5…4…3…2…1… It’s The Manfreds!
Originally formed in 1991 to celebrate guitarist Tom McGuinness’ 50th birthday, and showing no sign of stopping, The Manfreds are made up of members of the original Manfred Mann, who had hits with Mighty Quinn, Pretty Flamingo and Do Wah Diddy Diddy among many others.
Original singer Paul Jones, with his unique harmonica sound, will be joined by Mike Hugg on keyboards, Tom McGuinness on guitar, Rob Townsend on drums, Marcus Cliffe on bass, and Simon Currie on saxophone/flute.
Martin Hutchinson chatted to the band after their sell-out tour of New Zealand – a tour which put a smile on singer Paul Jones’ face; “It was terrific!” He says. “So well organised and really enjoyable.”
Paul has been on the road for over fifty years, firstly with Manfred Mann, then as a solo act, then in musical theatre and now as a ‘Manfred’. He also tours with The Blues Band with fellow Manfred Tom McGuinness and as a duo with fellow Blues Band-mate Dave Kelly.
Martin asked if there is a secret to keeping Paul’s voice in prime condition, considering his hectic schedule;
“Well I warm up before a show as one is supposed to and I’ve got exercises that I do. To be honest though, I only started to do that in the late 70’s when I went to a vocal teacher.
Back in the early days I sometimes misused my voice, and if that happened I just screeched my way through a show. There were so many girls screaming that nobody noticed. But when I went into musical theatre I realised that there was nowhere to hide, so I started seeing this vocal teacher which lasted through to the late 80’s, and I’m very grateful to that teacher.”
Paul laughs, “I also started going to a dance teacher, but he didn’t have the same success with me.”
So, what can we expect to hear on the tour this year?
“We have a couple of new things. There’s a feature tune from sax player Simon Currie from his new album, and bassist Marcus will be featured on a song from his new album – a Curtis Mayfield song called People Get Ready. How Lucky Can One Man Be is a song from Tom McGuinness’s latest album and there’ll be one from my current album Straighten Up And Fly Right which was written by Nat ‘King’ Cole.
The rest will be pretty much all Manfred Mann songs, but probably a few more obscure EP and album tracks as well as the hits. Also, there’ll be the odd song that we never recorded in a studio, but did on the radio.”
This is no doubt prompted by the recent release of four CD’s of radio recordings by the Jones era Manfred Mann, the Mike D’Abo era Manfred Mann, Manfred Mann Chapter Three and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band. Even with the band’s vast catalogue of hits, Paul can still pick out a few favourites.
“Well, because I wrote them, 5 4 3 2 1 and The One In The Middle. I’m very fond of those, but also Smokestack Lightnin’ because it’s the Blues and right up my street. I also admire Oh No Not My Baby. Mind you if we had been allowed to write more I might have had a different answer.”
The Portsmouth-born singer is looking forward to the UK dates, and he has this message:
“We shall attack then with gusto and some musical expertise. Don’t miss this. Firstly because it’s a line-up you may never hear again and we fire off each other. And secondly because we look really stupid when there’s no-one there. What’s important is the people who are there.”
The Manfreds will be bringing their Hits, Jazz & Blues Tour to The Apex, Bury St Edmunds on Thursday 30 May at 7.30pm. See www.theapex.co.uk or ring 01284 758000 for more information or to book tickets.