Thursday, 31 December 2009

A Musical Career

New Year's Eve. I'm looking back on around 39 years of making music to entertain the public. So next year I can do the 40th year tour!

I was 12 when I got my first guitar and it was four years before I felt myself ready to sing in front of others. The first group was known as the Heywood Senior High School Folk Group... I know... We were never going to trouble the charts of 1970 against the likes of Marc Bolan - though The Beatles were sufficiently worried and disbanded shortly afterwards... I'm on stage with Bill Lloyd and yes, that's me with all that hair and yes, it really was all mine... These days I'd need extensions to even consider a comb-over...

We played folk music, both contemporary and traditional and we played local folk clubs and had a huge following amongst the 13 and 14-year-old girls at school...

The next year, Bill and I were joined by Barry Lord and we changed the name of the band to Anacreon. We added some three-part harmony to such staples as "Oh Sinner Man" and "Sun Arise", by heck we were really with it, man...

By 1972 I had left school and was approached to join a band as lead guitar. This was Spiral. We were young, keen, skint and so we stayed until I got married in 1976.

I dallied briefly with a band on the outskirts of Preston for a while. We never got round to doing any gigs and I sort of lost interest. Music took a back seat for a while as my daughter went through her childhood.

Then computers entered my life in the form of a Commodore 64. It had, for the time, a quite sophisticated music chip that few games took advantage of. By 1984 I was producing stuff like Sweet Georgia Brown, triple-tracked on an Akai reel-to-reel tape recorder that made it sound as though I had an orchestra of computers. It took ages to do this sort of thing, programming each note separately. I invented a programme to do either a "bum-cha, bum-cha" or a "bum-cha-cha" backing and then put melody lines on top. It took about a week's worth of programming to do the whole song! Forgive the hiss and the crackle of static electricity on old tape!

Then I bought a keyboard and gathered family members at weekends to sing old music hall and comedy songs. I gave them all word sheets with the bits they had to sing underlined. It meant I could get them to do things that sounded as though we'd have to spend ages rehearsing, straight off in one (well... ten...) takes - taking into account people making remarks, missing thir cue or simply belching at the wrong time... Singing went well with wine somehow... An example is The Old Bazaar In Cairo.

And then at Christmas, 2000 Creeping Bentgrass came together by chance, playing carols for the students at our workplace, Myerscough College. We agreed to carry on and are seen here as a foursome playing the Windows on Art Festival at Kendal on 8 September 2001.

Helen Fenton left and we carried on as a trio. The music, which had started out very folk-based, started to move towards 1960s pop and rock and roll! We released three CDs, see the band's website for details and more downloads.

Then this year Bob Snape dropped out to concentrate on his ceilidh band and we now carry on as a duo with myself and David Lancaster. The repertoire is currently expanding rapidly and creeping into the 70s, 80s, 90s and up to more modern songs. Our roots are in the 60s though and sixties music will always be the main feature of our act.

Doing the Sunnyside weekend with the other artists from the Billy Fury website was a highlight last year and we are thrilled to have been asked to headline on the Friday night for 2010 at the same event. It gives us a chance to give the regulars a feel for a Creeping Bentgrass gig - with a short set last year we had to cut out a lot of the music to get the jokes in!!!

We normally do around a dozen gigs a year. 2009 has seen us do getting on for 20 and next year is looking good already. As a belated Christmas (or New Year) present, here for the first time is our version of Billy Fury's Halfway to Paradise.

1 comment:

  1. The first 2 music links don't exist :-( Alan


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