Tag Archives: Staines Riverside club

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 ©








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.

Link: http://www.stainesuponthamesday.co.uk/
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





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/





Live Review of BROKEN BONES in Concert at Staines

A group of friendly Norse Warriors showed up at the Staines Riverside Club this Friday for BROKEN BONES — the famous local hard rock band that emerged from the skeletal remains of the London Rock Legends BAD II THE BONE.

The Norsemen were eager to see the rock trio that includes Ed (on guitar and lead vocals) Smiffy (on bass & supporting vocals) and Les (on drums) — they play plays 1970s and 1980s Classic Rock.

The grunts and screams of the visiting ‘Vikings’ confirmed my suspicion that they were there for a bit of “Priest.”

The band’s drummer has played with Eric Burdon, Roger Glover, David Coverdale, Glenn Hughes, and Ronnie James Dio. But he is probably most famous for his work with Judas Priest.

The Staines club could have been busier — Friday night rock night is a new venture for the Riverside club who have been reacting to the generally glum mood in the area — felt & expressed by many — about treasured local music establishments closing. Live Music fans need to come down and support nights like this if they they want to help keep places running. There will be no use grouching and complaining when “all the venues are gone…” if we didn’t at least do our bit and support them… Right?

Broken Bones pack their superb shows with well-known cover songs like “Wishing Well” (Free) and “Hey Joe” (the traditional song, made famous by Jimi Hendrix.) We loved their energy and their drive. Their sounds are dark and muscular. And the trio are quite able to handle big and complicated hits like Deep Purple’s “Black Night” with dignity and power. The special treatment that Smiffy gave this song, on that low-line of bass, was pure delectation.

Broken Bones - dark and muscular
Broken Bones – dark and muscular

After the break, the second part of the show was also strongly exciting …

The 1973 Joe Walsh number “Rocky Mountain Way” was a pleasure. Rough cut yet handsome. With excellent, high-strung and edgy vocals and incredibly skilled drum work.

The trio managed to deliver two sweltering hot Skynyrd numbers too — “Sweet Home Alabama” and the show finale “Free Bird .” Both interpretations were bold. But they hit the spot.

An audience member told me, during the course of this final number “If you’re going to cover this song with only three musicians, then the guitarist had better be bloody good …. And My Oh My — this guy is one of the best I have ever heard…

Yup! The well-respected local axe-man Ed Hudson certainly managed to convince all of us that there were twin lead guitars on stage!

Probably the most exciting cover was Motörhead’s “Ace of Spades”. Not surprisingly, the bearded and leather-clad ‘Vikings’ went mad for it. Most moved onto the dance-floor to really enjoy it. To move & shake their stuff. It was the heaviest speed-metal in the band’s repertoire… Oh Boy! What a reaction!

Unfortunately, we did not get any Judas Priest or Iron Maiden (maybe next time, boys … please squeeze one or two songs into the show) — but this was still a high quality night in one of only a handful of local live music venues left in operation.

There are a lot more amazing live shows coming up in Staines in the coming weeks…

Check Rocking Surrey  for up-to-date listings of all gigs in Surrey or alternatively  go to Lemonrock and search for Staines or Ents 24

Words & Photo: @neilmach 2016 ©

Link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Broken-Bones/

ONE FOR THE ROAD — Live in Staines

ONE FOR THE ROAD are a well respected local Americana band (Country Rock and Blues ) who play their own highly original songs alongside fresh covers of songs by artists of the caliber of Tom Petty, Steve Earle, The Traveling Wilburys, Bob Dylan, Old Crow Medicine Show, JJ Cale etc.

We saw them play their live show at the super Staines Music Venue – the Riverside Club, last week.

Keith Beasley vocals - "the right kind of husky/smoky ..."
Keith Beasley vocals – “the right kind of husky/smoky …”

Things were dark and murky with the ace cover of Jace Everett’s Bad Things” ( the theme from the HBO series True Blood) which had plenty of strangely interwoven and eerily evocative violin-play and a lot of early twang. The song was filled with sweaty, humid atmosphere.

Handle with Care” — the Traveling Wilburys song from 1988 — demonstrated the band’s skilled and assured interaction with each other… all the band (for example) have to play the parts originally laid down by Harrison , Lynne, Orbison, Petty, and Dylan. It’s a bit of an ask. To be sure. Yet the lads accomplished it successfully. Keith’s voice was the right kind of husky/smoky on this number (more Dylan than Orbison, though) — but this suited the song well.

Keith told us that the band would be incorporating some Blackberry Smoke into their set. The Southern Rock melodies fitted well in the general atmosphere and the structure of the show. Other favorites included the classic Old Crow Medicine Show & Bob Dylan’s number “Wagon Wheel” (also a Darius Rucker hit in 2013.)

The other ONE FOR THE ROAD moon-shining staple “Copperhead Road” ( Steve Earle ) got folks up-and-dancing in the Riverside Club.

This was a glorious show … it was as if we had turned off of Route 66 and headed along a dusty old track to discover Old Doc’s Little Grill. Where we fortunately found a talented group of guys who love to play together … rocking a bit harder than a jug-band, but keeping
intact the tradition and the craftsmanship.


Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2016 ©

ALL LOCAL & SURREY WIDE GIGS HERE: https://www.facebook.com/rockingsurrey

Pure Exhilaration from Blues Guitar Genius — STEVE MORRISON in Staines

The Tulsa Sound is sparse yet complicated and exciting. The smoky genre is espoused by the likes of JJ Cale, Leon Russell and Eric Clapton. It is a combination of rockabilly, country-rock and blues. Packed with precision riffs, intricate finger-picking style and lively rhythms.

This week we enjoyed this kind of genuine homecrafted bluesmanship at the Staines Riverside Club.

Brought to us by Steve Morrison’s band ‘Blues Abuse‘ (terrible name — great act) with Alan Hughes on drums and the legendary Alan Glen on harmonica.

Songs like “Call Me the Breeze” (completed at a frantic rate) were intricate and pure. Enjoyable, light and transient… like early morning snow on the Black Hills.

We loved the shuffling spirit of early rhythm and blues numbers, like ‘Easy Rider.‘ Steve’s voice was incredibly soft and smooth. Toasted oak and pine oil — it slipped down real neat and it suited his sharp-fringed guitar-work and the enthusiastic percussion from Alan Hughes.

Steve performed some self-written numbers. For example — Walking Blues (New Shoes) :

My wife is the Imelda Marcos of South London…” He told the audience.

“She has three thousand pairs of shoes … And we live in an apartment with 2 beds. Mind you, it’s not all bad… at least Shoes rhymes with Blues.” This was a light-hearted country-blues number with an easy lickin’ pace.

Blues Abuse - Steve Morrison, with Alan Hughes on drums...
Blues Abuse – Steve Morrison, with Alan Hughes on drums…

All songs were played with rare agility by the fast fingered Steve (who can hold down a bass-line and chords whilst simultaneously playing the most intricate highs… a rare gift.)

Songs were almost always soaked in juicy harmonica (from Glen) and kept in motion by Hughes (on drums) — he is probably one of the best drummers we have enjoyed at the Staines venue.

We sang the spiritual “Down by the Riverside” together (the Staines crowd needed a bit of flattery and coaxing — but in the end they were able to return the love.)

Come on everyone…” Steve Encouraged “ Imagine we are in a church. A church that serves beer! What is better than that? So let it all out …” The anti-war protest song proved to be a big hit.

This was an impressive evening of music from Steve and his Blues Abuse partners. (He’s got the ‘old blues‘ real bad!) What a wonderful experience!

Words & Images: @neilmach 2015 ©
Link: http://www.bluesabuse.com/

Sentimentality Mixed with Power — THE ALI MAC BAND

THE ALI MAC BAND features vocalist Ali MacKenzie, who was the original singer with the legendary R&B group The Birds.

The Birds were a popular Brit band during the mid-1960s and were famous for having guitarist Ronnie Wood in their line-up. Another famous member of The Birds was Ronnie’s old comrade, the bassist Kim Gardner — who went on to have a success in 1971 with ‘Ashton, Gardner & Dyke‘ and the “Resurrection Shuffle.”

The fall of The Birds came in 1965, when the Los Angeles band — The Byrds — began to dominate the UK Chart. The Birds manager, Leo de Clerck, tried to take legal action to prevent the Americans from using the name. But his action failed. In 1967 the British group disbanded… Ronnie Wood went off to join The Creation with Gardner (1968.)

Now Ali MacKenzie (who reminds us, by the way, of a cross between Leo Sayer and David Essex) has formed his own ‘super-group’ consisting of rock’s most resilient survivors.

We saw the super-group performing at the Staines Riverside Club this week. The line-up includes Strawbs drummer Richard Hudson, Glitter Band bassist Bill Phillips, and Renaissance guitarist Simon Bishop. The band plays a selection of good-time rhythm and blues, with generous handfuls of soul and rock ‘n’ roll.

Ali MacKenzie (vocals) with Richard Hudson (drums) at Staines Riverside Club - "Heartfelt soul and eloquence..."
Ali MacKenzie (vocals) with Richard Hudson (drums) at Staines Riverside Club – “Heartfelt soul and eloquence…”















Just a Little Bit‘ the Rosco Gordon R&B classic (1959) — but probably better known as an Animals (and, later, Slade ) hit — was the first song in the Ali Mac repertoire that really showed-off the true nature of the band… it revealed their emotional commitment. This song was filled with soul and eloquence right from the start — with some fine guitar-play by the extraordinarily creative Simon, plus a stirring reverberation in Ali’s voice that sent chill-waves through our hearts.

Another cover that made us sit-up-and-take-notice was the famous Little Feat number ‘Willin‘ (Lowell George) which had the perfect chemistry — sentimentality mixed with power. This song had some excellent guitar, wonderful percussion and a dramatic and intelligent voice.

The band’s renditions tended to be inventive and creative, not sticking to established formats — so even old & familiar songs became fresh and unpredictable.

The second half of their show was not as strong as the first (in our opinion). Maybe it was concern about an imminent fire that caused a lack of concentration. “I smell smoke …” Announced Ali. And we waited, temporarily (and sensibly) while all the amplifiers were checked.

The band’s on fire…” Yelled out one helpful punter!

The second half of the show had some curious choices (for a four-piece band that do not have resources such as rhythm guitar or keyboards) so covers of Little Richard and Lynyrd Skynyrd songs seemed thin and scattered.

We preferred the easy-smooth soul numbers that the band performed so eloquently in the first half. Those numbers seemed more consistent. Far more suitable.

No matter, this was another tip-top evening of high quality music, lovingly crafted by consummate professionals — and held at this precious Staines music venue.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2015 ©
Come and Check Out Steve Morrison & Alan Glen with BLUES ABUSE on Thursday 17th December. Not to be missed!