Now in their 29th year as rock 'n' roll crusaders for all that's way, way cool about early '60s Britannia pop, Merseybeat and Shadows-styled instrumentals, The Rapiers—"the best '60s band since the '60s"—are truly worth flying 5,000 miles to see, hear and dig.
Making their fourth annual pilgrimage to Northamptonshire's Jacks Hill Cafe, The Rapiers join the "celebration of Ton-up, Coffee Bar Cowboys and Rockers at this historic A5 cafe" on Sunday, 17 July 2011, supporting dawn-of-British-Pop legend Wee Willie Harris, famous purveyor of Rockin' at the 2 I's.
"Established in 1957 and set in a beautiful old school house, the [Concorde Club] boasts an excellent restaurant, wine bar and hotel. Originally set up as a jazz club it now offers a diverse entertainment programme including live music five nights a week."
The Concorde is a private members club based in Eastleigh, near Southampton, Hampshire, real Heinz Burt territory. Not a Concorde VIP? I hear buying a meal gets you in the door. But confirm by ringing 023 8065 1478. Further contact details here.
Alas, being away from England for eight solid weeks precludes either Neil Ainsby or Dave Lawes from handling rhythm guitar duties.
Solution? Call a Shadmaster!
Standing capably in is Rogier van den Oever, ex-member of Pipeline '61 and currently in The Shadmasters, based conveniently in Holland. Decked out in Rapier burgundy and black finery, he's third from left between Colin Pryce-Jones and John Tuck, courtesy this snap from Nathan J. Hulse.
Get your British motors running up to Jacks Hill Cafe this Sunday, 25 July, in Towcester, Northamptonshire, for the annual Ton-Up Day celebrations, featuring The Rapiers (three years running) with rocker Mike Berry.
For what true-blooded Englishman or Englishwoman (or long-distance Anglophile) could resist "rock 'n' roll, fry-ups, cafe racer movies, trophies, tea & chips, real cafe atmosphere, the lot!"
For action on previous Ton-Up Days, check 2009 here and here, and 2008 here.
Our man on the ground in Hampshire Geoff Worrall caught Made in Britain at the Assembly Rooms in Derby Friday night and filed this review:
The show opened with The Rapiers setting the mood, belting out The Shads’ early classic Shadoogie. Straight from the off you could tell the lads were in fine form, as slick and polished as ever. Following a bit of banter between Neil Ainsby and Colin Pryce-Jones, Billie Davis came on to delight the audience with her '60s hits, including her best known, Tell Him.
The Rapiers did a superb Wonderful Land before introducing Steve "Cliff Richard" Halliday, who bounded on stage to the opening riff of Move It. His first set of the evening included Living Doll, We Say Yeah (complete with audience participation) and The Young Ones. When he left the stage, it was time for The Rapiers again, this time marking the 50th Anniversary of Apache. Up next, for Billy Fury fans, Michael King was superb in both voice and appearance.
After the interval, The Rapiers opened with FBI before bringing back Billie Davis. However, when she was late coming out, a quick-thinking Colin asked the audience what should they do? The consensus: The Rapiers' well-known tribute [GO: Presumably Good Golly Miss Molly] to Screaming Lord Sutch—clearly appreciated by all. When she appeared, Billie entertained with songs and anecdotes of her days at Decca Records.
Steve's second set included more '60s classics and songs from Summer Holiday. Finally, the evening finished with another fine set from Michael.
Regarding those late summer solo Rapiers gigs, you should know:
It's by "invitation only" to Heather Drury's private birthday celebration at the BRSA Railway Club in Chesterfield on 14 August. Best wishes in advance, Heather!
Book tickets c/o longtime Rapiers supporter Ann Green on 02380-863356 for the Hythe Club on 21 August. BTW: For a variety of reasons, Ann and hubby Colin won't be throwing their annual Rapiers bash at Totton's Empire Hall, which (oh, no!) is due for demolition "for redevelopment", she notes sadly. I'm unclear whose redevelopment.
Our lads just confirmed almost four dozen gigs for their new stageshow A Tribute to Cliff Richard & The Shadows: The Golden Years featuring singer Jimmy Jemain (second from left, above), 28 September thru 28 November, across Holland, including Amsterdam on 26 November.
"The format is two halves," says Nathan J. Hulse. "Each half opens with 15-20 minutes of us doing Shadows stuff, followed by Jimmy Jemain doing his Cliff. I think the newest number will be Congratulations ; otherwise, all early music."
Heavens! I imagine perennially picky eater Colin "HP Sauce" Pryce-Jones might lose a few stone during his over-the-water sojourn.
Our lads with singers Kystun Wolfe and Billie Davis do a Sunday seaside date at Hunstanton's Princes Theatre, which gushes thusly: "The Rapiers are recognised for their perfection personified performances as they capture the essence of what made the original Shadows so special."
By way of local background, Squidoo's Hunstanton entry offers additional enlightenment:
Hunstanton's history goes all the way back to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, seeing an Anglo-Saxon settlement and local activity by the Iceni and the Romans. The ruins of St Edmunds Chapel lie in Hunstanton and date back to 1270. Named after the first patron saint of England, Edmund was crowned the king of East Anglia in 856 AD, having landed at Hunstanton as a young 14-year-old Saxon on Christmas Day in 855 AD.
In 1845 Henry Styleman Le Strange began efforts to develop a coastal holiday village on an undeveloped part of his estate. The first building to be erected was the New Inn, now the Golden Lion, which became locally known as "Le Strange's Folly".
Best seen on that page is Sir John Betjeman's dear train ride, matchless commentary and arrival from nearby King's Lynn. "Here we are, straight as a die, heading for the terminus. If the diesel goes too fast, we'll go right through the barrier, out through the hotel and into the sea."