Wednesday, 29 January 2014


Wow, what a festival again this year, so much splendid music, time spent with great friends, making a few new ones and far too much drinking, bliss!

This festival was very much a Fellowship of the Stick event, it has become somewhat of an annual pilgrimage over the years with eight of us there this time! Could Butlins survive?

 So, here's the official festival poster, a pretty impressive line up but what would they be like on the day?

The running order didn't actually have that many serious clashes.

 So, part 1, the music, the bands, the artists that I saw and a short impression:-

Friday kicked off for me with Grainne Duffy, a splendid set from a very talented young lady and her band, two albums to her credit so far, she is one to watch out for.

Grainne Duffy

 Next up it was off to see Rosco Levee in Jacks, I just love their dirty swampy blues rock and they gave us a really excellent set befitting of the spiritual home of the Blues at this festival, in Jaks which is one of the smaller venues and almost always has a fantastic atmosphere.

Rosco Levee
After Rosco it was off to one of the largest venues for Pat McManus and his band, I think it's fair to say that if you like the likes of Rory Galagher you'll probably like pat' he hails from the same part of the world and is also an excellent guitarist and somewhat of a showman, another good set much enjoyed.

Pat McManus

Friday evening was rounded off with a hefty dose of good old dirty rock from the Quireboys, also in Reds, they gave a great performance and you should always know what you're going to get with this band and they delivered as usual.

The Quireboys
So that was Friday survived, fuelled by many beers and copious amounts of jack Daniels and Coke (The a-cola type I hasten to add), and so after a great sleep, a huge breakfast, a healthy stroll along the beach and a quick spin through the merch stalls, it was time to start rocking on Saturday.

Now Saturday afternoon is traditionally spent in Jaks, Roadhouse play a short set to warm things up and then Gary collects names of various musicians and puts scratch bands together to play a song or two for the afternoon, it's a crazy time, almost always brilliant, always fun, but here we come to one of the serious clashes and the band on in Reds won.

Roadhouse warm up Jaks on Saturday before the jam session

 There was little competition this year, no way were we going to miss Roadhouse (Apart from being one of THE best blues rock outfits around, singer Mandie G (The dark haired one) is a personal friend of the Fellowship), but, we did stay for the first couple of songs in the jam session and then it was off to reds to see Stray turn on one of the performances of the festival and with Cherry Lee Mewis guesting on vocals on a few songs it was absolutely brilliant.

Stray with Cherry Lee Mewis

 For some strange nostalgic reason some of us lingered to see the Groudnhogs, what a pity, for me the disappointment of the festival, say no more.

Tony may still be a legend but Groundhogs, sorry
Now one of the great things about this festival is that everything is indoors and there is lots to do in between bands and eating and drinking and this year they also made a lot more use of the stage inside the Skyline Pavilion showcasing young or lesser known / up and coming bands, we kept wandering back and saw some really good sets but it's so difficult to remember just when and who!

Saturday evening kicked off well with a far better than expected set from the Yardbirds, featuring I think only two original members but they played all the old stuff very well and held a pretty massive crowd throughout.

The Yardbirds

 Now, while various other members of the fellowship wandered off to see various bands in various venues for some bizarre reason I stayed behind in Reds to see Carl Palmer and the ELP Legacy, I think I needed a dose of prog to keep me going, oh gosh, no doubt Mr Palmer is an amazing drummer, his guitarist, who plays all the Keith Emerson  keyboard parts and his ridiculously talented bass guitarist are superb musicians, it was the most pompous pretentious prog in all it's gory, I freely admit I enjoyed a lot of it immensely but like many, did not like the way than ran way over time keeping Eddie and the Hotrods waiting to go on after them.

Screen shot off the big screen for Carl Palmer
After that I had to wander off and into Jaks to catch up with some friends and listen to Innes Sibun, he is another fantastic blues rock guitarist and is in fact Robert Plant's US band lead guitar, no picture as by then I couldn't focus on thy camera let alone much else but my ears heard a fabulous set!

Sunday, surprisingly not hungover, and after a breakfast in onesies, a sad farewell to one of our party who had to leave early for work reasons, a leisurely morning and it was hey ho, let's go, more music.

Kicking off again in Jaks with the Dove and Boweevil Duo before heading off for another gig of monotonous proportions in Reds again, this time from the mighty Wilko Johnson, every time he did 'The Wilko Walk' the crowd went wild, with Norman Watt-Roy on bass a damn fine gig all round.

The mighty Wilko Johnson

Now then, here is an amazing surprise, after Wilko some of us thought we'd hang around, for a laugh and catch a little of Mungo Jerry, In the summertime when the weather is......etc. Well, what a fantastic show Ray Dorset and the boys put on, musically excellent, highly entertaining, in fact for many people one of the absolute highlights of the festival, I have to admit they were pretty damn good!

Mungo Jerry
There was only one way to spend Sunday evening and it started with my first excursion this year into Centre Stage (The other big big venue) to get 'Down the front' for Chantel McGregor, Chantel is amazingly talented, she makes playing the guitar look like it's something she could do while doing several other things at the same time, she gets better and better every time we see her, she works her band, she works the crowd and she plays the most amazing blues, rock, you name it, she plays it, all in all a stunning set.

Chantel makes it look so easy! 
After Chantel there was really only one place for us to go and that was down to Jaks for Roadhouse's 'proper' set and boy oh boy was that something special, so special that there really wasn't much point staying out late late late to see any of the final acts as nothing could possible have topped Sunday night for us after Chantel and Roadhouse!

Roadhouse, Sarah and Mandie going for it!
So that's the sort of serious round up of who I saw etc. etc. etc. but of course being such a big festival with so many people there (Around 5000) there were lots of my friends, our friends, a few healthy smatterings of completely loop shoot fruitcake nutters of which I'm very pleased to say we happily count ourselves among!

So, without further ado:-


Ok, so now this is a Fellowship somewhat annual event
Did anything make this year special, are we glad we went?

Amazingly we rendezvoused on time at Kevin’s out in old Langford
The fact that Peter, Paul and Chris were there on time just cannot be ignored

The cars were loaded by 13:30 and we were on our way
A pre-planned stop in Crowland was the order of the day

After an initial stop in Crowland where they did no lunchtime food 
We went and found the Bridge Inn again which was really rather good

The Bridge Inn strangely enough!

This year we didn’t have to stop or get lost out in the Fens
We made it through to old Skegness where the fun just never ends

It didn’t take too long to book in even though the queues were large
And we found our chalet fairly quickly without trying very hard

Soon it was time to head for dinner and meet up with friends already there
The food and beer were jolly good and the music left us with no cares

It was plain for everyone to see that The Coronas had arrived
Friday at Skegness Rock and Blues had been just about survived!

"They're here" came a strange ethereal voice

Saturday morning was spent at leisure until we begun the lunchtime fun 
With many beers and Cokes and Jack Daniels, well, it just had to be done!

In the evening it was time for kilts it was Burns night after all
Were we? Or were we not? By gosh we had a ball (Or two on show)

OMG It's the men in skirts!

A feast of more great music and time spent with such good friends
Some earlier than planned ‘retirees’ to bed Jack got them in the end!

Sunday breakfast was done in Onesies like a scene from Sesame Street
There was Tiger, Giraffe, Frog, Dinosaur and Skeleton, what an awesome treat!

Spot the loonies
After breakfast on Sunday was a sad sad time as Peter had to leave
To go to a meeting somewhere in France, well would you believe!

We cried and wailed as we watched him go until he was out of sight
Then we laughed and laughed and laughed again oh yes we’d be alright

The afternoon and evening were packed with music ringing sweetly in our ears
And a more gentle approach to the drinking with some sensible cold beers

The Fellowship were there en mass plus Tim and Jo in all their glory
It not worth listing all the great bands who played as that’s another story

Butlins Skegness and the Great British Rock and Blues Festival
They should rename it Rock & Booze as that just about says it all!

And finally, I wrote this while I was away in Skeggy and it had several people in fits of laughter and many said that it deserves a wider audience so, here it is on the blog, it's been shunted around quite a bit on Facebook too but remember I wrote it, me me me, love you all.

Upward Mobility

We used to ride round on Harleys
Now it’s mobility scooters
We used to go to big rallies
Now we just meet on computers

The social media networks
Are not just the domain of the young
It’s the oldies that meet up on there now
For our grumpy grey sessions of fun

We still go to gigs and rock concerts
And festivals where you don’t have to camp
We will still drink you under the table
If the bar’s got a disability ramp!

We won’t burn the candle at both ends
And we’re in bed before midnight hour
So we can enjoy a nice nightcap of Horlicks
And warm up in a nice soapy shower

So remember when you’re at a concert
And some wrinkly comes scooting past you
In a few years it won’t be you laughing
‘Cos that disgraceful old bugger will be you!

Word and photographs in this blog Copyright Grant Meaby 29/01/14
(With the exception of the Onesie one by kind permission of K. Blackett (Even if he doesn't know until he sees this)).

So, until the next time which, after this marathon, may be a while, stay safe, stay sane (ish) and grow old disgracefully.
Grant - Jan 2014

Late edit, now the news is out, Fender was indeed there too!

Lord Fender of The Fellowship sneaked into Reds.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Once Upon a Time

Once upon a time there was a new year, a year to be filled with new and exciting experiences and, hopefully, splendid gigs, and what a way to start the new year's gigging off with The Progfathers at Club-85 in Hitchin, preceded of course by the Fellowship New Years drink at the Nightingale.

Now, those who know me well know that despite my great love of all kinds of music and my addiction to live music in so many of it's forms, I don't, as a general rule, 'do' Tribute bands, cover bands in the pub, yeah, Ok, no problem, but straightforward tribute bands, no, I think it's because for every truly exceptional tribute band I've seen there have been so many not so good down to the outright embarrassing, but I am very pleased to say that The Progfathers were not only exceptional, they were utterly brilliant and I know it's very early days yet but a contender for 'gig of the year' already!

As it says on the tin, Set List

So, taking it from the top, here we go, straight in no messing:-

Once Upon A Time There were The Progfathers

Once upon a time there was a man (me)
And the man said “I don’t do tribute bands”
But what the heck
What do I know
That seems to have been
A very long time ago!

The 3rd of January 2014
The first gig of the new year
And there we were
Mustering in the Nightingale in Hitchin
Although sadly without Kevin
Who had of course
Only just returned from the frozen north
But it was still the Fellowship’s New years drink
Before going off to Club-85
The question was, would Roger, a Club-85 ‘virgin’ survive?

So there was Chris and Peter and Peter’s friend Steve
There was Roger and Robin and would you believe
The rock loving contingent of the Nightingale
Therein hangs another tale
Yet another round of Colley’s Dog from Tring
Before the Fellowship set off to rock out & sing

It was good to see so many people at the Club
Alex Wooldridge-Smith & Leon & Amelia, were there
Marcus and Sarah, Mark Astronaut with the hair
Matt ‘Red’ Turner on the sound
Bob Mardon & the crew
And a very special surprise for me, Stu (Stuart O’Connor)
The Progfathers rocked us all
With a fine selection of songs from so many classic bands
Played impressively well, capturing those elusive progressive sounds
What a splendid way to kick off 2014
But I don’t ‘do’ tribute bands, if you know what I mean!

Grant Meaby

Peter, Steve, Chris & Alex

Front, Robin & Roger

Progfathers (& Mother)

Being gentle with the giant

Playing my song
So that's the Fellowship off to a flying start in 2014, hope to see you all again soon, but before i go, here's a link to Club-85 so you can see some of the gigs coming up this year, hopefully I'll see you there some time.

All rights reserved G. Meaby 2014