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GIG REPORTS 2011

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.

                       


201
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Mike, Colin, Spud, Jack and Chris
 

Friday 16th December we drove over to Sunningdale to see THE JACKY LYNTON BAND at The Nags Head pub. It was the Nags Heads Christmas Party and when we arrived the band was still setting up and everyone was wandering around with huge wodges of envelopes and handing Christmas Cards to each other.  Jack Lynton and Mike Windus were installed; Colin Pattenden was playing with the sound system; Spud Metcalf was still building his drumkit; and Chris Bryant was testing some red wine. (it passed the test!).  Adam Russell was also there with his best mate Chris Bryant, and its pleasing to see that Adam is rapidly becoming a de facto guest artist with the band - which can only be a good thing because he is an excellent harmonica player.  Nessa Lynton and Trish Metcalf were also in the pub, as were Neil Hill with a lot of his fellow "Quo" fans. Geoff & Corinne arrived shortly after us, followed by Jacky Pattenden, her sister, nephew and a huge selection of relatives-in-law.  The gig started about 9pm and the band were really on form - loving every moment.  
 

                 
Chris Bryant                              Mike & Colin                                                       Adam, Mike and Colin
a serious musician                         back to back                                                        Adam dressed to thrill!
 

Chris Bryant was his usual spectacular self - not only is he a great guitarist, but he is a very adept showman too; he looked as if he was in heaven when Jack announced they were going to perform Let It Rock.Mike Windus played a couple of stunning solo's - a much less flamboyant personality than Chris, but an absolutely excellent guitarist. Colin Pattenden was beaming as he plucked his bass and combined with Spud Metcalf's rock steady beat to drive the pace. Spud sat glowering at the audience (all drummers have to do this - it's somewhere in their contracts) but he was really very happy.  Jack was in a very Rock'n'Roll mood and punched out rock and driving blues all night.  He gave Mike Windus a break to sing Run Run Rudolph (Mike is an avid Chuck Berry fan) and Chris took a solo spot to sing You Cant Always Get What You Want.   Adam was called up several times - he is great, but particularly so on the bluesy numbers like Rock'n'Roll Whisky Blues and Let It Rock.  Towards the end of the evening Adam and Chris started dressing up.  Adam with a large lumpy frock, a wig (which fell off almost immediately) and deely boppers;  Chris with an apron with inflatable breasts (he somehow managed to keep tweaking his inflatable nipples while playing his guitar. Perhaps he has three arms and I hadn't noticed before?).  From this they migrated to fowl - Chris with a chicken hat tied to his head and Adam wearing a grotesque turkey mask through which he somehow managed to keep playing the blues harmonica!  Overall a very good Christmas party. This was Jack's second gig at The Nags Head, and we all hope that it will become a regular haunt.
 

 

Saturday 10th December 2011  was the annual JACKIE LYNTON BAND CHRISTMAS PARTY at Ripley Village Hall.  This is a fun gig where people take their own food and wine, Jacks band plays and everyone has a good time.  This year we were also entertained by THE ORDINARY GUISE.   This is a four man band who are clearly influenced by the Lynton Band of the eighties - even playing some of Jacks own numbers.
THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND appeared twice, sandwiching the support group and the raffle. The hall was packed, people brought their own food and drinks, and the whole event raised about £400 for the Redwings Animal Charity.  The band,  Mike Windus, Colin Pattenden, Spud Metcalf, Chris Bryant and Jackie Lynton, were supported by Adam Russell on harmonica.  Russell is a lovely guy and although he has his own ensemble - THE FLYING TIGERS - he is rapidly becoming a fixture with Jacks band.  An excellent evening.
 

The Jackie Lynton Band + Adam Russell

 
Friday 9th December 2011  We went to Woking to the Rhoda McGraw Theatre to see an amateur production of WYRD SISTERS by The Ottershaw Players.  We were alerted because an ex-colleague of mine, Alan Wakefield, is the set designer for this excellent little company of players.   It was a play adapted from the Terry Pratchett book of the same name.  The adaptation was excellent - and the key parts were played brilliantly - especially Granny Weatherwax (Tina Knight) and Magrat Garlick (Hannah Rose) - who were both very close to the characters I had imagined as I read my way through the thirty odd Discworld books.   The scenery was very cleverly constructed (my mate Alan) and the continuity of scenery (carried around by the players) was excellent. Another impressive feature was use of a cameraman (in medieval jerkin) during several scenes, culminating with us, the real audience, being projected on the back of the stage to appear as the audience as seen from backstage in a "play within a play" scene.    Overall a very enjoyable evening.

 
Wednesday 30th November 2011 I travelled into London, to The Scala at Kings Cross to see a performance by THE MAGIC BAND - The late Don Van Vliet's (better known as "Captain Beefheart") backing band,  I started with a rendezvous at the nearby Norfolk Arms, where I met up with four other likely lads before the show. We got to know each other over Tapas and sherry before adjourning to The Scala for the performance at about 9pm. The place was packed with a really motley selection of people of all ages - a tribute to the general appeal of Beefheart.

The music is a sort of synthesis between Modern Jazz,  Blues and a bad acid trip - very much in the style of Frank Zappa (who was allegedly a school friend of Van Vliet). Basically discordant, but in a structured way, with driving but non-rhythmic vocals. The drummers (two of them) and the harmonica player were absolutely excellent;  the two lead guitarists were on the good side of average - although in true American fashion they both looked terrific;  and the bass player was not (in my humble opinion) very good at all - perhaps he was having a bad night?  The sound was very well managed - loud but clear and I only recall one bit of obvious feedback early on.   After about an hour and a half I slid out to the bar to join two of my Tapas colleagues, who had also had enough of the structured cacophony.  When the band played Electricity - one of my favourites from the Beefheart I liked in the sixties - I returned to watch the show.   By then it was almost a quarter after eleven, and I was two hours from home and had to be out on the street again by six am the next morning - so I slipped out before the end and set off for home.
 

Poor picture - but it is The Magic Band

 

Colin Earl and Dave Peabody

Sunday 27th November 2011 we drove to Stevenage Old Town, to The Red Lion, to meet lots of old friends and see DAVE PEABODY & COLIN EARL.  This is an interesting gig - normally dedicated to heavy metal type music, but sometimes booking the likes of Dave & Colin and Fran & Mike.  The juke box was so loud that we all waited in the car park till the lads were ready to start the gig. It was a cold clear evening with a million stars and the agreeable waft of skunk drifting through the crowd was a heady complement to the house Merlot - which was very good. 

The sound quality was pretty good for a pub (and much better than the jukebox)  They played some great blues - including Drifter Blues - my favourite; in fact I think they played almost all of their current CD.  Dave was very mellow - having spent the day drinking champagne at his Mums 89th birthday party; and Colin revelled in playing his original country blues version of In The Summertime; and the audience loved every minute.   A nice gig.
 

 
Saturday 26th November 2011  I drove over to Reading and found The Chequers pub at Woodley where THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were playing.  I had run an errand to George Leslie Calvert's home first, and caught a snatch of one of his early numbers at a gig being held at The Retreat in Reading - but parking was virtually impossible, so it was a very brief visit, after which I drove down to Woodley to see Jack.

This was the first gig the band had played at this particular pub and although the audience wasn't huge, it was respectable and they really loved the gig.  I walked in about quarter past nine and the performance was already underway.  As well as getting waves and hellos from the regular band (Mike Windus, Colin Pattenden, Spud Metcalf, Jackie Lynton and Chris Bryant) it was nice to get a nod from Adam Russell who was also up front playing his harmonica.  In fact I got more than a nod because when he came off stage he bought me a glass of merlot!  Nice man :-) 

The performance was great - and the audience loved it.  Jack has taken to encouraging Chris solo with You can't always get what you want and Mike to solo with Reelin' and a Rockin' (Mike has backed Chuck Berry, who is his personal hero).  An interesting gig - I hope the landlord can make it popular enough to pay as a regular music venue.
 

Mike, Colin, Spud, Jack and Chris @ The Chequers

 

Monday 21st November 2011 we drove into London to The Palace Theatre, at Cambridge Circus, to meet with six old friends (Colin, Jacky, Colin, Liz, Geoff and Corinne) to see PRISCILLA,  QUEEN OF THE DESERT (THE MUSICAL).  This was an amazing show - similar to the film, but more dynamic.  The story is of three old transvestites who make a living as female impersonators miming to songs in Sydney gay bars.  One of them has been married and fathered a child before discovering his true sexuality, and is called to Alice Springs by his ex-wife, who manages a club and wants to put on the tranny's show.  Those with a photographic memory for things geographic will remember that Alice is 1724 miles along the Stuart Highway from Sydney - most of the road being through the desert via tough mining communities.  Priscilla is the name of the converted bus on which our three heroes/heroines travel this perilous road - trying to pay their way by putting on shows for homophobic miners. 

The star of the show is undoubtedly Priscilla herself - she is a technical marvel who rotates and gyrates on the stage - changing from a beaten up grey second hand bus to multicoloured (lit up) psychedelic bus - sometimes open sided so the audience can observe the inside. A brilliant piece of stagecraft.  The players dress more and more outrageously as the plot progresses and of course it has a happy ending with the lead heroine reconciled with his six year old son. When we discussed it afterwards the most unsettling bit for the Colins, Geoff and myself, was that we had to agree that some of the transvestites were uncannily attractive when dressed as women!   A great show - overtly camp with no pretence of political correctness.  We loved it.
 

 

Roland, Fran, Roger and Mike
So Long Angel

Sunday 20th November 2011 we travelled to Godalming, to Scratchers, to see SO LONG ANGEL.  This is Fran McGillivray and Mike Burkes band - and they are one of my favourite musical entertainments.  We had seen Fran & Mike fairly recently at Kalpana's Library evening, and a week before that with Roger Nunn at a Stevenage gig in early October; but it was good to catch up with Roland Kemp whom we hadn't seen since March when they last played at Scratchers.  We arrived quite early both to get a good seat and to chat to the band.

They performed two sets, both excellent, culminating with my favourite Freedom - which was followed by their encore, which was a storming Taj Mahal /Albert King number called Born Under a Bad Sign.   Everything they did this evening was really professional and pleasing.  Fran McGillivray was at her awesome best vocally, blowing us away with Be My Chauffeur;  Unlucky Girl and Heard it Through The Grapevine,  and - another of my favourites - Spoonful Mike Burke was also at the top of his game with some spectacular guitar solos, I especially enjoyed his solo on Smoking GunRoger Nunn played brilliantly - he is one of the few drummers I know who smiles and looks pleased with himself while he is playing, and he handles a massive complexity of rhythms and volumes on his Gretch kit with the same subtlety with which he handles them when he is playing a Djembe - a very talented drummer.  Roland Kemp on keyboards always puts me in mind of Jimmy Smith, and he delivered a couple of good vocal performances too on Going To Chicago and Walkin' The Dog - as well as showing me how to adjust the ISO on my camera!

An excellent evening, well worth the twenty mile trek to see them.
 

 

Jack at The Nags Head
 

Friday 4th November 2011 Fran and I drove up the road to The Nags Head at Sunningdale to witness a stunning performance by THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND.  When we arrived there was already a great crowd there including loads of old friends.  It was great to catch up with Keith-The-Stalker and his posse - haven't seen them for ages. Vanessa, Neil, Lee, Adam, Christine & her son Paul, Tony, Trisha, Jacky... the list is too long - it was a great crowd, and the band responded by delivering a brilliant gig.  On arrival we caught up with Spud Metcalf and Colin Pattenden, who were still setting up. Mike Windus was there too and Chris Bryant was at the bar.  Jack was in the garden having a smoke.  Jack presented a great mixture of Rock'n'Roll and ballads, and even dropped in one of his more obscure poems - Louie The Bean.  A very artistic evening.

This was the first time the band had played this particular pub, which has only just started having regular Friday night music.  When the band eventually got themselves together and proceeded to deliver, it was a classic!  An excellent and very tight gig; they were all clearly enjoying themselves. Adam Russell was in the audience and Jack called him up to play harmonica on four or five numbers. 

The pub was crowded, it was clearly a success for the pub and the landlord responded with an immediate re-booking - they will all be there again on Friday December 16th.
 

 
Saturday October15th 2011 we visited a performance of THE KING EARL BOOGIE BAND at The Pyrford Social Club,   Unusually, the place wasn't particularly full, and we had a good opportunity to chat with Dave Peabody, Colin Earl and George Leslie Calvert before the show started. We also got to know Adam Perry a bit better; he was deputising for John Coghlan, who had a gig with his "J C Quo" band in France this weekend. We'd met Adam before (Bread & Roses gig - see below) and he is a very tidy drummer. 

The band were contracted from 9pm until midnight, so they played three sets. The first was acoustic featuring just Dave and Colin which achieved a style very reminiscent of the KEBB's "Jug Band" days.  The next set was the full entourage with an emphasis on blues and ragtime boogie.  Adam did tremendously well - especially considering that George had forgotten to give him the demo discs and there had been no rehearsal!  After another break the final set was unadulterated Old School rhythm & blues and Rock'n'Roll.  A very nice gig - we rolled home to bed about 1am
 

KEBB at Pyrford

 

Fran and Mike (reflected)

Thursday October 13th 2011 was an different sort of gig. A group of us convened at The Great Ghurkha's Restaurant in Weybridge High Street to eat a very expensive curry.  A very small proportion of this fee went to covering the costs of a performance by FRAN McGILLIVRAY & MIKE BURKE and some to covering the cost of food, while the rest went to help The Deep Foundation fund a new "Henny Penny" children's library in rural Kashmir.  

We all sat down together and enjoyed a really great starter Nepalese style.  Good singers (and Fran is one of the best) cannot sing on a full stomach, so after the starter Fran & Mike got up and played while the rest of us ate our main course.  There were some other parties in the restaurant, and Kalpana - the event organiser - coerced donations from these other tables, swelling our fund. In the end we made about £300, which was considerably better than the predicted position at the beginning of the week when seventeen people cancelled attendance at very short notice. Then we thought we'd be lucky to break even.  The fund gets doubled because The David Tyler Trust matches this pound for pound, so the library project is £600 better for Kalpana's efforts.

Performing in a restaurant is difficult because the audience are shared with their food and with their own conversation, but Fran & Mike played brilliantly and we all really appreciated their work. As meals were finished people got up to dance, The restaurant staff had loved the live music - dancing around while they served people - and after the live music had eventually stopped they brought out their own music system and played some traditional Nepalese music - which kept the dancing going while Fran & Mike got to eat their own dinner.  A great evening, very successful and all down to Kalpana's hard work.
 

 
Sunday 9th October 2011 found us at The Red Lion in Old Stevenage High Street - an pub I used to frequent in the sixties! Our visit more than forty years later was to see FRAN McGILLIVRAY, MIKE BURKE & ROGER NUNN who were performing there.   It was good to catch up with this trio again, not having seen any of them since March.  In the meanwhile they have - according to Mike - completed writing another fifteen songs and have started to collate them onto a new CD.  They hope to issue it early in the New Year. The whole Burke/McGillivray clan is excelling.  The couples daughters are doing well too - daughter Joe is launching a new CD next weekend and daughter Katie Brayben is rehearsing to be in the new Mike Bartlett play "13" which starts at the Olivier Theatre in London on 18th October.

The show at The Red Lion was great - Fran's deep honey voice still thrills and Mikes guitar work is excellent.  While these two make a superb duo - the added persuasion of Roger's drumming really rounds their performance off, making them one of the best blues/folk trios on the current live music scene.  The only thing better is when Roland Kemp joins them to provide the full entourage of So Long Angel.   I detected at least two songs I hadn't heard before, perhaps they were part of the new set which Mike had mentioned? I shall ask when I see them later this week.
 

Fran, Roger and Mike

 
Friday 7th October 2011.  On Friday evening I drove over to Ealing, to The Globe pub, to see Karl Green's band DAVE'S NOT HERE who were performing there.  The start was delayed a bit because there was a football match of the pub TV - England v Montenegro.  While the band were waiting for the match to end I said hallo to Karl, Kevin Welling and Greg Terry-Short.  (I didn't get to talk to Richard Scarfe - but he was on good form).   Both Greg and Karl were performing their first gig following serious operations. In Karl's case it was his debut appearance since having serious rotator-cuff surgery earlier this year.  He has a full range of movement back, but no real muscle strength yet - he managed to wield his bass guitar very effectively though.  Greg's case was even more serious, he had to have emergency surgery to replace one of his carotid arteries in his neck because it had clogged and was causing blackouts. It was great to see him back behind the drumkit - playing and singing his heart out, especially on Gimme Some Lovin' (one of my favourites).   Kevin was also on top form, he has a good singing voice and belted out Crossroads Blues for us, while Richards guitar work was great - and his rendition of Three o'clock in the morning blues was really moving.  Unfortunately I couldn't stay till the end, so after the first set I gave my apologies and drove off into the night.
 

Dave's Not Here !

 

Fascinating Aida

Sunday 2nd October 2011 - On Sunday afternoon I collected Terry from her home and drove her to Richmond where we met up with Colin & Jacky outside the Richmond Theatre.  It was a very hot afternoon, and the theatre isn't air conditioned (and we were up in the upper circle - heat rises!) so once together Colin and I made a beeline for the bar and secured ourselves some glasses of cool rosé to prepare us for the ordeal of the hot theatre.  The show was another come-back tour by Fascinating Aida - Dillie Keane's fantastic trio of lovely operatic - but extremely rude - ladies.  

The first song set the pace with an acronym  that spelled out the letters C.U.N. followed by T.S. - I wont spell it out any more clearly for you ! The show also included a performance of their now infamous song, "Cheap Flights" which has been a huge hit on You Tube.  They also regaled us with their other currently popular song;  "Dogging".  All delivered deadpan from three glamorous girls who look as if butter wouldn't melt in their mouths.  The performance also included some old favourites, like "Put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye".   Dillie Keane is still a brilliant song writer and wit - and had the grace to thank the audience for being indoors on a hot Sunday afternoon when they could have been barbecuing somewhere.

Sweet FA have made several farewell tours and several come-back tours.  They are brilliant entertainers, let's hope that they keep rebounding for many years to come.
 

 
Saturday 1st October 2011 The hottest 1st October since records began, and I went to The Pyrford Sports & Social Club to see THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND

It was great to catch up with them because it seems like several months since I'd seen a performance.  Mike Windus and Chris Bryant were in good form, despite the fact that Mike had only got back from a holiday in Cyprus that very morning.  Spud Metcalfe was there with his drumkit already set up and Colin Pattenden was booming "one two, one two" into a microphone at what seemed to be an unnecessarily high volume.... I must be getting old.  Jack Lynton was wreathed in smiles and obviously really enjoying life.   It was great to see Greg Terry-Short with Anne in the audience - he has been very ill with mini-strokes and a clogged carotid artery while we were away on holiday - but he's fixed up OK now.  It was good also to see Adam Russell in the audience, and - of course - he was invited up to play his harmonica several times throughout the evening.  Jack also performed a new number, which had great lyrics, but currently has a fairly repetitive setting - I suspect the lads will spice it up before too long and it will be great. 

A terrific evening - with the band being on top form and apparently loving every minute of the performance.
 

Jack and Chris at Pyrford on Saturday

 

The Nashville Teens - undoubtedly best band of the evening

 

The Manfreds opened for the Teens !

24th September 2011 we were up North, in Yorkshire, with THE NASHVILLE TEENS for The WHITBYLIVE FESTIVAL which was held at The Whitby Pavilion over this weekend.  There were five shows between Friday night and Sunday night - The Teens were on the Saturday night session with THE MANFREDS (featuring Paul Jones) There were a couple of other bands to warm up and to run through the midnight spot - but they were both "tributes" and not very good.   We had travelled up with Mel & Ray Phillips and Jacky & Colin Pattenden to make a long holiday weekend of it, staying at a "forest lodge" super-chalet some twenty five miles from the gig. This gave us the incentive to get off stage and out quickly after the show so that we could get back to camp to sit in the hot tub and look at the stars!

The first entertainer was a “Shadows” lookalike/soundalike young man, who was very good, but very young.  He somehow managed to play for an hour while the audience largely ignored him and queued at the two bars to stock up with alcohol.  He was followed by the main act of the evening, which was The Manfreds.  They were very professional and sounded reasonably good, although a little bit "cabaret" in style.  Paul Jones’s voice is still great and his harmonica playing is brilliant.  However, the cabaret style presentation was very twee – there was lots of “audience participation” singing with the band pausing notes while Paul held the microphone out to the audience to encourage them to sing.  There were also some fairly tortuously long solos, and a lot of very contrived banter.  Generally the audience seemed a little disappointed with The Manfreds, they stood around and swayed and clapped and sang, but there was very little dancing.  Never mind - you need to have a big "name" on the running list to sell tickets - and despite the presentation I very much enjoyed hearing the oldies like Pretty Flamingo, You'll Be mine Once Again Tomorrow, and - of course - 5,4,3,2,1...."

The Nashville Teens were next up– no soundcheck - no rehearsal - but they were straight in there and tight and rocking.  The very first three bars of Rocking On The Railroad got the dance floor full and rocking – and the whole performance was brilliant, with a packed floor and huge ovations.  When the false tab finale of Tobacco Road came up the floor was packed and jumping with everyone singing along - and the ovation was tremendous.  The lads were smiling from ear to ear as they went back onto stage for the real finale - Born To Be Wild.  It was a hard act to follow for the next act up; I don't know what they were called, but they filled the late spot until after one in the morning. I regret that our impressions of the two songs we heard before we left didn't set us on fire, but perhaps they got better.  The Teens had played from ten o’clock until eleven o’clock and it was clear from the audience reactions and from the visits to the dressing room by other musicians’ that The Teens were clearly the hit of the evening. After we had struck the stage and dealt with all the well wishers we legged it  back to our forest retreat.  Just before midnight we were back in the car racing across the moors to our wooden chalet where we indulged in Rioja,  cheese and biscuits and a two am soak in the hot tub
 

 

15th August 2011 we took ourselves along to Southhill Park, Bracknell, to see The Globe Travelling Theatre Company performing Shakespeare's As You Like It in the open air.  T

his was delivered by the Globe Theatre Travelling Company, whom we had seen in the same park setting doing A Midsummer Nights Dream the previous year.  They had their little medieval stage - a unpainted wooden box with ladders up the back and a very small apron.  There were only eight players, but they were excellent.  Unfortunately nature was not on our side, and as we sat down it started to rain. Not hard, but irritating enough not to be ignored.  A basic rule of open air theatre is "no umbrellas" - so everyone had hoods or hats.  The play was excellent - brilliantly acted, danced and sung - all through heavy drizzle, and the audience really appreciated it.  A few did creep away because they were too wet - but most of us stayed through till the end - including sitting through a quarter of an hour interval, for which nature decided to stop raining...... only to start again as soon as the second half commenced!
 

Shakespeare in the rain

 

Adam (guesting) Mike, Colin, Spud, Chris and Jack

13th August 2011 I went to The Silver Birch pub in Bracknell to catch up with The Jackie Lynton Band.  Embarrassment - I had hurriedly knocked up a poster for the pub one evening at work about ten days before - using the only photo I had handy of the Band - but unfortunately the picture had Ken Osborn on lead guitar instead of Chris Bryant!  We ribbed Chris about how I thought he had been replaced, and he looned about trying to get into the front of every photograph he could (more difficult to Photoshop him out!). Colin Pattenden, Spud and Mike Windus were all in very good spirits - re-living their recent successful "tour" of France.  Jack was on a roll - in exceptionally good mood and right at the top of his form.

The pub was reasonably crowded, which made the acoustics much better than we normally experience in this pub.  I was with Neil Hill and Adam Russell, who of course, guested a bit on harmonica.  It was a hot evening and Neil and I laughed when we both found ourselves trying not to appear distracted by some of the buxom young clientele in their summer frocks.  We were grateful that these young ladies contributed so efficiently to absorbing the high frequency volumes and thus improving the acoustics of the room.  The band were very tight, and Jack was in "Rock'n'Roll" mood. This meant no ballad type songs - and even his rendition of "Think I'm Better Off With The Blues" had a driving Quo type underscore.  Inevitably in "Rock mode" the band performed a few Chuck Berry numbers, and their version of Let It Rock was one of the best I have heard them deliver in the last year or so.  A fun gig.
 

 
5th August 2011 we attended The Bread and Roses - an excellent pub on the edge of Clapham Common, to see The Boogie Brethren - who are, of course, a large portion of The King Earl Boogie Band disguised with the addition of Adam Perry on drums.  We rolled up and found - to our great surprise - that we could park right outside!  The band were sitting outside sipping their drinks - Colin Earl looking cool in a blue check shirt, Dave Peabody smiling from under his hat and George Leslie Calvert bouncing about (on the phone to Stephanie).  We were also introduced to Adam Perry, whom George had brought from the Reading area to play drums. 

The reason they were outside was that the stage had not been built!  It had been disassembled for re-decorating and nobody had thought to rebuild it until the band turned up!  Inside was a frantic workman bolting stage sections together and re-hanging the lighting rig. Eventually it all came together and the band kicked off just before ten o'clock.  Unfortunately there was hardly any audience - clearly the normal throbbing venue was suffering from a dose of "summer holidays".  Never mind, the dozen of us who had come were very impressed by an excellent performance - especially from Adam who had not played with the King Earl Boogie Band before, and acquitted himself very professionally.  Among the select audience were some old acquaintances including the folk singer Corinna J Poore.

Although the audience was small,  the band still played a brilliant couple of sets, including some old favourites like Drifter Blues, In The Summertime, This Little Light of Mine and Slow Down. ending just before midnight with Marie Marie - a great show, thanks lads. 
 

Boogie Brethren on the newly erected stage at
The Bread and Roses

 
Friday 29th July we attended an open air performance of Romeo and Juliet in the Italian Garden at South Hill Park.  It was an interesting production by the Custom/Practice group, which specialises in helping young Londoners from every class, background and education to realise their potential to access, enjoy and create theatre works. There was an interesting twist in that the Capulet's were white Caucasian actors while Montague's the  were black Afro-Caribbean actors.  While there was no overt racial stereotyping,  the difference in skin colour highlighted the dramatic tension between the two families and the South London / Caribbean accents gave a beautiful lilt to Shakespeare's old English wordings. It is easy to forget that the Americas - including the Caribbean - derive a lot of their modern pronunciation, accentuation  and spelling from fifteenth and sixteenth century English.  The cast were in modern dress, but used the original Shakespearian dialogue and augmented their action with some choreographed street dance.  There was minimal scenery, but that didn't matter because the whole show was so intimate that everybody's imagination was well fired up before we were five minutes into the dialogue.  Unfortunately the audience was very small - only about forty of us - but the production was exceptionally good; I hope they continue to get funding to carry out entertainments as good as this. 
 

 
Saturday 23rd July was the Party On The Hill at Liddington - a tiny village near Swindon. An event to celebrate the 90th birthday of The Royal British Legion. which featured The Worzels and The Nashville Teens.  Colin Pattenden and Roger Weddup had been providing the sound system for the festival, so they had been there since Friday lunch time, but we arrived with the rest of The Nashville Teens around eight o'clock on Saturday evening.  The crowd was disappointing - the organisers had been a little over-optimistic - having booked the TA to fire guns during a performance of the 1812; and established a separate tent for secondary acts.  Sadly there were only about four hundred people at the event, so there was an enormous amount of space and too many acts.  Never mind - as we arrived The Worzels were about to go on stage. I am rarely scathing about anyone who puts on a live act, but I never liked this lot in the sixties and am amazed that they are still performing.  They have little musical talent and their show is in extremely bad taste - including a fat bloke mooning at an audience which contained small kids. Totally unnecessary.  The only part of their act which made me smile was their rendition of Ruby Ruby Ruby - into which they had managed to work their catch-phrase lyric, "Ooh Arr, Ooh Arr".  Their act wasn't helped by the fact that the sound system was particularly poor (sorry Colin).   Never mind, they were soon off and next up were The Nashville Teens.  The band were on reasonable form, but there was a pitifully small audience and - as I mentioned - the sound system did them no favours. 

Not the best gig I've seen for ages, although as I wandered back stage it did sound OK through the foldback monitors - so perhaps the mixer for the PA was playing up? 
 

Ken and Ray on stage at POTH

 

Dave's Not Here

Saturday 16th July found us in The Globe, a pub in Brentford, West London to see a performance by Dave's Not Here.

We found The Globe pub in the shadow of the M4 elevated section.  Inside we found old friends Karl Green (bass guitar with Hermans Hermits) and Gregg Terry-Short (drummer with The Jackie Lynton Band).  They introduced us to Richard Scarfe (lead guitar, ex Love Affair) and Kevin Welling (not sure of his heritage, but a good keyboards man who also doubles onto guitar).  Together they are Dave's Not Here - a band which I've heard rehearsal recordings of - but this was the first time I'd seen them live; and I can confirm that hey are very good - and a bit loud.

Each band member sings as well as playing which makes the show very eclectic.  Greg does his Paul Rodgers stuff, which is excellent, but he also turned out a spanking good version of Gimme Some Lovin'.  Richard on lead guitar played a lot of Clapton and Mayall blues, including a memorable version of Three O'clock in the Morning.   Kevin demonstrated a wider spectrum ranging from Crossroads Blues to Beatles,  while Karl clearly loves heavy metal and put out a brilliant version of The Eagles Life In The Fast Lane.  A great evening - we shall want to see this band again.
 

 

Sunday 10th July After a wonderful afternoon picnic at Runnymede (at which both Jack Lynton and Colin Pattenden were basking in the sun) we drove down to Scratchers at Godalming to see these gentlemen, with their friends Chris Bryant, Mike Windus and Spud Metcalfe - collectively The Jackie Lynton Band - playing us some great Rock'n'Roll music.

Among the audience it was good to see Apu, who had also been at the picnic, and Clare and Neil - who both regretted missing the picnic for very good reasons!   The band was on fire though - Jack's voice was big and round and the music flowed beautifully.   Jack's version of Harrison's Isn't It A Pity was a real audience pleaser.  An excellent evenings entertainment - thanks Jack and band.

They are all packing up now to travel off to Morzine in the French Alps this week, where next weekend they are opening for Status Quo at the European Annual Harley Davidson Rally.  I sadly won't be able to attend, but I bet it will be a storming good gig.

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Saturday 17th July - I wasn't there, but I was kept in touch with a flow of pictures and reports on Text and Facebook.  The Jackie Lynton Bands "tour" of Morzine went down really well - and Jack got together with his old mates Francis and Ricky.

Jack played four performances in and around the town and everyone had a terrific time. I will be very surprised if they don't go again next year - even if they have to buy their own passage and perform for free!
 

above: post picnic Rock'n'Roll
below: Morzine with Quo - wish I'd been there!

 

 

Ray with his poster picture

Friday 1st July and Saturday 2nd July I was lucky enough to have an "access all areas" pass at The 2011 Gastroblues Fesztivál at Paks in Hungary.  Being effectively "the manager" of The Nashville Teens, I had the pleasure of accompanying Ray Phillips to the concert.  We met up at Heathrow terminal five about half past six on Thursday 30th June and then spent a luxurious hour drinking red wine in the First Class Lounge.  We weren't flying First Class, but Ray's lovely wife, Melanie, had organised us passes.  Eventually we slummed it back into third class and went to the gate, where we met up with some old friends, Pete Barton and John Steel, both from The Animals and Leo Lyons originally from Ten Years After.  but this weekend appearing as Onehundredseventy Split.  The flight was good with a lot more free red wine, and the added spice of a very rocky landing. Once through customs we soon met up with other band members, who were Dave - the sound engineer;  Mick Gallagher & John Williamson (Animals) and Joe Gooch & Damon Sawyer (Onehundredseventy Split) and with Bogdán Gomilko, who is the Festival Organiser. We settled ourselves down to the 90 minute drive from Budapest to Peks.  Chatting on the minibus soon revealed that one familiar looking face - Damon Sawyer - the drummer with Leo's band - was familiar not from the world of music, but from the pubs around Bracknell - he is a local lad who lives just down the road in Wokingham and has a studio at Hurst.   We arrived at a very posh hotel on the Northern outskirts of Peks just after two in the morning - and set about eating loads of food which had been left for us and drinking even more red wine!  After all, this is a "Gastro" blues festival!

The schedule for the Friday was that The Animals would play at 7:30pm on the main stage, with Ray as their guest singer. They would be followed at 9pm by HundredSeventy Split.   After breakfast we (The Animals, Ray and I) retired to Pete Barton's bedroom with a bass guitar borrowed from Leo Lyons - and rehearsed the beginnings and endings of the songs which Ray would sing that night.  Around noon we were bussed up to the middle of town for a sound check in the local sports hall (which is where the main stage was sited).  The acoustics in the hall are bad - although after Dave got the microphones replaced it sounded much better.  After rehearsal Ray and I wandered the town a bit, reminiscing about our last visit there in 2003 - we found the Gastroblues Club, which hosts this annual festival, and went in for a beer. 

 
Outside was a huge poster with all the artists pictured - Rays was the only black and white photo! Ray has had the song "This Little Bird" in the charts three times in Hungary. The last time was 1984, when he topped the charts with a duet with a Hungarian girl singer called Zalatnay Sarolta or "Cini"- a lovely singer who has since become a radio entrepreneur (a sort of Hungarian Chris Evans, but not so tall!) although it ended badly ten years ago when the poor girl was quite unfairly imprisoned for tax evasion. Apparently the Hungarian press for the few days previous to the gig had been rife with speculation that Cini would be appearing at the festival and sing with Ray.  This had caused all sorts of political stir because the current Hungarian government does not like Cini or her politics.  (Cini and I met on Facebook some time ago and I had actually got her a backstage pass just in case she turned up - but she didn't, which was probably just as well.)  Still - all publicity is good publicity - especially when it's free!

We returned to the hotel for a couple of hours kip before the bus brought us all back to the gig just after seven.  When we arrived we found "The two Andi's". a couple of girls we had first met in 2003. These two ladies run the Hungarian "Sixties Club" and have become good friends.  (We met up when Fran and I were on holiday in Budapest about five years ago, and Andi L ("The Little Yardbird") actually came all the way top the UK for my sixtieth birthday party.  The Animals went on stage about eight o'clock (the stage management was pathetic).  It was great to hear the Animals playing - first time I've heard them live for over forty years!  I had forgotten how many great songs they had.  Then they played Suzi Q - that was my cue to find Ray and shove him onto the stage. 
 

Animals with Ray on stage

Pete, Ray, Mick, John S and John W
The Animals and Friends
 

Ray opened with Tobacco Road, followed by Google Eye.  Then Mick Gallagher played the keyboard overture to This Little Bird and the audience went quiet.  This is a very special song in Hungary, and The Nashville Teens are probably better known for this song than for Tobacco Road.  Then he sang Put A Spell On You - unfortunately quite a different arrangement than he usually sings. It worked OK from an audience point of view, but I could tell Ray wasn't too happy with it.  Then he sang a couple of Spencer Davis songs, Keep On Running and Somebody Help Me before coming off stage.   Then Ray left the stage and the Animals played a few more numbers, ending with House of The Rising Sun.  The audience called for an encore and the band returned to the stage with Ray and played Boom Boom - which Ray loved and performed brilliantly even though he had only learned the words in Pete's bedroom that very morning!   We all went back to the dressing room and congratulated ourselves on a brilliant gig.  Ray and John Steel were in a corner chatting about "the good old times"  The rest of us just laughed and drank even more wine! 

Ray was scheduled to perform with an acoustic guitarist on the Saturday lunch time, and the guitarist turned up - so they went off to rehearse in a spare dressing room.  Meanwhile The Animals were setting off for Italy at 4am the next morning, so they soon had to leave on the bus to get a relatively early night.  Meanwhile, the two Andi's blagged their way backstage and came to visit the dressing room, but just missed the Animals.  When Ray had finished his rehearsal the four of us got the next shuttle bus back to the hotel to see if we could catch the Animals.
 

We arrived too late - the Animals had all (sensibly) gone to bed, but Dave the sound engineer was there so the five of us sat around until just after midnight destroying yet more of the hotels stock of good red wine.   Eventually the girls set off to walk back to their rooms the other end of the town and Ray, Dave and I called it a night. 

Sunday morning breakfast was good.  Leo Lyons, Joe Gooch & his girlfriend;  Damon Sawyer, Ray and myself were all still standing.  We also met up with a band called The Vargas Blues Band, who were an international group of musicians, apparently mainly of Spanish and South American origin.   After breakfast, Ray and I packed our bags and left them at the hotel foyer for later collection before catching the shuttle bus to a beautiful wooden church in Peks.  It was the scene of an acoustic concert and Ray was supposed to go on at noon.  However, the Vargas Blues Band weren't all there quite early enough, so Ray went on first and sang Tobacco Road and Google Eye. Then he sang This Little Bird - a standing ovation - the acoustics in the church and his soaring voice were incredible.  He followed it up with Spell On You - his own version rather than the one he had sung the night before - no wonder he had been so long rehearsing in that spare dressing room!  A fantastic show, after which a whole load of fans were pressing outside for his autograph.   A great end to an excellent gig.
 

The Two Andi's at the front of the audience

 
Saturday 11th June I drove Ray Phillips of The Nashville Teens over to Amersham, to the Amersham Rock'n'Roll Club, where he appeared as a guest vocalist with VANITY FARE.  The venue was impressive, a large theatre style room with a high stage, a dance floor and tables and seating for about four hundred people. The acoustics were excellent and the sound engineer (another Roger) clearly knew what he was doing.  The format of the event was very clever - to have a virtual five bands - but only really to have two bands; both of which were versatile enough to back "guest" artistes from different bands. The line up was:

THE SHAKERS - the Liverpool band who have been residents at the Cavern for longer than anyone can remember, they play Beatles, Gerry Marsden and any other overtly Liverpudlian sounding hits.  They also fronted NICKY CROUCH of THE MOJOS, who performed Everything's Alright and some other numbers.

VANITY FARE opened their set as skiffle style backing band to LONNIE DONEGAN Jnr. (real name Tony Donegan) who sounds uncannily like his late father; after which they became a hard driving old school R&B band to back RAY PHILLIPS (NASHVILLE TEENS). Finally they performed a set as themselves - which was very impressive. 
 

The Shakers doing Liverpool stuff

           

Lonnie Donegan Jnr.                                    Ray Phillips backed by Vanity Fare                         Vanity Fare as themselves
 

The hall was packed - a sell out - and to people who really appreciated the style of music because the dance floor was almost permanently full.  We arrived in time for the sound check and watched Tony Donegan (billed as "Lonnie Donegan Jnr") on stage checking with Vanity Fare backing him. Ray and I agreed that we had hairs on the backs of our necks standing up - Tony sounded exactly like his father in all respects,  if you shut your eyes you could believe that the King of Skiffle was back among us.   After sound check we all retired to the green room cum dressing room to get to know each other, gossip and eat - because the room was packed with all sorts of food and soft drinks,. As if that wasn't enough, it was augmented by hot pizza and shepherds pie in the half hour before the show started! Not many venues treat the artists so well.

First up were The Shakers who did two long sets (well over an hour and a half in total) of Liverpudlian songs. At the beginning of their second set they were joined by guest guitarist Nicky Crouch (The Mojos) for a few Mojos numbers.  The audience was wildly enthusiastic and clearly having a great time.  After a break for a raffle (it is a Polish ex-servicemen's club and their objective is to raise money) Vanity Fare took top the stage with Lonnie Donegan Jnr Ray and I both love skiffle so we watched most of the act and I was amazed at how versatile Vanity Fare were in supporting and backing that style of music.  Then it was Rays turn and Vanity Fare showed their versatility by transforming from a skiffle band into an Old School R&B Band!  They backed Ray brilliantly, especially Steve Oakman on keyboards who's playing is very reminiscent of John Hawken's style.   After another short break Vanity Fare came on as themselves - this time they were in flowery shirts and sporty an overtly psychedelic aura.   At this stage of events I had expected Ray to want to go home - he never watches more than one or two numbers of whatever band follows his act; but tonight he was hooked.  We stayed al the way through Vanity Fares act and then went back to the dressing room to congratulate them - it had been an awesome performance.  They opened with some Byrds numbers,  including Mr Tambourine Man and ending with Eight Miles High!  They are both - but particularly the latter -  very complex pieces of music and they carried it off perfectly.  Mark Ellen's guitar playing, supplemented by Steve Oakman on twelve string was awesome.  They performed quite a few more obscure sixties numbers, but all very strong and musically challenging.  A highlight for me was The Longest Time, (originally Billy Joel) which they sang à capello, demonstrating that each band member has a very good singing voice - especially Mark.   Until tonight I have had Vanity Fare in a mental space labelled "nice but harmless" - all based on my limited exposure to their hit Hitchin' A Ride.  I have undergone a major recalibration - this band is not only hugely versatile, multi-talented and have a preference for strong anthemic music - but they are all incredibly nice guys too!  I really hope we get to work with them again soon.
 

 

Lynton Band at The Silver Birch

Saturday 4th June a group of us trekked across Bracknell to The Silver Birch pub to see The Jackie Lynton Band performing quality Rock'n'Roll.  Chris Bryant was away on holiday so Ken Osborn deputised for him and the line up was Ken and Mike Windus on joint lead guitars, Spud Metcalfe on drums; Colin Pattenden on bass guitar; and Jack Lynton on vocals.  The pub wasn't that full at the start of the first set, but there were enough to cheer and dance as Jack gave a brilliant performance.

Kens style is much looser and more soulful than Chris's which gave the performance an interesting difference. The band played two sets with a fifteen minute interval and at one point Jack - ever generous as a performer - stood down into the audience and let Mike Windus lead on Reelin' and Rockin'Mike is an excellent guitarist and his Chuck Berry style is great.

The little pub filled as the evening progressed and by eleven o'clock "the joint was rockin' !"   A good evenings entertainment.
 

 
Saturday 14th May we were at The New Theatre in Oxford to see Matthew Bourne's new ballet, Cinderella.   We missed it at our local theatre in Woking because we left it too late and it was sold out, hence the trek to Oxford. We had been to see the classic version of this a few weeks ago by way of comparison - but we both agreed that the modern Bourne version stands head and shoulders above the Frederick Ashton choreography. 

The story has been re-imagined as being set in the London blitz of World War II - and specifically in the ill fated Cafe De Paris at the junction of Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus on the night of 8th March 1941, when 34 people dancing in the basement twenty feet below ground level were killed by two freak bombs which fell through a ventilation shaft and exploded on the dance floor.  The new plot also borrows a lot from the David Niven & Kim Hunter film of 1946 - A matter of Life and Death - in which, due to the incompetence of the angels who were supposed to conduct him to Heaven, an airman (Niven) survives certain death when his plane crashes into the sea.  Consequently he is given a second chance back on earth. where, guided by his guardian angel, the airman wins his life back through the love of his girlfriend, and the Angel takes someone else to stand in his place and "keep the records straight".  

Bourne keeps Prokofievs haunting music score; and like the familiar Cinderella plot the first act positions Cinders as a plain looking downtrodden step sister - whose wicked step-mother and step-siblings get tickets to go to the dance at The Cafe De Paris.  Cinders daydreams of a handsome airman, runs away from home but is caught in a bomb blast and taken unconscious to hospital.   The second Act parallels the classic story as a dream sequence.  In this case, instead of magically going to the Ball, Cinders magically is taken to The Cafe De Paris - where she meets the handsome airman for real.  Just before the bombs explode she escapes, leaving one shoe behind.  The third act has the airman, now injured with a head wound, searching London with the shoe - he eventually is admitted to hospital where he and Cinders are reunited.  The climax shows the Airman and Cinders "just married" and the step family waving goodbye as they board a train for their honeymoon. As the stage empties the Guardian Angel selects a lonely woman sitting in the station waiting room to be the alternative victim.
 

Cinderella - in the Blitz

 

Nashville Teens - 7th May
 

Saturday 7th May we were at The New Haw Club & Institute at Addlestone to witness a rare "local" appearance by The Nashville Teens.  Addlestone is, of course, where The Teens were formed back in 1962, and most of the founder members lived within a stones throw of the hall. 

Tonight we had one founder member - Ray Phillips - and of course Colin Pattenden who plays bass guitar for the band had his own share of fame as a founder member of Manfred Mann's Earth Band.  Both guys are local heroes and although the place wasn't packed, it was a good turnout with loads of friends and relations who don't often get to see the Band performing.   Simon Spratley had a good outing on his keyboards during the evenings gig, especially on The Who Medley, where he is a key soloist.  Ken Osborn was sporting his cleaned guitar and rebuilt guitar amplifier - which now produce a much rounder and less fuzzy sound.  Spud Metcalfe played brilliantly on his new Ludwig kit; and finally,  Ray's voice was in great shape. The band shone with an inner light, as they do whenever they are really enjoying themselves - tonight they were very pleased with themselves and produced an exceptionally brilliant performance.
 

 

Sunday 1st May we were at The Rose & Crown pub in Shilton, deep in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds.  The event was a pig roast, with musical entertainment provided by our friends in The King Earl Boogie Band.  We thought we were probably going to arrive a bit late, but only George Leslie Calvert was there ahead of us; and we were just in time for him to buy us a drink!  Colin Earl arrived next, then John Coghlan and finally Dave Peabody

It was glorious weather and we sat out in the sun not only while the band set up, but also throughout the whole of the first set.  The pub rapidly became crowded and the pig roasters arrived with their pig on a spit.  The band sounded extremely good in the first set and during their break they came outside and complained that they couldn't see us in the audience - so we gave up our strategic table in the sun and went indoors to watch them perform the second set. 

They were really very very good.  Each solo excelled and John's drum solo in particular was accompanied by cheers and whoops (it is his local pub).   The band were so good that they didn't just get called for one encore - they got called - and gave - FOUR encores!  An amazing gig with a very supportive audience by four extremely professional musicians - who all clearly enjoyed every minute of it.

KEBB at Shilton

 

dancing to the Jackie Lynton Band at Scratchers

Sunday 24th April (Easter Sunday) found us at Scratchers in the village of Farncombe on the edge of Godalming. The reason was to see The Jackie Lynton Band playing.  They had gigged the previous night at Northchapel, which meant that they were rehearsed and hot to go - always better when "on a tour".  The little pub was crowded with locals, friends and even a couple who had travelled all the way from Camden in North London to see the renowned Jackie Lynton

Mike Windus and Chris Bryant were as hot as ever, Mike especially on the Chuck Berry numbers.  Colin Pattenden and Spud Metcalfe provided the powerful drive for the music and Jack's singing was great.  As well as his usual repertoire of Rock and Blues he gave us a stunning example of how he can easily handle the more harmonious side of classic rock with a performance of Isn't It A Pity (George Harrison).

It was a warm evening and the pub was crowded; unusually there were dancers at both the front (see picture) and some people jiving at the back - difficult enough when the pub is empty - and a bit of a miracle when there are a hundred people jammed in it!  A very good evening enjoyed by all.
 

 
Monday 18th April On Monday evening I drove over to Walton-On-Thames to Bagster House - an unlikely looking workings men's club in the middle of a playing field. The object of the evening was an "Open Mike" night; and the reason for attending was that John Hawken (Nashville Teens, Renaissance and Strawbs) had called me at the weekend to say he was visiting the UK for a few weeks and planned to go along with Brian Willoughby (Strawbs). The gig was great. There was a three piece band, guitar, bass and drums playing when we arrived; the drummer was excellent.  Then Brian and John got up and joined them to play Superstitions - a fantastic piece for improvisation and solo showcases.  

They were followed by a young couple singing their own songs, the first of which was good, but I'm sorry to report that the others left me cold.  Next up was an Elvis impersonator who was very good. He also called up Brian and John to help back him. 

Then the trio were back with Brian and John and were joined by a lady singer to perform Honky Tonk Women, followed by an excellent version of Another Brick in The Wall. With an early morning drive beckoning I had to leave at that stage, but it was a great experience and I'm minded to go again one day soon.
 

John Hawken at Bagster House

 

Honeycombs and teens finale - Twist & Shout

Saturday 16th April was a day by the seaside, at Swanage in fact; and the late afternoon and evening were absorbed by putting on a new version of The Rock Around The Sixties Show at The Mowlem Theatre, starring THE NEW HONEYCOMBS and THE NASHVILLE TEENS.  Unfortunately the gig clashed with Colin & Jacky Pattendens daughters wedding, so we had to have a "dep" playing bass guitar.  We were lucky and got George Leslie Calvert

Simon was already at the theatre when Ray, George and I arrived and so were Paul, John and Bob of the New Honeycombs.  Spud and Ken turned up together about ten minutes later followed by Angie.  We had a full house.  The afternoon was packed with sound checking and rehearsing the finale, which was both bands on stage performing Twist and Shout, which we hoped would be accompanied by the audience who would be dancing in the aisles.

The show was terrific artistically and musically, but it was a disaster economically.  The house was virtually empty - a factor, so the management told us - of it being "off season". However, because The Mowlem is a very small theatre, we were able to make this appear less obvious by closing the upper circle.   It was still a bit disheartening after all the publicity which had gone into the show.  The show must go on though, and the bands played extremely well and gave the third full auditorium a great performance. The lesson learned is one we should have already known - that is that seaside theatres do well in "the season", but not "out of season".   A great show, what a shame it was for such a small audience.
 

 

Cinders

Saturday 2nd April Fran took me to London to see CINDERELLA danced by The Birmingham Royal Ballet Company at the Coliseum next to St Martins in The Fields in London.  

The tickets were a birthday present, and the deep thought behind them is that I plan to see the new Matthew Bourne interpretation of the story in the next month or so, and it is always interesting to contrast and compare.

I've never seen this ballet before and the music was typical Prokofiev - very "art deco" and not particularly memorable - but very good.  The ugly sisters - Dumpy and Skinny - are played for comedy while the love story is played straight.  The parts of the lizards, toad and mice are very skilfully danced, and reminiscent of Frederick Ashton's work in the sixties.  This is the classic European late eighteenth century version of the story.  Earlier versions are found all over the world from China to South America; and some are quite bloodthirsty and potentially inappropriate for earlier twentieth century ballet, but all seem to involve shoes and dancing.

The dancing was superb - the Birmingham Royal Ballet are evidently very well trained;  with lots of dramatic costumes and choruses of sparkly tutu's. There were three acts and the scenery and stage effects were incredibly well done;  overall a great show and well worth seeing.  I look forward to seeing Bourne's version for comparison.
 

 
Saturday 26th March took me to Pyrford Social Club where The Jackie Lynton Band was performing.  The little club room was packed and it was nice to see some familiar faces there; Vanessa and Jacky, as well as Keith-The-Stalker and his posse. 

Jack was in a story telling mood and regaled the audience with loads of his jokes as well as delivering excellent Rock and Roll. When Jack gets talkative as well as singing it is usually an excellent show. Evidently Colin P had spent some time getting the sound quality right because Jacks voice was clear as a bell.  Spud was hot on the drums and Colin Pattenden played his heart out.  Mike Windus and Chris Bryant were both sparkling - especially on their solos. At one point Jack sat down with the audience and let Mike sing Reelin' and a Rockin' - and the three guitarists choreographed their own little bit of Status Quo type silliness for the guitar breaks.  

As well as Rock and Blues, Jack is also an excellent ballad singer and among the more memorable pieces of this genre he sang Five Card Hand and George Harrison's Isn't It A Pity - an excellent song, beautifully performed by the band.
 

Mike, Colin, Jack, Spud and Chris

 

KEBB - above, and with Keith Allen below

Thursday 17th March found us at The Maltings in Farnham - one of Monica Boogaloo's adventures.  The event was a fairly extraordinary performance by The King Earl Boogie Band.  Unfortunately George Leslie Calvert was otherwise disposed somewhere overseas, so we enjoyed the bass playing of Dave Harding instead.   The rest of the band were all present and correct.  There was a lot of sitting going on!  We expect it from John Coghlan (drums) and Colin Earl (piano) because their instruments sort of demand it -  but Dave Peabody also played sitting down because he has injured his knee.  Gordon Vaughan played brilliantly - he can really make his guitar sing.

The band played mainly tracks from their recent CDs - possibly because these had been the reference points for Dave Harding, who had deputised at very short notice.  He coped very well with some of the more fiddly bits - particularly the unusual ending to This Little Light of Mine.   John Coghlan played a brilliant solo on Who Do You Love.  I always smile when I see this man - a legend of the British Heavy Rock scene - playing delicately with brushes, or lightly tapping his little splash cymbal. 

The sound was engineered by Keith Allen - a veteran musician associated with Marty Wilde's Wildcats - who sings, plays harmonica, plays guitar and plays drums.  Farnham Maltings Cellar Bar is a notoriously difficult place to get volume and balance - but he did well.  Towards the end of the show Keith was invited up to sing and harmonicise Hoochie Coochie Man and Teenage Wedding.  He has a fabulous blues voice and with his long grey hair and six foot four frame he really looks the Rock'n'Roll icon that he is.

An excellent evening with a slightly different line-up than usual - very entertaining - and thanks to Monica Boogaloo for running such a lovely gig.
 

 

Sound check at the Kenneth More Theatre
above: The Teens    below: The New Honeycombs

Friday 11th March I finished work early and drove to Addlestone to collect Ray Phillips and his son, Wesley, after which we drove almost seventy miles around the M25 and into the east side of London to find The Kenneth More Theatre at Ilford.  Outside the stage door we met up with Colin Pattenden, Simon Spratley, Spud Metcalfe and Ken Osborn - collectively THE NASHVILLE TEENS.  Inside the theatre we met with Paul Bonner and John, Bob and Angela - who are collectively THE NEW HONEYCOMBS.  This was the first experimental evening of a potentially great sixties nostalgia tour.

The two bands had not met before - so we had an interesting sound check  getting to know each other before we - The Teens - went toseek some form of food sustenance.  We ended up in McDonalds, so I'm not sure whether that counts as an achievement or a cop-out;  and then we progressed to the Black Horse - a dingy and quite dangerous feeling little pub, before returning to the theatre.

We arrived back just as the other band were starting their set playing to a three quarters full house.  I was surprised by The New Honeycombs. They were not a band that I particularly appreciated in the sixties, a bit "nice" and "poppy" - but they were excellent and some of the songs I had dismissed as a teenager are actually quite good, even Have I the Right, which was, of course, their tab number.

Having a fragile right arm excused me from most heavy duties, so I watched backstage during the break while Spud, Colin and Simon beavered away behind the closed stage curtains to rebuilt the drum kit, change the fold back settings and generally prepare for the second half.  The second half started and The Teens were great - the audience loved them and the band loved being loved - loads of smiles and banter with the audience. Ray told anecdotes about his experiences with Chuck Berry, Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Spencer Davis while he strutted his stuff on stage like a man half his age! He also added This Little Bird into the set, which was terrific - a real nostalgia item.  All too soon they reached their climax with Tobacco Road, and then the New Honeycombs came to join them on stage where both bands united to perform Twist and Shout - which the audience joined with.  A bit out of character for The Teens "Hard Drivin' Rock" image - but the audience loved it.   A great evening.
 

 

Mike, Colin, Jackie and Chris.
Spud out of sight behind Jack.

Sunday 6th February I made a pilgrimage to Scratchers at Godalming to see The Jackie Lynton Band playing.  It was the first time I'd seen Jack since the beginning of December and Vanessa Lynton was in the audience so we had a lot of family news to catch up with.

Colin Pattenden was pleased with himself and wreathed in smiles all night; and it was good to catch up with Spud Metcalf, Chris Bryant and Mike Windus .  The band were joined by Adam Russel (from The Flying Tigers) for several numbers. Adam is an amazingly good harmonica player and he gives that quintessentially British Old School R&B feel to the performance.  While the whole band were tight and on really good form,  both Jack's vocals and Chris's guitar solos were on fire!   Mike Windus also played a blinding good slide solo. 

Jack was in "entertaining mood" and interrupted several songs with his banter and jokes, which usually goes down well with a friendly audience - and this group were more friendly than usual because a whole bunch of Jacks followers were present - giving the whole gig a homely feel.  An excellent evening with some brilliant music from a very talented band.
 

 
Saturday 22nd January I drove myself over to Oxford to The Seacourt Bridge Inn at Botley, to see The King Earl Boogie Band playing.  The band were excited to be playing again, this being their first gig almost together since mid November.  The "almost" is because Gordon Vaughan couldn't make it, so the band performed with only one lead guitar - which was, of course, Dave Peabody.  Indeed, Dave excelled himself. He is without a doubt one of the best guitarists I have ever met, but tonight he managed to be even better! He reached into his soul when he played Drifter Blues and Walking Blues - both awesome performances.  Colin Earl was also at the top of his game with fingers blurring across the keyboard as he stabbed out gorgeously staccato country blues riffs - both men clearly in Nirvana with their music and revelling in a very appreciative audience.

I had seen Dave and Colin playing together only a few weeks earlier, but I hadn't seen George Leslie Calvert since Christmas or John Coghlan since the gig at Carnglaze last November.  They too were both on fire - reacting to a very lively audience.  John was in particularly Quo mood where as well as providing the feather light touch where required, he was also revelling in beating out the hard rhythms and throwing in the odd flamboyant baroque paradiddles.  It's a shame that there wasn't time to give him a solo - he looked as if he needed to let one out!

Les's bass complemented John keep the hard driving rhythms going  and he also gave us full power of his husky voice on In The Summertime, Slow Down and Teenage Wedding.   An excellent evenings entertainment.
 

 

Colin and Dave

The following evening, Sunday 9th January Fran and I found ourselves at The Red Lion in Stevenage Old Town, watching our friends Dave Peabody and Colin Earl entertaining the assembled locals. 

Unfortunately we could only stay for the first set, but it was great to get our first dose of Boogie and Blues this year - and a total contrast to the previous evenings chamber music.  The set was predominantly blues, although Colin played a very rag-like boogie solo which I forgot to ask him the name of.   Of course they played a snippet of In The Summertime and Dave did a very nice version of Drifter Blues which he kindly dedicated to me.  They closed the first set with Down The Road Apiece; and then - sadly - Fran and I had to depart.

It would have been great to stay for the second set, but we had been travelling all day and we were still eighty plus miles from home, so we bade our farewell and wished them luck until the next time.
 

 

St Martins was sold out

Saturday 8th January we attended a concert at St Martins-in-the-Fields church, which is on the corner of Trafalgar Square in London. The event was a baroque music concert by The Belmont Ensemble of London.  Our first gig of 2011.  The ensemble was formed by its conductor, Peter Dyson, to provide work opportunity for students bridging the gap between conservatoire and finding employment.  It performs every fortnight at St Martins-in-the-Fields, and is reckoned by Classic FM to currently be Britain's foremost chamber music group.  This concert was given by candlelight, which added a nice touch; there are a variable number of violinists, some violas, a cello and a harpsichord.

The first half started with Bach's Brandenurg Concerto No3, and was followed by works by Vivaldi and Purcell.  Pachelbel's Canon and Bach's Air on a G String were among the better known baroque pieces in this set.  After a break the ensemble returned and played Mozarts Salzburg Symphony No2, and then the high spot of the concert, Vivaldi's Four Seasons.

The ensemble answered an encore call with a modern Brazilian piece which was excellently performed but the acoustics were such that we couldn't hear what it was called or who it was composed by.  Nonetheless, a stupendous evening of excellent music.
 

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