LEWIS & LEIGH I’m delighted to welcome Lewis & Leigh to play Saint Mary’s in Billericay on Saturday 25 February 2017. They’ve been on my radar for quite some time having received great press on the UK folk scene. I’ve had their Americana UK nominated debut album ‘Ghost’ for a while and I particularly enjoyed their set supporting  Deacon Blue on their UK Tour at the Royal Festival Hall in November 2016 – I knew immediately that they would be well received by the appreciative audience who attend my gigs!  I’m very pleased they’ve agreed to squeeze in Billericay on their forthcoming tour, their only Essex show, and one not to be missed – but I say that all the time don’t I?  More details and how to purchase tickets can be found here

PRIDE & PREJUDICE Not content with music promoting I’m now branching out into ‘live theatre’ as we welcome the fabulous The Pantaloons Theatre Company to Emmanuel Church on Sunday 2 April 2017 at 5.00 pm. We have enjoyed their productions several times over the years (Castle Hedingham and Ryde Hall) and have always enjoyed their joyous and witty productions. We’re particularly pleased that we’ve been able to arrange for them to perform in Billericay, the only Essex date on their tour, and it’s sure to be a sell out! More details and how to purchase tickets can be found here

EMILY MAGUIRE Made a welcome return to Emmanuel on Saturday 3 December 2016 along with Christian Dunham (Bass Player extraordinaire and husband) and played a fabulous set – with a number of songs from her soon to be released album. Some of you will have already purchased tickets for the launch at St Pancras Old Church in February.

WHAT GIGS HAVE I ATTENDED RECENTLY?  John Lees’ Barclay James Harvest were great value at the Cadogan Hall in November, playing songs from 12 of their albums and a great prog rock trip down memory lane.  However, whilst the Cadogan Hall is a fantastic venue, it suits an acoustic set up rather than a full band and the sound quality was a little poor because of this!  I saw the evergreen Deacon Blue at the Royal Festival Hall in November too – 15th time I’ve seen them!  I thoroughly enjoyed Lewis & Leigh as support (see elsewhere).  A highlight for us as a family was to see Nile Rodgers and Chic at the Eventim Apollo (but it will always be the Hammersmith Odeon to me) in late December.  The gig was a one-off event in aid of Autism Rocks and was an outstanding evening of superb musicianship and the hits just kept on coming, either ones Rodgers wrote himself or co-wrote with the likes of Diana Ross and David Bowie etc.  A new album is out in 2017 to mark 40 years of Chic (can’t believe that I was groovin’ on down to them at the discotheque 40 years ago!!) and a tour is to be announced too.

MAVIS STAPLES Founder member of the legendary Staples Singers is playing at Union Chapel on 6 July 2017.  Mavis will be touring her album ‘Living On A High Note’ which was on my recommended list of my May 2016 musical musings!!  This is only one of two  UK gigs (the other being in Cardiff).  Surely, Mavis must be on everyone’s bucket list!  I’m going!

A REQUEST Does anyone have a CD or an MP3 copy of an album called ‘The Swallow’ by Keith James, first released in 1983?  I have this on cassette (remember those?) but don’t really have the equipment to play it nowadays and it’s a great album.  I’m not having any joy trying to locate this online!

WHAT AM I LISTENING TO? Like many of you, I’m always interested in what’s new and I have a few recommendations for you:

  • Lewis & Leigh: Ghost. Well worth a listen before coming to see them in February!  An album that always seems to throw up something new every time.
  • Van Morrison: Keep Me Singing.  In his 70th year ‘Van the Man’ releases one of his best albums in a  long while. Gorgeous melodies and lush production.
  • Simple Minds: Acoustic. Really enjoying this re-working of many of their classic hits.  Well constructed versions with several surprising highlights.
  • Rumer: This Girls In Love. Love this girls voice. An album made up solely of Bacharach and David songs.  Great background music!

If I get round to it, I might put together a Top Ten Albums list of 2016.  Always happy to have yours in the reply section of my site!

FATEA MAGAZINE I’m not sure how many of you have heard of Fatea, an indie magazine featuring music right across the acoustic spectrum.  They produce a quarterly Fatea Showcase Sessions featuring acts they’ve really enjoyed and think that more people should get the chance to hear. Click Here to get the latest session free!

Don’t forget that we have a couple of excellent Blues Clubs in Billericay the New Crawdaddy Blues Club who are based at Billericay Town Football Club and meet on Friday evenings and Blues at Barleyland who meet on Saturdays at 2.00 pm at Barleylands Social.  The Little Rabbit Barn in Colchester is also worth checking out!  They all have some excellent acts appearing and it’s worth keeping an eye on their websites or signing up for their emails.  There are also a number of Folk Clubs around Essex which are well worth a visit, too.

There are several articles on this site which might be worth a read! If you want to find out a bit more about events coming up at Emmanuel church, Billericay you can do so on our Church Family News Page

GIG SURVEY Thank you to the 36 of you, thus far, who have completed the survey seeking feedback about the gigs we’ve put on in recent years.  Comments have been really positive, but would love to have a few more people taking part, before I close the survey at the end of the year!

Do let me know of any gigs in your part of the world!

Thanks for your support in keeping music live in 2016 and I wish you all a fantastic 2017.