Later this Spring the American music legend Stevie Wonder is celebrating his 70th birthday. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you just how much great music he has been responsible for down the years. I was very lucky to catch him at Wembley Arena some forty years ago when he was promoting one of his finest albums – Hotter Than July. Since then his visits to these shores have been sporadic, to say the very least.
Stevie still has a huge following of course and that’s reflected in the popularity of a celebration of his music spearheaded by saxophone great Derek Nash. Derek has put together a show called Some Kinda Wonderful which went down an absolute storm last year at The Apex in Bury St Edmunds. It’s back in our neck of the woods very soon. Derek and his fellow musicians are at The Maritime Room in Southend on Wednesday, February 12 and then perform at the New Wolsey Theatre in Ipswich on Sunday, March 1.
Derek’s expertise on the saxophone is widely recognised. He’s a long-standing member of Jools Holland’s Rhythm And Blues Orchestra and fronts a handful of his own jazz projects. His tribute to Stevie Wonder is a welcome addition to this country’s music offer and features the tremendous voice of Noel McCalla who for many years was a member of Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Noel has also contributed to recordings by Morrissey Mullen and Mike Rutherford among many others.
Ticket sales for their New Wolsey debut have been going very well and at the time of writing the show is heading for a sell out. If you do miss out then you might like to know that the Some Kinda Wonderful experience is back at The Apex on Friday, April 17.
The Some Kinda Wonderful concert is the first of two I’m presenting at the New Wolsey in early March. On Sunday, March 8 the expanded line-up of Nine Below Zero are in town. NBZ’s relatively new six piece line up has certainly breathed new life into a band who’ve been on the UK scene for more than 40 years.
NBZ have always been worth seeing but I reckon the latest incarnation sees the group at their very best. With Dennis Greaves and Mark Feltham still at the helm, the recruitment of female singer Charlie Austen, bassist Benjamin Willis, multi-instrumentalist Tom Monks and Sonny Greaves on drums has been a masterstroke. After an extensive tour towards the end of last year promoting the awesome Avalanche album, Nine Below Zero are carrying on in 2020 where they left off in 2019 and I can’t wait to see them back in Ipswich. The last time they played in Suffolk’s county town was on the tour they did opening for their close friends Squeeze.
My association with NBZ goes back a long way. Along with John Butters, I used to bring them to The Lion’s Den in Ipswich in the 1990s and The Manor Ballroom in the noughties. We also put them on with Dr Feelgood at The Corn Exchange a few times and in more recent times they’ve graced The Jerwood Dance House, Venue 77 and The New Wolsey. In common with their fellow rhythm and blues legends Dr Feelgood, there are very few places in my hometown where NBZ haven’t played and I include the Ipswich Regent in that. Imagine my excitement when, as a teenager, I saw Dr Feelgood at what was then The Gaumont and then a few years later witnessed the classic Nine Below Zero line-up at the same place, firstly opening for The Kinks and then headlining their own show there. Check out the New Wolsey Theatre website for details of both my forthcoming promotions there. The concerts start at 7pm and will see both acts perform two sets