IF THE DEVIL
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GIG REPORTS 2013

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.

                       


2013

 

Teens @ Cellar

Sunday 17th November I arrived at The Cellar @ Eastney in Southsea three minutes later than its planned opening time of five thirty. For a change I was not the first to arrive at a gig. Simon Spratley and Adam Russell were already there setting up Simons keyboards, and we were soon joined by Spud Metcalfe, Ken Osborn and Colin Pattenden.  Steve Pitt, the club owner, was around and he had a barman and a sound engineer to assist him. We fiddled around a bit, then Kens amplifier blew - and Colin got out his soldering iron - so Adam and I beat a retreat to the pub over the road - The RMA - where Elliot Schneider had played just four weeks before. We chatted to the publican for about ten minutes before we were joined by Simon - then the three of us went up the road in search of sustenance. We found a 24 hour supermarket which sold pies which were apparently within their sell by date - so we stocked up and returned to The Cellar.  In the meanwhile Jacky and Mel had arrived and had brought Ray Phillips with them and Colin had fixed the amplifier - so we were ready for a soundcheck. The check was good and afterward we sat talking until the audience started to arrive about eight o'clock.  It wasn't a packed house, which made it an economic issue for Steve the club owner (he still had to pay the band), but the select audience were clearly all "fans" - many of whom hadn't seen the band since The Sixties! It is a very small venue so the room looked fairly well populated from the stage. The band were really tight - partially because this was the third weekend in a row they had played together, but a lot of the coherence was through performing in a very small environment on a small stage. The sound was excellent - the sound engineer at The Cellar clearly knows his stuff. Ray belted out number after number, and Adam got a lot more harmonica pieces than he usually does - even some solo's. Afterwards, Steve said he hadn't heard such a great band for ages, and that he would certainly want to book them again if he could drum up more punters. Like a lot of live music aficionados', Steve prefers his live music to be "raw" rather than the polished and soulless cabaret which many sixties bands have turned to. My favourite quote of the evening was from Steve, who said - in praise of the band - "nobody can accuse The Nashville Teens of being 'cabaret' ". 
A great show very much appreciated by a small and select audience.
 

 

Thursday 14th November Fran and I went to The Blue Anchor in West Byfleet to see Fran McGillivray & Mike Burke playing. We caught up with them in the bar downstairs and were introduced to Frans cousin, who lives in Byfleet, and whom had never seen Fran sing before! Eventually we found our way upstairs to The Blue Anchor Folk Club, which is apparently held every Thursday night. It seems that the place specialises in "floor singers" (that is, members of the audience who stand up and sing a song or two and then sit down again.) and while we were waiting for the show to get underway I struck up a conversation with a guy named Cameron Brown, who was a vocalist/harmonica player with a local band called "Scram". Apparently they play a few Nashville Teens songs so we had some good common ground in musical tastes.  The show started with two floor singers performing - both produced very creditable guitar work although the vocals were a little rusty.  Then Fran & Mike stood up and played their first set. The acoustics of the room were terrific, and Mike has a new little amplifier which was just right for the room. Although they retained their blues influence, they played their "folky" set - which Fran (my Fran) and I love.   Both performers were at their peak; and combined with the bright acoustics and the intimate atmosphere of this little folk club, Fran and I agreed that this was one of the best performances we have ever heard Fran & Mike deliver.  Mikes new amplifier gives a bright and clear expansion of his dextrous guitar work, and is especially brilliant when he plays his resonator guitar - it makes a fantastic sound. At the break we chatted with Frans relatives and I bought the duo some alcoholic drinks. I think that in the seven or so years we have known them, this is the first time I have seen them drinking alcohol at a gig!  The second set was every bit as excellent, especially Reynardine - which Fran sings beautifully and performs with a flute instead of her customary bass guitar.  They culminated with a request (from me) for Spoonful.  They do a great rendition of this old Willie Dixon classic, and then seemed genuinely surprised when they were called for an encore.  Their encore was the old Buddy Holly song - Not Fade Away. A great end to the evening. 
 

Mike and Fran at The Blue Anchor
 

 

 

The Teens at Blackpool

Saturday 9th November I took the long drive up to Blackpool to The Savoy Hotel, where Chris Wood was presenting a Sixties Weekend. The Nashville Teens were topping the bill on Saturday night, but this meant getting the two hundred and fifty miles to the venue, setting up the instruments and backline and sound checking at half past three in the afternoon. As soon as I arrived I found Chris, the organiser, and Jeff the sound engineer. We were joined almost immediately by Simon Spratley with his keyboards and his girlfriend Alison.  Colin and Ray Phillips arrived shortly afterwards. They had dropped Ken and Spud with Ron Pusey - a local friend who used to drum for The Nashville Teens way back in the nineteen seventies. Ron brought them to the gig and arrived a few minutes behind Colin. I hadn't met Ron before -he seemed a really nice guy. After a rapid debate with the members of the other band, The MerseySound  (no, I hadn't heard of them before either - they are a sort of Cavern Club tribute band) we decided to disassemble most of the venues backline and stack it out in the green room; and we replaced it with The Teens own backline, which the other band would also use. After some delay for the change of drumkit and bass guitar amps, we whizzed through a very effective and well organised sound check - Jeff is a professional.  We returned to the Savoy at about half past eight. There were about two hundred and fifty in the audience, and the majority were wearing fancy dress - most of which had a sixties theme - although there was one totally not politically correct golliwog and several of the mini-skirted "young" ladies (at these gigs, "young" is less than seventy) who had chosen a Christmas theme.  We wondered whether perhaps Christmas happens early in Lancashire?  The first act of the evenings entertainment was a genuinely young lady in a short dress, white boots and a blonde wig, singing sixties songs accompanied by karaoke tracks on her laptop. I didn't catch her name, but she was quite good. During sound check she had jeans and dark hair and glasses and complained that the other bands sound checking were too loud. At one stage she even ran out of the hall with her fingers in her ears! Her stage act was a total transformation!  She was followed by The MerseySound - who were reasonably good musicians, but played nothing but early sixties Liverpudlian music. Individually all the songs they performed were good - but when the sound is strung together one after another it seemed to get quite "samey".   The Nashville Teens were on late - eleven o'clock - and they played through till gone midnight - an excellent gig. The audience was wild for dancing and the hall was still packed at midnight - unusual for this type of gig.  Bearing in mind that audiences for The Teens are essentially the same age as the band members, their propensity to dress up sixties style is sometimes more "interesting" than genuinely "realistic". On Saturday however, not only were there some quite "fit" sixty year olds in the audience, but there was one genuinely young lady dancing with somehow who may well have been her Mum. The young lady wore a mini-dress which appeared to be painted onto her, and she was gyrating sensually all night on her unfeasibly long legs, which were boosted with five inch heels. This apparition totally focussed the band members who were clearly choosing the numbers they played not to please the whole audience, but to keep this young lady on the dance floor!  A great evenings entertainment
 

           

fancy dress at the gig                                                                        The Nashville Teens playing                                           Ken's view from the stage. The young lady in
some not terribly politically correct                                                                                                                                      the tight dress was quite a motivation for the band

     

 

Friday 8th November we drove into London with Jacky & Colin Pattenden to celebrate Colin's 65th birthday at The Pheasantry is an art deco style basement club hidden under a pretty awesome Pizza Express building in The Kings Road near Sloane Square.  Don't misunderstand. Pizza Express is not necessarily awesome - but the building is. It is accessed through a courtyard entered between two huge Caryatid statues - it looks more like a temple from an Indiana Jones film than a pizza restaurant. The basement is set out like a night club (which it used to be) and they often have really good entertainment at reasonable prices.  Tonight it was sixties Jazz and blues star, Salena Jones.  She is a local resident in Ascot and Jacky had met her in a local shop and got to talking about gigs - which is how we learned that this one was going on. Fran and I set off around quarter past four to meet up with The Pattendens in Chertsey at five; and then we drove on to Chelsea and the nightclub. Salena was backed by six musicians - all very professional and all sight reading the music (which was arranged by Salena's husband).  This gave for a very professional performance, but also one which totally showcased the vocalist because the backing was muted and relatively un-soulful. The group was led by the pianist, but also includes drums, a double bass player, trumpet, reeds and vibraphone.  Reliance on reading the music also meant that when the audience called for an unscheduled encore, Salena's husband had to rush to the dressing room to find the music for a couple more songs!  Salena was AWESOME - what an amazing voice!!  great vocal control - good range, strong and melodious. She sang a wide range of styles, ranging from Cole Porter classics to Billie Holiday blues. A really memorable night - especially as she also took tome out to sing "Happy Birthday to You" to Colin!!
 

Salena

 

The Teens at Birchington
 

Saturday 2nd November we drove  with Trish and Spud Metcalf (and his drum kit) to Birchington Village Centre near Margate for a private engagement of THE NASHVILLE TEENS at a fans birthday party. The fan was Chrissi, whom we have seen at the Whitby Live Festival, and who loved the band so much that her husband (also a Chris) had booked The Teens for her sixty-fifth birthday party. Chrissi is a very bubbly personality who still  dances around to sixties music despite having lost one leg below the knee to a car accident seven years ago. We arrived at the Birchington Village Centre - a nineteen fifties vintage hall set back from the main village street - just after half past three in the afternoon and found that Colin Pattenden and Ray Phillips were already there and unloading the amplifiers and speakers for the evenings performance. I did a quick foray to the local Co-op store to acquire tea, milk and cake and we all made ourselves at home while Colin fussed around the equipment. It was a very well appointed hall; with a proper stage with a scenery dock, several changing rooms and a green room, plus a bar, kitchen and useful little function room on the side. Simon Spratley arrived with his keyboards at about half past four, and we had a sort of sound check. (difficult without a lead guitar, but it worked OK).  Unfortunately Ken Osborne was otherwise occupied at a relatives wedding, so we had organised Gordon Sellar to dep for him - and although Gordon had spend a couple of weeks listening to arrangements and even had a couple of minor rehearsals with various members of the band - it is always stressful for a musician to participate for the first time in a set piece presentation of the sort The Teens do. The stage presentation is very different from the pub band/jamming activities of most of our musical friends. Unfortunately Gordon had to work on Saturday so he couldn't get to Birchington early enough to be able to run through the more difficult set piece key changes and breaks. At six o'clock the party folk began to arrive and after we'd introduced the band to Chris, Chrissi and Mike Burns, the DJ, we all decamped to the local pub, where we were joined by old friends Alan & Sarah and by Gordon.  We returned in good time for the first set and found the party already in full swing with DJ Mike playing excellent sixties mod music. The Teens got on stage at half past eight and played two sets, each of forty five minutes - with an hour gap in the middle for the party guests to eat supper and feast on Chrissi's birthday cake (which was shaped like a pair of fishnet stockinged legs, but with one cut off at the knee!  What a girl! a fantastic sense of humour.)  Gordon did fantastically well, I'd be surprised if anybody in the audience knew he wasn't our regular guitarist. The band enjoyed themselves tremendously - they always get a huge kick out of the adrenalin rush that comes from playing "professionally".  The party loved the music and the dance floor was full most of the time, which is always a good gauge of whether the audience really likes the act. The party wound down about eleven thirty and we ended with a photo session in the green room and promises to look out for Chris and Chrissi at future gigs. We bade farewell to Alan & Sarah and then set about striking the stage. This takes quite some time and we actually got away at about half past midnight for the two hour drive home. A tiring, but hugely satisfying, day.
 

 
Thursday 31st October - Halloween - and four years to the day since Ian Campbell nearly lost his life in a road accident - and did lose the use of his left arm, leg and left side vision due to a blood loss induced stroke. We went with friends to JAGZ Nightclub as Ascot to see Ian being formally resurrected in THE IAN CAMPBELL SINGLE HANDED BLUES BAND. The club was packed for the performance. We met up with Colin Earl (Mungo Jerry) in the car park and at our table the three of us were soon joined by Jacky and Colin Pattenden (Manfred Mann's Earth Band) and Dave Peabody (King Earl Boogie Band). The place was packed, and we were glad we had reserved a table because a lot of people were left standing. The event was the first big public outing for Ian Campbell's Single Handed Blues Band. The opening act was Andy Broad, an acoustic blues guitarist and singer, whom I had quite coincidentally met a couple of weeks ago in the audience of an Elliot Schneider gig at The RMA in Southsea, which just happened to be his local pub!!  He is a very accomplished performer and a great opening act. The main attraction was Ian Campbell, whom I'm proud to know as an old friend. Luckily, after his accident in 2009 Ian didn't give up and he has almost miraculously taught himself to play the guitar one handed! Supported by his friends - including Colin Earl, who himself had to drop out of Ian's new band when he suffered a minor stroke earlier this year. Ian has got himself back to being the first class musician which he always used to be; if you shut your eyes you probably wouldn't know that he only had the use of one hand. His friends Simon Baker (drums), George Leslie Calvert (bass guitar), Simon Spratley (keyboards), and Keith Allen (vocals, harmonica and some occasional rhythm guitar) were all there on stage to support him.  There were lots of other musicians who wanted to show their support for their old friend by being there for this debut performance.  We knew some including Charlie Hart (Ian Drury's Blockheads) and recognised many others in the audience. The band played two forty five minute sets, and were met with rapturous applause. Their material was mainly blues orientated, Keith has a great voice for that genre, and Ian was solo featured on every number. With just one hand he is restricted to playing tunes which are in an open tuned key - but luckily that is the case for most of the blues! His only concessions to his handicaps are a couple of very clever (but very temperamental) guitars which electronically re-tune themselves to pre-set keys, and which therefore help him by saving him from having to change guitars whenever he needs a changed key. It was a really great night and a fantastic come-back for Ian.
 

Single Handed Blues

 

Skeleton Crew: Chris, Colin, Gregg and Paul
 

Friday 25th October - Fran and I took Michael Lipuma - the bass guitarist with Elliot Schneider's band - to Sunbury Cricket Club to see PAUL KINGS SKELETON CREW playing. It was a well attended gig (just over a hundred people) and there were several old friends in the audience including Graham Pereira, Christine White and Peter & June Barnard. Steve Kemp was managing the sound and disco and it was really nice to see Janice there as well with Jacky and Sarah-Jane  I had a long catch up chat with Gregg Terry-Short and introduced Michael to Chris Bryant, Colin Pattenden and Paul KingMichael has an American musician friend also named Chris Bryant, and we had obtained a photo of him outside Chris's shop in Denmark Street just the week before - now we captured a picture of him with the real thing! - see below  He discussed banjo's with Paul who demonstrated that his was not tuned to G like many others, but to C.  Totally unexpectedly Paul then actually invited Michael have a little experimental play on his instrument! A very generous gesture.
The performance itself was great. The band played two sets, and Greg got to sing two Paul Rodgers numbers (he has his own Paul Rodgers tribute band called Can't Get Enough) and Chris sang Isn't It A Pity and You Can't Always Get What You Want - both brilliant renditions. Strangely, as we travelled to the gig, Michael had expressed a desire to see Paul sing In The Summertime and to hear Colin playing The Mighty Quinn. I had advised him that this was unlikely because Paul very rarely performed his old Mungo Jerry hit, and that in twenty years of knowing Colin very well, I had never heard him play Mighty Quinn live.  To Michaels delight Paul did play and sing In The Summertime ! Immediately after that number - to my absolute amazement - the band then started playing The Mighty Quinn!  Unfortunately the band evidently hadn't rehearsed that one and after the first verse they decided to call it off! But I'm sure that they will polish it into their regular repertoire very soon. Overall it was a really enjoyable evening with good friends, good music and a reasonably priced bar!
 
             
                            Michael and Chris Bryant                                                 Colin Pattenden and Michael                                   Michael and Paul King

 

 
Friday 18th October - Fran and I drove to Hampton, to The Royal Oak pub where The Jackie Lynton Band was performing.  Jackie Lynton, Spud Metcalfe, Colin Pattenden and Mike Windus were there when we arrived, along with Jacky Pattenden, Trish Metcalfe and Christine White.  Adam Russell, Chris Bryant and Sarah-Jane arrived soon after so we had the whole gang present. Was good to see Neil, Linda and a third of Keith's posse in the gig too. I hadn't visited this gig before; it has good acoustics, is popular and isn't too far from home for anyone. Fran and I had promised ourselves an early night - so we planned to leave after the first set. The band were very good - on top form - especially Adam on his harmonica and Jack's vocals. The first set didn't end until almost eleven o'clock! so Fran and I weren't home quite as early as we had planned - and in fact we missed the midnight target and didn't get to bed until about a quarter past!

Jackie Lynton Band at Hampton

 

above: KC, Michael, Elliot, Eric and Carmen.
below: Rob Beckinsale solo at The Auckland Arms

Tuesday 15th October,  Fran and I were in London with Michael Lipuma (bass guitar) and Eric Borst (drummer), members of ELLIOT SCHNEIDER'S BIG BANG - and American punk rock band.  I had their instruments, plus a hired piano in my car and we met up with Elliot Schneider (vocals) himself, his lovely lady Carmen Castro (keyboards), along with his lead guitarist KC at The 12Bar Club in Denmark Street.  We also met up with Rob Beckinsale, who was there to watch and learn, because he was scheduled to replace KC, who planned to return to San Francisco on the Friday; and with Henry Scott-Irvine, the author and broadcaster, who was a compere at the club that night. We installed ourselves on the little balcony above the stage, while Rob sat out in the bar watching them on the big TV screen. The music was interesting and well presented - not my natural scene, but I enjoyed it more because it was my friends playing it.  I was especially impressed with Eric's drumming - he was rock steady while playing intricate paradiddles when necessary - but (unlike many drummers) only when necessary.  Although he was there as the compere for the evening, Henry Scott-Irvine, the author and broadcaster - is also scheduled to interview Elliot on Resonance Radio on Tuesday next week.

Thursday 17th October, I drove to Southsea to see Elliot and his band at The Royal Marine Artillery pub - better known as "The RMA" locally. This was the same line up as the London gig, but with Rob Beckinsale on second lead guitar as well as KC on lead. Another fine show, which I really enjoyed.

Saturday 19th October Another drive down to Portsmouth - this time to see Elliot, Michael and Carmen at The Auckland Arms pub.  Eric and KC had returned to the USA.  Rob Beckinsale opened with half a dozen solo numbers, some accompanied on acoustic guitar, and some on a small keyboard; he has a great voice and evidently a good song-writing talent too. When Elliot, Carmen and Michael joined in it was noticeable that Eric's counting in and steady beat were integral to their regular numbers -  and with the further complication of not having rehearsed Rob Beckinsale fully - a couple of the early numbers had false starts, which felt a little ragged. However, they were well received and on the whole these guys are professional musicians so they pulled off a good show.  Sadly I had to leave at half past ten and I gather that they played on until gone midnight. Another fun evening.
 

    

Elliot Schneider                                                                Elliot, Rob, Carmen and Michael
 

 

Paul King, Colin Pattenden and Chris Bryant

Friday 4th October we went to Northchapel, to The Half Moon pub to help Chris Bryant celebrate his birthday, which he was doing with the appearance of several bands.  The pub was rammed full of locals and musicians and their partners when we arrived, plus some old friends like Jackie Lynton and Adam Russell. First up was SKELETON CREW - comprising Paul King, Colin Pattenden and Chris Bryant. They played for about three quarters of an hour, and were followed by a band of young folk called SNATCH. Unfortunately I missed them because I was out in the car park helping build Spud Metcalfes drumkit while they were on. Next up was Chris's own band - THE BLUESBLASTERS - comprising Chris Bryant and Ken Osborn on lead guitars; with Gordon Sellar on bass and Spud Metcalfe on drums. They played through until eleven o'clock with a guest spot where Ray Phillips, Colin Pattenden and Paul King joining them for two blues numbers.   They took a break at eleven, with the intention of resuming at half past and continuing until "very late" - so at that time Fran and I decided to take our leave and get home ready for our early morning scheduled for Saturday.
 

Ray Phillips, Colin Pattenden, Spud Metcalfe, Chris Bryant

 

 

Saturday 28th September we attended The Camberley Theatre to see JOE BROWN.  Joe, now 72 (but looking ten years younger) appeared with his son Pete Brown, the great Phil Capaldi played drums; Mike Nichols was on double bass and bass guitar while Ben Lee played a variety of backing guitars. They were all excellent.  

Joe played a large range of instruments; guitar, ukulele and a violin as well as singing a mix of his original hits and a very diverse set of newer songs, including ukulele versions of Mr Blue Sky (ELO) and I'm Not in Love (10CC).  Joe also showed off his instrumental talents with Winifred Attwells Black & White Rag and the classic Havah Nagelah. His son Pete Brown was equally as talented as his Dad; a good vocalist and a very good guitarist with a very evident preference for heavy metal music! He also excelled at slide guitar and mandolin - very impressive.  Phil Capaldi is not only a great steady drummer but I hadn't realised that he is also a great vocalist. He sang a couple of solos - he has an amazingly great voice, very like Elvis Presley.  The backing guitarist Ben Lee also sang a song of his own, which was excellent, and all the musicians acted as vocal backups to each other. I was impressed when Joe sang Chas Hodges poignant number,  Wish I Could Write A Love Song - which I had heard Chas himself singing just a few weeks ago - and both Fran and I agreed that Jackie Lynton ought to have a go at that one.  The show ended, beautifully, with Joe on ukulele singing See You In My Dreams.  Classic.
 

 
Sunday 22nd September found us visiting The Red Lion in Stevenage Old Town with a couple of friends. We had to manoevre our way through the components of the street fair - which presumably doesn't open till Monday night, because it was eerily quiet - to find a way into the pub car park. We were there to see THE FRAN McGILLIVRAY BAND. We arrived quite early and were disconcerted to find that not only were the band not there yet - but the notice boards announcing the music didn't mention this evenings performance or the McGillivray Band, and had several obvious mistakes of dates and some clear omissions of other bands we knew were booked, but were not advertised. Eventually Fran and her partner Mike Burke arrived - they had been delayed trying to find a way to get their car into the car park through the spookily quiet fairground. Then Roger Nunn arrived equipped with his full Gretsch drumkit and a Gretsch T-Shirt as well as his trusty Djembe. They set up and the place was soon in thrall to the music and to Fran's great vocals.  They performed a very eclectic set, including playing Spoonful at my request (thank you all). I love both their arrangement, Mike's great guitar solo and Frans Dusky voice which makes their rendition of this old Willie Dixon number one of my favourites in their itinerary.  We had spent the preceding afternoon with friends Dave & Pauline and one of the topics of conversation had been just how complicated drumming is and how drummers must have special (I actually said "weird") minds to be able to move all four limbs independently - and quite often independently of both the tune/riff and of the vocals. Roger Nunn is not only one of the nicest drummers I know - always smiling - but also one of the best jazz drummers I've ever watched. So he and his percussion were great subject matters for me and Dave to pay particular attention to during the evening - and we both agreed that drumming isn't as easy as it looks, and that Roger is exemplary.  The band had to wind up at a quarter to eleven because of the neighbours and the fact it was Sunday night, but they had put on a brilliant show for two hours with a good mix of classical blues and their own songs; we thanked Fran, Mike and Roger and set off, arriving home just before midnight.
 

Fran, Roger and Mike have them dancing at The Red Lion

 

King Earl Boogie Band - Friday and Saturday

Friday 6th and Saturday 7th September we saw THE KING EARL BOOGIE BAND on both nights. 

The Friday night gig was at Sunbury Cricket ClubColin Earl was there for the first half - but was with us in the audience because his right hand is still not strong enough to play the piano. Charlie Hart (Ian Drury's Blockheads) was deputising for him on keyboards - and also gave us a real treat by playing piano accordion on some of the more Zydeco orientated numbers.  The band were fielding Simon Baker on drums, not really a "deputy" because Simon has played on and off with the band for the last twenty years or so - and he regularly fills for John Coghlan when John is working with his other bands (Status Quo and John Coghlan's Quo.) which was the case tonight. Simon has been touring for the last two years with The Larry Miller Band and I hadn't seen him since Doctor David's retirement party over a year ago, so it was a great opportunity to catch up on chat. George Leslie Calvert and Stephanie had been in the hall when we arrived (first to arrive as usual) and Gordon Vaughan rolled in looking as youthful and laid back as usual. I was impressed with Gordon's performance; he has settled into the band really well and now he is comfortably installed his playing is much more soulful and he has put his own mark on the numbers the band plays. Dave Peabody brought Jane along and they were an hour later than planned because of a traffic snarl-up in London - but still in time for the show.  The show was great. Inevitably the style was slightly different than we were used to - mainly through the delivery of the piano music, which is fundamental to this genre, but still interesting and enjoyable. Charlie's piano work is great, and a bit more staccato jazzy blues than Colin Earl's rolling Country Blues, but if we had to have a change, it was at least a nice one. Charlie also treated us to playing his piano accordion on four of the numbers. This gave them a real Southern Zydeco feel, which really enhanced some of the numbers.  Overall it was a very interesting and entertaining show.

The following evening, Saturday, we were at The Pyrford Sports and Social Club for another performance by The King Earl Boogie Band - this time with Laurie Wright deputising on keyboard.  Laurie is a tall skinny guy with an excellent touch on the keyboard. His piano blues has a lot of the speed and "country feel" to it which echoes Colin Earls playing - but with a less percussive style (Colin's style includes a lot of Jerry Lee Lewis influenced karate chopping, elbow banging and knuckle runs along the keyboards).  Laurie also played four of the numbers using the keyboard as a Hammond style organ - which gave a nice feel to some of Dave's own numbers. I particularly noticed the added quality on Going To The Dance. Another fine gig, and the local club raised 2000 during the evening for a cancer charity - so it was all in a good cause as well as being good fun.
 

 
Sunday 1st September  The Jackie Lynton Band yet again! Three times in two days.  This time they were playing at Scratchers - The Three Lions - near Godalming. Like the Nags Head on the previous evening, this is another famous local gig which is threatened with closure. Not because of noise, but because the landlord is changing on 21st September, and the new one may not be such a generous supporter of the arts!  We already had the drumkit loaded from the previous days shenanigans, so we collected Spud Metcalf and drove him down to Godalming. The others were there already, Mike Windus and Adam Russell were helping Colin Pattenden unload his van and Jack Lynton was in the pub talking to Neil, the landlord. We also found Chris Bryant and Sarah-Jane inside the pub with Jacky Pattenden.  The backline was quickly assembled and at nine o'clock The Jackie Lynton Band started playing again. Another excellent show on their local tour!
 

 

above: Jack at Weyfest - eight o'clock
below:  Jack at The Nags Head - ten o'clock

above: Jack Lynton and John Coghlan

Saturday 31st August I attended WEYFEST 2103, an excellent festival held at The Rural Life Centre - a countryside museum - near Tilford, Farnham. I have been attending this festival for about ten years now, and watched it grow from a couple of thousand die hard fans of local music, to the current scene with two main stages, two smaller stages and twelve thousand people wearing flowers in their hair and generally having a great time. This year I was there in my role as "drum tech" for The Jackie Lynton Band. They don't give free passes to managers! but this role got me in for free complete with backstage pass. It was good to wander through the crowd and watch some acts I hadn't seen before. The weather was glorious and the ambience was very much like the festivals i used to attend in the sixties - except everybody was much older! It was good to catch up with old friends and acquaintances as I wandered about. Adam Russell, our harmonica player was at the gate when I arrived - he was successfully blagging a backstage pass for his daughter Izzy. Within the festival I ran into Neil Hill (key member of "The Quo Army") and Dave Rees, who manages A New Day Records.  There were lots of stalls selling clothes, records, and food - including a particularly nice Thai food stall which I returned to several times!.  There were exhibitions of spinning and knitting, and an exhibition of props from TV science fiction series, including several daleks, a Tardis and a lot of people dressed at Star Wars characters. Among the bands who were playing, I particularly enjoyed watching and hearing Anna Phoebe and her Band - she is a young electric violinist who plays a fusion of jazz/rock. Not only an excellent musician, but a great stage presence too.  I listened to most of Roachford and Pylo - both of whom were great acts.  Spank The Monkey were playing on the Village Green Stage when I started to unload Spud's drumkit, and while I was doing my drum tech stuff in a gazebo behind the green room a couple of The Wurzels - who were the next band up - came and chatted. I've worked with them several times before when their paths have crossed with The Nashville Teens.  As I mentioned above, Adam Russell had brought along Izzy, his fourteen year old daughter with him. She is a lovely young lady with more common sense in her little head than most of the band put together! She has previously been to several Nashville Teens gigs and loves hanging about backstage. Today she was collecting autographs for her friends at school, so I introduced her to the Wurzels. Meanwhile the rest of the band and some of their ladies had showed up; Jacky & Colin Pattenden, Vanessa & Jack Lynton, Clair & Mike Windus, Trish & Spud Metcalf, and Sarah-Jane had brought Chris Bryant and a bonus guest in the form of Paul King (ex Mungo Jerry) - who wasn't playing, but wanted to get in for free.  By the time Spank The Monkey had finished the drumkit was assembled ready for the stage roadies to carry it up onto the stage.  As the backline was assembled and tested Gillie & John Coghlan arrived - John Coghlan's Quo were the next act on after Jackie.  John drums in another of the bands I look after and I haven't seen him since he did the re-formed Status Quo tour in the Spring, so we had loads to talk about. He is also a very close friend of Jackie Lynton (they used to work together in Diesel - and Jack had a long song writing partnership with Ricky Parfitt in Quo while John was their drummer). While the stage crew struggled with the backline I introduced Izzy to John Coghlan and to Paul King so she could gather their autographs and I had a nice chat with Gillie Coghlan about how to get more bookings for our bands.  Eventually it was time to get the band on stage and we were all ready to Rock'n'Roll.  "The Management" hadn't been too good at timekeeping, so Jacks act was a bit curtailed to 50 minutes, which put some pressure on him which he didn't need - but Jack is absolutely professional (except in his language) and he presented a great show.  Sadly he cut his new BB King song, Guess Who?,  but he did include his own new song "There's A Train Comin' Mama" - which involves the audience making train whistle sounds in the chorus. Two thousand people singing out "Woo Woo" is much more fun than Mustang Sally!  The gig ended and we struck stage while John Coghlan's Quo were limbering up to take over.  Now came the logistics nightmare.......

Jack had another gig booked for that evening. Twenty miles to the North in Sunninghill.  We had to strike stage, load the cars, find and herd six alcoholically and adrenalin fuelled musicians into the cars, get off the festival site (probably the hardest bit), drive them to Sunninghill, and set up the backline for the next gig. And all of this theoretically in an hour.  The next venue was the "Last Night at The Nags Head" in Sunningdale. The pub had been threatened with closure because of the noise; not of the bands, but of locals standing on the street outside having a smoke and talking too loudly! The mission of The Jackie Lynton Band was to ensure that the public could also rightly complain about the bands noise. We arrived within fifty minutes of coming off stage at Weyfest, which was something of a miracle! but it took longer to set up the backline. The music started about half past nine, and - helped by guest artists - continued until half past midnight.  The pub was rammed full, it was a hot summer evening and all the windows and doors were wide open. The complaining neighbours must have hated it - but perhaps they were restrained because they knew it would be the last - anyway we didn't get a single complaint.  Jack started off with the set he wanted to play at Weyfest. As the evening progressed he invited Mike Windus to lead and sing on Sea Cruise; Chris Bryant to lead and sing on You Cant Always get What you Want;  Ray Phillips stood up for two songs, Hoochie Coochie Man and Let It Rock; and during the break Paul King, Colin Pattenden and Chris Bryant performed three of Paul's songs which they do when they go out as Skeleton Crew.  It was a noisy gig and I didn't actually get home until after three in the morning - but it was a terrific experience.
 

           

              Anna Phoebe Band                                Jackie Lynton Band                                     Paul King at Nags Head                                             Ray Phillips at Nags Head     Adam Russell looking cool
 

 
Sunday 25th August 2013 We went to Ottershaw to visit Hare Hill Social Club where our friend Chris "The Carpet" Bowling was staging his own birthday music festival.  Again, we were drawn by The Jackie Lynton Band. I collected Spud Metcalfe about half past four in the afternoon and carted him and his drumkit, and his friend Pete, over to Hare Hill where we moved the drums into the "pool room" which is used as a green room when there are bands performing at the club.  We greeted Chris The Carpet and wished him a happy birthday, and were soon joined by Gordon Sellar, Mike Windus, Jackie Lynton and Chris Bryant. There was a very loud band on stage when we arrived, so we all congregated outside in the sunshine where the sound was more muted.  Adam Russell came to join us and Ray Phillips also came along. When the loud band had finished and struck the stage, we quickly assembled our backline and were ready to Rock'n'Roll. The sound and lighting was provided by a couple I didn't know; good quality equipment, but fairly amateur in operation. The sound man seemed to think that adding reverb improved vocals - which is rarely true - and certainly wasn't in this case.  Jackie ran through his Weyfest set again - and this time used the audience to make "woo woo" noises during his new Rock'n'Roll Train song. This was a great improvement over the wooden train whistle he has been using in rehearsals and the audience loved it. I strongly suspect that he may try to get the audience at Weyfest to participate when he performs this next week.  Half way through he invited Ray Phillips onto stage and Ray belted out Hoochie Coochie Man - his favourite blues number - before passing the stage back to Jackie.  The set ended with Jacks exit melody and we quickly struck the stage to make way for the next band.  This too was by way of rehearsal for next week, when will we need to exit Weyfest really quickly and get to another gig later on the same evening. Having cleared the stage the band trickled away bit by bit, and I got Spud home by a quarter to eleven - a new record for early home from a gig!!
 


Jackie Lynton Band with Ray Phillips                                          Jackie Lynton

 
Sunday 25th August 2013 We went to Ottershaw to visit Hare Hill Social Club where our friend Chris "The Carpet" Bowling was staging his own birthday music festival.  Again, we were drawn by The Jackie Lynton Band. I collected Spud Metcalfe about half past four in the afternoon and carted him and his drumkit, and his friend Pete, over to Hare Hill where we moved the drums into the "pool room" which is used as a green room when there are bands performing at the club.  We greeted Chris The Carpet and wished him a happy birthday, and were soon joined by Gordon Sellar, Mike Windus, Jackie Lynton and Chris Bryant. There was a very loud band on stage when we arrived, so we all congregated outside in the sunshine where the sound was more muted.  Adam Russell came to join us and Ray Phillips also came along. When the loud band had finished and struck the stage, we quickly assembled our backline and were ready to Rock'n'Roll. The sound and lighting was provided by a couple I didn't know; good quality equipment, but fairly amateur in operation. The sound man seemed to think that adding reverb improved vocals - which is rarely true - and certainly wasn't in this case.  Jackie ran through his Weyfest set again - and this time used the audience to make "woo woo" noises during his new Rock'n'Roll Train song. This was a great improvement over the wooden train whistle he has been using in rehearsals and the audience loved it. I strongly suspect that he may try to get the audience at Weyfest to participate when he performs this next week.  Half way through he invited Ray Phillips onto stage and Ray belted out Hoochie Coochie Man - his favourite blues number - before passing the stage back to Jackie.  The set ended with Jacks exit melody and we quickly struck the stage to make way for the next band.  This too was by way of rehearsal for next week, when will we need to exit Weyfest really quickly and get to another gig later on the same evening. Having cleared the stage the band trickled away bit by bit, and I got Spud home by a quarter to eleven - a new record for early home from a gig!!
 


Jackie Lynton Band with Ray Phillips                                          Jackie Lynton

 

Chas Hodges and Jacky Lynton reminiscing
 

Saturday 24th August 2013 we drove to Great Barrington on the far side of Oxfordshire to attend the FOXSTOCK FESTIVAL, specifically to see out friends The Jackie Lynton Band and The Chas Hodges Band both of whom were headlining the little festivals Saturday Night event. Blessed by the existence of mobile telephones, our drive was punctuated by calls; one from Colin Pattenden to say he was feeling lots better after having an emergency appendectomy - and was on his way home; and another from Spud Metcalfe asking whether we could give him and his drums a lift to Great Barrington - a bit late because we were almost there when he called.  Fran and I arrived about four o'clock in the afternoon and quickly pound Paul and Michele who were running the event.  It was good to catch up with Michele (Shelley), who is the daughter of our good friend Colin Earl - ex Mungo Jerry.  It was she who had contacted me to source some of the bands for this little festival.  The Fox Inn at Great Barrington in the Cotswolds is a seventeenth century pub nestling by the banks of the River Windrush. For the last couple of years it has run an annual music festival, called "Foxstock" on the August Bank Holiday weekend. Entry is free, although anyone wanting to camp there for the weekend needs to pay a modest camping fee - and the captive audience are great for the pubs excellent restaurant and no doubt enhance the b ar takings quite considerably.  There were other bands playing, including (on Saturday) Stomping Dave and Philip Henry & Hannah Martin, who were both very impressive - and some bands called Tinderbox and Mochara; whom we unfortunately missed.  Mike Windus and Jackie Lynton arrived soon after us, quickly followed by Spud Metcalfe and his friend Peter. Later Julie & Gordon Sellar arrived and eventually Sarah-Jane came in, she had driven Chris Bryant and Adam Russell.  Chas Hodges rolled up with his bass guitarist and drummer (I didn't catch their names) - they stayed for about half an hour, but then left to go and find a more private dinner in nearby Burford.  The rest of us remained at The Fox, it had all the ambience of a small festival and had an excellent menu for the restaurant. Fran and I opted for the "hogroast" and ate in the gardens overlooking the pretty little river.  The stage for the festival was actually IN the river - a planking stage built on scaffolding poles rising from the river bed! This allowed the pub courtyard to be used solely for the audience, and significantly increased the available square footage for the event. Some regular faces had made the long trek and it was a pleasure to see Neil Hill and Linda Foster enjoying themselves in the audience.
 

          

Stomping Dave                                     Philip Henry & Hannah Martin                              The Jackie Lynton Band                                      The Chas Hodges Band

 

       

Shelley and Chas                                                      Chas and Jack                                                    The stage over the River Windrush
                   

THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were first on, and played for just over an hour to an audience who loved every minute of it.  Gordon Sellar was standing in for Colin Pattenden and covered extremely well. Mike Windus and Chris Bryant played brilliant solos and Spud Metcalfe kept them in line with his rock steady drumming.  Adam Russell joined the band on stage to provide harmonica backing for three of the numbers - wearing his "cool" shades.  Jackie was on top form. He is treating these gigs in the run-up to Weyfest almost as rehearsals, and is improving all the time. He performed the set they have selected for Weyfest, including his new version of B B King's "Guess Who".  In true festival form, Jack also threw a couple of blue jokes to the audience, which they lapped up.  He and Chas Hodges go back a long way (1959 ! ) and they are good friends - but like many performers, they rarely see each other, unless they happen to coincide gigs - like today. Chas was back in the audience for the last three numbers of Jacks set, and he appeared to be well impressed. Jack must have seen him because he was up a gear for the last three numbers, which were exemplary - a brilliant and polished performance. Everybody seemed - justifiably - very pleased with themselves when they eventually left the stage.

THE CHAS HODGES BAND followed at ten o'clock. Chas has an easy manner and is an amazing musician. He started as a bass player with Mike Berry's Outlaws, then Cliff Bennett's Rebel Rousers and Head Hands and Feet, in which he played alongside Ritchie Blackmore (another old mate of Jacks). He had originally learned the piano from his Mum before picking up a guitar, and he switched instruments to the piano after backing Jerry Lee Lewis on one of his European tours. Chas had worked with Dave Peacock on several sessions before they formed the infamous duo Chas 'n' Dave. Chas formed his own band when Dave retired after the death of his wife a few years ago. That duo is currently re-forming and Chas 'n' Dave are on tour at the moment.  Chas's infectious boogie-woogie style piano playing dominates the trio's act.  I had met Chas when he was doing a solo gig in June this year; and then most of his performance was orientated around Jerry Lee Lewis tunes; but tonight with his trio he focused on his cheeky cockney persona with songs like Rabbit Rabbit and Goin' Down To Margate.  Not usually my sort of music - but very enjoyable once in a while.  A good show - thanks Chas.
 

The stage at "Foxstock"
 

 
Friday August 16th was a bit of a surprise gig for The Jackie Lynton Band. Arranged at the last minute the band appeared at The Royal British Legion Club in Bracknell, which is surprisingly no longer the British Legion really - but is a substitute venue for The Bull.  This pub has been closed and mothballed while the local Council redevelop the town centre - leaving the British Legion hall as the only remaining licenced premises within the town centre area - and the landlord has moved round the corner to maintain his clientele at this "new" site. 

The place was ominously quiet in the early evening.  A few punters had drifted in by nine o'clock so the band decided to try to get themselves together (not usually a quick or easy manoeuvre).  It was a warm summer evening and the windows were wide open when the band started playing at about twenty past nine. Luckily there are no residential blocks within the immediate vicinity so (as far as we know) nobody complained about the volume.  The sound did, however, clearly advertise our presence and soon the bar was heaving. The venue has a large bar area and the section nearest the "stage" soon turned into a constant churn of dancers.  Mike Windus and Chris Bryant both performed solos (Sea Cruise and Daydream Believer respectively) and the second set was noticeably more refined when Chris brought out his black Gibson special.  Colin Pattenden's vocals were remarkably clear considering that he was suffering from a sore throat, and Spud Metcalfs drumming was as tight and rocky as ever.  Jackie Lynton was in great form - he tried a few new arrangements, and an addition to the vast repertoire in the form of BB Kings Guess Who - very sensitively played by Mike with a stunning solo from Chris - and beautifully sung by Jack.  I suspect that this whole gig was a thinly disguised rehearsal for the set they plan to play at Weyfest in a couple of weeks time.

By the end of the evening the place was jumping and most of the Bracknell regulars at Jacks gigs had somehow heard about this gig and turned up. An excellent show and hopefully it has helped establish "The Legion" as a new venue for Bracknell's pub society.
 

Windus, Pattenden, Lynton, Metcalf and Bryant on Friday night

 

Prospero unites Miranda and Ferdinand

Friday 9th August 2013 was an occasion for another dose of culture. We drove into London to see William Shakespeare's The Tempest at The Globe TheatreThe Tempest is one of my favourite Shakespeare plays - dark, magical, surreal and full of really great quotes. In facts it's almost psychedelic. The setting at The Globe was brilliant. The opening scene, the sailors on their ship in the midst of the storm was robustly acted with actors flinging themselves about the stage in unison and  eventually carrying a huge model boat, as if it was tossing on the waves, off the stage. The play was presented brilliantly, and most of the actors were great - but sadly the chap playing Ariel was a bit wooden, and seemed to have confused "Elfin" with "Camp" - which, for me, took the edge of an otherwise great production.

The actors playing Miranda and Ferdinand were excellent - both looked very young, and both clearly enjoyed their roles.  Caliban was played sensitively - a pustular red monster of a man. Trinculo the jester was played by an actor with a broad Sunderland accent - and together with his partner, Stephano - played the drunken courtiers brilliantly.   The Spirits Ceres and Iris were also well presented.

The music and special effects in The Globe always amaze me - in this case there was not only thunder using the huge metal sheet and hammers - which we have seen in previous "storm scenes" (King Lear springs to mind), but there was thunder rolling around the sky - which turned out to be a young lady with a frame on wheels pulling a couple of cannon balls around the back of the upstairs gallery - fantastically realistic.  The musicians provided terrific surreal music for the play - which is called for as spirits haunt Prospero's Island.
A good show, well worth the trip to London to see this performance.
 

 

The Ollie Wedgwood Jazz Band

Saturday 20th July 2013 we were at a garden party at Ian Campbell's Home - to celebrate Julianne's birthday.  It was a fairly small party, about sixty people in the house and garden, and the decking in the garden makes a natural stage. It would wouldn't it, with a musician for an owner!  The party started about five o'clock and at about six o'clock the Ollie Wedgwood Jazz Band played for us.  The band played some classic jazz pieces, and some of their own compositions, led by Ollie Wedgwood on vocals and keyboards.  I didn't get to hear the names of the other musicians, but they comprised a tidy light drummer; a bass player who alternated electric bass guitar and electric double bass, as required; and a saxophonist of note - who also played the clarinet and the flute. Julianne is a jazz lover so her party started with jazz.  As the sun started to go down the jazz band packed up and were replaced by Ian Campbell's own band - focussed more on blues and a smattering of Rock'n'Roll. George Leslie Calvert was making love to his bass guitar, while Ian Campbell smiled as he leaned left to deliver his amazing one-handed electric guitar performance. Keith Allen provided occasional rhythm guitar and harmonica as well as the bluesy vocals, and the drums were manned by a guy I'd never met before -  Malcolm Ashmore - who was the original drummer with Ian's first band ; Levee Camp Moan.  I also met a really nice guy named Mart from Ascot who used to be Levee Camp Moans Roadie.  Levee Camp Moan were a local Bracknell Blues Band in the late sixties, and although they disbanded and never really became professional, their 1969 LP recording Live At Peacock Farm is an iconic blues album and a real collectors item, with the vinyl versions changing hands nowadays at about 600 each.  Ian's playing improves every time I hear him; considering that he lost the use of his left arm - and the eyesight in his left eye - nearly four years ago, it is amazing that he plays so brilliantly, and with such soul. He attributes much of his encouragement to The Nordoff Robins Trust, which has supported him in his quest to regain his first love of blues guitar playing, but with only one hand.  It was a great party and the mix of Jazz and Blues was well balanced and impressive.
 

Ian Campbell - single handed blues

 

The cast of Songs from the Shows - 1980s.

Saturday 6th July 2013 we were at The Aldwych Theatre in London taking Rogers Mum to her birthday treat. She has always disparaged sixties music (our love) as being a poor second to thirties music - so this was a treat for her.  The show is a stage version of the nineteen thirties film "Top Hat" which starred Fred Astaire. The show was brilliant, we loved it. The scenery, and even the proscenium arch, were all Art Deco - my favourite style - the dancing and singing were terrific, and although the plot (more or less the same as the 1938 film starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rodgers) was fairly thin - it had been spiced up with a lot of more recent puns and gags - including Ginger's classic line : "Dancing with you is easy, I just do what you do.... backwards....... and in high heels." An excellent show - I wouldnt mind seeing it again.

Sunday 7th July 2013 and we were back in London, this time at The Pheasantry in Kings Road, The Pheasantry is an art deco style gig in the basement of the Pizza Express at the Sloane Square end of The Kings Road. The event was another presentation by Jerry and Wina's son, Nicky - who is a budding impresario. He and a friend have organised a series of "Songs from the Shows" - going decade by decade from the forties to the eighties They stage one decade approximately each six or eight weeks, and call in five or six singers/actors who are training at stage school, and who perform with them (unpaid). Sunday was the end of the run, "The Eighties".  The basement is laid out like an Art Deco nightclub, with a small stage framed by a very deco-esque balcony and stairway, surrounded by dining tables.  The show was excellent - songs from shows like The Wizard of Oz, Miss Saigon and Fame. were the agenda, and were all performed incredibly well.  Very impressive, I hope they manage to repeat the series so that we can see all the decades.
 

poster for Top Hat

 

Chas Hodges and Ray Phillips

Saturday 29th June I collected Ray Phillips and Adam Russell at two pm and took him the seventy odd miles around the M25 and out to Halstead, which is nearly at Colchester. Earlier in the day I had visited Colin Pattenden to collect Ray's tambourine and microphone stand. It was a fine afternoon with loads of sunshine and on the long trip I played a CD of old Nashville Teens songs so we had a bit of a singalong and a reminisce. We arrived more or less on time for the sound checks - although the local radio station had wanted to interview Ray much earlier, and they weren't too happy about waiting. We were greeted by a group of fans, who are more like old friends than fans - including Perry Smith whom we smuggled backstage at the Hamburg gig last year.  The sound check was good and because Ray had never played with this particular band before we had a quick rehearsal of beginnings and endings.  The band were John Spencley on lead guitar, a nice guy hailing from Guildford and a great fan of Chris Bryant. Bass (both guitar and stand up acoustic bass) was Robb Davis; Drums were Howard Tibble (Shakin' Stevens drummer) and keyboards were Claire Hamlin.  Claire was fantastic, she played a real down country rock style and her blues piano was blissful.  When we chatted afterwards she told me she hadnt really ever played any blues before.

The evening features a string of fifties and sixties singers backed by "The House Band".  First on was Ray Lee, followed by a wonderful character named Rockin' Gerry Champion.  Then Ray Phillips was up - his was the main set, 45 minutes long. Ray was excellent, The House Band were significantly quieter (they were just right - not too loud!) than The Nashville Teens and the acoustics and sound engineering were good - so the full power and range of his voice was really showcased. Ray invited Adam Russell up to play harmonica backing on some of the songs, and together they blew away the audience with his version of Mona, and I Put A Spell On You, and of course they all sang along with Tobacco Road. I hope Keith Wood - the promoter - was impressed enough to give Ray more gigs in the future.

After a break Terry Wayne took to the stage, and the final act of the evening was Chas Hodges.  Chas only played five numbers, but he did a lot of chat (rabbit) and invited questions from the audience, which was good. The House Band showed what brilliant musicians they were because not only had they not rehearsed with Chas, but he asked the audience to shout out what they wanted him to play next!  He had been telling us all about his days supporting Jerry Lee Lewis, so Breathless, High School Confidential and Great Balls of Fire all got requested - and played - with fantastic off the cuff backing by the band. The finale had everyone on stage, including Dave Sampson (writer of "Sweet Dreams" and another veteran of the Hamburg days) who had been in the audience. Apart from Chas's mike, there was only one spare microphone which Ray got, so although everyone sang along with Long Tall Sally, Ray and Chas dominated - and Adam got to play a harmonica solo.  The best bit - among friends - was that Long Tall Sally isn't in Rays repertoire, and he only knew the words because he sag it at a karaoke on holiday at the Bude Surf Festival earlier this very week!
 

 
THIRDSDAY BLUES  A really complicated name for the Reading Blues Club which runs on the third Thursday of each month!! On June 20th the support act was a guy named Steve Brookes, who was excellent, but our main purpose in attending was to see The Fran McGillivray Band  (aka "The Fran McGillivray Trio" and "Fran, Mike and Roger"). I had been working in Stevenage during the day so I had a rush home and quick dinner before we set out for Reading, but our timing was great - the doors open at eight in the evening and we arrived at two minutes to eight. It was good to catch up with Mike Burke, who had a new resonator guitar and a spectacular pair of cowboy boots acquired on his recent US holiday.  We watched the warm up act, Steve Brookes. He was good - lots of his own songs intermingled with blues standards and delivered with appropriate guitar styles. I particularly liked the style he used for his own numbers, which was a sort of loose folk/blues, and which reminded me very much of Al Stewart when he used to be resident warm up at Les Cousins back in 1967. During Steves last number I wandered to the bar to be first in the queue, and found Fran McGillivray there, looking as lovely as usual. We had a quick chat before she returned to the dressing room.   Fran (my Fran) and I sat through the first set - there were lots of new songs. Fran and Mike have been working on a new CD for ages, and this week they planned to launch it. The temperature outside was warm, and the room was incredibly hot - even more so on stage under the lights. At the end of the first set we joined Fran, Mike and Roger Nunn at the bar, and were introduced to Roger's nephew (Daniel I think) who is attending Reading University.  It was great to catch up with them all again and learn what they had been doing on their holiday in the United States. The second set was great too - lots more new songs. I collected a copy of their new CD and promised to do a review for Blues Matters magazine. Overall an excellent evenings entertainments, and exciting because there were so many new songs.
 

l:  Steve Brookes
r: Fran McGillivray Band

 

Gordon, Spud & Chris

Friday June 14th was a surprise gig. I had a phone call from Spud Metcalf at lunch time to tell me that whatever band had been planning to play at The Bull in Bracknell that evening had cancelled, and that The Bluesblasters were depping at short notice. We arrived about a quarter to nine and joined the lads out in the late summer sunshine in the back yard of the pub. Sarah-Jane and Trish were there as well. It was great to catch up with Gordon Sellar again, who is the only member of this band whom I don't see regularly playing with other bands - the other members being key components of either The Jackie Lyntons Band, or The Nashville Teens.  Or, in Spuds case, both! Gordon is an exceedingly good guitarist - both lead guitar and bass guitar; this evening he was playing his bass. Gordon's daughter is getting married later this year and is planning to hold her reception at Hedsor House near Taplow. We had a long conversation about Hedsor, which is the old country house used as a set for the recent film "Quartet", and was once an ICL Management Training centre where I was based for almost two years back in the late nineteen seventies.  It was great also to catch up with Chris Bryant, Adam Russell and Ken Osborne, who were also in the yard. Eventually Spud Metcalf turned up with a Big Mac and Fries, which had to be consumed before the gig started - so they didnt hit the floor until almost half past nine.

The band eventually started to play at about a quarter past nine - an eclectic mix of blues from Chris, one number from Gordon and - as well as harmonica from Adam - we were treated to his rendition of Dave Sutch's classic, I'm A Hog For You Baby. The band took a break at about half past ten and at that stage Fran and I took our leave and left because we had a long day planned for Saturday - but the band were very good and I wish we had been able to stay for the second half.
 

 
Saturday 8th June found us with friends Colin & Jacky in London, at The Globe Theatre, to see a matinee performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream. We found our seats and, with the wisdom of recent experience, we hired two cushions each! Fran had got us good seats on the lower tier just off-centre of the stage, but unfortunately the sun swept across us as the afternoon progressed. We survived the brilliant and blinding sunshine with dark glasses and paper eye shades; but Colin is allergic to too much exposure, so he had to escape and stand in the shaded part of the crowd for most of the show. This was good news for the little people who had been behind him - two little girls of about seven or eight years old - who then had a great view. The performance was the best interpretation of A Midsummer Nights Dream that I have ever seen, and I've seen quite a few. It was medieval, using the clothes and language of Shakespeare's own day. The faeries were wild and fey - and unlike the nineteenth century's pretty confections of fairy, which might flutter and delight - these beings were dirty and wore feathers and antlers. They exuded a more raw form of magic, which disturbed and frightened. The parallel characterisations which are so typical of many of Shakespeare's plays, were reinforced by the limited size of the company. So Hippolyta and Titania were played by the same actress and Theseus and Oberon by the same actor - thus driving home the dual paths of the story line. The rude mechanicals were brilliantly portrayed, particularly Bottom and Quince.  An amazing performance, absolutely entertaining - this is Shakespeare as it ought to be seen by all.
 

The Globe in sunshine

 
Friday 7th June we drove to Sunbury Cricket Club to see THE SIXTIES ALLSTARS performing.  To tell the truth we were a bit disappointed. We had known that Alan Lovell (Swinging Blue Jeans) would not be there - because he and I had spoken during the week about other gigs and he had mentioned that the SBJs were appearing at Minehead on Friday night; but we were surprised that another old acquaintance, Mick Avory (The Kinks) was also absent - so we had four more or less unknown "all star" musicians to listen to. To be fair the two lead guitarists were extremely good, but the drums and bass were average, the PA was fairly poor quality and none of them were very good at singing. They did, however, have an excellent itinerary of sixties pop covering a very catholic spectrum - so after the initial disappointment of not being the advertised band, the evening was very entertaining until they finished their show at 11:30. Sadly the bands encore was another disappointment - they tried to play Mustang Sally, but didn't know the lyrics (except the chorus of course) and then they moved on to esoteric version of Sweet Home Alabama, which they ascribed to Lynyrd Skynyrd, but which didn't sound anything like the LS original.  So unfortunately the initial disappointment with the personnel, coupled with a chaotic encore, eclipsed the main performance, which had - on its own - been enjoyable. I don't think we'll be going to see this band again unless Alan or Mick are playing.
 

 
Friday 31st May 2013 and I drove into town to The Bull pub in the centre of Bracknell. I have lived in this town for twenty nine years, and this is the first time I have ever been in this pub!  There is no reason why I haven't been in this pub before, just absence of opportunity - and the reason for breaking this long standing unconscious boycott was to see The Jackie Lynton Band playing.  I didn't see them for long - in fact only for the first three numbers, because I planned to be up very early on the Saturday morning. The pub is great - An olde worlde pub deep in the concrete soulless hear t of Bracknell. The locals were a typical lovely cross section of Bracknell life, and the only odd thing was the presence of a bouncer at the door. His job is presumably to maintain a reasonably high average age of clientele by keeping at bay the hordes of fourteen year olds who hang around outside neighbouring McDonalds. I got into the pub about a quarter past eight. The bands gear was already mostly set up and Colin Pattenden and Ken Osborn were finalising sound testing. It was good to catch up with Ken, who was depping for Mike Windus who was away this weekend. I was soon joined in the bar by Neil and his new lady, Linda - and then by Trish Metcalf. We chatted for a bit, but it was such a nice evening that we soon drifted out to the back yard of the pub, where we found Jackie, Chris Bryant with Sarah-Jane and Spud Metcalf smoking and drinking. We chatted until about a quarter past nine, when Jack decided that they really ought to get on and play a bit of music. I stayed to hear the first three numbers, and Jack was on terrific form, tearing up the audience and by the second number he had them dancing!  I felt really bad leaving early - I'm sure I missed a terrific gig, but I did need to be up early the next morning.

picture right: Colin Pattenden, Ken Osborne, Jackie Lynton, Spud Metcalf and Chris Bryant at The Bull
 

 

Sunday 26th May we went to The Club at Ottershaw to see The Jackie Lynton Band playing Hare Hill Social Club on Sunday evening. Fran went separately while I collected Spud & Trish (and Spuds drumkit) and drove them over to Ottershaw.  Some of my faithful readers may remember it as the site of my sixtieth birthday party, many many years ago. This evening The Jackie Lynton Band were playing, but without regular lead guitarist Mike Windus - but with Alan Lovell of The Swinging Blue Jeans depping for him. 
It was great to catch up with Jack and Chris Bryant, neither of whom I have seen for ages - and to see Colin Pattenden (who I have seen lots of recently) and Adam Russell. Although I've worked with The Swinging Blue Jeans many times in the past, this is the first chance I've had to really chat with Alan Lovell. He is a terrific guy, a real "muso"; although he hasn't ever rehearsed with this band, he picked up each song almost instantly. He is also a great guitarist - with a sort of Albert Lee style ("I wish" he said when I told him this) and he fitted in really well with Jacks band. Alan has a similar "stage presence" to Jack. and the performance was buzzy and great.  It was a great evening with an exuberant audience and an eclectic mix of music.

Picture left : Alan Lovell ; Colin Pattenden; Jackie Lynton ; Chris Bryant.
Spud Metcalfe is out of sight on the drums behind Jackies "music stand"

 
Friday 24th May Fran and I set off to drive down to the village of Bentworth, way down in Hampshire, South of Basingstoke.  We planned to watch a performance of Cryin' Out Loud, a band featuring our friend Mike Windus. Mike is an excellent lead guitarist with a penchant for Chuck Berry style music. We had visited the venue - The Star Inn - before and had noted that it had a quite nice looking pub-grub menu, so we had booked a table to get dinner before the gig.  We met Mike as we arrived and had a quick chat before we went into the restaurant. It was a reasonably good pub restaurant with a decent and reasonably priced menu.  By the time we had finished our meals and a glass of wine (or was it two?) the band had started to play and the pub was jam packed with standing customers watching the entertainment. We couldn't politely push to the front of the crowd so we stayed sitting in the restaurant and listened. The band played a good mix of Rockabilly, Blues and Rock'n'Roll which had everybody's feet tapping and Mikes guitar work was brilliant, but unfortunately I was exceedingly tired from the heavy week and I wasn't at my best. Toward the end of the first set Fran and I decided that while we loved the music, because I wasn't really feeling all that good, we should slip out just before half time. As we left ran into Keith-The-Stalker and his posse by the front door to the pub. It was good to have a quick catch up with Keith, but we soon set off homeward bound to nurse a headache all night (not Mikes fault!)
 

 
On Friday 17th May Fran & I joined Colin & Jacky to travel to Biggin Hill Aerodrome, where we attended a live outside broadcast of BBC Radio 2's  "FRIDAY NIGHT IS MUSIC NIGHT which was being staged in commemoration of the seventieth anniversary of the famous Dambusters raid on the dams of the Ruhr valley. The Rizonjet hangar at Biggin Hill is huge and very modern, outside were parked a half a dozen executive jet type planes, plus three vintage planes - a Lancaster Bomber, a Spitfire and a Mosquito.  Inside, as well as a 2500 strong audience and a huge stage, there was a curtained off area at the far end of the hangar which contained more aeroplanes - it is a huge building.  The stage was populated with three bands:  The BBC Concert Orchestra; A swing band called The Squadronaires; and the Central Band of the RAF. In front of them were the narrators of the Dambusters story - Jeremy Vine and Dermot O'Leary and five actors. There was also a stage space for various singers, who included Jacky Dankworth (Cleo Laine's daughter and a little clone of her Mum in both looks and voice) and The Portsmouth Military Wives Choir.  The whole thing was broadcast live and took two hours (with an interlude for the nine o'clock news).  The whole event was very moving with music of the era linked by stirring characterisations from the narrators and actors. There was undeniably a patriotic air to the music, tempered by the sober presentation of the story in which 53 of the 133 men flying that night lost their lives, 3 were taken prisoner and 1650 people died in the resulting floods. As well as pride in my parents generation for their bravery, and gratitude for the massive contribution this raid made to shortening the war, their was also an underlying message that war is futile. The whole performance was impressively choreographed - especially when you consider that it was being broadcast live over a two hour period, and they had to get breaks correctly positioned for the News!  Jacky Dankworth sang two songs, and her arrangement of A Nightingale Sang In Berkley Square was so amazing that I am planning to record it from the BBCs "listen again" website.  The Military Wives were awesome, as were both the orchestras.  The whole evening was very memorable and climaxed with both orchestras playing The Dambusters March

Undeniably emotive, patriotic and jingoistic,  but a really good show.
 

617 Squadron: A vintage Lancaster
accompanied by a Tornado

 

Dave's Not Here : Karl, Ian, Richard and Kevin.

Friday 10th May Fran and I went to see our mate Karl Green with his band DAVE'S NOT HERE who were playing at The Sunbury Cricket Club gig. We arrived fairly late and were lucky to find some old friends - Peter and June - who had some spare chairs at their table.  We had a few minutes to catch up news with Karl (bass guitar and vocals) and Kevin Welling (keyboards, guitar and vocals).  They then joined Richard Scarfe (lead guitar and vocals) and Ian Saunders (drums and backing vocals) on stage and started the first set.  Ian is new to the band - in fact this was their first performance with him, and he has a nice tight and steady style, which contrasts sharply with his predecessor Greg Terry-Short who is a great drummer, but who tends toward a more ornate style of drumming. We've seen the band three or four times before and each time they seem to get better. Tonight was no exception, they were rocking!  Kay and Claire (Karl's wife and youngest daughter) arrived part way through the first set and joined us to watch the gig.

Karl was on fire. Not only was his driving bass ringing out clear, but he drove the programme with introductions to each song - who wrote them and what style the band preferred - and with anecdotes about both Richard's history with Love Affair; his own twenty five year history with Hermans Hermits; and with oblique references to his infamous friendship and escapades with the late Keith Moon of The Who. (Which I think Kay would rather that he forgot!)  It was a very well thought through programme of music, which coupled with the innate professionalism of the players and the good acoustic qualities of Sunbury Cricket Club hall - made it a great night to remember. By the end of the evening most of the audience were on their feet dancing and I lost count of the encore calls they took, some of which involved calling up musicians and singers who just happened to be in the audience (Sunbury is a very Rock'n'Roll community). The club usually winds up at about half eleven and is empty by a quarter to twelve - but this night the band played on until five to midnight - just in time to comply with the clubs music licence.

A fine gig and a night to remember.

 
Saturday 27th April I was with THE NASHVILLE TEENS who were performing at The Tooting Conservative Club in Ashvale Road in London. The club is one of the oldest surviving conservative clubs in the London area, having been founded over two hundred years ago - and is hidden away behind a series of regular three storey dwellings. It was quite hard to find although we were helped by a Satnav and by the presence of an agitated fan. Colin Pattenden and I were waved down and greeted outside by "Iggy". Not a fan of The Nashville Teens, but of Manfred Mann's Earth Band. Iggy had travelled from Russia to collect Colin's autographs on a series of record covers. We put his "name on the door" for the gig later, but he didn't show up. The show didn't start till half past nine, which meant that the band were not going to get a chance to perform a proper sound check; so Colin  and I arrived about six to set up the PA system and do some passive sound tests.  Although we are in regular contact with Ray Phillips and Colin Pattenden, the band hasn't performed together for several months so it was great to catch up with Spud Metcalf, Ken Osborne and Simon Spratley - and all their news. Adam Russell was also there to provide harmonica support on a few numbers, and Melanie & Wesley accompanied Ray, so we had a family element in the audience.

The organiser, Alan, was nervous because they hadn't sold many tickets and he was concerned that the band would be "too loud". Of course the band ARE too loud - but although Spud is a brilliant steady drummer, he is unable (or unwilling) to control his volume, so everyone else has to play to that level. As the clocks hands edged past nine o'clock the concerns about audience size started to diminish - people were arriving and the room seemed reasonably full, and The Teens started off with Rockin' on the Railroad.  I wandered about checking the sound quality in different corners of the room. I was fairly nervous of getting complaints about the volume because there is absolutely no point telling this lot to turn down - but luckily no complaints were forthcoming.  Eventually Alan commented that they were a bit a loud, but people didn't seem to mind. I joked that the band were just right and it was his room that wasn't big enough. By the third song the audience were up and dancing! The worries about quantities of people and volume of music had gone - and a floor was full of dancers which always encourages the band.

After the first set, Bruce Thompson came on stage.  Bruce is a One-Man-Band and Comedian. He was excited because The Nashville Teens were the first proper band he had seen at University in 1964, but concerned because he thought it would be a hard act to follow. He needn't have worried - his act was great. Melanie was laughing uncontrollably - and when that happens it is loud and infectious! He is an excellent old school comedian exuding a gentle Brummie humour and engaging his audience very effectively. Bruce could also play the twelve string guitar pretty well and has a great singing voice - quite a bundle of talent. He had been concerned because Tooting is a long way from his home at Bromsgrove; and he had to get home after the gig, pack his bags, and get to Liverpool in time to join a cruise by mid morning Sunday. We plugged him through The Teens PA so that he didn't have to load and unload all of his equipment, and could make a relatively quick getaway after his act. 
 

Nashville Teens with Adam Russell guesting on harmonica
 

     

Bruce Thompson - One-Man-Band & Comedian with a stooge                                               Teens encourage the dancers                           
 

After the weekly raffles which seem the staple of such clubs, and from which we won two of the prizes! - the second set started at about half past eleven and rolled through until half past midnight. It seemed as if the band were playing to a permanently full dance floor, which always encourages the band to play even better!  The audience had stamina. Given that this was a conservative island in the middle of Tooting - which I have always thought of as the left wing (even communist) heartland of Great Britain - the audience were not blue rinsed Thatcherites, but were a real throw back to the sixties. A bit more arthritic, but definitely still with the spirit of the age - singing along with each songs lyrics. A perfect audience for The Teens show - which showcases the era in the raw, rather than focussing - as other sixties bands do - on trying to present a cabaret act just with their own hit material.

The time came for Tobacco Road, which signals that we are near the end - and then the encore of Born To Be Wild. Even when it was over the audience wouldn't go!  We had several rounds of photographs to take - including one with Katee - a lovely tall blonde lady who had been dancing about for most of the night. She was 92 years old, and was accompanied by a "young" man (he turned out to be 65!) who was complaining that he had to push her around in a wheelchair all day and if she could not get out of her chair to do stuff in Sainsbury's - how come she could get out to dance all night at this event?   We eventually struck stage and rolled home through the early hours of Sunday morning.  A very enjoyable gig.
 

 

Friday 26th April we attended the THE COURT SESSIONS FOLK CLUB at The County Arms pub in Wandsworth.  Fran and I decided that we had live entertainment withdrawal symptoms, so we drove into London to see FRAN McGILLIVRAY & MIKE BURKE. We parked right outside the front gates of Wandsworth Prison and walked the hundred yards or so to the pub. It is a very old fashioned folk club, where anyone and everyone can stand up and sing a song and get applauded regardless of their ability (or otherwise!).  Of course, our main motivation was not to sing or maintain life in traditional folksong, but to see Fran and Mike. We very much like Frans voice and lyrics and Mikes guitar work - plus they are a really lovely couple. There was a very small audience, about twenty people and we quickly found Fran & Mike and sat with them during the amateur sessions. It was quite fun joining in the singing and genuinely appreciating the passion of some of the singers, regardless of their ability - but I suspect that we wont make a habit of it.  Actually, amateur is an unfair description; some of the entertainers were unpaid professionals; I'd met one - Simon but didn't catch his surname - at one of Dave Peabody's parties, which tend to be full of professional musicians. Fran & Mike performed two sets, mixing blues and some of their own compositions - but targeted at a "traditional folk" audience.  They did one or two of their new songs which they threaten to feature on their next record. This is recorded and mixed, but still waiting for artwork to be completed. They now have a "launch date" for the CD in June so there is light at the end of the tunnel. As an encore they played Spoonful - and Mike dedicated to "our friend Roger, because he likes it".  It is the first song I ever heard them playing, many years ago in St Mary's Church, Hitchin - during the Rhythms Of The World Festival.  That deep bass riff of Spoonful on Frans electric bass guitar sounded very good reverberating around the acoustic heaven of a medieval church
 

Court Sessions

 

Act II: Sodor and Nikiya dance in "the shades"

On Friday 5th April Fran and I attended a performance of LA BAYADERE danced by The Royal Ballet at The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden.  It was the opening night and the place was packed with the good and great - as well as ourselves, we had celebrity gardener Alan Titchmarsh sitting a few seats along from us.  This is a very "Art Nouveau" ballet - with sadly un-memorable music by Ludwig Minkus, but with amazingly classical choreography originally by Marius Petipa.  I have seen it once before - luckily at the ROH - where the scale can do justice to the epic story.  As ballets go it is a very complex story line. Set in "legendary India", the locally heroic soldier, Sodor, and a temple dancer (A "Bayadere") named Nikiya, fall in love with each other.  Unfortunately the High Brahmin of the temple where she works also fancies Nikiya, so there is immediately an element of jealousy in Act One. Leaping about throughout all the temple dances are the Fakirs - wild men of the woods led by Magdaveya, who acts as a sort of guardian angel for Sodor.  In order to try to get the girl for himself, the High Brahmin gets the local Rajah to introduce Sodor to his daughter, the Princess Gamzatti. She's quite a looker and she and Sodor fall in love. Sodor forgets about Nikiya and plans to get married to Gamzatti.  Confused yet?  I was, and it gets more complicated. Rather than letting Sodor go and making the best of her situation with the High Brahmin, Nikiya follows him to the palace where she dances about attracting Sodor's attention. She may a great little Bayadere, but she isn't very bright because she confronts the Princess and the Rajah to try to get Sodor back. They aren't very keen on this idea and both determine to have her killed! At the betrothal party Nikiya dances and one of the Rajahs servants gives her a basket of flowers to dance around with. Inside the basket is  a poisonous snake which bites Nikiya.  The High Brahmin offers her the antidote, but she sees that Sodor is not going to leave Gamzatti, so she refuses the medicine and dies.
After the interval Sodor feels very guilty - Magdaveya the Fakir gives him some opium to smoke to relieve the pain, but instead it triggers Act 2 as dream sequence in "the shades" with Nikiya and twenty seven doppelgangers dancing about making Sodor feel even more guilty. This Act is beautiful - everybody's idea of what a ballet should look like with twenty-seven ballerinas in white tutus spending most of the time up on their points.
The final Act is set inside the temple, and is opened (for no good reason) by a vigorous dance by a bronze statue which then disappears.  The wedding ceremony commences but is interrupted by the ghost of Nikiya - who can only be seen by Sodor. She dances about and generally distracts the poor man from his forthcoming marriage. When eventually Sodor makes the marriage oath the Gods get very angry and the temple crashes down around everyone's ears, killing the lot of them.  The special effects in the Royal Opera House are excellent - falling rocks and smoke everywhere ! The final scene is Sodor and Nikiya reunited in Heaven.
A really good show.

 

Sunday 24th March we drove into London to The Kings Road, near Sloane Square, where we found The Pheasantry. This is a lovely and very imposing old building with caryatids at the front , which is the unlikely home for a branch of Pizza Express!  Downstairs in the basement below the regular pizza house is a large art deco auditorium, beautifully laid out, with a cabaret type stage surrounded on three sides by tables and chairs for about eighty covers.  We were there with family and friends, the son of one of whom is the musical director of an entertainment group called Speckulation. Nick is a very accomplished musician and is now involved in promoting "songs from the shows" with himself on piano and six or seven singing friends from the youth entertainment world. We didn't know what to expect, and "show songs" are not something I thought I would like much - probably too much exposure to the "EP" show on radio 2 which seems to major on shouty songs with the same tune and no memorable lyrics!  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this show had selected really good songs and I really enjoyed it - enough to want to go again at the next show, in May. This bunch of young talent have amazing voices, enormous energy, and their arrangements are extremely good.  The evening commences early (half past six if you want to grab a good table for the cabaret) - with Italian food and some lovely wine.  At eight o'clock the lights went down and the show started.  This was BACK TO THE MUSICALS - SONGS FROM THE SIXTIES and was a mix of highlight songs from shows, in a chronological sequence from 1960 to 1969.  Apparently this group perform seven different shows from the thirties through to the nineties. For us they sang excerpts from Funny Girl, Hair and Cabaret among many others.  An excellent performance in a comfortable cabaret environment with good friends and at an amazingly reasonable ticket price. 

There are other acts on most nights at The Pheasantry, all reasonably priced and all of a similar "light entertainment" genre.  Google them now!

Hits from the sixties musicals.

 

Original Quo - Ricky Rocket at the back and John Coghlan front Left

Saturday 16th March was a bit of a contrast to the previous weeks outing to the opera - we went to The Apollo at Hammersmith to see STATUS QUO performing with their original line-up to celebrate fifty years of music.  The theatre logistics were perfect - a long maze to get in, but everyone was moving relatively quickly; and the exit was really fast because we found ourselves sitting only a few steps from an exit doorway.  The crowd was brilliant - a bit like a football match. Most were ardent "Quo Army" regulars wearing T-shirt trophies of previous tours, but some were clearly just there because they fancied seeing the band together again after thirty two years.
The original Quo line up dissipated in the eighties when Alan Lancaster (bass guitar and vocals) and John Coghlan (drums) left to go their own ways, leaving Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt (lead & rhythm guitars and joint vocals) to carry on the Quo banner. Now, thirty two years later, they were back together to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the band. Fran and I like Quo - but were never huge fans; however in the intervening years we've got to become good friends with Gillie & John Coghlan because John currently plays with our friends in The King Earl Boogie Band, and we have also become friends with Vanessa & Jackie Lynton. Jack not only wrote some of Quo's music, but the couple are good friends with Patti & Rick Parfitt; and as a result we have met Rick a couple of times at gigs.
The show at The Apollo was brilliant. It opened with a support band - very metallic - no idea what they were called, but it's nice to see that there are still young bands with so much energy, and that old codgers like the Quo are giving them a break.

Roger and John (last November).

Quo's show was brilliantly staged, great sound and lighting, and John looked and sounded magnificent up on his drum stage. He played like a hero for two hours, poor guy must have been worn out at the end.  The others were on great form too.  Ricky Rocket looks much better, cleaner - and even younger - since he moved in with his new girlfriend; Alan looks and sounds much the same, except that his curly locks are now white! and Mr Rossi has definitely grown up - the pony tail has been replaced with a short hair, clean cut, look - but all of them still bounce with apparently boundless energy - and produce amazing music, very loudly.  A terrific show.

 

Momus Cafe scene

Saturday 9th March we drove into London to attend a superb performance of LA BOHEME at The Royal Opera House.  Fran had bought me the tickets for Christmas, and they were the best in the house - six rows back, right in the middle!  (not cheap - no change out of 350!)  Puccini at his very best in the most awesome opera setting in the World. A great Christmas present - thank you Fran.

The show was terrific. We had actually watched a touring production of the same opera just two months before, and that had been fantastic - but this totally eclipsed it.  The sets were opulent, the cast was amazing and numerous - and the lead singers/actors were all superb.  In the "crowd scene" in Momus Cafe in Montmartre (Act 2) - I counted 75 people on stage at the beginning! and they were joined by at least a dozen children for the children's song - a huge cast.  Act III had realistic snow falling everywhere as the soldiers opened the gates of the city (a real clean up task for the following scene change!). This version of the opera also had one of the most surprising props I have seen in serious entertainment - it was a naked lady posing for Marcello the Artist - and of course for the audience - at the beginning of Act IV !

The six lead actors - the four "bohemians", Rodolfo, Marcello, Schaunard and Colline; and their two girlfriends, Musetta and Mimi - were all superb singers; and tugged all the right emotional strings at the right times. After Mimi had died there cannot have been a dry eye in the house.  The whole thing was excellent - I wish I could see it again.   We left and were lucky enough to emerge onto the street right in front of a taxi with it's hire light lit - so we got back to our parked car in minutes and we were home well before midnight.

 

Sleeping Beauty

Tuesday 19th February was an evening at The New Victoria Theatre, Woking to see Matthew Bourne's latest creation - a rework of the ballet SLEEPING BEAUTY.  This is the old fairy story, but with a modern gothic twist.  The timeline of the story is carefully selected; It opens in1890 for the birth of Princess Aurora and the bestowing of gifts by the fairies.  Fairies were pretty spooky - gothic dress, blackened eyes and they turn out to be vampires as well!  The baby is a piece of magic - a puppet, but with realistic behaviours.  Of course, the wicked fairy places her curse after which she is exiled by the King of the fairies and she leaves  the stage to die in lonely solitude somewhere.  Next stop is 1911 - the balmy Edwardian summer with tennis on the castle lawns and tea with the suitors who are queuing up to seek marriage with the lovely Princess Aurora on  her 21st birthday. They don't stand a chance - she is in love with the Royal Gardener, and together they perform one of the most amazingly erotic dances I have ever watched! There is no doubt they are deeply in love.  However, this is a forbidden love, and among the suitors there is the evil son of the late wicked fairy - tall and dark and thoroughly evil looking - he is out to avenge his mothers exile and death!  He gives Aurora a black rose, which pricks her hand and off she goes into 100 years sleep - just like in the medieval story.  Bourne then arranges that her love interest should remain ageless while she is sleeping - by having the vampire fairy king bite him! The Gardener becomes a fairy himself - and therefore immortal. 

The interval is announced as lasting 100 years, but it's only twenty minutes in reality before the audience are transported to the awakening of Princess Aurora in 2011! 

The fairy King gives the ageless gardener, who seems to have been camping outside the castle gates for the last 100 years, the key to get in - and there follows a dream like journey through the castle grounds conducted with very modern choreography. The fairies are still around, but instead of having proper wings, they are now well in fashion, wearing hoodies with wing motifs on the back! As well as the good fairies, the bad fairy is also there, with his evil hench-fairies (is there such a word?). The bad guy has been trying (in vain) to wake up the Princess, and one dance scene where he is dragging her unconscious body around the stage is uncomfortably close to a portrayal of rape. Eventually the gardener makes it to the bed chamber, kisses his Princess - but - HORROR! - he is then dragged away by the evil fairies helpers, leaving Aurora to awake to the sight of the bad guy!  Another break where we fast forward to "Yesterday" - in which it is clear that Aurora hasn't gotten around to liking the bad guy any better in the intervening twelve months or so; and he has now decided to cut his losses by having Aurora as a human sacrifice.  Luckily the fairy King and ageless gardener are on hand to rescue her and spike the bad fairy to death with his own sacrificial blade! Hooray!  All the other good fairies turn up, Aurora and her gardener leap into bed together from which they emerge with a (presumably magical) baby symbolising that they love each other;  and that is the happy ending.

Well done Matthew Bourne. This ballet is one of the most imaginative and well danced evolutions of this old story which I have seen. It used to be fairly boring story, no real bloodshed and no real continuity between the beginning and the end of the story. Bourne has created this bridge and enriched the story by adding a love interest, and by making his fairies a lot more dangerous than the twee Victorian vision we have had presented for the last hundred years of this classical ballet. The music was Tchaikovsky's own score, and the twists in the tale were beautifully and clearly executed. The costumes were awesome - reflecting the modern perception of fashions in each period and swirling "just right" for each character and each dance. This tour is already sold out - but Bourne has a penchant for reworking, increasing the scale and re-launching his opus works - and when he has treated this one, I shall be back to see how on earth he can improve on something which felt so near to perfection!

 
Sunday 17th February we visited The Lakeside Country Club at Frimley to see THE BRITISH ROCK & ROLL REUNION.  We were doing the rare thing of actually paying for tickets because there were several old friends in the evenings cast; and we had a table on the first tier right in line with the centre of the stage - brilliant. Among the artists we knew fairly well were Jackie Lynton and Cliff Bennett. Also there was Roy Young with his wife Carol - with whom Colin and I had spent four days in Hamburg last year; plus music business acquaintances in the shape of Mike Berry,  Jess Conrad and Wee Willie Harris. Among other musicians we didn't know so well were , Russ Sainty and Keith Powell, and the backing band for all the artists, who were the current version of Lord Rockingham's Eleven. They had an amazing drummer, really steady and with the programme. They were joined by another acquaintance of ours from the Hamburg adventure in the form of Sid Phillips of The Rebel Rousers; who joined the band to back Cliff Bennett and Roy Young. Some of the show was a bit too "cabaret" for our liking, but most was great. The high point for me was Roy Young - he has so much energy for an octogenarian! and he's a good entertainer too.  It was really good to see Jackie Lynton and Mike Berry - both of whom have really melodic singing voices - and to hear Cliff Bennett pouring his soul into his songs.  Unfortunately the stage management had been a pretty poor - with stage hands coming onto stage behind working acts (unforgivable!) and some pretty crass stage management which let Wee Willie Harris overrun his act by a large margin. Not all his fault - but by the end of the evening, the gig was running almost an hour over time. I saw Roy & Carol  sitting in the audience for the first half, and had a quick chat with them while they were there - sharing news about Jimmy Doyle, and Rosie & Rikki Barnes and - sadly - Tony Sheridan (who had been one of Roy's closest friends, and who had died the day before after a long and protracted illness). Jackie Lynton joined us at our table for a bit of the show - he was obviously in his element catching up with old friends he hadn't seen for twenty years or more; and at the end we stayed late chatting to Jackie, to Roy and Carol and to Mike Berry.  Lots of good music with good friends and a nice bit of catching up with old friends too.

Jackie Lynton

 

The Jackie Lynton Band

Saturday 16th February - another night - another gig!   Fran and I left home at half past six and stopped en route to give a lift to Spud, Tricia and his drum kit, this time just down the road to Sandhurst, to The Dukes Head to see THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND.  We hadn't been to this little pub before, it has only recently got a new Landlord who promotes music. It turned out to be Martin and his wife Jacky, who used to run The Jolly Farmer at Hurst, near Reading. The pub is very small with no natural focus to place a stage - so it was quite a job to squeeze them all into the small space available in one bay window.  The pub was full of young people and very buzzy. Sadly Mike Windus had another engagement, but we got Gordon Seller to stand in for him - which was fine because Gordon is a great guitarist.  Jack was there when we arrived and Colin Pattenden arrived not long after.  Chris Bryant was a little late - he had been to a family gathering out in Colchester - but he rolled up with Sarah-Jane and Adam Russell.  While they were setting up Jacky Pattenden arrived with Christine White and Julie Sellers arrived with her son and daughter and their partners. 

The band were hot and pub was jumping, but it was so small and crowded that I couldn't get any decent photographs. The audience really appreciated the music and I'm fairly sure the band will be appearing there again. I had a long conversation with Martin, The Landlord, and he is considering using The Nashville Teens for a Summer Music Day (outdoors) and is warm to the idea of hosting Ian Campbell when he gets his duo gig together. Jacky and Christine gave Fran a lift home while I helped strike the stage, eventually rolling home at about a quarter to two in the morning!

I have added Martin and Jackys gigs to my published gig listing - I'm sure Fran and i will be visiting again.

 
Friday 15th February Fran and I found ourselves under an amazing awning of millions of stars in a totally cloudless night sky. We had reached the village of Bentworth - deep in Hampshire, miles from anywhere and with no street lighting. After watching the amazing vastness of the Universe for a few minutes, we set off toward the only bit of light we could see, which was coming from the window of The Star Inn, and through which we could see our friends Roger Nunn and Fran McGillivray setting up their instruments. We had come to see THE FRAN McGILLIVRAY TRIO, comprising Fran herself, Mike Burke and Roger Nunn with his trusty Djembe.   Inside we were greeted by them and Mike Burke - and not having seen them for ages we talked a lot!  The Star Inn is an interesting pub - it seems to be the focus of the village, with a small restaurant, a set of bookcases full of DVDs (a village version of Blockbusters), and according to the notices around the place is the hub of all social and entertainment activities in the village! It soon filled up with people and the show started.  Fran and Mike have been working on a pile of new songs for the last eighteen months or so and have now recorded them; their new CD is due out shortly. Their unceasing writing and recording activity means that their repertoire is continually changing and developing. Among the new songs which particularly stood out for me were Sink or Swim,   In or Out,  and Some Luck.  They also sang one I hadn't heard before - not sure if they wrote it - and called (I think) This Hollow Room? - I'm not sure of the title, but is was good. Fran also sang a lot of their (and our) favourites including Teardrops Will Fall and Freedom. Despite the little pubs PA system being a bit dodgy at one point, the show was great and the pub was packed. It was the first time ever that I have seen somebody approach the stage and ask if the band could please turn UP because they couldn't hear them properly at the back!  One other factor which fascinated us about The Star Inn were the photo's of old bluesmen around the walls. There were Muddy Waters, Jimmy Rushing, Bob Marley and lots of other classical bluesmen, and nestled right in the middle of them, our old mates Mike Windus  of The Jackie Lynton Band and Ben Tyzack of The Spikedrivers

Mike, Fran and Roger

 

above: Adam Russell, Mike Windus, Colin Pattenden,
Spud Metcalf, Jack Lynton and Chris Bryant.

below: myself, Karl Green and Colin Pattenden

Friday 8th February after last weeks overdose of opera, Fran and I found our way back to Rock'n'Roll at Sunbury Cricket Club where THE JACKIE LYNTON BAND were playing.  An early start was in order because we gave a lift to Spud Metcalfe and his drumkit. Sunbury Cricket Club was a new venue for us, quite easy to access from the Northern end of the M3 motorway. It is a great place!  Room for about 100 or 120 audience, a big square set stage and reasonably good acoustics for a wooden hall.  Colin Pattenden was there when we arrived, he had already set up his bass amplifiers and the PA system and was checking the microphones. By the time we had set up Spuds beloved Ludwig drum kit the rest of the band had arrived. Jackie Lynton was all smiles, his son Garen has moved back in with him and it sounds as if they are having a good time bonding;  Mike Windus was cheerful, he is a month into retirement and is evidently enjoying it loads.  Chris Bryant was his usual buoyant self, sporting a gap in his front teeth where he has managed to knock out a couple of crowns. He is such a good story teller that we aren't sure which version was nearest the truth. While we're pretty sure that his partner Sarah-Jane didn't hit him, we noted that hard-boiled eggs seem to feature in several of the versions of the story, so they may have some legitimate connection. We will probably never know for sure!  Adam Russell (The Flying Tigers) was there too, he is getting excited about planning his 60th birthday party this summer.

When the little hall filled up the ambience was great - about seventy appreciative bodies to soak up Spud and Colin's drum and bass volume and to provide enough enthusiasm to fire up the band to excel !  Jack was on great form and his jokes got bluer as the evening progressed. It was nice to find that Peter & June Barnard are regular audience members and good to catch up with them. It was also good to be joined by Kay and Karl Green (Hermans Hermits) and with Linda and Kevin Welling (Dave's Not Here) - both of whom live locally in Sunbury. Other friends in the audience were Christine White, Jacky Pattenden, Steve and Janice Kemp, and Keith-The-Stalker and his posse.  The music was good (a little loud, but that's Colin) .There was a bit of a false start when the lead from Colins guitar fell out of the amplifier! but apart from a little feedback early on and a little muddiness on the vocals in the first set - the sound was really very good. Jack was in an eclectic mood and wandered through a variety of musical styles - Rockabilly for Blue Suede Shoes, a bit of Chuck Berry to wake us all up, Jacks own take on Unchain My Heart and his magic interpretation of Isn't It A Pity. The band was boosted by Adam Russell adding his great harmonica playing to the band for several of the more bluesy numbers.  Jack has always been a generous performer and he sat out for a couple of numbers to let Mike Windus lead Reelin' and Rockin' (Mike has actually played with Chuck Berry, his hero); and for Chris Bryant to sing his soulful version of You Cant Always Get What You Want.   The band ended with their driving rock'nroll medley "outro" - which involves many false endings, and really demonstrates what a brilliant drummer Spud is, and how much stamina he has.

This was Jacks first gig at Sunbury Cricket Club, and it was evident that although he had a lot of fans in the audience, there were also some who were new to his act - and who really appreciated it.  This is a nice gig - all due to the hard work of Paul Watts the promoter (and a bigwig in the Cricket Club).  I'm sure Fran and I will be attending future events at this gig because it's such a nice place.
 

 
Monday 28th January and Sunday 3rd February  We almost overdosed on Opera!  The performances were at Windsor and Stevenage and were by The Grand Opera of Belarus Company - who are currently touring the UK. 
On Monday 28th Fran and I drove to The Theatre Royal at Windsor to see them perform LA BOHEME.  I had bought Fran tickets to a couple of performances as part of her Christmas present. The production was beautifully sung in Italian with the only distraction being a large display across the footlights - effectively sub-titles - which gave an English translation.  Not only was the translation not aligned to the singing, but I suppose because it was a company from Belarus, it was a new literal translation from the Italian.  So instead of "Your tiny hand is frozen" we got "your little hand is very cold" - and about three minutes distanced from when it was actually sung!  The show was terrific though - and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.
The second part of Frans Christmas present was tickets for the following day, Tuesday 29th to see the same company perform MADAME BUTTERFLY at Windsor, but unfortunately neither of us felt too well, so we decided to stay at home and not use our tickets.  However, this wasn't too much of a difficult decision, because I had also bought some tickets for Fran and I to take my Mum to see the self same Grand Opera of Belarus Company perform MADAME BUTTERFLY at The Gordon Craig Theatre in Stevenage on the following Sunday - 3rd February!  Although it might have been fun to see the same presentation twice in one week, to be honest, when I bought the tickets way back in the Autumn of 2012 I hadn't realised that it was the same Company, or that the dates were so close together! I guess that is just me being a bloke.
So on Sunday 3rd February we drove to Hertfordshire and took my Mum to see them perform MADAME BUTTERFLY at The Gordon Craig.  It was every bit as brilliantly presented as The Boheme had been - and very emotional. The company chose to present the suicide version (MF has several choices of ending - the suicide one is the most emotional, especially as in the opening lines Cho Cho San reveals that her father had committed Hari Kiri quite recently on the orders of The Mikado). This time I tried hard to ignore the sub-titles and just soak up the general story line and the intense emotions,  an excellent production.

 

Ian Campbell at The Retreat

 

Saturday 26th January took us to Reading, to see the last gig at The Retreat before it's landlord and landlady retire - and presumably all gigs end?.  The band was THE KEITH ALLEN BAND. The band was setting up when Fran and I arrived, there was Keith himself, George Leslie Calvert with all his bass guitar equipment, and it was great to catch up with Gordon Vaughan again (Gordon also plays lead guitar for The King Earl Boogie Band.)  A surprise for me was to see Simon Baker back on drums - I hadn't seen Simon since he played with The Ian Campbell Band at my sixtieth birthday party, almost four years ago; he has been touring most of that time with The Larry Miller Band and it was great to catch up with him. Also playing was Drew Taylor on electric violin - I have only met him once before - at a gig back in April 2012. A violin adds enormous depth to a blues band and Drew's playing was one of the high points of the performance for me. Also in the pub was Ian Campbell and Julianne his lady.  Ian is a good friend and was an excellent guitarist - having played with Levee Camp Moan, Arthur Brown, The Nashville Teens and The King Earl Boogie Band for many years. He sadly lost the use of his left arm and the vision in this left eye in an horrific car accident in October 2009 and we all thought he would never play again. However, Ian is tough though and through, and early last year he learned that hammering the strings against the relevant frets with his right hand gave him a passable sound on an open tuning. Since then he has refined and mastered the art of single handed playing, including bending notes, and his repertoire of tunes has been growing. The band played a great first set including Keith's iconic version of Perfect Day, and during the intermission they helped set Ian up (he has to playing sitting down for his technique).  Sorry - no photos of him actually playing - but that is because the pub was packed and I was right at the back. However, because we couldn't see the band Fran did ask me "Is that just Ian playing? or are Gordon and Keith helping him out?" because the quality of guitar work coming from the front of the crowd was brilliant!  It was just Ian!  I have paid to hear guitarists who don't sound that good with both hands!!  Ian did two songs, Corrina Corrina and Hoochie Coochie Man, before he got his white stick and returned to join Fran, Julianne and I at the back of the bar - he looked (and deserved to be) well pleased with himself. This was his first proper outing in public to an audience who know what good music sounds like; and he knew he had acquitted himself really well.  Also at the gig was Jason Manners, another great guitarist and it was good to chat to him and to meet some other interesting new people - even though the gig is closing, so I may never see them again!!

 

above: Nashville Teens on the stage
below: three quarters of The New Honeycombs delivery their act

Friday 25th January I left work early to ferry Ken Osborne to the Towngate Theatre at Basildon in Essex for that evenings performance of THE NASHVILLE TEENS with THE NEW HONEYCOMBS.  Unfortunately I took a wrong turn resulting in a thirty mile detour;  so we arrived literally five minutes before the audience entered the auditorium - which sort of restricted the sound check. Ray Phillips, Spud Metcalf, Colin Pattenden, Simon Spratley and Simons friend Mel were already there.  The Honeys - Paul Bonner, John Butcher and Jeff Malin, were under some pressure to work out how they could do a set without Angela Rose - their lead singer, who had been involved in an accident the previous week and was unable to appear this evening.  (Luckily she is getting better and hopes to be back on stage within another week or so.)  The auditorium filled up and it was time to start the show.

Paul, John and Jeff started out with The Honeys set.  Without Angie they were restricted to the numbers where they had male lead vocals, and we had agreed that if they fell short of their allotted hour, The Teens would do an extra ten minutes to make up the whole two hour programme. The Honeys are all professional and experienced showmen, so despite their concerns, their set went off really well from the audience point of view. I missed Angie, not only because I like the songs where she leads the vocals, but because the absence of her "fill" as a backing singer for the male lead numbers made a huge difference to the overall feel of the performance - however, nobody else in the audience knew that, so they enjoyed what they got. I watched most of their set from the back of the auditorium or up in the lighting booth, with odd trips out to see The Teens who were sitting in the foyer and keeping the bar open! In the event, The Honeys didn't need any help to fill their hour - and in fact they overran by ten minutes!

The audience had an intermission for drinks while Paul, Spud and I switched the drumkits behind the stage curtain and Ken did a little surreptitious sound checking (not only had we arrived late, but Ken was using John Butchers amplifier and speaker - which needed minor adjustments to achieve Ken's personal sound.)  The Nashville Teens were set to go, so Mel and I went round to the front of house and joined the audience as the curtain rose to John Butchers introduction and the opening bars of Rockin' on The Railroad.  It was a good show - a little loud for a theatre, but that is the bands style.  After checking and confirming to the band that the PA sound for "Railroad" is OK from the back of the venue, I always make a point of watching the audience. This lot - about 130 of them - all seemed to be thoroughly enjoying the performance. The band were very tight and Ray's voice was on form, particularly good for I Put A Spell On You and Tobacco Road.  The access backstage at The Towngate Theatre depends on finding a front of house person to let you through a secure door - so half way through Nadine, I went to find an usher to allow Mel and I backstage so that we could watch the end of that number, and Tobacco Road, from the wings.

By the end of Tobacco Road the whole show was almost fifteen minutes over time, and because of my late arrival and the New Honeys concerns about their set, we hadn't actually agreed how the show would conclude!  The Teens normal act is to wave and pretend to leave the stage as a false tab before their usual finale of Born To Be Wild; they don't always actually leave the stage, so we needed to somehow signal to them that there wasn't time for "Wild", and that we needed to get straight into the "Rock Around The Sixties" closure format, which is that both bands gang together on stage and do Twist and Shout with audience participation. Paul and I agreed that the best way to achieve this was for John to rush on stage as The Teens concluded Tobacco Road  and announce to the audience "Do you want another?"; meanwhile Paul would get onto the drum staging and tell Spud not to start the opening drum roll for "Wild"; while I grabbed Ray as he hit the wings and quickly told him that we hadn't got time for "Wild" and would need to go straight into the joint finale.  This worked well - indeed I hope it looked planned and seamless from the audience perspective.  In any event the audience loved it!

After the show we got the bands out into the foyer to meet and greet the audience, I managed a few photos of Ray with Fans (part of a new feature for The Teens website) and had a few nice conversations with audience members who were clearly very pleased with their evening out. We met a lovely lady named Mo Larkin - the Lady Mayoress of Basildon - who is a gorgeous bubbly lady, a bit like a younger version of Barbara Windsor, but with a TOWIE accent and a penchant for motor bikes!  Overall, apart from missing Angie - it was a great evening.

 
Saturday 12th January we found ourselves in Reading and walked out to see one of the last performances at The Retreat - a superb little old fashioned pub near the old Kennet Wharf. It will be closing down at the end of January and, unless the brewery can re-let it at an extortionate price, will be sold off for development into housing.  Who knows whether the brewery has been forcing rents up to precipitate this? They cannot convert it's use from a pub unless they can prove it is not economically viable, and as the brewery controls the rents it seems a little unfair that they can benefit in this way.  Of course we are looking forward to the final gig, which will be on 26th January - but tonight we had dinner with Stephanie and George Leslie Calvert at Jamies' Italian Restaurant in town, before walking out to the pub to watch George play his bass with THE JASON MANNERS BANDThe Retreat is a very narrow and old fashioned pub - with a landlord and landlady who love live music - jazz, blues, the lot! As a result the pub is always full of a real cross section of beautiful people of all ages and backgrounds. It was good to meet Jason again: when I first saw him play (At Ramsbury some seven years ago I think) I think I commented that he was a technically excellent guitarist with a reasonable voice, but that I didn't think he played a very wide range of musical genres. I don't know the guy well and have only seen him play half a dozen times in the intervening years, but whether my sense of musical appreciation has developed in the meanwhile or whether his playing has matured - This time I loved his show and rate him ten out of ten!  He employs a range of techniques; and the musical genres he covers are wider than I perceived all those years ago, and he now exhibits a very jazzy edge to the blues. The programme was a good broad spectrum; his fingering is fast and accurate, he is great at bottleneck, can fret nearly as fast as Ian Campbell used to, sings very well (and as if he means the words) - and most importantly - he plays with his soul as well as his fingers. A good entertainer; I shall make a point of seeing Jason Manners and his band more often if I can.
I don't know the name of the drummer - a jazz drummer who maintained a rock steady rhythm while still being in control of his own volume. He really complemented George Leslies bass guitar playing, which in this band tends toward the lazy rolling and jazzy end of the spectrum, very in tune with the drum section.  They also had a harmonicas player whom I hadn't seen before - he was very good, soulful and a great blues filler; even his solo's supported the vocals rather than competing with them (as so many harp players do).
An excellent nights entertainment - crowned by and excellent presentation of one of my favourite pieces of music - Voodoo Chile - with more than  a touch of homage to Hendrix.

Jason Manners at The Retreat

 

Ray and Jack on New Years Eve
 

Monday 31st December/Tuesday 1st January  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!
 

START OF 2013