Tag Archives: Dean Barnes

HALF MEAL TICKET at Staines Riverside Club

Meal Ticket were a country rock band that played the London pub circuit in the late 1970s. The Canadian performer Rick Jones wrote many of their songs.

Steve Simpson and Willy Finlayson played guitars (plus additional instruments ) in the original squad and are still going strong — now performing together in the band-project known as ‘HALF MEAL TICKET.’

Willy takes center stage and plays acoustic rhythm guitar. He still provides most of the lead vocals, though ocassionally defers to Steve. Steve, meanwhile, takes on the electric lead guitar.

The last time we saw HALF MEAL TICKET at Staines Riverside Club they boasted the fabulous Nigel Portman-Smith on bass.

Now Nigel has retired from music, and we wish him well. In his place this Thursday was the esteemed blues bassist Malcolm Hoskins — a long-time friend and collaborator of Steve Simpson.

Completing this all-chordophone line-up was the excellent lead guitarist Dean Barnes. We last saw Dean in action performing with LIZA MARSHALL and the Smokey Turtle Band [reviewed here: https://staines.me/2016/06/03/liza-marshall-]

Half Meal Ticket with Steve Simpson [L] and Willy Finlayson [R]  — Image by @neilmach 2016 ©
Half Meal Ticket with Steve Simpson [L] and Willy Finlayson [R] — Image by @neilmach 2016 ©
The show kicked-off with the sensational Singalong classic: “It’s All Over Now.”

The band gave us motoring rhythms, jangling strings and the first fine harmonies of the evening.

Both Steve and Willy are passionate vocalists. Steve’s voice has dark amber gravitas with tobacco edges. Whilst Willy’s is less rough — more fervent.

Look Good In Blue” had scintillating guitar-work from Dean and an ‘Ain’t No Sunshine‘ riff. We spoke to someone who seemed convinced that this number was originally performed by the hard-bop drummer Grady Tate.

The show continued to be an exploration of truly great, but rarely covered gems. Such as “She Will Be Loved” [Maroon 5] and the Billy ‘The Kid’ Emerson number “Crazy ‘Bout An Automobile (Every Woman I Know)” which was made famous by Ry Cooder in 1980.

At times the band sounded very similar to Dire Straits. (With the two Knopfler-like guitarists duelling it out.) But HALF MEAL TICKET produce more “rootsy” tones than most pub rock bands and their renditions are filled with deep soul and meaning.

Although improvisations seemed scarce, with few ‘blowing’ guitar breaks, nevertheless it seemed obvious that the band were merely ‘jamming along’ at times. The lack of smooth transitions between songs and no obvious pre-agreed set-list made the show a little less polished than perhaps really necessary — although it was never actually chaotic.

As one observer put it, “Once they get going they are better-than-good… But it takes more than a while to get themselves into things …

The stand-out song of the second half was the Springsteen number “Hungry Heart” [originally written for The Ramones and recorded by The Boss in 1980.] Here the audience at Staines was encouraged to clap and sing along. Soft and kindred guitar lines were eased out by Dean and Steve and sparkled in the warm summer air.

This was yet another lovely evening at Staines Riverside Club spent in the company of some really versatile and thorougly entertaining musicians.

Words & Images: Words: Neil Mach 2016 ©







LIZA MARSHALL with the Smokey Turtle Band

The country-music songwriter and guitarist Ray Peters usually fronts-up the talented Smokey Turtle Band with the excellent Dean Barnes on guitar and Hannah Cope on bass. But last night the good folks at Staines’s first-class Riverside Club were treated to the honeyed mellifluence of LIZA MARSHALL on vocals.

Liza’s voice is remarkable — husky with emotion it reminds us of early Carly Simon, but it also incorporates the trill and joy of Rita Coolidge.

Lynn Anderson was one of the many stars who covered “Drift Away” the song written by Mentor Williams. It was a good place to start. Liza’s voice was filled with cream and chocolate syrup for this. The song immediately delighted the crowd in Staines.

The Zutons creative number “Valerie” was super but most folk now contend that the Mark Ronson and Amy Winehouse version is the “standard” recording of this high-bounce number. It was given superb balance together with tense and relaxed tones by Liza Marshall and the Smokey Turtles. Liza gave the song that same lively spirit and cool pop twinkle that we loved on the Winehouse variant.

Liza Marshall with the the Smokey Turtle Band vocalist Ali MacKenzie [inset]
Liza Marshall with the the Smokey Turtle Band vocalist Ali MacKenzie [inset]
Perhaps it is no surprise that Liza covered the Marvin Hamlisch James Bond number [with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager] — “Nobody Does It Better.”

Her voice is well suited to this type of vigorous hymn. With sexy cassis-flavoured low-notes, this number sent goosebumps down our spine and earned the biggest applause of the evening. Continuing this Carly theme, a James Taylor song was also covered.

An original Ray Peters song was performed with clarity and energy, and the set played out with a smooth rendition of “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” the 1966 Motown Records number made famous by Marvin Gaye.

In the second half of the show we were entertained by special guest vocalist Ali MacKenzie [his ALI MAC BAND have played the Riverside Club, see here for review) and when Liza returned to the stage we enjoyed a sensual version of “When a Man Loves a Woman” a song that was first recorded by Percy Sledge in 1966. [Sledge died in April last year.]

The show was, more-or-less, wrapped up with the George Harrison number “Here Comes the Sun” — a song that was written not far from here, in the country house of Eric Clapton. Liza performed this as a solemn prayer of supplication (after a week of dark, cloudy misery) rather than the contemplative meditation that had been outlined by the “dark horse” back in 1969. The arrangement was moving and effective.

This was music of the very highest calibre, with some excellent guitar-work and imaginative, sometimes jazzy, development and paraphrasing of much-loved and familiar songs. All brought to brilliant life by a truly transcendent singer.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2016 ©
Link: https://www.facebook.com/TheRayPetersBand/





Half a Meal Ticket — Live at Staines Riverside Club

Meal Ticket were a country rock band that played the London pub circuit in 1970’s. The Canadian performer Rick Jones wrote many of their songs.

Steve Simpson and Willy Finlayson played guitars (plus additional instruments ) in the original band.

Steve Simpson and Willy Finlayson played guitars in the original Meal Ticket...
Steve Simpson and Willy Finlayson played guitars in the original Meal Ticket…

Now the two famous guitarists play local venues as a trio named (understandably) “Half a Meal Ticket” — with bassist (and keyboards player) Nigel Portman-Smith.

Nigel was with jazzy British folk-rock band Pentangle during the period 1986-1995 and recorded with Magna Carta and also Bert Jansch.

We managed to get to see the super  “Half Meal Ticket” show in the excellent and comfortable  surroundings of the Staines Riverside Club this week.

The impressive Scot, Willy Finlayson is an incredibly
passionate vocalist.

He shares lead vocals with the versatile Steve Simpson. Willy first came to London in the late 1960s with the Scottish progressive rock band Writing on the Wall  (they were originally known as The Jury.) The band were a favourite at the Middle Earth Club in London.

Willy later formed his own band called THE HURTERS along with Micky Moody and Matt Cheadle on guitars, Nigel Portman Smith on bass and Alan Coulter on drums.

Steve Simpson started out with Ronnie Lane's Slim  Chance...
Steve Simpson started out with Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance…

The renaissance man Steve Simpson is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, mandolin, violin, keyboards,
harmonica) and has worked with the ‘French Elvis’ Johnny Hallyday.

He started out in the 1970’s, though, with Slim Chance, the band formed by Ronnie Lane.

His vocals at the Staines Riverside Club were less whisky soaked than Willy’s… Smoother and softer. But no less passionate or sincere.

Electric guitar-work was provided by the über-talented Dean Barnes. He added trills, yelps and ornamental fringes to all the numbers.

The overall feel of the Staines show was low-key,  roots rock, infused with a slightly Celtic quality (provided by Willy) and lots of incredible arpeggios and other stunning  fingerstyle techniques.

Songs were concentrated and emotional.

It was all packaged to perfection.

Mature, serious and sultry.

Words: @neilmach 2015 ©
Images provided by artist or artist(s) representative.
Link: https://www.facebook.com/SteveSimpsonGuitar

5 Things – This Week in Staines


Pop / Folk in Staines

David Gibb at Staines

David Gibb
Apr 19 2009

Off the back of an astonishing Rockgoblin festival Summer 2008, Buckle David Gibb – (Guitar, Piano, Keyboards, Harmonica, Vocals) plays his invigorating and enjoyable folk songs along with a cheeky threesome including Julian Butt – Accordion, Piano; Elly Lucas – Violin and Ben Dew – Percussion.



Buckle Up Staines



6 Piece Classic Soul & Funk Live at Ascot

Raging Horns - Jagz Ascot

Raging Horns
Apr 18 2009

The Raging Horns (oooh matron!) is a  fantastic six-piece horn section, four great singers and a magnificent rhythm section, playing classic soul, funk and pop covers with a raw energy guaranteed to get everyone up on their feet. For over a decade, The Raging Horns have brought the house down at weddings, parties, special events and corporate functions right across the UK. The band’s mix of enthusiasm, youth and professionalism continues to leave audiences pounding their feet and screaming for more.

Here is their Funk Manifesto:

What We Do
It’s simple – we entertain, and we’re very, very good at it.
There’s really nothing quite like having brilliant musicians on stage playing songs you somehow know every single word to and we do this with an energy and style that’ll leave you breathless.

Because we love doing it. For us, nothing matches the excitement of having an audience in the palm of our hands – the sheer thrill of performing live is what we enjoy and what we’re all about.

Who We Are
We’ve been performing right across the UK for over a decade and having started young, have established a unique mix of youth and experience.
Great musical skill combined with varied backgrounds in professional careers leave us with all the right tools to deliver an evening to remember.

What We Play
Classic soul, funk and pop are what we love and that’s what we play. From Tom Jones to Robbie Williams, there’s genuinely something for everyone.

Upcoming shows

Saturday, 18th April  JAGZ ASCOT
Show will start at 8.45
Ticket cost: £8.00
Doors open from 7.30pm. £26 for 2 courses and entrance (£30 for 3 courses). Entrance for the bands is £8 but is strictly limited and on a first come first served basis. Entrance for dining or just the band INCLUDES free entrance to the nightclub




Exciting Classic Rock – Live in Hampton

Brainchild at Royal Oak Hampton

Apr 17 2009
Royal Oak

THE BRAINCHILD have just completed & Mastered their outstanding Debut album ‘Conversational Tennis’, produced by the brilliant Martin Smith (Electric Light Orchestra), Which will soon be previewed to National Radio and TV prior to its
release early in April 09. The Brainchild�s ecstatic reception @ The Cornbury Music Festival this year (Beverley Knight, Toots & The Matals, Paul Simon) has led to an invitation for them to return on the main stage next year. The Festival Director said they were one of the best bands he had seen for many years with disparate elements akin to the Small Faces, Tom Petty & The Blockheads  but overall totally original.

The Hairy Bikers, Si King & Dave Meyers have asked them to headline some special dates in the new year and hope to use them as their surprise �house band� on some of their forthcoming new TV series in 2009.




Outstanding Vocals & Guitar –  East Molesey

Ian Hunt The Poyntz, East Molesey: Duo with Dean Barnes

Ian Hunt
Apr 17 2009
The Poyntz
E Molesey

IAN HUNT has long been regarded as one of the finest male rock vocalists in the UK. His vocal and guitar style are much in demand from the large advertising corporations such as Nescafe, Rover, Bounty, Rock Circus, National Express, Suchard, American Express, Cadbury’s and numerous others. Ian currently divides his musical works between live gigs in and around London and hosting a guitar class and a Jam Night/Open Night. He has released two CD albums, the most recent in 2007. CD’s are available at Gigs.

On Friday 17th April he is playing The Poyntz, East Molesey: Duo with Dean Barnes




Fine R&B –   in Godalming

Pete G_The_Magnitones at SCRATCHERS (THE THREE LIONS),Meadrow, Farncombe, Godalming,

Pete G and The Magnitones
Apr 19 2009
The Scratchers

Pete G And The Magnitones have gained recognition as one of the very finest R’n’

B bands currently playing the Southern UK blues scene.  Catch ’em live nearby at The Scratchers, (Three Lions) Godalming…

Apr 19 2009      9:00P
At The SCRATCHERS (THE THREE LIONS), Meadrow, Farncombe, Godalming,



Wishbone Ash Tickets

Visit AdPontes-Staines Regularly for Staines Arts