Pages

Sunday, 31 January 2016

I'LL WEAR A BUCKET ON MY HEAD - NIK TURNER'S ICU, KRANKSCHAFT AND THE ASTRONAUTS AT CLUB-85

I’ll wear a Bucket on my Head

Friday evening saw me once again heading slightly north on a Hitchin bound train, armed with a promotional bear mat for the Stevenage Winter Beer and Cider Festival which takes place next weekend, it was given to me by my friend, Colin who was on duty at Stevenage station concourse of course before he too headed off to Hitchin.

After a good feed of chicken I headed across to Club-85, the best music venue in North Herts., keeping music alive and tonight what a line up there was, The Astronauts, Krankschaft and Nik Turner’s Inner City Unit.


Availing myself of a comforting pint of The Rev. James in Bar-85 I settled down to wait for Peter and Chris and another friend from work, Dave, no Kev this night as he’d gone down with the lurgi that seems to have plagued many since Skeggy.

As expected there was an excellent turn out for this gig, with Nuzz Prowling Wolf spinning the tunes and visuals before and between the bands we knew were in for an exciting stimulation of the senses, and, at only £10 entry, not at all expensive.

Mark & Dom the Astronauts
The Astronauts hit the stage first, stripped down and semi acoustic, Mark and Dom treated us to some well known Astro’ songs and one of the highlights of the evening it just had to be was when Nik came out to listen and came and said hello to me.


Krankschaft
Krankschaft were on next and what a brilliant show, with numbers old and new and the spirit of Robert Calvert so obviously still present they rocked us good and proper.

It was nice to see him again; Kozmic Ken, doing the introductions and bringing the bands on and off, it gave it quite a festival feeling.

Inner City Unit
Then it was time, ICU, which of course in this case was Inner City Unit although the way some people were dancing they may well have needed the Intensive Care Unit afterwards!
With Nik 'Thunder Rider' Turner on saxophone, flute and vocals, the legendary Dino Ferari on drums, Steve Pond from Krankschaft on guitar and Nazar Ali Khan on the bass, this is just as good as it comes.

Thunder Rider in whistful mode

Nik lets rip
So, between Skegness and Hitchin, in just less than a week, I’ve seen, Arthur Brown, Hawkwind, The Astronauts, Krankschaft and Inner City Unit, it’s  most definitely time to wear a bucket on my head!


GM Jan 2016

Thursday, 28 January 2016

SKEGNESS 2016 -THE GREAT BRITISH ROCK AND BLUES AND JAZZ FESTIVAL AND A BIT BEFORE

So here we are, 2016 and what a way to start the years gigging and festivals, in fact, 'Skeggy' wasn't quite the start for many of us, that was the week before.

As many Blues Rock fans will know, last year, Larry Miller, guitarist extraordinaire and all round Mr nice guy, suffered a devastating ‘stroke’ from which, thankfully, he is slowly recovering.

Larry is a full time musician, his primary income comes from his live shows, CD and merchandise sales, so, as he’s been rested up slowly recovering there’s obviously not much in the way of earnings going his way at the moment!

Larry’s regular bass guitarist, Derek White (Also of Storm Warning fame) and another of rock’s really genuinely nice guys, along with the other members of Larry’s band, organised a benefit gig at The Stables featuring Del Bromham (Stray, Del Bromham’s Blues Devils), Barry Barnes (Sinnerboy), Oli Brown (Young blues guitarist of the year etc.) and the legendary Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake among many others) who, along with Larry’s band, treated us to an evening of the finest blues & blues rock, with a mixture of originals and classics it was a truly fantastic and memorable evening.
The most poignant moment was during the 2nd half when Larry himself came out on stage to wave to the audience, I can guarantee that I wasn’t the only one in the crowd with tears in their eyes.

Due to the Stables strict no photography policy (Apart from the official clickers) I may have no pictures from this gig but I do have the wonderful memories as I’m sure does everyone who were there.

Could it be that the very 1st gig of the year will BE the gig of the year?

Larry, we love you, keep getting better all the time.

So, what next, well, it just had to be didn't it, The Fellowship of the Stick, en mass, at Skegness GBR&B 2016.


The Fellowship at Skegness
 
So, the weekend of Friday the 22nd January through to the early hours of Monday the 25th it was time, once again, for the Great British Rock & Blues Festival on the Butlin’s site at Skegness in Lincolnshire.
This year we set off earlier than we had in previous years which gave us ample time to stop for lunch in Crowland and then to actually get to the site, check in, unpack and make our way to the Skyline to catch the first band on, Sugarman Sam and the Voodoo Men on the Introducing stage, very good they were too, we stayed around for The Black Circles before heading off for a splendid Butlin’s Food Hall evening meal before meeting up with other friends in time to catch Trident Waters, again, on the introducing stage.

The George and Angel in Crowland, a fine place for lunch

The Introducing Stage in the Skyline Pavilion
The evening saw us fully Corona’d up firstly in Reds for The House of X (Featuring ex members of UFO) who gave us a splendid set of guitar led rock and the first band to get some of us jigging about like things possessed, FM followed but good though they were it was all a little too soft AOR so we headed on down to Jaks and just caught the very tail end of TC and the Moneymakers before the real surprise and gem of a discovery in the form of The Revolutionaires who, with their high octane souped up Rockabilly absolutely tore the roof off the place, nit usually my musical cup of tea but wow, what a set!

The Corona Crowd - Photo courtesy of J. Hundy

House of X
It’s quite amazing just how many Hobgoblins a reasonable kitty between 5 can procure and in a relatively short time, although there were in fact 8 of us in total and sometime approaching the witching hour some of us headed back to the chalet whilst others stayed up and partied on until the wee small hours.
 
Now, I am really not at my best when roughly roused from my bed in the early hours of the morning by some well-meaning job’s-worth with some obvious training in H & S and absolutely none in customer care is shaking my bed shouting “Wake up, get up, grab a coat and get out of the house, it’s about to blow!” whilst stomping around opening all the doors, including my bedroom door which faced directly out to the front door and the cold cold night! I have to admit I was slightly less than polite in my response for which I apologise but, come on, we were asked to just grab a coat, leave our stuff behind as the, here I have to stop and compose myself again, person or persons in the chalet above had had ‘a little trouble’ with the water which by now was flowing nicely through our ceiling, down the walls, through the electrical fittings and had brought down the glass lampshade in the bathroom with a resounding crash as it committed  suicide on the toilet below!
 
Thankfully one of the Butlin’s customer team arrived and explained the situation, I have nothing but praise for this guy, he was kind, polite, witty and he helped us pack our gear before transporting us to our new, Gold Standard accommodation at the other end of the site.
Now while all this was going on two of our group were still out partying, when we eventually got hold of them they of course thought the whole thing was a wind up, which of course it wasn’t as they were soon to find out, inevitable the following just begged to be written.

The Great Flood of Skegness

In the early hours of Friday morning
I’m talking 3AM
The weather must have changed somewhat
Because it was raining hard again
But hold on, something’s not quite right
This wasn’t meant to be
I’m indoors fast asleep in my bed
And it’s raining down on me!

Water water everywhere
But not a drop to drink
It’s pouring through our ceiling and down our walls
From upstairs bloody sink
And night security are thumping around
Shouting “Wake up, rouse rouse rouse
There’s water in all the electrics
You must get out this house”

“Just quickly wake up and pack your stuff
We’re moving you right now”
But two of our crew are still out partying
So we’d like to know just how?
So we call them but they think it’s a wind up
“No it’s not” we try convincingly to say
And before they can come back
We’re packed and on our way!

They moved us to a nice apartment
Gold standard very plush I have to say
The only problem with it was
It was bloody miles away!
But despite all the disruption
The great flood wasn’t too bad after all
For it gave us another adventure
To go tell one and all

The Fellowship still had lots of fun
And had a great “Skeggy” once again
Great bands and fun time spent with friends
And very little rain
Except of course inside on the Friday Night!
Alright?

Saturday saw us heading off to Jaks for the Roadhouse set before the afternoon’s jam sessions, now anyone who knows me or us will by now know that not only are Roadhouse one of our favourite bands we are also pleased to count several members of the band as personal friends, not that we are at all biased in any way but they did play a splendid short set to kick the afternoon off.

Roadhouse kick off the Jam in Jaks on Saturday afternoon
At 2:15 we were heading into Reds again for the first of the ‘classic’ bands of the weekend, Manfred Mann’s Earthband who played an absolute stormer of a set and changing the mood and musical genre somewhat were followed by the ever bonkers, ever wonderful, Crazy World of Arthur Brown, resplendent in face paint and costume Arthur and the band treated us to a wide selection from his repertoire and when they played Kingdom Come’s Time Captives I was jigging around like an epileptic ant on hot coals.

Manfred Mann's Earthband

Arthur Brown
After the evening meal there was just time to see Catfish and Willy Bo Walker and the Mescal Canyon Troubadours on the introducing stage, catch a snatch of Sean Webster in Centre Stage before again stumbling into Reds to catch the 2nd half of Lost Minute’s set, which I must say I thoroughly enjoyed before, what was for me, one of the gigs of the weekend, the mighty Hawkwind.

Lost Minute
Now, I had dragged along a couple of my friends who were not Hawkfans, one who having seen the odd Hawkwind gig  in the past was somewhat less than enthusiastic to start with, I needn’t have worried, The Hawks chose an absolutely sublime set of what you might call the ‘rockier’ numbers from their extensive, well, mega extensive back catalogue which had all the Hawkfans and happy GBR&B punters packing out the mosh pit and bouncing along and of course in many cases, singing along to, an absolute barnstormer of a set I even started to worry whether the grin on my face would be permanently stuck there! As we left Reds my previously unconvinced friends were muttering things like “Absolutely brilliant” and “The gig of the festival so far”, that just about says it all for me!

Hawkwind - Masters of the Universe
Although the night was still young (ish) I personally couldn’t really face seeing another band after Hawkwind so I headed back to the chalet for a chill and an earlier beddy-bye’s as the morning was set to bring more fun and mayhem.

Our new home in The Keys
Now, those of you who know us, either personally or through this blog or Facebook, will probably by now have gathered that at some stage throughout Skeggy we adorn ourselves in ridiculous fancy dress costumes, there have been kilts and full Scottish regalia (Previously Burn’s night has fallen during the Skeggy weekend), there have been animal onesies, non-animal onesies and somehow Sunday morning, for breakfast and the morning it has sort of become somewhat of a tradition, so why should this year be any different?
 
Sunday morning saw the emergence of The Monks of the Grand Order of Fender Bear, we proceeded (As in a progression) to break our fast together before again proceeding to serenade the lovely Mandie G from Roadhouse outside her and Sarah’s chalet before proceeding back through the site, making one young lad’s festival for him as he posed for pictures with us, don’t tell anyone but we may have claimed that it was a photo promo shoot for Metal Sausage’s next album, either that or TV’s Mr. Roger Marsh of The Tinderbox, new band, Roger and the Monks of Mayhem.

The Monks of The Grand Order of Fender Bear - Photo courtesy of K. Blackett
The Brotherhood of The Bear

“And you shall know us by the trail of the insane”
For the Monks of the Grand Order of Fender Bear
Are out there once again
It can become a sort of a habit
Sunday morning at Skegness
Each year brings something different
By way of fancy dress, so

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Bear”
You may not understand this
But you would if you’d been there!

Babajack had us back in Reds at 1pm and wow, what a brilliant set they played, a band you just can’t pigeonhole, they play rock, they play blues, they play folk, they do everything at such a pace and with such energy they cannot fail to make you happy.

Becky from Babajack slappin' that Cajun
Changing the mood and the music somewhat those old NWOBHM rockers Tygers of Pan Tang gave us an object lesson on just how good they still are and how the more melodic side of HM can get an audience bouncing, a most enjoyable way to round off the afternoon.

Tygers of Pan Tang

There was enough time to go back to Skyline to take in a few more bands on the introducing stage, The Voodoo Sheiks,  The Brian Rawson Band and some of These Wicked Rivers, all of whom were very good, before grabbing the evening meal before heading off to Jaks for the proper and full Roadhouse set, now, every now and then even a band you know and love can somehow up the ante, this was one of those nights, it just seemed that all the band were really ‘Up for it’ and what an amazing set they played, the new material really seems to give each member of the band a chance to show just what they can do and just how good they are, certainly wore me out!

Roadhouse - Sunday night the full set
I headed back to dreamland via a snatch or two of Martin Turner’s Wishbone Ash, OK but after the excesses of the weekend I was ready for bed and for me, nothing came a patch on Hawkwind, Roadhouse, Babajack, Tygers and Manfred Mann and of course spending quality time with a host of good friends, so, will we, or certainly some of us be back next year, I’m already booked!

Oh yes, they also have some beautiful sunrises on the Lincolnshire coast, so, until the next time which is bound to be soon, keep rocking.

Skegness sunrise
Words and pictures unless otherwise credited, funny little 'c' with a circle round it, all rights reserved, Grant Meaby, January 2016.