It’s a been a while since I wrote a music blog and thought it’s about time I put pen to paper – or finger to keyboard.  Been pretty busy since my last musings but I’ll try not to bore you with too much detail.


Sam Outlaw Americana Award UK award winner Sam Outlaw at Oslo, Hackney on 30 March, was a fantastic evening for the UK launch of his latest album Tenderheart. It was good to see some of you there who purchased tickets on my recommendation! Sam has a great batch of new songs, real stage presence and was supported by an outstanding band. His 2015 album Angeleno (with the unmistakable touch of producer Ry Cooder) is one of my faves of 2015. Be sure to look at for Sam on his UK tour – he’s playing a FREE gig as part of the Nashville Meets London 2017 Music Festival at Canada Square, Canary Wharf on Sunday 23 July. I was offered the chance to have Sam playing in Billericay in August but it’s in the middle of my holidays so declined. Maybe next time!

Bob Dylan What can you say about this gig at Wembley Arena on 9 May? Probably one of the most anti-climatic gigs I’ve attended in my life.  It was a real let down and a very disappointing Christmas present!  Dylan seems to have turned into a Frank Sinatra crooner in his old age.  He didn’t pick up his guitar once and played few of the protest songs that have defined who he is – if ever we needed a voice to challenge the establishment it is now!  For only the second time in my life, I left a gig early – along with many thousands who felt the same way.  I tweeted on the night: “Who would have thought #BobDylan the king of easy listening and polite applause!  Sing a song we know Bobby – this is awful!”  Enough said.

MIND Fundraiser at Saint Mary’s on Saturday 20 May with Southend based Americana band Carousel plus support from Chris Asher and Dan Pierce (with Ben and Annabel) was a great evening.  It was a sell out in the end and we raised over £2000 for MIND.  Well done to everyone who supported this event – think we have another one planned for early 2017, this time at Emmanuel.

Paul Rodgers at Southend on 22 May on the ‘FREE Spirit’ tour was a throwback evening of classic rock as Rodgers performed an evening of the music of Free – I have all their albums and was introduced to them at an early age – so this was an amazing evening for me. The man with nearly fifty years experience in the music business with bands such as Free, Bad Company, The Firm and later with Queen gave a vibrant performance and his voice is as good as ever as he strutted the stage in his familiar way.  It was good that he played some of the lesser well know songs of Free – some they never played live themselves.  His band were on top of their game, guitarist Pete Bullick did a magnificent job with the guitar solos of the late great Paul Kossoff, however, the version of Mr Big just didn’t match up to the Bass solo of the late Andy Fraser – still a classic, especially the live version on the Free Live album.  It was an unexpected surprise to find myself sitting next to a friend from Billericay! How random is that! Hello Simon!

Bat Out Of Hell: The Musical This was a surprise birthday present from Paula and it was a fantastic evening.  Originally written as a concept album, Bat Out Of Hell went on to become one of the most iconic and successful albums of all time. This musical is based on the trilogy of albums by Meat Loaf (and a couple of extra songs especially written for the stage production by Jim Steinman)  it tells the story of Strat, a young rebellious leader who falls in love with Raven, the beautiful daughter of the most powerful man in post-apocalyptic Obsidian.  There are few crossovers with We Will Rock You for the storyline but the setting is amazingly well done, the cast more than carry the songs and it took all my restraint to stop myself head-banging my way through the show.  It’s at the London Coliseum for a limited season and one not to be missed.  Not a review, but I’ve expanded a bit more in my Around Town Article All Revved Up With No Place To Go

Rick Astley Live at Bedgebury Pinetum in Kent. Yes, I know, I know … Rick Astley!  In my defence, this was a birthday present to Paula from me – we know how to live.  Quite surprisingly, this was an excellent gig with a good mixture of old and new songs.  His self-effacing humour was fun and infectious.  His four piece band were outstanding and I was blown away by a stonking cover of AC/DC’s Highway To Hell with Rick playing drums.  Yes AC/DC!  Rick explained that he started his musical career in a rock cover band playing drums.  Who knew?  We spent the evening in a quite reserved ‘mosh pit’ which was fun.  Astley was supported by Rumer, now based in the states, she is supporting Astley on this tour.  I have all her albums and she has the most amazing voice (she was once labelled a Karen Carpenter sound-alike), however, the audience didn’t really give her a chance with constant yapping all the time she was on – even at the very front – disappointing.  However, I enjoyed her 35 min spot immensely.


Unfortunately, as you may have already guessed, my Gig In the Garden planned for Saturday 24 June has had to be postponed.  I had some excellent acts lined up but, for various reasons, they all had to cancel. I’m hoping to re-arrange something early autumn.

Leigh Folk Festival Don’t forget the UK’s largest free folk festival takes place 22-25 June. Whilst Southend and the ‘Thames Delta’ are probably best known for the blues and pub-rock bands of the 60s and 70s, as well as today’s local heroes, it has always supported a flourishing folk and acoustic music scene and has in recent years seen poetry and storytelling take to the stages, along with traditional dance sides and a truly special procession. Well worth a visit.

Stanford Music Festival Organised by a regular at my ‘Live in Billericay’ gigs this takes place from 13.00 – 22.30 on Saturday 1 July at Mobil Field, Billet Lane, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, SS17 0AR.  Bands include:  Ultimate 80’s, Elderly Brothers, The Heaters amongst many others.  There is a Beer Tent and a Kids Zone, Free car parking and entry by donation.  This looks to be a great day for the whole family.

Mavis Staples Off to see the Staples Singers legend at Union Chapel on 6 July.  OK, the voice may have gone but she’s a legendary figure of the Civil Rights movement and founder member of The Staple Singers.  Definitely one to tick off on my bucket list.

Brentwood Festival on 14-16 July is always worth visiting.  This year they have Jocelyn Brown, Status Quo, Midge Ure, Go West and Heaven 17 to name but a few.

Beth Nielsen Chapman I can’t believe that I’ve managed to arrange for Nashville country superstar and twice Grammy-nominated Beth Neilsen Chapman  to play in Billericay on Wednesday 26 July as a ‘warm-up’ to her appearance at the Cambridge Folk Festival the following weekend.  This is a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity to see country royalty right on your door step in an intimate venue at such a reasonable price – Tickets are £25 plus and more details can be found here I could do with selling  a few more of these so please don’t delay – especially if you said you’d buy tickets when I sent out the survey about this a couple of months ago.

Ricky Ross Can’t believe that Deacon Blue front man Ricky Ross will be playing at Emmanuel on Friday 24 November.  This gig is part of his new album ‘Short Stories Vol 1’ promotional tour. You can read all about it here Tickets are £25 plus fees.  I’ve only got 70 tickets left so don’t lose out by not booking soon.

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:

  • Sam Outlaw: Tenderheart.  Another set of south California country (Outlaw labels it SoCal) songs which don’t disappoint.  Imaginative production bring the album to life.  Love the title track.
  • Imelda May: Life Love Flesh Blood. This new release sees May treading new ground in style and appearance and boy does it pay off.  An album of gutsy gut-wrenching blues and soul and well worth a listen.  It Should Have Been You is the first single released.
  • Deep Purple: Infinite.  Probably the last album from these legends of rock.  The song  Hip Boots has one of the most interesting opening lines of a song I’ve ever heard.  There is also an excellent version of The Doors’ Roadhouse Blues to enjoy.
  • Charlie Worsham: Beginning Of Things.  A follow-up to his 2013 debut Rubberband.  Whilst successful in the USA country market, some of the songs are a little too bland for me and, I think, a UK audience.  Not convinced on this one I’m afraid.
  • Chris Stapleton: From A Room, Vol 1.  A simply outstanding follow-up to my 2016 album of the year Traveller.  Recorded, mostly, in one take gives a raw and vibrant feel to this album.  Standout track has to be Broken Halos.
  • Glen Campbell: Adios. The last ever album by a country legend, painstakingly recorded in 2012.  Really a selection of Glen’s favourite songs and, whilst some cheesy arrangements, there is also great poignancy in the choice of songs, such as Everybody’s Talkin’ and Funny How Time Slips Away – a duet with Willie Nelson.
  • Tinderbox: All Grown Up.  The sixth album from my friends Dan, Monique and Bob.  A lovely offering of acoustic songs, some you’ll recognise from their live set last year.  Hoping to have them play in the Autumn – they are one of Billericay’s favourite bands.
  • Throwback Artist My throwback artist of recent weeks has been the hard rock of Scottish Band Nazareth – who are still going strong.  This is rock for the road and they always seem to have a unique riff up their sleeves and a mixture of ballads along the way. Their early albums were produced by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover (until they started to outsell DP and he was forced to resign by a jealous band).

I’m very sorry to hear that the New Crawdaddy Blues Club who were based at Billericay Town Football Club and met on Friday evenings have closed down.  They will be sorely missed on the live music scene – so few local venues are supporting live music – please support my gigs so I don’t end up going the same way! However Blues at Barleyland still meet on Saturdays at 2.00 pm at Barleylands Social club and the Little Rabbit Barn in Colchester is also worth checking out! A friend of mine promotes gigs in the Farncombe area and you can check out those gigs at Julian Lewry

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!

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 We have our 25th Anniversary Celebration service on Sunday 25 June at 11.00 am followed from 1.00 – 5.00 pm by a family fun day with BBQ and Afternoon Tea in the Rectory Garden – do call by if you are passing.

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

I look forward to seeing you at one of my gigs soon – please continue to Keep Music Live.