Rock ‘n’ Roll Heaven In Pattaya

What a fantastic couple of weeks I have enjoyed as far as music is concerned. Firstly, I went to see Helmut and Friends at the wonderful Hemmingways in Jomtien, where the band blew me away, with some amazing cover versions of soul, blues and rock tunes.

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Helmut is a guitar maestro and handles everything from Mark Knopfler to Gary Moore. In fact, the whole band are superb and if you haven’t seen them and you are in the Pattaya area, head along to Hemmingways on a Thursday evening from 20:00 and observe an awesome band in action.

The food in the bar is rather tasty too, I hasten to add.

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However, this post is about a certain Jerry Lee Carlson from Sweden and Håkan Nelson, from the same country. The pair played four gigs in Pattaya and I was fortunate to see two of them.

Initially I ventured out to The Triangle in central Pattaya, where a large crowd gathered to enjoy the show and secondly at New Country Road Bar (NCR) in Rompho, which is located in the Rompho Complex in Jomtien area of the city.

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Many people said the event would never work in Rompho but my friend Martin asked me to promote it for him and I did just that. Firstly with posters and flyers then numerous videos supplied by Sweden’s number one rock ‘n’ roll star, Jerry.

Jerry has played all over the world, including tours of Europe with his legends show, featuring tributes to Elvis, Roy Orbison and of course Jerry Lee Lewis.

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He has recorded a number of albums, appeared on TV and radio and is simply, one of the best entertainers you will ever see.

A lot of planning and preparation went into the NCR event, hours of hard work, hiring equipment, tables, covers in case it rained, food and so much more. Was it worth it?

Damned right it was.

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NCR attracted 102 people seated, plus 16 inside the venue and approximately 40 bystanders, who watched from the sidelines, due to either a lack of seating or they were enjoying the event from another bar.

Jerry kicked off the show as always with thundering rock ‘n’ roll classics from his hero Jerry Lee Lewis. He sang the hits of Elvis, Fats Domino, Hank Williams and even did a rendition of a Robbie Williams hit, just to show his versatility.

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Rock, country, blues and boogie woogie tunes all blasted out from the venue. Håkan Nelson on drums was his usually faultless self ashe followed Jerry’s left hand to keep the tempo going.

People came from other bands to watch the gig. Local media in the form of Pattaya People were present to record video material, which will air shortly. Love Pattaya were represented too and kindly supplied the bar staffs shirts.

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Bar owners came from pubs in Pattaya and Rompho to enjoy a fantastic show.  Many people came to Rompho for the first time and hopefully they will return with other new faces for future events.

Jerry sang “Great Balls Of Fire”, “Whole Lotta Shaking”, “High School Confidential”, Hound Dog”, Bonnie B”, ” Mean Woman Blues”, “Lewis Boogie” and many more classics from the golden era of music.

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If ever there was a man born to entertain, Jerry Carlson is that man. He is a genius on a keyboard/piano and sounds identical to a certain Mr. Lewis, when the legend was in his prime.

He also does a great impression of Andy Kaufman’s fictional character Latka Gravas from the hit US sitcom “Taxi”.

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Jerry also impressed with a version of “Take Me Home Country Roads” with a “NEW” added into the lyrics, just for the bar. He sang ” Blueberry Hill” replacing Blueberry with Phratamnak to give the song a local feel about it. Phratamnak Hill is a popular area in Pattaya with tourists.

Yours truly even acted as compere for the night, introducing Jerry and Håkan. Not something that was planned, I can assure you but it’s amazing what you can be persuaded to do following a few Smirnoff Midnight’s.

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Jerry did three sets and even came back for an encore or two once he had washed the sweat from his face because it was incredible hot on Saturday evening.

Like many others, I felt disappointed when the show came to its conclusion. The guys had entertained us for a couple of hours but I would have happily listened for another two hours.

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I love rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly, especially when it is produced to this standard. But all good things have to come to an end – till next time that is. Jerry and Håkan’s return cannot come fast enough and rumours are rife that they may return as a trio. I hope so!!

Next up NCR have Rock ‘n’ Roll Stephanie, who will feature at Martin’s birthday party. Steph, like me, is Scottish and does a fair bit of hip shakin’ during her act.

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If that event proves successful it will pave the way for further live music events at NCR, which can only help to attract visitors to the area, which in turn will benefit the many other bars and restaurants in the complex.

I happen to know a few great singers and bands in the UK, who if they ever fancied a busman’s holiday to Pattaya, could be catered for.

Ziggi – your audience awaits you 🙂

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Helmut & Friends At Hemmingways

I have visited Hemmingways a few times for food but I have never ventured into the bar/restaurant on a Thursday. This is when they have their live music nights, which features a band known as Helmut and Friends.

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Manager Mark, had previously invited me to come along on a Thursday evening but time had always been an issue for me. However, when assisting with a promotional project for a good friend, who just happened to want to see the group, it was a sealed deal.

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But there was something else to factor into the equation.

Pranom’s mother was visiting from Roi Et and I wanted to take her to a pleasant eating establishment, where I knew the food would be of an exceptional standard and the surroundings would match the quality of the cuisine.

So with these two details taken into consideration, it had to be Hemmingways.

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As always we were greeted by one of their friendly staff as we entered the bar. A smile and a warm welcome are not unusual in Thailand but the employees here are top drawer.

The band had set up but were 30 minutes away from commencing their show. So we took the opportunity to order our food and a drink.

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I have to confess that the staff at Hemmingways are exceptional, as mentioned above.

They look after you from the minute you walk in the door. They all speak very good English, which is a huge bonus, even though I was with two Thai ladies.

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The food as always was tasty and well presented with large portions. The ladies enjoyed a Thai offering from the extensive menu and I went for a burger that was put together following  my instructions.

I was armed with my camera, for I had agreed with the bar that I would take a few images for the venue and the band.

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Having never heard Helmut and Friends play previously, I was keen to perceive what they had to offer. I had listened to mixed reviews but 90% of the people I spoke to, rated them very highly.

They would not disappoint.

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I had a twenty minute chat with Helmut before they commenced playing and discovered that they often performed as a five-piece outfit, fronted by Filipino singer Jovy Del Rosario, who by all accounts is a fantastic vocalist.

Alas, on Thursday, there were playing as a four-piece band and one wondered if it was going to be a second rate show. But they were far from that!

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They began with a number of slow songs, mainly, I would imagine, because people were still enjoying Hemmingways’ cuisine. Songs such as “My Girl” provided light entertainment, whilst the diners enjoyed their food.

The band sprung to life during their second set of the evening with an absolutely brilliant version of George Michael’s “Careless Whisper”, done in their own impeccable style. The vocals on the song from Jayson Camilo were astonishing.

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They continued with well known hits such as “Africa” and “Down Under” and even had the audacity to cover Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summer Time”, which again was flawless.

During many of their songs, the band can be observed sharing jokes and generally having a great time, which often had the audience laughing along with them.

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Helmut is a huge Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits fan and let us see just how good a guitarist he is with a variety of amazing solos.

Anyone who can replicate, Knopfler on “Sultans of Swing” has to be a genius on a guitar and the song suited his vocals to a T, to quote an old idiom.

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This was jaw dropping stuff from Helmut and appreciated by those in the bar.

Then to show us their true versatility, they sang an uptempo version of Dean Martin’s “Volare” and and worked a treat. Vocals being from Jayson once more.

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In their third set they did many rock ‘n’ roll songs from the likes of Chuck Berry before displaying their versatility with Stevie Wonder classics and “Get Down On It” from the disco era. The bass playing on the Kool and the Gang hit from Jeckson Echavez was exceptional.

Drummer Marvin Javier, provided the beat and held the band together as they played hit after hit, from almost every genre of music you can imagine. The keyboard skills from Jayson and lead guitar solos from Helmut, truly are world class.

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Add into the equation, the amount of fun the band have as they play for you, and you really do have a fantastic ensemble for parties, night clubs or any other event you care to name.

Hemmingways have secured Helmut and Friends every Thursday from 20:00 and I would highly recommend, popping along to see them play. The venue is a high class establishment, spacious, air conditioned, free Wi-Fi and offers a huge selection of draught beers, wines and spirits.

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And in between the group’s sets, you can enjoy watching sport on one of their many televisions, strategically placed around the venue. They even have a beer garden, should you care to sit outside.

I would like to give a mention to the staff who work at Hemmingways. Rarely will you meet a nicer group of people, who treat their customers with the utmost respect.

From the minute you enter the premises, to the moment you leave, the crew at Hemmingways ensure you want for nothing.

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If you haven’t been there – it is well worth making the effort, whether it is for live music, excellent food or to view a sporting event on TV, Hemmingways is deserved of a visit.

Helmut and Friends were: Helmut Schachtner on vocals and guitar from Germany, Jayson Camilo, keyboard and vocals, Marvin Javier on Drums, Jeckson Echavez on bass,  all from the Philippines.

Missing was Jovy Del Roasario, whom I will make a point of going to see very soon. When someone tells you that “she will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up”, you have to take notice.

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By the way, the Hemmingways staff are a fun loving bunch too, happy to get involved with the photography.

Thanks to the band and to the management and staff. See you all soon I hope.

 

 

 

 

Brian Thomas And The Power

Anyone who knows me, will be well aware that I have a great love of music, especially live music. When it is done well that is.

Since arriving in Thailand, good music has been lacking in my life. There has been exceptions of course such as the fantastic “Jerry Lee Carlson” from Sweden but generally speaking, there isn’t much on offer here.

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Yes there are some excellent Thai bands but they are usually let down by the vocals and again, I will emphasise, there are exceptions to this rule.

Rules of course are meant to be broken.

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I have heard a couple of groups who impressed. One from Jakarta at the Hard Rock Cafe in Pattaya and another at The Corner House in Jomtien, this time from the Philippines.

But overall I haven’t been overwhelmed by the what has been on offer in Pattaya.

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Yes there are fantastic singers in the city but many rely on backing tracks and for me, this does not constitute live music. The karaoke styled singers are fine for background music or light entertainment but they cannot be taken seriously unless they play “live” with a band and without backing tracks.

Some are actually very good, for again, there are always exceptions to the rule but generally speaking, it has to be live for me.

I will take a moment to say that I know of at least two singers, who could play on any stage. They have the talent for sure but lack ambition or drive to take that vital step. I won’t put names to them, for that would be wrong of me – but I really wish they would take a chance and develop the talents they obviously have.

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I would kill to see certain entertainers here in Pattaya.

Some of the rockabilly or country bands I saw in Scotland or even a few of the many rock bands I took photos of across the UK in the year leading up to my departure from Scotland. I can always dream I suppose.

Busman’s holiday perhaps for singers/groups maybe?

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Anyway, I diversify.

A friend I met at a gig, contacted me and asked me to attend one his shows – I agreed but with trepidation.

Sure I knew he was an excellent drummer for I witnessed his ability when he performed with Jerry Lee Carlson but I knew nothing of the others he was performing with under the banner of “Brian Thomas and the Power”.

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As always I arrived early at the venue, which I knew well. In fact it was one of the first, if not “the” first bar I drank in when I arrived in Pattaya in April 2016.

Back then, every bar was new to me and I was keen to explore but I returned to the Lion Pub frequently in my first three months in Thailand, mainly for food.

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The Lion Pub is a large spacious venue, filled with high tables and stools, numerous TVs,  a couple of pool tables and a stage.

It is an excellent bar that also serves wonderful food and prides itself on its coverage of all sporting events.

If it is on, just ask at the bar and it will appear on one of the many TVs.

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However, I had never attended a music night at the Lion Pub, so not only was the band unknown to me but I didn’t know what to expect from the sound and lighting on the night either.

The latter of course being important to me as I was armed with my Nikon D750.

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The warm up for the band seemed to be prolonged and at times I considered vocalist Brian to be either a perfectionist or somewhat pedantic as he strived for a polished sound before commencing the show,

I guess a bit of both but as I was soon to discover, it was worth the wait.

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The band play a mixture of rock and soul music but they do lean heavily towards soul, even when performing rock classics. Not that they do any songs in their repertoire an injustice. Far from it, in fact.

They have an original feel about their sound that gives a uniqueness to the songs they deliver.

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Brian is an excellent vocalist. Being from New York, there is no requirement for him to put on a fake “American” accent. It comes natural.

He reminded me at times of another American singer, Huey Lewis. I am not sure if he will enjoy that comparison or not. Time will tell 🙂

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Brian is an accomplished guitar player covering both rhythm and lead variations, again with a soul music style about his play.

The bass guitarist Scott, provided the beat along with Håkan on drums and to be honest, when you added in the saxophone played by Noi, the sound was phenomenal, even before any vocals were applied.

It was evident that I was in the company of a proficient set of musicians.

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The band played a variety of well known tunes that had the audience’s feet tapping from the start.

But more was to follow when seventy-three year old John, arrived and gave the evening another dimension and the dance floor a purpose.

John loves to dance, especially to rock ‘n’ roll, which the band duly provided.

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Once John was on the floor, the ladies soon joined him much to the enjoyment of those in attendance.

Back to the band. They covered many famous and well known songs, from Motown and other soul and rock sources. INXS, The Blues Brothers, Chuck Berry, Johnny Otis, Johnny Kid and the Pirates, the Temptations, Rufus Thomas to name but a few of the artists covered by Brian and the the guys.

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The spectators were invited to join in during audience participation slots. Yes the old “na na na na na” permits everyone to take part, irrespective of what language you speak.

Overall, I was impressed by Brian and the Power and would happily venture out to see them again. I would recommend them to anyone who loves live music.

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I am always seeking good music shows, so if you know of any – get in touch. Pattaya only for obvious reasons, unless someone fancies taking me on a musical adventure 🙂

Looking Back On The Things I Did

I have been feeling a bit nostalgic today so I thought I would write something around the pictures I have taken over the years.

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I began my life in photography way back in the days of film with a Praktica camera but alas I have no images from those days. They were tough on the old wallet, as mistakes cost you dearly with processing costs.

I progressed to digital photography with a Sony Mavica around 1998. The camera was shockingly bad, using the old 3.5″ floppy discs to store images on. From there I moved to a Kodak that was a huge improvement as far as image quality was concerned.

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By now I was beginning to enjoy my photography, so I purchased a Panasonic Lumix G1 with a 200mm zoom lens. It used the Micro Four Thirds system, was light and easy to use.

I was asked to do some pictures at football matches shortly after buying the Lumix. The camera was ideal for the task, until the light was poor or it was raining, which was frequent in Scotland. So a new camera was acquired in the form of a Nikon D90, which was soon replaced by the excellent D7000. I used the latter for two years before progressing to a full frame Nikon D600, D610 and finally, at the time of writing a D750. I still own a D610 but it is in Scotland awaiting shipment to Thailand.

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The first image on this post was taken with my Nikon D90 with an 18-200mm zoom lens. I was thrilled with it at the time, despite still learning how to use the camera.

I had worked on various websites as a photographer before being asked to work for the Scottish Womens Football Association. The next image was taken at Aberdeen when the Scottish ladies played host to Cameroon, on a wet and cold, wintry day. There was as much excitement in the large crowd as there was on the field of play.

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Over a period of six years, I covered hundreds, if not thousands of matches for men, women and children’s games before I finally had the opportunity to go into a studio with models.

My inaugural shoot was in Glasgow with brother and sister Tunde and Eno and despite having no knowledge of studio lighting and no assistance from the studio owner, I managed to obtain a number of decent photos. The couple can be seen in photo three.

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I was hooked. I had found an area of photography that I simply had to explore more. I loved working in a studio environment and the truth be told, it is probably the only reason I would consider returning home. I miss taking models into one of the many studios I used but in Thailand, I have yet to discover a setup that compares with what I am accustomed to.

Actually I have yet to find a studio for hire!

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I continued working at football matches but every free moment I had, I would find myself arranging studio shoots with a variety of models, covering diverse themes from Marilyn Monroe to rock chicks or glamour shoots to horror. I would point my camera at anything that I found interesting or different.

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Then one day, I was invited to a music event. A concert featuring numerous bands. Nervously I arrived at the venue, not knowing if I could capture the night’s entertainment or if it would be a complete disaster. Thankfully it proved to be another stepping stone for me, for the night was a success.

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Again, I was addicted to this new form of camera work. I did gig after gig, touring the UK, working at prestigious venues such as the O2 concert halls around England and Scotland. I also photographed an all girl punk band in the Blackpool Tower Ballroom, famous for hosting “Strictly Come Dancing” these days.

Despite the travelling time, spending many nights in hotels, I was in my element.

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Not only was I getting “Access All Areas” passes to gigs but I was getting up close and personal with the bands. I was “on stage” with the groups, capturing the drummers at close range.

I met the odd famous person and many new friends, a number of which I am still in touch with today.

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Not only did I have the opportunity to work with some wonderful acts, I also took them into studios or on location, so I guess I must have been doing something right.

There were also downsides to working with music acts. Many thought that cameras grew on trees or Nikon just presented you with £20,000 worth of equipment for free. To say they were reluctant to put their hands in their pockets would be an understatement. Some people still believe that photographers should work for free.

Alas this is not the case. If you have a burst pipe, you expect to pay the plumber – right? The acts get paid, and so should the photographer.

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There were a lot of people who understand that your equipment costs money and has to be kept up to date and were happy to pay for my services.

So where I am now? Well I am currently living in Thailand and loving life but not working with the camera at least once or twice per week, irritates me.

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I have of course been out and taken many images in my time here but my objective is to return to some form of full time employment within the world of photography. It may not be here in Thailand but it needs to happen, for I have a yearning deep inside me to take photos.

Maybe I will find the cash to invest in a Nikon D800 and D5000, my dream cameras.

One day!

 

 

 

 

Everyone Loves A Party

Since arriving in Pattaya, Thailand in April 2016, I have enjoyed many wonderful parties, typically in the area known as Rompho. My latest venture into the nightlife of Pattaya was no exception.

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Rompho is a complex of bars and other small businesses all set in one location. It is said that there are fifty bars within the complex but if I am honest, I have frequented around a dozen or so.

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I have my favourites that I used to visit often but since moving to a new condo, three kilometres away from Rompho, I am not seen just as often as I would like to be.

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But every so often, I do return, mainly to see friends or maybe I am passing by whilst out on one of my 10 kilometre walks in the sun and I pop in. I always get my haircut at one of the barbers in Rompho, just so I can say “hello” to people I know.

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Recently I was invited to a double birthday party, although it may have been my camera that was asked for more than me 🙂

Never one to turn down a good party (within reason), I packed my bag with my Nikon D750, my SB700 flash unit and a couple of lenses and set out to do what I enjoy most. Getting drunk! No – seriously – taking photos.

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When I arrived I was delighted to see that the band were one that had appeared at the venue before, the location being, the Corner House Bar in Rompho. Despite having photographed the band previously, I still don’t know if they have a name. They certainly didn’t the first time I saw them. But when you are adept with your instruments and fronted by a talented vocalist, it doesn’t matter what you call the band!

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It was the lead guitarist who attracted my attention. The man was made for the camera. He has one of those lived in faces that every photographer hopes to stumbleupon. AND he is willing to pose as he plays, acting up for the big shot. My opening image features this man, and once again, I apologise for not knowing his name. Next time I will ask.

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The party, as always at the Corner House, was a huge success and my role was to capture as many of the guests on camera as possible.

The celebrations were for Stuart, the gaffer and his friend Chris from Luton, who were both honouring each other’s birthdays. Why we celebrate being a year older is beyond me. I would rather rejoice if they discovered a way to become a year younger!!!

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My second image is one of my favourites, for there is nothing more rewarding than photographing good looking people. I captured this lovely couple as they entered the bar.

Next up is a man with a face that you cannot forget. His beard is distinguished and the extraordinary ponytail, if that is what it’s called, is an eyecatcher.

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The bar staff in most bars in Pattaya are worth concentrating on. This image of the dark haired beauty, is the Corner House’s cashier – Bee.

Then we have the girl in the green dress, who was sat opposite me and my girlfriend, Nom. But I bet she regrets sitting at the photographer’s table, for when I got bored, my attention switched to her. She was a star it has to be said, posing like a true model but unfortunately I missed most of her ingenuity whilst striking a pose and she wasn’t one for repeat performances. However, the photos of her that were taken when she forgot about my presence, provided some fun shots.

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Then we have birthday boy Chris and one of his friends from England. Two very nice guys. Chris, went to the trouble of buying every lady in the bar a flower from one of the many flower sellers, who come round Rompho. The girl with the roses must have thought it was Christmas.

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A Scottish friend and rock ‘n’ roll singer appears next. Stephanie was there for various reasons but one was the hope of getting the opportunity to belt out a few songs. She gave us three renditions of Chuck Berry classics to mark the passing of the rock ‘n’ roll legend. Steph is well known around Pattaya, often seen singing in a variety of bars. This time however, she performed with a very good band, and was awesome. Not that she is bad without the band of course. Best get that in before I get thumped!

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I have included one of that man again, the lead guitarist but this time with an artistic approach. I set the camera to F2.8 and got close up, zoomed in, so that I achieved a depth of field that blurred the closest point of his guitar. The focal point being his plectrum.

Now the gentleman who looks like he is crooning his way through a Frank Sinatra song or belting out a power ballad, is actually singing “Happy Birthday” to Stuart and Chris. In another life, he could be a soul singer, at least for photographic purposes. I love this image.

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The presentation of the birthday cake to Stuart from his lovely partner and soon to be wife, Petch. I have much to thank Stuart for but that is something I won’t go into here, suffice to say that I am honoured to be associated with him.

The two beautiful girls are again anonymous, for either I cannot recall their names or I forgot to ask. Well I was drinking copious amounts of Vodka at the time. But they take a lovely photo and that is all that matters to me.

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Another good man, playing pool. Steve, who asked for an action shot of himself, which may not be the best term to use in the city of sin, as described in certain newspapers.

What’s going on over there then? The boys from Luton seem interested in something but I have no idea what caught their attention. I am also at a loss as to what is going on behind them 🙂

I will leave you with another image of a man that I could photograph all day or night in this instance. Again the aperture on the camera is set to blur anything close or in the background as I focused in his face.

Many thanks to Stuart for the invitation to his party. May there be many more.

The whole collection can be found by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

The Triangle And The Tulip House

I cannot even begin to explain the week I have had following and working with Jerry Lee Carlson.

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From The Robin Hood Tavern, then two gigs at Murphy’s Irish Pub, both of which are  in Pattaya, Thailand, I thought I had witnessed the best of Jerry but I was wrong.

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Sure he put on three fantastic shows that had the audiences in awe of his talent and showmanship but there was more to come, for Jerry dropped the backing tracks and brought in a drummer, fellow Swede Hakan Nelson for the last two gigs in Pattaya.

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I arrived at the Triangle Bar in central Pattaya an hour ahead of Jerry’s appearance and the venue was jam packed. It was standing room only!

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I was worried because I did not think Jerry could better his performances at Murphy’s and with only a drummer to back him, this could have been so bad or so I thought.

But the pair did not disappoint. In fact they rocked the joint to its core.

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People were stomping their feet. They were standing and clapping. Jerry even had them singing by themselves, following his lead.

He is billed as a Jerry Lee Lewis tribute act but he is so much more. He is an entertainer and one of the best I have ever witnessed.

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The man is pure class. He oozes quality and knows how to capture an audience’s attention.

You could hear a pin drop between the notes of the keyboard and drum beats.

Jerry changed the format of the show completely, introducing songs not previously heard at other gigs. His repertoire is vast. Not only did he do Jerry Lee Lewis rock ‘n’ roll classics but he did Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Elvis and a fair bit of country music too.

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The audience grew as time went on at The Triangle, yet how they squeezed into the bar still baffles me.

The following evening, Jerry and Hakan took their show to Jomtien, where they again had the venue jumping.

Every seat was taken and people were turned away as Tulip was bursting at the seams.

As soon as they began, people looked at each other in amazement, for they had not expected such a sound from two men on keyboard and drums. No backing tracks were used whatsoever.

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Soon there were people dancing. One man was even simulating playing the piano on his table.

The staff joined in the fun, taking videos on their phones for I am sure they had never heard nor seen the likes of Jerry Carlson in their lives.

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Chantilly Lace, Mean Woman Blues, Little Queenie, Good Golly Miss Molly, Blueberry Hill and many more rock ‘n’ roll masterpieces were played to perfection.

The second gig contained a lot of country ballads, which went down a treat with the older audience, many of whom were from Sweden, Norway or Denmark.

But it was the classics like Great Balls Of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ that got everyone going. The sound was incredible.

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I have seen a lot of bands in my time. I have witnessed great showmen. But I can honestly say that this is a top entertainer, who plays rock ‘n’ roll quite like no one else.

When he finished his encores, people stood up and wanted to shake his hand and have their photograph taken with him.

CDs were sold, postcards given away with his autograph on them and generally people left both venues singing the songs they had heard at the gigs.

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Why this man has not played the UK yet is beyond me. Some of the promoters in the UK should sit up and take note. Get him there ASAP!!

You will not be disappointed.

Finally, a big thank you to all venues who looked after me during my time working with Jerry.

The Robin Hood and Murphy’s who provided drinks and food. The Tulip House who reserved a table for the entire entourage who travelled with Jerry and picked up our food and drinks bill at the end, and did so with a true appreciation of what had been witnessed.

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I should give praise to Hakan Nelson, who played two excellent sessions on drums with very little rehearsal time and was the unsung hero over the final two events.

And to all the wonderful people whom I met along the road over the last week – thank you. I have had a ball.

Finally, Jerry Lee Carlson – I hope our paths cross again on a professional basis and as friends. I truly appreciate the opportunity that you and our hosts presented me with. An experience that will live with me for a long time.

Keep on rockin’

Jerry Lee At Murphy’s

Following on from Jerry Lee Carlson’s gig at the Robin Hood Tavern on Tuesday, Jerry played Murphy’s Irish Pub in what is commonly known as “The Darkside” area of Pattaya, which is basically anything east of Sukhumvit Road. This area of Pattaya is classed as the non-tourist region but the truth be known, there is a large contingency of expats living and loving life in the Darkside.

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On Friday evening I arrived at the venue for my second helping of rock ‘n’ roll from Mr. Carlson and was pleasantly surprised.

If I am perfectly honest, I expected the pub to be “run down” or “rough” due it’s location but I was wrong, very wrong!

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In fact the picture of the Darkside painted to me by many people is erroneous in so many ways. I noticed a number of venues along the street, whilst driving past or walking by, all of which were admirable assets to the city.

I was in a few bars asking for directions and found the staff and customers in each one, to be friendly and welcoming. It is Pattaya after all, what more could one expect?

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But not only was Murphy’s a modern, stylish bar, it had two swimming pools, excellent food and a large rectangular bar in the centre. It was immaculately in appearance and busy with customers, many who had come along specifically for the gig.

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The crowd were a mixture of young and old, westerners and Thais, all enjoying the excellent delicacies served by the bars kitchen and supping on bottles or draught beers.

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I found the staff to be polite and courteous, always serving you with a smile and nothing was too much trouble for them. Within an hour, I knew most of their names, mainly because they were happy to get involved with my camera and had name tags on their shirts.

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Jerry appeared  donning a gold jacket and began to blow the audience away. It was instantly noticeable that the quality of the sound was unparalleled to previous gigs. It was superb!  No disrespect to other venues of course. The Hood gig was fantastic too but for some reason, the Murphy’s event sounded so much better.

It was the same show, the same entertainer but it was different!

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I later discovered that the management had went out that very afternoon and purchased new equipment specifically for Jerry’s show. The speakers and amp were brand spanking new and at great expense to the bar.

It was paying off for the audience were singing, clapping their hands, stomping their feet and just like the previous gig in central Pattaya, we had a dancer or two.

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Jerry is a master on a keyboard and his audience was in awe of his talent. His vocals are remarkably akin to the rock ‘n’ roll star, almost mimicking the legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis, with even his stage act surprisingly like his champion. He has Jerry Lee Lewis down to a tee.

Obviously he has honed his skills over many years with the result being a polished performance for Murphy’s audience.

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Great balls of fire, Whole lotta shakin’, Folsom Prison Blues, Little Queenie, I saw her standing there and many more legendary songs were sang, accompanied by his pumping piano style, much to the audience’s delight.

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I was in heaven, for here I was doing the two things in life that give me extreme pleasure. Photography and rock ‘n’ roll.

Jerry produced two sets, which included a costume change, before closing his show, although those watching were determined to keep him there for as long as possible. I can’t recall if it was four or five encores but when you have that many, it doesn’t matter too much.

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The man was on fire and had the crowd eating out of his hand.

A bit of Lewis Boogie, Johnny B. Goode, Rock Around The Clock, Hound Dog, High School Confidential and even some country music were thrown into the mix.

After the show, as always, he walked around meeting and chatting with the guests, posing for photos and even signing autographs.

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You can tell when an act is good by the audience’s reactions but it says a lot more when the venue immediately offers you another evening two days later. So Jerry was playing at Murphy’s again on Sunday night.

This time I went along for a meal beforehand. A Steak and Guinness Pie to help soak up the alcohol.

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The Sunday show was unplanned, with little time to advertise the fact the he was playing, which resulted in a smaller crowd but this did not hinder the showman that is Jerry Carlson from putting on another sublime show of rock ‘n’ roll classics, nor did it prevent those watching from enjoying themselves.

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Many people could not believe what they were observing. People shook their heads in disbelief as the intimacy of the smaller crowd, permitted clearer views of the man and his adeptness of a piano’s keyboard.

He invited people to come closer. Of course I do not require much encouragement, for I was already crouched in front of the man.

To get up close and personal with such a talented musician is indeed a pleasure. For me, there were no restrictions. I was in front of him. I roamed freely around his vicinity, snapping images till my heart was content.

The flash had to be used but he was so deep into his performance he did not blink. True professionalism.

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Again, I was given the freedom of the bar to take as many photos as I desired. Not one person refused to take part and as a result, the bar and Jerry got some excellent images to remind them of two spectacular shows.

So overall, it was a superb week of music for me, great crack with old and new friends alike and the food was top drawer too, in both venues.

Pattaya needs more music like this. Whether it’s Rock ‘n’ Roll, Soul, Blues or any other music genre; the city requires; in fact demands to be served by acts like Jerry Lee Carlson.

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So let’s hope that Murphy’s and other suitable venues begin to bring us great entertainers for us to enjoy, after all, that new sound system has to pay its way.

A huge thanks to Steve and his staff for looking after me and my friends over the two evenings. Truly appreciated.

Thanks also to the twelve friend who came along with me over the two nights.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Darkside area of Pattaya and would like to visit Murphy’s Irish Pub, either for music, food or just to sample the many beers, click the links below.

You will have a great experience.

Click for Murphy’s Irish Bar’s Facebook Page

Rockin’ In Pattaya With Jerry Lee Carlson

One of the things I miss about the UK is the gigs I used to attend, especially rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly genres. Before departing the shores of Scotland, I was working at gigs at least five times a month and taking in many other small venues, wherever there was good live music to be found.

So when I heard about Jerry Lee Carlson’s event at The Robin Hood Tavern in Pattaya, I was swift to act upon the news.

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I contacted the bar to request permission to take photos and the stage was set.

Before heading out, I watched a couple of YouTube videos of Jerry to see what I was in store for and I was presently surprised. Not only was the music good but he was receiving rave reviews from anyone who had seen him playing live.

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So with great anticipation and excitement, I jumped in a taxi to see what the fuss was all about and whether or not would live up the hype.

I arrived early and enjoyed a meal at the bar washed down with a Tiger Light Beer. I noticed Jerry as he wandered through the bar into the lounge area, so I followed him to see if I could meet the man and maybe get an interview.

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He suggested I came back during the interval between his two sets, for he was busy with preparations for the gig. His wish was my command and so I returned to my seat to await the arrival of Mr. Carlson on stage.

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There was a slight delay in his appearance due to a few technical difficulties with the PA System, which was resolved as quickly as possibly before the show commenced.

Jerry blasted out pure rock ‘n’ roll at its very best, pounding his keyboard with almost every part of his body.

Great balls of fire, Whole lotta shakin’, Rock around the clock, Johnny B. Goode and Breathless resounded around the spacious tavern.

He worked the keyboard with rapid hands, often too fast for the eye to comprehend. He used his feet and his backside as he demonstrated he is a truly accomplished piano/keyboard player, who knew how to play to an audience.

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He had the crowd exactly where he wanted them for the man is a true showman.

between songs, he chatted away with comical remarks all to the enjoyment of those in attendance.

You can tell when an artist has his or her audience secured and under their spell, for there is no talking while they perform and the only deviation from that was an abundance of cameras recording his songs.

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I looked around and almost every table had at least one phone camera recording video footage, probably for Facebook purposes or to show their friends what they had missed.

Pattaya People were present with their TV camera, so Jerry will be on their news programme soon and there was another photographer there for the duration of his show.

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Following part one, he was true to his word and invited me through to the lounge to have a chat.

Jerry informed he hails from a small town in the south of Sweden called Landskrona, which is on the coast between Helsingborg and Malmo. However, Jerry now resides about 300 KMs north of Stockholm.

He tells me he is 32+ years of age and refused to speak any further on the subject other than to laugh.

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Jerry began his professional career back in 1996 and has continued to belt out rock ‘n’ roll, country, boogie woogie and blues ever since.

Despite having performed in Italy, Spain, America and of course Thailand to name a few countries, he has yet to make an appearance in the UK. So if any of my friends who promote rock ‘n’ roll shows around the country fancy bringing an amazing performer over to the UK, give Jerry a call. He would love to do a tour of Scotland, England Ireland and Wales.

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He is aware that there is a huge interest in rock ‘n’ roll in the UK so get booking folks.

The rocker is in Pattaya for fourteen days performing a handful of gigs around the city. I for one will be attending at least one more, two if I can manage along.

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He is heavily influenced by the legend that is Jerry Lee Lewis but told me, like his idol, he also covers a lot of other artists such as Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and many others.

Growing up in Sweden he was inspired by people like Pete Johnson, a boogie woogie, blues and jazz pianist from Kansas City, USA and Fats Domino amongst a number of other piano players from that era.

I mentioned that there were a number of really good boogie woogie pianists from Europe. He said “I doubt it very much.”

He quickly followed with “There is one very good one I know of.”

“What is his name?” I asked.

“Jerry……. Jerry Carlson” as he burst into laughter.

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He continued “I am not being big headed. I am just having a laugh with you, a bit of humour.” This was evident throughout the evening both on and off stage.

I mentioned the failure of the PA System before his first set commenced. He confessed it was a regular occurrence when he is relying on equipment supplied by another band or third party.  One of the pitfalls of travelling the globe I guess.

Jerry prefers playing with a band behind him but it is not always possible due to the expense involved or lack of musicians being available. Personally I would love to see him with a good four or five piece group backing him.

Jerry returned to do his second set to an excited audience, who thoroughly enjoyed his show.

After the event, he was happy to mingle amongst people, conversing wherever he was invited to do so, stop for photos and enjoy the rest of the evening’s entertainment.

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I found the Jerry to be an excellent entertainer, a talent musician and a friendly, humorous man.

If you haven’t seen him play, watch out for him. He is well worth making the effort to go and see.

The second act of the night was a trio called “Rose and Thorn” who were brilliant too. Jerry Lee had them rocking before this trio followed him with some classic rock and dance hits.

Congratulations to The Robin Hood Tavern for giving Pattaya exactly what it requires – an excellent music venue with some top entertainers.

More live music please 🙂

Videos of Jerry Carlson live

Jerry Lee Carlson Live Click to view

Jerry Lee Carlson Legends Show Click to view

World’s fastest boogie woogie player Click to view

Jerry singing Roll Over Beethoven and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Click to View

I saw her standing there Click to view

High School Confidential Click to view

 

 

Looking For Photographic Work

I love photography. I am motivated by working with people. It would be fair to say that when I am armed with my weapon of choice, my Nikon D750, that I am very much a people person.

I came to Thailand in the hope of making a new life, finding work and that elusive item called happiness. Indeed I have a new life. I also have discovered happiness but working in Thailand is a huge “No No” unless I start my own company, which would require some financial assistance. I would of course be agreeable to any ideas that involve commercial backing in order that I can ply my trade here in Thailand.

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A work permit here is almost impossible to obtain, so I have decided to spread my wings and try neighbouring countries for employment, with the hope of using Thailand as my base.

I have desires on Cambodia, Vietnam, The Philippines, Malaysia, Tibet, Nepal to name a few places that would interest me. However I am not 100% certain that these countries will be any easier than Thailand as far as work is concerned. They will however allow me to observe and enjoy other cultures and attractions.

So I have created an advert and placed it on Facebook, covering the majority of Asia. It cost me £16 if it is utilised successfully and at first glance, the advert is working a treat. Whether it will bring in any remuneration for my outlay remains to be seen.

I prefer working with people at events such as concerts, parties, weddings, sports and studio but to be honest, I will attempt anything, if there is a financial reward at the end of it.

One can live and hope, for I truly do not wish to depart Thailand, other than to work and return between jobs.

If you know of any vacancies or job opportunities please feel free to contact me by Clicking here and using the Message option.

Many thanks

Concerts How I Miss Them

One of my favourite aspects of photography is live events such as concerts and gigs or to be fair, anything that involves working with people.

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That may include studio, sports, streetwork, I have no preference to be honest as long as I have interaction with the human race.
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I was given an introduction to covering gigs when I was asked if I would like to attend “The Battle Of The Bands” in Glasgow and having never ventured into the realm of live music previously, I considered it to be a fantastic opportunity that may well open doors along with other avenues to explore.

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The main problem I soon discovered was lighting or lack of it. Many smaller venues have poor illumination available, probably because of the cost of installation and having an experience lighting engineer to hand when bands are on stage.

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I soon found out that expensive lenses and cameras were required and in the worst scenarios, I would have to resort to using flash, which I personally abhor at concerts. Flash is often unwelcomed by the artists on stage too, as they find it distracting or blinding as the bright light leaves them visually impaired for a short time, if directed straight at them. It is always desirable to bounce the flash whenever possible for this reason, should you have to use it at all.

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The event had seven acts, who if memory serves me correctly were vying for a place in the final, which was to be held a few weeks later.

My first impression was they were some pretty talented and unique people on show, which was not what I was expecting. It had been some time since I last attended a live show of any nature other than your Friday or Saturday night tribute and covers bands, who often provide excellent entertainment but are never going to break into the big time. No disrespect to these acts for they provide wonderful entertainment and value for money and keep music live around our pubs and clubs. We require clubs to provide us with live music and without them, we would not have enjoyed the likes of the Beatles and many other legends of the 60s and 70s especially.

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As more opportunities were presented to me, I soon discovered there was a wealth of talent around the UK, which was untapped mainly due to TV dross such as the X Factor. These bands I was seeing were real musicians, lads and lassies who could perform in front of a live audience without putting a sob story out to gain popularity before they donned the stage.

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Some were youngsters with huge potential and fine tuning their art, others had been trying for years to make the breakthrough but enjoyed what they do, so keep plugging away in the hope that their big day will come.

A band called the Trips stole the show that inaugural night and are featured in my opening images.

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The photos are not in order of the times the events/concerts occurred but more of an arrangement that I discovered them amongst the thousands in my collection. For instance I attended many rock ‘n’ roll and rockabilly gigs, where dancers and colourful dresses could be seen in abundance. Jivers who would entertain you in their own right. Some old, some very young, as young as 10 years old and as elderly as 70 plus. There is no restriction when it comes to dancing other than physical fitness.

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When you add wonderful rocking music to the skills on the dancefloor, you have a superb night out for all in attendance and a photographers dream.

I covered many gigs which featured bands from punk rock to country and western, from rock to ska and even blue grass. I find that when I attend a live musical offering, it is very rewarding if those on stage are talented and I have been very lucky in that respect. Rarely have I been to a gig where the bands were complete dross.

Even if it was not my type of music, I still enjoyed the occasion because they were good at what they did. Talent will always win over the sceptics.

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Take Rusti Steel and the Startones pictured above. Their brand of music was not what I would describe as something that I would aspire to go and see but a free invitation is never going to be turned down, especially when I can get the camera working.

To my amazement, I thoroughly enjoyed their renditions of songs I knew and many I had never heard before. They described themselves as authentic rockabilly, western swing, hillbilly and blues musicians but I would say they are all of these but only touching on rockabilly, hence I was apprehensive before they appeared on stage. Like I said, they were phenomenal and brought the house down. Go and see them if you have the chance.

Another band of similar ilk that will blow your mind with their skills are the Hot Shot Four. Multi-instrumentalists each and every one of them.

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There are always DJs present at these rockabilly type gigs, many pride themselves on only playing original vinyl recordings. Personally I don’t mind if its an MP3, a CD or a Record as long as the music is good to listen to or it gets people on the dancefloor.

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Along the road I was asked if I would attend a charity gig in Glasgow featuring four punk rock bands. Now this was far removed from my knowledge of punk rock and if the truth be told, I don’t think I recognised a single tune.

Nevertheless the bands were once again – superb. One in particular stood out from other others – Jock Sparra. Not because they were superior as musicians or sang more in tune but because the lead singer was to put it bluntly – a head case!

This man was Mr. Entertainment. He was like the Freddie Mercury of punk rock. His long spiky hair, the fact that he was dressed in a kilt and spoke with a broad Scottish accent and more importantly, his interaction with his audience, had to be seen to be believed.

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He came down on to the dancefloor and got involved in the mosh pit, pushing, shoving, dragging people around in mock battles of supremacy. The crowd loved it and joined in, retaliating to the point that it looked like a punch up could ensue but that was never going to be the case the case. A high tension atmosphere controlled by the man in the middle with the microphone. I never did catch his name but according to Facebook he goes by the name of Pablo. A genius at working an audience.

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I continued to travel around Glasgow and its surrounding neighbourhood to watch and photograph other live bands, mainly rockabilly, which is my favourite music genre.

I was treated to spectacular shows from those who have been around the block to the new upstarts making their way into the performance trade. They came from as far away as Australia and as near as Glasgow itself.

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The Tennessee Hotshots, The Revolutionaires, Cow Cow Boogie, Esperanza, Strange Blue Dream, The Atmospherics, Roddy Radiation, The Trips, Death To Indie, The Kicks, The Shiverin’ Sheiks, MaryJean Lewis, Emma and the Ragmen, The Lost Rockers, The Fuck Ups, Jack Rabbit Slim, The Groove Diggers, Mitch Humphrys and the Hot Shot Four, The Hot Rod Sinners, The Valvetones to name some but not all of the bands I have worked with.

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Of course I will apologise to those I have not mentioned above but my memory is not what it used to be but each and every band or artist that I had the pleasure to work with will always be in my heart. It was an honour to be associated with such talent. I Have not included the bands that I photographed in bars, for that would take up a post on its own.

I have plied my trade at some awesome venues in my travels around the UK including many of the o2 venues, such as Manchester, Newcastle, Warrington and Glasgow. I took great satisfaction of photographing the Sex Pissed Dolls at the Blackpool Tower Ballroom. The Grand Ole Opry in Glasgow was another favourite of mine and the many smaller clubs and halls that hosted live music. Towns and cities such as Kendal, Preston, Durham and Edinburgh, Blackpool, St. Annes were visited but there could have been so many more, had the financial rewards been in place.

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Now as most of you who read this dross will know, I now live in Thailand and at present I have no intention of returning and leaving my new home. But if there was one thing that could attract me back to the UK, it would to work in the world of music and stage, in a paid capacity I hasten to add.

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I miss my music, and taking bands, singers or dancers into the studio. I would dearly love to work at this level or above and if that meant returning to the UK then sobeit.

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Now arguably the biggest or best known band that I worked with was an all female punk rock band known as the Sex Pissed Dolls, their name being a play on the original punk band featuring Johnny Rotten, The Sex Pistols. They have a huge following considering they are mainly a tribute or covers band. Putting this lot together was genius but I don’t believe anyone associated with the band, would have foreseen the success they would enjoy before the first note was played.

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I contacted the band having seen a video of them singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” but in a Sid Vicious style. I asked if I could be permitted to take photos at their planned show in Edinburgh a few weeks later and to my amazement, I was invited along after sending some sample images.

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Unfortunately that gig was cancelled but I was asked if I wished to attend their first major gig at The Layton Institute in Blackpool. Of course I said yes because I saw it as a window opportunity.

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I arrived in Blackpool a day ahead so I could plan the shoot in more detail. I discovered to my delight that there were four other bands on show. The Cobras, Roddy Radiation of the Specials, who were a huge Ska act in the late 70s and early 80s, The Atmospherics and of course the Dolls.

The Cobras opened the show and did a variety of cover songs, before the legendary Roddy Radiation came on stage, just him and a guitar.

Then we were treated to some class. A bunch of boys from Blackpool entered the arena and blew the audience away with not only covers but many of their own songs. These youngsters have gone on to make recordings of their own material, play more frequently at large venues and even appeared on BBC radio. Watch out for them, they will make a huge impact one day.

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At first, having never seen the Dolls before, I was concerned for them, that maybe they could not follow the Atmospherics. However I had nothing to worry about. The girls came out on stage one at a time, each one receiving a massive round of applause and roars, mainly due to their chosen attire. Five stunning ladies with odd names such as Nancy Doll, Kitty Vacant, Connie Rotter, Jily Idol and Anna Key, all plays on punk rock songs or singers.

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The audience went wild and I realised my gamble travelling to Blackpool was going to be worth it.

It was sexy. It was raunchy. It was dirty. It was edgy. It had the lot! They strutted about the stage in an alluring fashion, teasing the audience with suggestive moves. Their clothing, whilst revealing was not overly tarty as the girls wanted to be known as musicians first and foremost but I doubt if the audience cared a jot.

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Sheena is a punk rocker, Anarchy in the UK, God save the Queen, I predict a riot and many more anthems blasted out as the mosh pit went wild with anticipation of every song.

Whilst the girls are all accomplished musicians, it was the antics of the provocative and talented singer Nancy Doll that truly captured the auditorium, which hosted around 400 people.

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The sound was extraordinary from an all girl, unknown band and enhanced by colourful lighting, which added to this spectacular show. The girls brought the house down and so began for many, a trip back in time to their youth. Many of the fans that night have attended almost every gig the Sex Pissed Dolls have played, covering almost every corner of the UK and even the Isle of Wight.

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I attended eight or nine, traveling around the midlands of England and my home country of Scotland.

Despite numerous changes in line up, they appear to get stronger with every gig. The fans base expands on a daily basis and the size and importance of their venues and gigs grows, and seems to know no bounds.

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How long they can last for is anyone’s guess. They have replaced the drummer on three occasions, lead and rhythm guitarists have come and gone but the core of the bass player and vocalist remain. The nucleus of the band is without a shadow of a doubt Nancy Doll. When she hangs up the microphone, there surely can be no more SPD. She also does an impressive Amy Winehouse tribute.

How about the Sex Pissed Dolls live in Pattaya? Now that would be awesome. There are plenty of expats living here who would love to see a raunchy all girl punk band and most Asian nations adore punk and rock ‘n’ roll.

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I will leave you with two of my favourite photos from my time covering gigs in the UK. The second from last is of the Death To Indie drummer, who was a complete and utter nut job and I mean that in the kindest possible way. I could have trained my camera on this man all night if time was afforded to me. A true star who put on a strange but wonderful display of drumming and foolery.

The last image is one I took on the spur of the moment. I noticed the Sex Pissed Dolls roadie working tirelessly setting up the stage, and the way the lighting was hitting him or lack of it I should say, provided a silhouette of the man, that is Nige Bethwaite. A gentlemen and like many roadies go unnoticed by the audience, for their work is carried out before and after the events. This picture is a tribute to him and all roadies across the world.