I don’t get back to the North East very often but when I got an invite to the launch party for North East Beat I just had to go. North East Beat is a new exhibition at Newcastle’s Discovery Museum exploring the North East music scene from the fifties to date. The exhibition’s organiser, Kylea Little asked me a few months ago if she could use some material from this site – hence my invitation to attend the event on 19th May 2009.

15 NEB flyerI knew that the Junco Partners and the Cornshed Sisters would be appearing. Apart from that, I wasn’t sure what else to expect or who else would be attending. It turned out to be a couple of hours well spent. The exhibition itself is well put together with material covering six decades. Exhibits include photographs, posters, cuttings, concert tickets, clothing, videos and a jukebox featuring records by North East bands. There’s information on most of the North East’s well known bands and musicians from the Animals to the Tygers of Pan Tang.

I didn’t spot any ‘A’ list musical celebs – such as Sting, Bryan Ferry, Eric Burdon or the like but there were a few well known faces present; Ray Laidlaw (Lindisfarne), Marie Nixon (Kenickie), Geoff Docherty the promoter and probably a few more I didn’t see. I was pleasantly surprised to see my name up on the list of contributors with, amongst others, Brian Bennett the drummer with the legendary Shadows.

While I was in the North East I got to a couple of music venues. The first was to see the blues band – the Alligators at Egypt Cottage, City Road, Newcastle on the same night as the North East Beat launch party. Consequently, I only caught the second set from the Alligators but it was a set well worth seeing. The pub was crammed and had a fantastic atmosphere. I’m told that the band have been together for a long time and this certainly showed in their dynamic performance. I’m reliably informed that Brian Eno was in the crowd, propping up the bar and listening to the band.

The Juncos at the launch party

The Juncos at the launch party

Entrance to the exhibition

Entrance to the exhibition

List of contributors

List of contributors

I had a couple of good years in the sixties playing in the same band as Bruce, the Alligator’s harmonica player. When I met him a few days after the gig, he told me that I’d missed the best set. Perhaps I had but I was still very impressed with the set I saw.

On Saturday 23 May I saw Raw Spirit at the Magnesia Bank in North Shields. My reason for going to see Raw Spirit was that the trumpet player is Jimmy Hall who I played with in various bands over a five year period in the sixties and seventies. The Magnesia Bank is an excellent music venue with a good atmosphere and a crowd who really like their music. Raw Spirit played mostly blues numbers with a couple of soul classics thrown into the mix to a very appreciative audience. There were some great solos from saxophonist John Hall throughout the evening.

Raw Spirit at the Magnesia Bank, North Shields (photo by Graeme Stark)

Raw Spirit at the Magnesia Bank, North Shields (photo by Graeme Stark)

All in all it was an enjoyable trip to the North East and well worth the 600 mile round trip. I’ll certainly try and catch Raw Sprit and the Alligators next time I’m in the area.

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