Friday, April 20, 2018


TYA 1971 Tour Front Cover
I very much enjoyed last night's gig by guitarist/singer/song-writer Keith Christmas at Nailsea's Ring of Bells pub. The slightly weird bit of the whole experience was this:

I went to a number of 'variety show' gigs with my parents in the 1960s and also saw some bands in the days when they were guests on pantomimes. I can tick off Herman's Hermits, The Bachelors. The Searchers, Freddie and the Dreamers, The Barron Knights and Gerry and the Pacemakers. But these were two or three song gigs with comedians as headline.

Exploring my own taste in music from about 1969/70 onwards I got over-interested in Ten Years After and in autumn 1971 they were my first solo gig, at Birmingham Town Hall. These days I do not buy concert programmes (I worked out they were a rip-off quite quickly), but to begin with I would buy a programme and place it, for safe-keeping, in the sleeve of the album being promoted on that tour. Another use of a vinyl album. So I still have it.

The 1971 line up
The opening act I saw at that first gig was a young solo artist of whom I had not heard. Yeah, Keith Christmas. He was able to command the stage, as I recall, and his acoustic guitar playing was a bit good (although some of you will know I am not a guitarist). A lot of the audience remained in the bar.

I spent a large part of last night pondering on where our journeys had taken us since then. Keith had played with Bowie, opened up for many major bands and recorded much fine music. He describes his career as coming to an end but also seems to have become a prolific song-writer later in life. Some of his new material was outstanding. He has also had two sons and now lives in Torquay. I guess that if, in 1971, you would have told him he would eventually wind down his career playing to 25 people in Nailsea he would have been a bit disappointed, although he genuinely seemed to love the appreciative audience (I knew most of them from the local music scene). Did I ever tell you I had turned down an invitation to play keys in a Wurzels tribute band? Fact.
The autograph

But not half as surprised as 16 year old me would have been to be told that he would end up here as a vicar. Our journeys have been different but it was great to say hello to part of my past.  He has signed my tour programme. Look what he wrote.

Guitarists might like to know that Keith uses a rare B tuning of his own making from time to time. Some of the guitarists in the room seemed to be weeping at the sheer variety of picking techniques Keith used. Lost on me but I pass it on.

I try to go to as many local music events as possible and get to know the people. I have even dared perform at the Folk Club from time to time. There aren't many opportunities for the vicar to walk into a room full of men outside church circles. I love it.

One guy (hi Rob) told me he always enjoyed hearing me on the radio and when I told him I had been on that morning he said he would go home and listen to it on iplayer. 'I'm that sad' he added, with a wink.

Keith Christmas April 2018 
From time to time I have an experience that screams at me. Look where I brought you from. Look where I put you. What you going to do about it?

Thanks Keith, for the memory jog, the great performance and the reminder of the journey.

Health warning. UKIP members probably wouldn't enjoy his politics. 'I'm a bit of a leftie even for a folk singer'.

He once had to break it to the members of Chicken Shack that Stan Webb had gone home from a tour of Germany during the night after a telephone row with his wife. He told the story as his encore.

No comments: