Tag Archives: village blues club

92. PHIL THE MUSIC QUILL IS TWO YEARS OLD!

I can’t believe that my website is two years old on 1st February 2016! Just out of interest, here are my ten most popular articles; ordered by the amount of ‘hits’ they’ve had….

TOP TEN ARTICLES FROM THE LAST TWO YEARS:

  1. SON OF MAN at VILLAGE BLUES CLUB, DAGENHAM TRADES HALL. Gig review. Sept. 2015 (Review #69)
  2. MARIELLA TIROTTO & THE BLUES FEDERATION Live In Concert album review (#34)
  3. LARRY MILLER at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC. Gig and interview. July 2015 (#61)
  4. MARTIN TURNER’S WISHBONE ASH at VILLAGE BLUES CLUB, DAGENHAM ROUNDHOUSE. Gig review. May 2015. (#56)
  5. MARTIN TURNER’S WISHBONE ASH at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC. Gig and interview. October 2014 (#25)
  6. MARTIN TURNER’S WISHBONE ASH at THE BEAVERWOOD CLUB. Gig review. April 2015 (#44)
  7. VIRGIL AND THE ACCELERATORS at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC. Gig and interview. Nov 2015 (#83)
  8. MARTIN TURNER Written In The Stars album review (#73)
  9. RED BUTLER at THE NEW CRAWDADDY CLUB. Gig and interview. August 2015 (#66)
  10. MALAYA BLUE at DAVE SPARKS ROCKIN’ BLUES NIGHT, ANCHOR, BENFLEET. Gig and interview. Aug 2015 (#64)

 PTMQ

69. SON OF MAN with special guest DEKE LEONARD (+ STEVE KELLY and GAVIN LLOYD-WILSON) at the VILLAGE BLUES CLUB’s 7th Reunion. Dagenham Trades Hall. Saturday, 12th September, 2015. + a few words about the venue.

(Photo: PTMQ)

Empty stage (Photo: PTMQ)

Preamble: Well, its a great shame that the Village Blues Club couldn’t hold its twice-yearly reunion in its traditional home at the Dagenham Roundhouse, due to the venue being completely closed down. I don’t know what is exactly going on with this issue, but I know a lot of people who are very unhappy about it.

Anyway, I went along with my gig-mate, the guitarist Glyn Protheroe. Being a Welshman himself, he was very keen to reacquaint himself with, as he stereotypically said ‘…my Welsh boyos!’; and I met up with him at the venue. We had a pint in the public bar where we also met Darren Wisdom (who is known for his work for Martin Turner), before entering the Music Room.

The Venue: Not to be thwarted by being ousted from their traditional home, the club’s impresario Ken Ansted and his crew were able to book the nearby Dagenham Trades Hall. I’d never been to this venue before; but I was very impressed with it. There is a public bar that has its own stage at the front of the building; but we were booked for the large Music Room at the back. This is a very well designed venue; with a small stage at one end and a bar at the other. There is a good sized dance floor, with seating all around, including a raised seated area.

Support Act: Steve Kelly and Gavin Lloyd-Wilson (Photo: PTMQ)

Support Act: Steve Kelly and Gavin Lloyd-Wilson (Photo: PTMQ)

The Reunions: After very much enjoying the Village Blues Club’s 6th Reunion (featuring Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, see my review #56), back in May (and still held at The Roundhouse), I was keen to go along for this Son Of Man gig. The bands chosen for the reunions are those that still exist (in some form or other) from those who played at The Roundhouse between 1969-75. For example, Wishbone Ash played there so MTWA were booked last time. Stray played there, so Del Bromham’s Stray have played at an earlier reunion. And of course, Man played, so Son Of Man were booked this time. Scheduled for the 8th jolly-up next May, is John Coughlan’s Quo. JC of course, is the original drummer of Status Quo who played the Roundhouse several times in their earlier days. Son Of Man also played at the 5th Reunion last year – a gig that I unfortunately missed; but which apparently was a great success too.

Support Act:  At the last reunion, support was from singer/song-writer Steve Kelly. He was here again; but this time joined by bassist Gavin Lloyd Wilson.  Steve is an erstwhile regular of The Village Blues Club, and now runs the music venue The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales; which Gavin also frequents. This apparently was only their second gig together as a duet, but they were musically tight. Gavin is an impressive bassist, and used both fretted and fretless bass guitars – both headless. Steve’s playing and vocals were very good too.

Micky Jones' SG (Photo: PTMQ)

Micky Jones’ SG (Photo: PTMQ)

Their set was similar to Steve’s last Reunion appearance, and consisted of a few well known covers: ‘Immigrant Song’; ‘In My Chair’; and ‘Lazy Sunday’. And some of Steve’s own very interesting compositions: ‘Butter No Parsnips’ (‘No matter how you dress it up its still the same old shit!’); ‘Long Way From Home’ (Both metaphorically and realistically, for all the Village Club regulars); ‘Suburban Villa’ (A Ray Davies-esque social observation song about how things have changed since the 50s, and how we recall the good, but block out the bad things); ‘Universal Brain’ (Dedicated to Syd Barrett – a fine line between madness and sanity: ‘Just a flick of the switch and you’ll be barking at the Moon!’); ‘Ne Plus Ultra’ (About our hopelessness in the face of natural events); ‘You Can Never Shine’ (Dedicated to Kevin Ayers. You can’t appreciate the mountains till you’ve been down in the valleys); ‘Oh No No No No’ (A sardonic, sarcastic song bemoaning the lack of protest about political events); and finally, ‘Sights And Sounds’ (A Music Hall style song imagining seaside promenading 100 years ago). A fine set.

Son Of Man:   As their name suggests, Son Of Man are descended from the legendary Welsh Psychedelic / Prog-Rockers, Man. Leading the band is George Jones (son of the much lamented original Man member Micky Jones) on guitar; who for a while played in Man himself with his Dad. He is joined by Bob Richards (one of Man’s many drummers); Glenn Quinn (previously of Tigertailz on guitar, vocals); and three ex-members of fellow Welsh rockers Sassafras: Richie Galloni (Vocals); Marco James (Keys; vocals); and (normally) Ray Jones (Bass; vocals). But unfortunately, Bassist Ray couldn’t make it for this gig due to having a hip op; so Peter Stradling (of George’s other band Scotch Corner) kindly stood in for him. Quite a remarkable line-up, then! The band play their own original material, as well as classics from the parent band’s repertoire, of course.

(Photo: PTMQ)

Son Of Man (Photo: PTMQ)

Deke Leonard:   Special guest for this gig was another founding member of Man, the inimitable Deke Leonard; now aged 70, but still gigging with Son Of Man occasionally. He also founded Iceberg; and has done solo work too. His advertised presence at this gig was eagerly awaited by the Man fans who had bought up all the tickets in advance.

The Son Of Man Set:  After a short interval, Master Of Ceremonies Ken Ansted introduced the headliners, Son Of Man, to great applause. George immediately armed himself with his Dad’s famous Gibson SG, and the band began with the old Man classic ‘Love Your Life’. It was a great, lively start. They followed up with the Bluesy ‘Talk About Morning’. It was clear, even from these two opening numbers that we were privileged to be witnessing this performance. The musicianship from all on the stage was second to none.

The more progressive piece ‘Back Together Again’ followed; and sounded really good. The next song was introduced by George: ‘This is a great song, written by the Dark Lord himself, Deke Leonard …’Hard Way To Die’, he said; and a fine performance it was too; with George playing bottleneck on a 54 year-old Strat (probably his Dad’s too). They gave us a newer song, ‘All Alone / C’mon’ next. This was new to me, but I liked it a lot; especially the Space-Rock vibe of ‘C’mon’. There are long instrumental passages in this, during which all of the band excelled. After receiving great wails of approval, George said: ‘You liked that then!’. Oh yes!

(Photo: PTMQ)

Deke (Photo: PTMQ)

The newish ‘Guiding Hand’ was next. Its another great Bluesy number. The Proggy ‘Otherside’ followed. It has an interesting arpeggiated intro, and great use of heavy reverb. Glenn on lead guitar was superb on this one. ‘Quasimode’ was then dedicated to all the late members of Man. Marco on Hammond was impressive here. With so many ex-members of Sassafras in the band, it would only be right to include one of their songs – ‘Ohio’. I was very glad to hear this again. It was a fine rendition. ‘Call Down The Moon’ was introduced next, with its distinctive wah-wah riff intro and solos. Brilliant!

Deke joins the band:   At this point George introduced the special guest – who else but the inimitable Deke Leonard? He climbed on stage and donned his distinctive SG with its psychedelic circles paint job, to chants of ‘Deke! Deke! Deke!’; and set off with ‘The Ride And The View’ – Deke’s mastery of the bottleneck still apparently sharp. And we fans showed our appreciation when it ended. The mental ’71 71 551′ followed; with three harmonised guitars belting it out. And finally the rousing Blues-Rocker ‘Romain’ finished the main set to raptures from the audience.

Bananas! (Photo: PTMQ)

Bananas! (Photo: PTMQ)

Encore!  There didn’t seem much point in the band leaving the stage as we all knew they’d be required for a well deserved encore! At this point my mate Glyn produced a banana and handed it to George on the stage; who ate it in spite of it having suffered for a few hours in his pocket – well, he said it’d been in his pocket, but who knows! Obviously we all knew which song would be next – the bizarre ‘Bananas’ of course! What a fantastic rendition it was, with a great keyboard solo from Marco. George promised that that the band would be back again next year before they finished with the unique ‘Spunk Rock’.

Aftermath:  What a fantastic show! What with the lights; dry ice; extended abstract solos; and copious use of the Wah-Wah pedal. It was the nearest I’ve been to a 70’s Prog-Rock gig since …well, the 70s! All that was missing was the smell of grass! Without exception, all of the band members were impressive – tight and highly competent. This could be my choice for Best Rock Gig at my end of year review …watch this space! After the show we met some of the band members; and had a nice little chat with Deke and some other people. Thanks to all the very talented musos that we saw on the night; Ken Ansted and all the staff of The Village Blues Club for their hard work and dedication; and to the staff of Trades Hall for a very memorable evening indeed. PTMQ

56. MARTIN TURNER’S WISHBONE ASH (+ STEVE KELLY) at the VILLAGE BLUES CLUB’s 6th Reunion, DAGENHAM ROUNDHOUSE. Saturday, 30th May, 2015 + a few words about the venue.

MTWA: Ray's last gig! (Photo: PTMQ)

MTWA: Ray’s last gig! (Photo: PTMQ)

Well this was a very special gig indeed; but I’ll start by explaining a little about the venue. The Village Blues Club used the Dagenham Roundhouse (in the suburbs just East of London, for those not too familiar with the area), as their venue between 1969 – 75. The list of major British and Irish bands that played there during this time is lengthy; and the status of the club and venue is legendary in SE England: Led Zep; Floyd; Purple; Gallagher; Queen; Genesis; Lizzy; Hawkwind; Heep; Stray; to name but a few, all played there. Unfortunately, due to complaints from residents about the noise (loud music; revving bikes; etc), the local council put a stop to the club in ’75. The Roundhouse is still a pub that holds occasional events; but nothing like the calibre of its legendary past. One of the regulars from those early days, was Ken Ansted; who, in 2008, started the Village Blues Club Nostalgia Group on Face Book. And one of the activities of the group is to hold a members only reunion (originally annually; now twice yearly – in May and September), at the old venue. Among the exalted list of great bands that trod the boards at the Roundhouse in its heyday, was of course, Wishbone Ash.

As you are probably aware, these days there are effectively two Wishbone Ashes – Martin Turner’s and Andy Powell’s. (See my Blog #5 for some info on the split). But for the 6th Reunion, MT had kindly agreed to play with his band. I said above that this was a very special gig – not just because these Village reunions apparently have all been very successful due to the exclusive and friendly nature of the Nostalgia Club – but it was significant in the history of MTWA too. This was because one of MT’s guitarists, Ray Hatfield, was to play his last gig with band after ten years of sterling service; and his recently announced replacement, Misha Nikolic, was due to make a brief debut too.

Support act: Steve Kelly (Photo: PTMQ)

Support act: Steve Kelly (Photo: PTMQ)

I arrived at the venue with my journalist son James by about 8 o’clock. There were several people I knew in the audience including the ubiquitous Dave and Brian from Touchline Live Music with their respective ladies; and the knowledgeable Darren Wisdom on the Merch stall. We had a brief chat with the guv’nor Ken Ansted; and with  the soon to depart, Ray Hatfield;  who is often to be found chatting with the punters before and after gigs. (See my Blog #51 for a review of Ray’s excellent album At The Drop Of A Hat).

The support act was another of the regulars from the old Village Blues Club days, Steve Kelly. He played a solo acoustic set beginning with Led Zep’s ‘Immigrant Song’; followed by Quo’s ‘In My Chair’. The next song was dedicated to the locals whose complaints led to the closure of the club back in ’75 – the Small Faces’ ‘Lazy Sunday’. ‘Wouldn’t it be nice to get on with me neighbours!’ he aptly sang; and ‘Here we all are sitting in the Roundhouse!’ He also covered ‘It was A Very Good Year’ famously sung by Sinatra. He did some of his own songs too: ‘Butter No Parsnips’; Suburban Villa’; ‘Hash’ (an instrumental which he renamed in honour of the nights special guest ‘Wishbone Hash!’; ‘You Can Never Shine’ (dedicated to Kevin Ayers; ‘Phoenix’ and ‘Sights And Sounds’. A good little set.

Just before 9PM, MTWA emerged from the Green Room and stepped on stage to great applause. Their excellent set list was pretty much that which they played when I saw them six weeks before at The Beaverwood Club. (See my review Blog #44). Suffice to say, that if anything, their performance was even better! Maybe it was the friendly and cosy ambience of this great little venue; or maybe it was the tangible realisation that these four would not play regularly together again. But whatever the reason, all four of these fine musicians (Martin; Ray; Danny Willson; and Tim Brown) gave a superb performance – maybe the best I’ve seen them play.

MTWA: Misha's first appearance (I apologise for the quality of this photo! PTMQ)

MTWA: Misha’s first appearance (I apologise for the quality of this photo! PTMQ)

And I think the rest of the audience probably would have agreed with me. The place was rockin’ –  packed and sweaty! The fans consisted of people of all ages, but mostly middle-aged rockers – like myself! As I looked around, I saw a Johnny Winter look-alike; several blokes who resembled Jesus; and bizarrely, a dead-spit of Andy Powell! All were digging the MTWA vibe! The limited tickets had sold out some while before the gig, so everyone there was up for it. And we weren’t disappointed.

As usual, it was a two-part set, plus encore. They played three songs from their forthcoming album Written In The Stars;  five from the classic Argus album – including an astoundingly good rendition of ‘Sometime World’; and many of the other old WA live favourites. But the encore was especially good – and significant. Starting with ‘The King Will Come’ (which had everyone singing along); the lads then played ‘Doctor’ (from Wishbone Four, 1973). It was to be Ray’s last number for MTWA; and Martin thanked him for the ten years he had put in. Ray has been very popular with the fans, and left the stage to rousing, well deserved applause.  Finally, the new boy Misha was called on stage to do the final number, ‘Jailbait’; borrowing Ray’s guitar. He was warmly welcomed by all; and we’ll be eagerly seeing how he contributes to the band – its a tough act to follow though!

Good luck to Ray as he embarks on new projects – including a third album soon, I hope. Good luck to Misha as he joins one of the best live bands in Britain. A big round of applause for Ken Ansted and his crew for all their hard work in getting this fantastic gig off the ground. And finally, a big thank you to the charming ladies behind the bar who all worked tirelessly, providing beer with a lovely smile! PTMQ

Here is a link to the Wikipedia entry on the Dagenham Roundhouse…. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dagenham_Roundhouse

Here is a link to the Official MTWA website… http://www.martinturnermusic.com/