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

Stonecold Country
Stonecold Country

August 11. Stonecold Country appeared here this evening ahead of their performance at the Harlow Country In The Park event the next day, which several of our supporters also attended. The father and son duo, Ray and Steve Kedge are certainly not a ‘run of the mill duo’ and for the most part I really enjoyed the combination of Ray’s pedal steel guitar and Steve’s lead and rock guitar along with lead vocals from Ray with Steve harmonising. The rock guitar featured in an excellent version of Ghost Riders In The Sky, one of several numbers that got good applause whilst the dancers took a break. A song that particularly appealed to me was Mo Pitney’s Come Do A Little Life which although released in 2016 I don’t recall having heard before. The Mavericks Ride Away was a floor filler which I liked even if Steve “hates it with a passion”. This song typified the very full sound for a duo that Stonecold Country produce. A contributor to this is Paul Wright (from Fool’s Gold) who produces their backing tracks.

Stonecold Country
Stonecold Country

Congratulations to both Paul and Steve in being nominated for CCN’s Musician of the Year 2018 and to Ray who celebrates 50 years of performing country music this year. Definitely not in the country music category was Celine Dion’s My Heart Will Go On, performed in the final set, during which I was beginning to feel that it was the rock guitar that was going on for a bit too long. Brilliant as Steve is with his guitar work I think this was close to being too much of a good thing, a balanced view as I know some thought it was definitely overdone whereas others would have been happy with even more.

Mike

The Westons
The Westons

July 14. The Westons are a family trio consisting of Paul (lead vocals/guitar), Debbie (lead vocals/acoustic guitar) and Paul’s brother Cliff (lead guitar/dobro/vocals).

So far as I can recall this was their first appearance at the Best of British CMC although Paul and Debbie appeared here as Streamline in 2016 and 2017.

On the day that England failed to make it to the FIFA World Cup final and Serena Williams lost the ladies Wimbledon final in straight sets, poor Paul didn’t even make it onstage for the first set, having eaten something that disagreed with him on the way here. Debbie said “the show must go on” but was it just by chance that the first song with Debbie and Cliff as a duo was This Is Me Missing You?

The Westons
The Westons

Fortunately Paul had recovered sufficiently to make up the trio for the remaining sets which contained excellent lead and harmony vocals from them all and some brilliant guitar work from Cliff. The Westons are certainly a class act, helped, no doubt, by the extra versatility that having three vocalists gives them.


In the final set, by way of introduction to a song called Moonshadow Road, Paul announced that this was one of the songs from a charity CD he and Kenny Jr produced to help raise funds for the Behcet's Syndrome Society and to help raise awareness of Behcet's disease, This is is a chronic condition resulting from disturbances in the body’s immune system which Paul was diagnosed with 2 years ago. Paul has so far raised £6,100 towards his target of £10,000 and if you would like to help him you can donate via his just giving page at www.justgiving.com/paul-weston6 and/or people can buy the CD single at his gigs or get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Thanks to The Westons for entertaining us and to everyone who attended on such a hot day.

Mike