Best of British Report - July 2018
July 14. The Westons are a family trio consisting of Paul (lead vocals/guitar), Debbie (lead vocals/acoustic guitar) and Paul’s brother Cliff (lead guitar/dobro/vocals).
So far as I can recall this was their first appearance at the Best of British CMC although Paul and Debbie appeared here as Streamline in 2016 and 2017.
On the day that England failed to make it to the FIFA World Cup final and Serena Williams lost the ladies Wimbledon final in straight sets, poor Paul didn’t even make it onstage for the first set, having eaten something that disagreed with him on the way here. Debbie said “the show must go on” but was it just by chance that the first song with Debbie and Cliff as a duo was This Is Me Missing You?
Fortunately Paul had recovered sufficiently to make up the trio for the remaining sets which contained excellent lead and harmony vocals from them all and some brilliant guitar work from Cliff. The Westons are certainly a class act, helped, no doubt, by the extra versatility that having three vocalists gives them.
Thanks to The Westons for entertaining us and to everyone who attended on such a hot day.
Best of British Report - June 2018
June 9th. Not long after an overrunning party for a child’s birthday had been removed from the hall George Payling arrived with his family group, namely ‘baby’ George and grandson Ryan to get set up for an evening’s entertainment from Texas Gun.
With George Snr. (bass guitar), George Jnr. (keyboard and lead guitar) and grandson Ryan (rhythm guitar) all taking turns with the vocals there was much to enjoy, as usual. Whatever is in the Payling male genes it seems inevitable that superb vocalists will be produced as Ryan demonstrated early on with Places I’ve Never Been. George Jnr. excelled with a medley of To Make You Feel My Love/A Legend In My Time. And birthday ‘boy’ Perry was invited on stage (I doubt they could have stopped him) for his unique rendition of Good Hearted Woman.
Well done Perry and thanks to Texas Gun for another good evening of older and newer country music, a wristy (and risky) joke or two, and a bit of Scottish fun at the end with The Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond.
Best of British Report - May 2018
May 12. Father and son duo Rick and Ashley, known as The Storms last appeared here just six months ago and for many it seemed like a friend’s reunion. Their friendly approach was a nice touch and they spent time before the start and during both breaks going round the tables chatting to everyone who wanted to. However, I thought it was inappropriate for them to continue doing this during the club announcements and raffle.
Compère Danny had placed on the tables what appeared to be a running list of the songs to be played with their respective line and partner dances. In the event they weren't all performed and older numbers not so much aimed at the dancers were included which resulted in three entertaining sets that contained a contrasting mix of currently popular songs such as Ride With Me, Down On Your Uppers and much older favourites such as King of the Road and an excellent version of Don't Close Your Eyes, well sung by Ashley. Rick’s impressive vocal range was demonstrated in successive numbers with a hint of yodel in Start Over to a much deeper sound in I Love You Because, which had some of the ladies swooning a bit. The Storms received good applause throughout and ironically Danny concluded the evening with a warning about flooding in the car park due to a heavy rain storm.
Finally, in view of comments received, I would like to confirm that although the paragraph and photo regarding the late Mary Bowen appeared alongside the Claws and Paws CMC report in the June Cross Country the item was initially appended to my April report and it was the Best of British CMC that she regularly attended.
Dave Goddard – DJ Best of British CMC
Answering Cross Country’s call to hear about people in the clubs I would like to give an extended mention of our DJ, Dave Goddard. His interest in being a DJ started in the 1970’s when he worked for a company servicing and installing jukeboxes. A side line was building and operating disco equipment and at weekends he would go out with a Transit van and the company disco to DJ private parties, weddings etc. At that time disco and the Bee Gees dominated the music scene. Subsequently he joined the telecoms industry but retained his love of music of all kinds. In the late 1980s he moved to Sheppey, Kent and discovered a Country Music Club where he became interested in the line dance craze. It wasn’t long before he had started compering and DJ work at two local clubs.
One night at the Best of British club John, who ran the club with his wife Mary, asked Dave if he could help out with the DJ spot due to his failing health. He immediately agreed and since John sadly passed away he has continued playing the music and has now been the club’s DJ for the past three years. Dave also occasionally DJs at garden parties for one of the members who used to run country clubs. Now 67, Dave has been spinning discs for 46 years, still loves doing it and hopes to carry on for a long time yet.
Best of British Report - April 2018
April 14th. Rancher’s popularity with line dancers is as strong as ever and with many regulars also attending there was a full house. On their website Rancher wrongly gave our address as New HIVE lane which was quite apt really as the place was certainly buzzing. A feature of this duo - Steve Lovett (lead vocals & lead guitar) and John Hallett (Electric & Double bass) is that they regularly update their content with newer songs, and their backing tracks are mixed by Steve in his own studio. Cross Country’s current top dance All The King’s Horses was sung early on with one of my own current favourites, Ice Cold Corona, coming in the second set. Maybe a Gypsy Queen put a bit of a curse on Steve at the beginning of the third set as there was a slight technical hitch and he had trouble remembering the words. All treated with good humour and he soon recovered when he got back to his Roots (Zac Brown style),
Fiona was thanked for baking a lemon drizzle cake for Steve & John and they expressed their appreciation for the supply of coffee from Fred. Plenty of shouts for more and the evening ended with Champagne Promise,
Sadly, we learnt this evening that a former club regular, Mary Bowen, had passed away on Monday after suffering a heart attack. When Mary lost her husband Ron two years ago she decided to move back to Essex to be near her family. They were both regular country music fans and loved both club events and festivals. They were great friends of Dave, our DJ, who I plan to feature in a brief profile with next month’s report.
Best of British Report - March 2018
March 10. You can pay a lot of money to go to a heavily publicised show only to come away disappointed and thinking "‘I’ve been had". Well, tonight, for very little money, we were well and truly Dunne, in the nicest possible way, by the superb Chris Dunne Band.
The award winning band, appearing here for the first time, travelled from Hayling Island having performed at Merv & Maria’s Country Party in the afternoon. To see a six piece band on stage is a treat in itself but it’s what they do that really counts. And what they did was give us an evening of quality country music that won’t be forgotten in a hurry by many who attended. Chris, who performed most of the vocals, was well supported by Roly Eales (lead guitar), Nick Bevans (bass guitar), Lee Feltham (drummer), Tom Brierley (acoustic guitar) and Gerry Hogan (steel guitar), all talented musicians. With so much to enjoy I noted that Travis Tritt’s Rough Around The Edges attracted extra loud applause as did a medley combining Dance the Night away and Heartbeat. I particularly liked the catchy I Like A Two Step Too and the good harmony work throughout. Demands for more started before the applause had died down at the end of the final set and the many enthusiastic comments as people left included “best band we’ve seen here” and “worthy of a theatre concert”. Even a few who would have preferred some newer country songs acknowledged they had seen a top class band.
Thanks to Chris & Co. for a great evening – look forward to your return next year. Thanks also to DJ Dave for being topical and playing some Irish songs ahead of St Patrick’s Day before the live music started.
Best of British Report - February 2018
February 10. This was the club’s Valentine’s themed event when the ladies are presented with a rose on arrival and the usual and ever popular free marshmallows are replaced with heart - shaped ones. The annual performance of the trilogy was held at the start of the evening. Mary explained that “our trilogy was a salute in honour of those who have lost their lives in conflict worldwide and to remember loved ones and friends who have passed away. Over the last year we have sadly lost Mary Hutchinson, Roger Chessman, Steve Scott and Buddy who ran the Ace of Diamonds CMC”.
There was a change to Montana Country Band’s usual line-up with Chas, who lives locally, standing in on bass guitar and backing vocals for Graham Day. Completing the trio were John Clark (lead vocals/lead guitar) and Les Hendricks (drums and backing vocals). To describe the evening, I can’t do better than to quote John when he said “we are a vintage country band playing vintage country music”. Wagon Wheel sounded like the newest song they performed but it is not as new as many might think as the chorus was recorded by Bob Dylan in 1973 and the verses added in 1998 by Keith Secor of the Old Crow Medicine Show. Thanks to Montana Country Band for entertaining us and good luck with Montana Covers, their first CD recorded after 40 years.
Additional photos of the Trilogy can be found in the Best of British Gallery
Best of British Report - January 2018
January 13. Given the numbers suffering from flu and other winter bugs the attendance was as good, if not better, than expected. If anyone was suffering from post-Christmas January blues Longshot dispensed the perfect remedy to get rid of them. I only recall seeing them as a trio previously but they are now a duo - Glynn Long (lead vocals and drums) and Les Evans (lead guitar and harmony vocals). For a duo they filled the stage well, with Glynn’s drum kit being an attraction in itself. I was so impressed with the overall sound that I asked about the backing tracks. It was no surprise to learn that these have been carefully created to maintain the unique Longshot style, so much better than acts that use ‘off the shelf’ backing tracks.
I think you would have to be hard to please not to have enjoyed this performance by Longshot and a first for me was seeing Lonely Drum being performed live by a drummer. Thanks Glynn and Les for getting our year off to a good start.
Best of British Report - December 2017
December 9. For our Christmas event a full house welcomed back Gary Perkins and the Breeze - a special band for a special occasion. Leaving the snow behind them as they travelled south to Kent they took no chances and were already setting up when I arrived at the hall nearly 2½ hours before the start. Festive decorations, mulled wine and mince pies for everyone and possibly the best display of raffle prizes I’ve seen at a CMC all added to the occasion.
Lead vocalist Gary was superbly supported by Steve Morris (keyboard), Andy Mottram (lead guitar and vocals), Adrian Fountain (bass guitar & vocals) and Dan Wright (drums). Gary performed most of the vocals including several self-penned numbers such as Angel On My Shoulder and the lively Chase Me Round The Bedroom Honey. A feature that I particularly liked was the extension of some of the songs to feature individual members of the band in solo sections to demonstrate their musical talents. Towards the end, the band entered into the festive spirit, donning Christmas hats and singing a couple of seasonal songs before performing one of their signature songs, Rawhide, where they jump up and down enthusiastically – they’ve been doing this for years, much the same as pogo dancing I guess although we don’t see a lot of this at the Best of British!
The club aims to cater for anyone who likes country music so it was pleasing when Gary complimented the club on having lots of dancers and lots of listeners, quite rare in his experience. As well as thanking Gary and The Breeze for giving such an entertaining evening it is worth mentioning that because of the forecast of heavy snow tomorrow Steve and Adrian cancelled their planned stay at a local Travelodge and travelled overnight to be sure of performing with Nicky James in Blackpool in the evening. This is just the sort of commitment that Rob mentioned in January’s Cross Country.
Finally, among those attending tonight we welcomed country and western enthusiasts Michael, Erica, Sabine and Christian from Germany. During their trip to England they stayed at Potters for Alan and Sonia’s partner dance event and also visited Milton CMC and Claws and Paws. Michael Schmidt is a line and partner dance choreographer who has written numerous dances including Missing Two, Cold Beer and new ones for Alan and Sonia’s workshop at Potters.
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