During the time I was gigging with the Technique in the early months of 1968, Mike “Alfie” Larkin was busy recruiting musicians for his new band. In addition to himself on drums, he got hold of the guitarist, bass player and keyboard player from the disbanded Newcastle group “Bert’s Apple Crumble”. Peter Bell, from James South was to be the vocalist with myself and Jimmy Hall as the horn section.

I suggested “The Village” as a name for the new band. I had a mental image of everyone dressing up in blazers and white trousers like Patrick McGoohan from the popular sixties series “The Prisoner”. The name stuck but I couldn’t convince the others about the outfits. So what was the fashion for bands in 1968? Well the Mod era had been and gone. No more button down shirts and hipster trousers. Flower Power was a 1967 phenomenon but brightly coloured shirts and flares were still fairly fashionable. One of the first things we did after we started gigging was to visit a tailors’ shop in Stanley, County Durham and get measured up for some flared trousers in contrasting colours.

Village publicity photo (showing the address of the Ivan Birchall agency) left to right – Jim Hall, Keith Penfold, Roger Smith, Alf Larkin, Peter Bell and Dave Winter.

Village publicity photo (showing the address of the Ivan Birchall agency) left to right – Jim Hall, Keith Penfold, Roger Smith, Alf Larkin, Peter Bell and Dave Winter.

Village publicity photo taken in the quay side area of Newcastle

Village publicity photo taken in the quay side area of Newcastle

The Village’s first full rehearsal was above a Snooker Club in the Byker area of Newcastle. The first number we practiced was the soul classic ‘Mustang Sally’. Years later when I first saw the Commitments movie I couldn’t believe the similarities in their first rehearsal and ours. Another number we tried was the Vanilla Fudge version of the Supremes “You Keep Me Hanging On”. Neither song made it to our set list but trying both songs helped us decide that we’d stay away from mainstream soul. A few weeks later when we started gigging our repertoire contained a lot of material poached from the Alan Bown Set, a popular club band in 1967 and 1968. I had seen the Alan Bown Set a few times and decided that they would be a good band to emulate. Their brass section (Bown and a sax player name John Anthony (Helliwell) who later played with Supertramp) were superb. Not only did they sound excellent, they also had a great stage presence. Their vocalist at that time was Jess Roden who was later replaced by the legendary Robert Palmer. When I first saw them in 1967 they were doing mainly soul covers but in 1968 they were writing a lot of their own material. Some of Alan Bown Set numbers covered by the Village were “Technicolour Dream”, “I’m Gonna Fix You Good”, Curtis Mayfield’s “I Need You” and their versions of Dylan’s “All Along The Watchtower” and Dion DiMucci’s “My Girl The Month of May”. Other numbers on the Village’s set list were; “Love is a beautiful Thing” by the Quik, Jimmy Cliff’s “Give a Little, Take a Little”, Sam and Dave’s “You Got Me Humming” and “Get Ready” and “I know I’m Losing You” by the Temptations.

The Village’s transport – an old ambulance painted blue and cream

The Village’s transport – an old ambulance painted blue and cream

The Village’s first gig was at Balliol Youth Centre in Longbenton, Newcastle on Friday 22nd March 1968. The line up was Peter Bell vocals, Dave Winter on guitar, Keith Penfold on bass, Mike Larkin, drums and myself and Jim Hall on horns. The keyboard player left after a short while and wasn’t replaced.

The Village stayed together for about nine months, travelling to gigs in the North East and Cumbria in an old ambulance. We averaged around three gigs per week, most of which were through the Ivan Birchall Agency in Newcastle. Some of the better ones were; The Rex Hotel at Whitley Bay (which usually offered two or three consecutive gigs over a weekend), Haggerston Castle, the 101 Club, Carlisle, the Mayfair ballroom in Newcastle and the Club a’GoGo. One of the worst was at the Cellar Club in Hartlepool in September when the whole place erupted in violence and we were all lucky to escape without serious injury.

Towards the end of 1968 there were a few disagreements among the band members resulting in the departure of Dave Winter and Mike Larkin. They were replaced by Ray Coulson on guitar and Brian Gibson on drums, both from the Gateshead area. The band went on for a few more months with the new line up and finally broke up in December 1968.

The Village performing at Haggerston Castle, Northumberland

The Village performing at Haggerston Castle, Northumberland

Village publicity photo

Village publicity photo

6 quay club Village

7 stanley village ticket

Village gigs

1968

Fri 22/03/1968 Balliol College, Newcastle
Sat 23/03/1968 Alnwick Teachers Training College
Sun 24/03/1968 Stanley Youth Club
Fri 29/03/1968 Highfield Community Centre
Sat 30/03/1968 Houghton Rugby Club
Thu 04/04/1968 Milvain Club
Fri 05/04/1968 Sacriston Memeorial Hall
Sat 06/04/1968 County Hall, Carlisle
Sun 07/04/1968 Stanley Youth Club
Mon 08/04/1968 Carousel Club, Chester le Street
Fri 19/04/1968 Shiney Row YMCA
Sat 20/04/1968 Club A’Gogo, Newcastle
Tue 23/04/1968 New Cellar Club, South Shields
Fri 26/04/1968 Rutherford College
Sat 27/04/1968 Houghton Rugby Club
Sun 28/04/1968 Townley Arms
Tue 30/04/1968 Central Club, Ashington
Fri 03/05/1968 Sacriston Memeorial Hall
Sat 04/05/1968 Middlesbrough Bowling Alley
Mon 06/05/1968 Club Franch, Jarrow
Fri 10/05/1968 Northern Counties College
Sat 11/05/1968 101 Club, Carlisle
Sun 12/05/1968 Stanley Youth Club
Fri 17/05/1968 Saxon Club, Jarrow
Sat 18/05/1968 Easington Colliery Welfare
Fri 24/05/1968 Mayfair Ballroom, Newcastle
Sun 26/05/1968 Middlesbrough Bowling Alley
Mon 27/05/1968 Michaels Club
Fri 31/05/1968 Newbiggin
Sat 01/06/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Sun 02/06/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Fri 07/06/1968 Stanley Youth Club
Sat 08/06/1968 Houghton Rugby Club
Sun 09/06/1968 Townley Arms
Mon 10/06/1968 Bedlington Social Club
Fri 14/06/1968 Alexandra Hotel, Sunderland
Sat 15/06/1968 Winnybank Youth Club
Sun 16/06/1968 Excel, Middlesbrough
Wed 19/06/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Fri 21/06/1968 Dudley County School
Sat 22/06/1968 Haggerston Castle
Fri 28/06/1968 Northern Counties College
Sat 29/06/1968 Centre 64, Blyth
Sat 06/07/1968 Houghton Rugby Club
Sun 07/07/1968 Stanley Youth Club
Wed 10/07/1968 Duke of Wellington, Blyth
Fri 12/07/1968 Amble British Legion
Sat 13/07/1968 East Stanley Dance
Wed 17/07/1968 Saxon Club, Jarrow
Thu 18/07/1968 Stanley Youth Club
Tue 13/08/1968 Birtley Rex Club
Thu 15/08/1968 Evenwood Club
Sat 17/08/1968 New Cellar Club, South Shields
Fri 23/08/1968 Amble British Legion
Sun 25/08/1968 Stanley Youth Club
Fri 30/08/1968 Hirst Central, Ashington
Sat 31/08/1968 Ashington Welfare
Sat 07/09/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Wed 11/09/1968 Winnybank Youth Club
Fri 13/09/1968 Ramside Hall
Sat 14/09/1968 Northern Counties College
Sun 15/09/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Mon 16/09/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Thu 19/09/1968 Shildon Railway Institute
Fri 20/09/1968 Deneside Youth Centre
Sat 21/09/1968 Cellar Club, Hartlepool
Thu 26/09/1968 RAF, Acclington
Sat 28/09/1968 Haggerston Castle
Fri 04/10/1968 Hirst Central, Ashington
Sat 12/10/1968 Carlisle
Fri 18/10/1968 Amble British Legion
Sun 20/10/1968 Townley Arms
Mon 21/10/1968 Blackhall WMC
Wed 23/10/1968 Duke of Wellington, Blyth
Fri 25/10/1968 Hirst Central, Ashington
Sat 26/10/1968 Quay Club, Newcastle
Sun 27/10/1968 Stanley Youth Club
Thu 31/10/1968 Shildon Railway Institute
Fri 01/11/1968 Stanley Boys Club
Sat 02/11/1968 Centre 64, Blyth
Sat 09/11/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Sun 10/11/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Mon 11/11/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Sat 16/11/1968 Tow Bar, Whitehaven
Sun 17/11/1968 Tow Bar, Whitehaven
Tue 19/11/1968 Hirst Central, Ashington
Wed 20/11/1968 Bishop Aukland
Thu 21/11/1968 Quay Club, Newcastle
Fri 22/11/1968 Dumfries Drill Hall
Sat 23/11/1968 Birtley Community Centre
Sat 30/11/1968 Haggerston Castle
Fri 06/12/1968 Outon Manor YC, Hartlepool
Sat 07/12/1968 Quay Club, Newcastle
Fri 13/12/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Sat 14/12/1968 Rex Hotel, Whitley Bay
Sun 15/12/1968 Townley Arms
Wed 18/12/1968 Ashington Tech Dance
Thu 26/12/1968 Beechwood YC, Middlebrough
Fri 27/12/1968 Five Bridges Hotel, Gateshead
  1. Ronald shakespeare

    December 30, 2017 •

    Hi I’m interested in Village with Bruce Thomas, Bill Porter and Peter Bardens. I find it interesting that The Village broke up after 9 months, and Village broke up at the same time, and for the same reason, a year earlier. In your email you said that Peter Barden had a later version, is this the same Village that went electronic and made 2 albums in the 70’s. I tried to find any records your groups made but I didn’t find any on iTunes, is there any other outlets I can find any. I did not follow music in the 60/70’ as I did not have a radio or tv then and I would like to find lost groups and their recordings. Maybe you could help me. Thanks

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