an instrumental odyssey by George Geddes
It was always going to be a rather different Convention this year. The customary venue, the International Students House near Regents Park, was undergoing refurbishment, and both sets of organisers were reluctant to commit themselves to using it in case the promised completion date for the work was not achieved. (Ed’s note: It wasn’t.) The Duane Eddy Circle opted to hold their event south of the Thames at the Oval, and for a time it looked as if Pipeliners might join them there, but Dave and Alan decided that the risk of repeating last year’s visit from the local Environmental Health Officer over noise levels was too great. So it was that we gathered this year at the famous Conway Hall in Bloomsbury.
Although the lack of a suitable venue meant no Saturday night pre-Convention glass of orange juice, there was an informal gathering at the Bonnington Hotel, attended by the Scandinavian contingent and sundry other Pipeliners. The obvious disadvantage of the relocation was that attending both events was not possible, but on the plus side there was an earlier start and an earlier finish for Pipeline, and more time for the changeover between groups.
The Secrets have been a hit at those Saturday night pre-Convention sessions for the last two years. This year, they had the responsibility of getting the Convention itself underway, and they coped with the task ably. With well-known instro fans such as Pipeline co-editor Dave Burke on drums, author and CD compiler extraordinaire Trev Faull behind the keyboards and writer / reviewer Jim Nugent on guitar being joined by Pipeline’s video supremo Ray Liffen (also on guitar) and Pete Walter (bass), this is a band with a good pedigree. However, their set showed that they can also deliver the goods.
It is almost impossible to write about the quintet without using the word “eclectic” to describe a repertoire which ranges from John Barry to the Ventures, via the Shadows, Chris Watts and Bert Weedon. All the tracks they played are featured on their first CD Top Secret. The music is treated with respect but not reverence, and the group do not mind adapting particular tracks to suit themselves. Particularly enjoyable were the finger-busting El Cumbanchero with Jim on Fender Bass VI, Bird Rockers, for which he switched to a Fender XII, and the arrangement of George Martin’s Theme One. Only one original, the Nugent-Walter collaboration Spy Society, but a fine set with a good mixture of the well-known and the not-so-familiar, indicating how varied the world of instrumentals can be.
Hit And Miss / Saturday Night At The Duckpond / Saturday’s Child / Ginchy / Man From Uncle / Spy Society / Secret Agent Man / Custer’s Stand / Tales Of A Raggy Tramline / El Cumbanchero / Bird Rockers / Pipeline / Theme One / Peter Gunn
This year, there was no separate Guitar Room, but once again Tony Hoffman had ably organised a team of Shadsfaxers to provide music in between each act, utilising a “mini-stage”. First up were Tony himself, David Martin and Joey Dee – joined on bass by Hoss Van Hardeveld, of whom more later.
The curtains re-opened on the main stage, as the young Norwegian band began a programme of Shadows influenced music. No strangers to the UK, having played at Shadsfest and been the opening act for Shadowmania in both 1998 and 1999, the group have also played at many other Shadows events through Europe. It was a slightly different line-up, with new rhythm guitarist Ole Reidar Gudmestad joining lead guitarist Svein Arild Tjemsland and the Brekken brothers, Arild and Kjetil, on bass and drums. The Reflections set was based mainly on Shadows material, but in recent years they have been adding to their repertoire. At Pipeline 2001 they included Lennart Clerwall’s Gypsy Woman, the Spotnicks Old Spinning Wheel and an impressive version of Exodus which saw Svein Arild drawing varied tones from his Stratocaster, against changing rhythms from the rest of the band. For the guitar-spotters, Ole swapped his Stratocaster for a Jazzmaster (still red, though!) to give a different rhythm sound on a couple of numbers. With a polished presentation, this foursome get better and better.
The icing on the cake for Shadows fans was a guest appearance by a familiar figure. Just prior to the Convention, it was thought that Arild Brekken would be required for national service in Norway. Who better to take his place than Alan Jones? However, Arild was able to make it to London, but Alan came along in any case, and played bass for Shadoogie, Temptation and Blue Sky, Blue Sea, Blue Me. As always, a consummately professional performance. In addition, both bassists took solos in Nivram and Alan returned to the stage for FBI and the encore Apache.
Shazam / Chattanooga Choo Choo / Brazil / Tonight / In The Mood / Gypsy Woman / Old Spinning Wheel / Lara’s Theme / Shadoogie ’83 / Temptation / Blue Sky, Blue Sea, Blue Me / Nivram / The Rise And Fall Of Flingel Bunt / Exodus / Quartermaster’s Stores / FBI / Apache
Ian McCutcheon took over for the Shadsfaxers, playing along with his latest Shadows Workout CD, which maintains the high standard of its predecessors.
Variety is an essential part of the Convention experience, so the main stage was turned over to The Moontrekkers who were paying a return visit to Pipeline. This was a slightly different line-up from the one I had seen at the 3rd Convention in 1995. Joining Peter Knight on keyboards and Steve Trounce, who had switched from rhythm guitar to bass, were Paul Mitchell on lead guitar and Max Knight, drummer with one of the later incarnations of the original band. As the set-list shows, their own singles were interspersed with classic instrumentals. Peter commented that, having heard a beautiful version of Exodus from the Reflections, we were about to hear an ugly one! It wasn’t ugly, though, just different, since it featured keyboards rather than guitar. This was the first time I had seen Diamonds played on a four-string bass – though probably that could only be done on a Rickenbacker with its characteristic trebly sound. Several numbers featured Peter Knight playing the clavioline – a highly temperamental instrument – actually used on the original version of Telstar. A little bit of history, and a link with the golden days of rock instrumental.
Nut Rocker / Peter Gunn / Battle Hymn / Red River Rock / Rebel Rouser / Exodus / Sleepwalk / Telstar / Drums Are My Beat / Bogey Man / Diamonds / Night Of The Vampire / Green Onions
The Shadsfaxers maintained the high standard of their contributions while we waited for the next band, and a return to Shadows-influenced sounds on the main stage.
The UB Hank Guitar Club Band
The UB Hank Guitar Club Band have only existed for just over a year, but their fine performances at Shadows fan events throughout Europe had been noted by the Convention organisers, and this, their first British appearance, was eagerly anticipated. Opening with Main Theme – one of their signature numbers – the five-piece line-up gave a slick professional performance, with the music punctuated by Radio Luxembourg jingles and advertisements which brought knowing nods from those of a certain age.
The UBHGCB line up as Martin de Liefde and Gerard Burgerhout on lead guitar, Walther Veenstra on rhythm guitar and keyboards, Hoss van Hardeveld on bass and Henk Doove Jr on drums. Gerard, Walther and Henk were all members of The Fellows, and Hoss is a veteran of FBI, Black Albinos and, like Walther, the (Dutch) Dakotas. Although the quintet’s repertoire is based on the music of the Shadows, they have worked hard in the choice of numbers and the arrangements to ensure constant variety and maintain interest for the listener. Hoss and Henk provide a firm foundation for the music, but the group’s strength is in having two lead guitars. Martin and Gerard can add greater depth to familiar numbers, harmonising or contributing counter-melodies, then adopting traditional lead and rhythm roles if Walther moves from rhythm guitar to keyboards. It would be difficult to select highlights, but we got Walther’s James Bond impression preceding a cracking Goldfinger, a great Slaughter… with Gerard on acoustic and Martin on electric, and Gonzales which hit like a musical sledgehammer. Neglected tracks such as Fandango, Tennessee Waltz and The Flyder And The Spy help to make the band stand out from the crowd. Bruce Welch has been sufficiently impressed by the band to book them for Shadowmania 2001, along with The Reflections, and he knows a thing or two about Shadows music!
UB Hank Guitar Club Band
Main Theme / Wonderful Land / Goldfinger / Somewhere / Another Night / Slaughter On 10th Avenue / Some Are Lonely / Fandango / Atlantis / With A Hmm-Hmm On My Knee / Tennessee Waltz / The Drum Number / Saturday Night At The Duckpond / Gonzales / Flyder And The Spy
More from the Shadsfaxers, with Joey Dee playing tracks from his excellent new CD, before Alan Taylor provided the answers to the Golden Anorak quiz. In some ways, your intrepid scribe was quite relieved not to be one of the prize-winners, though I continue to be slightly disturbed by the amount of trivia that I do know! The last band of the 2001 Convention had some hard acts to follow, but again, this was a band with a pedigree.
The Invaders from Sweden had Kurt Froberg and Tom “Rocker” Olsson alternating lead and rhythm duties on Strats, P O Alm behind his Ludwig drum kit (making his third Convention appearance with as many bands!) and stand-in Ejje Pettersson from The Ryders toting a Fender Jazz Bass. Kurt looks after the Shadows-style numbers and Tom specialises in Spotnicks and a bit of country picking.
Listening to the band, you do wonder why such a cracking track as Pistoleros could remain virtually unknown for so long. Also nice to hear the Eagles Bristol Express getting an airing; later in the set The Phantoms’ Eldorado was well received too. The band dabbled in the classics for Adagio and rocked up the traditional Vem Kan Sigla with some country picking in the middle. A poignant moment came as The Invaders dedicated their treatment of Golden Earrings to the late Brian Parker who had appeared with The Hunters at the previous Convention. Dakota was based on the Jumping Jewels version, and Ghost Riders was in Spotnicks style.
The Invaders made worthy bill-toppers, with a classy performance and a good balance of well-known and less familiar numbers. Many of the tracks played are on The Invaders’ recent Live CD which is highly recommended. A fitting end to a successful Convention – though the nearby Bonnington once again was the venue for a little post-Convention gathering.
Amapola / Moonshot / Bristol Express / Pistoleros / Adagio / Caravan / Golden Earrings / Ebb Tide / Wildwood Flower / Ven Kan Sigla / Dakota / Big Boy / Pony Express / Last Date / Eldorado / Svansjon / Ghost Riders In The Sky / Walk Don’t Run / Dance On
Once again, sincere thanks to the organisers, all the bands, and to the stall holders – including regulars Bim-Bam, Dave Peckett, Gerry Woodage, Maurice Preece and Leo’s Den – who are only too happy to allow us to stock up on instrumental goodies! There were plenty of opportunities to mingle with like-minded fans, and at various times during the day you could have rubbed shoulders with all of the musicians involved, Bruce Welch, Colin and John of the Rapiers, Luc from the Vickings, Indra from Park Avenue Connection, Roger from Pipeline ’61, Mike “Nero” O’Neill, Alan Holmes from Sounds Inc, Jem Penney from the Surf Rats and former member of The Boys Johnny D’Hondt. Like everybody else, they are fans of the music, and it is worth stating again that Alan, Dave and the others who keep the magazine and the Convention going are volunteers. At one point during the afternoon I glanced at the inscription above the stage: “To thine own self be true”. Quite appropriate really, as folks like Alan, Dave B. and Dave P. have been true to their passion for instrumental music and have helped to ensure its survival. Next year sees the tenth Pipeline Convention so, if you have not made the trip to London at Easter before, why not think about it for 2002?