What a memorable evening we had with Lewis & Leigh in the intimate surroundings of Saint Mary’s in Billericay High Street on Saturday 25 February 2017. The  two-time 2017 Americana Award UK award winners didn’t disappoint.  Many of you said it was the best gig yet – and it was certainly right up there.  Dan and Ben opened the evening with a few songs and Annabel and Gary entertained us with some classic covers along with a couple of songs Annabel had written.  I know many of you were impressed with them too!  Thanks to the 100 of you who came along – especially as a few weeks before I was concerned I’d not sold many tickets!

Not content with music promoting I’m venturing into ‘live theatre’ as we welcome the fabulous The Pantaloons Theatre Company to Emmanuel Church on Sunday 2 April 2017 at 5.00 pm. The Pantaloons are a touring theatre company (Billericay is the only Essex date on their tour) and they are well known for their joyous and witty productions – it will be a great event for family members of all ages. Tickets are £12 for adults and under 16s are £6 both plus fees (Door at £14/8).  More details and how to purchase tickets can be found here  Go on … treat yourself to an evening of culture and education!

STOP PRESS After the success of the above event (150 very happy attendees) I’ve just booked The Pantaloons to return to Emmanuel on Sunday 17 December 2017 to perform A Christmas Carol .  Mark the date in your diary, more details nearer the time – but this is sure to be a sell out!

There is a MIND Fundraiser taking place at Saint Mary’s on Saturday 20 May with Southend based Americana band Carousel  with support from Dan Pierce and other local artists.  More details can be found here It should be a great night for a very worthwhile cause.

I’m off to see Americana Award UK award winner Sam Outlaw at Oslo, Hackney on 30 March (tickets still available) for the UK launch of his new album.  His 2015 album Angeleno (with the unmistakable touch of Ry Cooder producing) is one of my faves of 2015.

Not really a gig but we have a number of events planned for Holy Week at Emmanuel more details here  Easter is always a good time to get along to church.  Why not bring your family to our Easter Egg Hunt!

THE HELP FOR HEROES BAND Are holding a spring concert at Emmanuel on Saturday 29 April at 7.30 pm.  The Heroes Band was formed in 2014 to assist with fundraising for Help for Heroes through their concerts. This concert is a fun mix of Marches and Dance music from this military style band. A great evening of fun and entertainment for all the family. Tickets are £8—more details can be found here https://www.theheroesband.org.uk/

Some friends of mine play in the UK’s leading Northern Soul band The Signatures and they are playing in Southend on 5 May and they are well worth checking out.

I’m very close to agreeing terms for Ricky Ross (Deacon Blue) to play at Emmanuel on Friday 24 November.  This is an amazing feat – I’ve been chasing him for a few years and it looks like my persistence has paid off. Ricky has a new album coming out in October and this will be part of a promotional tour.  I’m led to believe there will only be two gigs in the South East – Cadogan Hall and Emmanuel, Billericay!!  This is sure to be a sell out so put the date in the diary and I’ll let you have details as soon as I can.  I’m very excited about this and I hope many of you will be too.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to finalise a date to bring Martin Joseph to Billericay. Dates kept being changed and, in the end, I couldn’t make it work.  Sorry!

at The Alex in Southend in January was a great evening – I was very impressed, so much so that I’ve invited them to play at Saint Mary’s – see above.  They are hoping to have an EP available then too.

Seth Lakeman at Cadogan Hall was a great night. He never ceases to amaze me with his musicianship and stagecraft and his band were superb – as were support act Wildwood Kin who also accompanied him showcasing songs from ‘Ballads of the Broken Few’ .

Emily Maguire album launch ‘A bit of Blue at Saint Pancras Old Church was another great evening, a packed intimate venue filled with friends and family which made for a fantastic atmosphere.  It was good to see many of you there and to catch up!

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:

  • William Bell: This Is Where I Live.  The long awaited album from this Stax Records legend doesn’t disappoint.  It won a Grammy Award for best Americana album.  Need I say more?
  • Mick Ralphs Blues Band: If It Ain’t Broke.  A great album from a member of rock royalty (Mott the Hoople and Bad Company).  Gutsy blues at its best!
  • Robert Vincent: I’ll Make The Most Of My Sins. A superb second album from Robert with songs you’ll know from his live sets but all well crafted and superbly produced. Love November and the revamped version of Lady. 
  • Seth Lakeman: Ballads Of The Broken Few. A cracking album of traditional folk with a contemporary twist well supported by Wildwood Kin.  Seth never fails to surprise and give us something new.
  • Emily Maguire: A Bit Of Blue.  Album number five from this ever reliable artist. Great to have Emily back after her hiatus. Some great songs with, as always, some thought provoking lyrics.
  • The Silent Comedy: Common Faults.  They played the soundtrack to the Amazon series Goliath with Billy Bob Thornton.  Always good to pick up something different and interesting!  Jury still out!
  • Little Big Town: The Breaker.  Not sure if I should admit to this guilty pleasure.  But they never fail to produce great albums and this one has some standout songs too.
  • Lauren Housley: Live at Saint Mary’s. Not available anywhere but a fabulous recording by Richard of an outstanding evening.  Fave track is Adrian Gautrey singing a cover of ‘Ruby’ by the Dave Rawlings Machine – much better than the original.  Lauren has a new album coming out very soon too.
  • George Benson: My throwback artist of recent weeks has been the smooth jazz, pop and blues of the incomparable George Benson. Such a consummate performer.  His 1969 album ‘The Other Side Of Abbey Road’ is well worth checking out as is the 1980 Grammy award winning ‘Give Me The Night.’

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.  A friend of mine promotes gigs in the Farncombe area and you can check out those gigs at Julian Lewry

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!

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

Look forward to seeing you again soon – please continue to support live music.