Monday, January 28, 2008

Rockin' at the TV Hop

The second Tales From the Woods tribute to British skiffle and rock and roll of the 1950s and early 60s - Rockin' at the TV Hop - featured a host of half-forgotten names from the period and attracted a good sized crowd to the 100 Club. But it was an American visitor who stole the show. Margaret Lewis from Shreveport, Louisiana, writer of country soul classics such as Reconsider me and I almost called your name, and reviver of the famous Louisiana Hayride, performed three numbers and went down a storm. Kicking off with Shake a leg, a rockabilly number she said she had almost forgotten, she then went on to perform her own Reconsider me (a song I love by Johnny Adams) quite brilliantly, before finishing with a lively version of Midnight Special.
For me it was the evening's highlight, but there was plenty more to enjoy, including several venerable UK acts who were not on the first 2 Is show last year, plus several who were. The Vipers (pictured)were above average skiffle at the time and proved that they can still get it together. So too did The Checkmates (minus Emile Ford - who I was told lives at Elephant and Castle and thinks he's in Barbados) who brought back memories of 1960 with What do you want to make those eyes at me for and Slow boat to China. With stand in performances from ex-Shadow Brian 'Licorish' Locking, Clem Cattini from the Tornados and Big Jim Sullivan, supplementing the TFTW house band at times, it was an impressive line-up. A faultless version of Apache brought a lump to the throat. As for the rest, Earl Sheridan (pictured) of Matchbox fame looked moody, Dave Sampson did his somewhat limited best, Jay Chance was lively and regulars such as Danny Rivers, Wee Willie Harris and Rockin' Jerry did their usual stuff. I missed Terry Dene this time around.

Someone remarked that Tales From The Woods promotions came of age with this show and he or she may be right. Certainly the audience enjoyed it and there seems to be an appetite for this kind of rather naff nostalgia. If the evening peaked too early with Margaret Lewis's performance it was a whole lot better than not peaking at all. Well done to Keith for putting it on.


At 8:03 am , Anonymous Bunter said...

When I mentioned to Ken in a previous e-mail that TFTW Productions had "come of age" (yes, it was me folks!) I still had a fair amount of adrenalin & post-gig excitement left in me. I'm not sure if "come of age" would be the right term to apply, but what I was trying to say is that the show sent out a clear message to the Doubting Thomases that TFTW Productions can put on a show, & a great one at that. True, maybe a few acts less will make it perfect, but I'm sure Keith will take that on board for the 2009 event (& there may well be one). Sure, British rockers could never begin to compare with the real American deal, but I'll bet that these guys gave the performances of their lives at the 100, with or without us (Dave Sampson impressed mightily, & the backing from Big Jim, John Hills, Licorice Locking & Clem Cattini was as solid as can be). Even Terry Dene, whom the Houseband were asked to back as Jim & Licorice had to leave early & Clem was a bit knackered, gave a show to remember (I'll not forget it for sometime to come), the Houseband really punched out the sound on things like "Pretty Little Pearly" & "C'Min & Be Loved", & Terry was bopping up & down the stage, smiling & laughing, far more animated than on his previous 100 Club gig. Great stuff. I have to say that to back Margaret Lewis though, was truly an honour; great voice, great songwriting talent. great person. How it started was that once Margaret was officially added to the bill, Ken gave Maggie & husband Alton my home phone number, they then called me to suggest songs to do for the spot. Dickie Tapp rightly recommended "Reconsider Me", I recommended "Shake A Leg" in view of its popularity with the rockers (plus Marcia Ball recorded a version of it for Rounder in the '90's, I believe), & Maggie herself chose "Midnight Special" reflecting her love for the music of Leadbelly. The band had luckily nailed the backing for "Reconsider Me" & "Shake A Leg", but it was very much go-for-it with "Midnight Special". Maggie summoned me to the corner before we went on, & gave a quick rundown of the arrangement, & the key, I gave this info to the guys in the band, & hoped for the best. It sounded great to me onstage, & must've sounded alright out there! Maggie & Alton gave me a copy of her 1998 CD on, I assume, the reactivated Ram label, entitled "But I Know What I LIke", & it's a good collection, practically all (then) new songs, plus a revisit of "Reconsider Me" that interestingly utilises the Johnny Adams arrangement. Great vocal though, & the same applies to the other sixteen tracks. I look forward to seeing them in late April, & apparently Dale Hawkins will be in N'Awlins at about the same time; could there be an onstage reunion at the Ponderosa Stomp we wonder?


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