Keef Hartley Big Band Sunderland Empire 1970

Keef Hartley Sunderland Empire 1970
keefh Keef Hartley had a great musical pedigree. He replaced Ringo in Rory Storm and the Hurricanes and then went on to play with the legendary Artwoods (featuring Art Wood, Ron’s older brother, and Jon Lord) and John Mayall, before forming his own band. The Keef Hartley Band (which soon became the Big Band) was formed in 1968, played at Woodstock, and toured a lot sharing the bill with Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Yes. Keef also did a short stint as a temporary stand in drummer for Jethro Tull, and the band were once joined on stage by Jimi Hendrix. By the time I caught the Keef Hartley Big Band it featured Miller Anderson on vocals and guitar (he was to go on play with the Spencer Davis Group, The Dukes, Savoy Brown, T.Rex and Chicken Shack), Gary Thain on bass (later of Uriah Heep), Henry Lowther on trumpet, Barbara Thompson on alto sax, and a cast of thousands on various horns: Danny Allmark, Mike Davis, Bud Parkes, Dave Caswell, Lyle Jenkins, Jimmy Jewell, and Roger Wade. Something tells me that the line-up I saw at the Empire was a mini big band, and didn’t feature all the members. I also seem to recall that Dick Heckstall-Smith was a special guest; I think I remember him soloing with two saxs at once, but I can’t be certain. I remember being fascinated by this big band set-up, and by Miller Anderson’s excellent guitar playing. I recognised one song Not Foolish, Not Wise, which featured on a sample album of the time. The programme tells me” “The Keef Hartley band will select their programme from the following numbers: Me and my woman, Hickory, Don’t be afraid, Not foolish not wise, Waiting around, Tadpole, Poor Mabel, Believe in you, Rock me baby, You can’t take it with you, Premonition, Halfbreed, Born to die, Sinnin’ for you, Leavin’ trunk, Just to cry, Too much thinking, Too much to take, Danestte kid, Don’t give up, Hartley’s jam for bread, The time is near.” It goes on to say: “The band is in a constant state of progress, somehow making room for new compositions from all its members in a programme already full of “musts” and “requests”.” The programme also advertises their 1970 release The time is near “the latest album – released mid-June on Deram.” Keef disappeared from the music scene in the 1980s and sadly died on 26 November 2011, aged 67.

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