Chris Rand released his latest newsletter where he talks about his experiences in taking his “Gathering” out on the road. We love it when artists communicate with their fans and thought this was such a cool story that we wanted to make it available to all those who may not be on Chris’s mailing list. So now it’s over to Chris.
It has been so much fun taking my album on the road. Every gig has been exciting, with all the various special guests sitting in and making each show unique. The highlight for me was the official album launch at Pizza Express in Soho, where I had the privilege of being joined on stage by Derek Nash, Dennis Greaves, Sky Murphy, Ed Benstead, Sam Leak, Andrew Noble, Shane Allessio, and Jason Reeve. To this day I am not sure how we managed to fit them all on the stage! The room was packed with friends and family and it was a joy to share the night with such amazing musicians. They were all fantastic, but I especially want to say a big thank you to Derek Nash for supporting the band and to Dennis Greaves for coming and joining us at Pizza Express.
Other Gatherings have been equally fun, in a variety of cool venues and with a mix of old friends. My good friend Tommy Hare came to sing a song with us at the Bulls Head; I have always loved performing with Tommy and his band, and you can hear the tune we played on my YouTube channel.
We then took the band back down to the south coast, where I was so happy to be joined on stage by Harry Skinner on guitar at the Swing Unlimited Jazz Club near Bournemouth. I first met Harry several years ago when playing with the Ben Waters Band at Colne Blues Festival; it was great to find myself collaborating with him on my own project, on home turf. His talent gave the gig a whole different feel that was incredibly exhilarating for me, as well as treating the audience to one of their favourite local legends.
April took an interesting turn when I was invited to go to Germany and represent Dot Time Records at the Jazz Ahead Expo in Bremen. I am not going to lie and say it was completely stress free, however my years of training in the Ben Waters Band have made me pretty resilient to most unexpected situations.
I had decided that the most efficient and cost effective thing to do was to travel with myself and Jason and then arrange a pick-up band from some of the other Dot Time Artists who were performing on the same night. I have known Jason since moving to London when we studied at Guildhall together; not only is he one of London’s top drummers, but I knew that he would keep me sane in what was likely to be a tricky situation.
Arranging a pick-up band was easier said than done. Having had no luck fixing a band before setting off, we traveled to Germany hoping we would find some musicians at the festival who would be willing to help us out. Through the joys of social media, Jason discovered that Dilson Laguna, guitarist and very old friend of ours, had travelled from Brazil to attend the festival. Jason quickly sent him a message and fortunately he was up for the gig; we just had to find a guitar for him to use. We arrived at the fair at 2:30pm with the sound check scheduled for 6:30pm. All I had to do was find a Bass player… and maybe a Pianist. We asked around. No one was available. We asked some more. Still no luck!
Then, at about 5pm, our friend Kristen Borring offered to ask a Danish friend of his… and so at the eleventh hour we found ourselves with the amazing Kenneth Dahl Knudsen on Bass. I call that a band! We did a quick rehearsal in the foyer of the hotel whilst the other Dot Time Artists were sound checking – and to put it simply, we smashed it! The guys were on fire and we got the crowd dancing. We even managed to get a future Dot Time Artist on stage for a tune: David Pastor, a fantastic trumpet player from Spain. We kicked off our 45min set with Sidewalk and finished off the set with Honky Tonk Women. We were blown away by the reception and I would love to make a return trip next year. – Chris Rand.
In a recent review of the Chris’s performance at Jazzahead, Peter McLaren from Jazzineurope.com wrote: “One would not be wrong in thinking this line-up had been performing together for years.” – You can read the full review here