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.
Best of British Report - April 2017
For the third successive month we enjoyed the sight and sound of a first class, well presented, five-piece band with the return of Ridgeway Country who attracted our biggest attendance of the year so far. Since their last appearance here in September 2014 Matt Jacobs (drums) has joined the band with the rest of the talented line up being Tony Hetherington (lead vocals/rhythm guitar), Jess (bass guitar/harmony vocals, Mark Jacobs (lead vocals/lead guitar) and Dave Wheelhouse (pedal steel). During the first set I particularly enjoyed 'All The Rage In Paris' a Derailers song I haven't heard for years. A fast moving second set ended with 'Drugstore Truck Driving Man', cue for an old fashioned waltz country style.
During the second break Mary hands out the birthday etc cards and tonight she presented Janice & David, two of the team that help keep the club running, with a card signed by everyone ahead of their wedding next Saturday.
The final set seemed to go just as fast as the previous two and, without being unfriendly, Ridgeway Country minimise the chat to devote maximum time to the music with one song often flowing straight into another. And why not when they perform so many country songs so well together. Near the end though there was a temporary departure from country music when, with permission from compère Danny, they performed a couple of rock'n'roll numbers giving some of our fitter dancers the chance to strut their stuff with a bit of twisting to 'Let's Dance' and 'Let's Twist Again'. It was back to country music for the final songs and loud requests, without prompting, for their well deserved encore.
Best of British Report - March 2017
March 11. With our regular reporter away, it falls to me to report on the great evening we had at The Best of British with The Ian Highland Band. This is the fourth successive year they have appeared here and although they are generally a settled band there were two changes to their line-up tonight with Tony Spence on Drums and Bob Collins ably replacing Aaron, the usual lead guitarist who is suffering from tennis elbow. It’s always good to see the stage filled by a five-piece band and the remaining regulars were Ian Highland (lead singer), Dave Kirk (steel guitar & vocals) and John Rider (bass guitar).
It seems that you have to be pretty fit for the Best of British, as the dance floor was busy most of the evening, even during the breaks, with resident DJ Dave playing requests for the line dancers such as Gypsy Queen. The only break from the music was with the raffle and the notices.
Ian was in particularly fine voice tonight, some said the best they’ve heard from him. As usual he sang mostly old songs, such as All you Ever Do Is Bring Me Down, Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down and El Paso Lady which the listeners and dancers happily sung along to. When people were leaving many commented on what a good night it was with one couple saying “that’s what country music is all about” so thanks to Ian and his band for keeping us well entertained.
Best of British Report - February 2017
February 11. This evening was our Valentine’s night with the hall appropriately decorated and each lady presented with a red rose on arrival. For a special occasion we had a special band, Capricorn. Unfortunately the cold weather with rain, sleet and even a little snow in places deterred some and numbers were down a bit but it didn’t stop Capricorn arriving and setting up early after their gig in Croydon the previous night.
Before the first set, the club’s annual performance of the Trilogy took place, honouring those who have lost their lives in conflict throughout the world and remembering absent friends and loved ones no longer with us including Christine Brown and Jan Seymour from our own club who sadly passed away during the last year.
After the serious part of the evening was over Capricorn were soon in their stride with the sound perfect from the start. They are unashamedly a traditional country band and early on I enjoyed ‘Goodbye Comes Hard to Me’, a Merle Haggard song which seems to have escaped my attention previously. Waltzes are always popular at this club and Moe Bandy’s ‘Honky Tonk Merry Go Round’ made a change from the inevitable ‘Waltz Across Texas’ (although we got that as well later). Capricorn are a versatile five-piece band and four of them took turns with lead vocals and I liked the breaks during songs to feature short instrumental solos. As people left, the numerous compliments on a great evening of high quality country music were no less than Capricorn deserved. I’ve written this report listening to the ‘Capricorn Collection’ CD which is a collection of some of their favourite songs from past CDs. Good value at just £6 for 23 well recorded songs.
Finally, I wish club supporters Chris, Steve and Perry every success with their new club, the ‘Star & Garter CWC’ in Sidcup, Kent. They had a promising start with a full house on opening night on February 10.
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