Thursday 2 May 2019 : PAUL DOWNES
Paul Downes is a guitarist, singer and composer. He has appeared on eight albums with bands, three highly acclaimed solo albums and has over 150 session credits. He has toured every concert venue, theatre and festival in Britain, plus many tours in the USA and Europe, as well as appearing in cabaret in the West Indies and newsreading on US radio
Born in Exeter, Paul played classical guitar in his youth performing a solo recital in Westminster Abbey at the age of 16 before taking up folk music From the age of 12, his best friend was Steve Knightley; then at 16, they met Phil Beer. After giving up a promising academic career, he went on the road as half of the folk duo Downes and Beer.
The pair met Bill Zorn, who had just left the Kingston Trio, and formed the Arizona Smoke Revue. When Zorn returned to the states, Downes toured with Pete Seeger before being asked to sit in on the first Joyce Gang gig The Joyce Gang are an Anglo/Irish roots band with whom Downes has recorded five albums. He still plays with the Joyce Gang and as a solo artist, as well as occasional reunions with Phil Beer and Arizona Smoke Revue.
Paul formed a collaboration with Mick Ryan, several of whose songs he had previously recorded. Paul plays guitar for Mick’s folk opera The Navvy’s Wife and they are toured as a duo in 2009.
He is a long-standing supporter of Exeter Rugby Club.
tickets : https://paul-downes-at-vssc-2019.eventbrite.co.uk
Friday 12 July 2019 : FOUR GONE CONFUSION
Details to follow
tickets : https://4-gone-confusion-at-vssc-2019.eventbrite.co.uk
Friday 13 September 2019 : PHIL BEER
Phil is one of the most popular ambassadors for acoustic roots music. A dazzling instrumentalist, he is perhaps best known as a top flight fiddler playing with Show Of Hands and in the all-star line-up, Feast of Fiddles. He also plays slide, Spanish and tenor guitar, mandocello, viola, mandolin and South American cuatro, not to mention his rich vocals.
Born in Exminster, Devon, he started to play fiddle, guitar and mandolin while still at school. He played his first gig at 14 and started working as a duo with Paul Downes in 1974. He was a member of the legendary Arizona Smoke Revue and a key member of Johnny Coppin’s band. His toured with Mike Oldfield and was a member of the feted Albion Band from 1984-1991. Show of Hands became a full-time partnership in the early 90s, a band that has gone on to sell out the Royal Albert Hall three times and who were voted Best Live Act, by the public, at the 2004 Folk Awards.
tickets : https://phil-beer-at-vssc-2019.eventbrite.co.uk
Friday 15 November 2019 : WIZZ JONES
Wizz began his musical career at the age of 17 leading a Country and Skiffle band called “The Wranglers” in his home town of Croydon, Surrey in 1957. He had been inspired to take up the acoustic guitar a year or so before this after hearing such guitar luminaries as Big Bill Broonzy, Rambling Jack Elliot and Muddy Waters playing at a club in London organized by Cyril Davies and Alexis Korner (The Roundhouse in Wardour Street). Having learned most of his blues licks from Long John Baldry and Davy Graham whilst playing in the coffee bars of Soho, Wizz followed the time-honoured trail – busking throughout Europe with many different musicians including at one time a budding young blues-man named Rod Stewart.
On returning to Britain in the early sixties, Wizz formed a blue-grass duo with banjo-picker Pete Stanley, a partnership which was to last for four years during which time Wizz and Pete recorded a single and LP Album for EMI. (Now available on CD with previously un-released bonus tracks on the Rollercoaster label).
Wizz and Pete went their separate ways at the end of 1967 and Wizz returned to solo work collaborating with songwriter Alan Tunbridge (an artist friend from the Soho days) and occasionally with guitarist Peter Berryman. He enjoyed considerable success throughout the 70’s In Europe and Scandinavia both as a touring soloist and together with his wife Sandy in the group “Lazy Farmer” (the group’s album due to be released on CD autumn 2005).
However back in England and several albums later – in spite of being often mentioned as an important early influence by artists such as Eric Clapton, John Renbourn and Ralph McTell, Wizz retained a certain “musician’s musician” reputation, only occasionally playing club gigs and the odd festival spot sometimes with son Simeon on Sax, Harmonica and Flute. (As Billy Connolly says in the “Acoustic Routes” TV Documentary on Bert Jansch – “My friend Wizz has had a somewhat wispy career – now you see him now you don’t!”)
It was possibly as a result of Wizz’s appearance in this film and the re-issue of some of his long-lost classics during the 90’s that Wizz began to enjoy a bit of a come-back!
More recordings followed notably on the U.S. based Scenescof label which led to Wizz’s first trip to America (see review “Wizz Jones – 1st show in U.S.) and later on an appearance in the documentary film “The Ballad Of Rambling Jack Elliot”.
Wizz celebrated his 65th birthday on April 23rd 2004 in London, together with Simeon and guest musicians at The Half Moon Putney and 2006 saw the release of a new DVD featuring Wizz and Simeon playing and talking to Martin Carthy.
More than a decade on and now hurtling towards the age of 80 Wizz continues to plough his singular furrow leaving a trail of gigs and recordings behind him as he goes!
After touring with the late great John Renbourn a duo album on CD and Vynil were produced to much acclaim followed by Wizz’s latest CD “Come What May” which features guitarist Pete Berryman and of course Simeon Jones. Lately Wizz has been re-united with his old busking friend from the Cornwall days Ralph Mctell and tours and recordings have also followed.
This well used quote still rings true in 2018 – ‘With his unique guitar style, an eclectic repertoire and “a right hand worthy of Broonzy” Wizz continues to tour on the acoustic folk and blues circuit’.
Oh yes I nearly forgot, a surprise performance of Wizz’s 1972 song “When I Leave Berlin” by Bruce Springsteen in Berlin in 2012.
“Wizz seems to inspire a certain pleasantly ramshackle element in a gig no matter who he is appearing with. Serious – in the sense of well-played and sung but still with some room for fun!”
June 26th 2018
tickets : https://wizz-jones-at-vssc-2019.eventbrite.co.uk
Tuesday 21 January 2020 : THE BULLY WEE BAND
Since their reformation in 2004, the Bully Wee Band have proved that they are still a force to be reckoned with as one of Britain’s foremost exponents of acoustic folk/rock music.
Originally formed in the early 70s by brothers Jim and John Yardley, the Bully Wee Band successfully toured Britain, Europe and America through several line-ups until the last one of Ian Cutler, Fergus Feely, Colin Reece and Maartin Allcock finally called it a day in 1983.
20 years later a chance meeting between Messrs Cutler, Feely and Reece resulted in a very spirited jam session at Faversham Folk Club in Kent, and a subsequent decision to put a three piece Bully Wee Band back on the road in January 2004 “if only for the craic”.
So successful was the 2004 tour that Colin, Ian and Fergus decided to repeat the experience the following January, only this time with the addition of Bully Wee founder member Jim Yardley. Thus the current line-up of Ian Cutler, Fergus Feely, Colin Reece and Jim Yardley was complete and reunited.
tickets : https://bully-wee-band-at-vssc-2020.eventbrite.co.uk
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