These style things come out during lock-down. The hope that live events will return soon. As music is another strong passion that runs alongside film, I thought I’d play along and add it here for something different to my movie musings. Feel free to play along if you wish.
- Soul singer Alexander O’Neal came to my hometown of Poole in 1987 promoting his 2nd studio album Hearsay. At the Arts Centre now called The Lighthouse, I was 15 at the time. Radio DJ Robbie Vincent was playing tracks and Criticize and Fake were rocking the charts. I have still got the record in my collection. I wore a white shirt, chino’s and smart black shoes. This was his famous show where he would have a double bed on the stage and bring a lady up to serenade with a rose. Yeah it was cheesy but I loved the sweet soul. I stood at the back secretly hoping he would pick me! “Shit did I just type that out loud?“. Hehe nah I stood watching from the side lines. I spied three black girls, three sisters. I was too young and nervous to go over. Besides they looked too intimidating for this smooth soul loving white boy. Flash forward eight years and the youngest sister, Louise and I have been together for 25+ years.
- It would have to be when the hip hop legend, rapper Schoolly D came to town! Yes he randomly played at The Academy in Boscombe, now renamed The 02 Bournemouth. I was obsessed with his first self-titled album. That record was filled with crazy fat ass beats and reverb, in a style I’d never heard before. Still to this day it sounds so unique and heavy. Somehow, still feels surreal, he turned up in Bournemouth circa 1987/1988. Every kid into hip hop on the south coast made their way to this mythical event. We managed to get stood right at the front of the stage. With the DJ booth right by us. The support was The Wize Men and each time they stomped around the stage it looked like a trampoline. It was so funny. Then there was the feisty female duo of The Cookie Crew who were great to see. Also warming everything up was the DJ crew called the Imperial Mixers which featured Cutmaster Swift and DJ Pogo. Then Schoolly D arrived. The place shook. I was in awe as his tunes blasted around the arena as he went through his first two albums. It was incredible. Every now and then I do a google search to see if anyone took photos, in some ways, just to clarify it actually happened! Still yet to find any but I’m always hoping.
Runners up for memory sake
- Roy Ayers at The Worlds End pub in Camden London circa 1989/90. This was incredibly exciting. We were young and Roy Ayers had a magical aura to his name. Gilles Peterson was hosting the event. It started, bizarrely with a stand-up comedy competition. It was announced it was all being filmed for TV. When Roy Ayers and his band began I had this rush of feelings going through my body, it felt electric. Just seeing this jazz legend we always talked about singing and playing the vibraphone with his unique style was jaw dropping. He was so cool and we couldn’t believe we were there. Once in a while I look on Youtube with the hope of seeing some old footage. It probably doesn’t exist. The Ronnie Scott’s footage below is around the same time.
- Herbie Hancock was another exciting excursion to the big smoke of London to see another jazz legend performing live. It was at The Grand in Clapham Common. A joint event put on by The Jazz Cafe and Kiss FM with Eddie Pillar called The Magic Bus Tour sometime in the early 90s. We were obsessed with all things Herbie Hancock and especially his Headhunters style fusion funk tunes. So we were ecstatic with the brilliant surprise of seeing Bennie Maupin on the stage. After the gig finished the dj’s played jazz funk classics as we danced away. Bennie Maupin wandered around the dancefloor and we whispered to each other and looked on in awe. A brilliant night.
- Mad Professor Ft Aisha. I’m a huge fan of Neil Fraser aka Mad Professor and his Ariwa record label. Got so many of his records including most of his Dub Me Crazy series. So I was incredibly psyched to find out he was playing a little intimate venue of The Winchester in my hometown of Bournemouth in 2014. The bass reverberated across the bar as the Mad Professor tweaked and turned the dials on his master controller whilst his homemade light on his head made him look like an angler fish. Halfway through the set Aisha arrived, bringing her energy and beauty to the stage and had me filled with joy. Made even more incredible, was having then wandering around the small crowd and interacting with everyone. It was a perfect night and I was a happy man.
- In 2016 Lonnie Liston Smith came to the “big apple” of Bournemouth!! What a legend. He was playing at a small club called Canvas. It had always been a running joke, on a boring night during our youth, for us to say “pop into town and go see Lonnie play!” HAHA it only went and became true. I even got to shake his wonderful musical hands of his. The band were having fun too, really tight and the drummer was something else. We were right at the front with close friends and it was wonderful to be out with my lady, Louise. I’d seen Lonnie Listen Smith at The Jazz Cafe in London during the early 90s. If I’m totally honest we had got a bit wasted and whilst we had an amazing time, I can’t remember much. It still feels strange that Lonnie had come to Bmth. It had to be destiny with all those times we had joked he would. Like Field Of Dreams or was it Wayne’s World 2? Hehe I was one happy man/boy.
Walk out concert
- Been lucky, I’ve never had to walk out of a concert due to frustration over a bad performance. However, I did have to walk out of one for other reasons! The Jazz Warriors had performed at an Arts Centre somewhere in King Cross, London circa 1989. Now hear me out! It had nothing to do with the talent and incredible music which was electrifying our youthful ears. The Jazz Warriors were a large ensemble of brilliant black musicians and featured a line up that including the likes of Courtney Pine, Steve Williamson, Cleveland Watkiss, Phillip Bent, Orphy Robinson and Gary Crosby to name just a few. We took our seats at the front of the concert hall. The band went straight off into full free form jazz mode. Busting out abstract and free flowing rhythms that blew your minds. Amazing and intense at exactly the same time. You became one with the jazz. The thing was, they just kept going. After about two hours we were getting anxious for our train journey home, back down south. Not wishing to leave and look bad we sat there. Right up to the last minute when we just had to go or be stuck in London for the night. Summoning the courage we get up to leave! To our shock the whole place was empty. Everyone had left. We dropped our heads and sheepishly made our move to the door. So cool to have seen this band jam. I wonder if they are still eternally playing there now?
Dream concert you never thought would happen?
- The Brazilian jazz samba funk band Azymuth was another of those bands we would regularly joke about imagining they would come to our home town. Of course it would never happen? WTF! in 1997 they did!! However we messed a little with the music gods giving us our wish. We changed it up and decided to see them at the Concorde Club in Brighton. It felt right to see them somewhere cooler. Patrick Forge was Djing and he dropped a tune that had me doing what I hate doing, asking the dj what a tune is! It was Modaji “Starburst Over Orion“. It was playing as we walked in and I had to buy it as soon as I got home. It still feels surreal thinking back and remembering standing right at the front, mesmerised in the presence, of Alex Malheiros, Ivan Conti and Jose Roberto Bertrami. To top it off my friend and I went down to the beach to see the ocean in the pitch dark. It be fun! Not realising the pebbled beach had created a slope with the waves crashed down. We both instantly were trapped as we tried to climb the forever falling stones to escape. Frantically filled with fear and laughing hysterically at the same time as the waves crashed over us. After our brush with death we stood soaked in a kebab shop before heading off to the skanky, heartburn hotel, we were staying in. Such a fun night. Never dreamt we would of seen them live. Thankful we didn’t die.
Most surprising concert
- Ola Onabule was an artist I knew from one song called It’s Never Over that I had on a cassette I’d recorded from Bob Jones Kiss Fm radio show the Soul Surgery in 1997. A track I’d keep rewinding. A work friend randomly said he had a spare ticket to this soul artist he’d never heard of. I jumped at the chance when I saw who it was. Ola Onabule was playing a small but wonderful little live venue called Mr Kyps in Ashley Cross, Poole. It used to be my old primary school sports hall. At a guess I’d say it was 2006. Ola was so charismatic and funny. His friendly style at this intimate gig was one of the most welcoming and warming gigs I’ve ever been too. Ola was such a gentlemen. The band were superb and featured some sublime electric keyboard and great fun banter between the group. I always hoped to see him return. I’ve just seen his Youtube channel is filled with live lock down streams. Soul Town gives a tiny taste of the gig.
Future concert ?
- Who would I like to see? Difficult! Not sure, so many. Would love to see The Cinematic Orchestra, Dwight Trible, Kamasi Washington, Thundercat or maybe Benny Sings. All could be possible one day? Let’s hope fingers crossed. Shamefully I haven’t been to many in recent years however I hope to change this when the restriction’s start to free up the world.
Wish I could have seen?
- Gonna be strict with myself here. Just one! Arrrgh not fair….. It’s gotta be Richie Havens. Now of course it should be Woodstock Festival in 1969 however, way too many hippies and too much mud. No, only joking, I’d love some of the free love stuff but I’d go for his 1971 concert in Montreux, Switzerland. I don’t think he sings it but at the end, at the encore, I’d shout out and hope he’ll play “What about me?”. That tune always sets my old tear ducts off. Deeply heartfelt, dark and powerful. Yet with the frantic pulsating rhythm it’s ultimately uplifting with such a strong message of change. Hits you right square in your beating heart.
As the set comes to an end with the crowd clapping as Richie takes a bow. This hairy creature in the audience lets out “Encore! Encore! One more please Richie. Do what What About Me?” Richie smiles and says “Of course Wolfman. Here you go. This ones for you.” The crowd goes wild.
There you go, an off shoot from the movies and a personal look into some of the musical adventures I had over the years. Feel free to add your own First, Best, Last etc concert if you wish, it would be cool to know.
The films are coming soon. A great B-movie will probably be next. Watch this space. Thank you.