Best of British Report - September 2018
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.
Best of British Report - August 2018
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.
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.
Best of British Report - July 2018
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?
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.
Thanks to The Westons for entertaining us and to everyone who attended on such a hot day.
Best of British Report - May 2018
May 12. Father and son duo Rick and Ashley, known as The Storms last appeared here just six months ago and for many it seemed like a friend’s reunion. Their friendly approach was a nice touch and they spent time before the start and during both breaks going round the tables chatting to everyone who wanted to. However, I thought it was inappropriate for them to continue doing this during the club announcements and raffle.
Compère Danny had placed on the tables what appeared to be a running list of the songs to be played with their respective line and partner dances. In the event they weren't all performed and older numbers not so much aimed at the dancers were included which resulted in three entertaining sets that contained a contrasting mix of currently popular songs such as Ride With Me, Down On Your Uppers and much older favourites such as King of the Road and an excellent version of Don't Close Your Eyes, well sung by Ashley. Rick’s impressive vocal range was demonstrated in successive numbers with a hint of yodel in Start Over to a much deeper sound in I Love You Because, which had some of the ladies swooning a bit. The Storms received good applause throughout and ironically Danny concluded the evening with a warning about flooding in the car park due to a heavy rain storm.
Finally, in view of comments received, I would like to confirm that although the paragraph and photo regarding the late Mary Bowen appeared alongside the Claws and Paws CMC report in the June Cross Country the item was initially appended to my April report and it was the Best of British CMC that she regularly attended.
Dave Goddard – DJ Best of British CMC
Answering Cross Country’s call to hear about people in the clubs I would like to give an extended mention of our DJ, Dave Goddard. His interest in being a DJ started in the 1970’s when he worked for a company servicing and installing jukeboxes. A side line was building and operating disco equipment and at weekends he would go out with a Transit van and the company disco to DJ private parties, weddings etc. At that time disco and the Bee Gees dominated the music scene. Subsequently he joined the telecoms industry but retained his love of music of all kinds. In the late 1980s he moved to Sheppey, Kent and discovered a Country Music Club where he became interested in the line dance craze. It wasn’t long before he had started compering and DJ work at two local clubs.
One night at the Best of British club John, who ran the club with his wife Mary, asked Dave if he could help out with the DJ spot due to his failing health. He immediately agreed and since John sadly passed away he has continued playing the music and has now been the club’s DJ for the past three years. Dave also occasionally DJs at garden parties for one of the members who used to run country clubs. Now 67, Dave has been spinning discs for 46 years, still loves doing it and hopes to carry on for a long time yet.
Best of British Report - April 2018
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.
Best of British Report - March 2018
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.
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