CAST HIS NET ... Oh what a catch he'd make 

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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.




Ray and Jack on New Years Eve

Monday 31st December  A very special gig at The Northchapel Working Mens' Club, to see THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND  help us to see in 2013. 

This was a personal party because The Pattendens', The Phillips' and The Coopers' had all decided to stay over at a local hotel so we could have New Years Breakfast together. We had chosen a hotel at Arundel, some way to the south of Northchapel so we could be closer to the seaside. Colin Pattenden had stopped off en route at Northchapel in order to set up the PA before he and Jacky travelled on to meet us in Arundel.  Fran and I arrived first - about half an hour later than the arranged time, and Ray Phillips and Mel arrived about an hour late - but from a different direction because they had been checking out their holiday home down at East Wittering. Colin & Jacky were almost three hours later than planned - but that didn't matter.  After a few drinks and laughs we all set off toward Northchapel, where we planned an early dinner at The Half Moon Pub. We met up with Chris Bryant and Sarah-Jane in the pub - and Spud Metcalf and Trisha were already there as well.  After dinner we all progressed to The Working Mens' Club and caught up with Jack Lynton and Chris Bryant.  Unfortunately Mike Windus couldn't make it because of previous commitments, so Gordon Sellar was depping on second lead guitar. I hadn't seen Gordon for a long time and it was good to catch up with him and his wife Julie. The club was far from crowded, and as a New Years gig was probably fairly disappointing from the bands point of view; however, all of us "friends and family" loved it because they played brilliantly.  Jack was his usual generous self and let Chris have two or three guest spots to sing, and he also invited Ray Phillips up to sing a couple of songs.  The best bit though, was when Ray and Jack duetted - their voices complement each other very well, and the result was staggeringly good.  Despite the dancing efforts of Jacky & Sarah-Jane, the audience didn't wake up until just before midnight - but once on the dance floor they stayed there until almost 1am.  After the gig Colin and I packed the gear into the back of his car and then we six friends headed back to Arundel, arriving after two in the morning. We decided that it was too late to have the champagne and cheese we had set out ready for our own private party - so bid each other goodnight. Nobody wanted the smelly cheese in their room so it stayed in the car overnight!

Friday 14th December we travelled over to Sunningdale village to The Nags Head Pub to see The Jackie Lynton Band playing their Christmas Pub Gig.  This pub is always a welcome gig - the audience and the landlord love Jack and his music. On Friday the band were in particularly fine shape - and the set up was peppered with hugs and exchanges of Christmas Cards as friends and relations joined the throng. Jack was sporting a new hat, but the rest of the band were their own regular selves.  Colin Pattenden was recovering from a strained back, earned while trying to carry his step-daughters piano! He evidently had some good pain killers because he played brilliantly and smiled all the way through.  Spuds drumming was hard, loud and very tight - he has to be one of the best drummers on the amateur circuit these days. Mike Windus was also on great form, and he performed a surprise slide solo on one of the numbers, which was not only a welcome change from the usual format - but was an excellent slide solo in its own right.  Chris Bryant is a brilliant showman and a great guitarist, he excelled at both at this gig - evidently on his best behaviour because this pub is his girlfriends territory and she had brought a few friends along to show him off to - so he was on "best behaviour".  Jack's voice was fine and he showed us the whole spectrum from belting out Let It Rock down to the quiet introduction to Isn't It A Pity. The band were also complemented by Adam Russell, who is becoming an indispensible guest musician as he brings his great blues harmonica playing to both The Jackie Lynton Band and The Nashville Teens.

Jack has always been a generous performer - and often says that he is only as good as the band behind him. His generosity expands to letting his two lead guitarists each present a song, while he sits out and watches - or sometimes dances in the audience, or - very occasionally - he appears as a "backing vocalist" on stage.  This night he closed the first set by letting Mike Windus present his rendition of Run Run Rudolph - the Christmas song first presented by Mike's hero, Chuck Berry.  During the second set Chris Bryant got his chance to sing and presented You Can't Always Get What you Want.   Jack also sang Women and Men - one of his own numbers with a very heavy metal structure, which had for some years been dropped from the itinerary. Tonight Jack confessed that he had dropped it because his previous drummer just couldn't cope with it, while Spud delivered it beautifully.  The audience had been up dancing for most of the show, and revelled in the bands final Rock'n'Roll medley - with it's multiple false endings - and amazing drumming sections from Spud.  A really good evening.

Jack on Friday night


Vanity Fare on Saturday night

Saturday 8th December  A trip to Amersham, to The Polish Club, to see a show put on by Vanity Fare . Also on the bill were The Foundations, but although I got to meet them in the dressing room, we didn't stay long enough to see any of their act.  We've worked with Vanity Fare before, and they are four excellent musicians who consist of Bernie Hagley, bass guitarist;  Mark Ellen, drums;  Eddie Wheeler, lead guitar; and Steve Oakman on keyboards and twelve string guitar. They are an incredibly versatile set of musicians who can turn their hand very professionally to almost any genre of rock/pop music, and all of whom can sing really well.

Vanity Fare were supplemented throughout by two other musicians, Matt Winch on trumpet and Nick Payne on saxophone and - when needed - harmonica. The first set was part of their own act including Turn Turn Turn - which they perform brilliantly.  Although they didn't play it this evening, the last time I saw them they also played Eight Miles High - and were so good that I would even guess they were better than the Byrds ever were live! Their music was then supplemented by four or five songs featuring Tony Donegan - Son of the late great Lonnie Donegan - and who looks and sounds just like his Dad! An excellent Skiffle set.  

After a short break they opened with a capella song - The Longest Time - originally a hit for Billy Joel.       and completed their own set - ending of course with Hitchin' A Ride, their seminal number one hit.  Then Ray Phillips joined them and sang half a dozen songs including his new recording with Vanity Fare - Can't Be So Bad. (originally by Moby Grape) and, of course, his own hit Tobacco Road. Among the other songs he performed was Route Sixty Six, with brass backing by Matt Winch and Nick Payne - no doubt the addition of trumpet and sax really complements Rays voice.

The dressing room was buzzing with Ray, Tony, Matt and Nick popping in and out , depending who was on stage at any point in time. Then as the second set developed the members of The Foundations started to arrive, so that by the time the second of Vanity Fares sets was complete, there were more than a dozen people chattering away in the quite cosy back room.  We weren't able to stop to see The Foundations, but were all very excited about the prospect of working together again soon.  Overall, a good night.


Vanity Fare on stage with Ray Phillips                                                                  Bernie Hagley with Ray Phillips                                 Steve Oakman, Ray Phillips and Eddie Wheeler

Saturday 24th November  In the past The Nashville Teens have done several gigs in conjunction with The New Honeycombs - not always a financial success, but always loads of fun. The two bands were in the charts for the same weeks of 1964 with Tobacco Road and Have I The Right respectively, and are great examples of the very wide span of music types which made the sixties what they were musically. The Honeys act pays homage to all that was classical about sixties "pop" music, while The Teens performance exemplifies the Rock'n'Roll end of the musical spectrum - a perfect combination for a sixties revival show.  However, one of the downsides of performing in the same show is that each band rarely actually gets to see all of the other bands act, so when I heard that The New Honeycombs were scheduled to be playing The New Haw Club in Addlestone on Saturday I called Paul Bonner of The Honeys and asked him to please "put The Teens names on the door".  On Saturday night  Ray Phillips and Colin Pattenden, plus some of their families joined me at The New Haw Club.

It was great to catch up with The New Honeycombs again.  Paul Bonner (drummer, ex Butterscotch and Smokie) is the band leader and also runs his own entertainments agency - which has booked The Teens before. We also got greeted with a bright smile from Angie Rose, the bands lead vocalist and a severe distraction to the lads in the Teens when we play together (as well as having a fantastic voice, she is good looking, tall, and her stage wear is a sexy backless mini dress underpinned by four inch heels !! ) She has a great vocal range and a real stage presence.  John Butcher came out from the dressing room to greet us when he saw us arrive, John plays lead guitar and was originally lead guitar with The Fourmost back in the day. He was accompanied from the dressing room by Jeff Malin, bass guitarist and a well known session musician back in the sixties (he has backed Lulu and Tom Jones among others.) It was evident that they really appreciated having friends in the audience at this strange little club. The Honeys played two sets with a fifteen minute break spent mostly drinking with us in the auditorium!  Their repertoire is a wide cross section of sixties hits ranging from very "pop" stuff like their "Hollies Medley" through to excellent ballads like Angel of The Morning - beautifully presented by AngelaPaul sings some numbers himself from drums - which is sometimes a surprise because he's hidden at the back, so the audience are looking for mouths opening in the front line!  One of his songs was Living Next Door to Alice, made famous by Smokie. Much to his delight the Nashville Teens corner of the audience loudly joined in by singing the less commonly voiced chorus of "Alice, Alice, Who the F**k is Alice". They eventually closed with their classic Have I The Right after showing us that they are eminently capable of a very wide range of sixties song genres.  After the gig we all hung around and laughed together until the club was visibly closing around us. The New Honeycombs are currently performing sixties duos with The Foundations, but their commitments suggest that the current run will peter out early in 2013, and we're hoping we can get some joint gigs with them at end January and in mid March.  I got home just before one o'clock - but I only live a dozen miles away, goodness knows what time the band got home, they all live round the other side of the M25 in Essex.

Jeff; Paul (at back); Angie; and John on stage on Saturday


Life is Pain

Sunday 18th November we travelled to The New Victoria Theatre at Woking to see Alan Davies the comedian delivering his Life Is Pain tour. We met up with some friends inside the theatre and found our seats right in the middle at the rear of the stalls.

We were all at the theatre to watch Alan Davies performing stand-up comedy. Because of his successful TV career in QI and Jonathan Creek, this tour is his first live stand-up experience for ten years. It is titled Life Is Pain, but he didn't do a very good job of explaining why he had chosen that name.  However, it was an excellent performance, with an apparently ad-lib conversation with the audience for much of the two sets, and with a hilarious set of stories around his recent parenthood and his experiences of having to cope with babies. There wasn't too much swearing and although some of the jokes were a bit tasteless he generally handled the huge audience very well.

The New Victoria is one of the largest auditoriums in the South of the country, and what works in a cellar bar with perhaps 60 people; where the artist can have eye contact with almost the whole audience; is much more difficult with bright lights between the performer and an audience of well over a thousand. Overall a great night out.

Friday 16th November we went to The Nags Head pub in Sunningdale Village to see The Jackie Lynton Band performing. On the way into the pub we met up with old friends which delayed us a bit, but we eventually got into the bar we found Mike Windus and Adam Russell in conversation while Spud Metcalfe and Colin Pattenden were setting up the equipment.  Jack Lynton soon appeared as well and we all compared notes on the previous weeks adventures at Northchapel.   About nine o'clock the band kicked off a brilliant (but loud) gig. Jack started off in a Status Quo frame of mind, and the evening quickly became peppered with several Chuck Berry numbers, which I always love.  They did a brilliant rendition of Let It Rock.  Coincidentally, the following morning Brian Matthew played the original Chuck Berry version on the radio - and it is clear that Jacks version of it is the superior product! Jack also stirred the mix with some of his classic balladesque songs - Unchain My Heart being one of my favourites.  At the end of the first set Jack gave Mike Windus the floor and Mike ushered in Christmas with Chuck Berry's Run Run Rudolph

In the second half Chris brought us back into Quo territory by taking the microphone for his version of Quo's Caroline. Jack's daughter Gale was in the audience and he sang Mustang Sally at her request - always a favourite with the ladies. The band performed several of Jacks own songs, including Women and Men. Jack was really rocking and in unstoppable entertainment mood with several jokes for the audience and a lot of banter within the band. Overall a great night, with the whole pub dancing well before the close of the second set.  The only downside was that both Fran and I had ringing ears all night and for most of Saturday.

Lynton Band at The Nags Head

Saturday 27th October  In dire need of live musical entertainment I drove over to Pyrford on Saturday evening to see Paul Kings Skeleton Crew appearing at Pyrford Sports and Social Club. 

Skeleton Crew on Saturday night

The fancy dress crowd

It was good to catch up with Graham and the other club members who were celebrating Halloween in style - many of the adults and all of the children were in Halloween fancy dress. The adult line up is pictured below and the kids looked really cute, especially one little witch who cannot have been more than about two years old. There were prizes for the best disguises.  
I haven't seen Paul for ages and he was every bit as good as I remember him - a natural born showman, great musician and accomplished singer.  Chris Bryant was also hot and played his lead guitar brilliantly. Gregg Terry Short was grumpy about something published on Jackie Lynton's website, so I agreed to remove it; despite his unhappiness he played drums really well and sang Rock Me, which I hadn't heard him do before - and which was very good. Clearly the whole band were all buzzing, probably because this was the middle one of three gigs in a row and they were feeling the "tour" adrenalin. Colin Pattenden was on terrific form - and I love it when I see my friends really enjoying themselves, which Colin clearly was.


Nashville Teens with Adam Russell (far left)

Saturday 13th October I collected Ken Osborne, Wesley Phillips, and Trish & Spud Metcalfe and drove them to Butlins at Bognor Regis for the FESTIVAL OF THE SIXTIES in time for The Nashville Teens soundcheck at 6pm.  Although we got there in time the soundcheck never happened; this is because another band, The Move, were rehearsing and clearly desperately needed it - they weren't very tight. Simon Spratley was there with his friend Alison and for once Ray Phillips and Colin Pattenden were even later than the rest of us, with Mel and Jacky. They were staying together at East Wittering to make a proper weekend of the gig. I had guests who had come to see the sound check, who were disappointed not to see Tobacco Road (*) because The Move were hogging the stage. It was good to meet up at last with Libby & Neil Gausden (Libby was long term girlfriend of Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett) - Libby and I have been "virtual friends" on the web for ages and as she lived locally to Bognor here was an opportunity to meet properly, and I think we both enjoyed the meeting. Although I had put their names on the door, I'm sure they could have easily blagged their way in - both Libby and Neil "looked" the music business!  The audience started to pour in at 7pm, about 3500 of them, some dressed in sixties fashion, some just dressed silly!  For instance there was a whole rugby team in short dresses, wigs and high heels!  The Move came on at 8pm and played until 9pm, they sounded OK but a bit disjointed as if they hadn't played together for ages - they did warm the audience up for us though!   We got The Teens on for the prime spot at 9:30 and they played brilliantly.  Adam Russell had joined us with his daughter Isobel.  Issy is only thirteen and wasn't allowed out front of house, but she seemed quite happy hanging around in the dressing room or in the wings watching the bands. Adam plays harmonica for The Flying Tigers and The Jackie Lynton Band, and tonight he played on three numbers with The Teens - and I think his contribution really enhanced the quality of the performance and I hope the band will use him again.  The audience loved the band and the dance floor was crowded all the way through. After The Teens had finished their encore (Born To be Wild) the auditorium almost emptied, it was quarter to eleven and the next band - The Merseybeats - sadly had to play to a much smaller audience.

(* The Teens don't usually do Tobacco Road at the sound check - instead they tend to use Slow Down because it uses a greater vocal range and showcases each instrument more effectively - but the Gausdens didn't know that)

Saturday 29th September I took the long trek to North Yorkshire with Ken Osborn and Spud Metcalfe - through the floods that reflected two months worth of local rain in four days - but it was worth it to attend THE WHITBY FESTIVAL OF THE SIXTIES at Whitby Pavilion, along with The Nashville Teens. Also on the bill were Amen Corner and our old friends Cliff Bennett and Chris Farlowe, neither of whom brought their bands, but instead used Amen Corner augmented for Cliff's act with the two saxophonists from The Rebel Rousers

Ray Phillips, Colin Pattenden and Simon Spratley (with Alison) turned up soon after us and we all settled into the dressing room to catch up with each others news.  It was a sell out and, as usual, the timetable was running a bit late.  In fact when we arrived there was an Elvis impersonator still on stage, half an hour after the lunch time session was supposed to have concluded!  Never mind, the punters enjoy it. 

After a lot of faffing about regarding which drum kits to use, the sound check commenced. It is usual to sound check in reverse order of appearance, and because Chris and Cliff were not performing with their regular bands, their sound checks would inevitably become mini-rehearsals and take a bit longer. Never mind, as we were first to appear, we would be last to check and as the schedule was already late, we decided we had plenty of time to go and get our annual band dosage of Fish and Chips at Graveleys Fish and Chip shop in the town.  The food was as good as ever, and we were joined there by friends Peter and Renee, who were going to be in the audience that night. 

In the end The Teens sound check didn't start until 18:30 - the time when the doors were supposed to open!  But because the band were well rehearsed and the sound engineer was excellent, they got through very quickly and the doors opened only about quarter of an hour late.  While the audience settled down we all sat round in the dressing rooms catching up news and gossip with Chris Farlowe and Cliff Bennett - we had all last been together for the Star Club Anniversary Party in Hamburg seven months before - so there was a lot of reminiscing about that fantastic party/show as well.

The Nashville Teens were the first act on and the audience loved them. The dance floor was full and the sound quality was terrific. They played through their usual one hour repertoire, ending with a false tab on Tobacco Road. Judging by their smiles on stage, they all really loved it (see picture on the right).  Their encore is Born To Be Wild, during it I nipped downstairs to the dressing room to get Spud a handful of paper towels to mop the sweat when he came off stage - it was great to hear all the guys in Amen Corner (in the next door dressing room) were singing along with the act on the stage over their heads! Believe me - that doesn't often happen in showbiz!  The audience were wild with appreciation and even applauded those of us who were clearing the stage!

Cliff Bennett, backed by Amen Corner was next up. Cliff has a really gravelly voice and sings excellent old school R&B.  We watched from the bar in the foyer (you can see the stage through the door to the bar in the auditorium) while The Teens let their adrenalin settle and I checked all the equipment back into the cars.  Most of the lads were staying overnight and planning an early morning escape to the South. However I had decided not to stay, and was driving back alone with a car full of drums and guitars overnight (full moon, clear skies and relatively clear roads at night), so I waited until Chris Farlowe came on stage at about half past ten, watched his first number, and then headed out into the night at 10:40pm.  The full moon (it was the harvest moon that night) was brilliant over the North Yorkshire moors, and the roads were clear. I was home at 02:40 - exactly four hours later - and the moon was still being spectacular.  A great gig.

above: Ray Phillips at Whitby on Saturday night
below: Cliff Bennett with Amen Corner


So Long Angel at Dorchester

Saturday 22nd September I drove the hundred plus miles to Dorchester to see So Long Angel performing at the Dorchester Arts Centre as guests of Tom Hopkins Dorset Blues Society.  They are without a doubt my favourite band and they don't play very often. Having missed a local Berkshire/Surrey gig through being out of the Country the previous week, I was happy to make the effort to see them a bit further away.  Indeed, I was chuffed that when she heard I might be coming, Fran McGillivray phoned and said she had put my "name on the door" - something I'm more used to doing for others than I am to receiving.  It's a very strange being a "fan" when I'm more usually the manager or roadie. After an eventful journey (reported elsewhere) I arrived with half an hour to spare and catch up with the band members. I'd seen Fran and Mike Burke a few weeks before, but hadn't seen Roland Kemp (keyboard) since the Spring so it was nice to catch up with his news.  Roger Nunn, the regular drummer was unable to make it, so James Britten stood in. James  had played at my 60th birthday party more than three years ago and - apparently - we sat next to each other at The Oval Tavern gig three weeks before, but I had left fairly quickly after that gig and we hadn't been introduced.  So this evening I got a chance to thank him for the birthday gig and to listen more effectively to his drumming than I had managed through an alcoholic haze at my birthday party.  He is a softer drummer than Roger, with much more of a "jazz" syncopation to his music. A very good fit with Rolands keyboard style and between them a great backing for Fran and Mike.

The sound system was great and the acoustics good in the hall, so we had an excellent evening.  Fran sang a great selection of songs, old favourites including You Ain't Nothing But A Hounddog; Spoonful ; Cell Phone Blues ; Be My Chauffeur; Not Fade Away and less common ones like Whisky Talking.  Roland sang his standards, Going To Chicago and Walkin' The Dog. They finished with my favourite, Freedom, before being called back for an encore - of which they supplied two; When Something Is Wong With My Baby and The Blues Ain't Nothing But A Woman's Love.

The Dorchester Arts Centre is a nice little club and the audience of about sixty people were very appreciative. The band played extremely well and was well worth the long journey to see and hear them.


Sunday 2nd September I drove across the Southeast edge of London to find the Oval Tavern at Croydon. I have often advertised my friends appearing there, but never been before; a lovely little pub (with a barmaid named Fran) which is much older on the inside than it looks on the outside - the pub that is, not the barmaid! It has low half timbered ceilings which gave nice acoustics for Fran McGillivray, Mike Burke and Roger Nunn, who were playing there this evening. 
It was great to catch up with them again - and to apologise that I would miss TWO performances of their full band, So Long Angel, while I was away on holiday.  They have been cutting a new CD - ten tracks in the can already, and they shared some of their new work with the little audience at The Oval on Sunday night.  I was utterly unprepared - I forgot to take a proper camera flash and also forgot my pen and notebook, so I shall have to rely on my memory for the songs they performed.  As well as the old standards, Walkin' Blues ; Be My Chauffeur ; Spoonful and Researching The Blues, among others - they sang Teardrops and Candlelight  which I hadn't heard before, and after trying to close with There's Something Wrong With My Baby, (a beautiful duet) they were forced into two extra encores!
Despite the cool summer evening outside, the pub was fiendishly hot and both Mike and Fran had to keep mopping their brows. Mike was on top form with some brilliant fretting and a lot of soul being poured into his guitar work; while Frans voice was at it's sexy mellow best.  Rogers drumming - both on the full drum kit and on the Djembe, was great - he has a lovely easy style - always driving, but never eclipsing the others. A really good drummer.

Fran, Roger and Mike on Sunday evening



Saturday 1st September 2012 I travelled to Farnham in Surrey to enjoy the main day of THE WEYFEST, an annual music festival at The Rural Life Centre near that town.  Several of my friends were playing, but I actually paid for a ticket! A rare event nowadays.  I picked up a programme when I arrived and discovered - to my horror - that I had missed performances by Paul Kings Skeleton Crew and by Adam Russell's band, The Flying Tigers.  Leatherat were performing on main stage when  I got in - and were as good as I remember them - except that it was a hot sunny day, and they weren't wearing their trademark leather hats!  I wandered round and found Neil Hill and Dave Rees before discovering the beer tent and grabbing a pint.  I explored the other two stage areas, but they were between acts, so I returned to Leatherat where I found Jacky Pattenden and Chris Bryant in the audience.  We watched the final few numbers and then chatted as the stage was being cleared and set up for The Jackie Lynton Band.  As the stage was being set up Colin Pattenden  appeared and came forward for a quick chat with us before returning to his sound check. When the gig started we were joined in the audience by Trish Metcalf, Claire Windus and Paul Kings Pat.

Eventually the band were all on stage,  Mike Windus, Colin Pattenden, Spud Metcalf and Chris Bryant;  then the compere introduced Jack Lynton onto stage. Jack was very bright and cheerful as he set off into an hour of Rock'n'Roll.  He started with some of his new numbers, including Five Card Hand and a rare outing for Women and Men.  He really wears his heart on his sleeve, and he announced to the festival that his wife (Vanessa) had recently left him, which seemed a good cue for I Think I'm Better Off With The Blues.  ((Which includes the line "I still love you, but I don't want you back" - which he seemed to sing with real conviction.)  Adam Russell joined the band on stage with his harmonica about half way through the set, meanwhile Jack laughingly fought off audience calls for The Hedgehog Song, but gave them a short ditty about blow jobs before launching into Rock'n'Roll Whisky Blues. for which he invited Paul King to add his harmonica t the glee.  Two lead guitars and two harmonicas !   The act ended with the bands usual Rock medley. Overall the audience loved the show, there were loads of people dancing in the crowd and a lot of cheering. Good show.

Adam Russell ; Mike Windus ; Colin Pattenden ; Spud Metcalf ; Jackie Lynton ; Chris Bryant ; Paul King

While the band were striking the stage Jacky and I walked the length of the festival site and she collected us cups of tea from the Green Room.  It was a very weird sensation to be "paying public" and not be permitted backstage.  We watched a group of children playing while we drank our tea. They must have been around eleven or twelve years old; an ace drummer, a bass player with floppy hair, two lead guitars, a small girl on rhythm guitar and a vocalist.  Their music choice was definitely heavy, some of their own work and some copied (I noted one was a Foo Fighters number, which they executed quite well.)  The vocals were a bit reedy - but they were all little kids without too much testosterone between them.  The drummer was excellent - rock steady beat with a lot of panache on the toms and cymbals.  The bass was good, a definite tune player rather than a "donkey bass" merchant; and the two lead guitarists were very well practised and professional.  A fascinating little band.

Jacky and I wandered back to the main stage and watched a bit of Martin Barre's performance - very smooth and professional - before we met up with Paul King and Pat who were drinking near the stage access.  I blagged my way through to backstage where I caught up with Colin Pattenden, Trish and Spud Metcalf and Adam Russell with his daughter. She seemed surprised that I remembered her coming backstage at a Teens gig in Swanage a couple of years ago.   After a catch up with the news, I decided that I didn't really want to wait until 10pm to see the headline band (10CC), so I set off home about 7pm.

Martin Barre performing as I left

Saturday 18th August 2012 we found ourselves in Harrogate.  My friend Renee has often extolled the virtues of The Blues Bar in that fair town, and on this sweaty hot Saturday evening in August she eventually got me to attend.  The act was Jed Thomas and his band; I had been introduced to Jed at a party the night before - a nice guy - if you cut him in half he'd have "musician" written all the way through.  We started our visit to the blues bar with dinner. This was provided by Hanney, who manages an Egyptian Restaurant called The Blue Nile upstairs from the Blues Bar, and who plays tabla and tom-toms with the bands in the bar downstairs.  I had met Hanney on Friday evening too - he is a really cool guy - he exudes good karma. The dinner was a selection of excellent Egyptian dishes which we shared between eleven of us; when we heard the drums downstairs we knew it was time to join the party.

Jed's band comprised himself on a variety of solid body electric guitars, a drummer named Adam and a bass player whose name I didn't catch.  Mr Bass laid down a good steady backing, while Adam the drummer really impressed me! A real rock steady beat - no flourishes, just laid down the line heavy beat - and not too loud either.  Apparently this was Adams first gig with Jed, so his performance was doubly impressive.  Jed himself is an excellent guitarist - he frets and strums incredibly fast (a bit like Ian Campbell used to) and clearly loves and lives the blues - he really plays from his soul as well as with his fingers. He is also a good showman, fronting the band well and he sang reasonably well too.  He was joined by Sharon - whom I think owns the Blues Bar - she had a very well developed blues voice and she might well have had professional training because she used the microphone expertly to give range and tone.  Her singing style was very "shouty"; that's not a criticism -  it's a very valid blues style and she was very good at it - but I confess it's not to my personal favourite genre. It was a very close evening, outside it was probably 28 or 29 degrees and very humid - amplified by being crushed into a small airless room with fifty other people;  I was pouring sweat but it was worth it for the fantastic performance.  Jed's guitar playing is not only great to hear, but is visually impressive too.

Then Hanney joined the band - he played the tabla and the tom-toms - exceedingly well. His contribution was an added timbre and fervour to the blues - and the band generated a mind blowing version of All Along The Watchtower, followed by an instrumental with a dual percussion section where the two guitarists went off for a beer while the drummer and percussionist played tag around each other and generally got everyone excited!  It was a brilliant show.   Sadly the heat got the better of us and after that number Fran and I decided to duck outside for a bit of fresh air.  We sat outside through the next couple of numbers - surprisingly muffled from outside, very good sound proofing - before finding Renee and the rest of the party and retiring to our hotel in search of air conditioning!  It was getting on for 11pm and I don't know how much we missed, but I hope it wasn't much.  Jed evidently is very influenced by Hendrix - I would love to hear him play Voodoo Chile - one of my favourites.

The Jed Thomas Band at Harrogate Blues Bar


above KEBB - below: Ian one handed

Friday 29th June  We went early to The Cleve School at Weybridge for The King Earl Boogie Band's  "Sundowners" gig.  It is a picnic on the school field, with bouncy castles and live music - provided by The King Earl Boogie Band.  The connection is that the music and dance teacher based there is Liz Earl, and she is married to Colin Earl, once of Mungo Jerry - now the "Earl" in the KEBBs name. A feature of this annual event is an opportunity to showcase young talent from the school, who get to perform in front of their peers and their parents.  This year there were the usual crop of pianists, karaoke singers and a lone little lad with a scratchy violin. All of the participants were fearless about public performance, which is great - but two of them stood out, and I failed to write their names down (they may be famous one day). Both little girls - one sang Rolling In The Deep accompanied by her friend on piano.  For a ten year old the output was amazing - she had a mature voice, a great range and an ability to hold her notes.  The other was a little round faced girl who sang Wish I Was A Punk Rocker With Flowers In My Hair, capella - very tunefully well timed and well presented..

John Coghlan wasn't able to be there so Luke Calvert, George's son, stood in on drums.  George Leslie Calvert, Gordon Vaughan, Dave Peabody and Colin Earl were there and performing at their peaks (which is VERY good!) and they were honoured to have a guest star making his first public appearance for three years: Blind Lemon Campbell !  Yes, Ian Campbell was back.  Ian was one of the best blues guitarists in the Country - he played with Levee Camp Moan, Arthur Brown, Thin Lizzy, The Nashville Teens and The KEBB until 31st October 2009.  That night - on his way to a KEBB gig - a wild young driver went out of control, crossed the central barrier of a dual carriageway headfirst into Ian's car - almost killing Ian in the process. He had very severe internal injuries and lost so much blood that he effectively had a stroke! He lost the use of his left arm, which just hangs uselessly by his side now; he also lost some of his peripheral vision and we all thought that he would never play the guitar again.

Ian says that during his long convalescence he has "been to some very dark places" - but he fought back with the help and support of Julianne, his girlfriend, and almost miraculously he  has taught himself to play the guitar again - but one handed !  Currently a different style than his previous form, but he can now play over 100 songs and has even taught himself how to "bend" notes one handed.  This was his first public display of how far he has come from that Intensive Care Unit not quite three years ago. The sound system had been lent by Colin Pattenden, but because he had a Jackie Lynton Band commitment in Coolham on Friday evening, we had instead the pleasure of Roger Weddup - the Swinging Blue Jeans roadie, and a good friend.  Despite some problems with Ian Campbell's amplifier, the gig sounded great and the audience loved the show.  It was especially good for those of us who are friends to see and hear Ian back on stage.  He is reforming his own band with George Leslie Calvert, Colin Earl, Simon Baker and Keith Allen - and I am going to build him a website to narrate his story and keep his fans in touch with his progress. 

Saturday 23rd June, I drove over to Woking to see Dave Peabody & Colin Earl at the Pyrford Social Club.  The dynamic duo looked tired, they had headed the bill at the Torrita Blues Festival in Tuscany, Italy on the previous evening and had set out at 06:30 that morning to return to England and the Pyrford Social Club.  The audience at Pyrford was a bit smaller than the festival, numbering only about forty - but they were equally appreciative.   Colin and Dave were full of stories about the festivals and all the stuff they had done since we last caught up (which I'm embarrassed to report, was actually last year!); and I was equally full of my adventures in Hamburg and the gigs I had attended. 

They played two sets, mainly blues orientated, but with some jug band and ragtime insets - their performance as a duo has become significantly more polished since I last saw them, and they have become even more tight, musically. Dave played Drifter Blues for me - one of my favourites - and I promised to get myself to the Sundowners gig at The Cleve School next Friday to see the whole band performing.

They played through until half past eleven, with Dave periodically swapping guitars, and produced a very polished and interactive show - engaging the small audience very well and playing some lovely music. A very enjoyable evening.

Earl and Peabody at Pyrford


Mike, Colin, Jack and Chris (Spud behind Jack)

Friday 22nd June we again went to The Nags Head at Sunningdale village, this time with neighbours Dave & Ann-Marie.  It was another Jackie Lynton Band gig.   Adam Russell was there in the audience, armed with his harmonicas so he could get p for the odd solo (he is very good and Jack appreciates his input).  The band were starting just as we walked into the pub, so we didn't get a chance to chat before the gig.  The band were very tight and clearly enjoyed playing their new repertoire from the new CD - which is called "All's Fair in Love & Rock'n'Roll"

Jack is an exceedingly generous band leader. Many in his position can develop as Diva's, but Jack loves to showcase each part of his band and revels in their successes as much as his own.  He has recently started introducing a part of the act which he calls "the bands favourites", where he lets each band member choose their favourite song and get to play it.  As Jack says, it enables the audience to "see where each of the band has his head at".  Chris was lucky enough to get two choices - when asked he elected "Let It Rock" (which the band produces a stunning arrangement of), but later he got to sing "You Can't Always Get What You Want" himself while Jack stepped down to watch.  Colin Pattenden likes his own arrangement of "High Heel Sneakers", which is a sort of Funk-Rock affair, verging on jazz while still maintaining a rock structure.  Mike Windus' favourite is usually a Chuck Berry number, "Reeling and a Rockin'"  .  As well as all these "personals" the band also gave us "Five Card Hand", "All's fair in Love and Rock'n'Roll", "The Other Man", "Unchain My Heart" and  George Harrisons  "Isn't It A Pity",   Overall a great little gig; nice to see regulars Neil Hill and Keith-The-Stalker plus his posse, plus a welcome surprise visit by Dave Rees from his new home "up North".  Dave is owner of "A New Day" records and mastermind of the annual WeyFest concerts.

Monday 4th June we were at The Nags Head in Sunningdale Village to see The Jackie Lynton Band.  It was a fine evening and the little pub was packed.  Jack was cheerful and in a real Rock'n'Roll mod (as opposed to a "blues" mood).    Spud Metcalf was setting up his drums and it was good to see Trisha had come along too. Indeed, it was great to see regulars Neil, Jacky, Christine and Keith-The-Stalker with his posse.  Mike Windus and Colin Pattenden were busy setting up their amplifiers and the PA when we arrived.  Adam Russell was wearing a lovely union flag jacket - very moddish - to celebrate the Queens Jubilee and he had chauffeured Chris Bryant to the gig.  Chris had set up well, but was very mellow after soaking up wine for most of the weekend.  From a musical viewpoint, Chris is a brilliant musician and, unless he actually falls over, seems to be able to play exceedingly good music without actually remembering which planet he is on!

The first set was great, although just a bit loud (Colin and Spud to blame); which wasn't helped by putting numbers like Let It Rock into the set!  Jack "launched" his new CD and quite a few locals bought a copy. The first set was brilliant, and then, just as the band were taking a well earned ten minute break, things got even better!  Who should come into the pub but Rog Weddup, Alan Lovell and the rest of his band, The Swinging Blue Jeans.  They had been playing that afternoon at nearby Silwood Park - and had all come along the road to the pub to watch Alan's old mate, Jackie Lynton.  It was good to catch up with Rog Weddup too - he is an old friend of mine and is the SBJs roadie.  Although Rog lives locally, our paths only usually cross when I'm out and about with The Nashville Teens and the Swinging Blue Jeans are on the same bill.  The 60's music business is quite tight, and after fifty years most performers know each other. Alan and Jack are old friends so there was a lot of banter between stage and floor, culminating in Alan joining Jack to sing the finale.  Jack chose his Rock'n'Roll Medley to end the gig - knowing full well that Alan wouldn't know all the breaks and lyrics!  Alan acquitted himself extremely well though and both vocalists got a huge cheer as they left the stage at the end. A great night in good company.

Alan Lovell and Jack Lynton
Swinging Blue Jeans meet Lynton Band.


Keith Allen Band

Friday 1st June we were at Stirrups Hotel, Maidens Green, near Bracknell. The event was a retirement party for our friend and next door neighbour Dave - and because he loves live music, his lovely wife Ann-Marie had arranged for a band!  It was The Keith Allen Band,  which still has Keith (ex Marty Wildes Wildcats) as prime vocalist and rhythm guitar;  Gordon Vaughan (King Earl Boogie Band) on lead guitar;  George Leslie Calvert (Alexis Korner, Mungo Jerry, Jona Louis, King Earl Boogie Band and many others) ,  Adam Perry (King Earl Boogie Band) on drums; and a new addition - Drew Taylor ( Fable of The Bees ) playing the violin. I hadn't met Andrew (Drew) before and when I got to the hotel he was the only band member to have arrived that early - so I had to introduce myself.

The band is always excellent, especially in party situations.  They have a knack of selecting the right music to get people onto their feet and dancing;  and their wide repertoire - expertly and professionally delivered - enables them to please almost any type of audience. Friday was no exception and they played their hearts out and the audience of about 150 appeared to be on the dance floor consistently ! 

I was pleased, not only because these guys are my friends, and it always feels good when your friends are doing something amazing;  but also because their new addition, Andrew ("Drew") is such a fine fiddler . He adds a whole new dimension to their sound and the overall mix is much richer.  I shall have to visit the band when they are playing some other location where I might get a chance to take in more of what they are doing.

Friday 11th May we drove along the road to Sunningdale, to The Nags Head pub where we saw The Jackie Lynton Band.  It was the first time I'd seen Jack since my visit to Hamburg so we had a lot to talk about.  Jack was a bit blue - but philosophical and reminisced a bit about his time with the Alex Harvey Band in the Top Ten Club in Hamburg back in 1964.  I gave him some photos of old guys who wanted to be remembered by him, especially Chris Farlowe and Rikki Barnes. He was pleased to have been remembered - after all it is very nearly fifty years since he was out there! Mike Windus and Chris Bryant were both on good form - Chris just back from ten days in Japan.  Colin Pattenden was pleased to see us too - he has now recovered well from the sore throat he and I suffered while we were in Hamburg. He suffered it because it hurt - I suffered because I had to share a room with him coughing!  Spud Metcalfe was his usual lovely self, and had brought Trisha along with him.  Adam Russell was there too, with his harmonicas for his guest spots. 

As well as Trisha, among the audience were Chris White, Jacky Pattenden, Keith-The-Stalker and his posse and Shirley.  The audience was a respectable size, but the place wasn't packed. The band played two sets with a ten minute break and they were exceedingly good.  Jacks rendition on George Harrisons, Isn't It A Pity was particularly haunting, and Chris sang an excellent rendition of You cant Always Get What You Want.   Adam added his harmonica to several of the numbers; he always adds an authentic Old School R&B feel to the blues numbers.  This evening his addition to Chuck Berry's classic number,  Let It Rock (Rockin' On The Railroad), was particularly good.  Jack sang a new blues song he has written - although I'm embarrassed that I cannot remember what it was called.  It seemed (as I suppose all good blues songs should) very personal to him. He has a fantastic singing voice - a tremendous vocal range across the octaves and also a huge volume range from sotto voce to ear-splitting!  A great entertainer. I'm proud to have him as a friend.

Mike, Colin, Adam, Spud, Jack and Chris.



So Long Angel at Scratchers


Sunday 22nd April I drove to Scratchers at Godalming to see So Long Angel playing.  Although Fran and I had seen Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke playing with The Spikedrivers only a few weeks ago in March - I hadn't seen Roger Nunn or Roland Kemp for ages, so it was good to catch up with the whole gang.

Fran & Mike were full of their recent adventures travelling in Atlanta and New Orleans, the former of which was pretty frightening and the latter was evidently exhilarating with live music all over the place.  The band were tight and performed a lot of songs from their "Falling" CD - which luckily is one of my favourites.  Mike's guitar playing seems to grow nicer every time I see him, and Frans voice really blows me away - a rich honey and chocolate voice with just a touch of gravel - especially when she is singing her beloved blues. Everything they played was great, including my favourite, Freedom - which always sends shivers up my spine!  However, one track which particularly showcased their skills at this particular gig was Walking Blues - clearly one they very much enjoy themselves.  Roger was his good old smiling self - he played his drums exceedingly well - he has a nice touch which complements the folk/blues/rock/jazz feel of the band.  Roland was also on top form with both his keyboards and his singing, it was a pleasure to see him again.

Overall the gig was great. The pub wasn't particularly crowded, but there was a reasonable sized audience, and they really appreciated the music. One couple were avid fans and had travelled miles to see the band (I suppose I had too, but I count them friends as well as enjoying their music).  A nice evening - thanks So Long Angel.

Thursday 12th April - Friday 13th April - Saturday 14th April : I was privileged to be with The Nashville Teens in Hamburg to attend the two day festival to celebrate The 50th ANNIVERSARY OF THE STAR CLUB.  It was a great set of concerts with an awesome array of musical legends.  As well as The Nashville Teens they included Chris Farlowe, Tony Sheridan  (originally Tony Sheridan & The Beatles), Roy Young, Cliff Bennett, Clem Clempson, Kingsize Taylor & The Dominoes, Mike Harrison (Spooky Tooth), Beryl Marsden, Karl Terry (originally Karl Terry & The Crusiers), Howey Casey, Rick Barnes (once manager of the Top Ten Club), Brian Parrish, The Lords, The Blackbirds, The Creapers and The Rattles.  There was a full phalanx of fans who wanted everything signed and two and a half days of parting and reminiscing.  Far too much to describe in detail here, but the picture gallery below gives some idea of the ambience of the gig.

Roy Young rehearsing

The Nashville Teens in GroBe Freiheit

Me and Jimmy Doyle

Me and Chris Farlowe
Cliff and Ray

Tony Sheridan, Roy and Ricky

Maggie Ross, Brian Vasey and Simon

Cliff rehearsing big finish

Roy Young

Kingsize Taylor and The Dominoes

Jimmy Doyle

Chris Farlowe on stage

Ricky and Howey

Jimmy, Tony Sheridan and Roy

The Teens at The Star Club site

The Rattles on stage

Cliff and Chris Farlowe

Beryl Marsden and Ray

Ray, Karl Terry & John Frankland

Howey, Beryl and Ray

The Undertakers (I think - nobody introduced them)

Roy and Carol

The Nashville Teens on stage

Ray and Kingsize.

Sunday 8th April (Easter Sunday) we went to The Retreat in Reading to see Jason Manners' band playing. Sorry no photographs, and we were only able to stay for the first set, but that was extremely good.  Our mate George Leslie Calvert was playing bass and Jason was lead guitar and vocals. It is probably three years since I last saw Jason perform - he is a spectacularly good slide guitar player.  His repertoire appears to have broadened since then and he really won me over when he produced the most amazing live version of Voodoo Child that I have heard since hearing Hendrix do it in '68 or '69.   Jason has a new band who (with the exception of Les Calvert) I hadn't seen or met before. There was a tidy and steady drummer playing a strange drumkit which packed up like a set of Russian Dolls, but which sounded OK ;  A harmonica player who added quite a lot of depth to the blues numbers - all blues bands need one of these! ; and a skinny guy who had a very lovely jazz touch on the electric piano - he reminded me (aurally) of Jimi Smith in style.   A nice evening - I shall make an effort to see this band again soon, and catch their entire set. Thanks Jason, I loved it.



Jackie Lynton - Saturday

Saturday 24th March The Jackie Lynton Band was appearing at The Pyrford Sports and Social Club, so we went along for an evening of Rock'n'Roll with Jack.  This was our first outing with Jack this year - and it was a welcome oasis of rock at the end of a journey through a desert!  Although I had heard Spud Metcalf and Colin Pattenden laying down their heavy bass line at the Nashville Teens gig in Gloucester last week, it was great to hear their interplay with the joint lead guitar work of of Mike Windus and Chris Bryant in this much more intimate club environment.  On top of that we had the most blues wailing harmonica of Adam Russell adding his magic to the mix - and the whole lot capped by Jackie's great vocals. 

Jack was in joke telling mode - which was a lot of fun, if a bit blue.  He started the music with some gentle Rockabilly stuff and worked his way through the blues and into Rock'n'Roll, where he revelled in Mess of The Blues,  and followed it up with some Delbert McLinton numbers.  He gave Chris Bryant a spot to sing a number, and then Mike Windus had a song - Jack is a very generous band leader.  Then a nice ballad - George Harrison's Isn't It A Pity -  before winding into his Quo style to finish the show.   An excellent evenings show - well done Jack !


Saturday 17th March was the date for the first outing of The Nashville Teens in 2012. We drove down to The Walls Sports & Social Club at Gloucester to join our friends The New Honeycombs and a local band called ROCKology for a show called "Something For The Weekend".


ROCKology                                                The New Honeycombs                                          The Nashville Teens 

When we arrived about half past four in the afternoon we found that the stage wasn't big enough for three sets of drums, and the ensuing debate about how to set it up reduced the amount of time for a soundcheck - but it all worked OK and as we cleared the stage the hall started to fill with audience members.  There were about 150 in the audience, just the right number for a comfortable nights bopping to the most amazing cross section of sixties music which could be laid on.   The opening band were ROCKology, a local Gloucester band, who actually organised the gig in the first place. They were good and got the audience up and dancing with a good cross section of sixties and seventies music.  The audience were great, a mixture of seasoned jive dancers and just ordinary folk, all of whom seemed to like being on their feet and bopping! Then The New Honeycombs took to the stage.  They were as polished and professional as ever and Angie, their lead vocalist, looked and sounded stunning. They played their style of sixties pop music with some more bluesy ballads to satisfy Anj (who has an excellent bluesy voice) before closing with Have I The Right - their big hit from 1964.  Then it was the turn of The Nashville Teens to take the stage. They rocked the joint with their heavier R&B orientated set, ending with Tobacco Road and Born To Be Wild.  For a finale The Teens were joined on stage by The New Honeycombs and between them they performed Twist and Shout - which always sends the audience away with a smile.  A really great evening, and all thanks to Chris, the drummer with ROCKology for organising the event.

Saturday 10th March we drove by devious route to Queens Road, Aldershot, to visit The West End Centre where there was a Blues Roots Review featuring The Spikedrivers,  our friends Fran McGillivray & Mike Burke, and an excellent singer/guitarist named Sam Hare.  The devious route was because I spotted Queens Road on the satnav and we spent twenty minutes looking for The West End Centre in Queens Road Farnborough!  Wrong town. As a result we were ten minutes late and missed the first couple of numbers. 

We had not seen The Spikedrivers before, although we had met Connie Redgrave and Maurice McElroy and had even heard them jamming in Dave Peabody's front room at a party several years ago! Together with guitarist/singer Ben Tyzack they are a formidable group with an excellent professional presentation and as well as some good songs of their own, they do some really nice arrangements of classics. We are going to have to go and see them again - and soon!  Connie's sweet voice and ready smile adorn one end of the stage. Usually with her bass guitar, but sometimes with various percussion instruments, including her own washboard vest.  Maurice sits in the middle and plays the drums, and sometimes comes out to sit on his little wooden box drum which he can get an amazing range of notes from. He is also a good singer and showed off one of his own numbers.  At the other end of the stage Ben is not only a good vocalist with a big range of tuneful octaves to use, but is an inspiringly brilliant guitarist.  His version of Little Red Rooster easily eclipsed the classic Willie Dixon/Rolling Stones versions - I had to buy the CD there on the spot!

Sam Hare was a new act to us, although he has been around the scene for many years. This young man is very handy with the guitar - a virtuoso in the field - and also writes some excellent material - what we heard was a sort of Suffolk Blues with a tinge of punk in the narrative - but I'd like to see more of him because I think he has a wider talent than the wonderful stuff he put into this revue. 

Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke are old friends and firm favourites.  Mike is a great guitarist, but I am always extra special pleased for my friends when they do really well - and Mike was at the top of his form on Saturday. Blindingly good, and between them the three guitar players put together some absolutely wonderful music for us.   Fran and Connie took it in turns to play bass - although on one number they both thundered through a number in glorious tandem!  Fran also showed off her skills on the Mandolin, and although she didn't do so on Saturday, she told me that she taken her banjo for an outing at one of the previous gigs.  Fran also put in her share of the vocals during the show - she has a dark honey voice which is great for solo blues, but which also complemented Connie's higher pitch and made for a great duo. They sang a song called Come On In My Kitchen which inspired me to buy yet another CD!

A brilliant show - this was the fifth of an eleven show tour. Let's hope that they get together again soon, this would be a brilliant act for a festival.

above - Blues Roots revue take a bow at Aldershot
below - publicity shot


Chris, Colin, Budgie and Paul

Saturday 18th February we visited Pyrford Sports & Social Club to see Paul King's Skeleton Crew performing.  The regular drummer was not available, so the band called in  Alan "Budgie" Hitt, who had played with Paul King before, but not for many many years. Chris Bryant, Colin Pattenden and Paul King were all there, laying out cables and checking the sound as we arrived.  The club was already quite crowded an hour before the band were scheduled to start, and heaving by the time they started out at about 9pm.   Budgie was fantastic - he was in there and leading the beat from the first - you would never guess that he hadn't rehearsed with the other musicians!   The other three were very tight - not only because they are like minded souls, but this was the third night in a row that they had been playing together.  Chris's guitar work was as awesome as ever, and Colin always seems even more dextrous when he's playing with Paul - and he blitzed off an excellent bass solo during the evening.     Paul opened with a long wailing harmonica solo, and sang and played his heart out all evening - he was amazing, a professional performer to the the core.   The audience were wildly appreciative, especially of the Dylan content, and the band got special ovations for A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall and Maggie's Farm.


Thursday 2nd February we visited Woking and the New Victoria Theatre for the second week running. This time we saw Matthew Bourne's choreography of The Nutcracker.  It featured Pyotr Tchaikovsky's original musical score complemented by a robustly modified story line - with amazing modern costumes and dance. The dance was performed by Bourne's own company, New Adventures Company.

Seeing this production was a personal target for me, it is the only one of Matthew Bourne's creations to date which I haven't seen; although I have read loads of critiques of it and seen excerpts on TV.  I thoroughly enjoyed it. The dancing was crisp, exuberant and exciting, very expressive and very humorous; and the music is - of course - one of the most famous ballet scores in the World.  The basic story line had been modified to feature a poor orphan named Anna, and is set in a harsh orphanage rather than a well-to-do household. The original story line is a little Victorian, and the new setting enables Bourne to emphasise the roles of the participants in, and content of, the dream/nightmare story line. Her friends in the orphanage become the sweets in her Toyland  dream as do the fearful family who run the orphanage.  The daughter of this household - a mean and cruel girl - is The Princess Sugarplum in the dream, who steals the love of Anna's boyfriend - in his dream guise of The Nutcracker. Her sweets/friends are humorously presented as retaining their friendly relationship, pushing the analogy almost to its limit by continually licking each other ! All seems hopeless until Anna awakes to find that it was just a dream and she and her boyfriend (The Nutcracker) escape the orphanage via the window on a rope made of knotted sheets.

This was Matthew Bourne's first large scale venture at re-interpreting the classical ballet and is now celebrating it's twentieth anniversary.  I now have seen the whole set to date, and look forward to the masters next venture.

Marshmallows and the Sugar Princess


Blood Brothers

Thursday 26th January  Our first gig of 2012; on this Thursday evening Fran and I went to Woking to meet up with Geoff, Corinne, Jacky & Colin at The New Victoria Theatre, to see a production of Willie Russell's  Blood Brothers

Mrs Johnstone was played by Maureen Nolan - who sang and acted brilliantly.  She has a very powerful voice, and is also an excellent actress,  following in the footsteps of Petula Clarke and Carole King - both of whom have played the part on Broadway.  This wasn't her first time in the role - having been appearing in various productions of Blood Brothers since at least 1988; and at least one of her sisters has a similar heritage with the ever-popular show.

It might be ever-popular" but I hadn't seen it before and I was also impressed by The Narrator - played by a guy named Craig Price.  I love poetry, and this part was very close to poetic.   I hadn't seen the show before and was impressed by the story line, the drama and the acting. I don't recall any of the songs - so I can't report that I really liked the music - but it wasn't inappropriate or bad music - so it didn't spoil the show for me.

The plot was a fairly straightforward nature v nurture drama.  A young Mum producing loads of children (7) before her husband leaves her for a younger woman just as she is about to produce twins. Then rather than possibly losing children into care, she gives one of the twins to the rich but barren lady who's house she cleans.  The story is about the interactions of the twins - now apparently deriving from "have" and "have not" backgrounds, meeting at various points of their life and becoming not only firm friends - but becoming "blood brothers".  Eventually one murders the other and is himself shot dead by police marksmen in the same instant - and seconds before their death Mrs Johnstone tells them they are real brothers.  Oh the irony! Still - it is a very well told story, and very dramatically presented.  Not sure if I'd go to see it again - but I enjoyed it and am glad that I have seen it once.