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Monday, 29 September 2014

BLACK STATE HIGHWAY, BUZZARD KING AND STORMDREAMER AT MELBOURN ROCK CLUB

First and foremost this was very much a Fellowship of the Stick event and the first gig of the new season at Melbourn Rock Club (MRC) hosted at the Eternit Sports and Social Club, Melbourn, Cambridgeshire.



Camping from 3pm, bar open, hot food available, three great bands, obviously an opportunity not to be missed for the biggest gathering of The Fellowship this side of Cambridge Rock Festival and so not only did it have to be done, it was!

The venue for this momentous occasion? Melbourn Rock Club of course at the Eternit Sports and Social Club way ‘Out in the sticks’ near Melbourn, Cambridgeshire where Maurice McComb and his MRC crew host some of the best rock gigs around and in such a splendid venue in a beautiful setting.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/melbournrockclub/?fref=ts

We arrived around four in the afternoon and established ‘Camp Fellowship’, the headlining band, Black State Highway also arrived nice and early and after playing football for a while they too set up their own Bandcamp, yet another camp was set up by the Motorcycle Clubs that came along for this the first gig of the season at MRC, it wasn’t difficult to tell that this could get quite messy!

One of the great things about the MRC and Maurice in particular is their support of new, young bands, it’s all part of their philosophy and tonight was no exception with Stormdreamer, who, with their well chosen mix of classic rock and punk covers managed to slip in a well penned song of their own creation, considering the lead guitarist was only 12, yes 12, these guys can and certainly did deliver, a force to be reckoned with in a few years if ever we saw one.

https://www.facebook.com/Stormdreamerband?fref=ts

Next up were seasoned dirty Southern Blues rockers Buzzard King, we love this band, they always deliver top quality rock and tonight was no exception it’s about time these guys had their own headline show, they and the punters deserve it.

https://www.facebook.com/buzzardkingband?fref=ts

All the way from Brighton were the night’s headliners, Black State Highway, recently signed to Cherry Red and now with major label interest (Which is no surprise) this ultra tight bunch of hard rockers fronted by Latvian singer Liva Steinberga really put on a show of the highest quality as part of their debut album tour for the eponymously named album which is a damn fine piece of work too I must say.

https://www.facebook.com/blackstatehighway?fref=ts

We loved the music, we drank far too much, we saw many old friends, we made some new ones, we brought along Fellowship members who were, up until this night, MRC ‘virgins’, all in all a damn fine night’s rocking and with a good old cooked breakfast on Sunday morning what more could you ask for apart from more of the same!

So, hey ho, here we do!

FoTs get in a State at MRC

En mass the Fellowship were there
Kevin, Chris and Fender Bear
Myself, Smiffy, Tim & Jo
Peter and of course our associate Mo
Camping was available from 3pm
So we were off to Melbourn once again
For three great bands and lots of fun
Trooper for tea just had to be done
Camp Fellowship was quickly established too
Fender’s Den, Kaz da Kamper amd all the crew
With Tim and Jo’s tent bringing up the rear
Oh yes indeed The Fellowship were here

'Camp Fellowship' takes shape
 We weren’t the only ones there on an early start
The headline band really played their part
And set up their camp under the trees
After a game of football if you please
And the motorcycle club arrived as well
Camping some distance away in a hidden dell
But we were all there for the seasons opening gig
And boy oh boy my friends it was bigger than big

A different sort of band camp!
Melbourn Rock Club has a splendid policy
To entertain the likes of you and me
They usually have a new young band on first
To give them experience for better or for worse
Tonight was the turn of  those Stormdreamer lads
So young, so talented and they weren’t half bad 
And then Buzzard King took the stage by storm
A brilliant band way above the norm’
We could have done with a good half hour or so more
But it was then time for the headliners to hit the floor

Stormdreamer

Buzzard King
All the way from Brighton and now a ‘signed’ band
Black State Highway have been touring this land
Promoting their eponymously entitled debut CD
Which I think they played in its entirety
And by all things unleashed in Heaven and Hell
This band played and played and entertained us so well
On stage Liva transforms into a Latvian princess
Blonde hair high heels and little black dress
She entices and entrances like a real rock star
This band are so good I’m sure they’ll go far

Black State Highway
And we bopped till we dropped
We drank too much beer and JD
But was it all worth it? Don’t just ask me
Have a listen to any of the bands I’ve mentioned above
And I bet you’ll find more than just one you’ll love
So soundly we slept in our campers and tents
Somewhat inebriated but so glad that we went.

Fender gets stuck into his 'Trooper'


Several of the Fellowship with Liva and Harry from BSH

Watch the Facebook page or web site to see what's up next at MRC and maybe we'll see you there! Until the next time cool runnings one and all.
Grant - September 2014

Words and Pic's above all rights reserved Grant Meaby 2014 except the last photo courtesy of the wonderful Jo Hundy.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

BALSTOCK 2014 AND A BIT BEFORE

FRIDAY NIGHT
Under normal circumstances we would have been at Balstock for the whole weekend including Friday night but these were not ‘normal’ circumstances, Friday night was a very special occasion, it was our good friend Jo’s “Don’t mention the ‘F’ word” party (F in this case being the big Five-0) and it took place way out ‘In the sticks’ in Toddington in the Social Club with a rather good covers band, ‘Deaf Shepherd’ providing the music for the 150 or so family & friends who gathered there to eat too much, drink too much and dance the night away.

Deaf Shepherd - Very entertaining band
Jo’s party was a splendid ‘do’ and we were very pleased we were able to go (Thanks to Smiffy electing to drive) and if there was anything worth missing Friday night’s Balstock for then this was it.

SATURDAY
Most of Saturday was spent at The White Lion where Folkstock were running the stage for the day with the lovely Helen Meissner and the Folkstock crew doing an excellent job and putting on some of the finest folk singers, duo’s and bands around the (Predominately) local circuit.

The day's running order

 There were many acts that I for one had either heard of but never seen and several who were completely new to me. Folk is a genre that I have always loved but I have never been comfortable with the finger up the arse pretentious attitude of many of the folk clubs I have visited in the past.
Please don’t get me wrong, I fully support respecting the artist and not talking loudly or walking in front of stage when they’re on and all of that, it’s no less than any performing artist deserves but it’s the “You cannot get up and get a drink while they’re on” “You have to sit in silence” and the “If it’s not folk it isn’t music” attitude that gets me, besides I have never looked good with a beard or wearing sandals, brown corduroy trousers and a baggy knitted jumper!

I am very happy to say that the good folk of Folkstock are NOTHING like that and this day fully restored not only my love of folk music but showed everyone just how it can be done when it’s done well.

So a few pictures of who we saw to start with:-

The lovely Cara Beard

Daniel Nestlerode - Who'd have thought one man and a mandolin could be so brilliant!

Faye Brotherhood, lovely quirks songs about battles and death among other things

Flaming June, simply outstanding!
A lovely set from Kaity Rae
 We took an excursion out to The Boot to see the wonderful completely bonkers Disco Zhivago, that they are damn fine musicians and so involved with the local scene was evident from the audience who read like a Who’s Who of North Herts, Bed’s and Cambridge music, I’d hate to even try to guess how many bands were represented and Charlie and the boys did not disappoint, a damn fine set which was much enjoyed by all.

Disco Zhivago at their splendid bonkers best, we love this band.
Ratpigeon were up next, this is a band I’ve not seen for several years and they have of course evolved and moved on and their somewhat previously off kilter rather risque songs have been toned down(Only slightly) but in favour of upping the musical delivery and they certainly delivered a fine rocking set.

The splendid Ratpigeon in full flow
We had to stay for Speedshot who blasted their way through the new album ‘Spit’ in style and tore The Boot ‘a new one’ as they say, Danny got into trouble with the venue when he left the flat floor stage in favour of the bar but what the hell, that’s rock and roll, I was totally blown away by Speedshot yet again, a band to watch and watch out for.

Speedshot give it their all
A short stroll down the road to the main stage to catch local Ska legends The Defeketers before heading back to The White Line to complete the evening with yet more fine folk in the form of Kelly Oliver, Said the Maiden and Black *Scarr, all of whom were absolutely superb.

The legendary Defekters rocked the main stage

It was then time to head back to the White Lion to spend a folky evening with:-
Garry Smith


The wonderful Kelly Oliver

Awesome set from Said the Maiden

And to round off the evening:-

The highly entertaining Black *Scarr


 All in all a very fine Balstock Saturday.

SUNDAY
Sunday saw a more sedate start to the proceedings as I availed myself of a very nice lunch of ham, egg and chips with a mug of tea at the Baldock café before wandering up to the White Lion with Chris to see what was happening there. Owing to a somewhat late kick off we managed to catch part the first act before setting off to The Broken Drum for Arc Angel, the Joan ov Arc acoustic off-spin and delightful beyond all expectations it was too and also spontaneously turned into one of those never to be repeated events when Dutch Band, Ritn Ditn complete with entourage and sporting customised clogs descended upon the pub to sing along and tap out the rhythms on the old wooden floor!

Arc Angels phew! What a set.
 After a splendid proper start to the afternoon we joined The Smiths, not the band, but Paul & Lynne to wander down to The Rose and Crown to see Lynne’s son Ben Bubear fronting the most excellent of covers bands, One Leather Glove, not only did they rock the place with some well chosen rock anthems they also slipped in the odd cheeky self-penned number too and damn fine they were.

One Leather Glove, so much more than just a covers band
Early evening saw us ensconced in front of the main stage for the previously mentioned Ritn Ditn who put on the finest show of party rock I have ever had the privilege of watching, imagine ACDC after a night on the happy juice and you might just get the picture, the ironing board thingy has to be seen to be believed!

Dutch loony Rockers, RITN DITN

Topping the bill and bringing the main stage to a close were Joan ov Arc, this all girl rock band are just that, first and foremost a rock band and it is no surprise that they are now enjoying international fame as they not only deserve it but have worked very hard over the years to achieve it and well done them, this night they even had special guest John Altman (Nasty Nick from Eastenders) to sing a couple of songs with then, and yes, he really can sing, and the finale with John and Ritn Ditn and the Blalstock maestro himself, G, on stage with the girls was a splendid way to end the day. Despite the fact that some of the other venues were going on until closing time we decided to call it a day after Joan ov Arc because, quite simply, nothing else would have been that good.

The always brilliant, Joan ov Arc
The whole festival is all about supporting the local community, all the artists and volunteers work for free and this year’s nominated charity is “Up on Downs” which supports families with Down’s Syndrome children, I hope you all dug deep, we did, it cost us a small fortune but what the heck, it was worth every single penny.

Now I don't have time to research, copy and post all the links to the various bands and artists web pages or facebook pages but please do go and check them out and check out BALSTOCK too, make a date for next year, it will be so worth it.

Cheers me dears for now.
Grant September 2014 Wordz n pic's above all rights reserved Grant Meaby 2014

Monday, 8 September 2014

AND SO IT GOES ON - LET THERE BE ROCK


After a jolly splendid Thursday night at the Red Lion with Minor Pilot (See previous Blog) it's amazing just how quickly Friday came around, it was like it was the very next day! Well I guess it was really and there i was once again heading off to Hitchin to meet up with Chris and Peter, I'm not saying where, I expect any regular reader can guess but it involved the imbibing of a certain fine ale from Tring.
We were off to Club-85 for a night of good old solid Rock, not Folk, not Prog, not Metal but just pure out and out Rock and by all things magnificent we were not disappointed.



The evening opened with fairly new band Pirate Radio and they were excellent, I think all the members have been around a bit in other bands and now PR have hit the scene with their Pearl Jam'esque solid rock and they were spot on, far too good to be an opening band, how on earth would the other bands fare after them?

Peter & Chris adopt a traditional pose!

Pirate Radio
Over heavy use of the smoke machine somewhat screwed some of the photos but what the hell, it's all about the music, catch the band on Facebook at the link below.


Next up was Speedshot, a powerhouse three piece punk influenced young band who gave us all a masterclass in entertainment, they were brilliant and although the beat and rhythm may have been punk many of the brilliantly executed guitar riffs were pure metal / classic rock and if you combine that with a great singing voice and leaping about all over the place you may just get the picture, which incidentally appears below!

Speedshot

Catch Speedshot on Facebonk here:-


By now we were all nicely warmed up and then along came the truly magnificent Whybirds, now these guys have been around for a while, quite a while and they rock in a heavy west coast style, fabulous songs perfectly executed they were totally mesmerising.

Whybirds
And here's a link to the Whybirds:-


Now we come to the climax (I nearly did during the Whybirds set) yes, headlining tonight were the mighty Tequilla Mockingbird with their high octane rock and roll it was indeed a fine way to bring things to a conclusion, we even had a mass crowd stage invasion and I've not seen that happen for quite a while!

Let the Tequilla Mockingbird stage invasion begin!

And here's a link to these guys:-


I spent quite a few pennies of my hard earned on CD's apart from the Tequilla Mockingbird EP which the singer very kindly gave me and damn fine it is too I must say.

Just came home with the odd CD or two!

What's more this whole couple of days (Or nights) of  excellent music and excess drinking were indeed very much FoTS events, despite one of our regular members swanning off to China of all places so they have now been immortalised in the tradition way, the latest entry in the Chronicles of  The Fellowship are of course:-

The Fellowship Foundation

The time has come the old man said
To talk of many things
So we did and believe me
What foolishness it brings!

We now have plans for a retirement home
Somewhere by the sea
A plan hatched by that erstwhile trio
Peter, Chris and me

It would be the Fellowship Foundation
For wayward girls and boys
As long as you are somewhat over sixty
And don’t mind a bit of noise!

Mind you it could have been inspired
A case of Tring’s finest talking
As off to Club-85 we set post Nightingale
Down the street as we were walking

The second night out in a row for us
In pursuit of yet another musical treat
Minor Pilot at the Red the night before
Would be somewhat hard to beat

But it never ceases to amaze me
The sheer quality of music we have in North Herts
Even if was the ‘Bedford Takeover’ that this night
Stole our ears and hearts

Pirate Radio rocked us first
An opening band that would be hard to follow
But Speedshot with their metal pop punk 
Did not leave us empty or hollow

The Whybirds were outstanding
I later went and bought all their CD’s
And Tequila Sunrise, wow!
Well they will always please

We had plenty of dancing
We even had a mass stage invasion
This night of rock at Club-85
Was indeed somewhat of an occasion

So there we are once more 
We three had been at it again
That retirement home idea
Now seems somewhat tame

Unless we fill the place with live music
Every night of the week
That sounds like much more fun
Our kind of retreat

Stuff the bloody Bingo
The Beetle Drive, Crib & Whist
We’ll spend our twilight days with live music
And perhaps getting just a little pissed!

Grant Meaby
07/09/14

So, until the next time, keep rocking, have fun, stay safe and cool runnings.

Grant - Sept 2014

Friday, 5 September 2014

A PERFECTLY EXECUTED LANDING - MINOR PILOT AND TIBETAN SKY AT THE RED LION - STEVENAGE


A Perfectly executed landing!



This night was a very special if what somewhat sad occasion, an evening of mixed emotions as it was Gareth Benyon's last gig as part of Minor Pilot.

There comes a time in  most people’s lives when they have to make one of those big, life changing, decisions, Gareth has decided to resume his medical training and one day may be poking around inside someone rather than caressing the strings of his guitar, if the former is in anyway going to be influenced by the latter then mankind (Or certainly any of his potential future patients) will have nothing to worry about!

Anyway, more of the mighty Minor Pilot later, the evening was kicked off by Tibetan Sky, now anyone who knows, or knows of the band will probably have wondered, “How on earth are Tibetan Sky going to go down at the Red Lion?”, let’s face it, Tibetan Sky are different, very different, any band playing melodic, complex rock music with a Tibetan singer who sings not only in his native tongue but also in the traditional Tibetan style is going to be different!
The strange thing is that it works, it may take a bit of getting used to but it works, it was interesting watching people pile in from outside to listen to the band when they started, stay for a song or two, wander back outside (It was a rather lovely warm evening and you can hear the music quite clearly outside anyway) and then wander back in and stay until they had completed their set with an absolutely storming final number which saw Ollie on drums (Perhaps better known as the stick-man from The October Game) really going for it! Complex, strange, but somehow completely entrancing.

Tibetan Sky
https://www.facebook.com/tibetansky?fref=ts

A little later than planned and with the available time cut from the hour set they were to play to a more or less 45 minute slot Minor Pilot took to the stage and from start to finish delivered a totally consummate set.

The mighty Minor Pilot in full flow
Having built up their reputation as one of the finest instrumental rock bands around there have always been the odd vocal input from Danny but in the past it has been more by way of using his voice as an additional instrument but over recent months more and more ‘real’ vocals have been added and as Danny actually has a fine singing voice that’s no bad thing and it complements his soaring guitar work so well.

Danny
All the while Nick lays down a solid bass line as a firm foundation for the exquisite soundscapes that Minor Pilot create so well while Rupert’s drumming has to be seen and heard to be believed.

Nick
I (& many of my friends) rate Rupert Boddington as one of the finest technical drummers we’ve ever seen, he has this ability to lay down rich multi-layered incredibly complex beats and make it look easy to boot! In a small venue like the Red Lion actually being up close and watching Rupert drum was a somewhat magical and  hypnotic experience.

Rupert
Tonight was a chance for Gazz to soar and my oh my did he and some! Beautifully crafted riffs and notes seemed to fly off his guitar and fill the air with melody and those lovely 'twiddly bits' he does, a fine and fitting farewell, you could say, and I’m saying it, this final performance of the current incarnation, Minor Pilot executed a perfect landing.

Gareth 'Gazz' Benyon
Talking to the band they have a replacement guitarist lined up although not yet for ‘general release’ all I can say is that his pedigree is excellent beyond doubt and he will certainly be bringing something different and interesting to the party, it looks like the new Minor Pilot will very soon be cleared for take off and I for one can’t wait, but for now, adieu Gazz and thanks for all the great music.

Watch this space:-

https://www.facebook.com/MINORPILOT?fref=ts

Cheers
Grant - Sept 2014.