This Is Ska

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Last year, I managed to persuade Arthur Kitchener to come out of his Ska retirement and perform with Kent-based band Skatacus, as part of the House of Ska event I had organised. It was a highlight of my gigging year, as I watched the Balham boy sing “Limehouse Lady”, a track he first recorded as Arthur Kay & The Originals.

I’m pleased to say that since then the “unsung hero of Ska” has been busy recording in Germany, and with a number of live performances, including the London Ska Festival in March. He has also recently announced a ‘Mark The Mods Ska & Soul Night’ on 2nd September. With live music from Arthur Kay & The Originals and Toot ‘N’ Skamen, the event also features a Northern Soul DJ set, as well as a few other treats which I’m not at liberty to divulge (yet!).

All proceeds will be donated to Pilgrims Hospices, and with tickets at just £10.00 it looks set to sell out quickly. Tickets are available online or from the local outlets shown below.

I look forward to seeing you there…

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All Will Be Revealed…

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The past two weeks have been busy for me. As the publication date of ‘Your Eighties’ draws ever closer, I have found myself juggling a number of tasks with non-negotiable deadlines. Yesterday, all that time spent tweaking text, stressing over outcomes, and generally having a nervous breakdown every other day were blown into oblivion when I received my proof copy. Like the pain of childbirth disappearing as soon as a mother holds her baby, the hours I spent locked away from the outside world, in a blur of words, swearing under my breath (and more often out loud), faded to a distant memory as I held the fruits of my labour in my hands.

This Sunday (8th November), you will be able to see one of the reasons why I was so excited, when the book’s cover is revealed. ‘Your Eighties‘ will also be available for pre-order from Sunday, prior to its publication on Saturday 28th November. I eagerly await publication day as it is also when my book launch party will be held. With live music from Kent-based Ska band Skatacus, and an 80’s disco with none other than Erkan Mustafa (Grange Hill’s Roland Browning) on the decks, it promises to be a fantastic evening. It will also give me the chance to meet Natalie Owen, the talented designer of the book’s cover, and to catch up with neglected friends and family, who have commented on more than one occasion that they “need an appointment just to speak” to me!

One enjoyable aspect of my hectic schedule this week has been my interview with the Write Romantics. Last year, I contributed a short story to their anthology of Winter Fiction, published to raise funds for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust and Teenage Cancer Trust. This week, the Write Romantics invited me to talk about ‘Your Eighties’, and they are due to publish the interview on their blog this Saturday (7th November). They have the ability to tease out previously unrevealed disclosures from me, so I will be reading it with some trepidation! Let me know your thoughts…

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P.S. The Kindle version of ‘My Eighties’ is currently FREE on Amazon until ‘Your Eighties’ cover reveal on Sunday.

Saturday’s House of Ska

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It’s been a while since my last post, as a hectic schedule left me little time to think, let alone write. Last Saturday saw the culmination of ten months of planning, organising and generally hounding people, when Skatacus and Complete Madness took to the stage for The House of Ska.

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Arthur Kay came out of his Ska retirement, to join Skatacus on stage for a fantastic performance of “Limehouse Lady”, followed by a number of other tracks, including “007 – Shanty Town” and “Woolly Bully”.

The  evening was set against the beautiful and quirky backdrop of ecclesiastical architecture, courtesy of St. Mary’s church in Ashford, Kent, giving an incredible atmosphere to the event. Those who came to the gig will be pleased to hear that we’re planning on doing it all again next year. For those who didn’t make it, here’s a taste of what you missed…

Welcome To The House Of Ska…

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Nearly a year ago, I wrote about my newly-found regard for tribute acts, inspired by a Complete Madness gig. Since then, I have seen the Yorkshire-based Madness tribute band play a few times, and with each performance has come an elevated appreciation of their talents. Having seen a number of other tribute acts during the past year, including an unlikely looking One Direction (more like Wrong Direction!), and an Olly Murs who reappeared later in the show as Bruno Mars, I still believe that Complete Madness are one of the highest calibre tribute acts you will encounter.

Comprising of founding members Mark Keegan (lead vocals) and Derek Wood (guitar), alongside Dave Potter (keyboards), Jeff Thompson (drums), and relative new boy, Tom Regan (saxophone), one of thOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAe main reasons they achieve such a high standard is that the band emulate rather than imitate, ensuring that each show is indeed a tribute to the original Nutty Boys. Where it is not uncommon for some tribute artists to sing along to a digitally-enhanced backing track, usually whilst performing a dodgy dance routine, Complete Madness are musicians who play live. As for dodgy dance routines? The only dodgy thing you’ll find when they are on stage is Derek’s knee!

With this in mind, you can imagine my excitement when they agreed to perform at my House of Ska evening (see below for details) on 9th May, in Ashford, Kent. Maintaining the high quality of music throughout the evening, Complete Madness will be supported by my favourite local band, Skatacus. Based in Kent, they are a seven piece band which plays a broad mix of covers, from traditional Ska numbers through to popular Two-Tone classics. They also perform their own original material, such as “Ska Wars” and “Let’s Skank”, written by guitarist, Neil Hughes. Led by Mark Chappell (drums/vocals), the band also features Paul Friend (keyboards), Justin Homewood (bass), and a powerful brass section, in the form of Delia Hazrati (saxophone), Jon Hone (trumpet) and Alex Oliver (trombone). If that’s not enough to make you want to channel your inner rude boy or girl, there is also a strong possibility that a special guest or two may make an appearance!

Located in the centre of Ashford, Revelation St. Mary’s is an10003927_755288591157691_454993643_n functioning church, which has also operated as a music and arts venue since 2011. Playing host to a wide variety of artists, from The Orb (pictured) to Courtney Pine, Toploader to The Lightning Seeds, Revelation St. Mary’s offers not only a unique quirkiness but, with nearby parking (free after 6pm), and Ashford International Station a short walk away, it is ideally situated too.

Tickets are on sale now, available online or from the outlets shown below. We look forward to seeing you there!

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