Monday, 1 April 2013


What Ho you Brummies,

So here we are again for the annual pilgrimage across the seas to see what's going on with some of our old Brumbeat band of brothers who quit these shores for adventures new.  Those are, the ones I'm in touch with.  I'm sure there are other muso Brummies Abroad in that category who aren't in contact with me so it would be nice to know how they're "gooin' on" too.  

The Brumbeats were one of Brums good bands during their day, fuelled by some canny name changing that got them more attention, and that was really what it was all about then, rolling with the changes and getting the gigs.

Wafting breezes, beautiful sun, sea and palm trees.   It sounds just so idyllic
so there's no reason to ask former Brumbeats vocalist Graham Ashford just why he chose those shores to move to.   Graham is still active in the music world and regularly performs with his band or solo at many events across the State.  He was a recent guest on Radio KKCR Hawaii when he talked for 2 hours about Birmingham, it's bands of the 60's, the Beatles etc....- and the station played 8 of his own ,more recent songs.  Graham was pleasantly surprised to find that during the show they received lots of calls about Birmingham bands from all over the US.

Graham is also the vocalist with the Hawaiian group 'Pono Kane' who play regularly at the Tahiti Nui which is a bar featured
(At the Nui)
in the George Clooney Film The Descendants.

As if that weren't enough, Graham is an accomplished artist and when not in his musical guise he hones his artistic skills with Hawaiian scenes and landscapes

(copyright Graham Ashford)
Lee Stevens and The Satelites were a good rockin' band who packed em in at all the usual places like The Carlton but Norm aka Lee Stevens legged it to Toronto, Canada to seek his fortune.  Norm is retired and celebrated his 73rd Birthday last month....... these days gets his kicks on the golf course and also puts himself through the mental torment of following the ups and downs of the  'Mighty Villa'. Though Norm isn't singing now he managed to dig out a great photo of himself in the early 60's when he was a part of the Brumbeat scene for us to see,... Norm....
(Lee Stevens copyright Norm Crandles)

"This was taken at Nechells and the discerning buyer will note the Victorian brickwork with it's original window frames and delicate paving, leading onto a full lawned garden with decorative pathways and symmetrical line posts, strategically positioned to frame the trees and adjacent properties.  The perambulator is an avant garde planter with a touch of whimsy.  The large garden gnome, centre stage is not included in the sale price".  

Yeah Norm, it's great to see his Brummie sense of humour remains and this is a really nice photo, evokes some distant clothing memories for me too.   

California is the home of Walsall's ace organist Bill Bonham

Bill sent me some nice photos of his recent visit to the NAMM Show where he got to hook up with some old friends from both the world of music and Film audio too,
(Bill and buddies at NAMM)
including Alicia Previn, daughter of Andre Previn with whom he jammed later on in the day.

Now you would have thought it was day in Tipton for example because of all the people that were there, Bill got a nice surprise when he bumped into ex Finders Keepers, Deep Purple bassist and singer Glen Hughes.  It's a far cry from Saturday night at The Woolpack.

(Bill and Glen Hughes)
"We hadn't seen each other for years and it was great to have bumped into him again".  

When Bill joined The Cheetahs they changed their name to Fairfield Sky, and also changed their image by glamming it up a tad!

The interesting news about FAIRFIELD SKY is that the songs they had recorded are about to be issued on a CD in Europe in June of this year and seemingly they are compiling material for another release later in the year.    Fairfield Sky are pictured here, Bill Bonham,Nigel Wright on Guitar,Matt Bridger on Bass and Dave Hynds on drums.

Here is a link to two acetate tracks that will form part of the upcoming release.
Very trippy and great hammond organ sounds


Over to Europe now for an update on Will or Willie Hammond, The Uglys.
I don't really need to say much about The Uglys, a band that has always been
talked about.  

(Will Hammond in action copyright Amparo)
Having taken to the backwaters of Spain for the quiet life, it was only a matter of time before Uglys guitarist Will Hammond found himself lured back on stage bashing out R&B far away from the madness of the coastal resorts.   "There's a kind of California feel to this part of Spain, with loads of artists and musicians of great quality".  

Will too has been conducting interviews and playing live sets on the Radio as well as performing a workshop on songwriting at The School of Performing Arts and a blues masterclass at a Museum of Culture which attracted almost 200 guitarists along with his live gig commitments.   "There is a really cool place in the country called La Huerta Sonora
(Gene Garcia,bassist Alvaro Carazo, drums Luis Carlos Gamez, Will Hammond copyright Paco Gamez))
(The Sound Garden) it's a recording studio and a place where artists and musicians congregate every full moon to play music or stage events and I was an honoured 'invitee' along with three other excellent Spanish Blues and R&B musicians, Gene Garcia who is a mean harp player and vocalist and the great 
Alvaro Carazo who is a phenomenal bassist, he growls along!"  
"I'm just loving playing good music with
my own band too who are really up for it, the live gigs are full of energy, and the fantastic audiences too, of all ages,I don't really like to compare it with the old days, but it's not far off.

Willie sent me a clip of his band in action at a gig in Merida, Spain.

THE UGLY'SWhilst on the subject of The Ugs I have to say that there are more search engine hits for The Uglys than any other Birmingham band on Bulls Head Bob either personality wise or Uglys records.  

It is also an interesting fact that, there are more musicians still playing live today, like Will Hammond, who were a part of The Uglys than any other Brumbeat era band.  Just thought it worth a mention.

All of the above musicians Played at:

Well it burned down last week and in a way it's probably the best thing that has happened to it, it never looked right as a Pawn shop, and it's importance for Brummie musicians has been diluted by solely being referred to as as a place where The Beatles played, with all those wonderful Brummie players and bands practically ignored.  A sad end to a fantastic place where the younger generation of musicians from the West Midlands but particularly Brummies learned their musical trade and we got to see some incredible acts there, not just the more famous faces either.  

We recently said goodbye to Alvin Lee, guitarist for Ten Years After, Alvin Lee was not a Brummie but another Brummie, John Byrne, wrote to me with his memories of seeing this great guitarist at The Bulls Head on the Coventry Road.

"I first saw Ten Years After at Mothers, Erdington and was amazed how good Alvin was, even tapping out tunes on the guitar with a drumstick.  Later on the band did a gig at The Bulls Head, Coventry Road supported by none other than a band called Earth, later known as Black Sabbath.  It was at this gig I'm sure that turned the fortunes of Sabbath.  I saw Alvin 'Heads Down' with the lads from Brum and not long after this gig, a name change and more optimism saw Sabbath improve and we all know the rest of that story.  Let's not forget Alvin's Woodstock fame either.  RIP Alvin Lee".

John Woodhouse has written a nice article on Denny Laine, go to the Pie Stand page for more details.

and Finally...

There's been a whole lot of people die last month who formed a part of the world we grew up and lived in on a daily basis.  "Ain't it Funny, how time slips away......."

Tut tut Anon.


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