STEVE WHALLEY — Live at Staines Riverside Club

Here at AD PONTES we always said that STEVE WHALLEY is the zen master of cathartic liberation.

Steve Whalley – an interpretation that was incredibly perfect. Picture by @neilmach 2017 ©

There is no nonsense or schmaltz in his show, oh no!

He will tear your emotions apart before healing you with a frenzy of dramatic soul & rock numbers from the song books of heroes like Tom Waits and Dylan.

And at Staines Riverside Club last night, after an excellent start that included a stylish Leon Russell type “Youngblood” Steve tried some new material.

In fact he even produced a special guitar for the Ry Cooder number — Vigilante Man.

This is a dangerous tool ...” he alerted the audience. “I have to keep it set to stun, otherwise it will cause some serious damage...”

His interpretation was incredibly perfect. And although we know that Steve’s one of the best vocalists on the circuit, it was clear from this number that we shouldn’t underestimate his guitar skills either… His blues-picking and finger slides were remarkable.

Steve with Tat Whalley – Tat Whalley… ” he eclipsed my achievements many times” Picture by @neilmach 2017 ©

The incredible rhythmc finger-picking skills were evident again on the “Kingston Trio” style Bahamian folk song John B. Sails [aka Sloop John B.]

It was a sensational way to end a memorable night.

With his son Tat Whalley on bass (he eclipsed my achievements many times) and Bruvvers/Meal Ticket drummer Chris Hunt [he taught me everything I ever needed to know about music] this was one of the best concerts of the year.

And the amazing thing is that Steve suffered a nasty head-cold head all night long. And complained, often, “ I cannot hear a damn thing...”

We can’t imagine how good this would have been if Steve had been in ship-shape condition and didn’t feel “so broke up...”

If you missed the show, regularly visit the STAINES RIVERSIDE club for quality live music [every other Thursday] and most weekends. Please support your local live music venue.

Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2017 ©

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WILLY FINLAYSON AND THE HURTERS

Last night at the wonderful Staines Riverside Club we witnessed rare magic when WILLY FINLAYSON AND THE HURTERS came to town bringing their smooth quality rock and soft ‘n’ soulful covers.

The last time we saw Willy in Staines was with his band project HALF MEAL TICKET, then with Steve Simpson (now in retirement) and Dean Barnes (much missed.)

Edinburgh born Willy is a talented guitarist, composer and extraordinary vocalist and he fronted Bees Make Honey (1974 ) and later the famous country rock band Meal Ticket. They provided the theme for the brilliant play-for-today “Dominick Hide”.

Willy Finlayson – Carnation-cream and tobacco voice…

In staines The Hurters played songs like the award-winning “She Will Be Loved” [Maroon 5] with its insistent chorus.

These were emotionally rendered, and even at times perhaps overwrought. Though Willy’s smouldering carnation-cream and tobacco voice helped  alleviate any anguish.

Classy blues numbers, such as “Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile (Every Woman I Know)” (Ry Cooder, 1980) had good rebound and veritable trim.

And for the many upbeat numbers (Bruce Springsteen is a favourite songwriter) Willy provided eloquent slur to go with that amazing golden brogue.

Dave Colquhoun – bullets of masculinity and power…

The great revelation of the night was the “new” guitarist Dave Colquhoun.

Dave is actually an experienced session man, currently with Rick Wakeman’s band.

He has his own band projects and previously worked with Go West, Paul Young, Belinda Carlisle, T’pau, Bananarama and, of course, Bucks Fizz.

Dave added bullets of masculinity and power to ballads such as “Hungry Heart” or dark twists of sadness or tiny bee stings of articulation… In other words, he provided nuance and fragrance to every soulful song. Such was his impressive play that he earned  several bravos of his own during the evening.

Tempo was provided by acclaimed blues bassist Malcolm Hoskins who was a firm and steadfast rhythmic-energy maker.

Towards the end of the evening we were treated to a few songs from “surprise guest” LIZA MARSHALL.

Her husky chocolate-syrup voice always wins applause, and her smooth song-choice included the singalong gospel number “People Get Ready” [Curtis Mayfield 1965.] This allowed Dave to express his more imaginative and jazzy side.

As usual, a very fine evening of quality musical entertainment in Staines.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©

Link: http://www.willyfinlayson.com/

Rocking Hippie Party in Shepperton — LAUGHING STOCK FESTIVAL

The wonderful Jagger family of Shepperton again organized a super fun-packed day of music, peace and love in the Laughing Waters this weekend.

Remarkably, the sun managed to shine for the afternoon…

The wonderful Jagger family of Shepperton organized a super fun-packed day of music, peace & love…

The first LAUGHING STOCK FESTIVAL was held in 2005, when the Jagger family invited a few friends for a summer picnic by the river.

The event has grown over the years and raises funds for charities such as the Diabetes Society, Multiple Sclerosis Society, Eagle Radio Trust and Woking and Sam Beare Hospice.

The Woking and Sam Beare Hospice provides inpatient and community care to approximately 1,400 patients each year. They looked after Linda Jagger’s dad when he got very sick.

The hospice hopes to raise an additional £1.9m to deliver a new hospice service in the heart of Surrey that will be support generations to come.

JJ band – squelchy blues and authentic rhythm and blues…

The party started with some chilled sounds from Heids with acoustic support from the Jagger family’s own function & party outfit — the JJ BAND.

They also played a gladdening and cheerful full-electric set later in the day.

The full band comprises of Linda and Heidi on vocals, JJ and Al on guitars and with Byron and Tim providing the powerhouse bass and drums.

The outfit plays squelchy blues and authentic rhythm and blues, plus breathtaking soul and crackling pop. You can check them out at The Red Lion, Shepperton on Sunday 27th August.

Rifftakers – street-rock boogaloos…

Next up were THE RIFFTAKERS who play their own rhythm and blues brand in the tradition of The Rolling Stones and Yardbirds.

With fuzzy guitars, dynamic beats and party vibes, their street-rock boogaloos, accelerated rhythms and energetic performances provided the motivating force of the afternoon and soon the revelers rose from ground-sheets and picnic chairs to dance in unison.

Next was the super-smooth and super-efficient 8-piece GROOVELINE offering jazz, acid jazz, soul and disco  and who played a swish and dishy collection of funky hits culminating in the wonderful “Blame It on the Boogie” — got to be everyone’s favourite uptempo party-time number.

Grooveline – swish and dishy…

It was Grooveline singer Amy Nicholls’ last appearance with the band (for a while, any-ways) and bass-player Adam was taken sick [we wish him an early recovery] so he was replaced “last minute.”

After a very successful auction and raffle the three-piece roots band MANTIC MUDDLERS, from Petersfield, Hampshire, played some home-style, unfussy blue-grass and rhythm & soul numbers with exuberance and joy.

The lads will be playing the Victorious Festival in Portsmouth on 25th August. You should check them out…

The festival welcomed back the immensely talented local 5-piece rock-reggae band TREE HOUSE FIRE.

Tree House Fire – sonic damage deep down in your Mondongos —

This band are always a big hit, with bouncy, boom-boom songs and a bass line that walks impulsively down-the-line.

At Shepperton they delivered their lumpy, low-noted ditties, intrepid vocals and giddy-paced rhythms with verve and panache.

As we said before, this band causes, “sonic damage deep down in your Mondongos —”

We’ve often thought that experiencing the !DAFT!  cover band is as pleasurable as playing on a kids bouncy-castle wearing nothing but clotted cream…

Their hi-energy rock-covers are salacious & stimulating and at Shepperton the band played an unrestrained, rip-roaringly successful set that magnificently complemented  all the high-jinks and romping frolics at Laughing Water.

!Daft! — a celebratory mix of modern garage rock, post-punk and guitar pop rock…

Their delivery and execution was superb. No wonder they are  justifiably known as the best party band on the circuit.

Their celebratory mix of modern garage rock, post-punk and guitar pop rock is influenced by mid-1980s indie bands — but they easily and successfully turn their hands to garage rock, rock ‘n’ roll and even country when the time is right. And the band’s instinctive ability to “read the crowd” and recognize what is best to keep an audience on their feet is the hallmark of their success.

This was another gleeful and jubilant affair at Laughing Stock

A day of beads and feathers, flower power and gentle people — and, of course, lots ‘n’ lots of love.

LAUGHING STOCK FESTIVAL

Words & Images by @neilmach 2017 ©

Mantic Muddlers – exuberance and joy…

STACEY CRONIN + Asylum Affair at Staines Riverside Club

It’s been a while since the “Harlech Hurricane” sashayed her stuff on the Staines stage, accompanied by her conspicuously talented bandmates.

But this week we again enjoyed the power and potency of Asylum Affair with Stacey Cronin on lead vocals as they played their evocative power-ballads to an eager crowd at Staines pre-eminent music venue, the Riverside Club.

The line-up included John Lawrence (guitar) Gar Lando (drums) Colin Payne (bass guitar) and “the claw”     aka Mark ‘Wilko’ Wilkinson who recently “broke his arm” so couldn’t provide us with any sax on the evening but nevertheless still wizzed the keyboards.

The eighties make you feel nostalgic just thinking about them — and the charm of songs from that era live on in our hearts. Who does not love Belinda Carlisle, Whitesnake, Foreigner and The Bangles?

Songs are accompanied by sensitive organ ripples, flexible bass waves and foamy ridges of guitar…@neilmach 2017 ©

So Stacey sings lusty songs about breaking up and/or uncontrollable longing and all her hearty canzones are  accompanied by sensitive organ ripples, flexible bass waves and foamy ridges of guitar.

Some songs have been removed from the set-list since the last time we saw the band play in Staines…

However many of our favorites, such as “Love Is a Battlefield” (Holly Knight with Mike Chapman and made famous by Pat Benatar) have survived the cull and demonstrate the extraordinary power and finesse of Stacey. She has a distinctively soft, warm and raspy voice of sandalwood & bourbon whiskey.

A new number is “Stop!” the Sam Brown song (Brown, Sutton, and Brody 1988) brought with it with layers of sentiment. This was overwrought, almost highly-strung — and had a sense of neurosis surrounding it. The performance at Staines was so frenzied and nuanced that it left Stacey exhausted. She collapsed in a corner to recover while the band played a musical number.

Their old bossa nova piece “Parisienne Walkways” has been replaced with another number that allows the band to show off their expertise and effectiveness. It’s been traded for the funkier “Let’s Dance” (Bowie, 1983) with John pulling-off the Stevie Ray Vaughan solo at the end with flair and confidence.

the band showed off their expertise and effectiveness…
Here John Lawrence w Colin Payne @neilmach 2017 ©

Soon after “Alone” – the ‘Heart’ chart hit – written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly – Stacey announced that “We’ll play the ‘other’ Heart song too…” — thus neatly summarizing the Wilson sisters career.

So the band lunged into the next head rush song with enthusiasm. We were reminded of the low tones of Grace Slick (perhaps not surprising, since the Starship’s trooper was known for contributing to Heart’s recordings) and also the flavor of Steve Nicks

Never Tear Us Apart” (INXS 1988) was another superlative addition to the repertoire, with drama and passion in each corner and layer-upon-layer of ritzy synth.

Stacey Cronin and Asylum Affair at Staines Riverside Club @neilmach 2017 ©

Perhaps most enjoyed were the Fleetwood Mac songs, and especially “The Chain” from Rumours (1977) with its well-known instrumental section associated with Formula One.   And “Rhiannon” a first-half closer — taken from the predecessor album, Fleetwood Mac (1975.)

Purple Rain” (Prince, 1984) in the second half – also gave room for John’s extended solo.

And this time the ‘Giant of the Bass’ Colin stayed in his seat (he’s still recovering from a medical procedure, we wish him a full recovery) but managed to provide undoubted fervour and gusto to the rhythms along with the über-talented Gar Lando on drums.

This was a dazzling and magnificent concert with Stacey as radiant and charming as always and the band playing at its very best.

Intoxication and rhapsody in every heartbeat.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/asylumaffair/

SKUNK ANANSIE — Scholarship Recipient Announced at ACM

In June it was reported by AD PONTES that The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford, Surrey had announced the launch of their first ever SKUNK ANANSIE SCHOLARSHIP.

The recipient of this prestigious award receives a fully funded place on one of the academy’s reputable degree courses, worth up to £27,000…

The recipient of the prestigious award would receive a fully funded place on one of the academy’s reputable degree courses, worth up to £27,000.

The ACM have now announced that CYREEZ LEWIS will be the first ever recipient of the exclusive scholarship. Cyreez will receive his entire three-year Vocal Degree programme, fully funded at the Academy’s London campus.

After an intense judging process, Skunk Anansie, their management, and ACM tutors agreed that Cyreez Lewis should be awarded this prestigious prize.

Skin, vocalist in Skunk Anansie, had this to say, “Cyreez’s performance really resonated with me. You could feel his drive and passion which reminded me of why I first got into music. It’s fantastic to be able to offer Cyreez this opportunity in partnership with ACM and I believe it will make a real difference in his career. I’m really looking forward to seeing Cyreez progress as a vocalist and can’t wait to see the bright future that lays ahead of him...”

Chosen for his talent and dedication, Skunk Anansie were pleased to award CYREEZ LEWIS

Chosen for his talent and dedication, Skunk Anansie were pleased to award such a deserving candidate with the first ever Scholarship in their name.

As one of the most successful UK charting bands pioneering British Rock, Skunk Anansie have a wealth of musical experience under their belt making them ideal role models for the next generation of the music industry housed at ACM.

Ace, the guitarist in Skunk Anansie and ACM’s Head of Creative Industry Development, broke the news to Cyreez who was ecstatic to have received the inaugural award, “It was brilliant to break the news to Cyreez…” said Ace. “He was clearly over the moon and it feels great to make such a difference to this talented musician’s life. I’m really excited to get started on working with Cyreez in my Industry Link role at ACM this September…

Cyreez said: “Winning the scholarship means the world to me, I am so grateful, excited and privileged that I was chosen as the winner, thank you. Music is all I want to do with the rest of my life and winning the Scholarship gives me the chance to write, produce and share my music with the world. I play keyboard, guitar and use the loop pedal to record my backing sound, so the opportunity that the Scholarship has provided me with will give me the chance to improve and become the best I can be. I look forward to my time at ACM and cannot wait to learn from some of the best tutors and just do what I love doing daily.”

ACM has been building sustainable, long-lasting careers in the music industry for over 22 years. With campuses in Guildford, London and, new for September 2017, Birmingham, the Academy prides itself on delivering a unique approach to education which focuses on learning by doing. Looking for hard work and passion, ACM is proud to now offer more than £100,000 worth of Scholarships to ensure that their sought-after courses are more accessible than ever.

Limited spaces are still available at ACM’s Guildford, London and Birmingham campuses for study this September, to find out more or apply through Clearing please call the Admissions team on: 01483 500 841

Link: https://www.acm.ac.uk/

ACM LIVE — Summer Concert

On Thursday we attended the industry evening of ACM Summer Live. The series of concerts in Guildford, Surrey held this year at the Electric Theatre lasts four days (with matinee performances) and boasts over 60 new acts.

This years event was organized in collaboration with Eagle 3 Radio [Surrey and Hampshire ] and benefited MUSIC SUPPORT a charity that provides help and support for individuals in the United Kingdom Music Indsutry who suffer from alcoholism, addiction or emotional or mental health problems.

Mardhys, the 5-piece groove-orchestra…

The acts were introduced by Eagle 3 Radio presenter Jack Johnson .

First on stage were the Guildford five-nation five-piece groove-orchestra MARDHYS who are an experimental alt-folk collective fronted by the talented dreamer & chief songwriter Melatti Braam.

Songs such as “Old John” (an anti-bullying number) possessed scratched rhythms, sparkling vowels and a wriggle of violin that eeled its way through the haunting veil of harmonies. Think of English art-rock band the Moulettes playing Dylan songs to Tusk-era Fleetwood Mac beats.

The four-piece CHINA BEARS from Guildford (they seem to have mislaid Rosie along the way) provided bumptious bass-lines and kite-running anthems.

Hyrda” has seaside chirpiness with nostalgic melodies and suggestively breezy vibrations. They reminded us of Ohio indie rockers The National.

China Bears – seaside chirpiness with nostalgic melodies…

Guildford based alternative indie rock band NEON ISLANDS brought bold ‘n’ fruity tropical bass-lines and lots of fizzy guitar textures with frantic rhythms to go with flirtatious numbers.

Carlos de los Santos provided voice and more front than Harrods, while Jamie Hayes on bass guitar was simply bloody sensational and Nico Narbona (keys) offered a smooth atmosphere. Rhythms were expertly clouted out by Sam Lawson on drums. Their irrepressible charm and unmistakable ego was perhaps more significant than the total sum of their parts and outpourings, but hey! that’s what rock ‘n’ roll is all about.

London urban pop artist and singer-songwriter CHINCHILLA [Daisy Bertenshaw] who studied at the ACM Metropolis Studios academy campus in Chiswick has a mezzo-soprano range and raps in silvery cockney bursts. At SUMMER LIVE it was as if Ms. Dynamite had met Lily Allen in an Archway launderette to discuss men and moan about the weather. Last year’s wordy and grumbly “Playing With Fire” is a powerful hymn to pain and salvation. She’s unquestionably a rising star and one-to-watch!

Nabsora – exceptional

NABSORA (Brian Alejandro) is a rapper and producer originally from Colombia but is now based in London. He brought us a blast of interwoven social commentry through poety and hip-hop. His message relied on peace, love and understanding rather than rebellion.

As a poet he’s exceptional. As a rapper and lyricist he’s outstanding. His “Proud” has deep ridges of sound and is a profound crisis of contemplation set amongst vast expanses of forgiveness The vocal work is fast but accessible with elegant rhymes and melodic-hot songcraft.

Danish alternative electro-pop artist AIA creates marvelously colorful ear-tonics with decisive decency in her lyrics, taking in intertwisting rhythms to add to the drama of her performance.

AIA – intrepidly hypnotic…

She’s a fine tunesmith and an intrepidly hypnotic artist. (She reminded us of American synth-pop artist Halsey )

Also at the ACM Summer Live concert on Thursday were the Southampton based dramatic & punchy electronic duo UHURU consisting of singer/songwriter & producer Connor Daniel with Rob Jones on guitar and keys.

Plus soul and gospel singer JULY JONES and the distinctive indie-pop troupe THIS ROSE

It was a stunning evening of variety, discovery and five-star talent.

Words and pictures: @neilmach 2017 ©
Main Picture: CHINCHILLA
Link: https://www.facebook.com/acmuk/

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) is a music academy in Guildford, Surrey [with sites in London and Birmingham] that offers full-time courses for guitar, bass, drums, vocals, keyboards, music production, artist development & songwriting, radio broadcasting, creative sound design, tour production & management and music business.

Little Shop Of Horrors at Magna Carta

Concorde Productions presents Little Shop of Horrors

This week we went to see the rock musical Little Shop of Horrors [music by Alan Menken] at the excellent Magna Carta Arts Centre in Egham put on by Concorde Productions, directed by Craig Howard.

Most people are familiar with the 1986 movie and recall Rick Moranis as Seymour and Steve Martin as the dentist. In fact, the film directed by Frank Oz features an assortment of recognizable faces.

The story first came to the public as a cult film in 1960…

This famous musical has lived an inverted existence… the story first came to the public as a cult film ( in 1960, with Jack Nicholson.)

This was later envisioned as an off-Broadway stage musical in 1982 and had a five-year run, with shows in London’s West End in 1983, then the big production movie in 1986 before finally moving to Broadway production.

The story is about a pitiful florist shop worker who fancies his glamorous but trashy co-worker, and raises a plant that feeds on blood and human flesh. The plant grows during the show and and although it resembles a classic “window-sill plant” cultivated by amateurs — a cross between a Venus flytrap and one of those avocados you try to grow from the stone — it eventually becomes a monster that dominates the entire stage.

The story begins in Mushnik’s Flower Shop in Skid Row where the audience is introduced to the miserly and miserable old shopkeeper (played convincingly by John Wesson.) The glamorous blond bombshell shop assistant Audrey (played by Georgie Glover) arrives late and with an injury on her face (it later becomes clear that the shiner was given to her by boyfriend Orin, the sadistic dentist played by Billy Reynolds.)

The plant grows during the show and resembles a classic “window-sill plant” cultivated by amateurs. Photo Credit: Concorde Productions

The hero of the story, Seymour (played by a lanky Christopher Blackmore who seems very Brad Majorish in this production) appears from the back-room where he’s been raising a little plant he discovered. It’s a surprisingly odd looking thing so Audrey invites Mushnik to put it into the shop window to draw-in custom. The moment they do, a woman comes in to enquire about the odd looking plant and, while there, places a huge order.

So the plant, baptized by Seymour as Audrey II [ voiced by Trevor Begley and with puppeteering by Shaun Lati] becomes a permanent feature in the window and its not long before it starts to bring good fortune to the store, and in particular to Seymour.

But, like a malicious genie, the talking plant soon starts to demand a price for the wishes it grants. And, because it’s a carnivore, the price is blood. To begin with, occasionally, its a drop from Seymour’s fingertip. But soon the cultivar gets more demanding and that’s when things get horrific.

An exemplary spectacle, a fun evening, and a slick show…

This was an excellent production with great staging and superior music. We loved the Phil Spector-style Peppermint Lounge singing group comprising of Ronette (Helen Tang-Grosso) Crystal (Julie Antoniou) and Chiffon (Cate Baines) and who drive the story and act as semi-narrative detractors. The dance (choreography by Honor Lily Redman) was spot on. And their inflections clearly accentuated.

Georgie Glover played the bimbo with a heart and she was perfect. She never let us down, although the moving aria, Somewhere That’s Green could have been given more prominence.

But our favourite song from the show, the duet Suddenly, Seymour, was perfectly rendered.

The music is largely rock and roll and doo-wop and seemed to be far more Jewish-sounding at Magna Carta than I recall, making Mushnik a recognisable Fagin character. The voice of Audrey II and the puppet-work was impeccable. The only truly amateurish scene was the final song, where the cast return with petals around their faces and was perhaps supposed to be a whimsical mockery of music-hall troupes, but actually looked pretty lame.

Photo Credit: Concorde Productions

There are several sub-texts lurking under the fundamental premise. One is the proposal that fame and fortune always costs. Sometimes the cost can be dear.

Another subtext is that when a man grows something its not so easy to control that thing and the thing can’t easily be pushed back into its container.

The story is also judgemental about the haves and the have-nots (although I couldn’t help thinking that if the musical was set in May’s Britain neither Seymour nor Audrey would still be employed by Mushnik or they would be signed to zero hours contracts.)

The other vituperative attack is on domestic violence and how, often, it’s the female partner who thinks she’s somehow “to blame” and finds it difficult to escape the brutality.

This was an exemplary spectacle, a fun evening, and a slick show. It had just the right amount of tongue-in-cheek humour and some excellent song and dance. Wonderful.

Words: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/TheConcordePlayers/

Formerly known as The Concorde Players the friendly amateur dramatics group called Concorde Productions was initially for friends and colleagues of British Airways. Following the closure of the Concorde Centre in Heston, they have now moved home to the Magna Carta Arts Centre in Staines-upon-Thames, Surrey for their productions.

If you’d like to be part of their team both onstage and off you should contact them.

Music & Leisure in Staines UK