Club Reviews



Chew Valley CMC at Boarshurst Band Club, Greenfield held a charity event in November. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it, due to other commitments. Keith says that they had a great night with John McCane & The Breed drawing a full house. Now in its 8th year Chew Valley CMC support several charities throughout the year. On this occasion the charity concerned was Dr Barnardo's and Keith informs me that £650 profit was made on the night and was accepted on Barnardo's behalf by Mrs Illingworth of the fund raising team at the December club night. This was the third charity night run by Chew Valley during 2002 seeing a total of £1,700 going to good causes. December saw Derby based Saloon Drifters on stage, John and Neil work the stage very well with a blend of humour and good music and are building themselves up into one of the foremost duos on the British country music scene. Their repertoire includes numbers from the likes of Johnny Paycheck, Raymond Froggatt and George Strait. We had a great version of Billy Ray Cyrus' "She's Not Crying Anymore" and Bill Monroe's "Blue Moon Of Kentucky" one of the first songs that Elvis recorded. Of course the hot beef butties are the top draw at Chew Valley, but Saloon Drifters came a very close second!!

Some excellent bands played at Hobo's Retreat throughout December. Honest Truth gave a first-rate night with Pete including several of his own compositions…"The Fact Of The Matter", "I Dread The Night" and "Running Water" are just a selection. With the break-up of Northwind, Kenny Guy has taken over as drummer from Bobby who has had to retire form drumming on health grounds. Kenny fits in very well with Honest Truth and I'm pleased to see him working with another of our top bands. The Haleys also gave an excellent evening with a wide selection of numbers some of the new modern style a few very traditional, going back as far as the 1940's. Nice harmonies from the girls and some good guitarwork from Brian. Joanne told us that she had got married a few weeks before, so we wish her all the very best for the future. Dillinger closed the year for us at Hobo's for the Christmas show. Top class musicians with a madcap sense of humour, bringing musical mayhem to Hobo's finishing the year off perfectly. Some new songs are coming into the repertoire and the humour as always just rolls out from the stage. As well as being one of the finest guitarists to be found on the British country music scene, Richard Harding's dry sense of humour is magical. A perfect way to close a fantastic year of music at Hobo's and lets not forget the BIG Christmas raffle!

Another amazing Christmas party was held at Rustlers. Pam & Joe put a lot into organising the night with Joe slaving away in the kitchen putting the supper together, nicely laid out tables and a festive air with regulars turning up in fancy dress. We had a ladybird, Snow White, Dorothy with the Tin Man, Lion and Scarecrow, but unfortunately the Wizard of Oz couldn't find anything to wear. The boxer was a knockout and The Godfather turned up with Angel Gabrielle (she must have made a wrong turn). The laughing Cavalier and Zorro crossed swords, while the Hippies blew their minds on something strangely scented. Louisville provided the music and a well-balanced and varied repertoire. Tony and Shane certainly had the formula for an entertaining night. Full support with a good crowd, to get the Christmas festivities off with a swing…it was another winner at Rustlers! I had a couple of messages regarding my review of a band at Rustlers in the first edition of Cross Country UK. I referred to them as Western Flyer, when the band was actually called Western Union. The mistake must have been caused by a "SENIOR" moment, something that used to be called senility and came with old age. Sorry; the band was Western Union and they were still good, whatever the name!!!

The Acme Band certainly raised the roof when Christine Mannion arranged a charity night in aide of work being done on the church spire at St James The Less at Rothenstall, Lancashire. In a bid to help raise the £40,000 needed, Christine booked one of Britain's best bluegrass bands. Bluegrass fans came from far and near to lend their support one Saturday evening in November. A good crowd turned out….was it the band, or was it the potato pie supper??!!! Ron Stevens has had to retire from the band due to health reasons, but the remaining four members, Brian Curtis - vocals & guitar, John Allen - vocals & bass, Bob Armstrong - vocals & Dobro and Bill Foster - vocals & banjo held the floor amiably. The evening was one long to remembered as the band gave us two roaring sets of bluegrass and gospel music.

A few amusing anecdotes from Brian interspersed the magical numbers that they performed for us drawing on the likes of "Georgia Mules and Country Boys" and "Someone Like You" telling of a first lost love. Reaching back to 1952 Band when Jim & Jesse McReynolds recorded the Louvin Brothers' song "Are You Missing Me", the Acme gave us their own stunning version. Offering a most diverse repertoire, the Acme Band included a little cowboy music with "Way Out There" complete with yodelling, mixed a Mexican style with bluegrass, threw in a couple of Buddy Holly's numbers and did a spectacular version of Tim O'Brien/Pat Alger's "Like I Used To Do" The highlight of the evening is when the guys lay their instruments to one side to sing a cappella on several gospel numbers. Their harmonies are simply sensational with Brian's voice lifting higher than the ceiling and John Allen's down in the basement on the likes of "My Rock". One of the best nights attended in 2002 with top quality music from one of Britain's top bluegrass bands.



Calling in at the Rustlers, Farnworth I found a new band on stage…Dequello. The faces were quite familiar, being Pete out of the Dirty Hat Band and Steve on pedal steel and Robin on guitar from the Steve hanks band. Three good sets came from these lads offering a good all round mix of numbers seeing Pete take up the flute (on which he his very competent) for John Anderson's "Seminole Wind". Other numbers saw the Little Texas number "Amy's Back In Austin" a couple of Mavericks numbers and they had the whole place rockin' with Vince Gill's "Liza Jane". Clear Cut made a welcomed return to Rustlers in November. Don and Darren have been around the British country scene for several years and may remembered as the four-piece Sundown before this father and son partnership went their own way in the present format. Catering for both listeners and dancers, Don's wealth of country songs covers the whole spectrum from Hank Snr., to the Mavericks. The Rustlers have seen some lean times of late, as have other clubs in the area including Hobo's Retreat and Chew Valley CMC, but the crowd had swelled on the couple of nights I could get down there, with the bands creating a good atmosphere for both dancers and listeners. Joe does an excellent job between sets with his Running Dog Disco and with cheap beer; it's all going on at the Rustlers on Friday night.

One of the best listening clubs in the North West is Hobo's Retreat. Mavis & Jack welcome everyone with a cheery smile and put on many of the best bands in the British country scene. From Manchester…John McCane & Last Of The Bread gave a top-class performance as usual, they are becoming one of the most popular bands in the North West, playing the country, Irish and cabaret scene. John and the lads mix traditional country music with a little Irish and 60's pop music and are never fazed when asked for a request, as their repertoire is vast. If you haven't seen this band before, look out for them at your local club, or even lean on your club secretary to book them. 0161 282 8937 Denis Collier and his band gave an excellent night at Hobo's, taking several numbers from Waylon Jennings songbook in honour of Waylon who passed away earlier this year. Denis also has a new single on sale: "Selby Blues" is coupled with his earlier "Old King Coal" and tells of the closing of the last coal pit in Selby, Yorkshire. It appears that the CD is selling very well at the National Coal Mining Museum near Wakefield. The following week the Bar Room Boys gave a thrilling night at Hobo's. Sitting in a row on stage, these guys play country music the way it should be played….straight from the heart. Their repertoire is varied with the likes of the Bellamy Brothers "More Of Me", "John Conley's "Rose Coloured Glasses", The Amazing Rhythm Aces "Third Rate Romance", perhaps you'll remember Sammy Kershaw reviving it in the mid 90's. Terry went back to the 1950's for Pattie Page's "Come What May" and the lads even threw one of Chris Rea's numbers at us. A simply fantastic night of quality music from these four talented musicians. Bobby Arnold as now joined up with Paul Wright in Fools Gold and Paul took Billy Rivers place on stage for a couple of numbers.

A trip over to Yorkshire took me to the Calder CMC held on Tuesdays at the Calder Vale Hotel, Horbury Jct and we even got a bit of supper thrown in with the entry price…what more can you ask for??!!!. A nice intimate room upstairs found the crowd forming early for the crackpots of British country music…the balmpots of Bradford, it was of course Dillinger. Four top-class musicians, who not only play good music, but have the whole room in up-roar with their comic banter. Richard's dry sense of humour, telling us about his domestic problems just cuts me up. Mick as always was on top form with his witty remarks, but on this occasion had to take a bit of stick from a heckler at the back of the room. We had a great night with these lads, with a good selection of numbers, they just couldn't go wrong.

A small item of interest concerns our local BBC Radio Lancashire, country program presenter Joe Fish. I've known Joe for many years and on returning home from holiday several people told me that Joe had been on a TV program which takes people to look for their ideal house. I asked Joe what it was about; "It was "Escape To The Country" where the producers of the show helped people search for their dream cottage in the country.....It was filmed 3 or 4 months ago....I thoroughly enjoyed it. It featured me and my 21 years old daughter Rachael". Perhaps our readers also saw the program. Joe's program, Joe Fish Country can be found every Saturday at 12.00 noon on Radio Lancashire, broadcasting on 95.5, 103.9, and 104.5FM, and 855, 1557 MW



I caught up with my good friend Alan Cameron again in September. Alan has been kept busy over the past few months playing at several festivals and on the Mediterranean island of Ibiza. On this occasion he was playing my local club, Hobo's Retreat, situated at The Reform Club, Heywood. Alan always lifts the spirits with his witty remarks and humorous tales…if you get the chance to see Alan in concert, ask him to tell you about the Bradford Penguin, it'll crack you up. A very talented songwriter, Alan performs all his own material, highly suitable for dancing as well as the astute listening audience. Alan gave us a small selection of his songs inspired by his many visits to the islands of Tenerife and Ibiza…songs such as "A Spanish Lullaby", "My Island Under The Sun" and a comical look at any sunny beach with "The Song Of The Thong". Alan country music hero has long been Hank Williams Snr. In tribute to Hank, Alan wrote the very poignant "If The Good Lord's Willing', telling of Hank's last ride on New Years Eve 1952. Alan is one of most entertaining solo artistes on the British country music scene…be sure to catch him at your local club. If he hasn't been booked at your club, give Alan a call on 01247 560854

The following week Joe Piper band from Merseyside thrilled the Hobo crowd. I was surprised to hear that several of the regulars hadn't seen Joe before. Joe Piper band has been around for as long as I can remember, but there again being old, decrepit and loosing my memory, I suppose that doesn't mean anything!!!! On with the show; Joe Piper gave a simply thrilling night with a repertoire that consists of solid traditionally, good ol' fashioned country music. "Me and Paul" from Willie Nelson, Tom T. Hall's "Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine" and a host of numbers from George Jones who is definitely one of Joe's all time favourites, was just the prescription for any ailment you might be suffering with. A great night with the Hobo crowd calling for more, more, more!!! You can't go wrong at Hobo's Retreat all the best bands like to play at Hobo's.

A drive down to the Rustlers at Farnworth found Ronnie J. Morson performing on this occasion. Ronnie is gaining a reputation as one of Britain's most popular soloist. Ronnie has a voice that appears to have been trained on a diet of Randy Travis, which Ronnie to emulates to perfection. In the past I have seen Ronnie cover several of Travis' numbers and you couldn't distinguish between the two. On this occasion Ronnie seemed to have stayed away from the Travis songbook, concentrating somewhat on material from Merle Haggard (who I believe is a favourite of Ronnie's), George Jones and Ronnie also included the song "Designated Drinker" which can be found on Alan Jackson's current album Drive, as a duet with George Strait. Ronnie is releasing a new album around the time this report will be published, it consists of all original material and we were treated to a small sample with the western swing styled "Bet You Hadn't Left Me Now". Keeping in the vein of western swing Ronnie also gave us a fine rendition of Cindy Walker's "Cherokee Maiden" made highly popular by Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys back in the 1940's. Another great night at Rustlers, whether you like the western dancing or you just want to sit and listen, Rustlers is the place on a Friday night.

Western Union has been around for a couple of years, but I caught my first glimpse of them at Rustlers in September. A 5-piece band from the Burnley/Accrington area, lead vocalist Jim has one of those rich, strong voices that seize you by the scruff of the neck and demands that you listen. Jim has been involved with blues and soul bands in the past and it shows, being much on a par with the voice of T. Graham Brown. Western Union has a varied repertoire taking material from the likes of Dwight Yoakum's "Turn Me Up, Turn Me Loose", old favourites such as "Queen Of Memphis" and an up-tempoed version of Jim Reeves' "He'll Have To Go". The band are releasing a new album in the New Year and featured a few of their own numbers to be included, such as "Quite Storm" and "Nothing Could Have Prepared Me For You".  A band to watch out for…already being snatched up for several festivals for 2003.

Chew Valley CMC held their regular monthly night in September with South Yorkshire based Paul Martin and Red Rock making their debut at the club. The Boarshurst band club itself has been undergoing some structural alterations over a period of a couple of months. They had received a lottery grant a couple of years ago to replace uniforms, instruments and do the alterations. In return the band club had to work with underprivileged children in the Oldham area and this was achieved by teaching groups of children to play brass instruments. A very worthy accomplishment at any time! A first-rate vocalist, Paul Martin is ably assisted by Neil David - vocals and lead guitar, Paul Alexander - vocals and bass and Al James - drums. The bands repertoire rests on the whole with the more modern covers from the likes of Tracey Lawrence, Trace Adkins, Clint Black and Vince Gill, offering a very fine rendition of Gill's gospel styled "Gather High On A Mountain Top". Breaking away from the modern day artistes, Paul also drifted back a few years with Don Gibson's "Oh Lonesome Me" and Merle Haggard's "Today I Started Loving You Again". Watch for this band…they are well worth seeking out! Now that the scorching summer has come to an end, Chew Valley has disbanded the SALAD butties; with this announcement, a massive cheer went up and bugles heralded the return of the HOT BEEF. Don't miss out, get along this month and get in line, it's the annual charity event…this year in aide of Dr Bernardo's Children's Home with John McCane & The Breed. What more reasons do you need to get along there!!!!!


August 2002

You're always sure of a warm greeting from Mavis & Jack Lee at Hobo's Retreat every Thursday night. One of the few listening clubs left in the North West, everyone loves to play at Hobo's Retreat. The announcement that one of British country music's top bands…Kenny Johnson & Northwind are coming off the road at the end of the year was a bitter blow to British country music. Kenny and the lads made what is likely to be the band's last performance at Hobo's Retreat in August, drawing a full house. With the 25th anniversary of Elvis's death, they were rocking in Memphis, while we were rocking in Heywood at Hobo's Retreat, with Kenny Johnson & Northwind setting the whole place alight with plenty of stone country and a touch of rock 'n' roll. They gave a show beyond compare with top-class music spiked with plenty of Merseyside humour. Drummer Kenny Guy had the club in up-roar when he told us that while Kenny Johnson was broadcasting his usual Saturday program on Radio Merseyside, the news announced the death of Princess Margaret. Kenny opened the next section of his show with "Trashy Women". (cruel) The many fans of Kenny Johnson & Northwind who came out to see the band were not disappointed, with three sets of both new and older material that the band has long been appreciated for. Kenny has recently released a couple of his own songs to radio through Stuart Cameron's Hot Disc; "Today" and "City Lights", which are doing very well on the EMS charts. Four highly talented musicians, Kenny Johnson, Kenny Guy, Bobby Arnold and Alan Crux are going to be missed on the British country music scene in their present line-up. Maybe we'll see them doing the comeback shows as we've seen The Eagles and The Everly Brother do, getting back together at selected venues. At the time of writing the four lads were not giving away any details of firm plans for the future, but they will probably have something in mind, which I'm sure will be filtering through very soon.

Another hot favourite at Hobo's Retreat is the Graham Broughton Trio. Graham with his wife Glenys on bass and lead guitarist Chris Pilling gave another top class night. Graham has cut back on the gigs he plays for health reasons, so it is a delight to see him at every opportunity. Plenty of good music, with Graham taking his repertoire from the likes of Rodney Crowell, Tom Russell and Kieran Kane. Several story-songs drew a great deal interest, which included David Bellamy's "Living In The West", with its tale of Jesse & Frank James and Billy The Kid, taking us back in time over 100 years. Mark Knopfler's "Philadelphia" tells of two English astronomers Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon who surveyed the boundaries between Maryland and Pennsylvania between 1763 and 1767, forming the Mason - Dixon Line between the Union and the Confederacy. A long time favourite story-song comes from Jimmy Nail with his tale of the demise of the North-East shipbuilding industry and "Big River", one of the best country songs ever written!!! Great night, don't miss Graham at your local club.

Leeds 6-piece band Blueridge were found at Hobo's Retreat in August. 5 brothers and an adopted brother, Blueridge have been away from the club scene for a couple of years. I've seen this band on several occasions and they give a top rate performance, unfortunately at Hobo's they were have a problem getting the sound right and didn't come across as strongly as they should have done. Writing their own material, Blueridge have done very well on Europe's EMS charts over the past few years. Mixing this material with a choice of covers, Blueridge are well worth watching for.

The Rustlers, Farnworth had local band Left Hand Drive on stage. A high-energy band with a juke joint sound, they keep the dancers on the floor and cater well for the listeners alike. Starting the night off with Rodney Crowell's "Walk The Line Revisited" with Steve on vocals, Colin gave us a great Johnny Cash impersonation on Cash's verse in the song. BR5-49 are Left Hand Drive's heroes and it was only natural that several numbers associated with BR5-49 are included in the set. Left Hand Drive released their own album of self-penned songs around 18 months ago and numbers such as "Weakest Point", "Driving Tennessee" and "Work On It" off the album brought great delight from the Rustlers crowd. A novel touch with Left Hand Drive is when the train whistles suddenly appear and we are transported back in time to the age of steam, out in the Old West and we all get on board for "Georgia On A Fast Train". Plenty of humour from Colin, a great atmosphere and a warm cheery welcome from Pam on the door, Rustlers CMC is the place to be on Friday nights. You may remember me mentioning that Bert, long time regular at Rustlers took part in the closing ceremony at the Commonwealth Games in Manchester. Unfortunately Bert took a little ribbing at the club when the Dove of Peace was seen on TV with a broken wing. It was a fantastic feat of choreography to get 1,000 people to synchronize in this way and the people of Manchester is very proud of the success of the Commonwealth Games.

Yorkshire's own son Alan Cameron made his début performance at Chew Valley CMC in August. Soloist, singer/songwriter, Alan Cameron brings a glow to your cheeks with his ready wit and humorous songs. Furthermore, Alan's not so humorous songs are also a treat to listen to. From the very first note, Alan grabs your attention with his intoxicating brew of heartfelt songs, such as the bluesy "Down To The Basics Of Love", or the cheating song "Don't Tell Me There's Nothing Going On". Maybe when life treats you badly it's down to "Heads I Lose, Tails You Win" and you can take solace in Alan's songs and say "I Ain't Never Getting Drunk Again"! With what have now become the customary backing tracks with many acts, Alan keeps both dancers on the floor and the listeners perched on the edge of their seats. You can't help but go home with a smile on your face. If you want to take a little piece of Alan home with you, his wife doesn't mind….he has 5 CDs on sale….check out our CD review page in this issue. A nice friendly club, Chew Valley CMC can be found at Boarshurst Brass Band Club on the 3rd Saturday of each month, try it out!!!

Editor of North Country Music magazine, Jan Stenson eloped in March getting married to hero of our time John Abbott. As only a few special guest were invited to the actual wedding, Jan & John held a party for many of their friends and relations at the Windmill Club near Doncaster in August. Kenny Johnson & Northwind and those Bradford rouges Dillinger provided the greater part of the entertainment, but Susan Hedges gave a nice cameo spot between the two bands, playing piano and singing three numbers of her own. One song in particular "The Old Country Singer" was written around a country singer playing in her nearby city of Liverpool. To finish off Sue was joined by the lads from Dillinger to give us a rocking good version of "Great Balls Of Fire" and Susan pounding out those Jerry Lee riffs. Local singer Big Bri brought the entertainment to a close; it was so nice to see so many people come and celebrate Jan & John's happy day. A great day, with a lavish buffet and plenty of good country music.


July 2002

US singing sensation Tift Merritt made an eight-date tour of the UK in support of her album Bramble Rose during July. Texas born, 27 year old Tift Merritt who was raised in North Carolina says; "What I'm trying to do is make an album in the style of early Linda Ronstadt, early Emmylou Harris and early Bonnie Raitt."

Playing at the Star & Garter, near Piccadilly, Manchester, Tift Merritt drew a healthy crowd with a full house, and several people that I spoke to, turning up on the strength of only hearing tracks played on Radio 2. British songbird Kirsty McGee opened the night with a selection of her own material including "Honeysuckle", the title track from her forthcoming album soon to be released on Fellside Records. Not only a sweet voice, but also very accomplished on her Taylor guitar. We are going to see a lot more of Kirsty McGee!

Following on, the young woman that we had all gone to see, Tift Merritt. Accompanying herself on guitar and with the aide of Greg Readling on a whining pedal steel, dobro and keyboards, Tift started out with her sensational "I Know Him Too". Strong vocals from this pretty little blond, Tift showed us that she could also play keyboards, guitar and write top-class songs. "Virginia, No One Can Warn You" and the title track from Bramble Rose had the whole room buzzing with electricity as the audience lapped up all that Tift Merritt had to offer. The numbers came thick and fast with "Supposed To Make You Happy", "Diamond Shoes" and "Are You Still In Love With Me?" coming off the new album. Some nice pedal steel from Greg complimented Tiff's stunning vocals wonderfully as she wove her way through the evening. All too soon the night was at an end and it only left for us to plead for more. I'm sure Tift Merritt will be gracing our shores once again in the not too distant future, and I'm doubly sure that she will receive an even greater reception from her ever-growing band of fans here in the UK. Don't miss Tift Merritt next time around.

Rustlers at Farnworth had a good night with solo artiste Jonny Williams. Jonny plays both acoustic and electric guitars and uses what has now become the norm…the inescapable backing tracks. Jonny does seem to have cut the backing sound back a little since I first saw him over 12 months ago, creating a very pleasant sound. A good singing voice, Jonny concentrates on the traditional side of country music, taking a selection from the songbook of Hank Snr. Opening up the first spot, Jonny gave a good version of Rodney Crowell's "Walk The Line Revisited" and also Jim Ed Brown's "Pop A Top", more recently covered by Alan Jackson. Other numbers Jonny includes in his repertoire sees Mickey Gilly's "Don't All The Girls Get Prettier At Closing Time', Johnny Cash's "Cocaine Blues" and Buck Owens' "Together Again". Jonny gave a super night at Rustlers giving the dancers a wide variety of dances and the listeners a selection of numbers that are not over played on the club scene. Always a good night at Rustlers, whether you want to dance or just sit and listen, Joe keeps the music going throughout the breaks with his Running Dog disco. Don't be a stranger; all the local clubs need your support.

One of the top listening clubs in the North West, all the bands love to play Hobo's Retreat in Heywood. Blue Orchid made their first appearance at Hobo's in July. Chris Byrne comes from the Merseyside area and Liz Rae from Manchester. Liz reminded me that she had played Hobo's once before when she was part of Capricorn, replacing Peter Guy when he was having throat problems a few years ago. Chris started playing guitar at about 10 years of age and has been performing around the cabaret scene for some years. Featuring more and more country numbers, Chris finally left her solo career to join up with Liz and come into country. Blue Orchid has a mixed bag of material, with the first and third set very much concentrating on early traditional standard fare. The middle spot gave them the opportunity to excel with numbers, which were not as well known, including the likes of Jan Browne's "Mexican Wind", Joy Lynn White's " Little Tears" and Suzi Bogguss "Just Like The Weather". There is a little humorous banter between the Chris and Liz, which is to be expected when you have a scouser on stage. The girls included a fine version the Jim Reeves number "You Belong To Me" which isn't often heard on the country scene and made a good job of the Garth Brooks/Trisha Yearwood duet "Like We Never Had A Broken Heart". Blue Orchid found great favour with the audience at Hobo's, topping off the night with their closing number, an exceptional duet of the Reba McEntire/Linda Davis number "Does He Love You", leaving the whole audience stunned. Blue Orchid gave Hobo's just what they like to hear and as Jack said, "they made them have that last one!!!"

The following week another band made its debut at Hobo's. Merseyside based trio Nashville Nights have a lovely sound and sees some fine lead vocals from Dave on rhythm guitar, Fred is on bass and Jeff plays a delightfully whining pedal steel. Their repertoire sits totally with a traditional sound, bringing in numbers from the likes of Haggard and Strait's early material. Nice to hear some of the older numbers from artistes that we have forgotten or have drifted into insignificance such as Mickey Gilly's "Room Full Of Roses", the Gatlin Brothers' "I Don't Want To Cry" and "Fool Such As I" recorded by the likes of Hank Snow and more recently Kathy Chiavola. Bringing their repertoire more up to date, Nashville Nights also included the likes of Alan Jackson' s "Meat And Potato Man" and Ty England's " I Should Have Asked Her Faster", giving a well rounded performance. It doesn't get better than this if you want REAL country music! Don't miss Nashville Nights next time around.

The Commonwealth Games have just started in Manchester as I write. Around 1,000 line dancers have been recruited for the closing ceremony, including a couple who are regulars at Rustlers. Bert said that they have been practicing for some weeks, going twice and even three times in the week for rehearsal. Briefly; the dancers dressed in white T Shits, baseball caps and black trousers or skirts form a Dove moving across the arena, finally moving into place to outline the word PEACE. Bert had seen an ariel shot of the rehearsal on the large screen at the arena, which he says was magnificent to see. By the time you read this, the Games have been and gone and perhaps you saw the closing ceremony on TV. The choreography and music were specially arranged for the Games, with other line dancing being included in the ceremony and all performed in the presence of HRM Queen Elizabeth. This is certainly a tremendous occasion for Manchester and a praiseworthy experience for all the line dancers who graciously gave up their time to volunteer their services for the event.


June 2002

Chew Valley CMC had a special charity night at the beginning of June to aide the Oldham branch of the Parkinsons Disease Society. The "ever-strolling" Les Payne provided the entertainment and a grand total in excess of £600 was raised for this well deserving charity who will be putting the money to good use, helping local people suffering from this dreadful illness. Les managed to pull in a few pounds by getting a little audience participation with his amusing inclusion of the old nursery rhyme "The Grand Old Duke of York", and Keith collecting in the coinage from the de-faulters. Since the break-up of Stroller, Les has found his own niche as a solo artiste, leaving his drum kit to gather cobwebs and took up with a semi-acoustic guitar and a few self-produced backing tracks. Drawing a full house, Les has an assorted parcel of numbers to draw on; ex-Stroller favourites from Hal Ketchum and Rodney Crowell were ideally blended with numbers from British songwriters Raymond Froggatt and what has been called the best British country song ever…Jimmy Nail's "Big River"!!! Smokies "Alice" brought a few cheeky calls from the audience and when Les performed the Bellamy's "If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me", Les was joined on stage by Madam Dolly; a lady of the night and ill repute I'm told who teased and caressed Les in a way that I'm not able to write in a family magazine!!!!! A great night raising some much needed cash for an extremely good cause. Earlier that week Keith had taken part in another charity event, with a sponsored walk up Ben Nevis in Scotland, raising £650 for Diabetes U.K. People's unbridled generosity is still fantastic!

Singer/songwriter Clive John from Malvern Worcester made his first appearance at Hobo's Retreat, Heywood, and drawing great interest from the knowledgeable audience in attendance. With three albums released, Clive has made his mark on the European Media Services charts (EMS) with several high riding singles taken from his three albums. Clive's current single release "The Trouble Is" entered the EMS chart at #30 and currently (June 7th) sits at #5. A slight change in the usual program saw Clive giving us two long sets rather than the usual three shorter ones, bringing a greater depth and appreciation to his music. Opening the first set with Steve Goodman's "City Of New Orleans" made famous by Willie Nelson, Clive gave a varied broad palette of covers ideally scattered throughout a bedrock of his own songs taken from his current album Life. With three guitars and a mandolin at hand, this young man showed that he is a skilled guitarist as well as a fine vocalist. A classically trained guitarist, Clive paraded his talent both on guitar and mandolin. Pitching in with Mark Knopfler's "Sultans Of Swing", Clive John opened the second set demonstrating his skills with some elegant electric guitar-work, blending in several covers with own self-penned numbers from his earlier albums. Carrying an emotional weight of lyrics, "Those Summer Days" was one of the first songs Clive wrote at the age of 18 years to be found on his second album Purple Sky. With Clive's mother and father sitting in the audience, Clive performed a dazzling version Garth Brooks' "The Dance" especially for his mother. All too soon the night was drawing to a close. Clive John had come performed and conquered his audience at Hobo's Retreat, with several remarks of "the best solo artiste we've seen here", coming from quite a few of the regulars. Just one more song before the close of the show, brought the song that was Clive's first single release and is seen as his signature song….the lovely "In A Whisper". Clive John is destined to go far, don't miss him before it's too late….we'll be seeing him again at Hobo's!!!

Honest Truth sit in the top of the tree when it comes to British country music and these four guys made a very welcomed return to Hobo's Retreat in June. Peter, Bobby, Brian and Neil come from all corners of England and it is a credit to their professionalism that these guys travel great distances and always put on a first class performance. They gave us a night to remember, bringing in a few numbers I hadn't heard before (which always draws my interest) and a few of their well loved favourites. It's always a pleasure to hear self penned material and as Pete Naden is one of British country music's top songwriters, the crowd at Hobo's were thrilled to hear his own compositions "I Dread The Night" and "Running Water". Three excellent sets from four fine musicians.

Trick Rider are quickly becoming a popular four-piece on the British club scene. While appearing at Hobo's Retreat in June they drew a fair crowd with a large influx of fans turning up from Merseyside areas. Chris Raddings taking the lion's share of lead vocals, open-handedly gives way to both Alan Best (lead guitar) and Duncan Moore (bass) as they take over lead vocals. A wide selection of numbers that are not the run of the mill throw-aways , sees covers from the likes of George Duccas, Chris Norman (Smokey fame), Garry Allan's "Smoke Rings In The Dark" and "Watching You Go" taken off Chris's own debut album from a few years ago. Lenny Garnet on drums keeps it all together, seeing Trick Rider as a new force on the British country music scene.

Louisville is a relatively new duo on the scene, made up of Tony Ainscow (ex-Bandolero) and Shane O'Borne (ex-Corn Dogs). They started playing together around the beginning of March (2002) and are drawing quite a lot of interest. I managed to catch their performance twice in June, first at Hobo's Retreat and the following week at Rustlers, Farnworth. On both occasions Louisville cheerfully ploughed their way through a well-rounded repertoire, including a couple of numbers from the Mavericks, Merle Haggard and Rodney Crowell. Both Tony and Shane take lead vocals with Shane showing his talents on lead guitar. A couple of numbers that are not often included by bands on the club scene included the BR549 version of Web Pierce's "I Ain't Never" and Hal Ketchum's "Loving You Makes Me A Better Man" from his Lucky Man album. With Tony's powerful and expressive vocals and Shane's polished guitar-work, Louisville satisfied both listeners and dancers at the two differing type of venues and are easily stamping their mark on the country fans.

Further nights at Farnworth saw Real Deal with Barry Gaskell and Brian Green providing a few popular line dance numbers mixed in with a few standards such as "Take These Chains From My Heart", "Little Ole Wine Drinker" and Alan Jackson's "Meat and Potato Man". Les Payne is fast becoming one of the most popular solo artistes on the club circuit and I caught Les once again in June; this time at Rustlers. For many years Les was the drummer with the ever-popular four-piece band Stroller. Though Les is effectively making his mark as a soloist, he still seems to crave for the days when he sat behind his drum kit with a full band and included one of Stroller's early numbers, Hal Ketchum's "Old Soldiers"…maybe we'll see Stroller re-emerge in the vastness of time. Les certainly keeps both listeners and dancers happy at Rustlers with a well-rounded selection from songwriters of the likes of Raymond Froggatt, Tom Russell, Heather Myles and T. Graham Brown's autobiographical song about alcoholism. "Wine Into Water". Rustlers and Hobo's Retreat are open every week and you'll always be sure of a friendly welcome at both clubs.

Hooked On Country presented their 5th Country & Western Festival at Lowton Civic Hall in June, seeing a sell-out and people having to be turned away at the door. As you will have read in Jan's report last month, four of British country music's top bands played two sets each, giving a full day of first-class country music. Dez Walters Band, Honest Truth, Dillinger and Kenny Johnson & Northwind all gave breathtaking performances. Great bands, great atmosphere, whether listening or dancing you couldn't ask for better! Western wear stalls, CD stall and plenty of food on hand made it complete and a credit to organisers Teresa & Dennis Yates and their crew who worked hard to make the festival a complete success.

Hooked On Country's next festival is at Heysham's Ocean Edge Leisure Park over the weekend of 13th - 16th September. Providing the entertainment are Trick Rider, M.T. Allan Duo and Louisville. Don't miss it!!!


Raul Malo & His Band at Manchester University

There is something exceptionally romantic about Latin American music. In the 1960's we had bands such as The Sandpipers, Herb Albert, Sergio Mendes and Trini Lopez setting hearts throbbing. A three decades later Ricki Martin did the same, as did a band that emerged on the country music scene in the mid 90's …The Mavericks!!!

The Mavericks took the British Country music fans (and pop fans) by storm. The Mavericks have enjoyed great support from U.K. fans over the years and my own first viewing of this tremendous force was at the Student's Union Debating Hall at Manchester University some 7 - 8 years ago. Sadly the Mavericks have broken-up as a band and the musicians have more or less each gone their own musical way. It was at this same venue (SUDH) that lead singer with the Mavericks brought his own band and his own style of Latin American music to Manchester.

Part standing and part sitting the hall was almost full when I arrived and found myself a little space to the side of the sound desk. An announcement from the stage disappointed those on front row, who thought the had the best vantage point as fans were invited to come forward to take up the space left at the front of the stage.

All too soon a darkened stage with piped music heralded Raul Malo & His Band on to the stage (which has long been the case with The Mavericks). Raul Malo playing guitar along with six extremely talented musicians commenced to entertain a full house for almost 2 hours starting with "Every Little Thing About You" from Raul's new album Today. Another track from the album " Are We Almost There" was very much in the Mavericks mould and was followed by "I've Got This Feeling" off the Trampoline album. Other Mavericks numbers were to follow and a slower more Latin American styled "Dance The night Away" brought the greatest cheer of the evening. The fans loved it…many had come to hear more of the Mavericks' music.

A power cut left the stage lighting, but no sound. A little banter from the crowd and Malo persuaded Raul and guitarist Jamie Hanna to take up their acoustic guitars and accompany the crowd singing "Missing You" from the Music For All Occasions album. As the sound was quickly restored, Malo announced that he would have to sing the song in its entirety or else it was just going to go round and round in his head all night. Peruvian lead guitarist (whose name I'm not even going to attempt here) got into the swing of things videoing this performance including footage of the audience participation, a great cameo I'm sure the band will be thrilled to relive.

Another cameo of the night was when the conga player came forward with a large bead covered jar that he used as a large maraca. As he danced around the stage, he would upend the jar making it sing into the mike, much to the hilarity of the crowd.

Great songs, great music Raul Malo and his band had the audience right in the palm of his hand throughout the night. A short acoustic spot included the very lovely "Dream River" when not a sound could be heard from the audience as Raul Malo took the opportunity to show what an exceptional vocalist he is. Malo included in his spine tingling set several songs in his own Spanish language and also the traditional Cuban song Guantanamera, which he interleaved with the Beatles "Twist and Shout". Another Mavericks song, brought the fans alive with a fury as Malo let rip with "All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down". All to soon the night was at end and we were all brought back down to earth and made our ways back home.


April 2002

A drive across the county boundaries to Buxton took us to Spa Town CMC at The Pavilion Gardens, Paxton Suite where Clive John was performing in April along with the duo Incline. The night offered the perfect opportunity for Clive to launch his new album Life. This is Clive's third album release, who has seen four of his songs already make their mark on the EMS charts, Clive is receiving warranted interest from the country music industry. Frank humorously remarked, "If he continues like this, he'll soon be too big for me to represent!"

The evening was broken into four sets...two from each of the artistes. Mainly performing a selection of numbers from the new album Life, Clive opened the first of his two sets. The mature songwriting of this young man sketch vivid and somewhat painful pictures as his songs reach back into the hollers of your mind, tempting the imagination, as he encompasses themes of tormented and unstable relationships, insecurities and disconcerted love songs. The aloneness of 'The Wolves Cry' reaches out with a lovely song offering a feeling of solitude left by what life doled out in the past. 'Running Away Again', 'All My Life' and 'How The Story Ends' were interspersed with covers of standards, such as Kenny Rogers 'The Gambler' and one of the best train songs ever written 'The City Of New Orleans'. A couple of Irish numbers, plus a fine version of Garth Brooks' 'The Dance' especially for Clive's mum who was in the audience, brought an idyllic diversion. The evening brought out the full range of styles encompassed by this exciting young artiste, as he took us on a heady excursion through a selection of his own songs from the two earlier albums, together with what has to be his signature song, the irreprehensible 'In A Whisper'. Watch out for Clive John, an outstanding performer destined to go far....he is not to be missed!

I'm sorry to say that after seeing Clive John performing his own material in the first set, I felt that he left the duo Incline somewhat in the shadows. This may not be the case with many of the country fans attending the night, as the material performed by Incline consisted of the likes of Kitty Wells' 'It Wasn't Good Who Made Honky Tonk Angels', Lorrie Morgan's 'What Part Of No Don't You Understand' and 'Forty Shades Of Green', made popular by Johnny Cash. Inline are made up of Toni Scott lead vocals and Martin Peters keyboards and harmony vocals, from the Rugby area. Toni has a remarkable voice that she uses to good effect particularly by including a tribute to Patsy Cline in their performance. It has been said to me that they are very fast becoming, one of the most popular country music duos on the British country scene, which I'm told is evident by their merchandise sales. We were certainly treated to two fine sets from both individual artistes, but personally my taste falls on the side of the fence where Clive John is found grazing.

Gone West are a popular North West trio comprising of Bernie Green on rhythm guitar and lead vocals, with Tony on bass and lead guitar wiz kid Carl doing the business, especially on a few western swing numbers. As Bernie is fond of saying...they play proper snivelling country music. Lashings of Haggard and Jones were simply thrilling for all the Reformed Hobo's. Bernie gave a feisty interpretation to Buck Owens 'Excuse Me I Think I've Got A Heartache' and John Prime's 'Something Happened To Me'. There was also a little Cajun music with Sammy Kershaw's 'Little Did I Know'. Combined with a little scouse humour, Gone West offered three passionate sets, which boiled up an intoxicating, warm and inviting.

A ride over the moors to Preston makes a pleasant dive where we find The Ranch House, former home of Preston Outlaws. It is over five years since I visited The Ranch House and as friends of mine Left Hand Drive were on stage, I made the endeavour to put in an appearance. On entering it was a delight to meet one of the former Preston Outlaws...Mack. One of the colourful characters of the western scene, Mack was a great supporter of Morecambe International CM Festival and could easily be mistaken for the TV hero of my generation...The Cisco Kid. Being a place that has time after time drawn the westerners, the gunfights and parading of flags such as Old Glory and The Stars and Stripes is customary. Though the octagonal room is not just the thing for listening to music, Left Hand Drive gave a cutting edge performance, with numbers from their favourite band BR549, Steve Earle's 'Graveyard Shift' and selected cuts from their own self-titled CD, with numbers such as 'Driving Tennessee', 'Weakest Point' and of course their signature tune 'Left Hand Drive'. Thanks to John Craven for the invitation, he works hard bringing top line bands to The Ranch House.

Rustlers CMC at Farnworth had Bradford's own pack of jokers, Dillinger in April. The mixture of comedy and music comes thick and fast with these four guys. Royal court jester, complete with cap and bells, or to be more exact cap and feathers, Mike Sager as always fronts the band. The sharp and often near to the knuckle humour, has the audience in fits of laughter from beginning to end. Since joining the band two or three years ago, Richard has brought a new dimension to the comedy with his own very dry sense of humour that almost has you thinking that he is making a serious comment. The music is as matchless as the comedy with numbers such as 'Leave This Country Boy Alone', 'Dog River Blues' and the humorous and perhaps biographical, 'Just Another Night ON The Road'. Bassist Steve and drummer Colin effectively take over the lead vocals, which sees Colin leaving his drum kit to come front and centre for an a copella version of George Jones' 'The Race Is On'. Lead guitarist Richard cleverly demonstrates the playing of two tunes at the same time, as he effectively performs 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' and 'Dixie' simultaneously. With favourites such as Michael Johnson's 'Wings' and Larry Gatlin's 'Midnight Choir', Dillinger as always, came, performed and conquered a hole in the wall full of Rustlers.

I called at Chew Valley CMC at Boarshurst band club in Greenfield. I hadn't been able to make it earlier in April when they held a special charity night in aid of the Mike Payne appeal to raise money for the Prostrate Cancer research charity. As you may recollect I reported that band club secretary Mike died last year after suffering with prostate cancer. Andy Gates replaced Jonny Williams who had to pull out through ill health, with a good sum of money being raised on the night, which the band club secretary rounded-up to £700. Keith and Glenys thank everyone who turned up to make the night an overwhelming success. On my visit for the regular monthly show, Bandwagon provided the entertainment. Usually seen as a trio, on this occasion their female lead singer had taken ill and was unable to appear. As a last minute change had to be made to the act, Clive and Tony had to search the deep corners of their minds to put together three sets, so as not to let down the Chew Valley audience. Ever the professionals that they are, Tony and Clive, drew on a good repertoire of material including Alan Jackson's 'Ace Of Hearts', Clint Black's 'Killing Time' and travelled back to the 1950's for Eddie Arnold's 'You Don't Know Me' and the Osborn Brothers 1958 hit 'Once More'. Though they were dogged with the loss of their lead vocalist and needed to replace the majority of their usual repertoire, Clive and Tony gave an excellent performance. We were treated to several numbers rarely heard on the club scene today. Turning out a splendid performance, various numbers included Dan Seal's 'When Love Comes Round The Bend', Gene Watson's '14 Caret Mind' and Mark Chesnutt's 'Get A life'. The club's annual charity night comes this month with strolling minstrel Les Payne providing the music.

My friend Alan Cameron was playing at the Fiddle and Steel CWDC, Waterhead, Oldham. A nice little church hall with western dancers and listeners welcome, meeting once a month. Alan as always, combined an excellent blend of his own songs with a little Yorkshire comedy, for the two sets. 'Crystal Chandeliers (Gets Right Up My Nose)' has been a popular number for as long as I can remember and even classed as his signature song. Several songs were included from his new album This Is (Alan Cameron) and the comedy saw his tale about the Penguin had the crowd howling with laughter. Alan has been quite successful overseas with interest coming from the USA and his song Ibiza being very popular in that area of the Mediterranean. Alan told me; "My friends took my song but wanted to give it a bit of oomph, so they added a disco type beat, we didn't think it would work, but we were really surprised at what an excellent job they did of it. They added an intro where they spell out the word Ibiza, which comes again before the instrumental break in the middle and again at the end. They have hand actions for the spelling out and even came up with a dance for it, the tourists love it, it's quite a spectacle to see a couple of hundred people performing to a song that you wrote, they sell a lot of C.D.s after each performance. Of the 11 tracks on the album, I wrote 7. It gets played on the radio throughout the Balearics and all the major hotels use the song at their disco's as well as the children's disco's where they are taught the hand actions and the dance. When Lazy Daisy arrive at a hotel to play the kids already know the song. The major disco's like Manumission refuse to play it because it doesn't fit in with their idea of house or garage music, however in the last few months someone has been remixing it to try and make it acceptable to the big discos. Lazy Daisy were heavily featured on "Ibiza uncovered 2" on Sky 1 last year as they tried to get a record producer for the song and were shown performing it on stage, we almost had approval to call it the official song of the island from the tourist board, but for whatever reason talks petered out, so it is now the unofficial song of Ibiza. We keep plugging away, because we know that one-day it will be a big hit (an overnight sensation!)" Overnight sensation or not, Alan Cameron is a Star to his fans!


February 2002

Graham Broughton Trio made a welcome return to Hobo's Retreat, Heywood. Graham is always a popular draw at Hobo's and loves to play to its receptive listening audience, where he can sing the songs with meaningful lyrics that he personally takes pleasure in. Glenys on bass takes some of the brunt of Graham's humour in silent good nature and Chris on lead guitar, again strong and silent, patiently smiles while Graham eulogizes the virtues of his favourite football team Manchester City doing so well in the league at present. The music is top class with Graham's strong crooning vocals filling the room with numbers that includes the best British country song ever written…Jimmy Nail's 'Big River' and T. Graham Brown's song 'Wine Into Water' about his personal fight of coming to terms with the demons of suffering from alcoholism and the title of Brown's 1998 album. Graham Broughton is an old hand on the British country circuit and festival scene; therefore you are always sure of a great night. Graham picks some of the best country music to perform and has always been quick to include new material that suits his style. If you haven't already seen the Graham Broughton Trio, don't miss them next time around.

Widnes solo artiste Andy Gates made his first appearance at Hobo's. Andy draws on a traditional style of country music, playing guitar and using backing tracks that are not ordinarily over the top. He gave the Hobo's crowd exactly what they wanted with a repertoire of material such as Tom T. Hall's 'Old Dogs, Children and Watermelon Wine', Kenny Rogers 'Daytime Friends and Night Time Lovers' and the theme from the film 'Every Which Way But Loose' recorded by Eddie Rabbitt and making #41 on the British charts in 1979. Andy also offered a clutch of Frogy's numbers, which are always popular, and with a dry sense of humour, he had the crowd in the palm of his hand shouting for more. Incidentally, with Jack Lee standing next to Andy on stage, and a similarity in appearance, you could easily be excused for mistaking them as brothers…perhaps they could put together a double act!

Les Payne now performing solo after the demise of the North West band Stroller, made his début at the Rustlers, Farnworth with a good attending crowd. In the early days of British country music Graham Broughton and Les Payne were comrades in arms as part of the band Sundown. Ex-Stroller Les, has traded his drum kit for a guitar and with his own-produced backing tracks, offers a pleasurable evening's entertainment with a well-balanced selection of numbers. Be it dancing or listening, Les has a repertoire to suit. Opening with George Jones' 'I Should Have Called' the evening saw established Stroller fare with Hal Ketchum's 'Old Soldiers' and George Strait's 'Cowboy Rides Away', sitting alongside numbers from Rodney Crowell, Tracy Byrd and a great song from Mark Chesnutt, 'Old Country'. One of the pleasantest people in British country music…a perpetual smile and very professional performance form Les, the Rustlers were given a night long to remember. Les has only been performing as a solo artiste for the last 12 months or so; if you haven't already caught him on stage, don't miss Les Payne next time around.

The Rustlers, Farnworth drew a near full house for Bradford's own sons, Trick Rider. Lead vocalist Chris Raddings and bassist Duncan Moore will be remembered from the band Nevada, who made a significant mark on the British country scene around 7-8 years ago. Chris went on to form the duo Raddings and Moor (not Duncan on this occasion), while Duncan joined Stroller. Alan Best on lead guitar and drummer Eddie Garnet were previously an integral part of Moonlight Rodeo who sadly also broke-up a couple of years ago. Trick Rider has all the components; three good vocalists, fine musicians a wide variety of material and they put plenty of energy and vigour into their stage won't be disappointed. Chris's strong delivery of vocals comes deep from his country soul and never fails to draw the listener. Their repertoire stretches from Gary Allan's moody 'Smoke Rings In The Dark', back through the likes of George Duccas' 'Hello Cruel World' and Marty Stuart's 'Western Girls'. Duncan shows is own prowess on lead vocals as he emulates the rusty vocals of Chris Norman for a couple of Smokey's numbers, including the emotive 'Shallow Water'. Alan also takes lead vocals on John Gorka's 'Big Noise' as well as showing off his expertise on guitar with an instrumental medley. Eddie keeps them all together on drums, making Trick Rider a band not to be missed for either listener or dancer..kick back and enjoy!

Mr Kite's benefits at St Bede's Club, Clayton-Le-Woods, Chorley promotes live music entertainment in the North West with all proceeds from these benefit events going to charity. March saw Country-folk singer/songwriter Fred J Eaglesmith in concert. Eaglesmith was one of nine children born to a farming family in rural southern Ontario Canada. Often employing his difficult upbringing as raw material for his heartland narratives, he issued his self-titled debut LP in 1980. Eaglesmith gradually became an underground favourite in his native Canada, thanks largely to a relentless touring schedule. On his first tour of the UK, an appreciative and enthusiastic crowd of lovers of the singer/songwriter leaning were drawn to St Bede's. Folk styled singer/songwriter Kristy McGee accompanying herself on guitar, opened the night's show with a set of her own songs. Clive Gregson recently came over from Nashville to record with her and she has a new record deal on the table, things are starting to happen for her. Though Fred Eaglesmith has been playing the alt-country scene for many years, I believe this is his first tour of the UK. Performing his own material, Fred has a humorous off the wall style of presentation…a few jokes and tall tales had the crowd in raptures of laughter and he certainly must have conducted the most amusing raffle ever. His songs have been covered by other artists including The Cowboy Junkies, Chris Knight, Dar Williams, Kasey Chambers and James King. Film director Martin Scorsese has used his songs as have various others including James Caan in "Viva Los Nowhere." He won the Juno Award for the Best Roots/Folk Album with 'Drive-In Movie' and regularly scores albums on the critics' top ten lists on both sides of the border over there. Dedicating one of his songs to the passing of Carter Stanley, Fred covers the whole gamut of themes, from dysfunctional relationships to loosing everything you own with 'They Came And Took It All Away' and even a song about missing the father in-law after divorce. Though I hadn't heard of Fred or his music until this tour, he certainly entertained and if he returns to our shores in the future, take a chance and go out and see him….you won't be disappointed!

A full house was also found at Chew Valley CMC when another band from Bradford...Dillinger came to town. Dillinger was the winner of two categories in the 2001 North Country Music Awards. This particular night saw Chew Valley's 100th country night at Boarshurst Brass Band Club, keeping Keith busy easing another body in with his oversized shoehorn. Not a band for the faint hearted, Dillinger still include many of the tried and tested jokes that they are known for; politically correct is not a word to be used in the same breath. One of the regulars took the brunt of Dillinger's humour throughout the night, but her own sharp wit gave as good as she got! There could easily have been a moderate riot on hand when it was announced, due to unforeseen circumstances there were no hot beef and pork butties that night, only salad...SALAD!!!; but Keith effectively quelled the baying crowd like a rod of iron! The music came thick and fast, with an excellent repertoire. Jerry Reed's 'Guitar Man' and 'Too Old To Rock 'n' Roll' from the 'Old Dogs' album. Another artiste from this particular album was Bobby Bare and Dillinger have long included Bobby Bare's 'Bold Headed Woman', bringing great hilarity from their audience. Mick also gave a fine version of Bobby Bare's 'Some Days Are Diamonds' made famous by John Denver. 'Dog River Blues' and Elvis's 'Don't Leave Me Now' were also to be heard. With Colin taking vocals over on occasion, Steve showed off his bass-work on a tribute to the passing of Waylon just three days before, with 'Clyde Played Electric Bass'. Guitar wizard Richard Harding included a captivating rendition of the 50's instrumental 'Sleepwalk', originally played on steel guitar. Richard also gave a mesmerising demonstration of his flawless skills playing two tunes, 'Dixie' and 'Yankee Doodle Dandy' simultaneously, together and at the same time: phew! You're always sure of a good night in the company of Dillinger.


January 2002

Hobo's Retreat saw the return of the Bar Room Boys on the first Thursday of the New Year. Just sitting in a row on stage with their guitars, Bobby Arnold, Peter Guy, Terry Fletcher and Billy Rivers all from the Merseyside area are just a sheer joy to listen to. Billy takes the lion's share of vocals, with Peter and Terry taking over on several numbers and Bobby giving us his contribution on just a couple of numbers, including the lovely 'Walk Through This World With Me', with all four lads joining together with scintillating harmony vocals. The guitar playing doesn't get any better than this, with Bobby playing amongst other styles, a syncopated Chet Atkins style of country jazz, particularly on the instrumental 'Margie' and Terry following very much in the Merle Travis style. Great rhythm guitar from Billy and fine bass lines from Peter made this a night to remember for a long time to come. Talking to Bobby Arnold before the show, he proudly showed off his two awards from North Country Music People's Wards, which he received on New Year's Day for Instrumentalist Of The Year and the Lifetime Achievement Award. Bobby told me how over the moon he was at receiving these awards and that this is what makes all the long travelling and not getting home until the early hours of the morning, all worth while and a big thank you to all who voted for him. Terry has been writing his own songs for many years and released a vinyl single and E.P. in the early 80's. The Bar Room Boys are hoping to release a CD soon including some of Terry's songs. For mid-week bookings in a 50 mile radius of Merseyside contact Peter on 0151 228 1274.

I made my first visit of the New Year to The Rustlers, Farnworth late in the month to see The Longriders. Unfortunately Peter their lead singer has been unwell and therefore the band was going out as a trio for the time being. Even though the band was slightly disadvantaged to this end, Andy, Robbie and Neil gave a good and competent performance. Their repertoire saw numbers from Colin Raye and George Strait, included a fine version of Brad Paisley's 'Long Sermon', coming slap up to date with George Jones and Garth Brooks 'Beer Run', off their respective new albums (this was actually the first time I've heard a British band perform 'Beer Run', and very well done). Western Swing is a style of music that demonstrates a musicians skill and ability and as a dedicated western swing fan for many years whenever a band include a little swing it grabs my attention. These three lads certainly proved they can cut the mustard, by including four swing numbers, with a nod to Bob Wills and taking a little Texas jazz from Mark Chesnutt and Randy Travis. A very enjoyable night all round!

Rodney Crowell made a welcome return to the Hop & Grape at Manchester University. Crowell last played this venue in May 2001 and once again drew a full house of discerning listeners. On this occasion, Will Kimbrough who opened the night with a solo set of his own material accompanied him.

Texan born Rodney Crowell was the first artiste in history to write and produce an album with five number one singles…that album was his platinum-selling Diamonds and Dirt (1988). Accompanied by Will Kimbrough on guitar, most of Rodney Crowell's repertoire was taken from his current album Houston Kid, plus several of his most treasured numbers…opening his show with the ever-popular 'Stars On The Water' (covered by George Strait on his new album The Road Less Traveled). The crowd just loved 'She's Crazy For Leaving' and 'When I Can Gain Control Again', poignant songs that will last a lifetime. Paying tribute to "the songwriters songwriter", Townes Van Zandt, Crowell gave a thrilling performance of 'Pancho & Lefty', bringing a greatly complemented reaction form his audience.

Rodney Crowell is quoted as saying "somewhere there exists a place where songs yet to be conceived wait fully written for bold messengers to reach this outpost of inspired originality where anything is possible and everything rhymes. Crowell has certainly breached the walls of this songwriter's Holy place…a new album is in the making and Rodney offered a preview of four of the songs waiting in the wings to be included in this next project. A standing ovation drew the night to a close with one more song from this master of verse. With Will Kimbrough leaving the stage and Rodney Crowell with just his guitar, he emphasised 'It's A Different World' a song about the damage being done to our environment and the last song of the night!

Chew Valley CMC. A special charity night is to be held at Chew Valley CMC on Saturday April 6 in memory of Mike Payne, who passed away in October 2001 with cancer. Mike was both club and band secretary at Boarshurst Brass Band Club for many years and along with his wife Janet did a tremendous job for Chew Valley CMC and is sorely missed. Jonny Williams will be performing on the night, with proceeds going to Prostate Cancer, a charity close to Mike's heart. Please attend this charity night and make it a resounding success and a great night to remember a delightful man.

Ronnie Westhead from Bandolero contacted me, to say that Tony Ainscough will be leaving Bandolero from the end of February. Ronnie says the split is a mutual decision as they feel Bandolero has gone as far as it can in its present form. Ronnie's son Steve, who has appeared as a guest with the duo on several occasions will join the line-up. They will be bringing in some different material and keeping the high standard that Bandolero has become known for. I have also spoken to Tony, who has formed the duo Louisville with Shane O'Borne (Ex-Corn Dogs). I wish both duos all the very best and hope to see them in my locality soon.

Joy Lynn White had a hit with 'Tonight The Heartache's On Me' during the 1990's and is due to tour the UK around the end of February - beginning of March. To my knowledge Joy Lynn released her only album Wild Love in 1994 (please let me know if you know of a later album). More recently she has been working with the Brooklyn Cowboys, but Joy Lynn White will be joined by Suzi Ragsdale for this tour and can be seen in the North West on March 3 at The Witchwood, 152 Old Street, Ashton-U-Lyne, 0161 344 0321.

Billy Joe Shaver and Kinky Freedman have rescheduled their UK tour for April, after having to cancel last year due to Billy Joe undergoing angioplasty surgery after suffering a heart attack. Kinky Friedman & Billy Joe Shaver can be seen on April 3 at The Witchwood, Ashton-U-Lyne.


December 2001

December started dark and cold, but Bradford's Alan Cameron brought a ray of warmth to Hobo's Retreat. Alan a profound singer/songwriter gave a splendid performance, mainly his own material and raising a smile with a few comical quips and tales. Alan has had great fortune in seeing one of his songs 'Ibiza' take off on the Mediterranean island of that same name. 'Heads I Lose, Tails You Win' offers a little country jazz and 'I Chickened Out Again' centres on a lovesick wimp who can only idolise the girls from afar. Alan tells of the many young people who hope to make it in Music City with 'Nashville Superstar', gave us a touch of the blues with 'The Basics Of Love ' and paid homage to country music’s master, Hank Williams with 'If The Lord Is Willing and The Creek Don't Rise'. A handful of covers closed the evening with the likes of The Eagles 'Peaceful Easy Feeling' and 'Corrine Corrina' which has been made famous over the years by Bob Wills, Merle Haggard, Asleep At The Wheel and many other artistes. If you haven't seen Alan Cameron before, make the effort next time he is in your area, you won't be disappointed!

Merseyside duo, Real Deal played Hobo’s the following week. Brian Green on guitar and lead vocals with Brian Gaskell on pedal steel harmony vocals. Three sets of fine traditional country music, including a little western swing from Bob Wills with ‘Roly Poly’ and ‘Deep Water’ sitting alongside country numbers such as ‘Walk On By’, ‘Heartaches By The Number’ and the old Son’s Of The Pioneers number ‘Don’t Fence Me In’, plus a nice medley of ‘King Of The Road’ and ‘Slowboat to China’.

Honest Truth gave a great performance, though due to personal reasons I could only stay for the first set. Pete told me that they hope to have a new album on release soon. With over 30 years experience of running country & folk clubs under their belts, Mavis & Jack book the best acts in British country music and a great asset to the country music scene.

A personal invitation to the Christmas party night at Sioux Line Dance Club, The Elizabethan Suite, Bury swayed me to call in. Though I personally don’t have an interest in line dancing, it looks like a very active club with a wide-ranging clientele. Sue took over the running of the club from Julie Lomas in the summer of 2001 after Julie re-located to Scotland. The club runs every Wednesday, with a beginners night on Thursdays, both nights start at 7-30. As it was well after 9pm when I arrived, Bandolero were just finishing their first spot. Tony was missing from the line-up due to having a dose of the dreaded flu and Ronnie was taking-over most of the vocals and had recruited his son Steve to stand in for a few gigs on rhythm guitar and vocals until Tony was well again. Also, Tony is due to go into hospital during January for an operation on his shoulder.  As it is only mid-December as I write this, he will probably have had his op, therefore with foresight, I hope he is soon well again.

  As I arrived DJ Sean McSherry was taking over on stage to keep the music going. I’ve known Sean for many years now…we first met when he was doing some promotion work around the clubs in the Greater Manchester area for Ritz Music Group…as it was around three years since we last met it was a pleasure see Sean again and catch up on old times. If you need a disco, Sean’s your man! 0161 764 3885

  Bandolero’s second spot saw Ronnie performing a solo spot with his Spanish guitar for the beautiful and emotive John Berry number ‘If I Had Any Pride Left At All’. With Steve joining his dad on stage, they finished off their set with a selection of numbers for the dancers with the likes of ‘Dance The Night Away’ and ‘One More Last Time’.

The club has The Dean Brothers booked for February 6th

The Rustlers at Farnworth saw Kenny Johnson & Northwind drawing a near full house. Opening with Don Williams’ ‘Tulsa Time’, Kenny and the lads had the whole club buzzing with a high voltage performance that even had them ‘Rockin’ In Memphis’. Bobby took over lead vocals for his crisp ‘Hide and Seek With Your Love’ and Alan offering ‘Long Way Down’. Long standing favourites from the band saw Tommy Collins’ ‘Those Old Love Letters’ and a rip roaring version of Hank Snrs. ‘Move It On Over’. Three great sets from one of the top country bands in Britain and being close to Christmas, Kenny also included Elvis’s ‘Blue Christmas’ to add a seasonal flavour. Not forgetting that the drummer is a fundamental part of the band, Kenny Guy is tucked away at the back of the stage behind his drum kit, keeping everything together, while Kenny, Bobby and Alan are up front and centre.

The following week being the last Friday before Christmas saw the Rustlers Christmas party night with many regulars turning up in fancy dress. Hell’s Angels’ Fallen Angels, Punks, Popeye & Olive Oil, some old floozy and even Sheik Avafaganabeer turned out. Not a seat to be had, with the club bursting at the seams. Solo artiste Ronnie J. Morson was on stage offering a totally traditional sound, strumming a little on guitar and complete with the inevitable backing tracks complete with backing vocals. Much of his repertoire came from Merle Haggard, Alan Jackson, George Strait and with Ronnie sounding an exact double for Randy Travis, there was plenty of his material strung throughout the night. A high spot in the night came in the break when regular “Barmy” Bert with his crew of American Navy marionettes performed to ‘The Village People’s In The Navy’ and a medley of other hits….simply sensational, getting the Christmas festive atmosphere into top gear! A well disserved audience for Pam & Joe who work hard to keep the club running every week throughout the year and I must agree with Pam…they do throw the best Christmas party around! At the end of the evening there was even a surprise visit by Prince Charles??!!!!….who seemed to be enjoying himself playing the disco.

Chew Valley CMC meet on the third Saturday of each month at Boarshurst Brass Band Club, Greenfield near Oldham. December saw the “House Full” signs go up when the Haleys came to the club for the pre-Christmas show. Three good sets from Becky, Joanne and Brian, with several numbers going back to 1959 with Rick Nelson’s ‘Never Be Anyone Else But You’ and 61 with the Everly Brothers and ‘Walk Right Back’. The band have brought several of Emmylou Harris’s numbers into the act now, but they still get requests for ballads such as Dan Seals ‘All That Glitters’ and Keith Whitley’s 1988 #1 hit ‘When You Say Nothing At All’. The hot beef and pork butties are always the high spot at Chew Valley CMC whoever is performing on the night and on this occasion even the Haley’s couldn’t hold back the queue, which had formed down the full length of the room two songs before the band had finished their second set.

It is hard working running a country music club. Thanks to all the organisers for your hospitality during 2001, keep up the good work and let us hope that you continue to get the support from country music fans that you rightly disserve.


November 2001

You are always sure of a good night out at Hobo’s Retreat, Heywood with Mavis & Jack booking the best artistes on the British country music scene. November started well at Hobo’s Retreat, with popular Scots duo Jolene & Barry bringing in a good crowd. Starting the evening off, Jack gave them a “BIG” build up….The Best Legs In The Business!! I didn’t know that Jack had seen Barry in a kilt, but then again Jack’s full of surprises. Always offering a top class performance and a popular act with us Reformed Hobo’s, Jolene & Barry didn’t disappoint on this occasion, including a wide variety of numbers ranging from earlier artistes such as Anne Murray, Lyn Anderson, Gene Watson’s ‘Carmen’, ‘You Can’t Take It With You When You’re Gone’ from Collin Raye, Tim McGraw’s lovely ‘Just To See You Smile’ and not forgetting our own Charlie Landsborough’s ‘No Time At All’. This was the first gig of Jolene & Barry’s current tour and certainly started in off in good form with a tip-top performance.

The Haleys also gave a thrilling performance during November at Hobo’s.  The Haleys love to play at Hobo’s and on this occasion brought visiting musician Sarah Curry with them from the Southern based band Marietta Station.  We don’t see Marietta Station in the North due to the economic climate, but Sarah plays piano and adds complimentary harmony vocals, making a valuable addition to the Haleys band on this night. The band have brought into their repertoire a range of early and new numbers and for any Emmylou Harris fans they incorporated several that have been recorded by Emmy, including Johnny Cash’s ‘I Still Miss Someone’ which has also been covered on Robert Earl Keen’s new album and the band encored with the Buck Owens’ classic ‘Together Again’, which if my memory serves me well, Emmylou recorded with Gram Parsons.

Smokey Mountain Boys are always a firm favourite at Hobo’s. Traditional country music going back over 50 years, with material from the likes of Hank Williams, Hank Snow, Little Jimmy Dickens, Slim Whitman and all those artistes that we love, but get little or no airtime

on American country radio today. Based in the East Midlands, Dave takes lead vocals and rhythm guitar, Mark plays Epiphone guitar and mandolin, plus lead and harmony vocals. Last but not least, Mandy the girl in the band plays a pulsating doghouse bass. This trio certainly rock it up with the hillbilly beat and on this occasion, several boppers were in the club who were ex-members of the now closed down Jive Inn, Manchester, giving a fantastic display of jiving.   

Rustlers at Farnworth meet every Friday and you can be sure of a bright welcome from Pam on the door. Joe with his Running Dog Disco keeps the music going between sets with bang up-to-date tracks, which is highly popular if you like to dance. Calling in at the club over November, Fools Gold was on stage with a variety of material from Rodney Crowell, George Strait and Tracy Byrd. Hal Ketchum seems to be the favourite artiste with this Merseyside duo, performing several numbers from Ketchum’s songbook, including both the popular and not so well known songs.


Billy J. Curtis gave a fine performance at Rustlers in November. You may remember the B.J. Curtis Band from a few years ago, economics and changes on the club scene has sadly reduced what was a good quality band, to a solo act. But we’ve seen the same thing happen with several bands. With the now obligatory backing tapes, guitar and some good vocals, Billy gave a wide selection of new and not so new. Going back to the days Buck Owens and Dwight Yoakum with ‘Streets of Bakersfield’, Billy came closer to-date with numbers from Tracy Byrd and John Michael Montgomery, plus a great rendering of Travis Tritt’s ’10 feet Tall & Bullet Proof’ and a truly sincere interpretation of Brooks & Dunn’s version of Roger Miller’s ‘Husbands & Wives’. Billy caught the listeners ear and kept the dancers on their feet, an enjoyable evening at Rustlers and that’s what its all about.


Happy Christmas and an even Happier New Year, to each and every one of our readers. May 2002 be even kinder to you than the past 12 months have been.


October 2001

Texas singer/songwriter Dale Watson came to town at the beginning of October, playing the Hop & Grape and Manchester University. It has been a couple of years since Dale last visited the UK. The end of 2000 was a particular traumatic time for him. Watson’s new album, "Every Song I Write Is For You," released in July on the Nashville-based Audium label, is a forceful and deeply personal story of love, loss, grief, and moving on, based on recent events in Watson's own life.

Dale Watson and Terri Lynn Herbert met last year while he and his wife of nine years were involved in divorce proceedings. The two began dating, fell in love and were planning to marry. She was an attorney for the attorney general's office in Texas. Very quick-witted and always helpful, smiling, cheerful, and optimistic…everything you'd like in a person. Unfortunately fate took a hand when Terri was killed in a car crash. Driving to Houston the car went off the road, she overcompensated and the car flipped. 

This hit Watson very hard and he explains. "Every day I woke up was like the first day I heard Terri was killed - all day long - for (three-and-a-half) months. I guess the closer I got to the Christmas season; it was unbearable being there 'cause of all the plans me and her had made for the cold weather. It would have been our first winter together. It all came to a head, and I couldn't cope with it."

On Dec. 28, 2000, deeply depressed and unable to deal with Terri Herbert's death any longer, Watson checked into an Austin hotel and ingested a combination of sleeping pills and vodka in hope of killing himself. Fortunately, his road manager, Donnie Knutson, who got Watson to a hospital before any permanent damage was done to his vital organs, found him in a semi-conscious condition.

I have seen Dale Watson in concert on many occasions. At the Hop & Grape, Watson and his band The Lone Sharks gave an exemplary performance. From the outset he had the very small, but appreciative audience eating out of the palm of his hand, inviting the crowd to call out the numbers that they most wanted to hear, which came back thick and fast. ‘Wine Don’t Lie’, ‘Jack’s Truck Stop & Café’, ‘Wine, Wine, Wine’ and the lovely, sensitive ‘England to Texas’, a song Dale wrote relating to the death of Diana, Princes Of Wales. A first class performance only marred by the very small turnout by the audience.

House Full signs went up at The Rustlers, Farnworth, when Honest Truth came to entertain. The whole place was buzzing and you couldn’t ease another body in with a shoehorn for this highly polished four-piece. One of the top bands on the British circuit, it was a pleasure to see Pete, Brian, Neil and Bobby on stage, giving a top quality performance. From the outset we were treated to an overflowing store of songs that span the measure of time, from the newer country artistes such Tracy Byrd through Lee Roy Parnell’s arrangement of ‘Working Man Blues’, with more from Merle Haggard in the form of ‘Silver Wings’ and ‘Big City’. Two numbers always standout with Honest Truth, being Pete Naden’s own ‘I Dread The Night’ and the lovely ballad ‘Nobody Knows But Me’, showing off the intensity of Pete’s powerful and expressive vocals. The band have been busy with an 11 day tour and Peter told me that they are working on a few changes for their performance, plus recording a new album, which hopefully will be released very soon. Honest Truth offered a brew at Rustlers that was rich warm and inviting, creating an atmosphere of excitement that was routine throughout the entire club scene just a handful of years ago, but sadly seems to be lacking more lately.

The Bradford based four-piece, Trick Rider have been gaining popularity since they came on the local scene just a few months go. All four guys are easily recognised by country fans…Chris Raddings, vocals/rhythm guitar was half of Raddings & Moore, Duncan Moore bass/vocals (not part of the afore mentioned duo) was with Stroller for many years, but both of them go back 6-7 years to the band Nevada. Alan Best lead guitar/vocals and Eddie Guy drums will be remembered for their time with Moonlight Rodeo. A very experienced band who has worked the British country scene for many years, they have a positive and professional attitude on stage, capable, up to the mark and will give complete satisfaction in any style of club setting. Making their second visit to Hobo’s Retreat, opened with their signature tune Trick Rider, taken from McBride & The Rides album of the same name. These lads take their repertoire from a varied modern style of country music with numbers such as ‘Straight Tequila Over Mixed Emotions’, and ‘Hello Cruel World’ which George Duccas had a hit with around 5-7 years ago. From somewhat more recent artistes, they include Garry Allan’s ‘sensational ‘Smoke Rings In The Dark’ and Lonestar’s ‘Come Cryin’ To Me’. Though Chris takes the lions’ share of vocals both Alan and Duncan take over lead vocals on the occasion with Alan offering a super version of John Gorka’s ‘Big Noise’ and Duncan making a good attempt of his Chris Norman impersonation with Smokie’s  ‘Shallow Water’ and ‘If You Think You Know How To Love Me’, which made #2 on the British charts in July 1975. With a well-rounded performance Hobo’s Retreat still wanted more; with the band encoring with a rock edged arrangement of Hank Snr’s ‘Hey Good Lookin’, bringing great appreciation from the audience…cracking stuff!

I called at Chew Valley CMC in October. The club was started in 1994 at Boarshurst Brass Band Club in Greenfield, near Oldham by Keith Thompson and the band clubs secretary Mike Payne. I haven’t been able to get there for the past few months and on arriving Keith sadly informed me that Mike had passed away just a week earlier. Mike was both band and club secretary and was usually found on the door greeting visitors to the club with a great welcoming grin. He had been suffering from colon cancer since about Easter 2001, but unfortunately he also contracted bone cancer. For over 25 years Mike has worked hard to keep the band club running and spent a great deal of his time along with his wife Janet maintaining the venue and keeping everything running smoothly. Keith said that Mike had a lovely turnout to see him on his final journey, with the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band playing at the funeral. Our condolences go out to Janet and the family. Mike Payne will be greatly missed. In the New Year Chew Valley CMC will be holding a charity event in aid of “prostrate cancer”, a charity that Mike would have wholly supported. Further details to be published.

Borderline, a duo from Southport were on stage at Chew Valley CMC, with Colin taking vocals and a little rhythm guitar with Les playing electric and acoustic guitars. Easy listening material included a few of the popular dance numbers such as the Maverick’s ‘All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down’, ‘Black Coffee’ and ‘Billy Be Bad’. Running the full gamut, Borderline mixed in a couple of train songs, ‘City of New Orleans’, ‘The Wreck Of The Old 97’ and the cowboy song ‘Ghost Riders In The Sky’. Turning off the backing tracks, Borderline gave a nice short acoustic set with just the acoustic guitar and later included a very competent version of Travis Tritt’s ‘T.R.O.U.B.L.E’.  It was quite evident that these lads are very skilled on stage and they offered an entertaining evening’s performance.


Welcome CMC, Celebrating It’s Silver Anniversary

From Pat Hayes

“The Welcome Country Music Club” was launched way back in 1976 when ‘The Hillsiders’ entertained a capacity audience at the Greyhound Hotel on the East Lancashire Road at Leigh. Prior to moving to it’s present home at Leigh Harriers Athletic Club, Charles Street, Leigh; the Club was hosted in four previous venues.

This oasis of ‘listening clubs’ is proud to be alive and kicking 25 years on, where members and friends alike have continued throughout, to enjoy the very best in ‘Live’ Country Music. However since April 2000 the Club now continues to meet on a fortnightly basis, which usually falls on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month.

“The Welcome” can boast presenting guest appearances by some of the greatest names on the British country music scene. We are very proud to state that the singer/songwriter CHARLIE LANDSBOROUGH made his debut appearance here before going on to entertain at other country music venues. He continued to woo our audiences here on many, many occasions thereafter, before his meteoric rise to fame and super star status; a crown which he now most deservedly enjoys. Also the legendary RAYMOND FROGGATT and his Band has appeared at our Club on a couple of occasions and indeed entertained us on our 10th Anniversary Show way back in August 1986. Yes, we have had the best and continue to book the best!

Appearances by a vast number of artistes, too numerous to mention continue to delight audiences at “The Welcome” and we extend our sincerest thanks and gratitude to all.

The necessary organisation of the many fund raising events such as Jumble Sales, Car Boot Sales, and our Annual Bedding Plant Sale etc, have served not only to finance the Club throughout some very difficult times, but have also nurtured a great fraternity of friends and acquaintances for whom “The Welcome CMC” has become such an important part of so many people’s lives.

We particularly extend our thanks to our friends CLEAR CUT who, in October of last year very kindly organised a Fund Raising Event with guest artiste colleagues on our behalf. The event was a resounding success and the efforts of both Don and Darren together with friends on this occasion will always be fondly remembered.

We recall with great joy the memorable annual pilgrimages we made to the 3-day Easter Country Music Festivals at Wembley and t5o the many other organised trips embarked upon in the course of the past 25 years, (mind you, censorship of this publication could well ensue if I was to digress here on the escapades!) Yes, we intend carrying on with the organised trips, they are a tonic to all of us.

On Friday, 10th August 2001 a Special Anniversary Show is planned to celebrate our Silver Anniversary at Leigh Harries featuring THE BOOMER McLENNAN BAND, a six-piece band on tour from California USA boasting a most enviable line-up.