Ridgeway Country
Ridgeway Country

April 13. Although some of our regulars were absent, we welcomed  others who had travelled quite a distance to see Ridgeway Country including a couple from Portsmouth, two from Northampton who were staying locally and six from the Eastbourne area involved with the Golden Spurs club  in Herstmonceux.

There was one change to the usual line up with Tony, Mark, Jess and Matt being joined by the accomplished Ray Phillips on pedal steel. Ray, currently a member of the Ray Peters Band, was standing in for Dave Wheelhouse.  
I enjoyed Ridgeway Country’s mix containing numerous traditional country music classics, some singalong medleys and brief departures to the 50s/60s with songs such as Hello Mary Lou and It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.  
The last set contained one much newer number - Lonely For You Only, released by Midland in 2017.  
As Mary said as the band were introduced, it was a treat to see a five piece band on the stage, these days a rarity we must make the most of.  

Mike


Stonecold Country
Stonecold Country

March 9. Last here in August 2018 Stonecold Country made an early return as they were available at short notice standing in for our scheduled act who were double booked. I was away and have compiled this report from notes sent to me.

Father and son duo, Ray and Steve Kedge, were on top form and had the dancers up from the start. An early song, Dangerous Curves, featured some great guitar work from Steve. Ray (vocals/steel guitar) and Steve complemented each other all evening with their singing and instrumentation.

They performed Kiss the Girl, a Disney song from the film/show The Little Mermaid, which to me is a catchy and pleasant song to listen/dance to and yet across the Atlantic some have branded the lyrics sexist and misogynistic. As usual, Steve played a guitar solo and this time it was Ghost Riders In the Sky which club host Mary rated the best so far. Another song of note was Call Me When It’s Over written by local country singer/songwriter Billy Levin and you can see Stonecold Country singing this on YouTube.

They closed the evening with Gary Perkin’s Thank You which seemed appropriate as those present left thanking them for a great evening’s entertainment and the best they have heard from Stonecold Country.

Mike

The Trilogy
The Trilogy

February 9. The Valentines event saw the hall decorated for the occasion with hearts, balloons etc. and the ladies received a red rose. Some were dressed for the annual performance of the Trilogy when the club honours those who have given their lives in conflict and remembers loved ones and friends who have passed away in the last year, namely Carol Collins, Lawrie Bingham and the artiste Gary Perkins. Those who took part entered and left the hall to Special Absent Friends and the ceremony was performed to Mickey Newbury’s version of The Trilogy.

Harrison County
Harrison County

The entertainment was provided by Harrison County and it was good to see Chris Harris on (vocals) and Jim Martin (pedal steel & fiddle) back together again for one of their occasional gigs. They were a regular duo until about 8 years ago but now Chris usually goes out solo and Jim is part of Black Steel. During three very enjoyable sets, which contained many well performed familiar songs, I welcomed the inclusion of some newer material such as two of Brett Young’s best numbers (In Case You Didn’t Know and Mercy) and Burn Out by Midland, an American country band formed in 2016. A newer song maybe but a heartbreak ballad in true country style.

 

Mike

Steve & John - RancherJanuary 12. Having attracted last year’s biggest attendance Rancher got our New Year off to a great start with well over 100 eagerly awaiting their return
The dancers stayed on the floor between songs knowing they could dance to nearly everything that Rancher performed.
Steve and John constantly update their content and tonight played at least seven of the top 10 dances listed in February’s Cross Country.
As a listener (more so than usual due to a foot injury) I particularly liked Sangria, Wherever Love Takes Us (Waves of Love) and Thank You but Damn didn’t appeal to me.
Apart from some superb vocals I was impressed with their musicianship, for example the guitar work featured in Dirt On My Boots, which I don’t recall any other act playing here. All this was enhanced with quality sound and the care taken in setting up.

Not for the first time, some of Rancher's fans came bearing gifts, tonight Steve thanked Louise for her shortbread and Fiona for the best ever lemon drizzle cake.

Lawrence (Lawrie) Bingham

One of our long-standing regulars, Lawrie Bingham, attended this event greeting us as he so often did with one of his good humoured quips. Sadly, the following weekend he collapsed and died while attending another local country music club.
If there is any consolation at a time like this it is knowing that he died doing something he loved and in the way he said he’d liked to go.
His funeral at Medway Crematorium on January 23rd was attended by people from several CMCs and one of his favourite songs I Just Want To Dance With You by George Strait was played.
We’ll miss you Lawrie and send our condolences to wife Jean, family and friends.

Texas Gun with kilts on display
Texas Gun with kilts on display

Dec 8. Texas Gun made their second appearance at the Best of British CMC in 2018 albeit as a duo this time following Ryan’s departure from the act. The hall was decorated for the Christmas show and mulled wine & mince pies were available to all. George Payling and George Jnr. are a good act for a special occasion and they entered into the festive spirit with a seasonal medley which got a full circle up for a barn dance and they changed into kilts for the second set. In addition to plenty of country music they also gave us a Scottish/Irish sing-along medley and ended with a lively rendition of Loch Lomond.

Many agreed with Mary that the raffle table looked amazing and she thanked all who donated prizes. With a full hall, including 10 guests from Germany, the party atmosphere ensured that the year ended on a high note.

Mike

Kalibre
Kalibre

November 10. A visit from Kalibre is always something to look forward to and once again we were treated to a flawless performance from the duo that pleased the listeners and the dancers alike. Perfect sound balance and volume, vocals from Bobby Reid where every word could be clearly heard accompanied by the superb sounds that Bob Dixon produces from his pedal steel and dobro. In some numbers Bob produced so much emotion from his pedal steel that it almost seemed to be talking to us. Expecting it to sound as if it was 'laughing' was, of course, an entirely different matter.

Many of those attending encountered hazardous driving conditions in order to reach the club due to a thunderstorm and torrential rain. And The Thunder Rolled again at the end of the evening when the two Bobs performed the Garth Brooks song to bring a great evening of country music to an end. Compère Danny summed it all up in two words “Absolutely Brilliant”.

During the first break the dance floor was full when Fiona took the dancers through the steps of the line dance “Thank You” as a tribute to Gary Perkins who wrote the song. In the song Gary thanks all his fans for dancing to his music and playing his songs - thinking of all the good times shared. At this club we’ve enjoyed some good (and special) times with Gary and The Breeze, the last being our sell out Christmas show in December 2017. So it’s our chance to say Thank You to Gary from all at the Best of British CMC.

Raffle Table
Raffle Table

Thanks also to Mary for making the crocheted remembrance poppies that so effectively decorated the raffle table.

Black Steel
Black Steel

October 13.  Black Steel comprise of the friendly duo Jim Martin (pedal steel, guitar and fiddle) and vocalist Bob Schwarz. From the start their sound quality and volume were just right. It’s not often we get a fiddle player these days and Jim’s versatility in playing several instruments combined with self made backing tracks perfectly accompanied Bob’s excellent vocals. Among a wide range of songs there were several that stood out for me because they are rarely played including Mark Chesnutt’s Old Country and Things I Carry Around (which sounded like an older country song but was only released in 2016 by Troy Cassar-Daly, an Australian country music singer). Thanks to Jim and Bob for entertaining us with an ideal mix of songs on a very warm October evening.

With DJ Dave in Spain, Danny provided the music during the breaks as well as compering.  He had the sad task of announcing that Carol Collins, a loyal longstanding supporter, had died from cancer. Her love of country music was apparent at her funeral on October 17th when two Charlie Landsborough songs were played. Condolences to husband John and family and friends.   

Gone Country
Gone Country

September 8. Gone Country, making a now rare appearance at a country music club, have made two changes since they last appeared here in 2015. Dave and Chris are the additions and their line-up is now: Stu Edwards (lead vocals and rhythm guitar), James Taylor (lead guitar and vocals), Arwen Bingham (female lead vocalist and backing vocals), Dave Hill (drums) and Chris Robbins (bass guitar).

Early on, Stu sang Eastbound and Down as a tribute to Burt Reynolds, who died a few days ago. It was watching films such as Cannibal Run and Smokey and the Bandit, and listening to Jerry Read’s soundtracks, that first got him into country music.

Later in the set, after a duet with Arwen (Jackson) our train whistlers participated in Orange Blossom Special which featured Stu on harmonica to end what I thought was a terrific first set to loud applause.

The second set started with Stu and James performing Duelling Banjos from the floor. They were happy to accept requests including Red Hot Salsa and a Bruce Springsteen favourite My Oklahoma Home (with the audience singing the “It Blowed Away” refrain). A try at something different was Bad Jokes For Me which Lefty Frizzell used to perform but I didn’t think this enhanced their repertoire.

It is, of course, difficult for an act to please everyone and there were some early leavers as putting on a show that broke the usual mould wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. However, there were many who showed their appreciation with enthusiastic applause at the end - what superb value for just £6.

Mike