Tag Archives: live music in staines

CASE HARDIN — Live in Staines

You didn’t see it. You weren’t there. You can only imagine — You shoulda been there, man…

For those people who still support live music in Staines, last night’s show at the RIVERSIDE CLUB was a treat.

The terrific CASE HARDIN were in town — they are signed to Clubhouse Records, named after a character in Boston Teran’s thriller “God Is A Bullet” and onto their fourth album “Colours Simple.”

This was the standout gig of the year.

We had already seen this band [whose main songwriter Pete Gow has been described by Q magazine as “a songwriter like no other”] at the “Down By The Riverside” blue-grass night. Then we were totally immersed in the Vermilion River muddiness, and the sweetly drooled guitar. We thought their songs “convinced and anointed us...”

We have been looking forwards to the return of these Americana & country rock paragons.

Case Hardin - lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotion upset... Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©
Case Hardin – lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotion upset… Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©

After a rousing start, the band brought us into a private world of feverish imagination — “Fiction Writer” — one of a selection of numbers from the new songbook.

This brushed across the room, soft yet edgy. The lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotional upset.

We also enjoyed “First to Know”  — the ever-building song from the “Every Dirty Mirror” album that includes the scrabble word “stanchions.”     The choppy texture of guitar on this number reminded us of Denny Laine.

After discussing the merits of Scottish gin [Isle of Harris is apparently taken with a slice of pineapple on the Outer Hebrides ] we savoured the hoppy upbeat number “The Streets are Where the Cars Are (The Bars are Where the Girls Will Be.)

This has super-efficient keyboard work from Roland and schmaltzy lines of guitar from the talented Jim Maving. This band’s sounds are distinctively dry with a peppery aftertaste and gooseberry hints. Maybe HARDIN CASE are the musical equivalent of a sip of gin on the bitter Western Isles

“Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.”
“Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.”
After the break the band returned to treat us to a selection of acoustic covers. They ventured “into the crowd” — up-close and personal. It was a moving experience. The first song they played was “Carmelita”.

Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.” Said vocalist and frontman Pete Gow. “And if you don’t know who he is — then maybe the last hour has been a complete mystery to you…

This number was brilliantly performed and properly ardent.In fact, it was the most exciting song of the night. Tim Emery played upright bass [“Cor that’s a big one...” shouted one wisecracker) while Roland Kemp, the band keyboardist played timbrel and provided sweet backing vocals.

If you can imagine something like the poetry of Bob Dylan peformed with the heart of Tom Petty and, perhaps, the merest hint of super-dry Johnny Cash with the fruitful finish of Leonard Cohen, then you might get somewhere near to the angled beauty and detailed instrumentation of CASE HARDIN.

But, in reality, these guys are like nothing else …

It’s a shame — you were not there!

Words & Images: Neil Mach 2016 ©
Link:
https://www.facebook.com/casehardinband

 

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‘One for The Road’ live at The Staines Riverside Club – JAN19 2012

Five piece ‘Southern Fried Country Rock Band’ ONE FOR THE ROAD played a jam-packed jambalaya of a gig at the fine RIVERSIDE CLUB venue in Laleham Road Staines on Thursday January 19 2012.

This popular venue has attracted some amazing musical talent on their regular Thursday music nights, and this bluesey rocky band were no exception. Full of gusto, energy and promise from the outset, the band stormed through a lively first set with sparkling examples of some classic hits from the likes of Tom Petty, Primal Scream, The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival and a dash of Johnny Cash. Also scattered in there were some more unlikely namechecks like, for example, Kentucky Headhunters.

Our guide for this journey around Americana and all things Southern, from Navajo Territory to swamp country, was the amiable gravel-throated ‘Kid Rock’  lookalike Keith Beasley (lead vocals and guitar) wearing his ‘Baptized in Muddy Waters’ T shirt and sporting a tortoise-brown rather dapper hat. But the band also boasted the rawest, smokiest blues-harp player this side of the cotton belt, and one mean rattlesnake on drums, plus a fierce lead guitar player and a bruising, bouncing bass. This is a quality act.

The second set brought the delighted Staines crowd some solid golden nuggets of sound, covering numbers by the likes of The Traveling Wilburys, Kid Rock and even finishing with some antic-filled punk – The Undertones “Teenage Kicks”.

And all the way through the show, you could almost smell the shrimp on the barbecue and taste the smoky bourbon on the air.  At one point both Adrian and Kenny played joyful King Biscuit blues harmonica together- this was a terrific moment-  ( “Stone Fox Chase”). A rootin’ tootin’  howlin’ success.

My personal favourite was the band’s self penned ‘You Can Steal’ song which had a gruff attitude (comparisons with Dylan were formed) and rusty, dusty percussion. Tobacco stained, rubenesque (fat and delicious) guitars meander and burst out of their corsets. Huge surly riffs mingle and mix, with a great chorus which has raise-your-knees-and-jig danceability written all over it. A true Southern delight.

If you get a chance to see this act live, grab it. Don’t forget your ‘gator skin shoes and your flask of moonshine though…. ‘cos you’ll make a night of it!

© Neil_Mach January 2012

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/430081663

The WonderYears Senior Rock Chorus

After seeing the amazing WonderYears rock chorus rehearsing at their ‘headquarters’ in Virginia Water, and after listening to the warm praise and unabashed acclaim for their enthusiastic and memorable live shows, I was very keen to meet the dynamic personality behind the WonderYears – The Senior Rock Chorus and Band. So on Monday I met the founder and esteemed musical director of the project, Dave Thomas.  Dave is a modest man, warm and confident. He is clearly passionate about his creation, and he cares deeply about every single member of his troop, acting like a rock n roll pastor to his flock.

From the outset, Dave stressed that the WonderYears are not a choir, but, to be precise, a chorus.  “We don’t harmonize – we concentrate on musicianship, live performance and self-expression. Our performances are always energetic and entertaining “ He tells me.  “So the chorus embraces the true values of rock music?” I ask.  “Exactly” he tells me. “And it is important to explain that our four-piece band is an integral part of our overall sound – they are the engine room for our performance and they distinguish us from groups like the Rock Choir, who tend to use backing tapes”. The 24 members of the chorus- comprising of 14 ladies and 10 men – plus 4 in the band, and the sound people,  are all ‘Seniors’. “The average age of the chorus is 70” says Dave “and the oldest member is 86 – we are the UK’s only seniors rock chorus and band.”

Keen ‘Radio 1’ and ‘Magic FM’ listener Dave sang in choirs in his childhood and later turned to opera. He got the inspiration for The WonderYears from the 2008 documentary film ‘Young@Heart’ by Stephen Walker. The documentary focuses on a New England based choir who take up singing the old classics and contemporary rock and pop songs together. So Dave placed an advert locally, inviting older people from the Surrey community to help form a Seniors Chorus and to be prepared to leave their comfort zones- and to become excited by the world of rock music.

Dave says he is a ‘supporter’ and ‘motivator’ rather than a conductor. And members of the chorus agree, saying that they feel thrilled and energised by his ever increasing levels of enthusiasm and verve. Audiences report that the feel good factor ‘overcomes you’ when you attend a  WonderYears concert  – and they say that an evening spent with WonderYears is every bit as good for you as a night out seeing a West End show like Mama Mia!

“Are there any consequences or unusual complications in the management and operation of a choral group comprising of seniors – rather than ‘young’ performers?” I was keen to know. Dave is kind about his team, and he raves about their individual talents. He is generous about the contributions that each individual makes to the overall sound, but he admits that there have been some small difficulties to overcome, and that the project is still evolving. “For example, I realized early on that I need to split up the choruses and the solo parts – in order that the songs become memorable and easier to learn and to master ….  As you get older, it’s harder to remember things – especially lyrics – and so we tend to break down the songs into more manageable pieces. And we also tend to choose songs with ‘proper’  and ‘appropriate’ lyrics  for our later years. Nothing too suggestive or too muddy”.  The group have, in the past, rejected some songs, because, perhaps, they are too cloying in a sentimental way – or because they are distressing for the older singers to perform. “Where have all the Good Times Gone” by the Kinks and “Dance with My Father” by Luther Vandross were two numbers that proved unpopular with the chorus members.

But the words of some well known rock songs often have surprising connotations or take on fun new meanings and special significance when performed by older singers. Take for example The Who’s  “My Generation” or “I Wanna Be Sedated” by The Ramones.

Although he admits to loving the ‘big hair’ rockers of the 1980’s  such as a ‘Journey’, Dave also ensures that the WonderYears Chorus address some rock pieces with rougher edges, including a good dose of punk. “Our most popular number is the Killers song  “Human “.

“In addition, we always get a great reaction from ’Should I Stay or Should I Go.’  “Burt (aged 86) does an astonishing solo on “Let the Good Times Roll” and Tom does equally well on the Stones number “Jumpin’ Jack Flash”. Other audience favourites include the Bee Gees hit “Stayin’ Alive” (another song that reveals new meanings when performed by a group of seventy something seniors) and “It’s My Life” Bon Jovi. “I ain’t gonna be just a face in the crowd. You’re gonna hear my voice, when I shout it out loud….”

Dave admits that he receives a lot of stick for the constant introduction of new songs to the group. “But I need to keep feeling that our Chorus is refreshed and rejuvenated” He says, “We must keep our energy flowing.”

Exciting times are ahead for the Surrey based outfit. Guilfest has invited them to come back to perform after a great success last year. They are also scheduled to perform at the Wokingham Food and Drink Festival. They even registered for this years Glastonbury festival. “Who would you like to share the top of the bill with – if your dreams come true?” I asked, “Bon Jovi” says Dave, without pausing, and with a glint in his eye.

“But it is always a great honor to play live music to any audience, anytime, supporting any performer.  Obviously, we want to ‘go all the way’ and play all the big venues and all the big festivals. But we also realize that we owe our local community a huge debt of gratitude for the support they give us. For example, we owe Christ Church, the community church of Virginia Water – a great big thanks for allowing us to practice there every week. We are not a church choir and we have no ties to the church, but they allow us to practice in their area and that is very precious to us. Every year we do a benefit concert to thank the church. We will never forget our local community and the warm support that our neighbours give us.”

“Twenty-four singers is an ideal size to provide the power and emotion that our songs require.” says Dave. “Only once, when we took the Chorus to County Sound Radio (to do a live broadcast), did we did experience a little ‘difficulty’. We discovered it was a bit of a  ‘squeeze’ to fit us all in. And then we could not hear our music properly, the sound was coming through the cans. We have a reliance on our live sound for the rhythm and structure. But because we couldn’t hear our live band sound, it all went a bit wonky!”

Dave says that it involves a lot of hidden costs and logistical support to take the band plus 24 singers and sound engineers onto the road. The WonderYears are currently looking for a sponsor to help with expenses. Currently the choir is self funded – the members pay a regular subscription. But there is no shortage of new volunteers. “We currently have 8 women and 3 men on our ‘wait list’ – but we keep our choir at the optimal size.”

“Our audiences range in age from grandchildren to great grandparents. Our songs appeal to everyone.” says the official WonderYears publicity officer, Maureen Grogan. “Just because we qualify for a bus pass, it does not mean that we are over the hill”.  She smiles. “Last year we developed a very popular Christmas show and we did several performances of it. But in the end we had to turn down requests to perform it because everyone wanted it!   We are becoming a big success.”

“We have performed at the Hackney Empire and we were in the windows for the Phones 4 U (ad) so we are now getting the recognition we deserve.”  But Dave is quick to point out that committing to about eight concerts a year is ‘right’ for the Chorus. “We are working on 24 numbers for our 2011 our show- and 19 songs are brand new for this season – so each song so has to be learnt and rehearsed.”  He says. “We rehearse each week and expect all of our members to attend all rehearsals. Eight big performances a year is quite an ambitious goal for us.”

Founder and Musical Director of the WonderYears, Dave Thomas was talking to Neil Mach

© Neil Mach 2011

Link:

http://www.wonderyearsrock.com/

The WonderYears will be performing alongside PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED and others on the GOOD TIME GUIDE STAGE on 17th JULY at GUILFEST 2011

Wokingham Food & Drinks Festival Saturday 27th August

Hot Portrait live at Two Rivers, Staines

Last weekend we went down to see the Surrey funk rock / soul incarnation HOT PORTRAIT from Kingston,  compromising of Helena Sugden (vocals), Dan Trott (bass), Mark Hobbs (guitar) and Michael Gates (drums) live at the Two Rivers, Staines.

A feisty set – as jolly as a jumping jelly-bean – included such delights as ‘Hold Your Horses’ with easy slipping rubber-band bass play from Dan, silky creamy latte vocals from adorable Helena, chunky chords from Mark and hypnotically rolling motifs from Michael.  Lap it up!

‘Dirty Greedy Love’ has some plucky fresh tangerine-flavoured licks and a groovy oily bass. The chiming hot vocals are laced around the edges with a bit of fuzz and take you to the brim of acute happiness before your hips and ankles start jigging and bouncing to the beat.

And after an accomplished version of “Hump de Bump” Red Hot Chili Peppers [Stadium Arcadium 2006] with its helical jelly-worm vibes, we moved on to ‘Live in Vain’ with those zestfully refreshing sprays of sounds, a voice lacquered in chocolate spread, funky arrangements and syncopated rhythms.

Hot Portrait are a delightful party band, oozing fun-time schmoozing and be-bop funky-time twang. Helena’s caramel peanut-buttery smooth vocals are set against the scallywag instrumental backdrop and the best jazz-funk guitarwork I have witnessed for some time – the sounds are always ascendant, warm and embracing.

Full of warm emotion, eloquence, and fondant jazziness!

© Neil_Mach
March 2011

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/hotportrait

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Sally’s Hat – The Hobgoblin, Staines 6th May

Like their heroes “The Clash” Sally’s Hat experiment  with reggae, ska, dub, funk, rap, dance and rockabilly – creating a smooth pot-roast of greasy sounds. The band were playing the circuit some 15 years ago but recently reformed for what was meant to be a one-off reunion gig at the Ram Jam club in Kingston – but they reportedly had such a great time that they decided to try their luck gigging for the twenty first century boys (and girls).

Lisa Dimond is the lead vocalist with those sparkling sweet yet rasping high-tones and soulful, bluesy lows. Paul Worsley and Robin Dimond play guitars.The local Staines musician-cum-all-round hero, Ravi K, plays the bass and the great jazz/session player Dan Allsopp is on drums.  We catch the band at The Hob, Staines.

The result is a warming stew of heated hot patootie, yet level-headed, pitch-perfect grooves. You have those Aretha sounding vocals sprawled amidst some reliable Tamla chops. You have Cuban stomping. You have Dave Clark Five-sounding back-beats with Dusty Springfield sounding lyrical notes. And you get goose bumps when that sweet, sweet sound of reggae music bleeds through the amplifiers. You even get caught out by the skanky vibes of the two-tone Lee “Scratch” Perry type steam reggae . All in all this band is a great treat for those who adore sensible crepe shoes, neat creases in their two-tonic strides and earnest vocals from a legendary singer whose delivery is as smooth as butter and who has a range as wide as that enjoyed by Clayton Moore  (with Tonto.)

The first song out of Sally’s magic Hat was a groovy funk number, the second was a twangy Johnny Cash sing along song and after an enduring Franklyn cover I realized I was looking for a bit more passion and delivery from the band. I realize that the outfit is taking those awkward steps from practice session and friendly jam into ‘full on’ public performance – so I am happy to give them the benefit of the buzz.  Sure, this material all sounds nice and serious in sessions and rehearsal – but the punters want a performance- and The Hat don’t quite have the fizz or the frizzle to percolate our expectations.

Never mind. It was all reliable and resilient stuff.  Yes, maybe sometimes the performance lacked urgency or emotional involvement. But I cannot wait to see how this project progresses and I, for one, am glad to see this band back ‘in play’.

© Neil_Mach
May 2010

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/sallyshat

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Dirty Crawlers at The Hobgoblin, Staines

Tom Cruise lookalikey Luke didn’t have much success with the lady. She was a real looker.  A nine or a ten. She sashayed right up to him during the warm-up band’s set, so he must have thought his luck was in. But no, she was just trying to get past him, on her way out the door. So she had to squeeze her charming bod against his. And so he gleamed a chirpy smile towards her and  he glinted those pearly gnashers of his. A twinkle in his eye. Hot giggity! But, no his advances and obvious good looks were not enough to turn the lady’s head – and she gave him one of those icy stares reserved only for….  dirty crawlers.

Last time the DC’s played The Hob, Staines it was a sell out. And last Saturday it was much of the same. It is unusual to have pretty girls, big lads and old guys together in the one place rooting for the same band. But this is the charm of this Staines based rock group. Girls like ‘em because they look hot  and they play danceable, hippy-hippy tunes.  The lads like ‘em because they play stirring, football-stadium sized anthems.  And the old guys like ‘em because they play good old blues based rock and roll.

The band easily and convincingly fused with the audience at The Hobgoblin right from the outset, playing their fiery and brightly resonant sounds. A handful of new songs were presented to the eager crowd – hungry for more. But there were plenty of old favourites too. Well I say ‘Old Favorites’ because it seems amazing that this band have been playing together for only around 18 months. The band work off each other like old pros.  They play like they mean business.  The ‘Tom Cruise’  looking singer and guitarist mentioned earlier is Luke Wallin. His voice can effortlessly and easily sustain the melodic line and the soulful meaning of each lyric.

Kris Hutton (guitar) provides balanced solos along with lazy-boy pitch-perfect chord structures.  Yep, those sundancing solos really hit the spot. Nick Feltham (bass guitar) provides superlative bass-play and chugging rhythms and ‘Daz’ Parsons (drums) knocks out brilliantly rampant percussion.

There was a funky, choppy new song called ‘Spaces’ and piles of other accomplished and formidably catchy tunes like ‘Bottleneck’  with it’s tribal drumbeats and addictive hooks  or ‘Victim of Love’ with those nostalgic sounding bluesy chords and pile-upon-pile of lustrous textures.  All through each piece, Kris glowered with moody concentration as his fingers ran up-and-down those frets like a prostitute’s panties. And the energised tempos from the drum and bass worked in joyful unison together with the pulsing, shuffling energy from the guitars; Reminding me of early work from the Stones mixed with the deepest harmonic structures of The Stereophonics.

Perhaps there is nothing very new.  So, if you come along to a Dirty Crawlers show (and I highly recommend that you do) please don’t expect the avant-garde or left field. This stuff is not going to change the world. It ‘s just going to make it more pleasant to deal with. This is well-made, good-intentioned quality rock. This is dirty, boozy, gritty ‘Golden Age’ style rhythm and blues. Good enough for your old man. Good enough for your Grand Daddy too.  And definitely good enough for you.

© Neil_Mach
April 2010

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/dirtycrawlers

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Underline The Sky – Hobgoblin, Staines

UTS came all the way down from Ipswich (also home to post punk revival band ‘Rosalita’ ) to play The Hob,  Staines on Thursday’s regular live music evening – bringing with them their overlarge headphone cans for Hicks, and their adorable and instantly infectious, catchy pop songs fresh from a box labelled ‘energy and charm’.

Obviously, this lively five-piece band has been busy in their craft shop back home, with their sticky backed plastic, their safe scissors and lashings of glue, putting together some lovingly created little bits and pieces just for you. To treasure, to cherish or just to hold on to for an evening.

Underline the Sky is lead by the singer Bronwyn Cooper (slim, attractive, clean-bill-of-health) wearing a T-shirt that said  ‘Sexy Girls Come Up to Me’. By her side, Dan Oaten is on guitar (cuddly pocket-rocket guitar power-house.)  Chiron Richardson-Todd is on the bouncing bass, Tom Bryce is also on guitar and helps with those harmonising backing vocals.  And who could miss the lanky stick of dynamite James ‘Hicks’ on drums?  Wearing what I can only describe as two flower pots, stuck to the lugs on his head.

There is an urgency to Bronwyn’s performance. She uses the entire stage – bokking up-and-down the length of it, like some doe eyed young fawn out at play time. She encourages the whole crowd – and her band-mates too –  to give it all – to achieve the best possible performance. She is a star in the making. After the show Bronwyn put on some kooky spectacles and, with her hair up, she looked like one of those hot librarians.  She is that rare artist who looks even better off stage than on.

UTS songs are all about sunset beaches and being in love when you’re sixteen. Yes, it is all a bit sickly sweet. But, as our American cousins on campus would say … it’s kinda cute and also kinda neat.  But even though the hooks and the verses are full of cherry-pop cream soda sweetness and light,  I also really appreciated the growling, snarling, darker undercurrents of the heavy guitar, layered under each lemon-puff tune. Their songs are like life, really. Very funny and light on the surface, with much to laugh about when you are out with your friends.  But underneath, at home, off stage, in the dark, alone – things are full of tension and anxiety. And pain.

And the lyrics to the UTS songs are not that cheesy either:  This Is Goodbye:

“when you speak it makes me sick
like poison written on your lips”

You would expect that line from an emo band like ‘Paramore’  – but this is a group full of cheerful bright and bouncy poppy young people.  It is worth remembering that even happy-go-lucky adolescents, with good teeth and nice hair cuts, have their darker places too.

But the songs kept spilling out.  Each was destined for chart success and summertime disco airplay.  Take for example the song  ‘Katie’ which is as insistent as a wasp at a summer barbecue. But beware. You will get stung.  Because you will be exposed to a frustratingly  boppy chorus and that memorable rhythm. “Tonight I will sleep,” she sings. But it is unlikely, ‘Cos you do  not forget this one in a hurry.  Or take the song  ‘Live This One Down’ which has gigantic boulders of bass and heavy chords  acting as foundation stones for the honey sweet vocals from Bronwyn, reminding me a lot of  Avril Lavigne.

So these are happy pop punk melodies- reminiscent of Blink 182 –  seamlessly patchworked together with experimental rhythms, to provide some hard-cut classic pop, easily digestible for the masses and suitable for mainstream release.  This is a band who knows where they are going and they are willing to take the necessary steps to get there. But the buckets-and-spades end-of-pier appeal to this band is that they are charming, well-groomed, spontaneous and generous. They bounce and cavort on stage like the fun loving kids that they really are. And this draws the audience in and, very soon,  Bronwyn  gets everyone to start shuffling their feet and clapping their mitts to those infectious beats.

“They Said We’d Never Make it…” They sing.  Well, I don’t know about that, because I am pretty sure that this band will be catching the next plane outta Suffolk and on way to Successville.  And you had better be there. Or you’ll miss it!

© Neil_Mach
April 2010

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/underlinethesky

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