After 20 years…
The Musician is a venue that has played a key part in my journey over the years and it was a huge pleasure to be back there again on 2nd February 2020 to support its 20th-anniversary celebrations.
The Musician at 20
Sunday 2nd February 2020
Trevor Locke at the twentieth birthday celebration
The Musician is one of the city’s celebrated permanent live music venues. It opened in the year 2000. Previously, the building had housed the Baker’s Arms, a pub that occasionally hosted nights of live music for the entertainment of its existing customers. Over the years, the venue has seen many great artists and has played host to many important music events. It was fitting, therefore, that the line-up for tonight included some of Leicester’s most prestigious music acts.
Kevin Hewick, Steve Cartwright, Steve Parker, Kenny Wilson, Ali Sperry (USA), Tony Alles, Sally Hossack’s dream band, The Ruby Doos, Andy Griffiths & Andy Wales, Dawson Smith & The Dissenters. The night also raised money for Hope Against Cancer, local homeless charities and Rainbows.
All the way from the USA, Ali Sperry was on her first tour of the UK. So, performing at the Musician for the first time was an engaging singer from Nashville who captivated us with her own songs and delightful personality.
Tony Alles started playing at this venue shortly after it opened, he told me. He’s been coming back ever since. Many other of tonight’s musicians have been performing here over the years. Alles is one of the city’s most celebrated blues musicians. Tonight, he shows what he could do with a selection of jazz and blues numbers. It was a magnificent set.
Another artist I have known for a very long time is Sally Hossack. Her trio gave us a delightful and dreamy selection of tunes full of atmosphere and resonance.
I have attended many gigs at The Musician and I jotted down a few of those that I could remember. Not least, the finals of the Original Bands Showcase. Always a significant part of the musical calendar, in those days. I remember seeing the singer Siobhan Mazzei performing a solo set there. It was one of the most astonishing performances I have ever seen. I put on a couple of gigs there including one headed by a band called Leaving Party. That was my ‘flash’ gig, put together over two days but which resulted in a sell-out audience. On yes, and that night when the Heroes played with Formal Warning and a fight broke out. The night when Skam and Hell’s addiction shared a line-up. Many others. Many, many others.
When Darren Nockles too over the venue, in the year 2000, it was small than it now is. They enlarged it, extending the room to its present size.
Griffiths and Wales. Two accomplished musicians delivered a set infused with marvellous riffs and melodies. Impressive instrumentals. Fine vocals. Lashings of atmosphere. Lyrics full of poetic images.
Dawson Smith. Another of Leicester’s musical legends. Still going strong. On stage tonight with his Dissenters, I recalled his previous gig where he played a set of songs from the protests of history. Dawson has appeared, over the years, with a number of ensembles including the Dawson Brothers. He makes rock and roll come alive.
What a fantastic evening. Meeting many people who I had not seen for years, catching up with old friends, I was so glad that I had taken the trouble to be there. It was a gig that spoke of Leicester’s impressive musical heritage.
Jazz features in my musical tastes and it was to Regent Jazz that I headed for one of their events of Gypsy Jazz. On 28th January, I saw a performance by Swing Gitan playing songs from the legendary Django Reinhardt.
My first gig of 2020 took place at the O2 Academy. A one-day event, called Together, for which there is a full write-up.
‘It’s been a while…’
Oddly enough, the O2 Academy is the one venue I have been to this year above all others. Thus it was for me a special treat to see Demons of Ruby Mae at The Shed. I went to this venue for the very first time in 2002. For many years, it was the only venue I went on on an almost daily basis. Saturday 23rd November was, for me, an absolute pleasure. Jonny Gavin‘s band is one that I have followed since it started. He is a singer for whom I have the very highest regard. So many great, happy memories come back to me of Jonny work’s over the years, not just in Leicester, but also in Birmingham and other parts of the country. A previous band of his, that has made its mark on Leicester’s musical history, is one that Jonny hates me mentioning its name, but, in my forthcoming series on music history, it will be a name I will not be able to avoid.
Demons of Ruby Mae is a music act without parallel in the annals of our city’s musical past and remains so today. Tonight’s performance was breathtaking. It was also unusual because I did not write notes, as I usually do, believing that I would remember every second of it and would be able to remember all that needed to be said about. I did, however, take a couple of photos on my phone:
These reminded of the impression of Gavin on stage and his quite extraordinary singing voice. A voice that he nearly lost when he developed a problem with his vocal cords similar to that of Sir Elton John. Gavin fought his way back from that and has gone on to thrill and delight thousands of fans with his marvellous singing.
and Kevin Gaughan took some too on a proper camera:
Kevin has been taking photographs of gigs for years; many, many years. There was a time, long ago, when he used to write reviews but has abandoned this in recent times.
One other act that caught my attention, that night, was the singer Judith Ude. Blessed with a wonderful voice, her set was musically very unusual, blending hip-hop colours with vocal looping. At one point she appeared on stage with an illuminated Celtic harp. The Midland-based singer started her career in Manchester and has enjoyed quite a successful career since then.
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Last edited: 20/2/2020