Rancher
Rancher

April 14th. Rancher’s popularity with line dancers is as strong as ever and with many regulars also attending there was a full house. On their website Rancher wrongly gave our address as New HIVE lane which was quite apt really as the place was certainly buzzing. A feature of this duo - Steve Lovett (lead vocals & lead guitar) and John Hallett (Electric & Double bass) is that they regularly update their content with newer songs, and their backing tracks are mixed by Steve in his own studio. Cross Country’s current top dance All The King’s Horses was sung early on with one of my own current favourites, Ice Cold Corona, coming in the second set. Maybe a Gypsy Queen put a bit of a curse on Steve at the beginning of the third set as there was ­a slight technical hitch and he had trouble remembering the words. All treated with good humour and he soon recovered when he got back to his Roots (Zac Brown style),

Fiona was thanked for baking a lemon drizzle cake for Steve & John and they expressed their appreciation for the supply of coffee from Fred. Plenty of shouts for more and the evening ended with Champagne Promise,

Sadly, we learnt this evening that a former club regular, Mary Bowen, had passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack. When Mary lost her husband Ron two years ago she decided to move back to Essex to be near her family. They were both regular country music fans and loved both club events and festivals. They were great friends of Dave, our DJ, who I plan to feature in a brief profile with next month’s report.

Mike

Chris Dunne Band
Chris Dunne Band

March 10. You can pay a lot of money to go to a heavily publicised show only to come away disappointed and thinking "‘I’ve been had". Well, tonight, for very little money, we were well and truly Dunne, in the nicest possible way, by the superb Chris Dunne Band.

The award winning band, appearing here for the first time, travelled from Hayling Island having performed at Merv & Maria’s Country Party in the afternoon. To see a six piece band on stage is a treat in itself but it’s what they do that really counts. And what they did was give us an evening of quality country music that won’t be forgotten in a hurry by many who attended. Chris, who performed most of the vocals, was well supported by Roly Eales (lead guitar), Nick Bevans (bass guitar), Lee Feltham (drummer), Tom Brierley (acoustic guitar) and Gerry Hogan (steel guitar), all talented musicians. With so much to enjoy I noted that Travis Tritt’s Rough Around The Edges attracted extra loud applause as did a medley combining Dance the Night away and Heartbeat. I particularly liked the catchy I Like A Two Step Too and the good harmony work throughout. Demands for more started before the applause had died down at the end of the final set and the many enthusiastic comments as people left included “best band we’ve seen here” and “worthy of a theatre concert”. Even a few who would have preferred some newer country songs acknowledged they had seen a top class band.

Thanks to Chris & Co. for a great evening – look forward to your return next year. Thanks also to DJ Dave for being topical and playing some Irish songs ahead of St Patrick’s Day before the live music started.

Mike

The TrilogyFebruary 10. This was the club’s Valentine’s themed event when the ladies are presented with a rose on arrival and the usual and ever popular free marshmallows are replaced with heart - shaped ones. The annual performance of the trilogy was held at the start of the evening. Mary explained that “our trilogy was a salute in honour of those who have lost their lives in conflict worldwide and to remember loved ones and friends who have passed away. Over the last year we have sadly lost Mary Hutchinson, Roger Chessman, Steve Scott and Buddy who ran the Ace of Diamonds CMC”.
There was a change to Montana Country Band’s usual line-up with Chas, who lives locally, standing in on bass guitar and backing vocals for Graham Day. Completing the trio were John Clark (lead vocals/lead guitar) and Les Hendricks (drums and backing vocals). To describe the evening, I can’t do better than to quote John when he said “we are a vintage country band playing vintage country music”. Wagon Wheel sounded like the newest song they performed but it is not as new as many might think as the chorus was recorded by Bob Dylan in 1973 and the verses added in 1998 by Keith Secor of the Old Crow Medicine Show. Thanks to Montana Country Band for entertaining us and good luck with Montana Covers, their first CD recorded after 40 years.

Mike

Additional photos of the Trilogy can be found in the Best of British Gallery

Longshot
Les & Glynn - Longshot

January 13. Given the numbers suffering from flu and other winter bugs the attendance was as good, if not better, than expected. If anyone was suffering from post-Christmas January blues Longshot dispensed the perfect remedy to get rid of them. I only recall seeing them as a trio previously but they are now a duo - Glynn Long (lead vocals and drums) and Les Evans (lead guitar and harmony vocals). For a duo they filled the stage well, with Glynn’s drum kit being an attraction in itself. I was so impressed with the overall sound that I asked about the backing tracks. It was no surprise to learn that these have been carefully created to maintain the unique Longshot style, so much better than acts that use ‘off the shelf’ backing tracks.

I think you would have to be hard to please not to have enjoyed this performance by Longshot and a first for me was seeing Lonely Drum being performed live by a drummer. Thanks Glynn and Les for getting our year off to a good start.

  Mike

Raffle Prizes
Raffle Prizes

December 9. For our Christmas event a full house welcomed back Gary Perkins and the Breeze - a special band for a special occasion. Leaving the snow behind them as they travelled south to Kent they took no chances and were already setting up when I arrived at the hall nearly 2½ hours before the start. Festive decorations, mulled wine and mince pies for everyone and possibly the best display of raffle prizes I’ve seen at a CMC all added to the occasion.

Lead vocalist Gary was superbly supported by Steve Morris (keyboard), Andy Mottram (lead guitar and vocals), Adrian Fountain (bass guitar & vocals) and Dan Wright (drums). Gary performed most of the vocals including several self-penned numbers such as Angel On My Shoulder and the lively Chase Me Round The Bedroom Honey. A feature that I particularly liked was the extension of some of the songs to feature individual members of the band in solo sections to demonstrate their musical talents. Towards the end, the band entered into the festive spirit, donning Christmas hats and singing a couple of seasonal songs before performing one of their signature songs, Rawhide, where they jump up and down enthusiastically – they’ve been doing this for years, much the same as pogo dancing I guess although we don’t see a lot of this at the Best of British!

Danny & Mary with the band
Danny & Mary with the band

The club aims to cater for anyone who likes country music so it was pleasing when Gary complimented the club on having lots of dancers and lots of listeners, quite rare in his experience. As well as thanking Gary and The Breeze for giving such an entertaining evening it is worth mentioning that because of the forecast of heavy snow tomorrow Steve and Adrian cancelled their planned stay at a local Travelodge and travelled overnight to be sure of performing with Nicky James in Blackpool in the evening. This is just the sort of commitment that Rob mentioned in January’s Cross Country.

Visitors from Germany
Visitors from Germany

Finally, among those attending tonight we welcomed country and western enthusiasts Michael, Erica, Sabine and Christian from Germany. During their trip to England they stayed at Potters for Alan and Sonia’s partner dance event and also visited Milton CMC and Claws and Paws. Michael Schmidt is a line and partner dance choreographer who has written numerous dances including Missing Two, Cold Beer and new ones for Alan and Sonia’s workshop at Potters.

 

Mike

The Storms
Rick & Ashley - The Storms

November 11. I have seen father and son duo The Storms at other Kent clubs but I think this was their first visit here. There was a good crowd waiting to welcome Rick (vocals/acoustic guitar) and son Ashley (vocals/lead guitar) on stage but not the anticipated full house due to some regulars not attending as expected and some late cancellations.
Compère Danny introduced the duo as “a little Storm and a big Storm” but there was nothing rough about their performance of three, fast moving, enjoyable sets with a good mix of old and new. In the first set, when Rick introduced Lonely Drum he hinted that we might be surprised if we realised that behind the catchy song the lyrics possibly reveal a rather dubious meaning.Online I found some debate about what the singer is doing when “beating on my lonely drum” (best not detailed here) but I’m sure it won’t worry many of those enjoying this current floor filler, as they did tonight. No such issues in the remaining sets when some picks for me were the Mavericks Ride With Me, Rose of the Sea (Rosa Del Mar) and a trip back to the 1950s with What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For and A Teenager In Love which got the audience singing along.

Thanks Rick and Ashley, you deserved the many compliments made at the end of the evening. 

This has been another good year for the Best of British CMC thanks to Mary and her team, continued support from longstanding and newer regulars and, of course, the acts that have entertained us.

Mike