This page is dedicated to a few of our local bands. Actually the word 'local' is a bit of a misnomer, since at least one of these bands has toured throughout the UK, Germany and Holland, and recently did their 1,000th gig. I say local because they are all based in the South London-Kent area, and most of these musos still have to hold down a day job to pay the rent. Where possible I have put links to their own homepages, so this is not so much a subtle advertising page as a tribute to men and women whom we respect.
I've seen loads of bands playing blues over the years, from the tolerable to the cod. But the Experience, although more than a blues band, do actually play the blues well. Of all the bands described here, they are also probably the most professional. As mentioned above, they have an extensive touring schedule and have also cut several LPs, both of covers and their own material.
I first saw the Experience when someone three or four years ago told me about the "South London Jam", a jam night that at the time was being held in a Beckenham pub. We went along and saw the host band, the Experience, playing some of their material as a warm-up. While some blues covers have often made me cringe, these were pretty good, sung and played in a way that added the band's own flavour without murdering the originals. I think it's even harder to write decent blues rock, but again I was impressed with the material they introduced. Apart from that, they also, surprise surprise, came across as decent human beings rather than some of the egomaniacs you get in rock bands.
The Experience have always been a three-piece (drums, guitar and bass), although on Jam Nights they were often joined by a second guitarist. When we first saw them they had a Ricki from Eastenders lookalike, John, on the drums, and a tall long-haired dude on the bass, Andy. Since then John has gone on to join St Etienne, and Andy had a haircut and went on to do some depping with other groups, as well as forming his own soul band - another sign that really blues, soul and rock are all part of a circle, rather than being violently opposed camps as some people seem to think today. I remember them both as being really generous and friendly guys - John in particular was always willing to sit in with us at the jams. Since then the band has had various bassists and drummers, all of a high quality. The unchanging variable in the equation has always been Peter Orr, the bespectacled guitarist whose modesty can't hide his talent, both vocal and instrumental. Pete has penned a good deal of original material but also manages to cover Hendrix, the Doors and other greats convincingly.
The Experience have their own homepage, http://www.electricexp.co.uk. For a much better view of this excellent band, go to one of their gigs, of which there are usually plenty around the South-East London/Kent area. You won't be disappointed.
** The Experience have a new LP of original material out in November. I have heard some of the cuts and they are good! Try their web page or E-mail the Cyberlizard if you can't get hold of them.
Johnny Strooka also sent me a brief biog of the Strookas, which I think says it all:
The Strookas were formed in April 1986, but seemed to take themselves a bit more seriously with the arrival of a new bass player, superhunk Tony O'Rourke in 1991.
Heralding from Maidstone and Chatham, the three-piece punksters gigged quite a lot in the south-east during their early days and got rave reviews in fanzines, following some ridiculous radio interviews on BBC Radio Kent.
Early demo tapes were seen as classics and the "Bathe in Plankton for a Lifetime of Beautiful Skin" cassette LP was seen as a benchmark for all things stupid. 1987 and 1990 saw the release of two self-funded EPs.
But with Tony's arrival, David Bloomfield (guitar) and John Edwards (drums and lead vocals) began to write more serious stuff, being influenced by Husker Du, Radio Birdman, Dinosaur Jr and Swervedriver.
In 1993, a debut LP titled "Deaf by Dawn" was released and a fabulous two week tour of France followed.
Around that time, the band played with Mega City Four and Green Day. Gigs continued, as did the recording and the band have hours of studio time and demos under their belts.
The band are currently awaiting the release of the CD album "Cumagutza", on Scene Police Records and a further CD release is planned in April next year. It is with this CD in mind that the gig at The River Bar is being used to air brand new material - also to blow away some cobwebs, as the band haven't played live for some time due to various commitments and bone idleness.
If you want any more info about the band please contact "The Strookas" by e-mailing them at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Somebody once described the Cherry Reds as the cabaret band of the South London Jam Night, a bit unfair on the Cherries really, but whatever the truth of this statement, the fact remains that they are immensely popular at this event. I first saw them when we started going down to the South London Jam when it was still at Drummonds in Beckenham. At the time I think they had only just started to learn their instruments, but for the sort of raw-edged punk that they play, this wasn't such a disadvantage. In fact the guitarist has improved quite a bit over the two or three years I've seen them. For a three-piece they manage to make quite a bit of noise and seem to play the songs quite well, despite the fact that the bassists come and go. As they once summed it up, "This is the second song, for those of you who can count. And if you can't count, you should be in the Cherry Reds."
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