Andy on Andy's Music
Written by Andy Franks   
Wednesday, 28 March 2007
Raven hair.
Andy in 1973

From my earliest years I liked all sorts of music. Around the house I found 78 records of jazz folk and blues. I was very struck by Big Bill Broonzy - no one played like that on the radio. Even when very young I would ask for Ella Fitzgerald records to be played, (only I called her Elephant Gerald). Soon I was buying records, The Beatles were a revelation, but I also got into folk, soul, blues and Mr Dylan.

I became aware of different ways of performing music. The BBC were limited in the number of hours of recorded music they could play, thus the house orchestras would play popular hits in their own bland style. This and show tunes were the sort of music I hated. For me anything was OK if done with feeling and commitment, noticeably lacking on the BBC Light Programme.

My first experience of going to live gigs was the local folk club at the Lord Nelson in Hastings (Sussex, UK). I later found this pub had a bad reputation for all sorts of things I was blissfully ignorant. There you had a range of styles from trad folk through contemporary singers to old fashioned blues pickers, plus chorus singing like you never hear now.

School years passed and I found myself working in Worthing, Sussex. My musical taste was expanded to take in more American rock particularly West Coast stuff like the Grateful Dead. Before long I found opportunities to join a band, the first one being fairly predictable rock, and the next being a mad cacophony - what year was that?

Uncle John's Band

The drummer from the aforementioned band also played with an acoustic guitarist called Barry Ruffell. Within a couple of years we started to get a band together, mainly playing songs that Barry had written. This involved some quite complicated arrangements, and it seemed that no sooner had we got a set rehearsed when someone would leave and we'd start again. When Andy the drummer told us that a local pub was looking for a duo, this seemed like a good opportunity and so it turned out. The duo attracted Roger, an accomplished bass player, then Ken and Mervyn on mandolin and fiddle, thus was born Uncle John's Band.

The repertoire ran from Irish tunes through folk songs, American folk, Dylan, Beatles, Dead and songs written by band members. As the years passed we developed more pop material and got quite busy as a local function band. The band's Sunday residency at Chapman's hotel became legendary. it was said that from the beer cellar you could see the bar floor moving up and down by about four inches! There were some personnel changes along the way,.. but most notable in the development of the band's sound were Geoff Peckham on bass and squeeze boxes and Macro on drums.

Before UJB finished, I got into a smaller combo with Geoff and an excellent guitarist Trevor Grant. We used this to play more acoustic stuff, playing hot club style jazz and me singing songs from the 30s. For several years we hosted a local open mike night in Chapman's cellar bar in Worthing.

The Village Band
The Village Band at the Brunswick Hotel

When UJB eventually split up, after 25 years, I carried on wih Trevor for a few years and also joined up wih some old friends playing Irish music in The Village Band. This continues today. I have also ventured into solo performance although this is not active at present as the classic rock band Back in Time is fighting for my time.

When not playing gigs or rehearsing, I play acoustic guitar at home.

Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 February 2010 )
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Andy died on
29 January 2010.

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