Saturday, 21 November 2009

A Christmas CD at Amazon

The band are featured on a new CD that has been released by in memory of forum member Pauline Swindells, who passed away recently. Johnny Storme, a great singer from the Isle of Wight, as nice a fella as you could hope to meet, sings a brand new song, Christmas Day Again, written by another forum member, Steven Sinclair

Good King Wencelas by Creeping Bentgrass is one of 9 tracks on the CD which can be ordered from the Billy Fury site above or direct from Amazon. Proceeds from the CD will be donated between the Earl Mountbatten Hospice, Isle of Wight and the Heart Fund at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Rockin' in Eccleston

We came, we saw, we rocked! St Agnes Social Club in Eccleston near Preston was our venue last night and the large audience was superb. They sang, they clapped, they danced and they laughed at all the jokes - I think we may take them on tour with us...

Against a pantomime backdrop (yes we did - no we didn't) we went through our first half selection of country, folk and Irish.

In the second half we almost turn into another band as we go through the 1950s, 60s and 70s through to line dancing and then rock and roll and Status Quo and then last night we went through a few ballads too as folk flocked to the dance floor.

Our host Len, was very funny on the mic and we enjoyed a hotpot and trifle supper between spots too. Oh yes... and that's the New Year's Eve slot taken care of too!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

The Night Has 1000 Eyes

Always a good one to belt out towards the end of a night on stage, I've been putting guitars and bass on Bobby Vee's hit The Night Has 1000 Eyes this afternoon.

That makes it 15 songs finished, one still needing guitars and 2 or 3 more to start for the new album. One of those will be the song that we sang at the funeral the other week to fulfil a promise, although it is a wonderful song anyway, very emotional and a little unusual for us in that it's not a well-known song.

We've not yet decided whether to put a solo one from me on the album. The three albums we've done so far have all featured a solo track - Great Balls of Fire on the first, Fleetwood Mac's Need Your Love So Bad on the Kites album and the relatively unknown I Try To Think About Elvis on the last one.

So the album is moving closer bit by bit... I bet you're fed up of me saying that, aren't you...?

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Aughton Institute

Last night we played the Aughton Institute. With Bob we were back to a trio for the night.

And what a great night it was too. The organiser had started out by apologising that the audience would be smaller than normal because of half term, but there were plenty of folks there and we had a great night, with a few request, a full dance floor and a return invitation for 13 March next year!

So any of you in that area know where to find us next year!

Farewell to a Young Friend

We said goodbye to a young friend yesterday. Christian was only 24 and had been severely disabled all of his life. Unable to talk, to move independantly or even to eat easily because of a problem with swallowing, yet with a huge IQ that made his problems so much more a frustration.

His gift was in showing people how much reserve they had, how much patience and fortitude and capacity for love.

We got to know Christian and his sister Hollie, who suffers from the same syndrome a few years ago when we were asked to play a garden party for their birthday celebrations. We have played several such parties and have got to know many in the family. Indeed, we were always treated as family, rather than as paid entertainers and it has been a pleasure and privilege to go and entertain them at those events.

It introduced us to such things as wheelchair dancing, as Hollie and Christian have many friends from schools and care centres who are less fortunate than the majority of us.

We were immensely touched to be asked to sing at Christian's funeral and we found the service very moving. Christian's parents are two of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet and our thoughts were and are with them and the rest of the family last week and onwards.

Rest In Peace, Christian

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Happy Birthday Jeannie!

Last night was Jeannie's 60th Birthday Party. The band played (with Bob on stage with us). Fran did the catering - and picked up so many compliments for the wonderful buffet spread she put on.

It was a very busy and very full day but all the effort over the past few weeks came together to good effect and it was a brilliant night that seemed over almost as soon as we started! Jeannie's birthday is during the coming week, but we chose the weekend for the party to ensure as many people could come as possible - mainly me I think at the moment!

There's a few more celebratory events to come this week. Jeannie and Fran are going off for the day on Tuesday for an all-day pampering at a local beauty salon. David and I were turned down as the staff said they had to have a fighting chance... Couldn't understand that...

Then at the end of the week we're taking a couple of days off work to have a meal and perhaps fit in a trip out somewhere. On Saturday the band have a club date in Ormskirk.

Today we have been unloading the cars - last night we were so knackered that we left everything in the car. Although Fran just wanted one bag out of the back seat. This was so crowded I opened the door very carefully as it was around 1:30 in the morning. Unfortunately whilst I caught the bag that wanted to fall out, it didn't much matter as it was upside down... A large Quality Street tin, which had cup cakes or something in it, fell out with the loudest crash I've ever heard and trundled off down the once-silent street! Sorry neighbours...

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Introducing the Duo

Well it's now official that Bob will be leaving the band to concentrate on his work with The Old School Band.

David and I wish him every success in the ceilidh band which has become extremely successful and in demand for parties, making it difficult for him to perform with us on Saturday nights!

However David and I are well used to performing as a duo and that is how we are going to continue for the forseeable future. We have a few club bookings coming in and bookings for 2010 are looking as though it will be a good year again for us.

We'll be travelling about a bit too - February sees us up in the Lake District performing for a wedding reception and March sees us back in Northampton at the big Billy Fury gig of the year - Sunnyside. But we hope to see our regulars at the usual regular bookings at Myerscough, Witton Park, Garstang, Heskin Hall, Larbreck etc.

A return to Highfield Road is on the cards too, as apparently club members have been asking when we were to be booked again. Given that David had flu that night (and gave it me too, grrr...) we can't have been too bad! Also clubs in Eccleston and Ormskirk are in the calendar.

The new album will be completed as a duo - it's been a long time coming, but I've released a few tracks from it now - in the left hand column you can download The Gambler, Have You Ever Seen The Rain, Be My Baby, King For Tonight, Forever Autumn and 24 Hours From Tulsa.

The album will be a full hour of music and, of course, I'll let you know when it is available.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Garstang Arts & Music Festival

Today we have been playing at the Garstang Arts & Music Festival, in our usual spot by the Discovery Centre.

The festival is a regular one for us but this year has been extended into the Bank Holiday. So rather than play on the Thursday as usual we have played today and will be back in the same spot by the car park entrance on Bank Holiday Monday afternoon around 12:30pm through until 4:00pm.

And it feels very nice to have a photo and be described in The Garstang Courier as a "highlight" of the festival this year! Thanks for that and thanks to all those who came today to see us, to those who heard us from their car and recognised our sound from a gig on Cleveleys Promenade a few years ago, postponing a walk along the river to come and listen and make themselves known!

So we are back on Monday afternoon folks! Come and say hello, don't be shy, we're very approachable as long as you don't expect us to engage in conversation halfway through a song! (Strangely, some people do seem to expect that!!!)

Fingers crossed for the weather on Monday, today it just about held off for us so with any luck it will do the same again on Monday!

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Walking Festival at Blackburn

Yesterday we were playing at Witton Park in Blackburn at their Walking Festival.

We had a steady stream of folk coming to see us and stay for a while and the weather wasn't so unkind that anyone needed to dash for cover.

The Mayor and Mayoress came for a word, the Mayor showing great interest in the keyboard.

Thanks to all those who came to support us and the event!

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Special Edition Album

I've had this in mind for quite a while.

There were a couple of tracks on the very first album we produced that didn't sound quite right. They were recorded way back in 2002 and I hadn't then brought the keyboards into the band and so the tracks had no drums or keyboard sounds at all.

By the standards we reached even on the other tracks of that first album they were a bit raw and so David and I had a crack at re-recording them last night and will use them to produce a Special Edition of the first album Keeping On... which will be the one on offer from now onwards.

The tracks were the two Creedence Clearwater Revival tracks and you can download for a listen below.

Bad Moon Rising

Proud Mary

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Happy 21st Birthday!

Today we played for a 21st Birthday Party out to the north of Preston. We've played this one a few times now - not always for a 21st of course, but we did the young lady's 18th and her brother's 21st and this year was her turn to be the magical 21.

The garden party started in fine form with brilliant sunshine as you can see.

By the time the champagne cork popped and smacked David in the face - were they trying to tell him something - anyway, two and a half hours of his singing had not done much for the weather, as can be seen here as he poses with the wayward champagne cork.

Not long after this, thunder rumbled and then the heavens opened and stayed open and we had to quickly drag everything back into the tent/gazebo. The rain wasn't going anywhere though and we had to dismantle and start to dry everything out.

At least we had managed to do a brand new version of Bridge Over Troubled Water for the party girl's gran - as promised a couple of years ago!

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Corporate Event Gig

Last night we played for the JISC Regional Support Centre (RSC) Northwest annual conference at Southport Theatre and Convention Centre after I had been involved in the event with my work hat on!

A few people were wondering what to expect and some were possibly a bit gobsmacked but lots of nice comments folks so thanks for that!

A birthday party on Sunday will make the 3rd gig in 8 days!

Large version of photos: creeping bentgrass

Monday, 22 June 2009

Charity Birthday Gig

Saturday was John's mum's 75th birthday. Ex-boxer Brian London's 75th birthday too so he told us that morning as we met up to have breakfast in our favourite cafe in Blackpool. But it was for Evelyne Burke's party that we played as part of an annual charity event.

Ever since husband Allan died five years ago, Evelyne has organised a charity bash at the caravan park where she lives in aid of Cancer Research. Over the years she has raised somewhere around £3000 at those events.

The afternoon is devoted to raffles, tombola, name the doll, the whisky wall and a bring and buy.

In the evening the band has played. Outside if the weather is fine and in a large barn if it's cold or threatens rain.

This weekend we were in the barn and David and I gave the residents and holiday makers 3 and a half hours of country, folk, sixties and rock and roll. We started with Don Williams' Gypsy Woman and ended with everyone in a circle singing You'll Never Walk Alone with a whole host of stuff along the way, including a first airing (without even a rehearsal) of Billy Fury's Maybe Tomorrow as part of a five-song tribute to Billy's memory.

Large versions of the photos: Evelyne, John and David

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Myerscough College Open Day

Eeh... it's been a busy weekend!

Today we've been playing at Myerscough College's open day - from 10:30am right through to 4:00pm with only a short break. The ends of my fingers on my left hand are a bit raw - and then I sliced my index finger on a string too. A bit sore!

Altogether in the past 24 hours we've played for 8.5 of them!!!

A few problems today when the sun came out (although I'm glad it did!) as the LCD screen of my keyboard just disappears in bright sunshine.

Thanks to all the folks who stayed to listen and to all who bought CDs and who came to talk to us - even the guy who started talking to David halfway through a song... what are people like??? Ha ha ha!

Two weeks now for my fingers to re-grow before our next gig that three in a week! Sheesh... gluttons for punishment!

Large versions of the photos: one, two

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Steam Fair Gig at Heskin Hall

Last night we did the Steam Fair at Heskin Hall, Chorley - our 5th year at this event.

This year Jack, the organiser, had wanted to try something a bit different to keep people on the grounds longer and we started playing around 5:30pm, finishing at 8:00pm to be followed by another band.

With another gig today at Myerscough College's Open Day this fitted well with us as we were home by 11:00pm instead of the usual 2:00am and have to be onsite at Myerscough before 9:00am this morning!

But bright-eyed and bushy-tailed of course with only a slightly sore throat - I think I've been swallowing my tonsils all night from the feel of it!

Oh yes, for all you steam fans out there, here's Little Dorothy. A picture of Big Dorothy some other day for all you fans of big dorothy's...

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Witton Country Park Gig

Ooh, ahh, agh my back! Sigh, it was a long afternoon and now I've carted all the equipment back into the house from the car I'm ready to flop!

True there was a bit of rain, but actually it didn't put the audience off at all and they sat through it without any complaint.

The sun came out at intervals, the space in front of us stayed full all day and David was sporting a Billy Fury T-shirt.

It's been a bit of an autograph day as well for us. We don't get too many of those but sometimes when one person asks it can start a chain reaction going. So there's a few people in around 5 years time will be wondering who on earth it was that signed that bit of paper they found in a book or on a shelf or in a drawer!

News for those who normally travel to see us at Garstang Music and Arts Festival in August. This year we are unable to make the usual Thursday spot but the festival has been extended to the Bank Holiday Monday and we will be appearing, probably in our usual spot on Bank Holiday Monday 31 August 2009. Confirmation of the exact place and times later!

Monday, 20 April 2009

Rehearsal Time

I know...! Us?!? Rehearse?!? But once again we found ourselves trying out new stuff.

Last week we finally got round to going out for a "band meal", that is all three band members with wives. We had a wonderful meal at the Italian Orchard in Broughton, near the M6 motorway bridge on the Longridge Road and whilst we were merrily ruminating (or whatever we were doing) Bob suggested we ought to do The Hollies number Just One Look.

So on Saturday I got the keyboard out and had a listen to the original and dashed off a backing onto the keyboard. Dashed a bit too quick actually as I left a verse out... darn it! But it wasn't all a waste as I'd also had a go at another great hit from the same group, I'm Alive and that proved an instant hit with the other guys once David discovered he really could sing that low!

We'll be trying it out in a few weeks at our annual spot in the courtyard at Blackburn's Witton Park (see column at left for full details of public gigs).

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Album Number Four

David and Jeannie were round yesterday and we did a bit more work on the band's fourth album somewhat creatively given the working title Four.

It's going faster than we've ever got on with an album before but that may be because we have added so much new material to the repertoire since the last album that we have a huge amount of stuff competing for space. That's a mix of the new stuff competing with older songs we don't play as often these days.

Anyway, though most of the 16 tracks recorded so far are waiting for a bassline to be recorded, there is one that we recorded for the Billy Fury site and I added a bassline from the keyboard. King For Tonight was the B side to Last Night Was Made For Love which appeared on the third album, Right On The Line.

Yesterday we added a couple of tracks: Wild Mountain Thyme and Living Next Door To Alice (without swearing...)

Listen to: King For Tonight, Last Night Was Made For Love

Monday, 23 March 2009

Sunnyside - The Event!

What a FABULOUS weekend!!! The Billy Fury weekend went in a blaze of meetings, hugs, laughs, highs and great, great music!

We went down to an Innkeeper's Lodge hotel in Northampton that was more-or-less just filled with Billy fans including the wonderful Moya, a close personal friend of Billy's who had come all the way from her adopted home in New Zealand. Moya's a pint-sized person with a tanker-sized personality and was such a lot of fun!

Friday afternoon we played a set in the meeting room of the hotel to a small but enthusiastic audience and then Friday night was the first main gig - an informal gathering in a packed room with many of the great artists who have sung on the Sounds Special monthly feature on Billy Fury web site. We met up with all the artists and the other regulars from the site's forum and it was a great night with music from (in totally random order)Rob Dee, Bruce Seaton, Johnny Storme, Jewel, Dean Hubert, Angus, Steve Sinclair, Jane, Pat James, Paul Staines, Snowy, Phil Jennings plus David and myself.

Paul and Johnny, dubbed The Fury Boys by the female members of the forum, (The Fury Girls...) did a fantastic duet together and set hearts fluttering all round the room judging by the reactions!

Then it was the turn of The Fury Girls themselves at the end of the night to gather to sing Fans of Billy Fury to the tune of Land of Hope & Glory, whilst I desperately tried to keep up accompaniment on the keyboards! We ended with all the singers up for a rousing rendition of Billy's most famous hit Halfway To Paradise.

After such a great night there wasn't much chance of sleep until we had wound down a bit and a bottle of wine in the room with David and Jeannie brought the night to a close and David and Jeannie went back to their own room and we collapsed like a light switched off.

Saturday was the main event at the Sunnyside club where Billy had given his last stage performance. The singers were joined by Jett Scream, Geoff Howlett and Andrew Tween.

Out of 14 acts we were chuffed to find ourselves only 4th from the top of the bill, which was topped by Billy's ex-flatmate Vince Eager with his band Rockola.

With three hours of music before we were due to go on, there was plenty of time for a few butterflies in the stomach and I was unbelievably nervous as the MC, disc jockey Pierre Petrou from London's Radio Northwick Park introduced us. But the roar that followed us as we walked onto the stage banished the nerves and I quickly made sure the guitar was still in tune and then promptly cocked up the intro to I'm a Believer! Not to worry, we gave what seemed like a good set of six songs and we hadn't gone all that far before the floor filled with dancers which is always a good sign!

Lots of people made very kind comments afterwards but we found it quite strange and having spoken to some of the other singers we knew we weren't alone. You grow into a gig and we felt that we had only just got going and then our 6 songs were up and we had to come off. But enough people said how much they had enjoyed it to make up for any regrets about only having a 20 minute slot and the whole night was a buzz with some really great acts!

I was grabbed to dance with Babs and then Jean and Marie and then once more all the singers joined Vince on stage to sing "HTP" and a really great night ended on a high.

We left on Sunday morning after doing a final round of goodbyes and reflected on lots of new friends made and meetings with people from the forum who I've felt I've known for so long. The proudest moment? Probably when someone from one of the two fan clubs came to say how much he had enjoyed my arrangement of Billy's King For Tonight which he described as "rocked up"!

Unfortunately Fran's camera died but David (the Click-Monster) took loads of photos of the other artists so I'll borrow them to add to my memories of a BILLYANT night!

Friday, 20 March 2009

Northampton Weekend

We're just getting ready to load the car with keyboards and guitars and head off down to Northampton for this event.

If you haven't got tickets already there's now no chance of getting any I'm afraid (for "afraid" read "glad to say"!) The event is sold out and the Sunnyside club it was reported had to turn down another 50 applications for tickets the day after it sold out!

Tonight is a chance to meet all the great people from the forums and I'm anticipating a great night tonight also!

Reports to come...!

Monday, 2 March 2009

Setting Up

Went out for a Chinese last night with David and Jeannie and they gave me some photos of the last gig which included some rare set-up shots.

We don't often get photos of all the work involved in setting up the stage, arranging cables into a loom so we don't trip up and tuning instruments and so on, so I thought I'd include a few here. Looks like I'm doing most of the work too! Sigh...

We are looking forward immensely to the Billy Fury gig in Northampton in 3 weeks. We are sharing the stage with lots of other artists but hope to do a set of 6 songs at the Sunnyside Club, the last venue Billy played. Saturday 20 March.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

First Gig for 2009

Last night the band gave a performance to an invited audience of some 80 friends and family members at Staining Village Hall.

It was great to see so many people there, especially as some of them we don't see all that often. Old school friends had come from the Rochdale area, some family had come from the Chester area and Fran's brother and his wife drove up from Swindon to spend the night with us.

There were, of course lots of friends, family and colleagues from Blackpool, Cleveleys and Garstang to swell the numbers.

It was only the second time we had arranged a season-starter for ourselevs and this time any excess funds will be going to Cat Rescue (Blackpool, Wyre & Fylde.

Each member of the band shares their house with 2 cats and so it's a charity close to our hearts.

We had fun with some of Fran's friends last night who were calling for some Abba songs. Abba don't normally feature strongly in our act, though John did his best and included a snatch of Waterloo in the keyboard instrumental in the middle of Hi Ho Silver Lining!

Large versions of the photos: view from the hall, close view