Music

KENT singer-songwriter Katie Bradley came into the spotlight with her 2012 iTunes blues hit I Hear The River, which received a nomination for Best Original Song in the British Blues Awards, which came from her debut album She’s Ready.

PLAYING THE BLUES – Katie Bradley is one of the leading attractions at the Americana Festival, Fiery Bird, Woking, this weekend

Her success grew quickly as she supported and collaborated with the likes of Luther Allison, Suzanne Vega, Lucky Peterson, Taildragger, Georgie Fame and Geno Washington.

An accomplished blues harp player, her second album, Anchor Baby Sessions, has cemented her reputation to the point where she is a major attraction at the first Surrey Americana Festival in Woking this weekend.

Taking place at the Fiery Bird, the festival will run on Saturday (4pm-midnight) and Sunday  (2-10.30pm) and will also feature Dustbowl Sinners, Mantic Muddlers, Downtown Roundabout, Beth Keeping, the Will Purdue Band and many more.

WHEN a band’s touring van breaks down it could spell disaster, but for Zounds it turned out to be their biggest stroke of luck.

“By sheer chance we broke down at the end of the road where Crass lived,” explains frontman Steve Lake. “So we went to their house and it turned out we did get on really well.”

UNDERCOVER MISSION – Steve Lake fronts Zounds at the Fiery Bird on Saturday

At this time, in the late 1970s, anarcho punk band Crass had a massive cult following, which turned out to be good news for Reading outfit Zounds.

“It sounds like something from a made-up showbiz story, but it’s true,” explains Steve. “We had started playing in 1977 and we used to go to a lot of free festivals and play at a lot of them.

“Everywhere we were playing we saw posters for Crass and Poison Girls the week before or after, but we’d never met them.”

Following the fateful meeting after the van breakdown, Crass were quick to offer Zounds the chance to release a record on their label – and this flung them into the indie punk limelight.

The first release, an EP called Can’t Cheat Karma, went to number one in NME indie charts, although the singer admits: “That’s not because people knew who we were. Their devotion to Crass meant they thought it was the sort of thing they’d like.”

The band went on to release more records via Rough Trade, including The Curse of Zounds album, but their initial career was fairly shortlived.

Steve says: “In 1982 we stopped playing for a lot of reasons. It was getting to be less fun. There was a lot of trouble at gigs in those days, the late ’70s and early ’80s were pretty violent times.”

Steve continued to exist on the fringes of the DIY music scene, putting on gigs and playing occasionally, and eventually reformed Zounds in 2007, leading to the release of the album, The Redemption of Zounds, in 2011.

He is loving the band’s new lease of life, except for one thing.

“The songs I wrote came out of our experience, which happened to be a harsh experience. But the songs about ecology, consumerism, housing shortages are sadly still problems for people today.”

Zounds will play at the Undercover Festival at the Fiery Bird, Woking, this weekend, Friday and Saturday, 13 and 14 September.

Undercover Festival lineup

Tomorrow (Friday): Spear of Destiny (Kirk Brandon), 1919, The Satellites, The Blue Carpet Band, R.E.D. (Religion Equals Decay)

Saturday: Towers of London, Menace, Wonk Unit, Rubella Ballet, Zounds, The Fanzines, Actified UK, Wipes

For the full interview get the 12 September edition of the News & Mail

THE punk rock ethic that “anyone can do it” can rarely have had more resonance than for London four-piece Menace.

The band had spent most of 1976 on a gruelling tour of military bases in Germany, playing rock ’n’ roll and R&B covers to airmen and soldiers – and just about making ends meet.

The reformed Menace will appear at the Undercover Festival at Woking’s Fiery Bird

When the band returned to England, they discovered that punk was emerging as a major musical force… and an old school colleague was the major star.

“The Sex Pistols singer Johnny Rotten went to our school in London, St William of York, and we couldn’t get over it,” says Menace drummer Noel Martin, who is still with the band.

“He wasn’t ‘one of the lads’ at school, he was one of the ones that wasn’t a footballer or one of the tough kids, he was just ‘this kid’ and suddenly he was a rock star.

“We decided to get in on it. We wrote some songs like Screwed Up and Insane Society and then our second or third gig was at the Roxy.”

Menace became regulars at the legendary punk club in Covent Garden, playing with the likes of The Lurkers, Penetration, The Killjoys (with future Dexy’s Midnight Runners frontman Kevin Rowland on vocals), The Rezillos and Sham 69.

“Miles Copeland came to see us and signed us to Illegal Records straight away,” recalls Noel. “Because we could play reasonably well, we stood out I suppose.”

The initial result was the 1977 Screwed Up/Insane Society single, which is now a valuable commodity.

Other singles like GLC and Last Year’s Youth followed as Menace gained a big punk/skinhead following around London.

“We had a great time,” says the drummer. “Punk meant freedom for us. Before, you couldn’t get a gig for love nor money in London, you had to go cap in hand to some agent. It was hard work.

“When punk came along there was loads of shows, everybody could play because suddenly there were so many kids into it.

Menace in their early days

“We got quite a following. It was real – small but real –  people were singing our songs and we were playing three or four times a week in London.”

However, things petered out around the end of 1979 when frontman Morgan Webster left. The rest of the band became a backing band for Vermillion, as The Aces, for a while. Noel says: “Then, from 1981 I didn’t play for years. I started a wedding business, so I was busy every weekend.”

But in 1999 Noel and former bandmate Charlie joined a band called The Collection with John Lacey and played a few gigs. One night they decided to play the Menace classic GLC and Noel says: “The place went nuts!

“Afterwards, someone said ‘That’s the best Menace cover I’ve heard’ and I was like ‘Eh? I was in Menace!’ I started getting calls saying ‘Are you reforming?’, so we decided to do more of the old songs and eventually decided we might as well be Menace.

“It’s more enjoyable, but in a different way. Back then, we were kids and everything was completely insane. We didn’t have a care in the world. But now everyone knows our tunes, everyone knows us and we’re enjoying it to the max.

“We only had 11 songs back in 1977, so we’d often play them more than once! We lasted for three years with 11 songs.

“Now we have a much bigger set. We still play GLC, Screwed Up, Last Year’s Youth, I Need Nothing and we have new songs that sound very similar.”

Menace will play alongside Spear of Destiny, Towers of London, Rubella Ballet, Zounds, Wonk Unit and many others at the Undercover Festival at the Fiery Bird, Woking, on Friday 13 and Saturday 14 September.

SATURDAY’S annual music festival at Ripley outshone the shows of previous years, easily achieving its fundraising target on behalf the village scout group.

Free Peace Sweet were one of the early evening bands on stage

Ripley Rocks attracted hundreds of people to Court Meadow, with the proceeds expected to buy a replacement minibus for the group as well as providing funds for the community organisations that helped stage the event.

The teenage members of Minty Hindu.

Richard Ayears, who organises the show with Peter Hookings said “The performers were all great and we can’t thank them enough. The profits for the scout group will be around £10,000, which will pay for a minibus which will also be available for community groups to use, as well as the Beavers, Cubs, Scouts and Explorers.”

The organisers are already planning next year’s Ripley Rocks, which will take place on Saturday 11 July.

For the full story get the 18 July edition of the News & Mail

THE box office is now open to the public for the annual Chobham Festival, with tickets available online for the first time.

Bookings can now be made and paid for via the festival’s website, as well as by post using a downloadable form.

Pianist David Soo is one of the festival stars for this year

The festival opens on Saturday 28 September and runs until Saturday 12 October, featuring events ranging from a jazz party to a flower festival.

There are six music performances, along with special church services, children’s entertainments, morris dancing and a festival café.

Dave Stradwick and his Sussex Jazz Kings will open the season in Chobham Village Hall, on stage for an evening of trad jazz, along with supper.

Also in the festival line-up is Chobham Rock Choir Live, a performance by the exuberant community singing group at Gordon’s School in West End.

Young Chobham Festival events for children and families include a performance of Goldilocks and Friends by the Cat’s Grin Theatre Company, making music for babies and toddlers at Tempo Tots and the Schools prom.

This year will also see three days of Flowers at Chobham Festival in the church.

For full details and dates, and to book tickets for most of the events, visit www.festival.chobham.org.

For more details on the festival and upcoming events get the 6 June edition of the News & Mail

A JOYFUL production of the stage version of the musical Grease by The Winston Churchill School played to packed houses at The Rhoda McGaw Theatre.

THE T-BIRDS: Kenickie (Andrew), Sonny (Olly), Doody (Ethan) and Roger (Matt)

A flurry of colour, music, and classic hand jive moves was performed by a cast of 180, guided by a dedicated team of drama and music teachers.

For many audience members, the T-Birds’ performance of Greased Lightnin’ was a highlight. Many of the female roles, including the Pink Ladies were shared between girls. Each performer brimmed with feisty attitude and sweet excitement, and handled their musical numbers with power and maturity.

THE ONE THAT I WANT: Sandy (Jess) and Danny (William)

The backstage team of students was led by stage manager Jake, while others handled lighting, sound, and special effects, under the direction of former students.

Students and staff worked side by side in the pit band to electrify this ambitious musical and keep the audience singing along.

You couldn’t help but walk away from this show with a buzz of energy and emotion, as the cast shared their joy and filled the theatre with a touch of stardust.

For the full story and picture spread get the 14 February edition of the News & Mail

THE WOKING Music Festival season came to a triumphant end last Saturday with the prestigious Young Musician of the Year Competition which was held in front of an enthusiastic audience, which included the Mayor of Woking, Cllr Will Forster, at Christ Church Woking. 

Young Musician of the Year 17 year old Sophie Kauer (centre) with fellow contestants (from left) Zac Brandman, Hollie Tibbotts, Felix Rockhill, Iman Kashim, Annie McCrystal, Clem Pickering, Phoebe Baxendale, Christian Leslie, Rhia Thomas and Eleanor Bray

The winner, was Sophie Kauer, a 17-year-old cellist, who began lessons at the age of 8 and entered the Junior Division of the Royal Academy of Music before she turned 10. Sophie came second in the Woking competition last year.

Clem Pickering, also 17, on viola was awarded second place, with 16-year-old pianist Annie McChrystal in third place.

The adjudicator was Jonathan Willcocks who is currently Musical Director of Guildford Choral Society, The Chichester Orchestra and Southern Pro Musica and is Festival Conductor for the Leith Hill Musical Festival.  His compositions encompass large scale orchestral scores and chamber music in addition to many choral works. He has been engaged in musical activities throughout the world.

Woking Young Musician of the Year Sophie Kauer

Willcocks praised all those competing, saying: “The standard of performance from all of the seven finalists for the Woking Young Musician of the Year was really outstanding, and in cellist Sophie Kauer we have a truly worthy winner.

“It is a mark of the prestige of this 40-year-old Award that attracts annually such a strong field from the finest young musicians in the South of England.”

For information on how to take part in the 2019 Woking Music Festival in November, visit wokingmusicfestival.org.uk or email info@wokingmusicfestival.org.uk

For the full story and pictures, pick up this week’s edition of the News & Mail (Feb 7th).