Monday, 23 November 2015


Wow, what a weekend, this was a real Fellowship of the Stick / Corona's extra special event, or to be precise, two events.



Embarking on an epic adventure for the biggest gathering of the Fellowship of the Stick / Corona’s this year, two trains saw the first four of us  safely transported from ‘The Nidge’ to Finsbury Park for a quick change it was on to Highbury & Islington where but a short step away we found The White Swan, a Weatherspoon’s Pub with a reasonable selection of ales and extremely passable food at of course reasonable JDW prices, ideal for the first couple of pints of the day and lunch.

Where's my fish & chips?

Bunny ears, what bunny ears?
 At this stage of our excursion we were taking full advantage of our London Travel-cards so we nipped back down to Highbury & Islington station to take the London over-ground train to Kentish Town West to visit The Camden Brewery Bar which is in fact just under the station!

The Camden Brewery beers are excellent and they brew a good range of beers and real lagers, we even tried the unfiltered draught Hells Lager which was in fact extremely refreshing and tasty.

Nipping back ‘Upstairs’ we again caught an over-ground train to Gospel Oak to visit the Southampton Arms, a splendid old pub with a ridiculous range of microbrewery ales and craft beers, they also do a splendid hot pork roast roll with crackling, be aware though, this pub has no phone, no jukebox, no fruit machines and does not take cards, it’s cash only and in my opinion all the better for it, wooden throughout and full of character (& characters!).

 Of course, the day was supposed to have involved minimum walking but as things turned out we got a message that two of our friends we were supposed have met up with earlier were hopelessly lost in Kentish Town but had found their way to The Pineapple (A pub we know well) and there had met even more of our friends from CRF/Skeggy so would meet us there if we made our way down, so of course we did.
Missing a bus by a hairs breadth we walked and eventually arrived at the Pineapple just in time to enjoy a well-earned pint, pick up with even more friends before a mass stroll up to The Boston Music Rooms at Tufnell Park, where of course we met up with the rest of our own motley crew (As opposed to Motley Crue with, as you may know, is an American rock band).

 So, why were we all there? It was Touchstone’s final London gig, supported by John Mitchell (Frost, It Bites, Arena) in his ‘Lonely Robot’ incarnation and it seemed like it was the biggest gathering of the (predominantly) Southern prog family since the last Celebr8, Celebr8.3, it was so good to see so many well-known characters there.

Corona's on Parade!
John Mitchell makes no bones about the fact that he does not like playing the acoustic guitar but, what the heck, a lot of the Lonely Robot songs do work well acoustically and I wish I could play the guitar a tenth as well as he does, a good opening set for the evening.

John, the onely Robot himself
Touchstone, as a band, have called it a day as not only does Kim Seviour have to take a good long break to recover her health but founder member Rob Cottingham has also bowed out to pursue other projects, Moo, Adam and Henry however have ongoing plans, I can’t wait to see this particular project come to fruition.

Anyway, back to the night in question, poor Kim was suffering from Laryngitis and had been ill all week and had only just recovered part of her voice, as she said, the top end of her vocal range had “Just gone!”
Of course cancelling the penultimate gig was never going to be an option so the lovely Heather Findlay was drafted in to assist on vocal duty so it was a very different Touchstone that took to the stage, despite everything it was a damn good gig none-the-less and of course a pretty emotional evening, all in all I’m glad we went, a fine day out and a great evening.


Saturday saw two of us who could still just about stand heading up to Royal Leamington Spa for the final gig, meeting up with many more notables from the prog community and what made it even better was that several of us enjoyed a drink and meal together at The Jug & Jester before heading over to the Leamington Assembly Hall where we again saw John Mitchell kick off the evening but this time with Heather Findlay on vocals for the Lonely Robot songs with the female lead, a stunning performance and by the way John has the full electric band project on at La Scala in London on the 20th December.

 Next up were those Welsh masters of melodic prog, Magenta who delivered a near on two hour set of absolutely stunning quality, to be honest I’d have happily gone to just such a Magenta gig.

The Magnificent MAGENTA
So, there we were, Touchstone’s final gig and by all things in heaven and earth did they ‘go for it’ , again with Heather helping Kim out on the ‘Top range’ this was a classic Touchstone performance, if last night was good then somehow this was an order of magnitude better, what a way to bow out, I’m pretty sure that in years to come there will be those “Were you at Leamington Spa for Touchstone’s farewell gig” questions, I’m so happy that I’ll be one of those able to say yes!

Heather & Kim
The whole evening was being filmed so no flash photography was allowed hence my fairly crappy photos.

There was an ‘After party’ after the gig, a small but select crowd which after all the photographs, the meet and greets and autograph signings dwindled to the hard core of fans, the bands themselves along with family members and close friends, it may have been the end of an era but there was a lot of laughter, drinking (In some cases extremely heavily!) and dancing and it was all good.
So to Touchstone, to Rob, Kim, Henry, Moo and Adam, a huge thank you for all the great music and live performances and I and many others I know are looking forward to whatever the future brings for and from you.

What a brilliant band, the mighty, TOUCHSTONE

Tim wins the air guitar of the year award!

Spot the Corona, a great after party.
So, that's it then, what a brilliant weekend and I even got up for work on Monday!
Cheers m' dears, until the next time round the plastic spiral.
GM November 2015.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Sunday Session - Dodo Bones & More at Club-85

Sunday night acoustic sessions, here's what Club-85 themselves posted about this particular gig:-

One of our highlights from the Folk stage at Balstock this year, as soon as we saw them we just had to book them. Cajon, double bass, guitar and smouldering vocals wrapped up in some very odd covers and originals.
Not to be missed.

Donna is an established artist having performed within UK and international festivals. Her love of music is combined with her passion to make a difference within the local and global community. 
Throughout her career, Donna has shown her support for charity, raising funds for such charities as NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), and Help for Heroes.
In 2015 Donna became Head of Performance at Rhythms of the World.

DAN BOND - Formerly one half of the rather excellent Music and Spies. Now Dan is flying the flame solo with his troubadour acoustic styling.

"I explored Country music and loved the styles of Lee Brice, Luke Bryan, Chris Young and Gloriana, I began to song write and play the guitar. My inspiration to become one of the UK’s most successful Country singers comes from my reverence for Miranda Lambert. 
To me, music is a gateway. It makes me happy, sad, angry, excitable and even confused. But as I’ve grown, I’ve realised that it not only provides me with a tool to entertain but to share these feelings with people so they know they’re not alone when they too feel the same."

Well, what a splendid gig it was, a FOTS threesome of myself, Peter & Chris ambled along and had a truly wonderful night of excellent music.

Dem bones dem bones dem, Dodo Bones

Dem bones dem bones dem, Dodo Bones
Dem bones dem bones dem, Dodo Bones
Dem bones dem bones dem, Dodo Bones
Now hear the word of the bard
It was nice to see Peter with a smile on his face
Throughout every act on this night that rocked the place
Now you may think that this statement sounds somewhat silly
But there was no reggae and no rockabilly
And what’s more our Peter had a thirst for the beer
As he wasn’t driving he was so full of cheer

Peter & Chris, smiles all round
Which made it all the nicer for Chris and for me
For to be with a happy Peter is a good place to be
And the music was good, well to be honest in fact
It was more than just good it was better than that
Georgia Nevada with her country tinged songs
With Connor Wells accompanying helping her along

Georgia Nevada with Connor Wells
Then Dan Bond, what a damn fine surprise
One half of the late lamented Music & Spies

Dan Bond delivered an excellent set
'Rhythms' head of performance Donna MacKay
Was the next talented artist to get up and play

Donna MacKay
And then came the headliners in a class of their own
The fabulous wonderful band Dodo Bones

The wonderful Dodo Bones

They were smooth they were sexy
They were so entertaining it’s true
So there’s only one thing left  for me to say to you
And it’s
Dem bones dem bones dem, Dodo Bones
Dem bones dem bones dem, Dodo Bones
Dem bones dem bones dem, Dodo Bones
Now go and buy the CD

Grant Meaby November 2015

Sunday, 15 November 2015


Now under normal circumstances I'd probably not blog a small and somewhat impromptu gig like this but as the world turns in pain over recent events it is good to record the fact that there are many good people 'out there' and those with hearts to do some good in this world in whatever way they can.

The Informatives had theoretically played their final farewell gig at Club-85 a few weeks ago for Peter Gill's 60th birthday bash but due to the loss by the dreaded 'C' word of one of the bands family members the lads decided to do one last show as a benefit fund-raised for Cancer Research.
Supported by Joey Hanson who is definitely a talent to look out for it was a splendid night of excellent music and with Peter on sound engineering duties (Rather than behind the lens) it was a damn fine night of great music played to an absolutely heaving pub.

I only had my little Nokia phone camera with me which is a shame but hey ho, you can't win them all and with this gig being only about three minutes walk from home + Greene King IPA at only £2:29 a pint not only was it a very cheap night out but of course I was able to put more"In the bucket" as I hope man many others did.

The Informatives - Front line!

The Informatives - Back Line!

Joey Hanson - One to watch out for

The legendary Peter Gill on sound duties, sound job too!

Wednesday, 11 November 2015


It certainly seemed as if we were caught in our very own time warp for here we were, a week later and suddenly it was Halloween again!
Club-85 was suitably and I must say rather splendidly decked out with cobwebs, skeletons, witches, spooks, Jack O’ Lanterns, effective and evocative lighting and various other spooky trappings ready for “Nasty Nick” Fest the Halloween extravaganza, a special gig jointly promoted by Anon Promo and SG1 Radio featuring Johnny Altman with that most fabulous band of all girl rockers, Joan ov Arc.

 Hosted by SG1 Radio’s very own Becky Phillips the evening started in a very different and enjoyable way with some baffling and extremely entertaining close up table magic from local magician Martin Cox, a damn fine show with bawdy humour to suit. With myself and other members of The Fellowship either being ‘chosen’ to participate in some of the tricks or as the butt of some of his jokes it made for a most enjoyable start to the evening’s entertainment.

Martin Cox baffles our Chris or was it the other way round?
First up on the musical front was Mr. Balstock himself, the inimitable G. La Roche who treated us to a high octane typical ‘G’ performance complete with a Conga dance around the club and a Queen sing-a-long as well as some more poignant and beautiful songs especially the one about fairies and unicorns, some of you may even know to what I am alluding!

The mighty force that is.................G La Roche
Next up were Guido and the Hellcats, fine exponents of the Rockabilly style, not only do they play some excellent versions of well-known rock and roll standards but as well as their own material, which itself is exceptionally good, they also take a few well known pop-punk anthems and ‘convert’ them to a Rockabilly style, a set that had us bopping around like idiots, by which time of course the Doombar and the 666 had also started to take effect, splendid!

Guido and the Hellcats - Rock On

 John Altman, best known for his role as Nick Cotton (Nasty Nick) in Eastenders, as many fine actors do, and he is indeed a fine actor, also have a goodly serving of musical background to boot. As well as appearing in Quadrophenia his own musical career includes a spell fronting the legendary band The Heavy Metal Kids following the untimely demise of former front man, fellow actor and his personal friend, Gary Holton.

Johnny & Joan ov Arc what a combination!
Apparently John first met Joan ov Arc when they were both appearing on a ship cruising up the Fjords, decided to get together for a song or two and the rest is history, this night they delivered a fine set of rock classics along with a couple of John’s self-penned songs and a couple he wrote with and whilst part of the HMK’s.
All in all a damn fine evening of top class entertainment and again with a line-up that attracted with a slightly more mature audience at Club-85 it was also a great time for catching up with old friends, may there be many more such nights.

Well, this night was certainly a grand Fellowship of the Stick outing with the five of us, so, without further ado...................................

Even on a Sunday Night!

Since the demise of The Nightingale
And thereby hangs another tale (See below)
A Sunday night and early doors
So we met at Bar-85 of course
For a pre-gig drink and ticket collection
Five fine fellows was my recollection
Myself and Alex, Chris and Kevin
And Peter how could we forget him
Kevin regaled us with tales of Motley Crue
And Alice Cooper, Smiffy’s birthday do
It seems a grand time was indeed enjoyed
But tonight we were otherwise employed
Kicking off tonight was some close up magic
With bawdy humour that really did the trick
Some stunning illusions all sleight of hand
And then G La Roche who was really grand
Without so much as a second glance
Kevin stepped out and did the Time-warp dance
A time warp we were in ourselves it seemed
For once again it was Halloween 
There was a Conga and a sing-along
To well-known Queen anthemic songs
Then Guido and the Hellcats with their rockabilly
We sang along and danced ourselves silly
Before Johnny Altman and Joan ov Arc
Tore the very place apart
Rock and roll’s alive alright

Even on a Sunday night!

Ode to a Nightingale

In Hitchin no more
 will The Nightingale sing
No more pints of
 Colley’s Dog from Tring
For they have closed
 and locked the door
Pre gig drinks for 
The Fellowship no more
This once blessed haven
 of splendid real ale
Is now just a building plot
 put up for sale
And once where camaraderie
 was often enjoyed
Builders of flats
 will now be employed
For the loss of this
 once glorious place
The Nightingale gone
oh how my heart aches

Grant Meaby

November 2015


So until the next time, keep live music alive, keep calm and eat chickeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeen