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2020 GIG REPORTS

NOTE:  All these reports are now mirrored on www.IfTheDevil.com
All the historic reports from January 2006 until December 2019 are now only available on that site
 

 

Ray Phillips with Skeleton Crew

Sunday 30th August 2020
We drove over to The Old Crown in Weybridge to see PAUL KING'S SKELETON CREW performing.

The Old Crown is a characterful pub right on the confluence of the River Thames and the River Wey, and literally next door to the riverside abode of our pal Paul King - one of the founder members of Mungo Jerry. On Sunday afternoon Paul's band - Skeleton Crew - were to play outside on the pubs garden terrace - a two level lawn with tables and chairs which leads down from the pub to the river.  As well as Paul King himself on vocals and a combination of guitar, banjo, kazoo and harmonica - the group comprises Colin Pattenden on bass guitar, Chris Bryant on lead guitar and Rob Collins on drums. They were joined for some of their numbers by Ray Phillips of The Nashville Teens.
The band was ready to start just before four o'clock and the outside space quickly filled up. The garden area comprises two terraces with chairs and tables set down by the river, and is overlooked by a railed area on the edge of the pub car park. We also had an audience sitting out on their boats in the marina immediately behind the pub. At top count we had about one hundred and twenty spectators - not all as "socially distanced" as should be - but relatively sensibly spaced. It was great to catch up with so many old friends in the audience, people we regularly saw at pre-pandemic gigs, but whom we haven't seen for almost a year now. It was great to catch up with Sarah-Jane Bryant and
Paul Kings girlfriend Pat again. Wesley Phillips was there with his friends Pat and Nikki, as were Graham Pereira and his friend Jo, and it was a delight to see the irrepressible Janis & Jayne again. Part way through the first set Frans ex-boss John and his friend Leslie arrived, and then Melanie & Ray Phillips joined us.  As the show progressed many of Rays family joined the crowd including his daughter Vanessa (who performed at my 70th birthday party) with her new son, eight week old Oliver.  Ray, Colin and I flaunted our new Nashville Teens - Hard Drivin' Rock masks which I had commissioned from a pal with a sewing machine. The band played for almost three hours with only a short break. Paul sang many old favourites including Jo Rushes Money For Rope; classics like She Wore a Long Black Veil; A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall; She Belongs to Me; Move That Thing and - of course - In The Summertime; along with some excellent numbers of his own like Let's Kiss, Let's Dance Chris Bryant sang You Ain't Going Nowhere. When Ray stood up to join in he started with a special dedication to the late great Peter Green - he sang a stunning version of Need Your Love.  Ray also gave us great renditions of Nadine and Hoochie Coochie Man and he and Paul dueted on Together We Stand, Divided We Fall as a finale number. Overall it was an excellent performance - refreshing for both artists and punters after a long drought of live music.
 

 
Thursday 20th August 2020
After five months without live music we saw SAINTS & SINNERS at The Court Theatre in Tring.

This was a magical night. Fran and I both love live music, and this was our first "live" music gig since seeing The Nick La Riviere Band in Victoria (Canada) on 6th March - well worth the long drive up to Hertfordshire. Not only was it live music, but it was some of our favourite musicians - Fran & Mike McGillivray-Burke. They were appearing with The Spikedrivers (Ben Tyzak, Constance Redgrave and Maurice McElroy) and were presenting their first gig since "Lockdown" at The Court Theatre in Tring - up in Hertfordshire. The show was put on by Tring Blues Bar and was actually in the car park at the back of the Court Theatre - so that "social distancing" could be maintained.  When this particular bunch of friends play together they call themselves "Saints & Sinners" and have a very professional and polished show all about classic Gospel and Blues songs. We had seen a couple of on-line "Lockdown Shows" which Fran & Mike had broadcast from their home over the last few months - but while these had been better than nothing, they were nowhere near as good as a live set with audience feedback. The show explains the links between blues and gospel, the hidden meanings of some of the lyrics which were to aid and warn escapee slaves; and related the story of Harriet Tubman.  The show starts and ends with Will The Circle Be Unbroken - and features some amazing songs. including Take Me To The River and Wade In The Water (both message songs for escaped slaves). Fran sang lots of solos, she has an amazing voice. I particularly liked her presentation of Voodoo Woman, and her duet with Constance of Robert Johnsons Come On In My Kitchen. Ben Tyzak and Mike Burke are both excellent guitarists, and they seem to have an almost natural affinity to play together. Among their classics is a very moving (and complex) arrangement of Robert Johnsons Down At The Crossroads. Classic blues wonderfully arranged and played beautifully with both skill and emotion. It was great to be able to connect and talk with Fran & Mike after the show - we have really missed them.
 

Mike, Constance, Maurice, Fran and Ben - Saints & Sinners

 

Nick La Riveire's Band

Friday 6th March 2020
During our recent visit to Canada we saw THE NICK LA RIVIERE BAND at Hermanns Jazz Club in Victoria, British Columbia.

Linda Gould took us to visit Hermanns Jazz Club, which is a Victoria institution on View Street. It is the “Ronnie Scotts of The Pacific”. We found it easily about a twenty five minute walk from our hotel. Inside was low and with a comfortable “speakeasy” sort of aura - lots of small tables and a capacity of about one hundred and seventy. The waitress bought us wine and food and then the entertainment started. It was a seven piece jazz band called The Nick La Riviere Band. We were totally blown away - the band played a great selection of feel good jazz and each member was an absolute master of his instrument. Nick La Riviere himself is a jazz trombonist - probably the best I have ever seen/heard live. His voice is too good and he can carry a tune well. He also regaled us with solos on a pair of conch shells, and for the finale/encore he appeared wrapped in a huge Suzaphone. The guy had (apparently) boundless energy, bouncing about the stage; and as well as some classics he performed a lot of home-written songs. Among the classics was a very jazzy version of Iko Iko (I remember singing this at junior school more than fifty years ago - but without quite such vibrant syncopation!). The other musicians were equally talented, being a pianist who was very reminiscent in style to Oscar Petersen. He swung between a grand piano, a Nord keyboard and a small synthesiser. The drummer had immaculate timing - I followed the beat with my metronome foot while he was performing a very complex solo on the tambourine - and he came back in exactly on beat. He also dressed his drums with chamois leathers for some numbers - a real professional. The jazz bassist worked with the drummer to keep excellent time, and demonstrated his individuality when he performed a magical solo number. As well as playing well the lead guitarist also showed off a beautiful voice when he sang us a great blues song. The tenor saxophonist and the trumpet player were both astoundingly good, and were clearly a real team - several times they performed matched solos without any eye contact - just throwing the tune from one to the other; real professionals.  I don’t know who played what, but their names are Barrie Sorensen, Miguelito Valdes, Chris Van Sickle, Kelly Fawcett, Louis Rudner and Liam MacDonald. The show was classy, professional and over much too soon ! The guys didn’t wait for an encore call, they just marched back in, across the stage and through the audience playing “When The Saints Go Marching In”, led by the fantastic trumpeter and with Nick swathed in his Suzaphone. A great ending. 
 

 
Sunday 2nd February 2020
Our regular monthly lunchtime gig with KC JONES at The Bistro On The Beach, Southport.

Fran and I were in Bournemouth this weekend (see below) so it was easy to take in this lunch time entertainment at The Bistro On The Beach on our way home. KC Jones comprised our friends Howie Casey and Jo Jones plus any of their friends who turn up to join in. In the course of this rather musical weekend we had seen Joe singing (and playing guitar) three times in three very different bands - a very talented man. The Bistro gig happens at lunch time on the first Sunday of each month - and Fran and I try to get there for those events because we really like Howie's music and Joe's singing. The logistics are masterminded by Julian and the sound system and management of backing tracks is done by John Christopher. They generally play three sets between one o'clock and three o'clock and the "front" booths are booked out by avid fans like ourselves !  Howie performs some instrumentals, like Moondance, Knocking on The Door, Pick Up The Pieces and Put It Where You Want It; and is joined by Joe for other songs. While they do perform some McCartney numbers (it would be a shame not to with Howie's heritage) they also deliver songs which are just nice! Joe has a brilliant vocal range - he opened with Stuck In The Middle With You, and a particularly haunting and beautifully delivered version of Georgia - a massive contrast to the heavy metal we had heard him singing just thirty six hours before!  Among the McCartney numbers he gave us were  Silly Love Songs, Get Back and C Moon. There was a group of ladies in the next booth at the restaurant among whom was Susie Kimber - an excellent vocalist. She stood up and gave us an amazing rendition of Fever. Joe and Howie ended the last set with Fran's favourite - Nutbush City Limits.  A fine climax to an amazing weekend filled with live music.
 

KC Jones

 

Beatles With Wings

 Saturday 1st February 2020
A great show by BEATLES WITH WINGS at Canford Heath Club in Poole

Fran and I had made a weekend of it and stayed over in Bournemouth to take in this performance on Saturday evening. It was a benefit in memory of the late Myles Dowley, who had been the keyboard player with Beatles With Wings. This is an amazing band focussed around Howie Casey - who was a member of Wings for ten years. On Saturday the line up comprised a three piece horn section (Sax, trumpet and trombone) a three piece vocal harmony section, (who also delivered sax and flute); there were lead, rhythm and bass guitars, a keyboard player and a drummer; plus - of course - the lead vocalist. It was great to see Bev Miller again - she is an amazing performer both vocally and on sax; and it was a pleasure to see the amazing Vicky Barents again, whom I haven't seen for about six months - but who stole the show at my seventieth birthday party! My friends still talk about her professional and dynamic delivery of Nutbush City Limits at that event. Bev, Vicky and Helen (the other harmony vocalist) are always full of smiles and they look and sound as if they are thoroughly enjoying themselves.  Jonathan Hilton-King was drumming - a whole different style from the heavy metal we had watched him thrashing out (with perfect timing) the night before; and it was good to catch up with brothers David and John Christopher again (bass and rhythm guitars).  We have seen this band half a dozen times now, and never cease to love their show. Julian, their tour manager, had kindly reserved us seats at the front of Canford Heath Community Centre. The place was packed and the show was as brilliant as ever.  The band had added a "new" number since I last saw them - McCartneys C Moon had been added to the repertoire. The sound was excellent and the audience were really appreciative. The only minor downside was the stage lighting - there was a problem with the power supplies in the hall, so the lighting was predominantly behind the band - which didn't impact the show - but did make photography difficult. In the audience I met a guy named Joe Musker, who had been drummer for a mid seventies iteration of The Fourmost - so we had some friends and acquaintances in common. A great evenings entertainment - and an interesting contrast to the previous evenings music.
 

 
Friday 31st January 2020
An exciting experience seeing  THE SOB'S at The White Heather pub in  in Ferndown, just North of Bournemouth

Fran and I had made a weekend of visiting our old haunts in Bournemouth and seeing some of our musical friends performing. Friday night was an opportunity to see another facet of Joe Jones - whom we see whenever we can with either K.C. Jones or Beatles With Wings - but performing with one of his own bands. Joe has an amazing vocal range and a very broad spectrum of musical taste. This particular band is a trio called The SOB's. and they specialise in Heavy Metal type rock.  Very different from the other musical personnas we were destined to see from Joe over this memorable musical weekend; and also different from his David Bowie tribute personna, which we still haven't seen !  We were staying in central Bournemouth and took a taxi out to Ferndown to The White Heather Pub. Although this pub has apparently just been refurbished, it wasn't very inviting and it's average clientele had a  distinctly "rough & tough" feel. We had to work our way though a stressful situation just to get into the front door, where a very drunk gentleman who could hardly stand up on his own was being persuaded that he needed to leave and go home!  Inside we found Joe and also drummer Jonathan Hilton-King, whom we recognised from Howie Casey's band, Beatles With Wings. Joe played bass guitar and sang, and a very tall chap who's name I didn't catch played lead guitar. The music was heavy metal, covers from the likes of Metallica and AC/DC - very well structured and showing another facet to Joes amazing vocal range. I'm not a great fan of heavy metal records, but do like it live, and the SOBs were very good. JH-Ks drumming particularly impressed me - I have only seen him playing McCartney numbers before - and he is a whole new animal when playing this sort of metal !  Overall it was a great evenings entertainment watching not only the band, but the locals - who were out to have a good time on a Friday night.  We had already booked a taxi back to our hotel, which sadly meant that we had to leave before the band had completed their second set - but apparently we were lucky because by leaving a little early we just missed out on a fight between locals !
 

The SOBs

 

Tony Blackburn - 77 and still going

Saturday 25th January 2020
A great musical show combined with AN AUDIENCE WITH TONY BLACKBURN at G-Live in Guildford.

Tony Blackburn is marmite - you either love him or hate him. I confess that for many years I really didn't get on with his style of presentation; but as I've mellowed (and perhaps he has a bit too) I can now see that he is always taking the mickey out of himself; he knows that his puns are awful, and that he really does have a great taste in sixties and seventies music - particularly Northern Soul. This show - the BBC Radio 2 Sounds Of The Sixties Show is an extravaganza - as series of medleys of sixties hits interspersed with reminisces and punning jokes from Tony. The music was provided by six musicians and two vocalists and the medleys were all arranged by Leo Green of BBC Radio 2s Friday Night Is Music Night. Leo played the saxophone and sang a couple of raunchy rock numbers. He's a better saxophonist than he is a vocalist!  In addition to himself his band consisted of a drummer, bass guitarist, lead guitarist, keyboard player and a trumpeter, who - together with Leo - also provided some of the backing vocals where necessary. The singers were "Ian" - who had a good voice for Frank Sinatra type numbers, but was averagely good at other styles; and "Tor" (short for Victoria) who had an amazing voice with a huge vocal range and great projection. She could have starred on her own, especially on emotional projection numbers like those of Dusty Springfield and Petula Clarke. Tony Blackburn looked very good - especially considering his age. At this performance he was four days short of his seventy seventh birthday - running about the stage and he still works not only at this weekly show - but at two weekly National BBC Radio 2 shows and weekly shows on four other radio stations, one of which is three hours long!  I recall Blackburn from his early careers with Radio Caroline and Radio London (Northsea Radio London) as well as his foundation years with the then new BBC Radio 1. The man certainly has stamina, a great sense of humour and he connected really well with the live audience. He does a brilliant job of keeping the music of the Sixties alive in the world of Radio entertainment and if the show comes around again I would not hesitate to go see him again. 
 

 
Saturday 17th January 2020
THE NASHVILLE TEENS played at a private party at The Cellar Bar at South Hill Park in Bracknell.

The party was to celebrate the sixtieth birthday of Trudi Lorenti's partner, Colin. They are a very popular couple in Bracknell so the little bar was heaving with people. We arrived a little early and found Ray Phillips, Colin Pattenden, Simon Spratley, Spud Metcalfe and Ken Osborn had already set up in the cellar and were now sitting upstairs in the bar with Roger Weddup sipping drinks and stealing Colin P's chips while he tried to eat his dinner. The Cellar Bar is known to be a sound engineering challenge so the band had brought Roger Weddup with them to manage the sound professionally. We more usually see Roger as The Swinging Blue Jeans sound engineer. As well as lots of Trudi's family we were joined by mutual friends Fran, Melanie, Jacky, and Liz & Colin Earl.  Colin - as a musician (a founder member of Mungo Jerry) - was very appreciative and complementary about the quality of the performance overall and about Ken's guitar work in particular. The band were very tight and played in fantastic form, Now that Teens gigs are not so regular, I guess it helped having had a gig as recently as a week before, but having a professional sound engineer also helped a lot. They performed their regular two forty five minute sets, but after their false tab of Tobacco Road they dragged Trudi up on stage and launched into Mustang Sally. Trudi is a reasonably good singer and she revels in performing for a crowd!  She had performed this song with The Teens at my fiftieth birthday party (twenty one years ago!) at which time she couldn't remember the way the song ended. The band played her along, just repeating the final phrases of the final chorus for ages until one of them relented and helped her out. Twenty one years later and she still couldn't remember how it ended !  The audience went wild to her performance and the cellar was filled with dancing and singing folks. The Teens then went on to sing Happy Birthday To You to Colin, followed up with Born To Be Wild; very appropriate because Colin is a biker!
 

The Teens in the Cellar Bar
 

 

Nashville Teens first gig of 2020

Friday 10th January 2020
We visited Sunbury Cricket Club to see the first NASHVILLE TEENS gig of the year.

This Nashville Teens gig has become a regular "first gig of the year" for the Sunbury Blues Club, which meet at Sunbury Cricket Club; and one the band look forward to with relish. I collected Ray Phillips from his sons flat in Weybridge and drove him to Sunbury where Spud Metcalfe, Ken Osborn, Colin Pattenden and Simon Spratley were already setting up. This is a popular gig - one of the few "local" opportunities the band gets to play. Although the show didn't start until nine o'clock, the hall was already almost full by a quarter past eight. The first half was good for the band, but difficult for me because I had to field several complaints that it was too loud. Luckily most of the audience loved it. The second half was even better! Colin had done something clever to the sound and although the volume didn't seem much reduced, the clarity of Ray's vocals was significantly better.  Paul King (ex Mungo Jerry) was in the audience and he got up to guest play harmonica on a couple of the numbers; It was also great to catch up with Gordon Sellar and his wife Julie who had also come along to watch. The hall was packed, but I did find friends Pete & June, Jacky & Mel, Vanessa & Kelly and Graham Pereira. The band played their regular double set, but introduced a new and longer intro for Route 66 which I thought was quite effective. I streamed several of the numbers to Facebook Live including the evenings rendition of I Put A Spell On You, which had a large web audience and got a lot of positive comments.  Overall it was a good start to the new year/decade.
 

 
Thursday 9th January 2020
We went to see GIRL FROM THE NORTH COUNTRY at the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftesbury Avenue, London

This musical play is a story by Conor McPherson about a few weeks in the lives of some people in the town of Duluth, Minnesota (at the very Western tip of Lake Superior) in the Winter of 1934 - which was the very depths of the great American recession. Seven years later, in the real Duluth of 1941, the town became the birthplace of Robert Zimmerman, better known as Bob Dylan. The whole story is structured around some of Bob Dylan's words and music. The already tense scenario is of a family who's mother figure is suffering dementia and who are about to lose both their home and business as a boarding house when the bank forecloses. The situation is exacerbated by the racial tensions of being a very well integrated family who live in an environment of white "supremacy". We were initially attracted to see is because it starred Katie Brayben, who's parents - Fran McGillivray and Mike Burke - are friends of ours. Katie is an excellent actress - she had the star role as Carole King for the first year of the run of Beautiful in the West End, and has an enviable acting record - including winning an Olivier Award in 2015. In this production of Girl From The North Country, Katie plays the role of Elizabeth - the dementia suffering mother of the family. The action is emotionally powerful and portrays the impact of the prospect of financial destitution on morals and the complexities of inter-racial balance during the dreadful depths of the recession. There is a very large cast including some very talented musicians, and the story is told with a narrative to the audience from the "doctor" character - a "Mr Burke" played by David Ganly, with all the songs performed as acts direct to the audience, rather than the cast singing them to each other. Other very notable performances were given by Shaq Taylor as Joes Scott; and Gloria Obianyo as Marianne - the pregnant coloured foster daughter of Katie's character, the demented Elizabeth. Katie has a great voice and - among other songs - gave an especially outstanding rendition of Like A Rolling Stone - which for me really spoke of the loneliness of dementia. Other stand out numbers which connected with my soul were Slow Train, I Want You, Forever Young, You Ain't Goin' Nowhere and - one of my favourite Dylan songs - Make You Feel My Love.  Among the other Dylan songs were Sign On The Window,  Went to See The Gypsy, Tight Connection To My Heart,  Licence to Kill,  What Can I Do For You,  Jokerman,  Sweetheart Like You,  True Love Tends To Forget,  Hurricane,  Idiot Wind,  Dusquesne Whistle,  Senor (Tales Of Yankee Power),  Is Your Love In Vain, and, of course, Girl From The North Country.  The next morning I had my book of Bob Dylan Lyrics - one of my favourite poetry books - out to read through all the words to the songs used, which reinforced to me just how cleverly McPherson had interlaced these songs into his sad but moving story. 
 

Katie Brayben in Girl From The North Country
 

 

Joe, Howie and Cornell

Sunday 5th January 2020
We had lunch at The Bistro On The Beach,  Bournemouth in order to see KC JONES giving their monthly performance

KC Jones is the collective term for Howie Casey and Jon Jones plus any of their friends who they can coerce into coming along. They play most months on the first Sunday lunchtime of each month at The Bistro on The Beach at Southbourne. The Bistro on the Beach is exactly what it says, a beach cafe situated on the beach at the bottom of the cliffs at Southbourne, between Bournemouth and Hengistbury Head. The food is not pretentious, just regular beach cafe "pub grub" - but the music makes the ninety miles each way trip well worth while. The last time we went, in December last year, Fran had lost one of a pair of very lovely earrings. We suspected that it might have come off in the "Ladies", but we couldn't find it anywhere, so before leaving we had asked the manageress to keep an eye out in case it got handed in. Our first big surprise when we arrived on Sunday was that the manageress came bustling up and presented Fran with the earring! Apparently it had been found outside the cafe on the seafront early in December and handed in ! Fran was overjoyed to be reunited with her jewellery. Our usual booth had been reserved for us and we sat and chatted to Howie Casey and Joe Jones - catching up on Christmas and New Years news and the progress of Howie's hernia operation. Julian Spencer and John Christopher were there of course, managing the logistics and operating the sound system, and Cornel Richards was there with his drums - we hadn't seem him for a long time, and a bit of percussion helps the music along nicely. Howie and Joe (aka "KC Jones") usually performed three sets, and for the last one were joined by Malcolm (still don't know his surname after three years of visiting this gig !) who sang his favourite Hey Bartender. The guys opened with some instrumentals, starting with Moondance - which is almost Howie's signature piece; then Lean On Me followed by Don't Go Changing and a fourth instrumental which I failed to note down. Then Jon (Joe) got up and sang Stuck In The Middle With You. He has a great voice and an amazing vocal range. They then started on the McCartney songs with Open the Door and Let Me In.  The second set opened with Howie playing Pick Up The Pieces before Joe joined him to sing Lady Madonna, Silly Love Songs and Jet. The third set opened with two jazz instrumentals which I didn't know, but which were great. I later found out that they were called  Cissy Strut and Winelight. The latter is very appropriate because Howie and I first bonded over many bottles of Rose wine at a long nights/mornings drinking session in Hamburg with Cliff Bennett, Beryl Marsden and Ray Phillips. Joe got up to sing Listen to What The Man Says followed by his version of Cliff Bennett's One Way Love - which he kindly dedicated to me because he knows I like Cliff ! Malcolm stood up to deliver his version of Hey Bartender, after which Joe sang Superstition and Nutbush City Limits before closing with Soul Man. It was a very good first gig of the year and afterwards we chatted for a bit about how we might try to organise some gigs in the West London area for Howie's main band, Beatles With Wings.
 

 

 
Friday 3rd January 2020
Our first gig of the new decade was FASCINATING AIDA at The Queen Elizabeth Hall, on London's South Bank

We hadn't seen Fascinating Aida for several years, so I had bought Fran tickets as a Christmas present. This years show was at The Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank in London. The show was excellent, a good mixture of established well known numbers and some new ones; highly entertaining and very rude. The group comprise Dillie Keane, who is a brilliant comedienne and a very witty lyricist. She is supported by Adele Anderson and Liza Pulman. and aided by Michael Roulston on piano for some of the numbers. All are accomplished musicians and singers, and Adele has the distinction of having once been a man, which attracts an interesting LGBT mix in the audience. Among their newer songs we laughed at were Funerals , Lerwick Town, So Sorry Ireland (a lament about Brexit) and Don't Be a Cunt At Christmas (as Dillie Keane observed from the stage: "If there is anyone in the audience who is easily offended... what the fuck are you doing here ?" ).  Adele also sang a funny, but very moving, autobiographical song about her sex change, called Prisoner of Gender. We laughed all the way home on an otherwise uneventful journey back to Bracknell. We were home before midnight.
 

Fascinating Aida

 

 

Previous gig reports from 2006 to 2019 can be found archived at www.IfTheDevil.com

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