Scratchers, hopefully with the whole band then. Look out for So Long Angel.

Nice little gig at Reading, but as you can se from the pictures below (and the cover of their current CD - The Road That I Believe In - which was taken by Dave Arcari in this same room)  the stage lighting there is little overpoweringly at the red end of the spectrum.
 

       

Fran Mcgillivray,  Roger Nunn and Mike Burke
 

 
Saturday 15th May we travelled round to Surrey to see THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND appearing at Brockham Village Hall This is a new gig run by Ray Stiles, and it focuses on dance clubs - so the place was full of Jive bunnies and Ceroc rockers, who were almost a show on their own alongside the band.  

Jack was on his best behaviour because not only were these were "nice" people who wouldn't appreciate too many blue words , but they were there to dance, and were clearly not listening to anything except the beat.  Jack tried one clean joke near the beginning but one couple even jived through that, so he stuck to singing.   As well as being a dance-fest, there was a guy named Peter in the audience celebrating his birthday.  After the band had played Happy Birthday To You he took the mike and asked Jack to play the Hedgehog Song,  but Jack wasn't going to upset the nice people of Brockham, so he declined.  (For those of you who don't know Jack, The Hedgehog Song makes most rugby songs sound like nursery rhymes!).

The audience proved that they could jive to almost anything - even to Jacks jokey rendition of Leaning On The Lamppost At The Corner Of The Street !  The only thing which appeared to get them to hold onto each other was Wonderful Tonight which induced a hall full of smoochers.  A really enjoyable night, and the band loved having a dance floor permanently full.  "Just like the sixties" said Jack.
 

(above)  Lynton Rocks

(below)  The dance floor as seen from the stage

          
 

 

Friday 23rd April THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND appeared at The Royal Oak pub in Bracknell.  This little pub regularly holds gigs on Sundays (6pm-9pm) and on Fridays (9pm - 11pm).

Fairly predictably the band didn't actually start until almost half past nine, but we didn't mind because it gave us an opportunity to catch up with gossip with the band.  Jack Lynton was excited by the prospect of three gigs in a row , and Spud was on excellent form (he actually broke the skin on his snare - I've never seen him do that before.).   Chrissy Bryant was on tip top form with stunning solos - I had seen him earlier in the week when I was passing his shop (Denmark Street - London).  It seems ages since I last saw Mike Winders play though - and he was also excelling - especially his guitar solo's during the Chuck Berry numbers.  Colin Pattenden was all smiles at the prospect of three gigs in a row but still wouldn't turn his bass down!

They played one long set from about 9:30 till just after 11pm, which the crowded audience appreciated with loads of applause.   No need to clear up too much after the gig, because they were planning to appear at the same place on Saturday night - at a private party; so the heavy gear stayed in place.  They then planned to play Scratchers at Godalming on Sunday - a "tour" !   Unfortunately I didn't get to either of the other two gigs this weekend, but I'm sure they excelled all round.

 

Colin, Dave, John, George and Gordon
and below - with Top Topham instead of Gordon

On Thursday 15th April I drove over to Thame in Oxfordshire to find the James Figg pub - which has a "stables" block at the back. Tonight was the inauguration night of Blues at The Stables - which we all hope will me a monthly new blues gig.

I'd gone top see The King Earl Boogie Band, and was so busy chatting in the pub with them that I totally missed the first band on - although from a distance they sounded quite good.  The KEBB's new lead guitar (deputising for Ian Campbell while he recuperates from his car accident) is Gordon Vaughan (from Jive Alive). He is settling in well with the band; I'd met him and seen him play before (see below - March 20th, The Flowing Spring); but this was the first time I had seen him with KEBB.  He was very good - and I really enjoyed his solo in Drifter Blues - which has always been a sort of acid test of a blues guitar player in my head.    Colin Earl was clearly enjoying himself, wreathed in smiles all evening and playing more than his usual amount of karate chops and elbow nudges on the piano - always a good sign that he is having fun. Dave Peabody and George Leslie Calvert were both on great form too, and John Coghlan was really enjoying himself, throwing in surprise bits to catch George off guard - but not succeeding. 

The new gig looked successful - it was packed and the sound quality was reasonably good. The stage lighting rig had seen better days and was distractingly flashing, but I'm sure they'll fix that eventually. The band worked through one long set with a little interlude where Top Topham (founder lead guitar with The Yardbirds) stepped up to do a couple of numbers.  He was on top form and wowed the crowd - his band will be appearing at this new venue in a couple of months time. 

The whole evening was a great success - the band had the crowd up and dancing by the end of the evening, which is always a good sign..

 
Monday 5th April saw us in London at The Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue  to see the 2010 production of HAIR.  This musical has special memories for Fran and I - we saw it three times at The Shaftesbury Theatre in 1968/69 and danced on the stage at the end of the show on many more occasions (The upstairs audience at The Shaftesbury Theatre had to go out onto the street and back in the front door to get onto stage in the 1968 show - it was easy to join the throng at 10pm and dance on stage even if you hadn't been to the show.)

We had gone to this new version with some trepidation - this show had been a formative and precious part of our growing up. The rebellion against authority - both parental and government - was very real as a teenager; and both of us felt very strongly that the American atrocities in Vietnam were unforgivable.  We were worried that the 2010 show might not be up to muster - or worse still, might with retrospect appear to be shallow, or even trivial.   We needn't have worried - the moment the curtain fell and the cast danced on we were both seventeen again.   The first half sets the scene for anti-war, anti-conscription and for the year of "free love" - culminating in the famous nude scene, which inspired many parties and festival events thereafter!

The director of this particular production was a lady named Tara Wilkinson - she had captured the essence of everything from 1968.  The music;  the joy of "freedom" ; the family feeling of "the tribe" ;  the concern and confusion of adolescent rebellion; the absolute confusion of reality and hallucination while tripping on drugs ; the alignment with black people for their struggles in the USA ; even the clothes looked like they had once been ours!  She did a brilliant job.    I was also surprised that my feelings of repulsion for war, which had been real enough in the sixties, were in fact strongly reinforced by this show.  The "bad trip" scene includes the tribe being massacred by soldiers with guns and the final trip scene includes Claude (the hero) being shot several times while he is help aloft by the tribe. With over forty more years more experience than I had in those heady days, this scene was significantly more horrifying than I remember it from 1968.

There were also some damned good vocalists, especially  noteworthy were two black girls, Sasha Allen (who sang the role of Dionne whom we had originally seen played by Marsha Hunt);  and Crystal Joy (who wasn't even a named cast - just one of the tribe - but who gave a fantastic rendition of the first part of Respect. 

Overall - an extremely entertaining night - I'm sure we shall go again - and next time we might even dig out those old flares and kaftans to wear for the event.
 


 

 

Ken, Ray, Spud, Colin and Simon

The dance floor was busy

On Saturday 27th March we went to The New Haw Club in Addlestone to see The Nashville Teens playing their home territory.   The band haven't played this club before, it has a pokey little stage, but the club itself is spacious with a good dance floor.  After a lot of sound analysis by Colin P the room also proved to have quite good acoustics.

Addlestone is home territory to The Teens and they have a huge following of family and friends - who proved their loyalty by packing the place out.  It was great to catch up with a lot of old friends from the area, and with a lot of Ray Phillips' family. 

The band opened with Rockin' On The Railroad, quickly moving into Nadine and the Rolling Stones medley (Brown Sugar and Honky Tonk Women);   Hoochie Coochie Man; The Rock'n'Roll medley (Jailhouse Rock, Bony Moronie, Summertime Blues and Forty Days); and finally  Route 66 to close off the first set.  

By the time the first set had concluded the dance floor was busy, and as the second set opened it filled immediately.  The second set included Redhouse, Slow Down; Mona; Put A Spell On You and of course Tobacco Road.   The encore was Born To Be Wild. 

The audience had a great time and the management were very impressed; this was their first gig since refurbishing the club.   The band themselves were extremely tight and very pleased with themselves - and after the gig they all agreed that this had felt a "special" evening.  The even talking about recording some of the music they love but don't often perform (Put A Spell On You; Davy's On The Road Again; and Smokestack Lightning).  We'll need to work hard to make this a reality.

A very special night - everyone enjoyed it immensely.
 

 

Saturday 20th March  Four of us drove to The Flowing Spring at Playhatch, near Sonning, to see  The Keith Allen Band.  We arrived at 8pm to find that we were the only members of the audience!  But the place soon filled up and by 9:30pm when the band started, the small pub was crowded.

It was good to see Keith Allen again (vocals, rhythm guitar and harmonica) who has a prestigious musical heritage including drumming with Marty Wilde's Wild Cats); and to catch up with old friend George Leslie Calvert  (Alexis Korner, Mungo Jerry, Jonah Louis, Edwin Starr Band, Mike Coopers Machine Gun Company - in fact just about everybody except Gerry and The Pacemakers - which someone once accused him of having been a member of!).    On drums for this performance was a guy named Adam - sorry mate, I didn't catch your surname; and on lead guitar was Gordon Vaughan, who I hadn't met before but had heard of because he is currently "depping" for Ian Campbell in this band and in the King Earl Boogie Band.   Gordon wielded his Stratocaster exceedingly well and he is every bit as good as everyone has told me.  A nice guy too.

The band did three sets, plus a special mini set between the second and third - to play Happy Birthday to me because it was my birthday and our gang wasn't planning to stay all the way through the third set.   The first two sets were great. Keith has a penchant for ballad type songs and seems especially influenced by Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and Eagles.  Tonight he was in his element and played and sang his heart out.  Georges loose and pulsating bass together with Adams "tight but light" drumming gave a terrific background for Keith's gravelly voice and for Gordon's strat solo's - which were excellent.

I'm sure the third set was great as well, but we had to leave. A great evenings entertainment - thanks lads.
 

Keith Allen
(Gordon Vaughan in the background)

 

The Teens at The Royal Oak

Friday 5th March  we went to our local pub, The Royal Oak. at Bracknell, to see  THE NASHVILLE TEENS It wasn't quite as easy as walking up the road because I had to drive all the way to Chertsey and back to collect Ray Phillips.  Luckily Colin Pattenden had brought all the sound equipment over earlier in the afternoon, so I didn't have too much work to do setting things up. Ken and Simon also live fairly locally and arrived early. Eventually we were all assembled and the gig began.  Because The Royal Oak is also Spud the drummers local, we had a full turnout of local old friends and many of Spuds family - the place was packed.

The band played two sets and considering it is eight or nine weeks since the last gig, they were incredibly tight.  The audience loved them - which always helps the vibe and makes them perform better.   Ray's rendition of Put A Spell On Me was brilliant - his voice was on top form.
 

 
We were at The Hare Hill Social Club most of Sunday 28th February - to help our old pal Jackie Lynton celebrate his seventieth birthday.  The place was packed with friends and family and there was a festival of music.  After a warm up of acoustic guitar music (sorry - I don't know the musicians name, but he was good); The volume cranked up with Paul King (Mungo Jerry) ; Colin Pattenden (Manfred Mann's Earth Band) and Chris Bryant (Bryant's Guitars - Denmark Street).   After a few numbers they were joined by Ray Phillips (Nashville Teens).   Stevie Kemp provided a disco which linked the bands - and he had a lot of very clever segways, and played a lot of Lynton music - including Again and Again, which Jack wrote for Status Quo

Jack then got his own band onto stage with a guest drummer who played an amazing solo.  A brief interlude for cutting the cake, and then Jack introduce Predatür - who only played three or four numbers, but who were exceedingly good.  A few more disco records from Stevie and then Jack was back on stage with most of his own band, but instead of Chris Bryant, he had none other than Big Jim Sullivan guesting! Probably Britain's best guitar player - an amazing gig!   Jack stepped down and Tony Phillips stepped up to sing some real old Rock'n'Roll.

Almost as impressive as the array of musicians who came, was the list of apologies, which included Rick Parfitt (Status Quo); John Coghlan (Status Quo); Colin Earl (Mungo Jerry) ; Arthur Sharpe (Nashville Teens) and John Hawken (Nashville Teens)

A fantastic afternoon and evening - and a real privilege to see these amazing musicians jamming together.
 

                  

Paul King, Colin Pattenden, Chris Bryant                          and again, with Ray Phillips         Jackie Lynton with Big Jim Sullivan

 

 
Wednesday 24th February I went to an unusual gig - a performance by The Glenn Miller Orchestra at The Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage. I took my Mum and my sister - the outing was part of my Christmas present to my Mum

Glenn couldn't be there of course, what with having been missing for 65 years, but the orchestra were ably conducted by Ray McVay.  He is sprightly for his age even though his pitch black moustache and hair do look a little artificial.  Unfortunately he has a broad Scottish (Glaswegian?) accent, and he sounds perpetually drunk - which of course he wasn't.

The music was very "thirties" and "forties" which my Mum really enjoyed, all in all an interesting evening.
 

The Orchestra, The Moonlight Serenaders, Ray McVay right at the back

 
An unsolicited local gig on Sunday 24th January  at my local Bracknell pub, The Royal Oak.  The band were called Raw Glory whom I knew nothing about, and hadn't planned to see, until mid afternoon when I had a call from Karl Green (Hermans Hermits) to tell me that he was mixing sound for them and I shouldn't miss it! 

I'm glad he called. The band were tremendous - four very professional musicians playing heavy metal rock.  Drums were played brilliantly by Mick Underwood (The Herd, Free, Bad Company and Gillan to mention just a few).  He was ably supported by Andy Hodge on Fender Bass. Andy has had a career as a session bassist and has played in the orchestras of many West End shows.  The lead guitar was beautifully handled by Cosmo - of The Heavy Metal Kids; and the lead vocals came from Paul Manzi who has an enormous vocal range, a very musical singing voice and an ability for high volume output! Just the right sort of voice to carry the AC/DC, Zeppelin, ZZ Top and Paul Rodgers mixture that this band thrive on.  It was two and half hours of solid enjoyment - I shall certainly want to see this band again.
 

Raw Glory.

 

Mike Windus soloing to a pub full of dancing people

Saturday 16th January  A local gig for me at The Royal Oak at Bracknell, where The Jackie Lynton Band were playing for a special celebration of Trisha Metcalfe's birthday.

The pub was crowded - I was surprised that I knew a good half of the people there!   As well as the usual WAGs; Neil Hill had come along ensuring that Status Quo fans were represented - he brought Andrea and her friend Tracy along.  Keith-The-Stalker and his posse were grooving visibly.  Jacky Pattenden brought virtually all of her family, and it was lovely to see Stevie Kemp and his gang again. Ken Osborne and Cola were there too, and of course all the rest of Spuds voluminous family were along to help Trisha celebrate her birthday.

That would have filled the pub anyway - but at least two other people in the pub also had birthdays and had brought loads of friends!  The place was heaving for the combined parties, and Jack and the band were on very very good form - blasting out Rock'n'Roll beautifully. Usually pub gigs attract a standing, sometimes appreciative, but mainly inactive, audience. This one broke the mould!  The floor in front of the band was a dance-floor and it was heaving with dancers. Even beyond the dancing area, people were jigging and bouncing with the music - it was an infectious event.
 

 
Saturday 9th January  An absolute surprise outing to The New Victoria Theatre at Woking to see Cinderella.  Without any children as an excuse!   We had sadly cancelled our planned trip to visit friends in Letchworth because of the weather, and Colin & Jacky had a similar disappointment because Jacky's daughter and grandchildren couldn't make the journey from Cambridge.  So we were all left with nothing to do, but with five tickets to see Cinderella;  so at lunch time - after reviewing the prospect of staying in doing nothing - we all went to the theatre via an early dinner at The Auberge Restaurant in Woking. 

The show starred Joanna Page (Stacey, of Gavin & Stacey) ; Jon Lee (of S Club 7) and Michael Aspel (Antiques Roadshow).  Considering that we were four adults with no kids to entertain, we loved it - launching into the "Look Out Behind You"s and shouting for Buttons.  An unusual gig for two old rockers and their wives, but one we really enjoyed - particularly after a couple of glasses of the excellent Rioja in The Auberge!   

A great show, very professionally staged and hilarious, not least because of the odd mistakes and asides to the audience about one of the Ugly Sisters popping off stage to check her script !   A surprise evening - loads of fun.
 

Flier for Cinders

 

Roland, Fran, Roger and Mike
So Long Angel

 

 

 

Everybody smiling - The Blues, but fresh

Saturday 2nd January  Our first gig of the new decade was at Scratchers - The Three Lions at Godalming - where we went to see So Long Angel.  It was great to catch up with them all.  Mike & Fran have recently done a "family" radio interview on Resonance Radio (104.4 in the London area); with their two daughters - Fran had sent me a copy which I've listened too in the car several times. Roland was fighting fit and is about to go an on assignment (he is a photographer by trade) to Zimbabwe.  This was also Roger Nunn's first gig since I last saw him at Dr Kings Jailhouse - since which he had fallen off a ladder and broken his wrist - tonight was his repaired wrists first public outing with a drumkit - and he was really tight and didn't appear to be in pain.

The pub wasn't too crowded and the temperature was very cold to start with, but there was a very appreciative audience and the pub soon warmed up.  The band were all on top form, very tight.  Fran McGillivray's voice was - if possible - even richer and more chocolaty than usual, and she obviously enjoyed her performance because she was wreathed in smiles at the end of every number.  Just goes to prove that the blues don't have to be dark blue!  Her performance of Spoonful was great - It was the first song I ever heard her sing (in a Church in Hitchin some three years ago or more). Just when you think she's damned good, you discover that she was just cruising and that in fact she is excellent when she really pulls out the stops for her favourites. From her exquisite delivery you can tell that Memphis Minnie's Chauffeur is high on Frans "like list". She also excelled on Ecstasy, which is one of the many which she has written herself.  One of my favourites is another McGillivray/Burke composition called Love is Freedom. This number combines a haunting chorus (gives me Goosebumps) with a heavy drumbeat and some beautifully arranged guitar work.  I recall Jackie Lynton asking me who wrote it when he first heard her sing it - when I said "She did" he remained quiet for a minute as he watched Fran on stage, and then slowly said to nobody in particular, "It's  f*k*ng good".  Praise from the master.

Mike Burke's guitar work was impeccable - every time I see him play I get more and more impressed; he has a huge range of styles and delivers them well.  He also has a good voice, but he tends to reserve it for duets with Fran rather than for solo performances.  I really like their duet presentation of the Isaac Hayes/David Porter classic, When Something Is Wrong With My Baby.  They clearly do care for each other very much, and yet - despite the almost smouldering tenderness as they duet - they are wrapped in smiles as they get a huge kick out of bluffing the audience with the false tab at the end of the number.  Linda Ronstadt move over - this is a much better version.

Roland Kemp provides the keyboard component which both mellows and rounds the overall sound of this fantastic band.  He brings an almost "jazz/funk" edge to the proceedings. When I hear him I often think of Graham Bond or Jimmy Smith.  It's not that he tries to emulate them - he has his own brilliant style - but it feels like the same sort of class.  Roland also has a good singing voice, and he provided excellent renditions of Going to Chicago and Walkin' The Dog during this performance.

Roger Nunn plays the drums - this time with a newly repaired broken wrist, but that didn't affect him.  He was tight and steady. Although Fran plays a gutsy bass, she does so far more tunefully than many "popular" musicians and as a result it is Roger who provides the lions share of the power and drive for So Long Angel

A great band - brilliant to meet up with them again - doubly brilliant to hear them again - and cant wait to see them again soon.
 

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