Matlock, and its surrounding area, including Darley Dale and Matlock bath, in the heart of Derbyshire’s Peak District is somewhere dear to my heart and inextricably linked with both my Mum’s and Dad’s side of the family, all of them hailing from there. The Grand Pavilion, a Georgian building that stands imperiously by the river side deep in the gorge where Matlock Bath sits, has long been a focal point for entertainment. In the post-war years, my Dad well remembers attending concerts and watching Dance bands there. In the 1980’s, I performed there myself with my band Tubeless Hearts.
So it really piqued my interest when my Dad mentioned that it had been at considerable risk of demolition in recent years, and was now in the hands of a trust committed to saving this historic building. I’d been canvassing around to fill out dates for my visit from Spain in June, when, with our new project Straight Shooters, we’ll be making a special appearance at the Quad in Derby, and also in Burton -on-Trent, but more about those shows in another post.
After connecting with Andie Brazewell at The Pavilion, we now have a date in place for Straight Shooters – Friday June 6th – we’re hoping everyone will come along and support the event – priced at just £5 a ticket, and help fund the restoration of this beautiful venue.
You’ll be in for a night of classic British 70’s rock, courtesy of the music of Free and Bad Company!
Last weekend saw another jaunt Northwards and an appearance at The Diamond in Sutton-in-Ashfield for Bootleg Counterfeit Sweet. The Diamond is an unassuming venue, yet one steeped in music history, some of the great rock bands of the last few decades have trodden its well-worn boards. We rattled off the Sweet canon in fine style, energized by our fans, some of whom had travelled from as far afield as Jersey for the gig. The people who put this kind of commitment, effort and expenditure into supporting what we do are the lifeblood of any band, and we salute them!
Playing a venue so close to my hometown also gave me a chance to catch up with family too, so that was cool.
2014 will see B.C.Sweet step up its on the road activities – see you further on up the road!
Just back from a whirlwind visit to the UK to play with B.C. (Bootleg Counterfeit) Sweet. It’s always a blast playing with the guys, and a privilege to play the amazing Chinn/Chapman catalogue that propelled The Sweet to stardom. Our band has a long and chequered, and frankly troubled history, formed out of the ashes of the late Brian Connolly’s Sweet, continuing for a decade or more as B.C. Sweet with ongoing member changes until we were forced to change the name somewhat due to various external pressures. Well, from my perspective, it doesn’t matter what it says on the tin, this band kicks major ass, and you won’t hear a more in-your-face rendition of the Sweet catalogue.
The crowd at the annual Yesterday Once More festival at Brean were phenomenal as usual, wonderfully appreciative and a pleasure to play for.
Expect to hear more from us in 2014!
…this weekend saw CHRISTIE re-convene alongside The Manfreds and The Searchers at The Beat Beat Beat Festival in Offenbach, near Frankfurt.
My own journey began in Turre, Southern Spain, and involved negotiating an Autovia that had collapsed in two places due to the catastrophic floods of the previous week in order to get to Alicante airport, where I took a flight first to Palma, Majorca, and kicked my heels for a couple of hours before I was Frankfurt bound.
Upon arrival, I received a message from Jeff. “There’s a bad road accident that’s prevented your driver from picking you up – get a taxi!” almost without breaking stride, I swiped my bag from the carousel. slung my bass over my shoulder and walked outside to hail one.
I was soon heading out of Frankfurt towards Offenbach and the driver, with instructions to take me to the Stadthalle, turned and asked me what street it was on….I mean, it’s the Stadthalle! It’s big, there are signs! How hard could it be? Thankfully when we arrived in the town, he decided to ask a taxi-driver (go figure) and we arrived safely.
I’d already missed the sound check, Jeff, Fos and Simon having arrived from the UK on an earlier flight, and Jeff was already back at the hotel. But the fun didn’t stop there….Rolf, the promoter came rushing in to say that the opening act, Racey, apparently had ‘the wrong sort of keyboard’, and a search was underway to find one. Meanwhile, could Christie open the show, around an hour and twenty minutes ahead of schedule?
“Oooh…” I said, “You’ll have to ask Jeff about that. ” I dialled him up and handed my phone to Rolf. With masterful Germanic efficiency and directness he said “Hi Jeff, it’s Rolf, you have to go on now”
Cue action stations, and as Jeff was whisked back to the gig in short order, we got ready, the ink barely dry on my boarding card, and hit the stage. The crowd were superb, behind us from the first number, and we locked into a groove we’ve been honing together for nigh-on 25 years.
After the show, we were hustled out into the meet n greet where we were signing everything under the sun, Jeff’s new album ‘No Turn Unstoned’ and my solo CD, Blue Odyssey, and amazing books published by Christie fans, with fantastic articles, photos, and scans of record labels of the entire discography in them, true labours of love.
A nice dinner courtesy of backstage catering followed, where I was introduced to the delights of the ‘mini-cheeseburger’. Not sure what the idea behind that is, except perhaps that you can get a few in your mouth in one go. Then it was time to catch some of the Manfreds show from the side of the stage. What an amazing catalogue of hits they have to draw upon, and with not one but TWO original vocalists upfront, in the shape of Mike D’Abo and Paul Jones, the audience were treated to those classic songs as they were meant to sound. A word about Tom McGuiness, who should have been there but was injured in a fall the day before and couldn’t make it. Get well soon, Tom! If you also factor in Mike Hugg, and legendary Family drummer Rob Townsend, ably aided and abetted by Marcus Cliffe and Simon Currie, you have some talent up there on that stage. Rob in particular, has played on three of my favourite songs of all time:
“In my own Time”, “Burlesque”, and “My friend the Sun”. Days like this, you gotta love going to work!
We had a great time back at the hotel bar following the show, reminiscent of the multiple-bill shows we did back in the 90’s in Germany, and met up with some of our loyal fan base again as has become the custom on our German trips.
A leisurely Sunday breakfast followed, where Mike D’Abo shared his secret of black coffee with honey, though the search for the latter proved fruitless… I said my goodbyes to Jeff, Simon and Fos and headed home to Spain. That’s another one under the belt!
I’ve been all over the place this weekend – starting with a visit to The Bay Radio Studios in Javea on Friday to record an interview for that evening’s Sunset Strip with Noelle, and then leaving Miki’s parents apartment in Benidorm at 4.30 am to catch a flight from Alicante to Benidorm to connect with my flight to Berlin. There, I was driven two and a half hours south to Dresden, where I had time to say hi to a few fellow musicians- Graham Oliver from T Rex, Bill Hurd from The Rubettes, and Eric Faulkner from the Bay City Rollers etc, before grabbing a quick shower and then heading off to the gig, where I was performing with Christie.
After the show, I was really feeling ill, the lack of sleep and dehyrdation catching up with me. I went straight to bed, and left the hotel at 3.30am with the guys from Dozy, Beaky Mick and Tich. They were dropped at Berlin Tegel, and I at Berlin Schoenenfeld airport, where I awaited my 8.30am flight to London Gatwick.
Landing around 10am, I took the train up to Croydon, where BC Sweet guitarist Mike picked me up, and we headed across country to Brean Sands, ready to appear later that night with a number of bands including The Boomtown Rats at the Yesterday Once More 70’s festival.
I managed to grab a couple of hours sleep in the afternoon, and we hit the stage after the Rats at 11.30pm. Amazingly, given my constant state of exhaustion, both the Christie and BC Sweet gigs were great, and I was reminded why I do this job. I just love it.
I flew home from Birmingham the following afternoon, ready to recharge my batteries for the Estonia tour with Christie, which begins next Sunday when I head to the UK for rehearsals.
This weekend saw me head back to the UK on a four day visit, taking in seeing relatives, friends, and musical associates (some of them a combination of all three!) I saw my son Corey, who has played on my forthcoming Blue Odyssey album, and Jeff Christie, who I’ll be working with this weekend.I also spent some time with Saxon’s Graham Oliver, who kindly previewed the latest mixes of the forthcoming Oliver/Dawson Saxon album – and I can tell you, it’s all killer, no filler!
Spent a little time with my Dad and sis, and on the day of the gig in Great Yarmouth, met up with my old mate Stef Cybichowski, who also plays drums on several tracks on Blue Odyssey, and Nick Grice, brother of British R&B legendary vocalist Jess Roden – reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ of music, and exciting developments with his brother’s legacy.
The show was fun, and edgy, as we had Paul Bailey standing in for Mike on this particular show, but he did a sterling job. I came home with a killer of a cold, so I’m trying to keep myself ‘awake’ to run through the Christie show for this weekend!
Weiswasser 22/23 May
So, as May sneaked up on us, the Christie rehearsals and Tour 2009 got underway, seeing us travel to the east of Germany, so far East, in fact that we were just a 5 minute drive from the Polish border! the guys from Showaddywaddy took the opportunity to hop across and check out the local market, which is what most of the locals around there do, in addition to getting cheap Polish petrol.
For our first two shows of the year, we were in the town of Weiswasser, performing at a large outdoor event, for which the weather was just perfect.
Other acts on the bill were Dozy, Beaky Mick & Tich, Sailor and Middle of the Road. Between them, the bands had dozens of Top 10 hits throughout the 60’s and the 70’s.
It was great to take the stage as CHRISTIE again, and I particularly enjoyed playing the two songs from the first album “Inside looking out” and “Gotta be free” which haven’t seen the light of day for about 35 years.
I had flown directly to the UK for the two days rehearsals with Christie, and it gave me the unexpected and rare opportunity to watch my son Corey perform with his band Jilambis. It was the first time I’d ever seen them! needless to say, I was the proud Dad, his playing, and that of the band’s was awesome.
Flying out with Jeff, Fos and Simon from Leeds early Friday morning, we changed planes in Amsterdam, landing in Berlin just before lunch. Our promoter had mistakenly booked me to return with the others via Amsterdam to Leeds on the Sunday, but I wasn’t up for that, and booked my own flight directly from Berlin to Alicante. the downside of that being that I had to leave the hotel around 3 a.m. on the Sunday morning, devoid of sleep!
However, all this sleep deprivation resulted in me being home in Turre by midday, whilst the others weren’t even scheduled to leave the hotel until around 2 that afternoon. I emailed Jeff the following day to see if they’d had a good trip back. It transpired that, due to traffic jams and accidents, they got to the airport late and missed the plane, causing the promoter to have to try and find new flights for them later that evening, which took them into Luton in the south of the UK, where they had to hire a car to drive the 200 miles north! Suddenly, my early morning seemed “a whole lot better” to quote a Roger McGuinn song we do in the Christie show!
Barely two weeks later and it’s off on the road again, this time leaving home at 2.30 a.m., grabbing an hours rest on the way, and arriving in Alicante for my flight to Munich around 6. When I touched down in southern Germany, I linked up with Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich, and we were all driven up to Schwarzenberg, a good four hours North east. Once again our easterly location had us within spitting distance of other cities, this time Prague. The journey was accompanied by torrential rain, which only eased up a little on our arrival. We checked into a nice little hotel, Die Blauer Engel (Blue Angel, I think) in the nearby town of Auer, about 2o minutes from the gig, and put our feet up while we waited for other bands to arrive.
Jeff, Fos and Simon were en route from Berlin, and I was driven to Schwarzenberg for the soundcheck. The rain was unrelenting, and I began to realize, as the car made its way up a switchback road threading across vertiginous slopes, that the show was at the top of a mountain! Funnier still was finding Jeff, Fos and Simon’s driver had skidded their car off the track and they were forced to walk the rest of the way in a quagmire. I gave them a cheery wave as we sailed past. They gave me the finger. As we met up and unloaded guitars, etc, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw when I peered front of house. An enormous stepped amphitheatre rose up and away into the distance, and, under the pouring rain, a crowd of around 7,500 was gathering, oblivious to the conditions, waiting for the show!
Amongst the throng, three of our most dedicated followers, Rainer, Toni, and Franz, stood right in front of the stage, waving hello! This was Toni and Franz’s first time at a Christie gig, despite Toni having the most amazing Christie memorabilia collection., and we hadn’t seen Rainer for some years, so it was great to catch up.
We were on early, at 7.30 p.m. just after opening act Chris Andrews, which meant we could then relax and watch the other bands. I particularly wanted to see the Spencer Davis group, and they didn’t disappoint. The other highlight of the evening was to be The Glitter band, which featured my BC Sweet bandmates Pete Phipps and Marc Pearson. It was quite strange seeing them onstage without me! Catering backstage was pretty good, and also gave us a chance to catch up with friends such as Dave from Showaddywaddy and Sally and Ken from Middle of the Road. This weekend , the lads drew the short straw and had to leave around 6 a.m. for the first of their two flights home. I had a civilised 10 a.m. breakfast with The Dozy’s and we left the hotel around noon, the sun making an appearance as we headed down to Munich.
Next foray into Europe, after Miki and I slip away for a break to Portugal, is a trip to Bosnia with BC Sweet. I certainly can’t complain that my life is dull!