Tag Archives: adpontes-staines

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.

ACM SKUNK ANANSIE SCHOLARSHIP

The Academy of Contemporary Music (ACM) in Guildford, Surrey has announced the launch of their first ever SKUNK ANANSIE SCHOLARSHIP.

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

All applicants that have successfully auditioned and enrolled for Degree programmes in Bass, Drums, Guitars, Keys or Vocals at either ACM Guildford, ACM London or the group’s newest campus, ACM Birmingham, will be eligible to apply.

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

Those applying will submit a video performance for screening by ACM’s world class teaching faculty, with a shortlist delivered to Skunk Anansie for a final decision to be made.

The award winning British rock band has been recording & touring for over 20 years, and have sold over 6 million albums and comleted many sold out world tours.

They’re the perfect role models for ACM’s students. In between studio recording and touring with the band, guitarist Ace works at ACM as Head of Creative Industry Development and drummer, Mark Richardson, is a Wellbeing Coach for the academy students.

Ace said “I’ve been honoured to be working with ACM for a very long time now, booking top industry guests, sourcing real world work opportunities, setting up networking events and advising students on a one to one basis. For three months of the year I pause my work on-campus so that I can tour with the band – bringing back the freshest knowledge directly from the industry back to the students. The music business has been very good to us over the years and it feels incredible to give back and make someone’s dream of studying music a reality.

Skunk Anansie vocalist, Skin, said “We are so excited to be able to offer such a life changing opportunity in partnership with ACM. Starting out in music can be tough financially, so being able to take away that burden for someone who is at the very beginning of their journey is incredibly rewarding. We love the fully immersive experience that ACM offers its students and are so excited to see the shortlist.”

Applications are still open for September 2017 study at ACM Guildford, ACM London and ACM Birmingham.

To book an audition or visit the Academy for an open day go to www.acm.ac.uk or call the admissions team directly on 01483 500 841.

To apply for the SKUNK ANANSIE SCHOLARSHIP or one of ACM’s other scholarship awards (including the Freddie Mercury Award and the BASCA Scholarship), visit www.acm.ac.uk/scholarships

JAZZ KNIGHTS ORCHESTRA — STAINES

Drummer Cliff Longhurst has played with Matt Monro, Frankie Laine, Bert Weedon , Anne Shelton, Helen Shapiro, Nat Gonnella, Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent (among many others) and has toured with Herb Miller (Glen’s brother) — in addition to working as musical director for several well-known television shows. His JAZZ KNIGHTS ORCHESTRA came to Staines this week to put on a fantastic spectacle at the famous Riverside Club.

The orchestra delivered power and determination as they put on an extraordinary performance that rewarded us with the sounds & moods of Woody Herman’s big band era — the 1930s and 1940s.

A golden syrup of sax – Photo Credit: @neilmach 2017 ©

Starting with a complicated arrangement of “The Good Earth” composed by jazz trumpeter Neal Hefti, we were treated to a golden syrup of sax and beautifully chromatic trumpet — the ambitious number was endowed with attitude, passion and enormous scope.

Herman’s “The Preacher” was a cluster of sound textures with an excellent solo by Nick Charles.

Richard Rodgers’ “Sound of Music” found on Herman’s “My Kind of Broadway” was a first-class re-telling with zestful vibraphone and potent walking bass.

Rattling rhythms from Longhurst himself – @neilmach 2017 ©

The 15-piece Jazz Knights also treated the audience in Staines to lighter pop numbers such as “Killing Me Softly” [Charles Fox] and “Light My Fire” [the Doors] and a wondrous version of the Beatle’s “Hey Jude.”

The stand-out number was, perhaps, the band’s touching rendition of Sid Tepper and Roy C. Bennett’s romantic “Red Roses for a Blue Lady” made famous by singer Vic Dana. This nostalgic piece had a full-on big-band ‘feel’ with rattling rhythms from Longhurst himself and some articulate trumpet.

This was a joyful evening of swing-era jazz, a little bebop, gentle fusion and sophisticated pop — brilliantly polished, propellant and propulsive — yet relaxed in all the right places.

Thanks again to the Staines Riverside Club for hosting another unforgettable evening.

Words & Images : @neilmach 2017 ©

Link: http://www.jazzknightsorchestra.com/

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/