Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance

This month Foz flags up his next attractions at Venue 77 in Ipswich, confirming his commitment to bring high quality music to his hometown and further afield.

I’ve always admired the work of the late, great Ronnie Lane. He played an enormous part in the success of The Small Faces in the sixties and The Faces in the seventies and also enjoyed some solo success with the classic singles How Come and The Poacher. In the late seventies he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and after a 21 year battle with the disease died in 1997 at the age of 51.

Ronnie’s work with the band Slim Chance was ground breaking. We almost take acoustic music for granted these days. There are so many great acts on the current scene but back in the mid-seventies Ronnie Lane’s Slim Chance were one of only handful of groups playing what would now be called Americana. Their blend of folk, rock and country was critically acclaimed and even prompted a tour called The Passing Show which to all intents and purposes was a carnival complete with Viv Stanshall from the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah band acting as compere.

A few years back Slim Chance decided to re-convene and its proved to be a popular move. Most music fans don’t feel the need to wear blinkers these days which means the return of Ronnie’s trusty sidemen has been well received, so much so that they’ve already recorded two fine albums.

Next month Slim Chance make their East Anglia debut at Venue 77 in Ipswich. The line-up of Steve Simpson on guitar, mandolin and fiddle, Charlie Hart on accordion, fiddle and piano, Steve Bingham on bass, Geraint Watkins on piano, organ and accordion and John Lingwood on drums are in Suffolk’s county town on Friday, April 15. All five handle vocals too so this is an incredibly talented and experienced band who are having an absolute ball combining many Ronnie Lane favourites with more recent songs of their own.

Opening for Slim Chance will be a man who needs no introduction to fans of Jools Holland. Mark Flanagan has been a member of the Rhythm And Blues Orchestra for the best part of 30 years, playing guitar for Jools at all his concerts and on virtually all his recordings.

When he’s not out on the road with Jools, Suffolk-based Mark fronts his own trio. A few years back they performed a cracking show for the Ipswich Jazz Club which was recorded for broadcast by BBC Radio Suffolk. Since then Mark’s visits to Ipswich have been few and far between so it’s with great pleasure that I have been able to able to secure his services.

Most of my promotions over the past few years have been blues-based but this year I’m fully intending to spread my wings and taken in other genres. With that in mind I’ll be presenting punk legends The Members at Venue 77 on Friday, May 27. This year is the 40th anniversary of punk so I thought it would be rude not to join in the celebrations.

I will be returning to the blues in June when the legendary record producer Mike Vernon brings his Mighty Combo to Venue 77 on Saturday, June 18. More details about that and the gig by The Members will emerge soon but for the moment I’m gearing up for the Slim Chance and Mark Flanagan double bill. It’ll be a night of superb songs with the musicianship to match.