AN INTERVIEW WITH STEVE WALWYN OF DR. FEELGOOD
STEVE WALWYN - DR. FEELGOOD AND BEYOND
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)
Recently I sat down here in Leamington Spa with our local musical star Steve Walwyn long standing lead guitarist of Dr. Feelgood and a member of the NWOBHM band Chevy to ask as many questions as I could think of about his long and varied musical career.
Below are the results of my meeting with not just one of the finest guitar players I have ever seen light up the stage but one of the kindest and most sincere people I have met in the business.
He gave me all I asked for and so much more.
Q1) Right back to the start Steve - at what age did you first pick up the guitar and any particular reasons you chose that instrument?
I was around 14 or 15 when I first picked up a guitar – it was a very cheap and poorly-made acoustic which even now I would find difficult to play – didn’t put me off though!
Some friends at school were already playing guitars and I was attracted by the sound of the instrument and wanted to know how to play it. Around the same time I saw my first live band and I was just fascinated by the sound they made; I was instantly hooked...
Then another friend had an electric guitar for sale and I knew I just had to buy it (I’ve still got it). The guitar was a cheap instrument with a body made from plywood, called a ‘Top Twenty’ – they were mostly sold from catalogues such as ‘Kay’s’ etc.
Q2) Any memories of your earliest Leamington Spa area bands and earliest gigs?
My earliest gig as a player was a Southam Rugby Club; we used borrowed equipment – amplifiers and P.A. system, and I was still at Southam school at the time. I don’t remember too much about the actual gig but I do remember winning the ‘drink a yard of ale’ competition!
Q3) Monday live music nights at Kellys public house were a big draw in the 80’s and early 90’s, did you enjoy performing those and do any particular shows come to mind ?
The Kelly’s Monday night gigs in the 1980s and early 1990s were very popular – the fact that the bar was open after normal pub hours definitely helped! One band I played in at the time ‘The Fireworks’ had a weekly Thursday residency at Winston’s in Leamington, and when that came to an end we moved to Kelly’s; at first on Sunday lunchtime then Monday evenings. I used to really enjoy those nights, we never knew who was going to show up and ask to play and there was always a core of local musicians who were more than willing to play. I can’t pick out one particular night because there were so many of them!
Q4) An obvious question but can you give us any musical influences?
My influences are many and varied and I enjoy many different kinds of music. Growing up in the 1960s I was exposed to what was popular at that time, The Beatles, Rolling Stones etc. My parents liked music and there was usually music playing at home.
Then a certain James Marshall Hendrix arrived, seemingly from outer space and changed things somewhat! I remember watching him and Cream (with Eric Clapton) among others on TV and being fascinated by their guitars and the sound they made. Then I started buying records; two that come to mind have been a big influence – Rory Gallagher Live in Europe and Humble Pie Live At The Fillmore (curiously both live recordings). I played those over and over and probably wore them out. I never dreamed at the time that further down the line I would actually share a bill with Rory Gallagher on three occasions, let alone be in the same band as Humble Pie’s Steve Marriott....both of them heroes of mine! I had a poster on my bedroom wall of Steve Marriott playing his Dwight guitar...I told him this and next gig he brought the very same guitar along and allowed me to borrow it for a couple of weeks!
Q5) Are the any musicians you have particularly enjoyed performing with?
Steve Marriott of course, but over the years I have been lucky to play with lots of great musicians, sometimes guesting with us or when I have been invited to guest with others. I really enjoy that...
Q6) Chevy were a big deal in Leamington and surroundings how did that band come together, any info on earliest gigs and the recording of the bands album ‘The Taker’?
Chevy emerged from a band called 4-Wheel Drive who played around the Leamington area in the late 1970s. I was still in my first band ‘Hands Off’; we had a gig in Stratford at The Green Dragon pub and members of 4-Wheel Drive came to see us play. They were looking for a guitar player and asked me if I was interested....I accepted and we changed the band name to Chevy. The band built up a strong following, firstly by playing regularly (sometimes every week) at Leamington’s Crown Hotel and Coventry’s General Wolfe (where landlord Ken Brown was a big fan). Then we recorded some demos at Woodbine Studio in Leamington, quite near my home, and hawked them around the mostly London-based record companies. One of the demo songs ‘Chevy’ was used on a sampler featuring bands in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) –called ‘Metal For Muthas Vol 2’ and we eventually secured a recording contract and made the album ‘The Taker’ at Pye Studios near Marble Arch in London, with an American producer.
Q7) I gather Chevy had a few high profile support lots can you give us any examples?
One of the first high-profile support gigs was at the legendary Friars in Aylesbury, opening for Ian Gillan (of Deep Purple fame). I think it went ok! Another one was at Bristol University, supporting Roger Chapman (Family, Streetwalkers) – I ended up in his band years later too!
Then we did two major UK tours; supporting Hawkwind (with Cream’s Ginger Baker on drums), then Alvin Lee (Ten Years After) who was on our record label at that time.
Q8) Sticking with Chevy I feel privileged to have been allowed to photograph all three of the bands Leamington reunion shows between 2010 and 2012, (loved all 3 with the 2010 Spa Centre show particularly memorable) did you enjoy these shows and how did you think they went?
The recent Chevy reunion gigs were great, especially because I don’t think anyone thought that they would ever happen! It was quite hard work putting the songs together again after so many years and needed a fair amount of rehearsal, but in some ways it seemed like the years had rolled back! It was definitely worthwhile though, not least because of the amount of money that was raised for The Macmillan Nurses. If another one came around I would gladly do it....
Q9) What was your next musical step after the demise of the original Chevy?
Chevy’s drummer Chas Chaplin had been to see The DTs at The General Wolfe in Coventry and he urged me to go and check them out. Meanwhile they had already contacted me and I ended up playing a gig with them and subsequently joined them – the landlord at The General Wolfe (the aforementioned Ken Brown) was instrumental in setting this up...
We went on to play hundreds of gigs and had a very strong following at venues like JBs in Dudley, Dingwalls in London, Rock City in Nottingham, Band On The Wall in Manchester etc. as well as The General Wolfe in Coventry. We also toured Canada and then joined forces with Steve Marriott, touring and recording extensively in UK and Europe.
Q10) On to Dr. Feelgood and how did your position in the band come about?
The DTs had played various gigs on the same bill as Dr.Feelgood, so we all knew each other (a memorable one was at London’s Town and Country Club on New Year’s Eve 1987 – we went on to do another gig the same night!).
When guitar player Gordon Russell decided to leave Dr.Feelgood they contacted me; I travelled down to Canvey Island for an ‘audition’ and was accepted – and in fact they had tried to contact me some six months before this to do a European tour – I didn’t know this until later, but they had called The DTs singer by telephone who refused to pass on my phone number and told them I was too busy!...
Following the ‘audition’ which was in April 1989 I went back to The DTs and Steve Marriott; Dr.Feelgood went off to New Zealand and France. I eventually did my first Feelgood gig in June of that year; the second gig, again at London’s Town And Country Club (now known as The Forum) was recorded and filmed and became the album ‘Live In London’ – quite a baptism of fire!
Q11) Share a memory or two of your work with one of the best frontmen of all time, the late great Lee Brilleaux of Dr Feelgood fame.
It was a pleasure and an honour to be in a band with Lee Brilleaux, to share the stage and become good mates too. Lee was a Gentleman on and off stage and I was always impressed by the fact that he gave 100 percent every time, no matter what venue or how many people were in the audience.
I was also privileged to play on Lee’s final recordings. The last one was ‘Down At The Doctor’s’, recorded live at the now-demolished Feelgood Bar; even though Lee was obviously very ill he still delivered the goods as always, truly unforgettable.
He was an intelligent and funny man too and I learned much from him. After the first ‘audition/rehearsal’ we went to the Lobster Smack pub on Canvey Island. I was first to the bar and asked everyone what they would like to drink. I learned later that Lee had commented to the others ‘he plays the guitar and buys a round – he’s in!’
Q12) These days Dr. Feelgood seem to be one of the hardest touring bands around and it is such a busy schedule to an outsider, any places you particularly enjoy playing and do you love belting out the iconic Feelgood hits on such a regular basis?
Apart from a two-year break after Lee’s untimely death (during which time I played with Roger Chapman, Eddie And The Hot Rods and Mike Sanchez) I have been touring year-round with the band since 1989. People sometimes say ‘don’t you get fed-up with playing the same songs every night?’ – the answer is no, and I take great pride in playing the songs to the best of my ability – and we do switch the set around from time to time in order to keep things as fresh as possible. Also some of the songs have solos that are completely improvised, so they are bound to be different every time.
With regard to playing in different countries, I don’t have any particular favourites...as long as there is an audience I don’t mind where it is!
Q13) Along with Feelgood I also love seeing you perform with the R & B bands The Mosquitos and The DTs usually at small intimate local gigs and you always look like you are having such a fantastic time, are these two bands special to you?
I’ve nearly always played in more than one band at any given time - I think it’s a good thing to play with different people and helps to gain a wider perspective with respect to musicianship – and it’s fun too!
Both The Mosquitos and The DTs are great bands to play in, for different reasons, but in both cases you never really know what’s going to happen next – which certainly keeps you on your toes....!
Q14) You do not play any Dr. Feelgood numbers with your other bands is that out of respect for Feelgood or to give you a break from playing them or both and how do you feel when other local bands play these numbers and have you heard any of them ?
In fact The Mosquitos do play the song ‘Night Time’ by Dr.Feelgood – but in a different way. But I do generally tend to steer away from Feelgood songs when playing with other bands, just because it’s nice to play different stuff! Over the years I’ve heard countless bands playing Feelgood covers and it’s sometimes interesting to hear how different players treat the songs.
Q15) Over the last few years your relaunching of the ‘Kelly’s Nights’ in Leamington at firstly the Zephyr Lounge and then at St. Patricks Club was an excellent idea and for a few quid you get sometimes three hours of quality music by yourself and other musicians, you must be happy with how they have been received?
Yes I was very happy with the Kelly’s re-launch; with hindsight maybe it would have been more successful at weekends but I couldn’t commit enough time to that because of other engagements.
Q16) Really impressed with your debut solo album, I believe it was a long time in the making and sure you are very happy with it?
Thank you! It was a long time coming, I’ve been meaning to do it for at least 20 years! I’m very happy with the result, in particular the sound of the album and especially the guitars which were recorded using valve amps that I had built myself – I’m really proud of that. All in all it was a labour of love to write, record and co-produce the album and I’m really pleased that it has been so well received.
Q17) What are your thoughts on local blues sensation Laurence Jones who has guested with you at several shows over the last couple of years ?
I’ve known Laurence for a few years now – the first time I met him was when he came to a pub gig I was doing in a village called Cherington; he asked me if he could sit in with the band and I agreed although I’d never seen him play before. He joined us and immediately I thought ‘wow, this guy can play’....(which of course he can!). I wish him every success, he deserves it!
Q18) For those that would be particularly interested can you give and info on your main guitars, amps etc?
My main guitar, which is semi-retired these days, is a much-treasured 1967 Fender Telecaster which Lee Brilleaux nicknamed ‘The Plank’ (when he first saw it he said ‘I like your guitar, it’s just a plank innit!)...the name stuck....I’ve had the guitar since 1976 and it is a huge part of my life.
My main stage guitar at the moment is a clone of that guitar – Plank 2, which I put together from parts.
I do have a collection of guitars which have been acquired over the years and I also make my own (I have one on the workbench right now). I also make and collect Valve amps and have recently bought a hand-wired Marshall, which sounds great. I tend to favour classic British valve amps such as Marshall, Vox, Hiwatt, Matamp etc. but I have also used Fender amps; I particularly like the Bassman and the Deluxe, and I still own a Hot-Rod DeVille.
Q19) I was very fortunate to recently be invited to your 60th birthday gig and I must say you worked so hard playing with at least 4 different line-ups for what must have been a good 3 and a half hours did you enjoy yourself?
My recent birthday party was great fun, even though I was on-stage for most of the evening – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way, loved it...and it was truly humbling to see so many friends old and new.
Q20) Finally what does the future hold musically for you?
The future is looking busy...as well as touring and recording with Dr.Feelgood I’m looking forward to starting work on a second solo album, and I’m in the process of gathering ideas together now. I don’t have a time schedule for this, it will be as and when I can get into the studio....can’t wait!
Thanks for your interest!
Thank you so much for your time Steve and best wishes for the future.
MY EARLY LOCAL LIVE MUSIC MEMORIES
(PUBLISHED ON THE HOT MUSIC LIVE WEB SITE - Gig guide and magazine for local live music in Warwickshire, Coventry and Solihull)
I was born in Leamington Spa at the (long closed now) Warneford Hospital in September 1963 and for a little music trivia The Beatles topped the UK charts with ‘She Loves You’ while in the US ‘My Boyfriend’s Back’ by The Angels had top spot.
My very first local live music memories are in fact from Warwick and from another closed building The Warwick Working Mens Club where my family would often take us for the Saturday night club- style band nights in the mid 1970’s where I remember countless versions of the likes of ‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’, ‘Sweet Caroline’ and ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’.
It must have been there that I developed my later love of collecting autographs as I would join the line after many of the performances for the bands signatures.
I also remember a couple of shop windows at the club, these were usually I think afternoons and consisted of short sets by all manner of entertainers, bands, solo singers, comedy acts etc and the audience would include entertainment managers from other clubs looking for acts.
My live music memories then take a bit of a jump to the early 1980’s and mainly concentrated on three venues Kelly’s and The Royal Spa Centre in Leamington and The Coventry Theatre.
Monday night at Kelly’s (you guessed it also not there anymore!) for me and many others was the go to time and place for live music and of course one of the highlights was catching Steve Walwyn (in pre Dr.Feelgood days) in action performing with Red On Red, The Mosquitos and others, also at Kelly’s you could see other notable Leam musicians like Martin Cure and Keith Hancock.
I also had my first ever experience of a flash bomb at Kelly’s, I was sitting on the sofa right in front of the stage (one of the prime slots and meant getting there early!) for a performance by Cov rock/punk band Chainsaw when at the start of the set about 4 feet from the sofa said bomb exploded - nearly dropped my Snakebite !!!
I also went to a couple of Kelly’s nights with my Dad and remember one fright he gave me, one of the heavier bands were playing and when I returned from the Loo my Dad was chatting up this drop dead gorgeous biker girl (who was definitely flirting back!) for about 10 minutes, when the biggest, meanest looking biker in the place who just happened to be her fella walks up to them, I turned away waiting for the fireworks and on turning back the guy was buying my dad a pint, he sure had charm when he needed it.
Next down my memory lane is a short 10 minute walk to The Royal Spa Centre (and still there- hip hooray) and believe it or not in the early 80’s this could be a rocking venue with numerous heavy rock shows coming to town.
The biggest for me was when the mighty Girlschool played the venue in support of their debut album Demolition (for me this album and its follow up Hit and Run are great examples of prime British early 80’s rock), they really rocked the place with 3 minute anthems such as ‘Take It All Away’ and ‘Demolition Boys’, I remember well the bands (dearly missed) lead guitarist Kelly Johnson being dragged off the stage into the front row by a couple of over zealous fans only to climb back on and fly straight back into the solo (what a pro).
I was also really impressed with that shows support band Angel Witch with their Sabbath style (although faster) riffs and lyrics and not managing to find the girls for autographs after the show still have my Demolition tour program (my earliest one) signed by Angel Witch frontman Kevin Heybourne.
Other rock shows I went to at the Spa Centre were Welsh rock trio Budgie, aggressive rockers Tank, an all day event which included my brother in laws band Flame and the 100 miles and hour Vardis, with the latter loved the inexpensive stage effect where frontman Steve Zodiac must have covered his hair in talc so while shaking his head it appeared to be smoking.
Around the same time as these Spa Centre shows also remember my one and only visit to the General Wolfe in Coventry to see Chevy in action.
Next for me was a step up to a larger venue for three shows at The Coventry Theatre (my Dad used to tell me about seeing the likes of Tommy Steele there in the rock and roll days when he was a teddy boy) and my first experience of being on the balcony for gigs by Girlschool and Thin Lizzy.
First up was Girlschool on the Hit and Run tour where they were even better than the Leamington show with just a little more polish but still rocking and opener ‘C’mon Let’s Go’ remains one of my favourite all time set openers, they had another Sabbath like support band called something like A -Z and loved their Spinal Tap before Spinal Tap episode when you could not see any of the band for the opening number because of far too much dry ice (priceless !).
Where do I start with Thin Lizzy such an important band for me, I am so glad I managed to see them live before we lost the great Phil Lynott even if it was only for their final two album tours and what a back catalogue they have left behind full of wonderful two-part guitar harmonies and thanks to Phil some of the greatest rock lyrics of all time and of course what a showman he was.
The Renegade tour was first up with the red flags from the album cover flying on the stage and the opening intro and ominous strains of the Nostradamus based ‘Angel Of Death’ building up the atmosphere and all the mighty Lizzy classics where in place ‘The Boys Are Back in Town’, ‘Jailbreak’ etc.
The following (and final) Lizzy studio album Thunder and Lightning and accompanying tour meant a return to Cov and being one of the bands heavier albums this show absolutely rocked including a pounding ‘Cold Sweat’ and the roaring title track, I also remember the excellent support band Mama’s Boys and of course Pat MaCmanus from that band still performs regularly in Leamington at St. Patricks Club.
Well there you have my early memories of the local live music scene and from here it was branching out to the likes of The Birmingham Odeon, The NEC, The Wolverhampton Civic Hall and the hallowed Castle Donnington.
Thanks for coming along on my nostalgic journey.
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Rocking the Coventry Copper Rooms on Sat 26th Sept
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA AND WARWICK COURIER)
My first experience of the blues magic of Black Country born Joanne Shaw Taylor was her support set for one of the genres legends Johnny Winter at the Leamington Assembly in May of 2009, her electrifying debut album White Sugar, was hot off the press and live she was the real deal.
Later that year she appeared with a whole roster of blues artists at the same venues “Blues Assembly” event where she again wowed the crowd.
Last year with another two critically acclaimed albums under her belt and several blues awards she returned to the Assembly for a triumphant headline show, where our local blues star Laurence Jones made a guest appearance trading licks with Joanne.
She has a high regard and friendship with Laurence and told me when she was around 14 playing a festival in the Cotswold's a very young Laurence (about 4 or 5) was lapping up the music dancing away front of stage.
Joanne has Leamington connections as she lived in the town for around seven years and remembers walking home from her Johnny Winter support set at The Assembly.
She has a home in the USA but spends a lot of her time over in the UK and we also discussed her appearance with Annie Lennox at the 2012 Diamond Jubilee concert in front of thousands (17 million on TV!) which she said was an incredible if bizarre experience.
On Saturday September 26th you can catch her in action at The Coventry Copper Rooms at The University of Warwick (Warwick Arts Centre) where her performance will include numbers from her sensational latest album The Dirty Truth, recorded in Memphis the album revisits the style of her stunning debut (rocking riffs and scorching blues) that albums producer Jim Gaines again at the helm.
This tour will also be "greatest hits' sets revisiting numbers from all her albums.
In recent years the UK blues scene has been rich and flowing with amazing talent and Joanne is one of its shining stars, her guitar work is electrifying and incorporates many blues styles (and occasionally other musical genres) she has a unique, smokey vocal style, is a quality songwriter and with her top draw band live she is sensational.
Joanne Shaw Taylor plays Coventry Copper Rooms on Saturday September 26th
Tickets are available from www.thegigcartel.com and the 24-hour Box Office: 08444 780 898
KRISTY GALLACHER - A FEW WORDS WITH THE ARTIST
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)
Finding my way to my all time favourite artists has happened in many different ways, with Marillion it was going to my first gig on the 'Afraid of Sunlight' tour, I had bought a couple of Fish era singles and could not decide if they were for me or not (have made up for lost time I assure you!!).
With my beloved Mostly Autumn it was seeing an advert for a rare rock gig in my home town of Leamington Spa (much better now thanks to the Assembly !!) in Classic Rock Magazine (around 2002 I think) and being completely blown away by their set in the Robins Well pub and with Kristy Gallacher it was sat in a restaurant with great food and a large glass of red wine !
I was covering the Warwick Folk Festival back in 2010 and while taking a break from the main site I noticed a couple of artists were making an appearance at a Spanish restaurant in the town, luckily they had a table left and after explaining that I was covering the festival for the local paper they put me right near the performance area so I could take a few shots and be close to the action.
To cut the story short Kristy was sensational, strong distinctive vocals, quality guitar work, fabulous lyrics and for me a genre that can not be easily pigeon holed except that is as an exceptional singer songwriter of course ! and since then I have tried to catch her live set as much as possible and buy everything she releases.
Her sensational 2012 album 'Spinning Plates' was my album of that year and last year I was pleased to play a small part in helping her get a slot on the acoustic stage at the Cambridge Rock Festival where she is returning this year.
She has recently released her third album 'The Game' another belter of an album and recently I managed to find a little time in this busiest of musician's diary to ask her a few questions so here are the results in her own words.
INTERVIEW - MAY 2014
Hi Kristy thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me, you know the high esteem I hold you and your music in and wanted to give the readers of this magazine a chance to know a little more about you and your music and hopefully get them to check out your fabulous work.
Q - At what age did you start writing/performing ?
KRISTY - At school I was in bands and started writing then, so probably about 14. At 16 I started performing on my own in pubs and bars, it really grew from there.
Q - Can you name any major influences on your music and style ?
KRISTY - I always loved Sheryl Crow when I was growing up, the self titled 'Sheryl Crow' and 'The Globe Sessions' were never off my stereo, I have worn out a few copies of those! These days I'm a massive fan of Tori Amos, Ani Difranco and Shawn Colvin. They all have my favourite go to albums that I will always be in the mood for listening to.
Q - Any particular shows you have performed that stand out for you ?
KRISTY - I have been very lucky and love playing where ever I can but some have stuck with me a little more. I played with Michael Chapman in London and we shared a dressing room. He was so kind and we talked about guitars and music for a long time before the show and he let me play one of his Martin and Co's, it was beautiful. That one always stands out for me. I have played the Warwick Folk Festival 5 years and 3 of those were on the main stage. They were amazing, the first year I didn't know what to expect and it was all new but by the second I felt very at home and the crew were all so welcoming, it's my favourite festival.
Q - To me you seem to be one of the most hard working people in music can you tell me a few of the many parts of your musical career you are involved in apart from performing ?
KRISTY - Well, I'm my own writer, manager, record label, tour booker and everything really. The last two albums I have recorded myself. 'Spinning Plates' I co produced with Paul Sampson and he mastered it. The last album 'The Game' I produced myself and it was mastered by Jon Webb at Moon Base studios in Coventry. It's an awful lot of work but it seems to work, the bottom line is I love it and that makes it a lot easier!
I have been doing this for 12 years now and this seems to work for me. My main objective is to write music, record it and sell albums. Working with another record company or management company they would have to be the right one for me.
Q - Could you give just a little insight in to your writing process, what comes first words or melody and where you get the inspiration for your sensational lyrics ?
KRISTY - I always write on guitar. The guitar and vocal parts start as separate pieces but once I have a guitar hook, I look at what scribblings I have and start to build it up together. On very rare occasions I will have something on my mind and sit and write a song from start to finish. When that does happen it doesn't take too long 20 mins or so.
The inspiration for my lyrics come from life. I used to write a lot more personally but my life got boring! I have settled down a lot in the last few years and I really had nothing of interest left to say. So it seemed time to evolve into the next chapter. Now I write more about the wider world, feminism, politics, and injustices seem to be recurring themes that keep coming back lately.
Q - 'Spinning Plates' as you know is one of my all time top albums and my album of the year when released, how do you look back on that album?
KRISTY - I'm very proud of it. It had been four years since the first release and I'd been a bit quiet musically so wasn't sure how it would be received. I don't believe the 'pledge it' project would work for me personally so it had taken time for me to work on getting the money together to make it.
I invested in a mac book pro, recording software and then I had to learn to use it. Long term that was a route that suited me as now I am in a much better position where I have those things and skills and I am investing where I can the money from the last album into to next so I can keep doing what I love and making albums.
Q - The follow up 'The Game' is another stunner, are you happy with how it has been received ?
KRISTY - Thank you. Yes, I learnt a lot from the promotion side of things from 'Spinning Plates' to 'The Game'. I was feeling in the dark with SP, so the mistakes I made I have tried to not do again this time. Being a DIY musician you are bound to do things wrong but you learn quickly because you have to, to survive. I have been a little taken a back with the amount of radio plays the two singles 'Dark Hours' and 'Blood' have received.
Lately I have had a lot of private messages and emails with people saying how much they've been enjoying the album and individual songs. It's very humbling and I can't quite get my head around how something I felt and wrote in my home can move people enough to want to tell me. It really does make my day whenever I receive those messages.
Q - It was great to see you at The Cambridge Rock festival last year and you are back again this year, what did you think of the event and did you enjoy your set ?
KRISTY - I didn't know what to expect when I arrived, up until that point I had mainly been doing Folk Festivals so I didn't know how I would be received at a Rock Festival. It was awesome! The crowd were so quiet and attentive. I am really looking forward to going back this year.
Q - Could you give me any info on your work for Zoe's Place Baby Hospice and any details on anything you are planning for it this year ?
KRISTY - Myself and the Nursery Tavern Team have spent the last two years running all day music sessions at their pub in aid of Zoe's Place Baby Hospice in Coventry, overall we have raised around £5000 for the hospice and the kindness in donations from the locals has been staggering. I went to do some work for Zoe's Place a few years before and the memories had stayed with me so when we decided to do some work for a charity Zoe's Place just stuck out.
Q - At a recent show considering the new album had not been out long at all you surprised me with a couple of brand new songs, are you working towards the next album already and if so any info on a couple of numbers ?
KRISTY - I'm always writing, I have a few ideas for the next one but that's what they are at the moment........
Q - Finally any thoughts on future plans ?
KRISTY - I just want to keep on writing music, enjoying it and having a happy life. I'm very lucky to have been able to carve a job out of doing something that I love and have the support that I do.
Thank you so much for your time Kristy and answering my questions and I very much look forward to seeing you perform very soon, and those reading this take my word for it and seek out her work, you will be so glad you did.
The Napton Festival
Napton Village Hall Grounds
Napton on the Hill
11th and 12th July 2014
One the best value for money festivals in the country The Napton Festival (the village of Napton is 11 miles from Leamington Spa in the glorious Warwicksire countryside) returns this year with plenty for the classic rock lover, 2 day tickets are only £18 and available from www.naptonfestival.co.uk where you will also find full festival info.
This years headliners are both of the rock variety with on the Friday female fronted rockers Grace Solero taking top slot while on Saturday it is the turn of 2013 Cambridge Rock Festival CRS Stage bill toppers Voodoo Vegas, who went down a storm at Cambridge and are currently doing the same touring the UK and Europe in support of their cracking debut album 'The Rise Of Johnny Silver'.
elsewhere on the bill plenty for rock lovers including youthful blues sensation Laurence Jones and his band, another female fronted rock band Derecho and alternative, prog rock band Circle of Reason.
Altogether their are 16 bands covering many musical genres and this friendly, well run festival runs Fri evening and all day Saturday with camping also available.
I have attended this festival many times and heartily recommend it, hopefully see some of you there.
Sounds and Visions - 6 Years of Gig Photography
(PUBLISHED IN 200TH EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)
My little adventure as a live music photographer began one summer morning in 2008 with what a call my 'Eureka Moment' when I decided to combine my two loves of live music and photography (something I should have done years before), I headed to a local park in my hometown of Leamington Spa and photographed many of the bands performing at the towns annual Peace Festival.
So from 2008 until 2013 I photographed both local festivals/pub gigs and a few shows further afield such as The Cambridge Rock Festival and I would also jot down notes between taking the shots so I could write down a review when back home.
My photos often with a review have regularly appeared in local newspapers, on the getreadytorock web site and of course in The Classic Rock Society Magazine as well as making appearances in band fan magazines and websites.
I have so many highlights from the last 6 years especially involving my favourite bands and artists, two bands I have particularly treasured my time with and feel lucky enough to call some of the members friends are Mostly Autumn and Voodoo Vegas, two distinct memories are the thrill of me and my wife being invited to the first playback of the stunning Mostly Autumn album 'Go Well Diamond Heart' with just the band, family and a few close friends present and Voodoo Vegas inviting us to stay over while they were recording their debut album 'The Rise of Jimmy Silver' at Rockfield studios in Wales.
Closer to home I photograph and review two more of my favourite artists as much as possible, both Steve Walwyn (Dr. Feelgood and a few local blues outfits) and Kristy Gallacher are top draw musicians at the top of their game and good friends who have supported me as much as I have tried to support them.
I have also had the real pleasure of being in the photo pit for both Marillion and Fish shows which has been just about a dream come true and other artists I have managed to photograph (often at my fantastic local venue The Leamington Assembly) include Thin Lizzy, Pendragon, Touchstone, Magnum, Saxon, UFO and Black Stone Cherry.
I am very much into the blues scene and have also loved my time photographing the likes of Joanne Shaw Taylor, Cherry Lee Mewis, Ben Poole, Del Bromham, Walter Trout, Chantel McGregor and The Animals.
One of my most surreal experiences was showing up to photograph Nazareth at the Assembly and being approached by someone with the band and asked when I wanted to interview them, I thought for just a second about saying not here for an interview before thinking 'sod it in for a penny' and found myself saying "whenever it suits the guys" hence I found myself sharing a beer in the dressing room with founder members Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew and asking them very quickly prepared questions - think I managed to bluff it !!!
Have not had many opportunity's behind the scenes but loved being invited by Voodoo Vegas and AC/DC tribute band Live/Wire to join them backstage at The Assembly to take snaps of them by Tammy Wynette's touring caravan which is in the back stage area.
The Cambridge Rock Festival has been a special place for me over the years attending since 2008 and it really must be the friendliest festival around, photographic highlights for me at the festival have included Heather Findlay, The Quireboys, John Otway, Snakecharmer and Larry Miller.
I was proud to get two of my shots in the booklet for the Mostly Autumn 'Still Beautiful live 2011' album, even more proud to have one of my images on the cover of the bands 'Live at the Boerderij' CD and DVD and one of my images has also appeared on the Ebony Tower EP 'The Magic Box PT 1.
Without exception all the artist I have had the pleasure of meeting (and bugging for a photo with !!) have been fantastic and I would like to thank any of them reading this from the bottom of my heart for so many great memories and the same goes for many of the fellow fans I have befriended.
With this piece I have included a selection of my favourite images from the last 6 years many of which have been accepted in photo exhibitions around the country and if you want to see more of my work you will find plenty of images and reviews on my web site www.andrewlocksoundsandvisions.co.uk
Thanks for reading and keep rocking
Mostly Autumn - Go Well Diamond Heart
200 Words on a classic album
(PUBLISHED IN 200TH EDITION OF THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE)
Perfect mix of the bands styles, rockers, emotional ballads, spiritual numbers and an epic.
'For All We Shared' has echoes of their Celtic rock roots, pays homage to their past but also looks to the future, beautiful acoustic verses and a rocking chorus.
'Violet Skies' laid back, dreamy, emotional with Olivia's exquisite vocals hauntingly echoed by her whispers.
'Deep in Borrowdale' and 'Something Better' are the rockers, the former charging main riff, short mystical/spiritual section and incredible high notes by Olivia, the latter Thin Lizzy in style.
'Go Well Diamond Heart' is the epic, full of wide screen drama, at times delicate at others powerful, includes amazing sound effects and monologue by a serving Colonel, and gives an idea of what our service men and women go through.
'Back to Life' gorgeous vocals by Olivia and exquisite flute work by Anne -Marie, you drift away until Bryan wakes you up with a knock out solo.
'Hold the Sun' emotional with echoes of loss but also uplifting with fab dual vocals by Bryan and Olivia.
Album closer and almost a waltz, 'And When the War is Over...' looks forward to and later celebrates the end of war/conflict, slightly sad but uplifting.
MY CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE BEST ALBUMS OF 2013
VOODOO VEGAS - THE RISE OF JIMMY SILVER
BLACK STAR RIDERS - ALL HELL BREAKS LOOSE
FISH - A FEAST OF CONSEQUENCES
DEL BROMHAM - NINE YARDS
BLACK SABBATH - 13
Voodoo Vegas, 'That Voodoo Spell'
by Andrew Lock
(PRINTED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE MARCH/APRIL 2013 UNDER THE TITLE AN INTRODUCTION TO VOODOO VEGAS))
Back in the February of 2010 I was covering a UK Guns N' Roses gig at The Leamington Assembly and as usual I got myself into position for the support act, hailing from the golden sands of Bournemouth the band were called Voodoo Vegas and to say they made an impression on me would be an understatement. Both musically and visually they were brim full of style and energy and my first impressions was that they played powerful,sleazy, good time rock and roll with a touch of Guns n' Roses and Aerosmith mixed in with their own original sound, ramped up, catchy rockers 'So Unkind' and 'Mary Jane' were just two of the standout numbers in a top quality performance.
Stage front on vocals was the tall impressive figure of Lawrence Case, powerful rich vocal delivery and a superb front man who interacted with the audience all set, two explosive guitarists shared lead duties Nick Brown and the glamorous Meryl Hamilton, and human dynamo bass player Ash Moulton was headbanging for most of the set, all of this made the band a treat on the eyes as well as the ears.
The band were formed in 2006 and in talking to them discovered their influences included classic hard rockers Areosmith, AC/DC, Guns N' Roses and also younger guns Black Stone Cherry and The Answer.
Over the last few years they have landed several high profile support slots for the likes of Fozzy (the band supported them for their whole 2011 summer tour and they had a ball, particularly the Paris show), Glenn Hughes and Uriah Heep as well as opening for some of the biggest tribute bands in the country such as The Doors Alive and UK Guns N' Roses always going down a storm and picking up plenty of fans on the way.
This regular touring plus the bands interaction with the audience on stage and off (they can always be found after a show mixing with the fans, giving out stickers and just being plain sociable) must have helped when they decided to start a pledge campaign to help raise funds for the debut studio albums recording costs. Lawrence was not sure they would get anywhere close to their 100% target but they did so in 24 hrs and the total amount raised was 344% of the original target.
Music pledge campaigns are a great way to make the fans feel more a part of the band, give them the chance of something a little special and at the same time help with the costs of recording, available for pledges as part of the Voodoo Vegas campaign were amongst others signed special edition pre-order copies of the album, signed drum skins, on-line guitar lessons from the lovely Meryl and even a gig performed at your house by the band.
There is a real buzz surrounding the bands debut album 'The Rise Of Jimmy Silver' which has a release date of March 4th, the band released an excellent live album back in 2009 but myself along with many others really wanted to hear the results of the band let rip in the studio, reviews of the album are excellent and one number 'King Without a Crown' made it onto the Classic Rock Magazine play list and also won the magazines on-line poll for track of the week.
The very distinctive album artwork is by comic book artist Jim Boswell, when I asked about the cover Lawrence told me firstly that he is a big comic book fan and secondly that after coming up with the album title decided to try and find a UK based comic book artist to do the cover and they were lucky that Jim stepped in.
Another major talent was also involved when the band turned to producer/mixer Pedro Ferreira to work on the album, Pedro who produced amongst others the massive hit debut album 'Permission To Land' for The Darkness has done a spectacular job on the bands debut and I was lucky enough to join him and the band in the magnificent surroundings of the famous Rockfield studios in Wales for a couple of days and the spirit between the band and Pedro was fantastic, rock and roll magic was certainly in the air.
The bands line-up has only one change from the first time I caught them live with Matt Jolly now on the drum stool.
The band are gearing up to hit the road as much as possible in support of the release of 'The Rise Of Jimmy Silver' and at the moment gigs lined up include shows in Nottingham, London and their hometown of Bournemouth with many more to follow and the band are also performing at for me one of the best rock festivals in the country The Cambridge Rock Festival this August (in fact on our very own Classic Rock Society Stage) I have been championing for them to be at this festival for a few years so really pleased the guys got the call and I know they will go down a storm.
There are a lot of bands out there that deserve to make it big and this band are definitely one of them, live they are dynamic and exciting, their songs are powerful, full of hooks and melodies and many have an irresistible sing-a-long chorus, they are a visually superb all action outfit and the soon to be unleashed on the public album is stunning and up there with the best debuts I have ever heard.
Voodoo Vegas are one of the most genuine/friendly groups of musicians I have had the pleasure of meeting and if they headlined the O2 (fingers crossed) in a couple of years I get the impression they would still be the same lovable bunch.
The Voodoo revolution starts here.
mr.mojo risin ain't dead
(PUBLISHED IN THE CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE MARCH/APRIL 2013)
Walking through a very rainy Lyundhurst in the New Forest (Riders on the Storm weather indeed !) we stumbled on a book fair in a local hall, most of the stalls were full of second hand books of all kinds and as I neared the last few tables the wife ahead of me was talking to a gentleman with a large display of books on a table, knowing my likes she came back to me and said I should have a look. The mans name was Ron Clooney and he was having a book signing, the main reason for the signing was to sell his latest work 'mr. mojo risin ain't dead' an intriguing book on his investigation into what he believes was the faked death of rock legend Jim Morrison.
He chatted for at least 20 minutes with me about the book, Jim Morrison and The Doors and he had me spellbound, so in a very short time he had another customer and what a fantastic read it was.
The book is full of extensive research which is helped by the authors years of journalistic work and he takes the reader to LA, Paris and Greece on a search for the truth offering much food for thought on what could have happened that night of July 3rd 1971 and after.
This book would appeal to anyone with a love or even just a liking for the music of the Doors but also for anyone who loves a good mystery/detective read and is as full of characters, atmosphere and style as it is Doors/Jim Morrison related facts with the added bonus of the 'what if' element.
I will not go into the details or conclusions of the book as that would spoil it but it is a real page turner and you wonder with every page 'what next' and I found it very difficult to put down, I asked the author "with your hand on your heart do you believe Jim died as reported that day in Paris" and his reply was an absolute no and that the whole thing stank.
I also asked him if their were any other music celebrity deaths he would consider researching in the same way, for instance Kurt Cobain or Brian Jones, and the one that seemed to interest him was Jimi Hendrix so I look forward to hopefully his investigation into that some day.
Ron Clooney (who is also a musician both in the studio and live) is of course a huge Doors fan but I truly believe this has not prejudiced his writing and he believes what he has written and I hope some of you give this book a go and that it has the same effect it had on me on you.
MY CLASSIC ROCK SOCIETY MAGAZINE BEST ALBUMS OF 2012
Marillion - Sounds That Can't Be Made - Moving, powerful, full of epics, and Steve Rothery is magnificent.
Kristy Gallacher - Spinning Plates - The best album yet from the Coventry singer/guitarist/songwriter, played with touch of folk and a lot of style.
Mostly Autumn - The Ghost Moon Orchestra - Another corker of an album not as instant as some of theirs but grows and grows on you and a couple of numbers are already in my Autumn all time favourite list.
Winter In Eden - Echoes of Betrayal - Symphonic, Gothic rock at it's very best and British to boot.
Cherry Lee Mewis - Heard it Here First - Short but so sweet collection of blues/country/rockabilly etc numbers from the talented Cherry and band.
Rock and Roll Dreams Come True
5 years of live music photography by Andrew Lock
(EDITED VERSION PUBLISHED IN JANUARY 2013 EDITION OF NPhoto magazine)
Mission - To become a quality live music photographer
Photographer - Andrew Lock
Age - 48
Location - Leamington Spa
KIT - Nikon D7000, Nikon D90, lenses -Sigma 70-200mm 2.8f, Nikon 17-55mm 2.8f, Nikon 50mm 1.4f prime
Web - www.andrewlocksoundsandvisions.co.uk
I first combined my love of live music and photography (why it took me so long I have no idea!) one summer morning in 2008 when I took my recently purchased Nikon D40 to a free music festival in my home town of Leamington Spa and shot as many bands as possible. Later the same year I managed to talk my way into a photo pit at a larger festival in Cambridge to photograph amongst others two of my favourite bands Marillion and Mostly Autumn and that is when I really got the bug.
The Next Level
I made the decision fairly early on to combine my live music photography with reviews hoping this would add to the overall interest and this has proved to be the right option, although no money in it (yet!) my photos and reviews can often be found in The Classic Rock Society Magazine, Leamington Spa local newspapers, band fan magazines/web sites and the getreadytorock web site.
I have met a lot of the artists I photograph, in fact some I now count as friends and I am always willing to give my photographs to the artists for their web sites etc.
I have had my work on the cover of four publications and last year two of my shots made it to the booklet of a live album by my beloved Mostly Autumn, my work has also been requested from as far away as Holland and Australia.
A large percentage of my review work goes to the web site getreadytorock and they have assisted me with show photo passes in return for photos and reviews, a lot of these passes have been for a fantastic live music venue here in Leamington Spa The Assembly, most of these are for the usual three songs from the photo pit but now and again especially if no pit at the show I can shoot for longer. When shooting three songs in the pit it is a real challenge to try and get a few decent shots but I must admit the adrenalin really sets in, it goes without saying of course no flash allowed with any gig photography.
I try and support my local music scene by photographing and reviewing pub gigs and local festivals, I also have a local gig list on my web site, my site also includes gallery's of my photos and all of my review work.
I regularly get invited to photograph The Warwick Folk Festival, Leamington Peace Festival and Cambridge Rock Festival and every year these are the first events pencilled in my diary.
I have had five exhibitions of my live music photography in my home town of Leamington Spa including two held in the balcony bar of The Royal Spa Centre theatre in the town, both were on display for a month and the latest titled Sounds and Visions Vol.3 was this May and opened by Dr Feelgood guitarist Steve Walwyn.
This hobby and passion of mine has been a real journey and in five years or so the bands I have had the opportunity to photograph have included Thin Lizzy, 10cc, Black Stone Cherry, Steve Hackett, The Animals, Beth Hart and Altered Images to name just a few.
I am also a member of The Leamington Spa Photographic Society and get that look from the other members when a live music shot appears in one of our club competitions (not him again!), I have also put on a presentation of my gig photography at the society.
I very much like to enter my photos into exhibitions all over the country and have had numerous acceptances and commended shots.
Plan to carry on as long as I have the energy, people are interested and the passes still come my way, it can be very hard work with long hours (average review and photo sort around five hours a gig) on top of a day job but I have loved every minute of it, I also want to get more involved in portrait/studio photography which is something I really enjoy and one of my plans is to be able to offer band/artist publicity photos.
EXTRA QUESTIONS FROM THE MAGAZINE
Could you give me a little more info on how you go about taking your photos?
I now have a track now record of photographing and reviewing live shows so if there is a show I would like to cover and can get to I approach through the bands themselves and sometimes through the venue. Sometimes this includes a pit pass and for others just a pass to photograph from the audience area, often this is for the first three numbers only.
How do you get around the no flash rule?
The no flash rule is the golden rule with photographing gigs and you will not last long if you start lighting up the place, the way to get over this is to use decent aperture lenses, mostly use high ISO settings and get to know which shutter speeds and F numbers work best, you also learn to take advantage of the on stage lighting.
Do you have any tips on composition, camera settings etc?
My tips on composition are to look for anything interesting happening on the stage including great facial expressions, people on the stage interacting and atmospheric stage lighting on the artists but every gig is a blank canvas and anything can happen, the fun of this type of photography is never knowing what is going to happen or what the lighting will be so it is always a challenge.
Cameras settings I would suggest are use a 2.8f lens (I have a 70-200mm and an 18-55mm) start by using an ISO of 1600, at 2.8f and a shutter speed of 1/200 (I use my 70-200mm when possible so important when shooting at 200mm to of course have shutter no lower than 1/200, however from these starting settings there is a lot of changing around during a show. Another good lens to have is a fast prime possibly a 50mm which is very useful if you are in a shallow photo pit.
Any stories/anecdotes on how you got your best shots?
'Smoking Blues' is one of my favourite photos, and is of the fantastic young Blues artist Oli Brown, I was in the pit looking up and the stage was enveloped with dry ice with white spotlights behind which made a great effect so took advantage and took as many as possible.
One of my favourite bands and one I love and luckily get the chance to photograph quite often are Mostly Autumn an outstanding rock band from York, the bands lead vocalist Olivia has a great way of throwing her hair about on stage and when I can I get close to the stage with my fast 50mm prime lens, up the shutter speed to as high as possible and try and get her hair flying as it does in another of my favourite shots 'Stage Motion'.
'In the Red' is another shot I really like and this is a shot of Meryl from the rocking Voodoo Vegas, I along with many photographers do not like red light particularly as it can leave an image looking murky but can also be dramatic, I have several shots now in my portfolio shot in red light as when it works the results are fabulous as I think this shot shows.
My shot 'Steve Lukather' from one of his solo gigs (he is also guitarist of American band Toto) is also up there on my top list, I noticed Steve in bright light throwing plenty of guitar hero shapes with just behind him his bass player bathed in darker blue light which I thought made a great effect.
GIRLSCHOOL, LEAMINGTON ASSEMBLY 2/3/12 PREVIEW-
ROCK BAND GIRLSCHOOL BACK TO ROCK LEAMINGTON 32 YEARS ON
All female rock band Girlschool are playing The Assembly on Friday the 2nd of March 32 years after their last gig in town. They are headlining a four band bill which has a local feel as it includes Midlands rock outfit Lost In Vegas from Tamworth and Uncle Tim a Leamington band who have two staff members of Leamington’s Head music store in its line-up, completing the bill are the highly rated NG26 from Nottingham.
Formed in 1978 Girlschool are a high energy rock outfit who released their debut album Demolition in 1980 and picked up a large following (named The Barmy Army) performing top support slots with the likes of Motorhead and Black Sabbath.
They are touring this year in support of their recently released album Hit and Run – Revisited, a new take on their most popular album originally released back in 1981.
This show will bring back a lot of memories for me as the first major rock gig I attended was Girlschool at The Royal Spa Centre here in Leamington in 1980 on the tour to support their first album. The fantastic show with support by the excellent Angel Witch included a dramatic moment when lead guitarist Kelly Johnson (sadly no longer with us) was pulled into the crowd, she was all smiles when she made it back to the stage though. I still have my program from that 1980 show and it is one of the most treasured in my program collection, could not get it signed by the band but Kevin Heybourne of Angel Witch signed the front for me.
I so much enjoyed the Spa Centre show and the Demolition album that in 1981 I remember going straight to HMV after my shift on Coventry Railway station and buying their second album Hit and Run on its day of release and later that year caught that albums tour when it hit the Coventry Theatre.
I continued to buy the bands albums and the fantastic St. Valentine’s Massacre EP where they joined Motorhead on three numbers including a rocking cover of the Johnny Kidd & the Pirates classic Please Don’t Touch. My next Girlschool gig was also local, when they headlined the 2006 Napton Festival.
This will be the original line up apart from Kelly who left the band for the second time in 1999 and who sadly lost her battle with cancer in 2007, with Kim McAuliffe, lead vocals/guitar, Enid Williams, bass/vocals and Denise Dufort, drums/ backing vocals and taking lead guitar duties is Jackie Chambers who joined the band in 1999.
Really looking forward to a night that as I mentioned will be very special for me and bring back memories of when I was a young head banger proudly displaying my denim jacket full of patches – those were the days!
MY BEST OF 2011 - AS FEATURED ON THE GET READY TO ROCK WEB SITE
1) Touchstone / The City Sleeps – This fantastic band have done the close to impossible and managed to follow the stunning Wintercoast album in some style.
2) Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa / Don’t Explain - First class blues album from this partnership of one of the world’s best blues guitarists and one of the most powerful female vocalists around.
3) Heather Findlay / The Phoenix Suite E.P – Impressive new music from the ex - Mostly Autumn lead vocalist.
4) Arena / The Seventh Degree of Separation – Only just realised, a dynamic album by the prog rock supergroup.
5) Within Temptation / The Unforgiving – Another outstanding album of Gothic rock this time with a concept.
1) Dr Feelgood / Leamington Assembly 25/11/11 – Gig of the year, fantastic support by Nine Below Zero, Feelgood on fire with a perfect set list and crowd really up for it, a special night.
2) Mostly Autumn / Cambridge Rock Festival 2011 – The band on magnificent form for their regular appearance at this fantastic festival with Olivia well settled into her lead vocal duties.
3) Saxon / Leamington Assembly 9/4/2011 – Biff and the boys rocked up a storm, plenty of classics, cracking new material and a fantastic atmosphere.
4) Fish / Cox’s Yard Stratford–Upon –Avon 26/4/11 – Great to see the big man in such top form at this intimate acoustic show.
5) Larry Miller / Cambridge Rock Festival 2011 – An electric performance by one of the UK’S finest blues performers.
VERY CLOSE RUNNERS UP
Heather Findlay - Cambridge Rock Festival 2011
10cc - Leamington Assembly 22/2/11
Being a rock web site could not really add my other gig of the year to my top 5 (would have been very high though) but that was Katie Melua / Birmingham Symphony Hall 27/4/11 (a guilty pleasure I know but she was fantastic).
Top reissue – Caravan - In the Land of Grey and Pink - eccentric but fabulous album.
Top DVD - AC/DC Live at the River Plate - Fantastic picture quality and sound and a superb souvenir of a knock out tour.
Next Big Thing – Heather Findlay – positive she will go from strength to strength as a solo artist with the quality of her debut EP and her first solo live performances.
MOSTLY AUTUMN BACK IN LEAMINGTON
THE ASSEMBLY - WED 26TH OCTOBER 2011
This month one of the countries finest rock bands Mostly Autumn return to Leamington Spa. They share the bill with popular 80's progressive rock band It Bites on Wednesday 26th October at The Assembly with tickets priced at £20.
This will be the 6th visit to the town for Mostly Autumn who first visited the Leamington in November 2002 for a low key gig at Robins Well (my first experience of a band that would play a large part in my life) and then returned for three further shows at The Royal Spa Centre and last years very special gig at The Assembly.
Last years Assembly show was very special as it was the farewell performance of lead vocalist Heather Findlay before leaving the band to launch a solo career. Her lead vocal duties are now taken by the talented Olivia Sparneen, who has been part of the band for many years as backing vocalist.
In 2010 the band released their first album with Olivia at the helm, the very well received 'Go Well Diamond Heart', (my wife and myself were privileged to have been invited to a family and friends first playback of this album last winter a night we will never forget). The band have also recently released a superb live album 'Still Beautiful' recorded on the bands spring tour to promote their latest album.
Hope you can make it to what will be an excellent evening of quality rock music.
The Venew @ Leamington Spa - Tuesday 28th June 2011
Bournemouth based rock band Voodoo Vegas have a soft spot for Leamington with this gig being their fourth in the town in two years, this time the band are bringing their original brand of high voltage rock and roll to The Venew @ Leamington Spa, on Rugby Road on Tuesday 28th June as part of their 2011 Summer Tour.
Voodoo Vegas are a high energy band and have their roots in classic rock music with possibly a touch of Guns N’ Roses to their sound.
In 2010 they played special guest slots twice at Leamington’s Assembly and earlier this year performed a low key gig at The Heathcote Inn in Whitnash.
In my opinion they are one of the most impressive young rock bands around at the moment.
Tickets are £3 in advance and £4 on the door which opens at 8.00pm. Support for the evening comes from local rock band Undue.
Special Leamington Spa pub gig preview
The Heathcote Inn
Sat March 19th 2011
(PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)
Having supported the UK Guns ‘N’ Roses twice last year at The Leamington Assembly, rock band Voodoo Vegas return to the town on Saturday 19th March to play a head line set at The Heathcote Inn.
The band hail from Bournemouth and are hoping to release their debut album later this year, they are a powerful 5 rock piece band consisting of the charismatic Lawrence on lead vocals, the twin guitar attack of Merylina and Nick, Ash on bass and Martin on the drums.
They play original rock numbers with touches of amongst others Aerosmith, Guns ‘N’ Roses and The Quireboys to their sound and stage favourites include the full on rock of 'Mary Jane' and the full of groove 'So Unkind', added to their strong material the band also have a fantastic stage presence and they are one of my tips for 2011.
The Heathcote Inn gig has a 9.00pm start and entry is free.
@ THE BINSWOOD
Launch of a fantastic Leamington live music venue (2011)
(PUBLISHED ON LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER WEB SITE)
My first look at this state of the art purpose built Leamington music venue had a big impact on me as a local music fan, a spacious high stage, good sized lighting rig, a beautifully decorated room which I would estimate would accommodate around 150 people as a standing venue and ample space to be used for a reasonably sized all seating event and of course on the music side completely wired for sound.
Their plan is to attract both up coming and established musicians and artists both local and from around the country to the venue, which they will be launching in style with a big party on Friday 11th March from 7.00pm, the headline act will be signed artist Tim Laws (also hosting the event) with his 8 piece band playing a selection of classic covers (inc Motown, swing and rock and roll) and original material, also on the bill a Jazz/funk band and a magician.
This will be a free entry event but people are advised to phone 07740799498 to be put on the guest list.
The Venew will have 3 what they call prime nights, but keep a look out as there will also be events on other days.
Thursday - The Big Jam - A live Jamming session with the house band lead by Tim Laws.
Friday - Fat Live Fridays - The main live entertainment night with high quality live bands, solo artists and comedians.
Sunday - Smooth Sundays - Every first Sunday of the month an afternoon of live Jazz and every third Sunday an afternoon of live blues.
For me the Venew is a great addition to the live music opportunity's in the town to go along with the magnificent Assembly and the great live music pubs we have in the town at this time and also I think it fills the gap between the two perfectly and I wish it every success.
MY BEST OF 2010 - AS FEATURED ON THE GET READY TO ROCK WEB SITE
1 - MOSTLY AUTUMN Go Well Diamond Heart
A breathtaking album marking a new chapter for the band and improves with every play
Mostly Autumn - In my opinion the most underrated band in the country who consistently produce quality albums and put on great shows all over the country, this year starting a new chapter of the band with a new lead vocalist.
2 - THE REASONING Acoustically Speaking
Brilliant re- workings of classic Reasoning tracks
3 - STEVE HACKETT Out of the Tunnels Mouth
A diverse collection of fabulous guitar led music from the ex Genesis man , full of atmosphere (and at times Eastern promise)
4 - CHRISTINA Broken Lives and Bleeding Hearts
Powerful and moving solo album from Magenta vocalist Christina Booth
5 - PANIC ROOM Satellite
Very original stunning second album by Anne-Marie Helder and co.
1 - MOSTLY AUTUMN The Grand Opera House, York
As good as ever the annual home city Mostly Autumn gig, complete with seasonal encores and fun, and the usual lengthy set with a large chunk of the new album and plenty of MA classics - a stunning gig.
2 - MOSTLY AUTUMN Leamington Spa Assembly
An emotional show in my home town marking Heather's last show with the band - sad but triumphant at the same time.
3 - BREATHING SPACE Robin 2, Bilston
Another emotional show this being Olivia's last with this band before taking over as lead vocalist with Mostly Autumn and a fantastic lengthy set covering all three breathing Space albums with a couple of Iain Jennings penned Mostly Autumn tracks for good measure.
4 - CAMBRIDGE ROCK FESTIVAL 2010
Another fantastic and friendly Cambridge Rock Festival with highlights including Mostly Autumn, Deborah Bonham, Cherry Lee Mewis, Oliver Dawson Saxon to name but a few.
5 - MARILLION Leamington Spa Assembly
The band's rocking warm up show for their headline set at the High Voltage Festival with a fantastic choice of material showcasing some of the highlights of the bands career.
MOSTLY AUTUMN - That Night in Leamington
A great souvenir of a magical evening
Band to Watch in 2011
Have seen this band twice both times supporting UK Guns N' Roses and have a real feeling this band have big things ahead of them, they sound/look great and even though have obvious influences still have that original over all sound, hopefully they will have their first studio album out next year and things will really start happening.
BLUES ASSEMBLY 2
SUNDAY 7TH NOVEMBER 2010
3 PM-10 PM
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)
One of my favourite live music events in the local area last year was the inaugural Blues Assembly show at the Leamington Assembly last November, an all day event showcasing many of the best blues artist around which included sets by Gwyn Ashton, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Oli Brown and headliners The Yardbirds with every act going down a storm.
This year we have The Blues Assembly 2 on Sunday 7th November headlined by Mud Morganfield son of the master bluesman Muddy Waters and also on the bill Matt Schofield, The Nimmo Bros, Chantel McGregor and Cherry Lee Mewis.
This summer I was reviewing and photographing The Cambridge Rock Festival which included fabulous sets by two of the artists at this years Blues Assembly. Chantel McGregor the fabulous young traditional style blues guitarist and vocalist delivered a powerful set with her band on the main stage on the Saturday as well as having a special guest spot during Deborah Bonham's set on the Friday evening, what an amazing blues talent this lady is at such a young age.
Cherry Lee Mewis who opens the show at the Assembly wowed the 2nd stage at Cambridge on the Sunday with a set that for me combines blues with rock and roll, country, rock-a-billy and even a touch of jazz, she also has a powerful stage presence and a good rapport with her audience and is sure to be a huge hit with her Leamington performance.
Really looking forward to what should be a great event here in town.
Chevy - My Memories
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER 2010)
The upcoming reunion and charity show at the Royal Spa Centre by Leamington's very own Chevy brings back a lot of memories for me, starting way back in the early 1980's with my regrettably only Chevy gig at the General Wolfe in Coventry (this was just before really becoming hooked on live music).
I do remember nearly wearing out my cassette copy of the album The Taker especially playing the albums epic track Skybird over and over again.
I also remember attending a Butlins Festival of the 60's around the same time with some close friends, where one of the bands performing was Cupid's Inspiration (biggest hit for the band Yesterday Has Gone) this band had a lot to do with the roots of Chevy including amongst others future Chevy vocalist Martin Cure and bass player Bob Poole in the line-up. I distinctly remember the band treating their Leamington based fans, who had made the trip to the coast to a couple of Chevy numbers in the set.
It was after Chevy split that I began to see more of the band members, especially in the stylish band Red on Red which included original Chevy guitarist and now of course Dr Feelgood axeman Steve Walwyn in the line-up, this stylish polished rock band could often be found playing the Monday night live music slot at one of the towns best live music venues of the time Kellys.
The Rogues who are still performing today, with the excellent Martin Cure on vocals were another Kellys regular and in fact I have seen them perform a couple of times in the last year and they are a really strong band who always attract a good crowd. Another band I have seen several time this year are The Motorvators the powerful three piece rock band consisting of original Chevy member Bob Poole on bass/vocals and from Chevy (mark 2) extraordinary guitar player Baz Eardley and the equally extraordinary Ted Duggan on drums both previously with Coventry rock band Iron Horse.
I was fortunate to be invited to one of the rehearsals for the reunion show recently and they sounded amazing, with three guitars they really rocked(original guitarists Steve, Paul Shanahan and mark 2 guitarist Baz), and Martin's vocals sounded as good as ever, also they all seemed to be enjoying themselves (always a key with great music).
So looking forward to the show on the 22nd September, Chevy are a great band and the show is supporting a very good cause, hopefully all Leamington music lovers will be there for this very special evening.
Chevy 30 Years On
(PUBLISHED IN CRS MAGAZINE 2010)
My love of rock music has had a lot to do with the members that made up Leamington Spa's 80's rock band Chevy, a band that had a lot of success in the early part of that decade appearing on the second edition of the famous Metal for Muthas EMI rock compilation series of albums, releasing their magnificent album The Taker and touring with the likes of Hawkwind and Gillian, speaking to the band they particularly had a great time with Hawkwind.
The band have got back together this year in order to play a 30 Year reunion show at The Royal Spa Centre in Leamington Spa on the 22nd of September in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
The Metal For Muthas albums (both released in 1980) were the flag ship releases for the New Wave of British Heavy Metal with the first vol. including amongst others Iron Maiden, Praying Mantis and Samson and the second vol. as well as including Chevy's self titled anthem Chevy, tracks by Trespass and Dark Star.
The roots for Chevy started with the band Cupids Inspiration (biggest hit for the band Yesterday Has Gone) which in the early 1970's included future Chevy vocalist Martin Cure in the line up, bass player Bob Poole, guitarist Paul Shanahan and drummer Andy Chaplin also performed with the band and this line up with the addition of future Dr Feelgood guitarist Steve Walwyn became Chevy. After sending out demos to record companies the band signed a deal with Avatar records and in 1980 released first single Too Much Loving/See the light and the album The Taker, followed by second single The Taker/Life on the Run and third single Just Another Day/ Rock On.
The album the Taker is full of melodic rock numbers most of which are up tempo rockers such as the storming opening and title track The Taker, the driving You Got Me Running and the bands anthem Chevy. The albums showpiece and the stand out track on the album is the epic Skybird with powerful lyrics and stunning guitar breaks, for me it is the bands Stairway to Heaven.
While the band rode on the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, I see more classic british rock in the style of Free and Bad Company on the album and while interviewing some of the band they agreed, bass player Bob told me they wanted to play hard melodic rock with a mix of british and american styles also mentioning the following influences Wishbone Ash, Boston and Foreigner. The band also mentioned the importance of their twin lead guitar style to their sound which of course as well as one of Wishbone Ash's strengths also played a huge roll in the success of Thin Lizzy.
By late 1981 guitarist Steve Walwyn and drummer Andy Chaplin had left the band to be replaced by another extraordinary guitar player Baz Eardley and on the sticks the equally extraordinary Ted Duggan, they continued to tour including landing good support slots one of which was opening for Gary Moore, who at the time was keen for Chevy bass player Bon Poole to join his band.
Chevy split up late 1982 early 1983 and Bob, Martin, Paul and Ted joined up with Steve Walwyn in a band called Red on Red who regularly played Leamington's live music venue of the 80's Kellys, as well as touring all over the UK, but this band only lasted for around a year despite record company interest.
Since then Martin Cure has been playing various local venues with his excellent R and B band The Rogues (still going today) as well as running a stage sound and lighting company, Bob lived and performed in Germany for a long time before returning to the UK in 2009 when he reunited with former Chevy band mates Baz and Ted (who from 2004 had been part of the Coventry rock band Iron Horse) to form the heavy rock covers trio The Motorvators already a very popular local band. Steve Walwyn played in local bands including The Mosquitoes before he joined one of this country's finest rock and roll bands Dr Feelgood around 1990 and he is still touring and recording with this great band. Paul Shanahan has kept away from music for a while but thanks partly to his son recently picked up his guitar again and has a new musical lease of life.
I only managed to see the band Chevy once at a gig in Coventry at the General Wolfe, probably not that long before the band broke up but I regularly attended the Monday band night at Kelly's in the 80's where Red on Red often played, and over the years have seen The Rogues at various venues and see The Motorvators perform whenever possible.
The 30 year reunion show will be a great night, I was fortunate to be invited to one of the rehearsals recently and they sound amazing, with 3 guitars the sound really rocks, and Martin's vocals sound as good as ever. The band will perform most of the Taker album as well as tracks that did not make the release including the track Rock City left off the album at a late stage and what a rocker it is, and seeing the band rehearse this track it will go down a storm. The band will have two support acts for the show Riff Raff and The Jay Kay Pees (both chosen as great local rock bands and very keen to support the charity) The Taker will be on sale for the first time as a CD and the tickets are great value at £10 in advance and £12 on the door - contact details below. As mentioned the show is in aid of Macmillan Cancer support.
I did ask the band if this was a complete one off show or would they consider performing again in the future and the response was that if the interest was there it could lead to more Chevy gigs.
Local music scene blooming (2010)
The music scene in the Leamington area has really taken off in the last couple of years, and is now thriveing.We have plenty of pubs supplying live music of all varieties including Rock, Blues, Punk , Folk and Pop usually on Friday and Saturday nights.
The Grist Mill has built up a loyal following on its band nights with many of the more popular acts returning at regular intervals. The Clarendon is well known for its local musician nights and is also well attended as are the other pubs in the area providing live music including The Windmill, The Exchange and The Heathcote.
Many of the local bands that play the local pub circuit have built up their own steady following and these include V8, Betty Swollocks, The Motorvators and Leamington's own rock-a-billy band The Scatsville Busters.
We of course also have one of the very best music venues in the country on our door step The Assembly putting on a diverse selection of music all through the year often managing to attract artists that usually play larger venues, this year alone they have put on shows by UFO, The Wonderstuff, N-Dubz, Martha Reeves and Marillion to name but a few.
The Spa Centre seems to have been revitalised and has an impressive list of up coming performances in its catalogue including classical concerts and top tribute acts in the rock and pop field including Eagles tribute band Talon and by the time you are reading this Leamington's very own Chevy will have played their 30th reunion show at the venue.
On the Festival side we have the always superb Peace Festival in June at the Pump Rooms, the recent additions to the towns festival line-up the Latin Festival and Food Festival (includes music in the bandstand) and of course not to far away we have The Warwick Folk Festival and the Napton Festival.
So music lovers in Leamington are very well catered for and hopefully this will continue for years.
visit Leamington for a very special show
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER 2010)
The band largely responsible for my interest in live music photography and reviews, Mostly Autumn visit Leamington tonight Friday April 2nd for a very special show at The Assembly
The show is very special as will be the last with fabulous lead vocalist Heather Findlay who is starting a new adventure with a solo career, she will be greatly missed by all fans of the band.
After this show the lead vocals will be handled by another fantastic vocalist, Olivia Sparnenn who has been both with Mostly Autumn for several years on backing vocals and singing lead vocals with the band put together by Mostly Autumn keyboards Iain Jennings, Breathing Space.
I have followed the band for around 7 years and about 5 years ago started to take the odd photo with my small camera at shows but now I take it a little more seriously I write reviews and photograph the band wherever I get the chance.
The band play rock with at times a folk edge other times a progressive rock edge but always music full of passion and I for one am looking forward to a great night.
Fred's Last Stand
Sunday 29th August 2010 ( preview )
(PUBLISHED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)
V8 for a long time now have been one of the best local bands on the circuit, playing gigs in various pubs, festivals and other venues in the Leamington area as well as shows further afield.
They play covers of tracks by classic rock bands such as AC/DC,Thin Lizzy,Judas priest and Motorhead, throw in Rage Against the Machine and Disturbed numbers and sometimes their fun take on Tom Jones' Delilah.
This Sunday 29th August at the Windmill the band have their last show with the fantastic young lead guitarist Fred Cox who has been with the band for several years, and is leaving to pursue other musical projects, so hopefully a good turnout of local music fans will be there to see him off in style.
Everyone who has ever seen Fred play with the band could not fail to be impressed at his guitar prowess, and his solo during the band's version of the Black Sabbath Classic War Pigs had to be seen to be believed.
I for one will miss him playing with this great band and as front man Dave Cowan told me, they will be sorry to see him leave, but they felt honoured to have him play in V8 and are sure he will have a lot of success in the music business.
V8 will continue to perform with a replacement guitarist in the near future so best wishes to the band and to Fred in his new adventure.
The Motorvators drive into town – 2009 Gig Preview
(PRINTED IN LEAMINGTON SPA COURIER)
On Friday 27th November a new rock band plays its debut gig at The Grist Mill in Leamington Spa they are called The Motorvators and local music fans may very well be familiar with the band members. All three Bob Poole on bass and vocals, Baz Eardley on guitar and Ted Duggan on drums played with Leamington legends Chevy and Baz and Ted were also part of the popular Coventry rock band Iron Horse.
I was privileged to be invited to one of their rehearsals where amongst others they ran through the Focus track Hocus Pocus and the Bob Segar/Thin Lizzy tune Rosalie in pure power rock trio style.
I have always loved the classic three-piece rock band and their debut gig at The Gristmill should be a corker with a powerful rhythm section behind the fiery fret work of Baz Eardley.
They have a great selection of rock and blues classics to choose the set from and possible numbers at the gig include Rory Gallaghers Bullfrog Blues, Hendrix tracks Hey Joe and Little Wing and David Bowies Ziggy Stardust.
Great to have a new rock band in town.
5 YEARS OF FOLLOWING MOSTLY AUTUMN
(PUBLISHED IN AUTUMN LEAVES)
Later this year marks 5 years of following this great band thought I would jot down a few my highlights and hopes for the future.
Some fantastic shows in the last 5 years which started with the fateful day I saw an advert for the show at Robins Well in Leamington spa, crowd of about 20 (if memory serves) and knew straight away I had found something great (and possibly expensive!).Every show has been fantastic but highlights include planning a holiday around a show at The Acorn theatre in Penzance, making it to the wonderful city of York for 2 xmas shows, a great Passengers audio visual show at Wolverhampton Wolfrun, 2 more shows in my hometown of Leamington Spa and of course flying up to Edinburgh for last years MurryField gig (told you it would be expensive)!
MEETING PEOPLE BAND AND FELLOW FANS
Have also met so many great people at the shows and like to consider quite a few of them as friends (hopefully you know who you are)! and the banter when down the front of gigs is great. The band whenever possible make themselves available for a chat, cd signing and photo-op (I always say to my self I don't need another photo or anything else signed as I have so many picas and signed cd's but something happens to me when the chance arrives and out comes the pen and camera — sad I know)!
SEEING NEW PLACES
Going to the gigs also gives you a chance of sometimes seeing new places most dramatic of this my trip and 2 days camping at the rained off (ice-rained off at that!)last Blakey festival — in some ways a miserable experience because of the cancellation but the place worked its magic on me and have been back sight seeing once and plan to do again shortly.
Have never been to Scotland but me and the wife loved our stay in Edinburgh for the Bryan Adams support and as well as the gig did the bus tour visited the castle and of course found a few good pubs.
Other places of interest had never been to Cirencester before the show there and as we class Cornwall as our second home the Penzance show was a good excuse for another trip, also found some lovely places to visit in the surrounding areas of the convention site.
Thanks to following the band have also discovered Breathing Space and Odin Dragonfly two more great acts to follow and spend my dosh on (worth every penny)!
While always having an interest in photography this has only increased with Following Mostly Autumn from taking a few shots of the band on stage, and taking scenic shots on trips to see the band to having a couple of pics in Autumn Leaves including my proud moment off having my picture of Bryan on a front cover.
I have now joined the Leamington Spa photographic society (although everyone seems to be a much better photographer than myself) and recently put together a Mostly Autumn based slide show which I displayed to the society.
SPREADING THE WORD
Have enjoyed trying to spread the Mostly Autumn word with some success and getting friends to try there cd's and go to gigs and for the first Spa Centre gig in Leamington Spa hit the streets (and pubs)! of Leamington with flyers and posters.
Like all of you (hopefully)! reading this of course the music is of great importance and what music, have waited with such anticipation for the 3 new albums since I saw the light-Passengers, Storms over still water and Heart full of sky and loved each one and so pleased the band have gone the special edition, pre-order route (worth every penny again)!
Well, that's a quick trip through my 5 years (well almost) on the road and thanks to all band members, behind the scenes crew and fellow fans see you on the road.
FINALLY HOPES FOR THE FUTURE
Well, simply many more years of Autumn (the only season that counts).
Another live dvd and after the success of the last one another convention would also love an acoustic album out tracks from the back catalogue.
Here's to the next 5 years