Tag Archives: strawbs


A couple of my friends have recently asked if I planned to do a review of 2014. I’d like to; but time as always is against me! So I just thought I’d say a few words about the year with respect to my blog. Its been quite a remarkable 11 months since I kicked off with a review of the STRAWBS gig at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC here in Essex. At first, I thought no one would be interested, but I was glad to see that’s not the case. Right from the off, I had quite a few followers. That first Strawbs review has remained one of the most popular too.

I’ve met a lot of helpful and interesting people during the course of the year – not just musicians; but promoters; writers; photographers; or just knowledgeable music lovers.  Some of those musos I have been a fan of since my teens  – MICKY MOODY and MARTIN TURNER to name but two especially. Its also very flattering when some of these musicians have personally invited me to gigs and sent CDs for me to review as well.

Anyway, here are just a few thoughts and facts on my blog’s year….

MOST POPULAR BLOG was #25, MTWA at Touchline Live Music. Second was The Move at the Boom Boom Club (#15). In third place was MTWA again (blog #5); and fourth. The Micky Moody Band at Coolham (#23). I’m glad to say that these entries are still attracting new readers through search engines too.

BEST ROCK ALBUM must go to VIRGIL AND THE ACCELERATORS for their superb second studio album Army Of Three. It was very flattering to be put on the Guest List by Virgil, and to meet and interview the band before their gig at the Touchline. (Blog #26). Looking forward to seeing what VATA will be up to in the new year.

BEST ROCK GIG for me was a difficult choice. I saw fabulous performances from THE MOVE; VATA;  and the THE STRAWBS. But I’d say MTWA at The Touchline just wins by a whisker (Blog #25). Nice of Martin Turner to agree to an interview beforehand too. This coming year, so far, I plan to see FOCUS and the PINK FAIRIES.

BEST BLUES-ROCK ALBUM. Difficult! Could be LARRY MILLER’s Soldier Of The Line;  BERNIE MARSDEN’s Shine; or  LAURENCE JONES’ Temptation; but I’d choose DEBORAH BONHAM’s Spirit I think. I was hoping for an interview with her too, but she unfortunately had to cancel her gig at the Touchline due to a chest infection.

BEST BLUES ALBUM: I enjoyed JAMES ANTHONY’s Some People Get It, which he sent from Canada for me to review. (Blog #24); and MILTON ‘n’ FARROW’s Skiffleodeon – also given to me by the band to review (Blog #22). RUBY TIGER’s Vistas was excellent as was MATT ANDERSEN’s Coal Mining Blues; but I took a shine to DANA GILLESPIE’s Cat’s Meow the most.

BEST BLUES GIG is another tough choice. Great shows by COCO MONTOYA (Blog #14); MICKY MOODY BAND (Blog #23); and RUBY AND THE REVELATORS (Blog #16); but the best for me, was the very special show put on for the BOOM BOOM CLUB’s 1,000th gig; which included superb performances from OTIS GRAND; ALAN DARBY; LAURENCE JONES and THE VOODOO SHEIKHS among others (Blog #30). In 2015 I’d like to see RED BUTLER and LARRY MILLER if I can.

BEST FOLK GIG  I attended during the year was OXJAM MUSIC FESTIVAL in Exeter. A great selection of West Country folk acts in one afternoon. I was invited by my good friends in DEVONBIRD who played a wonderful little set – as did every artist present. (Blog entry #28).

BEST FOLK ALBUM in my opinion was ANGE HARDY’s The Lament Of The Black Sheep. I’m hoping to review soon (see Blog #32).  Also in 2014, I heard ADRIAN NATION’s second album Fall Or Fly, which is excellent. As for 2015, I’m looking forward to the second DEVONBIRD album which should be released in the spring – they are recording as I write. For info on Devonbird, see Blog #4.

DOWNSIDES. I had a couple of negative comments made to me during the course of the year – one due to a misreading of my blog; and one due to a certain curmudgeonly singer-songwriter who wrote unpleasant and untrue things about me – even after I gave him a good review!  I never intend to cause offence – in fact, I’ve been criticised for liking everything! Well, I do seem to! (I suppose if I didn’t like something, I wouldn’t write about it). Anyway, the vast majority of those I’ve written about; and my readers too, have been very complimentary and supportive indeed; so I didn’t loose any kip over it!

REGRETS: ‘…..I have few, but then again, too few to mention’! These surround missed gigs. I was particularly peeved at missing LARRY MILLER; and TERRY REID because I couldn’t get time off work; and DEBORAH BONHAM’s gig at the Touchline was cancelled (as I said above) due to the fact that the poor lady had a chest infection.  I hope she’s well now and will play there soon.

FUTURE PROJECTS include a review of Ange Hardy’s Black Sheep album; an article on my friend, the song-writer TONY PARTIS; and continuing to go and see as many and as varied gigs as possible. I also plan to get into the studio myself to try to record some of my own songs (for what they’re worth!). And I shall continue to support and promote my friends’ projects too.

A SAD FAREWELL to those musicians who sadly passed away in 2014:  JOHNNY WINTER (See my blog #17); JACK BRUCE; JOE COCKER; PHIL EVERLY; ACKER BILK; PETE SEEGER; BOBBY WOMACK; TOMMY RAMONE; ALVIN STARDUST; and LYNSEY DE PAUL. These luminaries will be sadly missed; but leave us a fine legacy in their work which their fans will cherish for all time. R.I.P. (My apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone).

THANKS to all those who have supported; encouraged; offered constructive criticism; advice; photos; and other pics; and generally taken the time to read my blog. Those people are too numerous to mention but they know who they are; so thank you one and all! Here’s looking forward to more of the same in 2015.


1. THE STRAWBS (+ ADRIAN NATION) at THE TOUCHLINE MUSIC CLUB, Hullbridge, Essex. Saturday, 1st February, 2014



I’d ordered tickets for this gig well in advance; and at only £13 a shot you can’t go wrong! Cousin Charlie and I turned up at 8PM and were directed to our seats at table 7 – the music room being arranged with tables like a trendy jazz café – all very civilised, and I must say I approved! Last time I saw a gig here last December (for BUDDY WHITTINGTON) the seats were unusually arranged in rows with standing room behind. But the ‘jazz cafe’ style of seating arrangement is normal for this club. I like the Touchline; its a small friendly place and gets some good acts booked – some fairly famous names, and a few copy-cat/tribute bands too.

The show opened with Master of Ceremonies Brian Sangwin introducing the support act, ADRIAN NATION. I’d heard this name before and was keen to see what he was all about; knowing nothing of his music. We’d clocked him sitting near his own merch table at the back of the music room as we walked in; he on one chair, guitar on another. It was nearly nine before this singer/song-writer, suitably folk-bearded, took to the stage; and it was immediately evident that he knew his way around an acoustic guitar. He impressed the audience with a display of fretboard skills; constantly changing guitars and tunings to suit his repertoire. He wasn’t fazed when white noise sounding like a dentist’s drill introduced itself in the middle of one song. (This was later bizarrely found to be a fault on the hand dryer in the gents WC; and as Brian Sangwin pointed out later, proves that men do wash their hands!)

NATION’s music is not easily definable, although obviously sitting generally under folk music’s wide umbrella. I particularly liked his piece inspired by the book ‘Up the Yukon Without a Paddle’; and his only cover of the set, a very good version of RICHARD THOMPSON’s ‘1952 Vincent Black Lightning’. At times he reminded me of GORDON GILTRAP – especially in his use of open tunings. He says he has an ambition to play the ROYAL ALBERT HALL – well, he has the confidence, the voice, the guitar skills, and the songs to do so; so why not one day?



Now to the main event. Most people of a certain age if asked to name a Strawbs song will undoubtedly say ‘Part of the Union’ – that classic hit single of theirs from 1973. This however, is like JEFF BECK only being remembered for ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’, or (as my good friend ROB WHEATON of folk band DEVONBIRD often likes to point out) JONI MITCHELL for ‘Big Yellow Taxi’. In all these cases these highly memorable songs are in no way typical of the bulk of the work by these artists. Anyone expecting The Strawberry Hill Boys (as they were originally known) to perform anything like ‘Part of the Union’ would have been sorely disappointed though, as this veteran band played what they are best known to their long-term fans for: high quality progressive rock (sometimes with a folky feel). Furthermore, its prog-rock originating from the golden age of British prog-rock – the early 70s.

The band currently consists of: ageing long-term members, DAVE COUSINS (vocals and guitar); DAVE LAMBERT (lead guitar); CHAS CRONK (bass and 12-string); and TONY FERNANDEZ (drums); now joined by ADAM WAKEMAN (keyboards). The latter replacing his brother OLIVER WAKEMAN who left recently to join SNAKECHARMER; and both of course sons of the legendary keyboard maestro RICK WAKEMAN, who famously tickled the ivories for the Strawbs until departing in 1971 to join YES. I wonder if any other band can boast of having a father and two sons all playing keyboards for them at different times?

The band opened with ‘Turn Me Round’ and continued to play several old songs with barely a word from COUSINS until he announced they would then play the “Hero And Heroine” album in its entirety. And a near faultless rendition it was too; apart from at one point COUSINS began playing with his capo on the wrong fret (easily done!) and had to start the song over again. All in all though, it was a damn fine performance. I was a little disappointed that they didn’t do ‘The Man Who Called Himself Jesus’; but very glad they played ‘Down By The Sea’ with its haunting arpeggio. With the main set finished it was only necessary to clap, cheer and whistle loudly to get the lads back on stage for an encore. This final offering was of course the iconic electro-folk hit single from 1972: ‘Lay Down’, which had everyone singing along. ‘Part of the Union’ would have gone down well at this point as a finale, but it was nonetheless of a performance without it.

With COUSINS’ distinctive voice and flamboyant arm-waving front-man style; LAMBERT’s confident lead guitar; CRONK’s reliable bass playing; FERNANDEZ’s steady drumming; and WAKEMAN’s skilful keyboard work, THE STRAWBS can’t fail to impress; even after all these years. We found it a very enjoyable gig; and I’d recommend anyone with a liking for prog-rock to see them whenever possible. The only downside was that I couldn’t drink because I was driving – shame, because a few pints of London Pride would have gone down nicely! Cheers, Phil The Music Quill