Birthday Feelgood Factor

They (whoever they may be) say that 60 is the new 40 and having recently reached 60 I’m not going to argue with them. It certainly doesn’t seem 39 years ago I was celebrating my 21st birthday with a whiskey-fuelled party which left me with the mother of all hang-overs. I vowed never to touch Scotch again and so far I’ve managed to stick to my guns! Once bitten, twice shy and all that.   

It’s no secret that Dr Feelgood are my favourite band and since the mid-1980s I have promoted most of their gigs in Ipswich along with a few more in other places. The first time I put them on in town was back in 1985 in the now demolished main hall of what was then the Civic College in Ipswich. Having been lucky enough to meet and interview lead singer Lee Brilleaux down in Leigh-on-Sea a few months earlier I suggested to the band’s manager Chris Fenwick that I sort a show for them in Suffolk’s county town. I can’t tell you how proud I was to make that happen with help from my good friend Chris ‘Boot’ Seed.

Since then I’ve been involved in gigs of theirs at the Corn Exchange, the Lion’s Den, the Manor Ballroom, Ipswich Music Day and most recently their Christmas shows at Venue 77. The current line-up did me proud back in 1999 when they played at my 40th birthday bash. It was one of singer Robert Kane’s first gigs with them which means the modern day Feelgoods are celebrating 20 years together.

A few weeks back, on Friday November 1 to be precise, Messrs Kane, Mitchell, Morris and Walwyn, ticked off another Ipswich venue when they did the honours for me at my 60th bash at Greshams on the edge of town. They even asked me to choose some of my favourite songs. I threw them a curve ball towards the end when I suggested they finish with Johnny B Goode. They hadn’t played that particular Chuck Berry classic for some time but they came up trumps, as I knew they would.

This month the group will be making a quick return to Ipswich to do their annual festive gig at Venue 77, at the back of the Gardeners Arms pub in Fore Hamlet. The boys are back in town on Wednesday, December 18 and advance tickets are available from the usual outlets – the Regent Theatre box office, Out Of Time Records and the Gardeners Arms bar. They’re £18 beforehand or £22 on the night.

As ever, I’ve lined up a great local band to open proceedings. This year it’s the blues-rock trio Hot Tramp who’re celebrating the release a new EP. I rate the group very highly and when they supported Dr Feelgood at the same place a few years back many people commented to me just how good they thought Hot Tramp were.

Dr Feelgood’s Christmas shows in Ipswich are legendary. From the Lee Brilleaux days right the way through to the Robert Kane years Canvey’s finest rhythm and blues band have always guaranteed a great night out. Long may they continue to do so. For me and many others their much anticipated appearance in my hometown signals the start of the festive season. If you can’t make the Ipswich gig then five days earlier Dr Feelgood play at the Junction in Cambridge.

Another regular date in my diary is the New Year’s Eve Hootenanny organised by Greg Cooper of Beer And Co. It’ll be the 4th one at the end of this month and this time round the marvellous MotherFvnker are helping us see in 2020. Fronted by Vania Lima this group will be spreading the funk at St Peters in Ipswich. I’ll be hosting the night’s proceedings which also feature popular DJ Daniel Lee Harvey and an emerging act hand-picked by GrapevineLIve.     

Have a wonderful Christmas and my very best wishes for 2020.