Helen and the Horns –
Helen and the Horns began as a full-band country and western/spaghetti western project that included Lester Square (the Monochrome Set) on guitar and Mike Slocombe (later also to join the Monochrome Set) on drums. Helen was looking for a trumpet player, and came across Dave Jago (trombone) and Paul Davey (sax) who volunteered to play.
After one band gig and a demo for Geoff Travis, money ran out and Helen started rehearsing the Horns on their own, swapping to guitar from bass, with the intention to include the rest of the band later.
The Monochrome Set offered them a support gig at the (then) Kingston Polytechnic in this stripped-down form which went down so well that they decided to carry on as a trio, with the later addition of the hankered-after trumpet player. Their sound was so unusual that John Peel became fascinated by them; they release a single, ‘Freight Train’, and their songs were simultaneously played by John Peel on BBC Radio 1 and Terry Wogan on BBC Radio 2.
Gigs ranged from rock gigs (Warwick University with 500 pogo-ing punks) to graduation balls (The Cafe´Royal, London, with waltzing graduates in taffeta dresses and dinner suits).
A later deal with RCA records didn’t suit the band’s sense of independence, and they left the label and brought out an album on their own label, ‘Hell Hath No Horns…’. They disbanded amicably in 1986, and since then have got together to play every couple of years, introducing news songs to their set to keep things fresh. This gig features original members Dave and Paul, and regular trumpet player Steve Joy.
Poor Performer –
Simon Rivers led The Bitter Springs for twenty-five or so years, a group which (largely) self-released a series of critically acclaimed records over more than twenty years. Weaving the messy threads of suburban life into dense tapestries, he has something of the Go-Betweens’ gift for melody, something of Mark E Smith’s ear for language, something of Vic Godard’s common touch, and almost none of the acclaim that should have been his due.” Since leaving his day-job as a postman, Rivers has been busy with what will be received as his “Meisterwerk”, released under the name Poor Performer, the sessions for which produced such an abundance of marvels that the album, “Like Yer Wounds Too”, will also contain a bonus CD with some of the songs he couldn’t fit on the vinyl.
As critic Jim Wirth put it, “A near-invisible presence on the margins of underground pop, Simon Rivers is well into his fourth decade of making sweet, powerful, crushingraddle lines between sharp observational wit, triteless emotion and sarcastic bastardry”
James McCallum –
James McCallum is a singer/songwriter whose first musical foray was as a member of Brighton punk band Smeggy and the Cheesey Bits (whose lead singer went on to front the psychobilly band King Kurt); later he joined The Chefs. An active member of the band, he played guitar on almost all of their recordings and also wrote songs. After a long break from performing, he has started to play his self-penned material live. Many of his songs have humorous lyrics inspired by subjects as diverse as parenthood and garden fauna. Brought up on Ivor Cutler and Tom Lehrer, there are echoes of Syd Barrett in his lyrics too.