Friday, 1 April 2011

Sunnyside 2011 - Saturday 19 March

The second half of my report of our annual Billy Fury tribute at the club which saw his final public performance.

Saturday dawned and we sat down to an excellent cooked breakfast before heading into Northampton for a look round. In past years we've gone into Wellingborough so it was a morning of discovery, which I'll show a little of in another entry. I know they are a bit few on the ground recently, I've been rather busy!

Then we headed for Sunnyside to suss out the new layout. The old club layout has now totally gone and the place is a pub restaurant. The new layout works very well for that, with new wall partitions with gaps or "windows" cut through to allow views into different parts of what once was the concert room.

The old stage area at the bottom end of the large room is therefore cut off from the rest of the space. It was reached down a ramp from a slightly higher floor at the back of the room where there was a bar. The balcony created by the higher floor extended down one side of the ramp to overlook the stage area on the left, whilst on the right, tables gave a same-level view of the stage area with access on that side into the main pub.

It was in this area that we set up the stage to allow a viewpoint from as much of the room as possible.

It did mean that the artists were singing to a line of people getting progressively taller on the ramp, but it worked fairly well!

We had been asked to bring our own kit this year as, rather than a band, the main professional act was Johnny Red, a well-known local act with a great Billy tribute set. Taking all our own gear meant that we needed a full half hour to set up. We decided to leave this until later as once Johnny Red had set up his very comprehensive stage gear, a crowd of singers gathered to test their tonsils around the mic and we walked back to the hotel to get showered and changed.

Then I got the PA, speakers and keyboard set up and we blasted through our version of Bad Moon Rising to test the sound, Jeannie and Miss Franny running round the different areas of the place to listen for any imperfections in the sound - hiccups, burps, slurred words, bum notes, swear words, that sort of thing...

We'd had to crank it up a bit because of the size of the room and standing just in front of the speakers, I have to say we enjoyed ourselves immensely on that test; it was obvious that a ripple of excitement had gone round the room and it was a struggle to force ourselves off, but we did!

More new faces turned up - I'd never met Russ Dee or Roger Sea before, despite having "known them" from the forums for years and it was great to shake their hands and catch up.

And then, such was the number of artists attending, the music started at 4:30pm. Dave Jay, thwarted from walking into the audience by the new layout, still delivered some cracking numbers and then switched on his polished MC mode, introducing each act. There are very few seats now with a view of the stage. People were standing and crowding around the gaps and doorways through the new walls and partitions.

It did make it a bit frustrating but the sound carried and there was plenty of applause and cheering and a really brilliant atmosphere and there were some absolutely superb acts.

Jane Hubert made her Sunnyside debut with some fabulous vocals. She sang a fast Helen Shapiro song and then started "Funny... but it's true..." and I went cold and all the small hairs on the palms of my hands - er... I mean back of my neck - stood up. Wonderful!

Roger Sea had a brilliant mirrored jacket - I want it when he's done with it ha ha! We followed Michelle Gibson onto the stage. David had blabbed it was my birthday and Dave Jay got the audience to sing Happy Birthday to me. As he said, "suitably embarrassed"!

Harry, the organiser (who has obviously got to know us by now), came to whisper in my ear to make sure we finished our set on time! We started with an Elvis number, Suspicion (the video of this is at YouTube) and then went through our set, ditching a planned number in order to get in a request from the audience dedicated to the perfect woman - When You Say Nothing At All...

We had to ditch another song in order to finish on time (a Cliffy too - Moya would have loved that one...) as both having to bring instruments forward from the back of the stage and the Happy Birthday bit had eaten into our time, but when I checked my watch we had finished on the dot of our allotted time - by heck, and I still had a joke or two in hand...

Laura and Emily followed us after the raffle. A brilliant set and two great girls - we were chatting with them later (closely watched by Miss Franny and Jeannie of course...)

Johnny Red delivered a great tribute act to Billy and then we all came on for the traditional rendition of Halfway to Paradise to finish the night.

A brilliant night! Everyone calling for a repeat next year. Everyone happy. Everyone quite willing to have stayed another few hours and sung some more. Harry, we salute you. Sunnyside 2012 will be on 16-17 March. Can't wait!

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