A buzz of excitement in recent weeks – The Nelson Brothers have, for some time, not been up to much because of our commitment to Sadie and the Hotheads. Since Lady Cora (aka Elizabeth McGovern) is currently on the set at Highclere Castle for the last ever series of Downton Abbey. The Nelson Brothers have taken the opportunity to dust off their own songs and get back on the road.
In April we assembled at the salubrious Survival Studios in North Acton – long time haunt of many a fine musical ensemble, (including Sadie and the Hotheads.) The guys that run the studio are always accommodating, helpful, fun and very cheeky!
The ensemble features Simon Nelson (electric guitar and vocals); Steve Nelson (acoustic guitar and vocals); other Hothead Nick Lacey (keys); Andrew Milloy (bass and vocals) and the legendary Phil Crabbe (drums).
The enigmatic Nick Lacey has a gold disk on his wall! His piano playing is fiercely tasteful, and covers a range of styles from classical to jazz via everything in between.
Phil Crabbe (who now knows our songs better than we do!) has played with Haircut 100, jazz singer Salena Jones, soul artists Gloria Gaynor and Mica Paris, R&B acts The Drifters, The Platters and The Miracles. Yes, he’s a bit of a legend and a terrific drummer.
Andrew Milloy has stood in with Sadie and the Hotheads on occasion (notably on the Kumars).
Multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer Andrew Milloy also plays bass Neil Halstead and Band of Hope. He writes and performs his own songs with Drew & The Invisible Few. His first EP, ‘Philomena’, was released in June 2012. (Andrew played two of his songs on the night with The Nelson Brothers Band.)
April 18th we made our way across country to The Convent.
Nothing had quite prepared me for The Convent. We drove the last few miles around the twisty lanes and green hills and up to the fine old building on Convent Lane, South Woodchester, Glous.
The Convent was formerly the home of the Poor Clares, and is a grade II listed building. The Poor Clares were founded by an Italian woman who wished to emulate St Francis of Assisi. The order in Gloucester was formed in 1860, and building of the Convent was begun in 1861 by extending a 17th Century farmhouse.
As their website says the Convent is, “a beautiful and exciting place tucked away in The Cotswolds. People often ask us what we are, but we don’t like labels. We have a private members club, a wonderful restaurant, a boutique hotel and an exciting programme of live music and literary events in The Chapel that will blow your socks off. It’s a delicious melting pot of all the things we love – simple as that”
All of which is true!
We were treated from the moment we got there. They have a fabulous concert space called The Chapel, a 24-track recording studio with a Neve Desk, and eight cameras. The concerts are filmed and go out live over the internet via a system that they call Netgig.
This means that you can view their concerts from home, anywhere in the world. Again as it says on their website:
“Live performance has evolved. Enjoy the full live performance experience anywhere, in your study, on your tablet, PC or blasting out of your surround sound smart TV. Just buy your ticket, turn up the volume, sit back and enjoy. Netgig – the home of Intimate, Worldclass Performance.”
The band had a fine dinner in their restaurant, a good rehearsal time and sound check. It was agreeable to see some friends at the gig – particularly several of the Sadie and the Hotheads fans who made their way there, our friend the excellent singer-songwriter Johnny Coppin and the excellent Americana band leader and songwriter Bob Porter of the Bob Porter Project. (‘growl and twang’, as they say!)
And afterwards some fine red wine.
The gig? We thoroughly enjoyed it. You can see some of it here: