Tuesday, 12 February 2008

1969 and more changes...

The year turned with Jethro Tull's influence creeping in, but with a noticeable leaning towards Peter Green and John Mayall.

Maybe the band found it suited their abilities and talents, and it was still unusual for female vocals especially on the blues numbers.

Chris and Roy wrote songs together - these were bluesy and what was becoming known as "progressive rock", and Steve chipped in with a few ditties, some folky-bluesy and others perhaps a bit Byrd-y.

A momentous spring night in Weymouth saw the band reach third place in the annual "Beat Contest" (yep, up-to-date or what!). The set included four titles of very different styles - "Ethel" a complicated but tuneful number, co-written with a chum from Art College called Mike Horseman, and which featured Jane on harmonium (caused a stir that did!). Next came "Rosebud May", an Edge song in Sebastian-style, but loosely based on a Ray Davies song (!). This was followed by a song I can't remember but I'm sure someone will let me know, and the band turned up the volume to close with an up-beat version of the Cream's "Cat's Squirrel".

The official details "concerning Groups competing in Heat No. 3 on Wednesday 16 April 1969" rather formally described Room as:
C. K. Williams - Lead Guitar
R. Putt - Bass Guitar

S. Edge - Lead Guitar
P. Redfern - Drums
Miss J. Kevern - Vocalist
The Leader of the Group was named as Miss J. Kevern
And the "Details of Career - as supplied by Group" went as follows:
"98% of our work is our own. We spend three nights a week arranging and sort our work to practise at local dances. Our work is based on originality and quality of sound. Anything new is always of interest. We arrange on the grounds of 'progressive blues' and 'life music'. Having a girl singer induces more into blues numbers."

The band continued to play locally at a wide variety of venues - pubs, clubs, village halls, and larger venues such as the Pavilion at Bournemouth, where they supported groups like Slade (who were skinheads then) - and began to sense that they had the makings of bigger things...

A lucky break got a supporting role at the Ritz in Bournemouth which was the place to be if you were seriously into music, man. All but the biggest bands played the Ritz.

The Room, now simply "Room", settled into a regular Friday night gig at the Ritz and the musical weaving continued. Bands such as Nice, Junior's Eyes, Van der Graf Generator, had an influence, and one night, the dressing room was blessed with the presence of the great bluesman Howlin' Wolf, who jammed with the band.

Now the time had come to go pro...Pete decided not to, and left to manage a record shop in Bournemouth, and was replaced by Bob Jenkins, a drummer from Bournemouth, who had a penchant for short snappy drum breaks, unlike Pete who just made one hell of a noise (and very good he was too!).

A manager was recruited, one Harry Goldblatt of Bournemouth. Harry was one of the old breed in the music business, almost harking back to the big band days, but he did have contacts. Also, a Transit was acquired - yes, at last, the status symbol had arrived!

On the road again, all over the country, gaining experience, and writing more and more songs and tunes. The band's musical abilities also developed, but the range of musical styles gradually diminished as a more unique sound began to emerge.

The chance to take part in the annual Melody Maker Contest (with a possible record deal for the winner) could not be missed, and the band duly got a place in the final at the Lyceum in the new year.


Above: Steve in 1969

1 comment:

john said...

I remember one night-itmust have been late '69 or early '70 at the Ritz with the original Fleetwood Mac. I remember it because Fleetwood Mac were late, and before they'd even started the call went out that Mick (Fleetwood) had broke his f ing snare drum, so your drummer lent him his.

BTW Do we want to remember Harry Goldblatt???

I thought you deserved better than that.

John Morley, ex Cavaliers