Category Archives: news

Fun New Video by Local Firefighters — with Fire Safety Messages

A group of local Berkshire RBFRS staff and firefighters  have put their musical skills to good use by releasing a song called “You Can’t Stop the Fire” which is a clever parody of Bruce Springsteen’sDancing in the Dark”.

Staff from across the Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service have made a music video…

The key aim of the song is to get fire safety advice out to people in a slightly different way.

The team — led by the inextinguishable rogue Keith Beasley [the lead singer of the Country Rock and Blues band “One For the Road” ] is brought to life with an accompanying video [watch below.]

Staff from across the organisation were involved in the project, including crews from Maidenhead, Whitley Wood and non-operational colleagues based at headquarters.

When they’re ready, here’s some ideas for their next song:

* Burning Down the House — Talking Heads

* Run the Engines Up High — Roy Orbison

* Playing With Fire — Rolling Stones

* Pound the Alarm — Nicki Minaj

* Holy Smoke — Iron Maiden

* Firestarter — The Prodigy

Please watch and share their super video below and consider making a donation to The Fire Fighters Charity —which provides life enhancing services to the fire and rescue community…


ROMANS in STAINES at Spelthorne Museum

The Spelthorne Museum hosted a super Family Activity Day this weekend with a Roman theme.

Spelthorne Museum Family Activity Day with a Roman Theme
Spelthorne Museum Family Activity Day with a Roman Theme

On Saturday July 16 local folk were invited to attend a special free day of Roman inspired activities : including producing Roman armor, jewelry processing, production of mosaics and also the creation of slave tags.

There were also Roman games to play, including a chariot-racing inspired board game designed by local schoolchildren and some treasure trails.

There have been bridges over the Thames at Staines since Roman times.

The emperor Claudius invaded Britain in 43 AD and established a base a built bridges at “Ad Pontes” the same year.

The town became an important post during the Roman conquest and was mentioned in the 3rd century registry known as the Antonine Itinerary. This document was a kind of early ‘road map‘ of the Roman Britain.

The Roman-based Family Activity Day is one of several events run during the year by the dedicated volunteers at Spelthorne museum. The museum exhibits the history of Spelthorne from Ice Age to modern times.

Access to the museum is via Staines Library at Friends Walk, Elmsleigh Road. Staines



This year’s fab STAINES UPON THAMES DAY on Sunday 26th June began with a successful performance by the talented SPELTHORNE YOUNG VOICES — a borough-based community choir, open to those of junior and senior school age, established in 2003 to promote and inspire young singers, as they prepare to develop good musical habits, discipline and musicality.

Shortly after, the Mayor’s Parade marched down the High Street. [Theme: Kings & Queens, to commemorate the 90th birthday of the Queen] with school children and community groups, dance groups and a marching band. This parade effectively opened the event.

As in previous years, there was plenty to see and do in the Memorial Gardens, and also along the River Thames, in the market square and on the High Street. With a Main Stage, more than three performance arenas, and an abundance of interesting & fun activities.

Folk, Blues 'n' Country outfit MOONSHINE ... One of several bands performing on STAINES UPON THAMES day ...
Folk, Blues ‘n’ Country outfit MOONSHINE … One of several bands performing on STAINES UPON THAMES day …

Local surf-punkers CHASING CARA [main photo] engaged the audience from the main stage with their high-energy antics, fast riffs and driving bass lines.

Other music came from the excellent Staines Lammas Band, the talented covers outfit SOUND MINED (their Elle King cover “Ex’s & Oh’s” was a treat) and lots more.

We headed towards the STAINES RIVERSIDE CLUB too, for their free stage. Here we saw the splendid 6 piece Folk, Blues ‘n’ Country outfit MOONSHINE whose wide range of covers we particularly enjoyed.

Another stand-out attraction of the day was the Falconry display with First Class Falconry.

There were also some excellent dance performances in the Memorial Gardens, lots of interesting Arts & Crafts Stalls and Charity & Community Stalls, the exciting Dragon Boat Challenge and the wonderful duck races.

Staines Upon Thames Day - lots of interesting Arts & Crafts Stalls and Charity & Community Stalls, the exciting Dragon Boat Challenge and the wonderful duck races ...
Staines Upon Thames Day – lots of interesting Arts & Crafts Stalls and Charity & Community Stalls, the exciting Dragon Boat Challenge and the wonderful duck races …

Spelthorne Canoe Club and Surrey Canoe Club gave free Taster Sessions for those who fancied splashing about on the water, whilst French Bros organised hourly Boat Trips along the Thames.

The day stayed dry, the Thames Side Brewery served refreshing Ales & Pimms and the Pony Rides were busy all afternoon. And once we had taken in all the sights & sounds and the party-by-river atmosphere we found some tasty morsels to tempt us on the various Street Food stalls before heading for a well-earned cream tea in the Church Hall.

An exciting family fun day filled with joy and activities. It allowed us all to experience a real sense of community and belonging.

Story & all photos: @neilmach 2016 ©

Dragon Boats and spalshing about on the River on Staines-upon-thames day
Dragon Boats and spalshing about on the River on Staines-upon-thames day





SKINDRED Share Secrets of Survival for Students of Surrey ACM


SKINDRED’S frontman Benji Webbe and guitarist Mikey Demus dropped into Guildford’s ACM (Academy Of Contemporary Music) in Surrey to talk to the students about how best to endure and deliver in the music business. They also played a special acoustic set.

Formed in 1998, SKINDRED have gained an enviable reputation for their ultra-high-energy live shows. The Welsh rockers have toured relentlessly, and played to crowds of up to 500K.

Their natural ability, winning ethos and dedication to hard work has earned the band a well-deserved following and durable longevity in an ever-changing industry.

“Once you write a song, you’re stuck with it for life...” SKINDRED addressed popular music students at ACM Surrey ...
“Once you write a song, you’re stuck with it for life…” SKINDRED addressed popular music students at ACM Surrey …

Aspiring students at ACM Guildford jumped at the chance to ask Benji and Mikey what their secrets were, and how they have managed to maintain and continue to build a career within an industry that is full of change.

When asked by a student what advice they would give to bands just starting to write their own songs, frontman Benji responded “Just be true to yourself.

Enjoyment is key” he added, especially when it comes to touring. Benji explained how, for him, the years have flown by and how “passion [has] kept the fire alight.” What’s more, he reminded the students: “Once you write a song, you’re stuck with it for life…

Touring can lead to some very strange experiences: Mikey, for example, told the group of students how it feels to be hit on stage by a dead fish!

What drove you to music?” Asked one student. For Mikey, it was “watching Woodstock, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page” that moved him to pick up the guitar. The likes of these greats gave him the fire to play. Mikey was also keen to point out that it is important to “Pick your own lane!

An important question was raised during the discussion “Do you think you’d still be where you are if you started out today?” Benji admitted times were different now, “We’re up against an industry that wants you to fit in a certain pocket. We don’t fit in a pocket: We do what we do.” When asked which song they’d wish they’d written – Benji responded “My Way” a song whose lyrics Benji described as “Lasting forever, meaning so much to so many...”

Not only did Benji and Mikey share their insights and secrets of success with ACM’s students, they also played an exclusive acoustic concert, with songs from their extensive back catalog such as “Nobody” and “Saying it Now.”

Main Image: @neilmach taken at nearby Redfest, in Reigate Surrey

Freddie Mercury Scholarship Announced for ACM Guildford

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) is a music academy located in Guildford, Surrey in England.

The Academy was the brainchild of Phil Brookes, a guitar tutor from nearby Woking, Surrey who established the institution in 1995 with the aim of bringing music education and the music industry closer together.

The ACM, with Metropolis Studios, have this week announced the inauguration of a Freddie Mercury Scholarship, endorsed by Queen's Roger Taylor and Brian May
The ACM, with Metropolis Studios, have this week announced the inauguration of a Freddie Mercury Scholarship, endorsed by Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May

The school differs from more traditional music academies because it focusses on rock, pop music, electronic dance music and delivers a vocational approach. Former students include Newton Faulkner and Ed Sheeran, among many others.

The Academy, with Metropolis Studios, have this week announced the inauguration of a Freddie Mercury Scholarship, endorsed by Queen’s Roger Taylor and Brian May.

The award comes in the year which will see the celebration of the singer’s 70th birthday, on September 5. The prestigious scholarship will fully fund a student’s entire study path and is worth up to £27,000.

The degree programme includes songwriting, performance, production and business modules and is delivered in accordance with ACM’s “learning by doing” ethos.

Queen band member Roger Taylor, who is also a patron of ACM and has a drum studio named after him at the academy’s Guildford campus, said, “Freddie’s name endures in so many ways so it’s therefore great to have this scholarship celebrating his musical genius!

Guitarist Brian May said: “This scholarship will be a lasting tribute to Freddie and the path he blazed. He would be happy to see young talent being helped to blossom. Of course Metropolis holds a very special place in Queen history, and it’s a pleasure to continue that link.”

The Metropolis Studios CEO, Ian Brenchley, is looking forward to welcoming the successful scholar to the studio in London, the world’s largest independent recording facility, where over 50% of the UK’s Top 40 is serviced, “We are hugely excited to be entering into this partnership and to be able to offer the scholarship to one lucky student. Freddie’s spirit is alive and well at Metropolis, where he wrote and recorded so much of his material and his legacy lives on every time his Fazioli grand piano is played in our flagship studio.”

Evolution of a Phoenix

There is a certain regal oak named ‘Kindred Spirit’ … but for us
Kindred Spirit” means only one thing … the locally based five-piece, electric folk rock band that features the radiant and deeply moving voice of Elaine Samuels.

The band line up also includes Gavin Jones (electric violin) Catherine Dimmock (flute and sax) Mike Hislop (bass) and Les Binks (former drummer for Judas Priest.)

The band are about to release their stunning new album Phoenix Rising – and we have been watching the project unfold and develop.

Elaine Samuels - Voice is radiant and deeply moving...
Elaine Samuels – Voice is radiant and deeply moving…

We’ve been having a sneaky listen to some of their (yet unreleased) tracks currently being recorded @SkylineStudios by @JezLarder:

Opening song “Kindred Spirits” certainly contains the ethereal quality you might find in early Moody Blues.

It has that dramatic “Threshold of a Dream…” feel about it.

This has a soulful flute and intricate acoustic guitars that embroider the surface.

The finest crystal bell clear voice ripples seamlessly through the
vision … creating a sort of divine salvation.

Album Launch show - St Augustine's Church Whitton 18 April 2015
Album Launch show – St Augustine’s Church Whitton 18 April 2015

We also heard the jaunty number “The Phoenix” with its trotting pace and pizzicato strings.

The violin animates the piece (although it maintains a shaded heart.)

This song seems to be about facing all that is left … (in other words, the “Ashes” ) trying to make sense of them … before you can even hope to fly again.

Finality and sadness has to be visited upon us before we can hope of being re-born.

This song reminded us of Renaissance (the rock band) around their ‘Novella’ period.

It immediately draws the listener into enormous depths – the pay-off is complex, exciting and invaluable.

Book a ticket to the Album Launch Concert April 18th Here>>

@neilmach 2015 ©


Elton John -Charity Concert at Royal Opera House London

Still Shining A Light

You don’t spin a successful career spanning four decades just by wearing comedy spectacles and high-heeled boots …. Elton John has been at the top of his game for the whole period – as a writer, singer and entertainer.  He may just be a piano player from Pinner, but he is very possibly one of the best showmen that there has ever been.

Elton has been heavily involved in the fight against AIDS since the late 1980s. Since 1992, when he established the Elton John AIDS Foundation, the foundation has raised over $200 million. And in 2010, Elton joined Cyndi Lauper in the launch of her ‘Give a Damn’ campaign to bring a wider awareness of discrimination of the LGBT community as part of her ‘True Colors’ Fund. But less is known of Elton John’s charitable contributions to young musicians and emerging music – but he is an equally generous contributor to young music and the arts and especially to the Royal Academy of Music – in London’s Marylebone, which he attended as a scholar when he was barely 11 years of age. Elton regularly puts on charity concerts for deserving causes, and last year he raised money for a music organ for the Royal Academy of Music. In Jan 2011 he put on another show at the Royal Opera House to raise funds for the organ for the Academy – well it is a ‘really big organ’ he told the audience. (2,921 pipes)

Elton is essentially a ‘one man’ show (though his Royal Academy of Music charity concert featured the much admired percussionist Ray Cooper.) The honky piano and the gospel-chords are played with astonishing power and overwhelming clarity. From standards like ‘Rocket Man’ to ‘Philadelphia Freedom’ we also had some wonderful lesser known (but no less loved)  numbers like ‘Love Lies Bleeding’ and also some very contemporary songs from ‘The Union’ album, his collaborative work with Leon Russell.

A perfectly punctuated ‘Levon’ [Madman Across the Water] allowed Elton to thank his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin (of 44 years) for his friendship and skills. Then we shimmied over some lighter numbers to reach “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word” from the amazing ‘Blue Moves’ album of 1976.

Probably the most enjoyable song of the night and an all-round winner with the rather posh crowd at this premier venue was the g-g-great song “Bennie and the Jets”. Gigantic slabs of chord were churned out by Elton’s pudgy fingers and the whole sound was punctured, perforated and powdered by the aerobic air-doodling and artistic percussion from Ray.  Naturally, we also enjoyed “Candle in the Wind” and the now ever-present “Your Song”-  which sounds so fresh yet it harkens back to 1970.

Ray first started working with Elton in 1971 on ‘Madman Across the Water’ and joined the ‘Elton John Band’ later that year.  Ray has continued to perform and record with Elton sporadically since then. This ‘piano and percussion’ concert was perfected by the duo in 1994 and they have now played more than 50 distinct performances together.

Elton’s tunes are all accompanied with surprising speed and exhilarating virtuosity, by cascades of sumptuous notes. And I don’t mean tinkly plinkety-plonky notes either.  Elton’s notes are big fat man-sized slugs of sound. Generous slabs of noise. The musical equivalent of a homemade sausage sarnies – made with thick wedges of crusty bread. Big coils of rope to hang a hearty song onto.

And what also surprises you is the amazing clarity of his baritone vocals- especially the seat-shaking low notes. And when these brooding sounds are accompanied by darker, more soulful piano pieces, the effect is very mystical.

Elton John is proud to be able to support the Royal Academy of Music and, just like his musical forefathers Sir Henry Wood and Sir John Barbirolli, he also hopes to  create new audiences and gain recognition for this amazing musical institution.

© Neil_Mach
Jan 2011


To find out more about the Elton John AIDS foundation click here:

The Royal Academy of Music is internationally recognised as representing the highest values of music and musical society.
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Ad Pontes Staines- music arts & going out IN STAINES

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