Tuesday, 27 June 2017






Some people, when they have retired from the world of useful employment say "I can't believe I ever had the time to go to work" while others might say, "I'm bored and wish I had never retired", well, all I can say is that for myself I am most definitely in the former rather than the latter group!

So, 3 days in June, 4 gigs, and in chronological order, here we go, hold on, this could be an interesting ride!

1. Thursday Night 22/06/17 - The Mantis Divine and Wake in the Waters at the Red Lion, Stevenage.

Another SoundARC Promotions gig (Thank you Andy), what can I say about The Mantis Divine? Interesting, different, heavy, excellent and far better, as in much more polished, than when we saw them a few months back supporting the Zipheads at Club-85.

The Mantis Divine are a Hertfordshire band, mixing rock & metal genres to create a sound all their own. 
Formed in 2016 when front-woman / vocalist Nadia Maria placed an ad on line searching for musicians who shared her musical taste and influence, it obviously worked, the lineup is now:-

Nadia Maria - Vocals
Kim Young - Guitar
Lee Warren - Bass
Greg Anderson - Drums

The Mantis Divine

The Mantis Divine set list for the night

Nadia & Kim
If anyone out there remembers a band from a few years back called Charlie Indestructible, well, from their ashes a real phoenix has risen, Wake in the Waters, what a superb band, extremely melodic, polished and just damn right good, can't wait until they put something out on CD.

Wake in the Waters in full flow!

It's all here in black & white!

2. Friday 23rd June - Parnassus Performance presents "Shh! Not a Word" as part of the Stevenage Festival.

OK, Parnassus Performance is a Stevenage based Poetry and performing arts group, over the years we have built up a network of poets, artists, writers, musicians, entertainers etc. and while these days we don't formally meet, the 'core' team are all good friends and we meet on line via our own social media pages, many of us regularly perform  at gigs, festivals and other such events.
Parnassus has contributed a show to every Stevenage Festival since it's inception over 25 years ago!

The evening consisted of a mix of music and poetry, much of it original contemporary work, every one was spot on plus we had an excellent audience, it was, thankfully a brilliant evening, I say that as I was the organiser, host and MC and if you had any idea how much work goes into arranging these shows you'd know!

After a few words of introduction from my good self (As opposed to my bad self) the show opened with the musical comedy of 'Smokin' Dick Burns' (a.k.a. Nick Brown).

Smokin' Dick Burns

Nick was followed by Poet / Play writer Graeme Lloyd performing his quirky, funny and often touching poetry.

Graeme Lloyd
And then it was my turn!

GM - Did I just say that?
To conclude the 1st half we were lucky to have Fran & Gabe from The Blues Blaggers playing a damn fine acoustic set.

Fran & Gabe from The Blues Blaggers
The second half of the show kicked off with the side splitting musical comedy of Barry Woolhead, his song about Stevenage had the audience in fits of laughter!

Barry Woolhead
Following Barry was none other than that well known and excellent Poet, Chris Ripple who gave us a damn fine set touching on the rock scene, politics, Africa and life in general.

Chris Ripple in fine form
Our final poet of the evening was the wonderful 'Purple Dread' (Joy T Chance) with her beautiful, touching and at times extremely humorous poetry,

The wonderful Joy T Chance (Purple Dread)
It's worth mentioning that Chris and Joy have just released a double CD, 'The Scummy & Share' years covering some of their very best live performances 2003-2008, copies are available via Chris Ripple.

To close the show we welcomed back Fran & Gabe for their 2nd set, it was absolutely stunning.

Fran & Gabe close the show

3. Saturday 24th June - Afternoon - Mr. Speaker plays Radiohead.

So there we were on Saturday afternoon with family and friends in the Gatefold record Lounge in Hitchin as they celebrated the 20th anniversary of Radiohead's OK Computer and, apart from playing the remastered LP in full, had the very excellent Mr Speaker playing an hour of Radiohead songs in a stunning acoustic set that really worked, plus of course, as they were without the bands regular vocalist, had Fran from the Blues Blaggers as special guest vocalist!

Mr Speaker plays Radiohead

Yes it really is in a record shop!
The full band info:-

After a splendid afternoon it was time to say goodbye to family and friends as Chris and I headed off down the motorway to Hatfield for our very first visit to The Rock Den.

4. Proximus, The Gift and Konchordat at the Rock Den, Hatfield.

So, the Rock Den put on this 'prog' night, not the airy fairy, twiddly widdly prog of fairy tales and mythical beasts but a night of the finest Neo prog / rock crossover, at times hard and fast and heavy, at times slow, melodic and beautiful and at all times with meaningful lyrics that made sense and that you could hear and clearly understand!

It was also a real joy to catch up with The Gift's Mike Morton who really is one of life's 'good guys' (Insert smiley face etc.) + of course the guys and gals from The Rock Den who make a regular pilgrimage up to the Melbourn Rock Club.

Proximus were first band on and stunned us with their complex and interesting songs and timing changes, I really was reminded, at times, of the early Van Der Graaf Generator!

The Gift were the second band on and they played an absolutely stunning set, even better than they were at HRH Prog 5 and they were damn good there too!
The Gift's current album, 'Why the sea is salt' is one of my favourite albums and the song, The Tallest Tree is just so beautiful and moving, the album version features guest contributions from none other than Steve Hackett, Ant Phillips and Mr. Tigermoth Tales himself, Peter Jones - What more do I need to say?

The Gift

The Gift - Gifted!

South London's Konchordat (Bad Elephant label mates) completed the line up, this was heavy rock / prog crossover at it's best, far better than when we saw them at HRH Prog 5 but that was due to sound balance problems (You could hardly hear the keyboards!) but no such problems this night at the Rock Den, the sound engineers here did a stunning job and Konchordat absolutely nailed it!


Fans sometimes get in the way!

All in all it had been a stunning three days, now it's time for a rest, but before that, as it was Chris and I at every gig above mentioned, it was most definitively a FoTs few days, so:-

A Thursday to Saturday in June

So on Thursday night
There’s Chris and me
Were back down the Red
A couple of bands to see

Mantis Divine took to the stage
And they really rocked the first set
Then Wake in the Waters blew us away
The older they are the better they get

Once there was a young band
Many long years ago
Called Charlie Indestructible
That some of you may know
And from the ashes of Charlie
Wake in the Waters grow

On Friday night Grant hosted a show
Called Shh! Not a Word
For the Stevenage Arts Festival
Great poetry and music
To be seen and heard

It was good to see so many
Good friends in the audience
It was a damn fine show all round
I think they’re glad they went!

On Saturday afternoon
In the Gatefold Record Lounge
We were rocking out to the sound
Of Radiohead songs played acoustically
By Mr. Speaker with special guest vocalist
Miss Fran Meaby!

Saturday night saw Chris and I
Heading off down the motorway to Hatfield
For our first visit to the Rock Den
Stopping off at Asda for a quick meal

This night was Prog night at the Rock Den
Proximus, The Gift and “Sarf Lundun’s” Konchordat
It was an absolutely stunning night of quality music
Neo prog at its best oh yes you’d better believe that!

It was good to catch up with the Den’s guys
That come on up to the MRC
(That’s The Melbourn Rock Club for the uninitiated,
It all makes sense to the likes of Chris and me)

Catching up with Mike Morton was a real pleasure
This really put the icing on the evening’s cake
However, three late nights of quality gigs
Begins to take it’s toll, it’s as much as I can take!

Who am I kidding, when’s the next one?

GM June 2017

So, until the next time, keep keeping music live and support your local venues and above all, stay safe and have fun.

Monday, 12 June 2017


It should come as no surprise that the Robin Bibi Band's new / current album 'No More a Secret' is riding high in the IBBA charts at the moment, it's a damn fine album and a real showcase of Robin's writing and playing, he is after all one of the UK's leading Blues / Blues Rock guitarists!

What was a surprise, and a nice one at that, is that he and his band were playing the Sunday night 'Blues at the Red' / 'Tandoori Blues' in the Red Lion, Stevenage Old Town on Sunday the 11th of June.
How Trevor manages to book such class acts week by week continues to amaze me (& my friends) and long may it continue to be so.

Here's what Blues / live music promoter Pete Feenstra said in conclusion to his review of No More a Secret:-

"Apart from the fact he’s routed in the blues, ‘No Label On Me’ succinctly summarises the core strand of a classy blues/rock album that balances a lifetime’s experience with musical acumen and an overall vision that seals the lid on a fine album".

You can read the full album review here:-

And, as I said, "Isn't it a funny thing when the strongest contender for gig of the year so far is the one you've just been to down at your local!"

A few pic's of the gig:-

No ditty this time round as this wasn't a Fellowship gig, this one was just little old me and some other good mates having a damn good blues rocking time, thank you Trevor and especially thank you Robin.
BFN - GM June 2017

Wednesday, 7 June 2017


A Grand Weekend

On Friday 2nd of June Chris, Peter and I went to Silverstone for the Williams 40 Years of racing celebration, it was a grand day out, we stopped off at Stowe for a quick look at the grounds and views and partaking of a splendid lunch in The Queen’s Head in Chackmore before Silverstone itself where we saw many classing F1 Cars taking to the track and watched interviews with some of the famous faces of the past from F1, no live music but Radio Silverstone was playing classic rock from the last 40 years so that was pretty good too!

The Gatehouse at Stowe

The Queen's Head at Chackmore

Trevor the Bear

The Pits at Silverstone


2 for the price of 1 - a grand duel

Saturday 3rd of June the afternoon saw Chris and I at The Red Lion in Stevenage Old Town for the SoundArc Promotions 10th Anniversary of promoting gigs at the Red Lion, it was a mini festival, an afternoon of top class acoustic acts out in the garden in the glorious sunshine followed by an evening inside the pub with bands (See below for the line up), whilst everyone was good and well worth seeing, Crap Crab were on immense form and played the tightest set I’ve ever seen from these guys, when it comes to instrumental rock, Crap Crab are up there with the best.

The Line Up
Dan Bond
Jasmin Donovan

K. Anderson
Neil by Mouth (Neil Webb)

High Wire Brigade

Crap Crab - simply amazing

On Sunday 4th June Peter and I headed off to Danny’s Bar at Esquire’s in Bedford for Sally Newhouse’s annual birthday bash with The X-Certs, who, incidentally, just have to be one of the best covers bands around, again it was a lot of fun.

The X-Certs
A Grand Weekend

So on Friday we went to Silverstone
For the Williams racing 40 years celebration
Stopping off for lunch in a fine country pub
Discussing the state of the nation
We shared out table with Trevor the Bear
We sampled fine ales and good food
Until it was time to go see racing cars
Which was in itself exceptionally good

On Saturday we visited Old Stevenage Town
To SoundArc’s 10th anniversary at ‘The Red’
Outside in the sun great acoustic sets were played
And in the evening it was live bands inside instead

On Sunday afternoon we were off out again
To Danny’s Bar in Bedford Esquire’s
For Sally’s bippity boppity birthday party
And the X-Certs satisfying our hat dancing desires

All in all it was another great weekend
Packed with different and varied events
It’s a hard life being retired sometimes
But I know we're all glad that we went!

At Sally's Party - Bippity Boppity hats a flying!

Cheers all, until the next time.
June 2017