What an undiluted pleasure it was to do a gig with my old mates in Cool Classics. Ages ago we played together in Italian restaurants, wedding venues and corporate events. With its unusual line up of guitar, accordion, violin and bass guitar, Cool Classics remains the most versatile of ensembles. Light classical, Jazz, Nautical, Italian, Tango, English, Irish, Welsh and Scottish traditional material are all part of this band’s extensive repertoire. They’ve played at Jewish golden wedding celebrations, festivals of the sea, military events, Christmas markets, pagan weddings and on board HMS Illustrious and Victory as well as the Warrior.
So, when Cool Classics were booked to play at a pretend royal wedding and street party at Cams Hall Estate Golf Club, I was well up for joining them on violin. In white tuxedos, white shirts, colourful bow ties, black trousers and shiny shoes, we really looked the part: an up-market band for posh events.
The band’s members are all seasoned gigsters.
Guitarist and vocalist Chris Lowe is no stranger to performing in large or small venues. He was a musician on tour with the highly successful show “The Comedians” of early television fame. He also played with the Carla Hendriks Band which was a bit like Fairport Convention. Veteran songbird Carla, who has undoubted stage presence, is still going strong with big bands. She appears with small jazzy combos at Rosie’s Wine Bar Southsea from time to time.
Accordion player Doctor Maxime Lanchbury MBE played oboe in the Swansea Youth Orchestra when he was a lad. All his working life was spent as a government scientist. He now enjoys playing traditional folk-dance music.
Chris Bousher, who plays bass and sings, is retiring soon from lecturing accountancy at South Downs College. He too has an early background in folk music and played with Liquid Engineering when beards and long hair were in fashion for men.
All these players learnt to play conventionally but now use up-to-the-minute technology like synchronised lighting and having music on ipads in front of them. They can extemporise too. Not many orchestral players can do this. Cool Classics are proud of their folk music connections. After all, it did Brahms, Dvorak, Schubert and Vaughan Williams no harm either. After the gig, Chris Lowe said I’d played like we’d never been apart. Now there’s a lovely chuck-up.