STAINES LAMMAS BRASS BAND — Springtime Spectacular

This Sunday the STAINES LAMMAS BRASS BAND hosted a superb “Springtime Spectacular” concert of popular songs at the ancient St Mary’s Church in Staines.

We went along to see the show.

Our favourite was probably Ramin Djawadi’s theme from the HBO’s television series “Game of Thrones…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After an excellent introduction — “The March of the Peers” [ by Arthur Sullivan, from Iolanthe] with skilfully interpreted passages and perfectly controlled rhythms, the band was presented by the experienced musical director conductor / garrulous musical director Lee Woodward who was appointed MD of the Staines Lammas band in 2014.

Lee introduced us next to an overture by Austrian composer Franz von Suppé, “Morning, Noon, and Night in Vienna.” The piece incorporated a pensive solo that overflowed with emotion.

After that, we enjoyed another eloquent solo, this time featuring Steve Burgess [ the principal cornet player.] Steve also plays with Alder Valley brass and the Freedom Brass Quintet. The poignant number was Dvořák’sRusalka’s Song to the Moon.”

This is about a water nymph who falls in love with a prince …” Lee told us before the start. “But, of course this is an opera. So, as you can imagine, it doesn’t end well …

Modern numbers in the entertaining programme included “Baggy Trousers”

Modern numbers in the entertaining programme included “Baggy Trousers” by Madness [arr Alan Fernie.]

And Hans Zimmer’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Our favourite, though, was probably Ramin Djawadi’s theme from the HBO tv series “Game of Thrones.”

The band managed to perfectly convey the expectations of the show, all those dead-reckonings and impressive crownings.

Bohemian Rhapsody” by Freddie Mercury [arr. Darrol Barry] was magnificent and perhaps we don’t entirely realize what an incredible achievement this piece of music this is until it’s heard performed this way.

And just before the interval we enjoyed a little game of “guessing the melody” when the band played “The Lone A-ranger” by Philip R. Buttall.

Many thanks to Staines Lammas Band for offering us a very pleasant afternoon of masterful music. And also thanks to the Reverend and staff at the Church of St Mary’s for making us feel welcome.

The next Staines Lammas Brass Band concert is on Sunday 25th June 11.00 at the Staines Upon Thames Day, Thames Street.

Also see them perform on July 9 at the Staines Lammas Park, at 2 pm.

Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: http://www.staineslammasband.co.uk/

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…

Links:

https://www.firefighterscharity.org.uk/donate/

http://www.rbfrs.co.uk/

JFK — Album Launch Show

JFK (also known confusingly as JFK Blues] is a London /Surrey five piece band that has been playing their rock ‘n’ rolling blues — spiced with jazzy manouche touches — for about a year or so.

If John Etheridge met Ray Davies at Le QuecumBar and they discussed a rhythm and blues project — this is probably how it would have turned out…

The band is composed of some very experienced musicians — PAUL BLOUNT on keys who once lived in L.A. and worked with Jeff Beck, SOL EZRA on drums [an early member of Talk Talk] gypsy-rock guitarist IAGO BANET ; LES ‘LEO’ VICTOR on bass [he played with the Blockheads] and the youngest member of the outfit — lead vocalist/guitar CHRIS ELLIOTT who they found busking at Covent Garden Tube and invited along for the ride.

Paul Blount on keys – they bring blues, jazz, pop and boogie to the people…
Picture by Neil Mach

We attended the “Rough Round The Edges” album launch show at the legendary 100 Club in London’s West End this week.

We enjoyed JFK’s beautifully crafted self-penned songs that began with “St Joseph” and had mellow, mid-tempo beats and instantly catchy melodies.

Chris Elliott’s poignant and cheery R&B voice on songs like “Shadowlands” reached clear trebles without too much difficulty — and this talent helped to take the sounds from blues origins and into pop-rock territory whilst still retaining the genre’s emotional content.

If we really had to designate their brand we would say the JFK sound is similar to that of the Alexis Korner band — in other words, they bring blues, jazz, pop and boogie to the people…

We’re not really a blues band…” Chris shouted to a passionate audience… directly before the band embarked on yet another raw-blues number — this one adorned with flinty peaks of guitar and a boogie underbelly.

We enjoyed the really excited rhythmic patterns and the cleverly woven guitar songs, such as “Having a Real Good Time.”

Often these songs had insistent backwoods blues-vibes that took us directly to those all-night parties down on 18th and Vine.

This was a poetic and vibrant show delivered by a pack of musicians who have clearly spent a lifetime entertaining their audiences.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/JFK4Blues/

See next:

The Old Ticket Hall, Windsor 14th April
The Bull’s Head, Barnes 1st May

Excited rhythmic patterns and the cleverly woven guitar songs…
Photo: Neil Mach

FESTIVAL REVIEW — FOUR PLAY

The FOUR PLAY FESTIVAL is a low profile affair held at the Acoustic Couch in Bracknell and organized by local progressive rock band SPRIGGAN MIST.

Jade Vine at FOUR PLAY… a celebration of folk-prog talent…

It is a celebration of folk-prog talent and attracts an unprecedented array of  free-spirited individuals, including [but not limited to] steampunks, pagans, hippies, fair folk and people of peace.

The unhurried schedule means that bands have enough time on stage to deploy their longest songs and tackle their most extravagant numbers.

The Acoustic Couch is a community project built in the concrete heart of Bracknell town and offers locals a pleasant and welcoming place to come and enjoy live music.

Mila Verney_of Jade Vine – mind-blowing musical content…

First on stage at FOUR PLAY were the five-piece JADE VINE based in London. This band was formed by the brothers Constantine (guitars, vocals) & Marios Magdalinos (guitars, vocals) in 2006.

Constantine & Marios wrote the first songs and gigged extensively as a duet before bringing the band together. At Bracknell we saw Mila Verney (piano & keyboards) and Yannis Paloyannidis (bass) with Babis Margaritidis (drums.)

We enjoyed songs like “Lost it All” that had a shimmering murkiness to them. We loved the repetitive guitar motifs and the slightly off-kilter drum-work. We also appreciated the vocals that we thought were reminiscent of Fish. Their neo-prog achievements soared with mind-blowing musical content, astounding lyrics and expert musicianship. Their 2016 album “MIND OF A MAN” is out now.

Kindred Spirit – tranquilizing yet sinister textures…

We’ve written about Elaine Samuels and her band KINDRED SPIRIT many times before.

It was great to see them onstage at Bracknell bringing their extraordinarily beautiful prog-folk songs to life and creating a series of imaginatively elaborate musical ideas.

Wolves at the Door” had a fretful sax [Catherine Dimmock] and lamenting violin [Martin Ash ]and created ever-developing sensations of enhanced anxiety.

The song formed part of what Elaine described as the “Beast” cycle — consisting of three songs . The cycle was completed by “Run Red.” This had tranquilizing yet sinister textures — peacemaker flute with violin flares.

The bass-play on this song was excellent too [Mike Hislop] as was Catherine’s backing vocals. The remarkable thing about Kindred Spirit was that the band soldiered on without their drummer [he was taken ill at short notice] yet they managed to deliver a very polished and surprisingly tight performance.

Multi Story- dramatic vocal performance…

Cult Welsh prog band MULTI STORY was formed in the 1980s.

Around the dramatic vocal performance of Paul Ford and Rob Wilsher’s wizard keyboards and superlative programming.

At that time [1984] the band was invited to the BBC Maida Vale studio to record a session for Radio One Rock Show with Tommy Vance. The band was signed to Heavy Metal Records [FM label] and recorded a debut album in 1985 at Rockfield Studios.

Paul Ford was replaced by Grant Nicholas [who went on to be the Feeder front-man] and Grant worked on an album with the band in 1986 :Through Your Eyes — though the project broke up shortly afterwards.

The members of Multi Story went on to have successful careers in production and film projects and more recently, the original writing partners Rob Wilsher and Paul Ford starting working again. A new band began playing shows during 2015 in support of their project “Crimson Stone.”

Paul’s delivery at Bracknell was dramatically poignant — bordering on theatrical at times — and included some superior guitar-play. Rob’s keyboards were, as expected, sheer quality of class. A series of oscillations, waves and huge columns of sound. The song-melodies were catchy — with instant appeal. And often reminded us of 1969 era The Who.

Spriggan Mist’s Max Cilia – intoxicating musical layers…

If this event is to become something more ambitious in the future then the organizers will have to watch their ticket sales. [Fifteen pounds is good for a “full day of music” but too much for locals who might want to drop-in to catch just one or two bands.] They should also look at the possibility of wider promotion. It looked as if most of the audience consisted of “Sprigg” fan-club members or supporting musicians.

FOUR PLAY was a completely enjoyable way to spend a day. With hugely talented performers, friendly hosts and good (cheap) beer. What’s not to like?

Thanks to all involved… especially the co-hosts Spriggan Mist & Kindred Spirit and their fantastic crew. Also thanks to the staff at Acoustic Couch who made this special day so friendly.

Words & Pictures : @neilmach 2017 ©
Links:
https://www.facebook.com/pg/www.sprigganmist.co.uk
https://www.facebook.com/KindredSpiritBand/
https://www.facebook.com/multistoryband/
https://www.facebook.com/TheJadeVineUK/

GODSPELL — by Eagle House at Wilde Theatre

It’s Lent so we decided to get “churched up” this week.

We headed to the excellent Wilde Theatre, at South Hill Park to see the Eagle House [ School in Sandhurst] present their GODSPELL.

The 1971 show with music by Grammy award winning Stephen Schwartz [Enchanted ] and a loose script based on the Gospel of Saint Matthew ( originally re-envisioned by playwright John-Michael Tebelak) is a popular show for touring companies and has enjoyed many revivals.

The structure of the GODSPELL musical is a series of parables interspersed by rock arias that have been inspired by the Book of Psalms.

The structure of the musical is a series of parables interspersed by rock arias that have been inspired by the Book of Psalms.

The original London production starred characters like Julie Covington, David Essex, Jeremy Irons and Marti Webb. We were fortunate enough to have seen the original West End Wyndhams production back in 1972. But we love to see new productions and were excited to see the Eagle House show.

In the Seventies the stage show was a fluid and conceptual performance. It borrowed elements from dance, music and circus to tell the story of “Christ’s Passion”.

In the early days of the stage-show the figure of Christ was dressed as a clown. His “tribe” were portrayed as a group of irresponsible, long-haired hippies.

Now the hippie clothing is gone, because today’s youth movements tend to be associated more with athletic trainers and sportswear. The younger elements of the Eagle House Godspell Team wore printed t-shirts with the hash-tagged “Godspell logo” while main cast members wore distinctive tartans.

The magnificent Wilde Theatre is perfect for this kind of innovative, unpretentious presentation. At Godspell the audience was seated on all four sides of the staging.

After the exultant sound of a brass shofar the audience and cast “Prepared” for the “Way of the Lord”. This first song was an exceptionally compelling and enthusiastic number, sung by the whole cast [all five teams] who circled the newly baptised Christ in a spiritual state. Followers were given rubber wristbands to show their affiliation and discipleship.

Exceptionally compelling and enthusiastic…

A characteristic of the earliest shows, and all theatrical productions since, has been topicality.

Once we saw Godspell during the period known as the Three-Day Week, this was in the “power-cut Seventies” and the big joke was that it didn’t matter how dark things got because the audience was “The light of the World.”

Similarly, during the storytelling from Eagle House we had mentions of Facebook, Premier Inn, Justin Bieber and Fake News.

And of course the big, rich baddie (before “All for the Best” ) was Donald Trump.

Ben Trunck, perhaps shorter in stature than we expected, played a fascinating Jesus character — full of vivid personality. While Mark Dickin interpreted Judas skulking presence perfectly.

A feeling of “loving community” encompassed everything…

Each year group of Eagle House wanted to stage their own parable and musical number — so this meant the show was a wonderful consolidation of excellent sketches — each interconnected with the next.

The overall experience, from the perspective of the audience, was a feeling of “loving community” that encompassed everything.

Day By Day” always was — and still is — the most memorable song from the show and in Basingstoke the number was handled intelligently and with sympathy.

All Good Gifts” was brilliantly choreographed and elegantly efficient. Also, at one point, after “Save the People” we had an army of scary zombies grabbing at souls…

There was humour, movement, excitement and tenderness throughout the show — with great dramatic use of simple objects, like the coloured blocks.

Our favourite song was “On The Willows” — it came after the Last Supper scene. Psalm 137 — from which the song is taken — has been set to music by several composers over the years and the lament found in Godspell is possibly the best of all of them. The Eagle House vocalists performed the difficult harmonies with distinction.

This was an excellent production.

All 128 cast members [ages 9 to 13] should be congratulated, as well as their staff at Eagle House and the committed parents who made it all possible.

5 Stars

Words: @neilmach 2017 ©
Links: https://www.facebook.com/pg/SouthHillParkArtsCentre
http://www.eaglehouseschool.com/

Godspell at The Wilde Theatre, South Hill Park was ann amateur production presented by special arrangement with Samuel French Ltd

CURVED AIR — Back Screech Love? In Concert at Claygate

This Sunday we visited CLAYGATE — at the tail-end of their superbly organised MUSIC FESTIVAL week — to see the pioneering British progressive rock group CURVED AIR play live in concert at the Claygate Village Hall.

Their “Air Conditioning” album (1970) is still considered “essential listening” by the prog-rock crowd.

Retrospective – Anthology 1970-2009 – Best Of – (Remastered) – Curved Air

It was exciting to see a band — so famous — in what amounted to a village hall.

And the band have a strong Surrey heritage too [forerunner Sisyphus played one of their first performances at the Leith Hill Place Ballroom, Surrey] — so they were made very welcome.

After an extended instrumental introduction, the original “Hair” girl Sonja Kristina emerged onstage in a swirl of boho gypsy waftiness to get the crowd clapping along before the start of her distinctive low-dark, sexy vocal styling.

One of the first songs performed was “Stay Human” from the most recent album “North Star” [2014] with the “I am still your lover...” line.

This has strong riffs and thriving violin work from the “Sideshow Bob” lookalike Paul Sax on violin

(Fiddle-wizard Paul was one of the first participants at the Yehudi Menuhin School… and it shows.)

Sonja Kristina emerged onstage in a swirl of boho gypsy waftiness…

Screw” began with a two-tone riff played by the elfin “Legolas” Robert Norton on keyboards.

With clashing cymbals from original drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa and unfolding vocal drama.

This number sounded like an avenging angel — on the prowl and dangerous. The alarming shrieks from Paul’s violin added to the sense of urgency and impending doom.

In the Seventies the band were often referred to as “the British Jefferson Airplane” and with songs such as “Marie Antoinette” [from Phantasmagoria, 1972] it is easy to see why.

This number was full of delicious harmonies, expert twiddles, and a lot of punches and trills.

However, it was a protest song at heart, although misted in historical imagery. Back in the 1970’s the worlds of fantasy, psychedelia and new-age shininess could all be packed-together in one gorgeous song. And they still made social comment. How cool is that?

Paul was one of the first participants at the Yehudi Menuhin School… and it shows…

Sonja took an acoustic guitar for the popular folk-song “Melinda (More or Less)” [also from Phantasmagoria.]

This beauty is a fan favorite and shows the hippie principles of the band as well as their eternal affection for the folk-star Donovan.

Unfortunately the second half of the show was bugged by a very loud and completely unpleasant feedback squeal.

“We need to find that pesky mouse….” Sonja told the crowd.

The problem was temporarily fixed — but it didn’t stop a lot of people from wandering off into the night.

The show ended with the fantastic “Back Street Luv.”

This super-hit demonstrated Sonja’s slow vocal style, which still reaches those husky tenor lows where she seems happiest, though she breaks into expressive contralto register at times.

Chanting revolution, pop and psychedelia.

Progressive rock is never much better than this…

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

THE ALI MAC BAND — Live in Staines

Original Birdman ALI MACKENZIE with his renegade pioneers of rock ‘n’ roll talent — Strawbs drummer Richard Hudson, Glitter Band bassist Bill Phillips, and Renaissance guitarist Simon Bishop — form the ALI MAC BAND.

They play good-time rhythm and blues, replete with soul-thumping harmonies and the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness.

We saw their sold-out show this February 16 at the STAINES RIVERSIDE CLUB.

Their perfectly handled recreations included many favorites from the American soft-jazz songbook ( like Little Feat’sWeed, whites and wine…” flavoured ‘Willin‘ ) and teasing blues pieces like Willie Dixon’s provocative “Hoochie Coochie Man” or intelligently voiced soul-hits such as Eddie Floyd & Steve Cropper’sKnock on Wood.”

THE ALI MAC BAND - the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness... Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©
THE ALI MAC BAND – the tightest musicianship you are ever likely to witness…
Photo Credit @neilmach 2017 ©

In the mid sixties THE BIRDS were the biggest rhythm and blues act in London.

They appeared on TV’s Ready Steady Go and released four hit singles including the Holland-Dozier-Holland number “Leaving Here.”

That Birds song went onto inspire Lemmy’s Motörhead [Leaving Here was their debut single — 1977.]

Famous for their vocal harmonies and exciting live performances THE BIRDS came close to becoming as big as THE WHO.

They first ventured onto the scene in 1964 as The Thunderbirds but decided to change their band-name to The Birds to avoid confusion with Chris Farlowe’s band.

But when “America’s answer to the Beatles” aka the folk rock band THE BYRDS entered the UK Singles Chart with “Mr. Tambourine Man” (1965) the British BIRDS were forced to take action to defend their “trading” name.

Surrounded by an excited buzz of media coverage, the BIRDS manager began to take legal steps to prevent the American upstarts from using their name. But the court favored the Los Angeles “Byrds” and by 1967 the British band had faded.

Ali McKenzie was the original leader of that particular ensemble (voice and harmonica) along with Ronnie Wood (guitar) Tony Munroe (guitars) Kim Gardner (bass) and Pete McDaniels (drums).

At Staines, Ali Mac’s band — understandably — distanced themselves from the compositions of Dylan and McGuinn. Instead they played some lasting rockabilly hits (such as Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away” and Big Boy Crudup’s “That’s All Right”. )

With Simon’s effervescent guitar playing, Bill’s adventurous and tight bass and Hud’s precise rhythms, it was a night of class entertainment.

Ali’s remarkable vocal work — his mastery of tension and release — and controlled use of vibrato, was truly astonishing. It’s not often we witness vocal skills of this quality.

Another stunning show at Staines…

Support the RIVERSIDE CLUB and keep LIVE MUSIC alive…

Words & Pictures: Neil Mach 2017 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/StainesRiversideClub

Music & Leisure in Staines UK