Best of British Report - December 2017
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!
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.
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.
Best of British Report - November 2017
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.
Best of British Report - October 2017
October 14. A few days ago club host Mary discovered that our scheduled act could not appear. It seemed she might struggle to get a replacement of similar calibre but with assistance from Sylvan Entertainments, and a bit of luck for us, Mary was able to obtain Souls ‘n’ Stone (Jaynie & Greg) who were available due to a cancellation.
With both Jaynie and Greg sharing the vocals, they performed three lively sets which, as happens when you are having fun, seemed to be over far too quickly. Jaynie’s bubbly personality added to the enjoyment. She often mentioned suitable dances, something that pleases some but can irritate me - with Jaynie though it was okay, just quick suggestions rather than instructions.
Souls n’Stone weren’t the only ones standing in and Danny did a good job in Dave’s absence sorting out the music before the start and during the breaks. His request board is well used now and he managed to play all the line dance requests except one before running out of time. Near the end Greg sang one of my current favourites, Aaron Goodwin’s Lonely Drum, while Jaynie joined the dancers on the floor. This was soon followed by a rousing and well applauded finale, a medley from the musical Calamity Jaynie Jane.
During the evening Mary thanked all who had generously supported Susan Brown's sky dive which, together with donations from some neighbours, raised £408 to help Max, her grandson. Earlier in the year Max was catastrophically injured in a road accident and for most of the time has been cared for by the Children’s Trust at the UK’s largest residential brain injury unit for children and young people in Tadworth, Surrey.
Best of British Report - September 2017
September 9. As Pam & I were away celebrating our Golden Wedding Anniversary this report has been compiled from notes by Mary Bryer & Maggie Spice.
This evening was one of the reunion gigs that Steve Jay and Tony Crooks are fitting in to their solo diaries, by request, as mentioned in September Cross Country. Tonight though they appeared as Loco Boys rather than Plain Loco.
Attracting our biggest attendance so far this year it is clear they are as popular as ever. Steve has a long association with the Best of British from the time the club started and has played at every venue the club has used.
As Loco Boys their act was not aimed so much towards the line dancers but there were plenty in tonight enjoying the mix of music that included something for everyone to enjoy. As well as popular numbers such as Dean Brody’s Little Yellow Blanket there were several self-penned songs, for example Blue Blue Memory (Tony) and Midnight Cowboy (Steve).
This was a super night, with lots of friendly banter, great atmosphere and even a sing song at the end.
Best of British Report - August 2017
August 12. The hall was a bit slower than usual filling up as some who weren’t here last month were caught out by diversions due to the closure of a main road leading to the club. Even so nearly everyone had made it by the time the duo ‘Kickin’ Country’ (Chris James & Bryan Cox) started the first set looking for a ‘High Class Lady’ but it wasn’t long before they lowered their expectations and settled for the ‘First Fool in Line’‘. As well as strong vocals individually from both Chris & Bryan throughout their three sets their harmony work was impressive with songs such as Josh Turner’s ‘Lay Low’. The mix included plenty of country songs of course and we were also treated to a bit of rockabilly with the very fast Matchbox number ‘Rockabilly Rebel’ and taken all the way back to the 1950’s with an Everly Brothers number and ‘Only 16’.
Before Danny introduced Kickin' Country there was a shock, for those who didn’t already know, when he announced that Steve Canham, better known as Steve Scott, had died suddenly at home earlier in the week. Together with Mike Norton he appeared regularly at this club and at other clubs in Kent as Steve Scott’s Changes. He performed on the British Country Music scene for many years and I first saw him with his band Rio. When he first formed his duo the act was simply called ‘Changes’ and his partner in the early 2000s was Alan Gregory. The name for his new act was inspired by the Heather Myles song ‘Changes’
For most of his working years Steve was a singer whose rich vocals endeared him to many. In my view no one in the UK sang ‘California Blue’ better than Steve and I always considered this to be his signature tune. In the late 70s and early 80s though he worked as a mobile DJ and in recent years he had regular spots as a presenter on Radio Caroline, including the ‘Archive Roots Americana Show’ who have/had a special edition on Monday 28 August dedicated to Steve.
Our condolences go to his partner Rose and family.
Best of British Report - July 2017
July 8. For the second successive month we welcomed an award winning duo to the Best of British CMC. This time it was Jonny Williams and Lynnette Marie, CCN’s Duo of the Year 2016 with Lynnette also being this year’s CCN Female Vocalist of the Year. It wasn’t hard to see why they have received such accolades and their top quality presentation of mostly traditional country music had a unique fresh sound to it. Top class vocals and good musicianship were sustained for three very entertaining sets. Good as their guitar playing was it was the double bass played by Lynnette that particularly appealed to me instrumentally, simply because we don’t often hear it.
Unlike some of us, at no time did they show signs of wilting in the heat on another hot summer day. They said it was like “being back in Spain”. They certainly deserved the enthusiastic applause they received throughout the evening and I hope it won’t be too long before Jonny and Lynnette return to the Costa del Larkfield.
Best of British Report - June 2017
June 10. Texas Tornados, CCN’s Duo of the Year, attracted the club’s best attendance of the year so far. Early on, Pete Stothard (lead vocals and guitar) remarked it’s good to be at a “place that’s packed”, just as it was when they were last here in 2014. Stu Payne (keyboards, lead guitar and vocals is the other half of the act which was a trio then. Texas Tornados are very popular with line dancers and performed plenty to keep them happy but for me the evening was made more entertaining by other songs aimed at a wider audience. Included in the mix were slower numbers that were welcomed on such a warm evening. We were taken back to the 1960s with ‘Earth Angel’ and ‘Who Put The Bomp’, brought up to date with a new one (to me) - John Pardi’s ‘Head Over Boots’, treated to the Spanish influenced ‘I Don’t Know What She Said’ and for a bit of fun we were encouraged to sing along to ‘The Black Hills of Dakota’.
Pete was warmly applauded when he announced that during the 3½ years since his last appearance here he has raised over £37,000 for cancer charities. He will be running the London Marathon for the fourth time in 2018 when he will be joined by Bob Keeley. Well done Pete and thanks to you and Stu for such an enjoyable evening.
Once again I have to end a report on a sad note as Roger Chessman died from cancer on June 12. He and his wife Sheila were regular attenders until he became too ill. He was Social Secretary at the Larkfield Active Retirement Association and, together with Sheila, attended Danny & Barbara’s ‘It Takes 2’ partner dance classes. Our condolences to Sheila, his family and friends. Mike
Best of British Report - May 2017
May 13. Stone Cold Country are a father & son duo who are popular around the clubs with line dancers but they played country music both old and new to suit all tastes. Father Ray sang the lead vocals and played pedal steel guitar and Steve played guitar and harmonised. They are certainly not a ‘run of the mill’ duo and made standard numbers sound a little bit different.
Early on Steve, got a good round of applause after featuring in Ghost Riders playing one of his three guitars. Steve has been playing guitars since he was 14 and is undoubtedly a very skilful performer as he demonstrated throughout the evening, not least with his solo rendition of My Heart Will Go On. I expected greater applause than it got but it seems that for some the ‘rock’ influenced style of playing had lost its appeal.
At the beginning of the last set Ray gave a much deserved tribute to Dean Barns, lead guitarist with the Ray Peters Band, who has died suddenly.
Sadly we have just lost another of our long time regular supporters with the passing of Mary Hutchinson.
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