CAFE JACQUES / WHERE’S GEORGE? / WORK & WEATHER @ DUNGLASS – 24/09/2011

WHERE IS GEORGE?

After turning up a week early to find a deserted marquee, my second attempt was much more successful. There were plenty signs of activity and somebody was even on hand to direct me to a parking space. With the silent form of Torness Nuclear Power Station as a backdrop, we made our way towards the marquee to cover the fund-raising event that had been planned in support of two young men who were preparing to run in the New York Marathon in aid of Great Ormond Street Hospital. This time I was accompanied by Kyle, Oscar and Grant from the station who were due to help out by recording the band sets.

As a venue it certainly struck me that this was going to be different for me, the tables were being set out, candles being lit, and as for the portaloos – no Glastonbury style complaints on that score!

Around three hundred people attended the evening which combined live sets by three bands with a charity auction. As one of my favourite local bands was playing I had brought a portable recorder along and had the great pleasure of interviewing the three members of Where’s George?, ahead of their set. A couple of years back, two of them had been students in one of my graphics classes and I think we all found the new ‘relationship’ to be a bit strange. They were clearly excited and a bit nervous ahead of what looked like being their biggest gig to date. Added to their exhilaration was the fact that their EP had just been listed on i-tunes, and it was Penny’s birthday! I also had a chat with Callum from Work & Weather and established that they had been together for under two years and had played a few gigs in Edinburgh venues, including The Liquid Rooms, and alongside bands such as Jakil and The Dykeenies.

After a slight delay, the live entertainment got under-way as two members of Work & Weather played an instrumental number, whilst waiting for their lead singer to arrive; it was suggested that she was still “doing her hair”, well, ladies are allowed to be fashionably late, aren’t they? Joined by the freshly arrived singer/bass player, and drummer, their second number, ‘Susie & Me’, let the audience hear just what this energetic young band were really capable of. Catherine Thomson’s powerful voice was a pleasure to witness as was the guitar and drum combination provided by the three others, Ryan Aldis (lead guitar/bass/vocals), Callum Sanderson (rhythm guitar/bass) and Andrew Harris (drums). One particular track stood out in my mind, introduced as a new one soon to be available on-line, ‘Still Here’ is definitely something that would encourage me to seek to catch the band live again.

The second band were Where’s George?, three extremely talented and inspirational young ladies, still Sixth Year students at The Berwickshire High School. The fact that it was guitarist Penny Osborne’s birthday just served to add to the special nature of the evening. This wasn’t the first time that I had witnessed Where’s George?, live, and every performance has demonstrated marked improvement. Jade Carnall’s bass, and Millie Stokes drums continue to provide a tight and solid foundation for Penny’s guitar and vocals. They also continue to develop their own distinctive style that pays homage to 1960s and 1970s greats whilst managing to sound fresh and exciting without seeming the least bit dated. As usual a small number of carefully selected covers, mainly from the 60s, added interest to their own compositions which included a number of new songs. They were joined by Millie’s sister Martha on keyboards and delivered a storming interpretation of The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ as their penultimate song.

The major fundraising part of the evening followed when a select number of lots were auctioned, the bidding quickly took off with offers swiftly approaching and even exceeding £1000. Items that went ‘under the hammer’, included an oil painting, a weekend stay at Dunglass House, a signed and framed Liverpool FC shirt, a two day partridge shoot and a two week stay in a luxury villa in Florida. I happened to be sitting right next to one of the bidders for the shoot and found it hard to believe how quickly his bids rose to his eventual winning one of £1080, by all accounts a bargain! A rival bidder was clearly keen to part with his cash and went on to secure the Florida holiday package.

The final band were Café Jacques, a band that originally formed in the mid 1970s; I remember because I was ‘there’, working for Bruce Findlay in his Edinburgh record store at the time he ventured into band management with Cafe Jacques as one of the first he represented. Over the years, the line-up has changed with only one original, Chris Thomson on guitar/vocals, being the sole remaining member. Nevertheless, the four accomplished musicians that took to the stage used their combined experience to entertain the appreciative audience with a varied selection of original Café Jacques’ numbers interspersed with a couple of great covers including ‘Framed’ which seemed particularly apt given the presence of Chris Glen from The Sensational Alex Harvey Band on bass. Stuart Clyde on keyboards and Davey ‘Hoo Haa’ Halley on drums completed the line up. The emotional intro featuring the theme from ‘Braveheart’ was followed up with ‘Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City’. The set contained a good variety, including a touch of ‘prog rock’, and the audience clearly enjoyed every minute as they filled the dance floor.

The final number, a ‘mash-up’ of ‘Midnight Rambler’ and ‘Roadhouse Blues’ was followed up by an encore, ‘Lifeline’. Then Harry and Ryan took charge of the microphone to thank the many people who had helped to make the evening such a success. They were also able to announce that a sum of £7500 had been raised.

I would also like to pay recognition to all who helped put this event on – a great collaborative effort that enabled a substantial sum to be collected for a good cause, whilst also providing a great evening’s entertainment that showcased the promise of two young bands just starting in the music business that complemented the opportunity to experience music that has stood the test of time and can still enthral audiences in the 21st century. Events such as this serve to illustrate the positive results that can be achieved when committed volunteers work together to pool their resources for the greater good. Well done to the many involved.

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