Category Archives: Feelgood Saturday

The performance of a lifetime

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As I discovered a few weeks ago when I chatted with David Worsfold about the annual Brentwood Choirs Festival our area has a wealth of choral talent, and I was delighted this week to chat with three members of Billericay Choral Society about their recent once in a lifetime performance at the iconic Carnegie Hall.

Along with others from the Society – as well as members of Brentwood and Ingatestone Choral Societies – Rachel O’Hara, Gytha Washington and David Bateman jumped at the chance to join with a professional orchestra and soloists on the massive stage at America’s answer to the Royal Albert Hall. Gytha explained how they got the chance to take part in such a prestigious production of the Howard Goodall Requiem Eternal Light, commissioned in 2008 to coincide with the 90th anniversary of the end of World War One, which as David movingly described seeks to help ensure that the lives of those who fell are remembered in perpetuity.

The trip was made all the more special by the active involvement and guidance of the composer himself, together with a very positive review by New York Concert Review. This was truly the sort of experience that money alone couldn’t buy!

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To the brink

With today’s news dominated by the death of 90 year-old former Cuban President Fidel Castro we had a fascinating insight this morning into what it was like to live through a time of such heightened international tension that the world came close to the brink of nuclear holocaust.

Phoenix FM presenter Scott Ross has vivid memories of the 1962 Cuban Missiles Crisis – sparked at the height of the Cold War following the Soviet Union’s deployment of nuclear missiles less than 100 miles from the coast of Florida – and it was fascinating to hear him describe how ordinary life was affected during that fortnight-long standoff when people literally wondered whether there’d be a tomorrow.

It’s one thing to watch documentaries or read history books, but as listener Mark commented Scott’s informative and personal account really connected those of us not around at that time to how it must have felt.

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achristmascarolOn a somewhat lighter note it was good to chat also with Amy Clayton and Justin Cartledge from Early Doors Productions about their forthcoming production of A Chrismas Carol. The Victorian masterpiece has been adapted numerous times over the years and EDP have chosen the version by Rumpole creator John Mortimer, which Amy said retains much of Dickens’ original language through a clever blend of performance with narration.

Sadly however – if you’ve not already got a ticket – all next week’s performances at Ingatestone Hall have already fully sold, which is a tribute to the popularity of what is an excellent group. It’s also a good reason to book early for their next production, Harry Segall’s rom-com Heaven Can Wait. For details of that – together with EDP’s plans right up to 2019 – check out their website.

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Mixed prospects for local football fans

We heard of mixed prospects in this morning’s sport round up, with West Ham manager Slaven Bilic warning that his team were in a Premier League relegation battle ahead of their match later against rivals Tottenham. The outlook for Billericay Town, meanwhile, is much more positive, with new owner Glenn Tamplin telling Phoenix about some very ambitious plans for the Club:

You can hear the rest of Glenn’s exclusive interview with Phoenix FM here.

Phoenix FM is also excited to have a brand new show dedicated exclusively to Hopefield Animal Sanctuary. Presenter Ruth E Mortimer – from the Brentwood charity – recently took over part of Michelle’s show when she chatted with Hopefiled staff member Ben Gregory about a whole range of issues, including some of the problems that can occur when we treat our pets as humans:

The Hopefield Hour will be on every Wednesday evening from 6, and you can listen to the pilot show in full here.

I also gave you another lyric teaser this morning, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these somewhat sinister sounding lines:

I cannot be your judge – Mr Jailer is your host.

He’s keeping you inside, and hides you from the world!*

*Word Up! was Life is a Flower by Ace of Base:

 

 

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The life-changing power of music

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I was joined this week by Marc Barnacle, founder of Essex based music service TIME, along with his colleagues Rob Fillary and Mike Barnes.

The idea behind TIME is to give people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds the chance to express themselves and experiment for their own benefit within a musical environment. They explained that they provide a wide range of theraputic sessions and workshops on a group or individual basis for people with disabilities, mental health problems or dementia as well as those within the homeless sector or using drug and alcohol rehabilitation services.

In our fast-paced world where the needs of the less fortunate in our society seem to be becoming ever more marginalised by some of the rich and powerful I was struck not just by the dedication of my guests but, moreover, the quite literally life-changing effects their work is having on people who seem to have a much sharper connection with their inner souls than most of us – such as through the singing bowl, described by Rob and which you can see on Facebook. I was left thinking that perhaps those rich and powerful aren’t, in many ways, the fortunate ones after all.time-the-papworth-anthem

The wonderfully positive effects of TIME’s work come across vividly in the passion and enthusiasim in a fundraising single TIME recorded this summer with some disabled musicians who attend Basildon’s Papworth Centre. All the money raised from The Papworth Anthem is being split between funding the Centre and contributing towards new instruments for TIME clients. You can download it from iTunes – it’s one of those catchy tunes that I guarantee will bring a smile to your face!

For more information on TIME and how they might be able to help you or someone you love or care for, together with details of their weekly Involve Club Night, visit their website or Facebook, email Marc or phone him on 07766 483 588.marc-barnacle-mike-barnes-rob-fillary-12-11-16

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MOBOs, lyrics and augmented reality

Whilst it was business as usual in front of the mic on this week’s show, behind the scenes it was a special morning as a student friend of mine had chosen me presenting Feelgood Saturday as one of her subjects for a project on augmented reality. Tammy wanted me to carry on as normal whilst she took numerous stills and video clips – no doubt meaning she’ll have captured all those embarrassing moments that go on when the songs are playing!

Music wise there was the usual wide variety – ranging from Peter Gabriel’s Games without Frontiers to the very catchy Sexual by NEIKED – along with Fill me in by Craig David, who picked up an incredible ninth MOBO last night for Best Male Act.

I also tested your knowledge of song lyrics with these lines:

I can’t forget the day you left – time is so unkind.

And life is so cruel without you here beside me!*

*Word Up! was Un-break my Heart, the song for which Toni Braxton picked up the 1997 Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance:

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Brentwood Choirs Festival

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The Festival which brings together choral groups from across our area will be presenting its 25th anniversary concert in a couple of weeks’ time and I was joined on this morning’s show by its Chair, David Worsfold, along with a local man whose family have long connections with music in the town, David Brice.

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David Brice’s father founded Brentwood Choral Society during the Second World War and as well as talking about the area’s longest established choir he also described the powerful nature of the work to be performed at this year’s Festival, Sir Edward Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius.

After outlining the history of the Festival David Worsfold went on to explain how singing brings a range of health benefits, both physical and mental, and that there’s an opportunity for anyone to join a specially formed choir which will be presenting a one-off concert at Brentwood Cathedral on 3rd December. Come-and-Sing-Messiah will rehearse during the afternoon and perform Handel’s complete Messiah to an audience in the evening – click here for details of how to register.

Brentwood Choirs Festival – with ELMS Symphony Orchestra conducted by David Hill and soloists Robert Murray, Julia Wilson-James and Roderick Earle – is taking place in the Cathedral on Saturday 12th November.

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You could sustain…

…or are you comfortable with the pain?

You’ve got no one to blame for your unhappiness –

You got yourself into your own mess!

These were the lines from the song I asked if you could identify in this week’s Word Up! teaser.*

As well as that the music on this week’s show was as diverse as ever – including songs by recently formed East London band Pumarosa, The Divine Comedy’s latest single and Born to Run – following an interesting interview Bruce Springsteen gave Channel 4 News during the week about his take on the US Presidential Election.

*Word Up! was Hold On by Wilson Phillips, which was nominated at the 1991 Grammies for Song of the Year:

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Badgers and the loss on another legend

I chatted this morning with Darren Parker, Publicity Manager of the Essex Badger Protection Group, about those creatures which are viewed by many as a menace but which members of his group work hard to protect.Darren Parker 15 08 15

Darren acknowledged that badgers can cause damage but argued that on balance their negative press is largely unjustified, and gave some alarming statistics and examples of how badgers themselves are threatened. He also gave some advice on what to do if badgers cause any damage in your garden – more of which you can read on their website.

Later this month they have a fundraising evening featuring one of TV’s favourite wildlife presenters, The One Show’s Wild Man, Mike Dilger. The Trials and Tribulations of a Natural History Presenter is billed as an illuminating and sideways look at what it takes to produce cheap and cheerful wildlife TV; it’s on Friday 28th October at 7.30pm at Hockley Community Centre, with details available here.

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News broke this morning of the death of the actress who played one of the best loved characters in the history of TV, Coronation Street’s Hilda Ogden. Jean Alexander, who died just three days after her 90th birthday, also starred for 22 years as Auntie Wainright in Last of the Summer Wine, but it was as Hilda that she’s still fondly remembered, nearly 30 years after leaving the soap. Her portrayal of a grieving Hilda breaking down clutching Stan’s glasses after his funeral was one of the most moving performances in any soap, but the couple were best known as a comedy partnership – with one of their funniest scenes seeing them sipping champagne in a hotel room having won a competition for a second honeymoon:

Jean Alexander was a fine actress who deserved her 1987 BAFTA Best Actress nomination.

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Who needs the soaps!

With the US Presidential Election just weeks away this morning’s news was dominated by criticism from within his own party of Donald Trump after a tape emerged of him making offensive comments about women. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the Republican party’s top elected official, said he was “sickened” by the remarks, made in 2005; and several of Trump’s backers announced the withdrawal of their support, including Utah congressman Jason Chaffetz:

This comes at the end of a week which saw one of the favourites for UKIP’s leadership – Steven Woolfe – in hospital after an altercation with a fellow MEP from his own party, not to mention months of public in-fighting in the Labour Party. The soap writers on both sides of the Pond must be finding it very hard at the moment to come up with storylines anywhere near as gripping as the news!

Meanwhile it was business as usual with my Word Up! teaser, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

When you walk into the room you pull me close and we start to move

And we’re spinning with the stars above – and you lift me up in a wave of love*

*Word Up! was Heaven is a Place on Earth by Belinda Carlisle:

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Breaking news…

It’s always exciting being on air when a big news story breaks, even when it is something that’s been in the offing for some time. That was certainly the case with the announcement during this morning’s show of Jeremy Corbyn’s re-election to the leadership of the Labour Party, with some 313,000 votes against challenger Owen Smith’s 193,000. The months since the EU Referendum have been anything but dull in the world of politics – something that was set to continue regardless of this morning’s result!

Meanwhile it was business as usual with another Word Up! lyric teaser, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

I know what I want and I know that I need it right now –

Gonna take you on a journey to a far away place now.*

*Word Up! was Sky by Sonique, viewed by many critics at the time as a better song than her chart topper It Feels so Good earlier in 2000

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A taste of Northern Europe

There was a bit of a theme to some of the music played this morning – purely unplanned – with quite  a few songs from Scandanavian artists, including A-Ha’s Analogue, Final Song by MØ and Aqua’s Turn Back Time. The theme extended to my Word Up! teaser, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

There was a time I met a girl of a different kind.

We ruled the world, I thought I’d never lose her out of sight.*

*Word Up! was Don’t You Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia

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One Man, Two Guv’nors

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Justin, Paul & Amy

This morning I welcomed back some of the members of one of the county’s most prolific theatre groups – Amy, Paul and Justin from Early Doors Productions. With a string of successes making up their back catalogue they’ve gained such a following that their production of One Man, Two Guv’nors next week has already sold out – so if you’ve not already got tickets the best you can do is contact Cramphorn Theatre to see if there are any last minute drop-outs!

Paul Sparrowham plays the man with two guv’nors, and he described some of the highs and lows of playing one of the lead roles in this high-paced farce.

We also talked about the group’s plans for the future, including A Christmas Carol at Ingatestone Hall between 1st and 3rd December – for which tickets are also selling quickly – and Heaven Can Wait early in March. This comedy made famous on the big screen in the 70s by Warren Beatty still has some roles to be cast; if you’d like to audition get in touch with Amy via the website.

Listen again:

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Stand Up for Sadie

Next weekend sees the return of one of the most popular annual fun days for the whole family  and I was joined this morning by Martin Hardwick-Smith, President of Brentwood Lions, organisers of the Stock Donkey Derby.

Martin explained that all the profits raised will be going to local charities and people in need of support, with £5,000 raised last year being pledged towards a £60,000 target for a life-changing operation and vital aftercare for 4 year-old Sadie Fisk from Margaretting.

Sadie was born 13 weeks premature and has cerebral palsy, meaning that even with specialist and expensive physiotherapy she’s not expected to be able to walk. That can be made possible, however, with an operation called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, but as it’s not available on the NHS her family are working hard to raise the money along with support from groups like the Lions.

Sadie’s Mother Kelly popped in with Martin to tell Sadie’s story so far, which began with a VIP style specially chartered flight – but not one Kelly and her husband Mark would have wished for!

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To help Stand Up for Sadie visit her JustGiving and Facebook pages, and check out Facebook too for more on the Stock Donkey Derby.

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V

University of Warwich student Will Copping joined me this morning to learn how we do things at Phoenix, and between us we picked a few songs by some of the artists appearing at this year’s V Festival – such as the Kaiser Chiefs, DNCE and Laura Mvula.

I also gave the following Word Up! lyric teaser:

Raise your voice, sticks and stones may break my bones

I’m talking loud not saying much*

*Word Up! was Titanium by David Guetta featuring Sia, both of whom are also appearing at V:

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Our newest presenter

I enjoyed sharing this week’s Feelgood Saturday once again with Courtney-Lee Collins, our newest presenter. Courtney-Lee presented her first solo show last night, covering for Nikki Mills, and sounded great – listen up for more of her over the coming months!

As usual we played what I like to think of as the best mix of music anywhere on Saturday morning radio – ranging from Ariana Grande to Ricky Nelson, along with the annoyingly catchy Final Song by Danish singer-songwriter MØ, one of those songs that stays in your head whether or not you want it to!

We also had a lyric teaser, when we asked if you could name the song containing these lines:

I really tried to make it out – I wish I understood.

What happened to our love? It used to be so good!*

*Word Up! was SOS by Abba, their first top 10 single after winning 1974’s Eurovision with Waterloo:

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Standon Calling

It made a lovely change this week to co-present the show with one of our newsest trainee presenters, Courtney-Lee Collins. Courtney-Lee is so enthusiastic and a pleasure to work with, and set to become a great member of our team!

With festival season in full swing last weekend in Hertfordshire saw Standon Calling, now in its 13th year. Steve Robertson went along and met some of the wide range of artists taking part, and on this morning’s show we heard from three of them:

Emma McGrath

Rag’n’Bone Man

Kiko Bun

 

 

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30th July 1966…

…isn’t just the fiftieth anniversary of England’s historic World Cup victory – it was also the day that a new shop first opened its doors in Epping, although trading that aftenoon of the Final is reported to have been somewhat quiet! A family business that’s still going strong, Piccola now has a shop in Brentwood High Street too, from where I was joined this morning by Molly and Molls who explained how they were going to be marking the event with celebrations that included a VIP visit by none other than Peppa Pig.AJ Molly Molls 30 07 16

Piccola sells a wide range of children’s clothes and toys and Molly aexplained that what she believes sets them apart is the quality of the products they sell – such as traditional wooden toys – together with their originality.

Piccola is at the Wilsons Corner end of Brentwood High Street; to find out more listen to Bob Simpson’s interview last week with Simon Wilson, and listen again to my chat with Molly and Molls here:

It was also a pleasure to be joined throughout this morning’s show by Courtney-Lee Collins, who you may have heard on other shows during the week getting some work experience. Courtney-Lee will be joining me again next week and I’ve no doubt that we’ll be hearing much more from her on Phoenix in the future!

Courtney-Lee

Courtney-Lee

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A word or two

We often go back to the 80s on Feelgood Saturday, as has been the case with my most recent Word Up! lyric teasers.

Last week I asked which song contains these lines:

I thought you loved me, but it seems you don’t care

I care enough to know I can never love you

This week’s were:

But behind the chalet my holiday’s complete

And I feel like William Tell, Maid Marian on her tiptoed feet

Last week’s song was Posion Arrow, by Brentwood Festival headliners ABC:

 

This week it was Pulling Mussels (from the Shell) by Squeeze:

 

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How Welsh are you?

Following last night’s victory against Belgium, taking Wales into the Euro 2016 semi-finals, I was amused this morning to observe a surge in English people claiming Welsh blood somewhere in their ancestry! The result also gave me an excuse to give a play The Opera Song by Jurgen Vries – with CMC on vocals, aka the amazing Charlotte Church.

It was business as usual with Word Up!, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

You’re kissing cousins, there’s no smoke, no flame

If you lose that pilot I can fly your plane*

*Word Up! was Drop the Pilot by Joan Armatrading:

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Business as usual

At the end of a tumultuous week that saw one of the most important political events in most of our lifetimes it was business as usual on this morning’s Feelgood Saturday, including another lyric teaser when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

I will not falter though, I’ll hold on till you’re home

Safely back where you belong and see how our love has grown*

*Word Up! was You’re not alone by Olive:

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Some good news at last

With the dreadful murder of MP Jo Cox on Thursday it was good to end the week with some good news, with Major Tim Peake and his fellow astronauts safely touching down in Kazakhstan at 10:14 this morning following their mission aboard the International Space Station.

Meanwhile I once again tested your music knowledge by asking if you knew which song contains these lines:

I ain’t never seen nothing that’ll make me go
This crazy all night spending my dough.

Had the million dollar vibe and a body to go
Them birthday cakes they stole the show!*

*Word Up! was Low by Flo Rida featuring T-Pain:

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Stuck in the Middle

One of the biggest events of the year in the life of Brentwood took place today – the annual Strawberry Fair on Shenfield Common, this year renamed Strawberries and Queen in celebration of Her Majesty’s 90th birthday.

The first act on stage was a three piece band from the Maldon District, but beforehand Julian May, Jon Greaves and Angela Gardner popped into the studio for a chat about their music. Stuck in the Middle perform mainly covers, but they don’t stick to any particular style or era – with a simple philosophy of providing entertainment, as was evident from the sample of tracks we heard, one of which was recorded in Angela’s kitchen!

As usual Phoenix FM’s Tony Smith and Bob Simpson were lined up to hold Strawberries and Queen’s packed programme of displays and entertainment together, and during my chat with the band Bob talked about some of the other attractions lined up – including the Queen on stilts!

Listen again:

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Outdoor Shakespeare

As part of the commemoration of the 400th anniversary anniversary of the death of Shakespeare his most famous play is coming to Ingatestone Hall later this month.

The Festival Players Theatre Company – which has been touring professional outdoor Shakespeare productions for over 30 years – is bringing Hamlet to Essex as part of a mammoth tour across the UK and into Europe, and I found out more this morning when I chatted with its Director, Michael Dyer.

Michael explained that it’s not just performing al fresco that makes the company’s performances unusual, and he said he expects their crystal-clear and fast-paced 2 hour production of this great thriller will appeal to a much wider audience than aficianados of the Bard.

Hamlet is being performed at Ingatestone Hall on Monday 13th June at 7pm; for tickets – which are £15 for adults and £13 for concessions – visit the website or call 01277 353010.

Listen again:

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An inappropriate song

Despite mid summer being just a month away it was a gloomy morning across Brentwood and Billericay, but this wasn’t reflected in the song which I asked you to identify from these lines:

You thought you’d found a friend
To take you out of this place

Someone you could lend a hand
In return for grace*

*Word Up! was U2’s Beautiful Day:

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Oh, the flossy flossy

A great line up of feel-good songs this morning, including Fergie’s Glamorous (in the video for which she’s totally living the high life), Live it Up by Mental as Anything (from Crocodile Dundee – nearly thirty years ago) and Better off Alone by Alice Deejay (which samples the Eurythmics’ Here Comes the Rain Again).

I also gave a couple of lines from a song for you to identify:

Somehow I lost my way,
Looking to see something in your eyes.

But love will never compromise.
Now this is the politics of life.*

*Word Up! was Heart and Soul by T’Pau:

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Back to 1986 and forward to 1984

On this morning’s show we had an appeal from the South Essex Link of Chernobyl Children’s Life Line. Last Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of the nuclear power plant disaster, but with the resulting contamination expected to last for hundreds of years many children are still developing conditions such as thyroid or bone cancer or leukaemia. The annual holidays organised by the Link for children from some of the worst affected areas are believed to give significant health benefits; however, one of the families helping to host the children this year has had to withdraw just a few weeks before the children are due to arrive. Gaynor Manthorpe explained that they’re urgently looking for a couple – with or without children themselves – to step in and help by looking after two boys, aged 10 and 12, ideally for the duration of the holiday between 12th June and 10th July. You can contact Gaynor on 01245 328 235.

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1984

We also heard a chilling message from Big Brother, ahead of Early Doors Productions performance next month of George Orwell’s iconic story set in a totalitarian society. Director Amy Clayton explained what the novel 1984 means to her and what she hopes the audience will take away, and Darren Matthews (Winston), Laura Leigh-Newton (Julia) and Justin Cartledge (O’Brian) described their characters and the relationships between them.

1984 is at Chelmsford’s Cramphorn Theatre from Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th May.

Listen again:

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Hello, Dolly!

We had a visit this morning from the director and some of the cast of Hello, Dolly! – a new musical production from the Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society.

Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society

 
Emma plays fun-loving widow Irene Molloy, Rachel plays Irene’s assistant Minnie Fay and Nick plays Cornelius Hackl, who in his own words is an “endearing idiot”!

John, the show’s director, also came down and we heard about the history of the group and what to expect from the new production. You can hear the interview again here:

Hello, Dolly! runs at the Palace Theatre in Southend from 13-16 April and you can buy tickets here.

You can join the SODS and find out more about them at southendoperatic.co.uk.

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You’ll know the song

A very familiar song for this week’s lyric teaser, although the lines I gave may not have been so well known:

I loved you since I knew you
I wouldn’t talk down to you

I have to tell you just how I feel
I won’t share you with another boy”

The song was Roxette by the Police:

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The loss of another rock legend

The sad news broke this morning of the death – believed to be from suicide – of co-founder and keyboardist of the prog rock group Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Keith Emerson, at the age of 71. We heard on the show their biggest commercial success, the 1977 single Fanfare For The Common Man.

It was back to the 80s again for my lyric teaser, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

Broke off from my work the other day;

I spent the evening thinking about all the blood that flowed away.*

*Word Up! was Letter from America by Charlie and Craig Reid – better known as the Proclaimers:

Craig chatted a few months ago with Phoenix FM’s James Phillips.

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Words don’t come easy

Something I like to aim for with my regular Word Up! lyric teaser is to come up with lines that are familiar and yet you don’t instantly identify the song they’re taken from – and I suspect that this week’s achieved that:

Said the air is thick, it’s smelling right

So you pass to the left and you sail to the right*

*Word Up! was Rock Your Body by Justin Timberlake, from his debut solo album Justified

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Fairtrade – Sit down for breakfast and stand up for farmers

With the annual Fairtrade Fortnight starting on Monday it was good to welcome to this week’s show Caryl Kwei from the Brentwood Fairtrade Steering Group.

As well as talking generally about Fairtrade Caryl explained how she had witnessed first hand how lives in a cocoa growing area of Kenya have been changed for the better by a Fairtrade co-operative. She also encouraged people to take part in Fairtrade Fortnight by hosting a breakfast to promote the work and in particular this year’s theme – standing up for farmers in the developing world.

If you’d like to get involved by organising a breakfast – large or small – visit the website.

Listen again:

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Another lyric teaser…

As well as a brilliant mix of music this morning – including songs from the likes of Nu Shooz, Fragma and the Police – I also asked how well you know your lyrics with another Word Up! tease. The lines I gave you were these:

I feel your hands, your lips, the heat of your body

Whisper your love to me – say that you love me”*

Word Up! was Dreamer by Livin’ Joy

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The Northern Chill

I dug out some fantastic songs that you may not have heard in a while on this morning’s show, from the likes of Martika, Robert Miles and Mary J Blige along with that which I asked if you could identify from these lines:

A star above the city in the northern chill

A baby bein’ born to the overkill*

*The Word Up! song was Somewhere in my Heart by Aztec Camera:

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Essex IVC

Essex IVCIf you like the idea of trying new activities whilst at the same time making new friends the IVC Social and Activity Club could be for you – and on this week’s show I had the pleasure of finding out about the Essex Branch from the group’s Publicity Officer, Wayne Marsh.

As well as the Club’s history Wayne talked about the wide variety of activities that they organise – from cosy pub socials and weekend breaks to punting at Cambridge and microlight flights!

Essex IVC currently has about 300 members and activities are held throughout the county. Wayne explained that the Club welcomes both single people and couples; to talk about becoming a Prospective Member – with the chance to try as many events as you like for three months before committing to full membership – phone 07891 927046 (10am – 9pm).

Listen again:

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For the love of film

Joanna Moncrieff Phil MynottBrentwood Arts Cinema Club Committe Members Joanna Moncrief and Phil Mynott joined me on this week’s show to look ahead to some of the films they have planned for 2016 – including an insight into life through the eyes of a young girl in Saudi Arabia, a ghost story set in the Spanish Civil War and the last film by the legendary director Alfred Hitchcock. The Club – which meets monthly on a Sunday evening – has as diverse a schedule as in previous years, and it was good to hear from Joanna and Phil what factors go to make up a great film for them.

The Club welcomes new members or guests; for details – including the full schedule – visit the website.

Listen again:

 

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How you can help change children’s lives this summer

 

CCLL BBQ 26 06 15 - Gaynor & AlastairThis April sees the thirtieth anniversary of the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history, radioactive fallout from which is still being linked to thousands of children being born each year who go on to develop leukaemia and other cancers.

Thankfully, however, there’s an organisation which organises life-changing holidays to the UK for some of those affected – the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line – and it was a pleasure to chat on this week’s show with the Activity and Hosting Coordinator for the Billericay and South Essex Link, Gaynor Manthorpe, along with her husband Alastair.

Gaynor and Alastair explained how these annual holidays make such a difference to the childrens’ lives, and how you can help if you’re able to act as a host for a couple of children this summer. Six girls and six boys are due to arrive on Sunday 12th June for four weeks, with a schedule of trips and activities planned for the weekdays, and Gaynor and Alastair – who’ve themselves hosted several children over the years – outlined what’s involved.

Whether or not you’ve children yourself, or if you’re retired and able to give the commitment needed, Gaynor would be delighted to chat if you think this is something you’d like to be involved with; you can contact her on 01245 328235.

For more details listen again here:

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25 years ago…

A busy show this morning – including a look ahead to the big Lighting Up Brentwood with Tony Smith, memories of 25 years ago and another lyric teaser – when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

I don’t want to cry a tear for you, so forgive me if I do.

If only you were here tonight I know that we could make it right!*

What happened 25 years ago today was the resignation as Prime Minister of Margaret Thatcher – a incredible quarter of a century has gone in a flash!

*Word Up! was Born to Make you Happy by Britney Spears:

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Word Up!

A fabulous variety on this morning’s show – including songs from Aqualung, It Bites, the Shiners and 70s soul combo the Stylistics – performing tonight at Indigo.

I also revived the good old lyric teaser, which I like to call Word Up!, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

And its a brave new world that we live in
As we lose ourselves tonight
We have no control of our feelings
As we journey to the corners of our minds*

*Word Up! was The Opera Song (Brave New World) by Jurgen Vries featuring CMC, better known as Charlotte Church

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A little less conversation

There was something for everyone music wise on this week’s show – including songs by Elvis, the Corrs, Elbow and Tony’s Sunday Lunch guest Rajiv. In commemoration of Remembrance weekend I also gave another airing to Over the Top, a poignant song by Dave Stannard in tribute to those who fell during World War One which he performed live on Bob Simpson’s One-2-Three during the week; to hear it again visit Bob’s show page.

As if all that wasn’t enough I also unearthed another song from the 1980s that doesn’t get played much these days, which I teased with the clue: “This female reality TV star was bang up to date.”*

*The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was Modern Girl by Sheena Easton, who shot to fame in 1980 after appearing on The Big Time: Pop Singer

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Sweeney Todd

SODS logo

Laura Mann & Ashley Marie-Stone

Laura Mann & Ashley Marie-Stone

I was delighted to chat this morning with two of the leading members of the cast of a performance next month of one of the most gruesome tales of the Victorian age, Sweeney Todd – the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Ashley Marie-Stone and Laura Mann are members of Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society and it was great to hear their passion not just for performing generally but especially for their particular roles – Ashley playing the complex Mrs Lovett, Todd’s sidekick, and Laura portraying the craziness of the Beggar Woman. It’s all too easy for an audience to take a performance for granted, so it was also fascinating to hear Laura and Ashley talk about some of the technical challenges posed by Stephen Sondheim’s music.

SweeneyWebRecently celebrating its 125th anniversary SODS is one of the longest established musical theatre groups in the country and an intrinsic part of the story of Southend, and in particular central to the town’s theatrical heritage.

Laura explained that SODS is always delighted to hear from anyone interested in joining them; if you’d like to take part in an audition contact the Membership Secretary.

For ticket information for Sweeney Todd – which is at Westcliff’s Palace Theatre between 11th and 14th November – contact the Box Office.

Listen again:

 

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Musical teasers

I unearthed another song that was Acceptable in the 80s on this week’s show, with the clue “Perhaps her name is Gail?”*

Amongst some other fabulous songs was the Manhatten Transfer’s version of The Boy from New York City – prompting me to ask what that group had in common with Barbara Dickson, Elaine Paige and the Nolan Sisters. You’d have to be over a certain age to remember that they were all regular musical guests on The Two Ronnies!

*Acceptable in the 80s was She’s Like the Wind by Patrick Swayze featuring Wendy Fraser, from Dirty Dancing

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StageLeft

StageLeftChris Simpson 25 09 15On this week’s show I chatted with the founder of a podcast which lifts the veil on the music industry by candid interviews with session musicians who’ve worked with some of the biggest names in the business – amongst them Oasis, Fleetwood Mac and Michael Jackson.

Despite being barely a year old The StageLeft Podcast has already been featured in national newspapers and written about by Sheryl Crow; Chris Simpson explained how the idea came about and why he thinks performers give their time to speak more frankly to him than to the mainstream media.

I was fascinated to learn the secret cue Elvis used to give his band when they needed to start playing and to hear some of the common pieces of advice those who’ve “made it” give to musicians looking to break into the business professionally.

Chris is passionate about what he does and the podcast is free to listen to, although if you enjoy what you hear contributions to the costs are welcome.

Listen again to our interview:

 

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Traffic calming

Temporary traffic lights at the junction of Ongar Road and Doddinghurst Road seemed to bring traffic in the centre of Brentwood to a virtual standstill yesterday; thankfully, however, the music on Phoenix always makes getting stuck in queues so much more bearable. Amongst the songs on this week’s show was another from the 80s that doesn’t get played too much these days, for which I gave the clue that this song involved a forgotten few days in the Netherlands.*

* The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was Lost Weekend by Lloyd Cole & the Commotions, the clue referring to a hotel in Amsterdam where the subject matter of the song took place

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Left and Right

History was made during this week’s show with the announcement – after what seemed like an age – of the new leader of the Labour Party following Ed Miliband’s post-General Election resignation. Regardless of political viewpoints something that people can agree on is that Jeremy Corbyn had already livened things up before winning the contest, and the scene is set for some fascinating months ahead!

It was mainly about the music, though, including another song from the 80s that doesn’t get played as much as it should – for which I gave the clue that “this song would be Right Here 10 years after its release.”*

*Acceptable in the 80s was Michael Jackson’s Human Nature, the clue referring to one of the many songs that’s sampled it – the 1992 hit for SWV, Right Here

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Stand up for Sadie

On this week’s show I caught up with one of our area’s most popular annual events – next weekend’s Stock Donkey Derby.Stock Donkey Derby 2015

This event for the whole family is organised by the Lions Club of Bentwood to raise money to help a whole range of organisations in our community as well as individuals in need, and President Martin Hardwick-Smith described what to expect and also told the story of this year’s main beneficiary, a little girl from Margaretting whose parents are working tirelessly to raise £60,000 for her to have a special operation that will literally change her life.

Sadie Fisk

Kelly and Mark Fisk and their son Ben were on holiday in Spain when Kelly experienced complications with her pregnancy and after being rushed home on a specially Martin Hardwick-Smith 29 08 15chartered jet she gave birth at just 27 weeks to a tiny girl weighing under 3lb. After months battling to survive Sadie was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, meaning that now – at the age of three – she’s unable to stand without help; however, as Martin explained, the operation at Great Ormond Street Hospital would, with physiotherapy and other treatment, give her the gift of being able to walk.

To help Stand Up for Sadie visit  her JustGiving page, and to listen again click here:

Stand Up for Sadie

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Wonderland

Wonderland 1My guests on this week’s show were four members of the theatre group with as diverse a back catalogue as any in Essex, Early Doors Productions. Their forthcoming production certainly keeps that reputation alive – it’s their own take on the classic Alice in Wonderland, exactly 150 years after Lewis Carroll first penned his tale of the girl who falls down a rabbit hole to a world of mystery and adventure.

EDP 22 08 15 - 1Whilst staying true to many of the weird and eccentric characters the simply titled Wonderland uses an original script by Director Amy Clayton and Mad Hatter Justin Cartledge enhanced by music by their band Lady Grey & the Earls.

Based on the standard of Early Doors’ previous works Wonderland will be one not to miss! It runs from Thursday 10th to Saturday 12th September at the Cramphorn Theatre in Chelmsford.

Listen again:

Lady Grey & the Earls – Wonderland:

 

 

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Animal lovers

It’s always heartwarming to meet people who give something of themselves to others in need and on this week’s show I had the pleasure of chatting with two of the many people across our county who vounteer to help animals.

EBPG 30 Years Logo

Darren Parker 15 08 15First Darren Parker talked about a creature which few of us will have seen close up and which tends to feature either in fairytales or in the news as a disease carrying nuisance – the badger. Darren is Publicity Manager with the Essex Badger Protection Group and he explained why they and The Badger Trust, to which they’re affiliated, believe successive governments have been wrong to attempt to cull these stocky black and white animals.

The Essex Badger Protection Group is celebrating its 30th birthday and Darren also talked about what to expect at a special event they were hosting on Sunday at the Hanningfield Reservoir Visitor Centre.

To find out more, including how you can join, visit the website.

Listen again:

Fran Smith 15 08 15I was also joined by Fran Smith, a volunteer with Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary based at Buttsbury near Ingatestone. I asked Fran whether she felt that levels of animal cruelty and neglect are declining but sadly her response was far from encouraging, with the result that the Sanctuary’s need for financial support is as great as ever. Fortunately, however, giving to Remus needn’t break the bank, as they ask animal lovers to sign up to give just £2 a month to help ease the suffering of creatures like Sparkey, an 8 year-old Welsh Pony whose story she told. If you’d like to support them in this way download a form from the website or ring the Sanctuary on 01277 356191.

Fran also talked about some of the many wide-ranging events they’ve got coming up. Listen again:

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A lifechanging holiday

A local charity we’ve featured regularly on Feelgood Saturday is the Billericay & South Essex Link of Chernobyl Children’s Lifeline, which welcomes a dozen children whose health has been affected by the after-effects of the 1986 nuclear disaster to the UK each year for a recuperative holiday.

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The children with their Doctor, Tatsiana, and Leader & Interpreter Alesia

Six girls and six boys from the Gomel area of Belarus arrived earlier this week and I had the pleasure of meeting them along with their leaders and the charity’s organisers at a BBQ in Stock, where I discovered that all the children have spent time in hospital with leukaemia or other blood related issues.

The Link’s Co-Chair, Matt Craig-Greene, began by explaining why the holidays are so important:

I struggled to pronounce single words in Belarusian, so I felt put to shame by Anna Dzianisouskaya’s brilliant command of English together with that of the group’s interpreter, Alesia Kirejeva. Plans are already under way for next year’s holiday, and Programme Organiser Gaynor Manthorpe explained that one of the most important ways you can help is by considering hosting two of the children – helping to give them what will literally be the holiday of a lifetime:

CCLL BBQ 26 06 15 - Alesia

Alesia

CCLL BBQ 26 06 15 - Gaynor & Alastair

Hosting & Programme Organiser, Gaynor Manthorpe, and husband Alastair

A couple of years ago I had the honour of meeting one of the firefighters working at the plant when the nuclear reactor ignited – a battle which claimed the lives of many of his friends and colleagues as they fought to prevent what is still the worst nuclear power plant accident in history from becoming even worse. You can hear the fascinating story of Petr Makarenko – a true hero – here.

For more information on the Link, including contact details and upcoming fundraising events, visit the website or check them out on Facebook.

 

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Hip and cool

As well as hearing about England’s hopes as they started their deciding game in the one-day series against New Zealand, the rest of the weekend’s sport highlights and music from the likes of Tasmin Archer, Catatonia and Sugar Minott on this week’s show I also asked if you could identify another song that was Stuck in a Moment:

I gave the clue that the 80s legend behind the song didn’t want to be hip and cool*.

*Stuck in a Moment was New Song by Howard Jones
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Ain’t no sunshine

With Midsummer’s Day just a week away this weekend is one of the busiest for outdoor events throughout our area, one of the biggest being Strawberry Fair on Shenfield Common. As usual Phoenix was there to hold together a busy schedule of fun and entertainment, and before it all got under way I caught up with our main man Tony Smith for a taster of what there was to look forward to.

I later popped down to St Mary’s Primary School in Shenfield for their Summer Fair – a special one, as the school is celebrating its 150th Anniversary!

Sadly the sun decided not to shine, but that didn’t spoil things – after all this is the British summertime!

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Some Scandanavian Philosophy

I tested your musical knowledge on this morning’s show when I asked if you could identify a song from this brief clip:

As is often the case I gave a clue which actually contained several clues – that the band behind this 90s hit remain one of Sweden’s biggest exports.*

We also heard about Beer Day Britain, which coincides with the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, and in particular Brentwood Brewing Company’s contribution to the celebrations with its specially brewed “Cheers John”.

Thursday’s Matchzone with Ronnie O’Sullivan and Chris Hood was a great listen – this morning we heard Chris remind Ronnie about some of the dodgy PR pictures he’s featured in:

You can listen to the whole show again here.

*The song that was Stuck in a Moment was Life is a Flower by Ace of Base. The more successful Swedish exports are Roxette and, of course, Abba

 

 

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Well done Rob!

Today’s show marked the end of an era, as I took over the presenter’s chair from Rob Harvey for the very last time as – after nearly five years getting up at the crack of dawn to present Saturday Breakfast – he’s moving to Tuesday evenings with his brand new Synth City show. Rob’s been a great ambassador for electronic music and it’s been a pleasure seeing him each week – I’ll miss our friendly banter that presenters often share “off mic” but wish Rob the very best of luck with the new show! He’ll be able to enjoy a lie in next Saturday, unlike our brand new presenter, Antonia Jones, whom I also wish every success to as she prepares to take to the air next Saturday from 7am.

Amongst the usual mix of great music this morning we heard a taster of Phoenix FM’s latest Mental Health Matters podcast. Bob Simpson and his team put a lot of work into these and it’s well worth a listen – visit the show page to find out more!

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9 and counting

It was good to be joined again this morning by one of Phoenix’ newsest presenters, Antonia Jones, who’s taking over Saturday Breakfast from Rob in a couple of weeks time.

We also heard from another new addition to our line up – Ronnie O’Sullivan, who’s going to be co-hosting a Thursday evening sports show with Chris Hood. Ronnie did a two hour special during the week, when he chatted with Paul Golder about a whole host of things close to his heart, including why he supported Labour in the General Election:

If you missed it you can listen to the whole show here.

By my reckoning Ronnie’s addition to the team will bring “our” tally of World Snooker Championship victories to 9… so far!

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A friendly new voice

Another great variety of music on this morning’s show, with songs from Little Mix through to Bruce Springsteen. I also gave another airing to the excellent State Line, recorded live in the studio during the week when up and coming duo The Shires popped in to chat with Keith Rogers. If you missed the interview you can listen again – and see them perform – here.

It was also good this morning to welcome a brand new voice to Phoenix. Antonia Jones did a great job with the Events Guide and travel bulletins ahead of starting her brand new Saturday Breakfast Show in a few weeks time. Don’t worry if you’re a fan of Rob’s Electronic Breakfast, though – he’ll be moving to a brand new Tuesday evening slot, with Synth City. He won’t miss those early starts!

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She

We looked ahead to an exciting weekend for local sport on this week’s show, with Brentwood gearing up to play Thurrock in a play-off for a place in the Ryman Premier League and Basildon’s Stuart Bingham narrowly ahead of Judd Trump in the World Snooker semi final. That went on to be a thrilling match with superb play by both players, with Bingham finally winning through in an amazing deciding frame to earn a place in his first Crucible final.

The song that was Stuck in a Moment wasn’t quite so easy this week, although my clue that this is something you’ll see as you approach the end of the tunnel may have given it away*:

Also during the show news broke that “It’s A Girl” – it, of course, being the baby born to the Duchess of Cambridge. Surely, as a girl, she’s a “she” rather than an “it”…?

*Stuck in a Moment was Madonna’s Ray of Light

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Cramped living conditions

After a fantastic response to our first Mental Health Matters monthly podcast the second one has just been released, and on this morning’s show we heard a preview. The podcast is produced and presented by people with experience of mental health issues and you can hear it in full here.

This morning’s clip of music to identify a song that was Stuck in a Moment was far too easy – but I still gave a clue, that the name of the band responsible for the 1991 hit alluded to cramped living conditions*:

*Stuck in a Moment was Fall at your Feet by Crowded House

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Good luck Steve!

This morning’s show included a look ahead to a very busy weekend of sport – with the Grand National at Aintree, the Women’s and Men’s University Boat Races, the Masters at Augusta and action in the Premiership – and I couldn’t let the morning pass without a mention for Steve Davis progressing towards the final stages of this year’s World Snooker Championship. The co-presenter of The Interesting Alternative Show narrowly beat Jamie Cope 10-9 in a qualifying match and needs to win two more games if he’s to return to the Crucible – good luck Steve!

My clue to this week’s song that was Stuck in a Moment* was simply Hot Dog:

*Stuck in a Moment was The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll by Prefab Sprout

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Going the distance

Music on this week’s show ranged from Bananarama’s Robert De Niro’s Waiting to the current collaboration between Eric Prydz and CHVRCHES, and I also asked if you could identify the tune containing this clip of music:

I gave the clue that the Italian producer-DJ behind this 90s anthem certainly went the distance.*

*Stuck in a moment was Children by Robert Miles

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221b

Sometimes a particular name, word – or, in this case, number – can have an instant association, and that was certainly the case with this morning’s clue to the song that was Stuck in a Moment*. In fact 221b would’ve been enough of a giveaway without the clip it accompanied:

*Stuck in a Moment was Baker Street, from Gerry Rafferty’s album City to City, the giveaway clue of course referring to the address of Sherlock Holmes!

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Still alive and kicking!

Amongst two hours of brilliant tunes as well as the other usual features I asked how well you know your music again this morning with this brief clip:

I gave the clue that the Scottish band behind this 1982 hit single are still alive and kicking today.*

*Stuck in a moment was Glittering Prize by Simple Minds, who are still going strong after nearly 40 years – the band formed in 1977, with lead singer Jim Kerr and keyboard player Charlie Burchill staying with them throughout that period!

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The Philadelphia Story

Justin, Julie, Paul, Amy, Bill & Emma

Some of the guys from one of the county’s finest theatrical groups – Early Doors Productions – popped in this morning to talk about their forthcoming production of Philip Barry’s The Philadelphia Story, the 1930s romantic comedy which helped revive the career of Hollywood icon Katharine Hepburn.

EDP normally stage two productions each year and one thing that always impresses me is that whatever they decide to put on is normally very different from anything they’ve done before, as evidenced by a back catalogue ranging from The Pink Panther Strikes Again to Trainspotting! This morning, however, Philadelphia co-director Amy Clayton did reveal a common link between their productions – and it’s actually something quite obvious.

You can see The Philadelphia Story at Ingatestone Manor Hall from Wednesday 25th to Saturday 28th March. Tickets are £13; contact early.doors@hotmail.co.uk.

Listen again:

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A big heart

A fiendishly difficult Stuck in a Moment teaser this morning:

My clue was that the song’s video features a girl with a big heart.*

*Stuck in a moment was Another Chance by Roger Sanchez, the video of which follows a girl travelling around New York carrying a big heart which gets ever smaller as people ignore her. The song samples Toto’s beautiful track I won’t hold you back.
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Billericay in the Great War

Billericay Great WarTrustees of Billericay’s Reading Rooms Andy Maddocks and Keith Wood popped in this morning, ahead of next weekend’s Exhibition of Billericay in the Great War.

We started by talking about the fascinating history of what is one of the town’s foremost community resources, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year.

Andy and Keith went on to explain how the idea for the exhibition came about and how it focuses on showcasing the work of four local schools – Buttsbury Junior, St Johns, St Peters Catholic Primary and Quilters – with pupils from each school contributing work focusing on specific aspects of the War and its effects on the local community.

During our chat we considered the magnitude of the effects of the “war to end all war” and pondered the question of how different a world we’d be living in now had it not taken place.

Exhibition of Billericay in The Great War is on from Friday 6th to Sunday 8th March at the Reading Rooms in Billericay High Street. It’s supported by The National Lottery® through the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Listen again:

Keith Wood & Andy Maddocks 28 02 15

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Boxing clever

On this week’s show we broke the news that a  date has been set for one of boxing’s biggest ever showdowns, with undefeated Floyd Mayweather confirming he’s to meet Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight contest in Las Vegas on May 2nd. It’s expected the fight could break every financial record in the history of boxing, with Pacquiao expected to earn around 80 million dollars – and the man they call “Money Mayweather” taking – wait for it – a staggering 120 million dollars or more!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, I asked if you could identify another song from a very brief clip, with the clue – “problems in Beijing, perhaps?”*:

*Stuck in a moment was Wishful Thinking by China Crisis

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Slush free Valentines

A great line up of music on this week’s show, including a few songs for Valentines by the likes of Usher, the Tourists, Drake & Rihanna and Fragma – but nothing too slushy!

My clue to the song that was Stuck in a Moment was that the singer of this dance anthem from 2000 declared that when she’s alone at night it’s you she’s always thinking of*:

*Stuck in a Moment was It Feels So Good by Sonique

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So much talent

Included in two hours of great music this morning were songs recorded live for Phoenix by a couple of the many talented singer songwriters we feature regularly on the station. First up was Magic by Leanne Louise, who played last night at the first of our Eclipse sessions; then later it was good to hear again the brilliant song Corridors by Jordan Gray – better known as Tall Dark Friend – who did a live session for One-2-Three during the week. There’s so much musical talent in our county and we at Phoenix love to promote it – not just on air but also at our live gigs; as we said in the Gazette recently we’re planning for 2015 to be our biggest year so far for live performances!

I also played another brief clip of a song which I asked you to identify, with the clue that you’d be well advised to take the song’s advice if you have to stand on the Tube*:

*Stuck in a moment was ELO’s Hold on Tight

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Be with me

On this week’s show I asked if you could identify the song that includes this brief clip:

I gave the clue that this was the final single release for a Swedish electronic dance trio.*

I also played a new song written and performed by Romford’s Annie May Adams, who played a live session on the programme last year and also gave a great performance at one of our Phoenix Fridays gigs. It’s obvious from Be with Me that Annie May has been refining her style, which will no doubt be reflected on her forthcoming EP. Let Yourself Fall is due for release around Easter, which will be a great opportunity to get her back on the show!

*Stuck in a moment was Don’t you Worry Child by Swedish House Mafia

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Vicar of Dibley

VOD Flyer smallI always admire the work of amateur theatre groups – whether they’re performing musicals, serious plays or comedy – but perhaps one of the hardest challenges is putting on a version of something that’s not just well known from film or TV but also so strongly associated with a fine cast of actors.Martyn Williams 24 01 15 - 3

That’s just the challenge being taken on by the Thurrock Court Players, whose stage version of The Vicar of Dibley by Ian Gower and Paul Carpenter is adapted from Richard Curtis and Paul Mayhew-Archer’s classic TV series, with kind permission of Tiger Aspect Productions.

Director Martyn Williams joined me this morning and paid tribute to the hard work of his cast – which includes Phoenix FM’s Mike Jones as eccentric farmer Owen Newitt – as he explained that the stage version is a distillation of the first two TV series in a story that revolves around the Vicar’s attempts to bring together Alice and Hugo.

Martyn also talked about the history of the Players and revealed their Autumn production – another TV comedy classic!

The Vicar of Dibley is at the Thameside Theatre, Grays, Thursday 12th to Saturday 14th February, with a Saturday matinee; for tickets visit Essex Theatre Ticketing. It promises to be a real feel-good show, bringing back some great memories of a very warm and funny series!

Listen again:

 

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More Music Diversity

One of the things I love about Phoenix is the diversity of music we play, not just with specific shows focusing on particular genres such as electronic music or jazz but also within our mainstream playlist – which recognises that if people have any interest in music at all they normally enjoy all sorts of different styles, even if they have particular favourites. This weekend’s Feelgood Saturday certainly had quite a mix, including songs from Mary J Blige, the Beach Boys, Arcade Fire and Sash!.

My clue to the song that was Stuck in a Moment was simply that the song was by an Anglo-American supergroup*:

*The Stuck in a Moment song was Fleetwood Mac’s Little Lies

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A controversial song on daytime radio…

This week’s show saw the return of a feature I’d not run for a while – Stuck in a Moment – where I ask if you can identify a song from just a bar or two. I also gave the clue that this 90s song caused a linguistic controversy*:

Amongst the sport headlines was news of horse racing returning to Essex, with the first official meeting tomorrow at the brand new Chelmsford City Race Course near Great Leighs – although as Joe found out when he chatted with its Chairman, Joe Scanlon, on yesterday’s Breakfast Show, tomorrow’s meeting is for invited guests and competition winners only:

You can hear the full interview here.

Lucy BenjaminWe also heard part of Mikey Porter’s chat earlier this week with TV favourite Lucy Benjamin, who’s starring at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch later this month alongside members of resident company Cut to the Chase in the psychological thriller Deadly Murder. In 2009 Lucy took part in I’m a Celebrity… Get me Out of Here!, and Mike asked her how hard she found it, as an actor, going into the jungle:

Deadly Murder runs from 30th January to 21st February; listen to the whole interview on Mikey’s show page.

 

*Stuck in a Moment was Ironic by Alanis Morissette, the linguistic controversy having arisen out of the fact that the situations in the song weren’t considered to be ironic. Ed Burne is recorded as having joked: “The only ironic thing about that song is it’s called ‘Ironic’ and it’s written by a woman who doesn’t know what irony is. That’s quite ironic!”

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The story of 1980

I went back 35 years for some of the music on this morning’s show, inspired by a recent TV showing of Top of the Pops: The Story of 1980. It was good to remember how a variety of styles were mainstream – with punk, new wave and disco still very much alive, heavy metal regularly making the top 40 and the dawn of new romanticism.

Songs played from the year were Spandau Ballet’s To Cut a Long Story Short, Geno by Dexy’s Midnight Runners and Tom Hark by the Piranhas – a catchy tune that asked the question “does anybody know how long to World War Three?”!

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A year of fabulous guests

One of the things I love about being a presenter on Phoenix is the opportunity to meet so many interesting people doing positive things in our community and beyond, and the end of the year gives a great opportunity to remember the wide variety of guests who’ve appeared on the Feelgood Saturday throughout the year:

Shenfield Operatic Society – Barry Manilow’s CopacabanaAlex Southgate 1

Essex Tourettes Action Group – raising awareness of the tic disorder

Alex Southgate – Accordionist and former keyboard player with Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers

Trainspotting_0Early Doors ProductionsTrainspotting

Essex Mental Health Community – promoting mental wellbeing#TimetoTalk

Brentwood Fairtrade Group – make bananas fair

Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society – La Cage aux Folles

Essex Scouts – 23rd World Scout Jamboree, Japan 2015

Annie May Adams 05 04 14 2 (2)Annie May Adams – Romford singer songwriter

Fitness in Mind – promoting physical and mental wellbeing for 18 to 25 year oldsGareth Sell

Gareth Sell – Pilgrims Hatch scout leader’s planned 48 hour cycle from John O’Groats to Land’s End for UNICEF

South Essex Link of Chernobyl Children’s Life Line – children from Ukraine

Jo Oldham 30 08 14Jo Oldham – 10k Spartan Race for Lucy, 5 year old Billericay girl coming through leukemia

Lions Club of Brentwood – Stock Donkey DerbyDonkey Derby

Re_Public – Essex based function band

Early Doors Productions – The Ladykillers

Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary – caring for victims of physical or mental abuse

Brentwood Operatic SocietyBGT audition 2 – Godspell

SweetChix – Britain’s Got Talent semi finallists

Brentwood Arts Cinema Club – the 2015 programme and remembering Jill Dimmock

Something each of my guests has in common is passion for what they’re involved with, and I hope the programme has enabled some of their commitment and enthusiasm to spread a little wider. If you’ve appeared on the show during the year thank you for your part in helping to make each week a Feelgood Saturday – and if you’re involved with something that you think might be of interest to people around Brentwood & Billericay in 2015, whether or not you’ve been on the radio before, do drop me a line at alan@phoenixfm.com.

Most importantly, thank you for listening! Have a very happy and peaceful new year.

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Rockin’ around

Some fine tunes on this week’s show, including a fair sprinkling of seasonal favourites by the likes of the Pretenders, Wham! and Brenda Lee. My own favourite was Stop the Cavalry by the legendry Jona Lewie, who popped in to chat with Mikey Porter on Monday’s Drive – if you missed it you can listen (and watch) here. What a nice guy!

It was good to welcome a new voice to Phoenix this morning too. James Phillips will be presenting a brand new show with music hand picked for Sunday afternoons – coming soon!

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Brentwood Arts Cinema Club

Brentwood Arts Cinema Club have their final meeting of 2014 next weekend with a screening of The Lives of Others – a story about abuse of power, set in East Germany during the Cold War. Richard Millwood from the Club popped in this morning to talk about that as well as some of the films lined up for 2015 – ranging from a seminal piece of 50s French cinema to the story of Argentinian revolutionary Che Guevara as he set out on the road trip across South America that was to change the course of his life.Richard Millwood 06 12 14

Richard also spoke about the history of the Club and paid tribute to the legacy left by prolific local campaigner Jill Dimmock, who sadly passed away earlier this year and who had been so passionate about the Club.

Richard described a friendly and informal Club that welcomes new members or occasional visitors – all they ask is that you contact them before going along to one of their Sunday evening screenings. Contact details, along with the full programme for 2015, are on their website.

Listen again:

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Christmas begins in Brentwood

The focus of this morning’s show was Lighting Up Brentwood, which promised to be the biggest and best yet.

Phoenix has been delighted to be hosting it all again this year, and Tony Smith popped into the studio on his way to the main stage to give a rundown of what to expect – ranging from the Churches Together Choir to last week’s guests on the show, Sweet Chix.

Being so mild and sunny the weather was anything but Christmassy – but the brilliant line up of acts was sure to get everyone in the mood!

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SweetChix

Sweet Chicx-35If you watched Britain’s Got Talent earlier this year you’ll no doubt have been impressed by 5-piece Essex band SweetChix, who were told by Simon Cowell he thought they had “great potential” – and it was a pleasure to welcome them to Phoenix this morning for a chat and to hear them sing live on air.

Georgia, Summer, Tayler and Jess know each other from Rainham’s Emery Stage School, where they started dancing not long after they learnt to walk, and in 2010 they were joined by Becca when they spotted a gap in the market for a new girl band.

Since then they’ve had success in a number of talent competitions – including the Essex Factor, Comic Relief does Glee Club and and the Teenstar UK final, where they sang in front of thousands of people at Indigo O2.

Not only do SweetChix sound great but with coaching by dance teacher Natalie and choreographer Danielle they put on an all-round classy performance; to see for yourself don’t miss them on the main stage at next Saturday’s Lighting Up Brentwood!

Listen again:BGT audition 2 (2)

 

 

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Bieber, bullying… and vintage musical memories

Another packed show this morning, with news of Justin Bieber facing possible arrest if he fails to appear in court in Argentina over an alleged assault and denials by Strictly Come Dancing’s Steve Backshall that he’s been bullied by his professional dance partner Ola Jordan.

We also took a look at what to expect from a busy weekend of sport, including Wayne Rooney’s thoughts ahead of his 100th game for the national team when England face Slovenia later in in Euro 2016 qualifiers.

The music was as diverse as ever, including some vintage soul from a band who are still performing after over 40 years – The Stylistics, appearing tonight at the O2; memories of the 60s from Mamas and the Papas; and Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before from The Smiths’ Strangeways, Here We Comemade more famous by Mark Ronson’s 1987 cover.

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Tinchy’s back!

The tabloid press published the names today of some of those rumoured to be heading to the jungle for I’m A Celebrity, which returns to ITV next weekend. Whilst such “rumours” are obviously part of a finely oiled publicity vehicle that I wouldn’t normally climb aboard, mention of Tinchy Stryder did give an excuse to dig out his 2009 collaboration with N-Dubz – Number 1.

Amongst other songs that don’t get much of an airing I also played Elstree, from Buggles’ 1980 album The Age of Plastic; Martika’s Toy Soldiers; and Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree by Dawn and Tony Orlando – the biggest-selling single of 1973!

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Unearthing a power ballad

As ever there was a diverse mix of fantastic music on this morning’s show, including songs by Badly Drawn Boy, Dionne Warwick and Thin Lizzy – together with another song from the 80s that doesn’t get played very much these days. My clue was:

According to the sisters behind this 1988 power ballad, the sweetest song is silence.”*

*Acceptable in the 80s was These Dreams by Heart, which was co-written by Bernie Taupin and dedicated to a friend of lead singer Nancy Wilson who’d died from leukaemia.

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Godspell

Ian Southgate & Stewart Briggs

Ian Southgate & Stewart Briggs

Before this morning’s show I knew little about Godspell other than it being an iconic musical of the 70s that had something to do with the Bible, and my guests from Brentwood Operatic Society confirmed those facts as we talked about their own forthcoming production at Brentwood Theatre.

His lead role as Jesus is Stewart Briggs’ first appearance with BOS but the third time he’ll have taken part in Godspell in a varied career that’s also included Shakespearean roles, and he explained that the musical is largely a lighthearted interpretation of parables and other stories found in the New Testament book of Matthew – with a particular twist that Stewart said would only be revealed by going along to see their production!

Musical Director Ian Southgate talked about BOS’ plans beyond Godspell, including a fundraising concert next Spring and later next year The Wiz, the musical version of The Woonderful Wizard of Oz. He said there’s a great social side to the Society – which is over 100 years old – and they’re always happy to welcome new members; for more information visit the website.

Godspell is at Brentwood Theatre from Tuesday 4th to Saturday 8th November, including a Saturday matinee. For ticket information visit the Box Office.

Listen again:

Godspell-Artwork

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Summer gives way to Autumn

Sunshine filled the studio when I started this morning’s show at 10 o’clock, but just 60 minutes later gloomy skies brought a reminder that summer has finally given way to Autumn!

The music on Phoenix always brightens things up though, with this morning’s mix including the Bee Gees, Emma Bunton and Babybird. I also did my best to dig out a song from the 80s that you probably hadn’t heard in a while, and I was quite confident that I’d picked one that you may well not have heard since it was a hit 34 years ago! My clue was:

All round the world people know the name of the subject matter of this 1981 song.”*

*The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was I am the Beat by the Look, the clue lifting a line from its chorus.

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Another 80s song clue

A great variety of music on the show this morning, including songs by Macy Gray, Kosheen and Chad Kroeger – together with a song from the 80s that doesn’t often get played these days. My clue was:

This 1984 iconic film was the debut hit for a band named after an iconic 1940s film that starred Orson Welles.”*

*The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was Closest thing to Heaven by the Kane Gang, the film in the clue being Citizen Kane.

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Remus needs your help!

remus-newlogoWe have a number of organisations in our area caring for needy animals and I caught up with one of them this morning – Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary – based at Buttsbury near Ingatestone.

Formed in 1983, Remus provides lifetime help and care for not just horses but also donkeys and other large farm animals who are victims of physical or mental abuse, whether as a result of ignorance or malicious intent, and Fran told me about some of those they’ve rescued this year. Amongst them was Grace, a blind horse who’d been left to fend for herself on the public roads of Romford despite being heavily pregnant. Thanks to the care of Remus she went on to have her foal, Jess; however, due to health problems Jess needed to be bottle fed every two hours for the first week of her life – with founder of Remus, Sue Burton, and volunteers like Fran taking turns to sit with her through the night!

Grace, Bracken, Holly & Jess

Grace, Bracken, Holly & Jess

Fran also explained that with no let up in demand for their care Remus has been facing severe financial pressures, meaning they’re always grateful for offers of help – such as by holding a fundraising event, booking a speaker or by making a donation.

Remus’ final Open Day of the year is on Sunday 5th October – these are always great fun for all the family, so do try and get along!

For details of how you can support Remus visit the website, and to listen again click here:

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The Ladykillers

edp_site_logo

Following their excellent stage performance of Trainspotting earlier this year I welcomed back to the studio this morning regular guests Early Doors Productions to talk about their next next performance.

It’s another comedy that started life as a film, although The Ladykillers – which was adapted for stage by Father Ted co-writer Graham Linehan – is somewhat lighter than Danny Boyle’s masterpiece. It’s nonetheless complex in terms of technical issues, however; Director Amy Clayton acknowledged that apart from all the other aspects of putting on such an ambitious production creating the set is proving to be a massive challenge!ladykillers

If, like me, you’ve seen any of EDP’s previous productions you’ll not have been disappointed, so if you enjoy a top class performance do try and get along to Chelsmford’s Cramphorn Theatre between Thursday 2nd and Saturday 4th October.

Apparently short skirts play a key important role in the group’s success – to find out why, listen again:

 

Matt, Bll, Justin, Paul, Darren, Amy & Julie

Matt, Bll, Justin, Paul, Darren, Amy & Julie

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Re_Public

Ben, Chris, Alan, Paul & Mark

Ben, Chris, Alan, Paul & Mark

It was great to play host to a live session on this week’s show, with the popular Essex-based function band Re_Public.

Chris, Paul, Ben and Mark play an enormous range of covers in a distinctively energtic style that makes them a huge hit at weddings, birthday parties and other functions large or small; they gave us a taster with their passionate takes on songs originally by Aloe Blacc, Olly Murs, Jason Mraz and Bobby McFerrin.

CharityConcertPosterA4SAs well as private functions Re_Public also play regularly at public venues around the area, and next Saturday evening they’re going to be joined by vocalist Amy Langmead to raise money for Little Havens Children’s Hospice at Emmanuel Church Hall in Billericay.

Tickets for the gig – which is organised by The Rotary Club of Billericay – are £15, and you can get them online or  from Creatures Great and Small, Enjoy…Cakes & Cafe, Masons or The Olive Branch in Billericay or The Four Vintners in Stock.

Listen again:

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Help make a little girl’s wish come true!

Jo Oldham 30 08 14

Jo Oldham

The focus of this week’s show was on some of the people helping others in our community with various needs of one sort or another.

Firstly I chatted with Stuart Oldham as he watched his wife Jo set off on a 10k Spartan Race and assault course at Nutley in East Sussex to raise funds for a friend of their daughter Jessica. Lucy – who’s just 5, and lives in Billericay – has recently undergone chemotherapy and other treatment for Leukemia, and having come through what would be an incredible trauma at any age wants to have piano lessons, which inspired Jo to take part in the challenge to raise money to help. If you’d like to support her and help Lucy’s wish come true just text BREN14 £amount to 70070.

Listen again:

Donkey DerbyThere was a family connection with my studio guest, as Jo’s father Mac McAllister is President of the Lions Club of Brentwood, who are organising Jo’s fundraising for Lucy. Mac talked about next Sunday’s Donkey Derby in Stock, which promises to be great fun for the whole family whilst raising money not only for local charities but also other families and individuals who could do with a little support. Mac explained that the Lions are conscious that these sorts of events can put some families under financial pressure, so to help there’ll be a Kiddies’ Corner that will be completely free!

Mac also talked about the Lions’ other activities through the year and said they’re happy to welcome new members – although they are a male only group. For more details phone him on 01277 840645, or drop them a message via the website.

Listen again:

Mac McAllister 30 08 14 - 2

Mac McAllister

Thanks to Chris who joined me this morning too, to find out how we do things at Phoenix – listen out for his brand new show focusing on his love of literature and the arts, coming soon!

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A cocktail of great songs

V Festival getting under way just up the road gave the perfect opportunity this morning to spin some songs by some of those taking part – including Justin Timberlake, The Killers and Swedish House Mafia. (Actually it’s Axwell and Sebastian Ingrosso on stage tomorrow, but let’s not split hairs!)

Quite a few acts from the 80s are also lined up to entertain the crowds at Hylands Park, but the one who recorded this morning’s song that was Acceptable in the 80s isn’t amongst them. My clue to the song that you probably hadn’t heard in ages was:

This song’s subtitle refers to a pineapple based cocktail.”

*The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was Escape (the pina colada song) by Rupert Holmes – the last Billboard Hot 100 chart topper of the 70s, making the UK charts in January 1980.

 

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Was life so much better then?

Another busy show, including a look ahead to the penultimate day of the Commonwealth Games and a stack load of good songs to wile away the morning as many of the roads across the area ground to a halt – from the likes of Macy Gray, Blur and Frank Sinatra.

I also dug out another song you probably hadn’t heard in a while that was Acceptable in the 80s, for which I gave the clue:

This 1987 song takes us back to the days when life was so much better.”*

On the subject of the 80s, I’m not around for a couple of weeks, but next week’s show will be in the very capable hands of Xanthe Bearman – who spins nothing but GR80’s two hours every Thursday night!

*The Acceptable in the 80s clue was a reference to a lyric from Turn Back the Clock by Johnny Hates Jazz, which featured backing vocals by Kim Wilde

 

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Festival Favourites

We at Phoenix are delighted to be involved with the Brentwood Festival, and with last weekend’s being such a success I took the opportunity this morning to play out some of the interviews we did with those taking part. Soulful chanteuse Kate Thomas and former X-Factor contestant Lydia Lucy both also performed recently for one of our Phoenix Fridays gigs; we also heard from Ocean Colour Scene frontman Simon Fowler.

To hear those interviews again – together with loads of others – check out our two hour Festival Special.

We’re already looking forward to 2015!

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Sounding festive

A busy show this morning, with a look ahead to the third round of the Open at Hoylake, England’s second Test against India at Lord’s and the rest of the weekend’s sporting action.

It’s festival time too, and with so many great acts taking part at the Brentwood Festival I took the opportunity to play songs by some of them – such as Alexander O’Neal, Missing Andy, Ocean Colour Scene and Dani Clay.

Brentwood has really established itself as part of festival season – if you’re going along, have a great time!

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Is it really 30 years?!

A bit of an 80s theme to this morning’s show, including songs from Godley & Creme, Fairground Attraction and that for which I gave you the following clue:

The lyrics of this 1985 song mention two soul legends, to whom it was a tribute.”*

*The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was Nightshift by the Commodores, about Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson – both of whom had died in 1984

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Making a real difference to children’s lives

On this morning’s show I played out a couple of interviews I recorded last weekend when I had the pleasure of attending the annual barbecue hosted by the South Essex Link of Chernobyl Children’s Life Line.

CCLL BBQ 27 06 14 - 4Whilst a dozen children who’d arrived from Ukraine a few days before were busy playing in the background, the Link’s Co-Chair – Matt Craig-Green – explained why they and similar groups across the UK continue to arrange annual holidays for children living close to the nuclear power plant nearly 30 years after the 1986 explosion. I also spoke to Sharon Richards who, with her husband Paul, is hosting a couple of the boys in the party – Danylo and Vladyslav – during their month-long holiday. Sharon said she and Paul had no hesitation in putting themselves forward as hosts for the trip, which Matt explained could add years to the children’s life expectancy.

Listen again:

The children also thanked those who’d made their holiday possible by singing a song:

CCLL BBQ 27 06 14 - 3If you’d like to help make future holidays possible there are all sorts of ways of getting involved, not just by acting as a host family – simply contact the Link via their website.

You can hear more on Phoenix next Friday, when the children will be visiting the studios along with Gaynor Manthorpe, who’ll be chatting with Michelle on Eat My Brunch. I’m sure Michelle will have a great time with them!

CCLL BBQ 27 06 14 - 8

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The loss of another music legend

Another great selection of songs this morning, including a less well known cover of an 80s song following the sad news of the death of a soul legend. Bobby Womack was just 70, and as well as a successful songwriting career he also had success as a recording artist – I played his version of Living in a Box, better known as the first hit single for the UK band of the same name that he later worked with.

Another song from the same year was the one for which I gave the following clue:

This song by an Australian band was made famous by one of the biggest box office hits of 1987.”*

*The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was Live it Up by Mental as Anything, which featured in Crocodile Dundee 

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Anyone for… strawberries?

You can always tell when it’s mid summer as that’s when the Strawberry Fair comes to town, and I caught up this morning with Phoenix FM’s Tony Smith just as the fun was about to get under way on Shenfield Common. Tony and Bob Simpson were due to host a packed programme of entertainment in the Big Top, with a range of performances to suit the whole family – and hopefully they’d be rewarded for their hard work with some strawberries and cream!

I also gave an update on last weekend’s Epic Bike Challenge by Pilgrim’s Hatch Scout Leader Gareth Sell. After chatting to me on last week’s show from the banks of Loch Lomond – when he told me a back injury meant he’ was having to abandon his attempt to ride non-stop from John O’Groats to Land’s End – Gareth pressed on and made it to the border with England at Gretna Green. This was still a tremendous achievement, and I look forward to inviting Gareth back to the studio soon to hear what he learnt from the experience and to find out whether he’s planning to attempt it again.

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Whatever happens now – well done Gareth!

Gareth and his support team just before setting off on Friday morning

Gareth and his support team just before setting off on Friday morning

Following my chat a few weeks ago with Pilgrims Hatch Scout Leader Gareth Sell about his epic challenge of cycling the nearly 1,000 mile route from John O’Groats to Land’s End I caught up again with him this morning some 29 hours after he set off from a foggy northern coastline of Scotland in the early hours of yesterday.

Gareth had already ridden some 300 miles when we spoke, reaching the southern tip of Loch Lomond, but sadly a suspected back injury meant it was looking unlikely that he’ll complete the route to Cornwall on this attempt. Nonetheless, and despite the disappointment which showed in his voice, I assured Gareth that he’d already achieved a phenomenal feat, and if you’d like to show your support by making a donation to UNICEF there are links to do this on his website.

Gareth’s determination and spirit of adventure are truly exceptional, and I look forward to welcoming him to the Phoenix studios again soon to hear his reflections on this venture as well as to find out about his next big challenge!

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Feelgood Saturday – 31/5/2014

PLAYLIST:

  1. Texas – Summer Son
  2. Chesney Hawkes – The One And Only
  3. HAIM – If I Could Change Your Mind (Cerrone Funk Remix)
  4. Lorde – No Better
  5. Fiona Apple – Fast As You Can
  6. Annie Lennox – Shining Light
  7. Arctic Monkeys – Snap Out Of It
  8. Jagwar Ma – The Throw
  9. David Bowie – Fashion
  10. Santana – Smooth (Radio Edit)
  11. Chrissie Hynde – You Or No One
  12. Disclosure – Voices (feat. Sasha Keable)
  13. Bombay Bicycle Club – Luna
  14. James – Moving On
  15. Alphabeat – Fascination
  16. Florence and the Machine – Dog Days Are Over
  17. Enrique Iglesias feat. Flo Rida – There Goes My Baby
  18. Wombats – Your Body Is A Weapon
  19. INXS – Suicide Blonde
  20. Joss Stone – You Had Me
  21. Katy Perry – Birthday
  22. The Thirst – Today
  23. Christina Aguilera – What A Girl Wants
  24. Two Door Cinema Club – Handshake [SATURDAY SHUFFLE]
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More like mid winter!

It felt like the middle of winter this morning, despite mid summer being just a few weeks away! As always on Phoenix, though, the songs helped clear away the gloom – with music ranging from Muse to Faith Hill and a classic from 4 Non Blondes.

We also took a look ahead to a busy weekend sports wise, including the Championship play off final, the Rugby Union European Cup Final and the Monaco Grand Prix.

I shan’t be around for the next couple of weeks, but Elliott Smith will be in the chair next Saturday morning from 10!

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An impossible challenge?

Gareth SellYou often hear about people travelling the length of the country – from John O’Groats on the North Eastern tip of mainland Scotland down to Land’s End – by various means to raise money for charity, but my guest this morning is planning to make the 967 mile trip by pushbike – in just 48 hours!

Gareth Sell is a Scout Leader from Pilgrims Hatch and an army veteran, and I put it to him that the challenge he’s set himself is impossible, but – incredibly – it’s actually been done before. According to the Road Records Association, Gethin Butler achieved the ride in just 44 hours, 4 minutes and 20 seconds in 2001! Gareth explained that he’d love to beat that record, but his main aim is just to complete the route – and having done other epic bike challenges before, including a 5,000 km ride from Sydney to Perth through some of Australia’s hottest and toughest terrains, he’s certainly in with a chance.

Gareth will be accompanied along the route by a minibus with a support team, and with no time for sleep I asked him about some of the safety issues affecting him, the team and other people.

Alongside the challenge Gareth’s raising money for UNICEF, and you can sponsor him – and find out more – at his website.

With thoughts about injuries, mechanical problems and sheer exhaustion I asked Gareth what his biggest worry is – and his answer took me by surprise!

To listen again click here:

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A pre-election coalition

Fitness in Mind 10 05 14I was joined this morning by not one but five politicians – although it wasn’t the forthcoming local elections we talked about, but a local initiative they’ve joined forces to support to raise awareness of mental health issues.

Russell Quirk, Mike Le-Surf, Julie Morrissey, Roger Keeble and David Tee are all Brentwood Borough Councillors who, along with others, are giving their support to Fitness in Mind – a joint initiative by Essex Mental Health Community and Brentwood Leisure Trust to encourage 18 to 25 year olds to sign up to a 6-week programme with the aim of improving both physical and mental wellbeing. After its initial pilot the plan is to extend the age range, and Essex Mental Health Community’s Wayne Banks – who also popped in – explained that its easy to help raise the £2-3,000 target funding for the project by simply texting “BLTX14 £3” (or another amount) to 70070. All money raised will go towards expansion of Fitness in Mind to include under 18 year olds – starting with a de-stressed swim for students after their exams.

To help raise awareness Wayne and some of the Councillors are taking part in tomorrow’s Nuclear Rush mud run, which also marks the start of Mental Health Awareness Week. To coincide with the end of the week we at Phoenix are pleased to be supporting the charity firewalk at the Brentwood Centre, with our Greg Dukeson braving the coals along with the CEO of Brentwood Leisure Trust, Roger Davinson. Russell Quirk – who’d taken part in a similar walk – described what they can expect, and in the process encouraged Julie Morrissey and David Tee to sign up too! If you’d like to join them and raise money for a charity of your choice details of how to register are on the Brentwood Leisure website.

To register for Fitness in Mind simply pop along to the Brentwood Centre Reception, or email nicky.smith@brentwoodleisure.co.uk – and if you’re taking part in either the Nuclear Rush or Firewalk, good luck!

Listen again:

 

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Old music and a very… New Song

The usual great mix music wise this morning, from current songs by the likes of Imelda May and Aloe Blacc alongside classics from Squeeze, Queen and Kate Bush – not forgetting another song that was Acceptable in the 80s, for which I gave the clue:

The singer-songwriter responsible for this synth-pop song wrote it to all his friends.”*

We also heard briefly from our newest aspiring presenter, Brian Ager, who’s planning a show showcasing artists outside the commercial mainstream – such as Barrence Whitfield, described as a veteran R&B firebrand, a song from whom we heard as a taster of what to expect.

*Acceptable in the 80s was New Song by Howard Jones

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Wishing…

The last Saturday of April already – and as well as all the usual features I dug out another song from the 80s that you probably hadn’t heard in a while.

The clue almost gave away the title itself:

This New Wave band wished for something to remind them of you.”*

*The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was Wishing (if I had a photograph of you) by A Flock of Seagulls. It was their only single release to make the UK top 10, coming from their 1982 album “Listen”.

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Are you up for a 4,000 mile walk?

Hopefully something for everyone music wise this morning, including songs from Aqua, The Manhattan Transfer and my guest from a couple of weeks ago, Annie May Adams – who’ll be playing live at our Phoenix Fridays gig next weekend.

We also heard from Bob Simpson, looking ahead to a walk around the coastline of Great Britain organised by the charity Veterans in Action to commemorate the outbreak of World War 1 – with detours to take in over 700 cities, towns and villages along a 4,000 mile route, including Brentwood & Billericay. Veterans in Action specialises in the social reintegration of those leaving the armed forces into civilian life, and Bob will be chattiing with Billy McLeod, Chief Operations Officer for Veterans in Action, about the walk on next Thursday’s One-2-Three.

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Wester Ross to Novia Scotia

A great mix of music for a Spring Saturday morning, from Katrina & the Waves to Divine Comedy and the Rolling Stones to Gwen Stefani.

We also took a trip back to the 80s for a song you probably hadn’t heard in a while, for which I gave you the clue:

The twins responsible for this song tried hard to imagine the way you felt the day you sailed from Wester Ross to Novia Scotia.”*

*The song that was acceptable in the 80s was Letter from America by the Proclaimers.

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Annie May Adams

Annie May Adams 05 04 14 2 (2)Annie May Adams is a 19 year old singer songwriter from Romford, and it was a pleasure this morning that she gave her first ever radio session to Phoenix!

Annie May Adams 05 04 14 (2)Despite being in the early stages of her musical career Annie May demonstrated professionalism in both her performance and her writing, and with her passion and modest attitude this is sure to stand her in good stead as she prepares to perform live later this month in Leigh on Sea.

Annie May plays acoustic guitar, and performed two of her songs live – Remember and Falling for You. She paid tribute to Ed Sheeran and Eva Cassidy as helping inspire her passion, and whilst their influences can be heard in her music Annie May has already developed a distinctive sound of her own. We also heard her debut recording – Brick by Brick – and she explained how she’s passionate in her writing to create music that will encourage other people.

Annie May will be performing at the Oak Tree Vegetarian Bistro in Leigh on Thursday 24 April; check her out on ReverbNationFacebook or Twitter.

Listen again:

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All mixed up

This morning’s show saw the return of a popular feature with a song that was Acceptable in the 80s – a top 40 hit single from that decade that, chances are, you’ve not heard in a while. I gave you a clue to this morning’s song in the form of an anagram of its title and the artist:

ASPHALTED OUR TUNA*

*The song that was Acceptable in the 80s was Heart and Soul by T’Pau.

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A spirit of unity – World Scout Jamboree

Simon, Rebecca, Finlay, Max & Billy

Simon, Rebecca, Finlay, Max & Billy

I chatted this morning with four of just 54 Scouts across Essex who’ve been chosen to represent the county at next year’s World Scout Jamboree in Kirara-Hama, Japan, together with one of the Unit Leaders who’ll be accompanying them – Simon Timmins of 1st Warley Group.

Max, who has some Japanese relations and is very much looking forward to his first visit to the country, began by explaining what the Scout Jamboree is, and Billy described the theme for the 23rd Jamboree – namely harmony, unity, friendship and peace.

Finlay explained that the Scouts had to go through quite a tough selection process, and as part of their preparation they each have to raise over £3,000 by a whole range of ingenious activities – including a sponsored leg-wax for one of Rebecca’s teachers!

The Jamboree itself and the trip to Japan – which will include some time with Japanese families as well as a visit to Hiroshima around the 70th anniversary of the atomic bombing – will be an amazing experience, and it was greatWorld Scout Jamboree chatting with the guys.

To hear the Jamboree Song in full click here, and for more information about the Jamboree visit the website.

Listen again:

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I am what I am

Mark, Declan & Ian

Mark, Declan & Ian

I chatted this morning with three members of Southend Operatic and Dramatic Society about their production next month of La Cage aux Folles.

Based on a French play first performed in the 1970s, which also inspired the film The Birdcage, La Cage depicts the farcical chaos that results when a gay man attempts to pose as straight for the benefit of his son’s future in-laws. The main setting is a popular nightclub where female impersonator Albin – played by Mark Evans-Leigh – is the main attraction; Declan Wright plays Jean-Michel, the son whose future happiness appears to rely on the farcical deception; and Ian Scoging is Mercedes, one of the chorus line known as Les Cagelles.

Whilst it’s essentially a musical farce that SODS guarantee will have the audience laughing, crying and dancing in the aisles, Mark explained that it carries an overriding message too – namely the damage that outdated views can have on other people and the importance of allowing people to be who they are – encapsulated by one of the show’s best SODS La Cageknown songs, I am what I am.

We also talked about SODS’ amazing history, spanning over 120 years, together with their next show after La Cage – a stage version of Sister Act.  Open auditions for the character of Deloris – played in the film by Whoopi Goldberg – are being held on 23rd March; to take part – or if you’re interested in joining SODS in another capacity on stage or behind the scenes – contact the Membership Secretary, Laura Mann.

SODS’ motto is “We take what we do seriously, but never ourselves,” and if Mark, Declan and Ian are anything to go by they certainly seem to manage it!

La Cage aux Folles is at the Palace Theatre in Westcliff from Wednesday 2nd to Saturday 5th April, with Thursday and Saturday matinees; tickets can be ordered from the box office on 01702 351135.

Follow SODS on Facebook and Twitter, and listen again here:

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Make bananas fair

Stick with Foncho

As the annual fortnight to promote the Fairtrade campaign across the UK and beyond drew to a close it was good to be joined this morning by Caryl Kwei from the Brentwood Fairtrade Group.

The theme of this year’s Fortnight has been to “make bananas fair”, and Caryl explained how a price war between some of the major supermarkets means that many producers of bananas – the country’s favourite fruit – are being forced into poverty. Fairtrade is asking people to do two things – to buy only Fairtrade bananas; and to support a petition calling on the Business Secretary, Vince Cable, to investigate the impact of supermarket pricing practices and act to protect banana farmers. Details of the petition are on the Fairtrade website.Caryl Kwei 1

Caryl also explained what the Brentwood group has been doing, and how they’d be delighted to welcome new members to help spread the word. We also talked about how being the Borough’s first Fairtrade school has a positive Fairtrade Towneffect on the pupils at Holly Trees Primary beyond learning about the issues specifically connected with Fairtrade, and how other schools can get involved.

Contact details for Brentwood Fairtrade are on the website. To listen again to our chat click here: 

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Another lyric teaser

A great variety of music on this morning’s show, including songs from some of the artists who played at our second Phoenix Fridays gig last night.

My Word Up! lyric teaser was a couple of short but very distinctive lines:

I found a fox caught by dogs

He let me take him in my hands”*

 

*Word Up! was the title track from Kate Bush’s 1985 album Hounds of Love: 

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Working together for mental wellbeing

Wayne & Emma
Following on from #TimetoTalk Day a couple of weeks ago it was a pleasure this morning to welcome back to Phoenix three of the volunteers with the Essex Mental Health Community – Wayne Banks, Emma O’Leary and Paul Howard.

Essex Mental Health Community aims to give a voice to people with particular experiences of all sorts of issues associated with mental wellbeing, putting individuals in touch with service providers and other organisations, as well as raising awareness of particular conditions.

Part of being human is dealing with things that we might think set us apart from others – be that Tourettes Syndrome, which we covered on the programme a few weeks ago; depression; OCD; and so on – and whilst some may experience what’s often unhelpfully described as a “mental condition” to a greater degree than others, we discussed how society is slowly making progress in breaking down taboos and treating people for who they are rather than with sometimes overly simplistic labels.

#TimetoTalkThe Essex Mental Health Community has a number of new support groups launching over the next couple of months, starting with a Maternal Mental Health Peer Support Group next Saturday (1st March), then a Mood Peer Support Group on Thursday 10th April and an Anxiety Peer Support Group a week later, on April 17th.

If you think you or someone you know might benefit from some support, do get in touch with the Community. One of the main aims of the Time to Change campaign – for which Wayne is a Champion – is to bring all sectors of the local community together, and as the radio station for our area we at Phoenix are delighted to play our part!

Listen again to our chat here:

Listen again to various interviews on #TimetoTalk Day here, and follow Essex Mental Health Community on Facebook and Twitter.

From Essex Mental Health Community:

Our mission as a user led organisation is to include mental health service users in the development of local health and social care services. We want to demonstrate the value of service user consultation and the importance of peer support. Working in collaboration with mental health service providers, we want to get everyone working together to support people’s mental health and wellbeing – to develop a mental health community.

Join our monthly forum on the 1st Tuesday of every month from 7pm at:

White Buddha Café
Merrymeade House
Merrymeade Chase
Brentwood
CM15 9BG

Awareness and Fund Raising Events:

Brentwood Half Marathon

Nicky and Paul will be running to help raise awareness and funding for Essex Mental Health Community on Sunday 23rd March. Please come along to support them along the route, or to make a donation then please email essexmentalhealth@gmail.com.

Nuclear Rush 6km Mud Race

We have a team of 30 people working together to complete the obstacle mud run on Sunday 11th May. If you want to join the team, enter your own team to support local mental health, or make a donation then please email essexmentalhealth@gmail.com

Brentwood Fire Walk

Gabby will be braving the hot coals to help raise funding for Essex Mental Health Community on Saturday 17th March. Please come along to support Gabby, or to make a donation then please email essexmentalhealth@gmail.com

Links to Local Peer Support Groups:

ADHD Support Group

Anxiety Support Group (page TBC)

Bipolar and BPD Support Group

Depression Support Group

Maternal Mental Health Support Group

Mood Support Group (page TBC)

OCD Support Group

Tourette’s Support Group

We are also working in partnership with Brentwood Buddhist Community, Brentwood Community Print, Brentwood Leisure Trust, Brentwood Mind, and Aspire, to bring a pilot sports programme to Brentwood for people with lived experience of mental health issues. The programme will be user led and user run, with opportunities to train as Gym Instructors for people with disabilities via the InstructAbility project, or as Peer Supporters via Together UK and Interact, or just to help young people maintain a good mental and physical health. Further information will be available shortly via our forum meetings and our social media…

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Trainspotting…

EDP Trainspotting 15 02 14…not noting loco numbers, but the forthcoming production by my guests this morning, Early Doors Productions.

Danny Boyle’s highly acclaimed 1996 film was based on a novel by Irvine Welsh, which director Amy Clayton explained was based on his own experiences – but it tackles issues wider than the culture of hard drug addiction around which the story is based.

Trainspotting_0EDP never shy away from tackling difficult productions, in terms of both content and technical feasibility, and we discussed some of the challenges involved in putting on a stage version of such an iconic film – including how hard it is for actors from southern England to tackle the Edinburgh accent! As for whether and how they portray the famous toilet scene, however, you’ll just have to go along and see for yourself…

We also talked about EDP’s next production, Ladykillers, which is still being cast – if you’d like to audition just get in touch via the contacts page.

Trainspotting is at Chelmsford’s Cramphorn Theatre from Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 March; as you might expect, it’s not advised for anyone under 18.

Listen again:

The trailer:

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Mud, madness & an accordion

Today was a big day for St Francis Hospice, with the Mud ‘n’ Madness challenge at Stubbers Adventure Centre near Upminster. Phoenix FM’s adrenalin junkie Rob Jelly was there, not just to compere the event but also,  for the second year running, to take part, and I caught up with him a couple of hours before he was due to set off on the 7.5km assault course. Jelly’s always up for a new challenge, and he’s already preparing to take part in some of St Francis’ other fundraising events later this year, which you can see on their website.

Alex Southgate 1
Alex Southgate 3We also had a live session by a musician from Chelmsford who used to play keyboard with Les McKeown’s Bay City Rollers, Alex Southgate. These days Alex is focusing more on playing an instrument not often heard – he explained how he became hooked on the accordion, and why it’s such a great instrument for a recent development in his career, which is entertaining in residential care homes. Alex also takes on traditional gigs such as weddings and birthday parties, as both a solo performer and with guitar accompaniment; as well as that he plays with the band The Hickory Swingers, with a bias towards jazz, swing and rockabilly music of the 1950s.

With some medleys covering a wide range of eras and styles Alex demonstrated that the accordion is much more
versatile than you might think! For more information and his contact details visit his website, or check him out on Facebook.

Listen again:

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Essex Tourettes Action

Essex Tourettes ActionI had a fascinating chat this morning about the tic disorder Tourettes Syndrome, with the founders of a local support group – Brigette and Peter Carter – along with their daughter Emilly, together with 8 year-old Cameron and his Mum Kathy Rout.

Cameron and Emilly both have Tourettes, and Kathy explained that, whilst Cameron occasionally shouts out an expletive, the vast majority of people with the condition are affected in ways other than coprolalia, the term for involuntary swearing that’s normally portrayed in the media. Tourettes Syndrome covers a wide spectrum of symptoms; if you think you or someone you know could be affected check out the Tourettes Action website for more information.

The Essex Tourettes Action Group meets on the third Saturday of each month at Willowbrook Hall in Hutton, and a couple of weeks ago Kathy had her head shaved to raise funds – and awareness – for the group. Read more about why she did it here; and to find out more about the group visit their new Facebook page or keep up to date via Twitter. If my guests were anything to go by you’ll get a very warm welcome and lots of support from the group, and no doubt have loads of fun too! Contact them by email at ta.groupessex@gmail.com.

Listen again here:

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More pitch inspections!

Another busy and varied show, with – amongst other things – a look ahead to the first Phoenix Fridays gig at the Old Brentwoods Club next weekend, previews of today’s Fourth Round FA Cup matches and news of which Ryman League games involving local teams survived the weather – something that seems to be becoming a regular feature!

Some brilliant music as well, including an exquisite song which I asked you to identify from these lyrics:

Oh, I thought we were the human race, but we were just another borderline case. And the stars reach down and tell us there’s always one escape!”*

 

 

*Word Up! was the title track from Spandau Ballet’s 1986 album Through the Barricades, inspired by the troubles in Northern Ireland:

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A sponsored head shave and the return of Manilow

We heard this morning about a woman in Shenfield having her head shaved later to raise money for the Essex Tourettes Action Group, which was preparing to celebrate its first meeting in its brand new home, Willowbrook Hall. Brigette Carter, who runs the group with her husband Peter, joined me on the phone to describe briefly the range of forms Tourettes can take – and how widespread it is. Kathy Rout’s son Cameron has Tourettes, and by choosing such a visible way of fundraising Brigette explained that Kathy is also hoping to raise awareness of the condition and the group, which supports people with Tourettes and their families throughout Essex and beyond.

We’ll be talking more about Tourettes on the show on 1st February, when Kathy and Cameron will be joining me in the studio – along with Brigette and Peter and their daughter Emilly, who was diagnosed shortly after she was born.

If you’d like to show your support for the group and Kathy’s fantastic efforts visit her JustGiving page.

Listen again:

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Jamie Fudge & Jess PetherI was also joined by the two leading cast members of Shenfield Operatic Society’s latest production, Barry Manilow’s Copacabana. Jess Pether – who plays Lola – and Jamie Fudge, who’s Tony – described how the TV movie on which the musical was based originally came about; and how, with all its glitz and glamour and a happy ending, this promises to be a real feel-good show!

Jess and Jamie also explained how they each became involved with musical theatre, and the tremendous reward from performing despite all the nerves and hard work. Even though they’re an amateur group Shenfield Operatic’s productions are Copacabanaalways to a very professional standard, and they’re very welcoming of new members – whether to perform or help out with all sorts of roles behind the scenes. If you’d like to get involved email the Membership Secretary, Sophie, at membership@shenfieldoperaticsociety.co.uk.

Copacabana is at Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch, from Tuesday 25th February to Saturday 1st March; for tickets visit the Theatre’s website.

Follow Shenfield Operatic via Facebook and Twitter, and to listen again click here:

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Saturday sampling

Greg Hummell - Prismism Project

Greg Hummell – Prismism Project

Another airing this morning to a couple of the many talented up and coming musicians we’ve featured on Phoenix recently.

First up was Greg Hummell, otherwise known as Prismism Project, who recorded a session live for us demonstrating his use of live looping & sampling to give an alternative electronic sound – to listen again visit the One-2-Three showpage.

Hettie Steinmore in session on the Jed Shepherd Show

Hettie Steinmore in session on the Jed Shepherd Show

Later it was the turn of Hettie Steinmore, who started writing songs when she was just 12 after being inspired by the music of Taylor Swift to take up the guitar. Hettie recently appeared on Jed Shepherd’s Sunday afternoon show, and you can listen again here.

I also gave you another Word Up! lyric teaser, when I asked if you could identify which song contains these lines:

A midnight sea that swells in your eyes.  Takes just one look to know I’m still mesmerized!”*

*Word Up! was Level 42’s Leaving me now:

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The song’s beautiful piano riff was sampled on Strike’s 1997 dance anthem, I have peace:

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Cryin’ in the rain

Another wet morning weather wise, and sad news from California, with the death of one half of the biggest acts of the 50s and 60s, Phil Everly. With his brother, Don, the Everly Brothers scored a string of hits – such as Wake up little Susie, All I have to do is dream and Cathy’s clown – as well as their 1961 chart topper Walk right back, which I played on this week’s show.

For the Word Up! lyric teaser I gave you these lines:

People killin’, people dyin’; children hurt – and you hear them cryin’. Can you practise what you preach? And would you turn the other cheek?”*

*Word Up! was Where is the love by Black Eyed Peas:

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Remembering a year of Feelgood Saturdays

Petr MakarenkoOne of the great things about being a presenter on Phoenix is the privilege of meeting so many wonderful people, and as 2013 draws to a close I’ve been remembering those who’ve appeared on the Feelgood Saturday over the past 12 months. One person who made a particular impact on me was Petr Makarenko, one of the firefighters working at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant when one of the reactors ignited in 1986, whom I was thrilled to meet when he visited Billericay in April as part of a Europe-wide speaking tour. Petr’s story of bravery, survival against the odds and injustice was so powerful that I played it out again this morning – to find out more and to listen again visit my 20 April showpage.

No fewer than 24 individuals, groups and organisations have appeared on the show during the year, reflecting a diverse range of activities around Brentwood & Billericay and beyond. You can read more and listen again to each of them on my showpages:

12 January Brentwood Arts Cinema Club – programme of films for 2013

19 January Skidmarques – winter tyres & Chernobyl Children Life Line – South Essex Link – forthcoming holiday for children from Belarus

9 February Mud ‘n’ Madness – Rob Jelly & Bryan Powismud-n-madness

23 February Brentwood Borough Councillor William Lloyd – Brentwood First

2 March The Stondon Singers – Choral Masterpieces from Venice

Amy Bethany Ruby9 March Girls from Brentwood Ursuline Convent School – Real Essex girls’ takes on Essex Book Festival’s debate on “What Next for Essex? From Essex Man to TOWIE – and beyond”

6 April Michelle Robinson – children’s author

4 May Brentwood Mayor Councillor Ann Coe – charity skydive & Early Doors Productions – Around the World in 80 Days

11 May Brentwood Operatic Society – And the World Goes ‘Round

18 May Billericay’s Cater Museum – Anglo Saxon re-enactmentEggheads 21 06 13 4

22 June Eggheads Barry Simmons and Dave Rainford – St Francis Hosipce’s Big Yellow Quiz

CCLL BBQ 129 June Chernobyl Children Life Line – South Essex Link – children from Belarus & Billericay Art Trail – “Togetherness”

27 July Jonjo Heuerman – 11 year old West Ham fan and fundraiser for Cancer Research UKJonjo Heuerman

10 August Rhonda Merrick – blues/soul singer & Essex Dog Day – for PARC Essex, supporting families with children with special needs

31 August Brentwood Lions Club – Stock Charity Donkey Derby

21 September John Yarrow – Inspirational Irene from the Heart

Holly Trees 27 09 1328 September Holly Trees Primary School – Brentwood’s first Fairtrade school

12 October Early Doors Productions – Dracula

19 October Skidmarques – winter tyres

9 November Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary – getting involvedremus_header3

16 November Penny Blue Picture House – Brentwood’s new pop-up cinema

14 December Julie Jive & the Bigshots – 50s band live session

If you’ve appeared on the programme during the year, thank you for your part in helping to make each week a Feelgood Saturday. And looking ahead to next year, if you’re involved with something that you think might be of interest to people around Brentwood & Billericay, drop me a line at alan@phoenixfm.com.

Most importantly, thank you for listening – I hope you’ve enjoyed what you’ve heard, and that you’ll continue to do so. Have a very Happy New Year!

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The shortest day – but only just!

The last Feelgood Saturday before Christmas – and the shortest day across the northern hemisphere! It certainly seemed like it too, with one of the gloomiest days in a long while making even today’s official 7 hours, 49 minutes and 44 seconds of daylight seem hard to believe. Another interesting fact that I shared on this morning’s show was that today isn’t the earliest the sun sets – that was a week or so ago – but this morning was its latest time to rise. I always like the thought that, from tomorrow, the days start getting longer again – although with December 22 seeing only an extra 2 seconds of daylight it’s not worth getting too excited!

It was good to be joined this morning by hopefully the newest member of the Phoenix presenter team, Adam Dyer. Listen out for Adam some time in the new year, when he’ll be sharing his professional and personal love of music, particularly jazz.

For this morning’s Word Up! lyric teaser I gave you these lines:

She can remember a time when she felt needed. If love was red, then she was colour blind!”*

*The Word Up! song was Savage Garden’s To the Moon and Back:

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Rockin’ with Julie Jive & the Bigshots

Julie Jive 14 12 13008We took a trip back to the 50s this morning, with a welcome return to Phoenix of the excellent Julie Jive & the Bigshots. Ken (drums), Graham (guitar), Graham (sax), Julie (vocals) and Steve (double bass) have been making quite an impact on the Essex music scene for a few years now, with their unique blend of swinging, rocking and jiving music from the era that saw the birth of American rock ‘n’ roll.

They’d agreed to play three songs live – from Ella Mae Morse, Wanda Jackson and a Christmas classic from Brenda Lee – but they were so good that I begged them to stay and give an encore!

Listen again:

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Julie Jive 14 12 13007

Julie Jive 14 12 13002

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Small Business Saturday

Today’s Small Business Saturday, a national initiative to encourage people throughout the UK to support small businesses – and on this morning’s show we took a look at some of the many events taking place in Brentwood, Shenfield and Ingatestone.

I also gave you another Word Up! lyric teaser, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

Chippin’ around, kick my brains ’round the floor. These are the days – it never rains but it pours!”*

*Word Up! was Under Pressure by Queen & David Bowie:

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Let us entertain you!

2013-11-30 060 LightsThe main focus of this week’s show was to look ahead to what turned out to be a fantastic afternoon of celebrations in the town centre for Lighting Up Brentwood, all held together by Phoenix FM. Tony Smith set the scene for a very packed programme on the main stage, while Bob Simpson outlined what to expect in Crown Street – and we heard songs from two of the excellent acts taking part, Rajiv and Loretta.

My Word Up! song was also relevant to the afternoon’s goings on – I gave you these lines:

Separate your right from wrongs, come and sing a different song. The kettle’s on – so don’t be long, mon cher!”*

*The Word Up! song was Robbie Willialms’ Let Me Entertain You:

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Blame it on the weatherman

It was a pleasure this morning to be joined by the newest member of our team of presenters, Matt Taylor, who’ll be bringing a brand new warm and chilled out sound to Saturday nights very soon. Things are getting very busy as we head towards Christmas, and Matt did a great job sharing a few ideas from our packed Events Guide.

I also gave you another Word Up! music teaser, when I asked if you could identify which song contains these lines:

How many times have the weathermen told you stories that made you laugh? You know, it’s not unlike the politicians and the leaders when they do things by half.”*

*Thanks to Bob, who suggested the Word Up! artist might be Michael Fish, circa 1987! In fact, it was the Stranglers, with Always the Sun:

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Your chance to win!

A VIP trip to Brentwood’s brand new pop up cinema is up for grabs if you know the answer to the question posed by my Feelgood Saturday guests Fiona Hewlett and Katie Ward, founders of Penny Blue Picturehouse!Katie Ward Fiona Hewlett

1383278_559818164086330_1493423614_nThe cinema’s launching on Saturday 7 December at the Cathedral Parish Hall with screenings of two films with a Christmas theme – Elf, which was voted for on the cinema’s Facebook page from a choice of five films, and the 1940s classic It’s A Wonderful Life.

To win 4 tickets, along with a stack of traditional cinema goodies and a very special welcome, all you need to do is answer the following question:

Who played George Bailey in the 1946 film It’s a Wonderful Life?

Email your answer, with your contact details, to alan@phoenixfm.com or enter via the “competition” tab on the Phoenix FM app for iPhone or Android. The closing date for entries is Sunday 1 December, and the winner will be drawn at random. Normal competition rules apply, including only one entry per household please. Good luck!

Listen again:

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Helping not just the horses

remus_header3

Listen here:

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Davey Donkey

Davey Donkey

Fran Smith 09 11 13Longstanding volunteer at the Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary, Fran Smith, popped in this week to give an update on some of the animals they care for and to outline some of the challenges they face as winter approaches. Pippa’s story summed up why the Sanctuary’s work is so important, but as Fran explained it’s only possible with the ongoing help of financial supporters, volunteers and people getting involved in fundraising events – and suffered a setback recently with thefts of vital equipment.

If you want to see the work continue and think you can help in any way you can phone the Sanctuary on 01277 356191, or email info@remussanctuary.org – and with Christmas approaching do take a look at their excellent online shop!

For tickets to Tuesday’s Ladies’ Fashion Show phone Linda Croton on 01277 633253.

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Let me tell you

A real variety of great music on the show this morning, with oldies from the likes of the Beach Boys and Savage Garden through to current songs by Northcote, Matt Cardle and others.

Another excellent song – well, one of my favourites, anyway! – was that which I asked you to identify from these lyrics:

Tell me that you understand, and you’ll take me as I am. You’ll always be the one to give me everything!”*

*The Word Up! song was Toca’s Miracle by Fragma, a mash-up of two songs – Fragma’s own Toca Me and I Need a Miracle by CoCo Star, the vocalist on this song:

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One night in October

Another busy weekend of sport, and as well as the main Premier League matches we took a look ahead this morning to the fourth qualifying round of the FA Cup involving Essex sides and the start of the Rugby League World Cup.

As always on Phoenix I packed in some great music too, including the 2009 debut single from Little Comets, One Night in October – which includes a timely reminder that the clocks go back tonight!

Another good song also for the Word Up! lyric teaser; I gave you these lines:

At night the people come and go – they talk too fast, and walk too slow. Chasing time, from hour to hour, I pour the drinks and crush the flowers.”*

*The Word Up! song was What have I done to deserve this, one of the 80s collaborations between the Pet Shop Boys & Dusty Springfield which helped revive the career of the 60s soul legend:

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Winter tyres

Keith Playell 19 10 13

With the colder months nearly upon us Keith Playell from Hutton based tyre and alignment specialists Skidmarques popped in this morning to advise on the pros and cons of winter tyres. Keith started by explaining what they are and how they differ from conventional tyres, and he dispelled the commonly held belief that they only give improved safety on snow or ice – in fact, the construction of winter tyres generally makes for improved grip on any wet road as well as in dry conditions when it’s cold.

Skidmarques are always happy to advise on what’s best for your individual circumstances; call 01277 210414, or pop in and visit them at the Everik Business Centre on Prospect Way.

Listen here:

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Not for the fainthearted…

Early Doors Productions 12 10 13

Listen here:

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Amy Clayton – co-founder of the excellent local theatre group Early Doors Productions – dropped by this morning, along with virtually the entire cast of their latest production, Dracula. Despite being a very young company, having staged their first work in 2011, Early Doors seem to be getting more ambitious with each new venture, and Amy described the reward of constantly pushing new boundaries.

draculaEarly Doors will be continuing to explore adult themes with their next production, Trainspotting, which they’ll be staging in March; Amy explained that they’re in the process of casting, and would love to hear from anyone who’d like to audition. Previous acting experience isn’t vital, although the ability to keep up a convincing Edinburgh accent is!

Dracula isn’t for the fainthearted, and due to language, content and nudity it is advised only for over 18s. It’s being performed in the atmospheric setting of Ingatestone Hall between Thursday 31 October and Saturday 2 November, although tickets for the Friday and Saturday performances have sold out. To book tickets, which are £14 – or if you’d like to be considered for Trainspotting – email early.doors@hotmail.co.uk.

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Dancing outside the kitchen

A look ahead to another busy weekend of sport this morning – including Premiership action, Brentwood’s FA Trophy match against Hastings Utd, tonight’s Super League final and tomorrow’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Don’t forget that you can keep up to date with all the latest local, national and international action with Steve Robertson on Between the Lines from 3 til 6 every Saturday afternoon.

As usual there was a real variety of great music on this morning’s show too, including my Word Up! song, which I asked you to identify from these lyrics:

At last I met a pretty girl; she laughed and talked with me. We both walked out of the kitchen – and danced in a new way!”*

*The Word Up! song was You’ll always find me in the kitchen at parties by Jona Lewie:

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Holly Trees leads the Fairtrade way

Holly Trees 27 09 13We heard this morning from yesterday’s coffee morning at Holly Trees Primary School in Brentwood, which recently became the first school in the Borough to be awarded Fairtrade status. I went along to the very lively gathering – which was part of Macmillan Cancer Support’s annual World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, as well as to celebrate Fairtrade – and chatted with one of the teachers behind the initiative, Vevek Singh, together with a couple of the pupils on the school’s Fairtrade Committee, Lola and Lucy.

Listen here – part 1:

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It was obvious from talking to both Vevek and the girls that Holly Trees is doing so much more than merely paying lip service to being a Fairtrade school, and I was particularly encouraged by how the positive ethos of Fairtrade is dovetailing with various aspects of the curriculum and school life. Whilst there I also caught up with Caryl Kwei from the Brentwood Fairtrade Steering Group, who was thrilled by the way the School has embraced Fairtrade, and who’d love to hear from other local schools, businesses and other organisations who share similar values and would like to take the Fairtrade pledge – as we at Phoenix FM have done.

Listen here – part 2:

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For more information – and to contact the group – visit the Brentwood Fairtrade website.

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Inspirational Irene

irene yarrow0001“Inspirational Irene – From the Heart” is a new book telling the story of a woman from Great Burstead who passed away last year after living for several years with recurrent bowel cancer, and I chatted this morning with its authors – Irene’s husband John and his co-author, Keith Overill.

John talked about how Irene had something of a roller-coaster experience with her illness – from being given hope Keith Overill John Yarrowwhen the cancer was initially diagnosed that it was likely that an operation would cure it, to within weeks not being expected to survive; then a few years later being given the “all clear”, only to be faced with a return of the cancer a couple of years later when the offer of palliative care was, in Keith’s words, tantamount to writing her off. Despite that, however, Irene lived a further four and a half years, and John talked about how he believes her determination and positive attitude helped her through.

John hopes that Irene’s story will help inspire others facing cancer, and has organised a book signing next Saturday (28 September) in the Billericay Reading Rooms. The book can also be ordered from John directly at jlycarman@hotmail.com or on 01277 659081; it costs £5.99, and all the proceeds from its sale are being given to the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity.

For more information about Irene visit the website dedicated to her memory.

Listen here:

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By Jove Missus! Another packed programme this morning…

…including a preview of a busy afternoon of football with a whole host of Essex teams taking part in the first qualifying round of the FA Cup; a song performed live on yesterday’s One 2 Three by Chelmsford based one-man-band Paolo Morena; and a look ahead to next Thursday’s One 2 Three when Bob Simpson will be chatting with legendary comedian Ken Dodd. Although he’s 85 I’m a bit worried for Gerry Smith – Doddy has a bit of a reputation for somewhat lengthy performances, so I think Drive could be in danger of starting a bit late!

We also heard about St Francis Hospice Choir’s appeal for new members, in particular men to bolster the tenor and bass sections, ahead of rehearsals starting on Tuesday 24 September. For more information contact Jan Lessons on 01708 753319.

The lines I gave you for the Word Up! lyric teaser were:

Though you’re miles and miles away, I see you every day. I don’t have to try!
I just close my eyes, I close my eyes.”*

*The Word Up! song was Together in electric dreams by Giorgio Moroder & Phil Oakey:

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When you think everything’s ok…

One of the great things about Phoenix is the great variety of music we play, so you’re never far away from a favourite or a song that brings back a memory or two. This morning’s Feelgood Saturday was no exception, with the likes of Squeeze’s Annie get your gun, which – though it’s an often used phrase – I hadn’t heard in ages; Falling into you, a surprisingly pleasant song by Celine Dion, an artist I wouldn’t normally think to listen to; together with some current favourites by, amongst others, Capital Cities, Biffy Clyro and Naughty Boy.

Another good song was the answer to my Word Up! Lyric teaser – the lines I gave you were:

Well life has a funny way of sneaking up on you, when you think everything’s ok and everything’s going right!”*

*The Word Up song was Alanis Morissette’s Ironic:

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Lions and Donkeys

Stock Charity Donkey Derby 2013Martin Hardwick-Smith, 1st Vice-President of Brentwood Lions Club, popped in this morning to talk about tomorrow’s Stock Charity Donkey Derby. This promises to be a great day out for the whole family, with loads going on apart from the races themselves – including a hog roast & BBQ, bouncy castles, military vehicles, licensed bar & Pimms tent and displays by many of the local organisations supported by the Club.

Martin also talked about the history and ethos of Lions internationally, and how Clubs from across the world come Martin Hardwick-Smithtogether at times of need to bring relief to disaster zones. Locally they support not just community groups and charities but also individuals – such as Tayler Goatier, who has brittle bone syndrome, and for whom the Club has provided a special mobility scooter to help her get around her university campus. As well as Tayler, the other main beneficiaries of this year’s Donkey Derby are Farleigh Hospice, MacMillan Nurses, Remus Memorial Horse Sanctuary, Huntington’s Disease Association, Leukaemia Research, The J’s Hospice and Stock Village Hall.

Brentwood Lions meet twice each month and are keen to welcome new members, not just from Brentwood, although Martin explained that they are an all-male Club. To apply for membership or for more details of the Donkey Derby visit the website, and listen again to our interview here:

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Doom and gloom…

…weather wise, but anything but on Phoenix today, with a stack load of music and chat to brighten up a thoroughly miserable summer’s day!

My Word Up! lyric teaser was quite tough this week:

When the visions start to form, the same illusion takes us all – and you are there, you are there.Slowly senses leaving me. Once the two are in 3D we play the game!”*

*The Word Up! song was Videotheque by Dollar, the first artist other than one of his own bands to be produced by Trevor Horn, who went on to become one of the most successful music producers in the British music industry:

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Another lyric teaser

Another busy weekend sports wise – with the new Premier League season, World Athletics Championship and our local teams playing – and we took a look ahead to all the action.

Music wise, in my Word Up! teaser I asked you to identify the song containing these lyrics:

One moment to another; a world to be discovered.
And now it’s my turn to fly. Let this be the last time I say goodbye!”

*The Word Up! song was Last Time by V headliner Labrinth:

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The 27 Club and Heinz 57

I had the pleasure of welcoming some fantastic guests to Phoenix this morning.

Rhonda Merrick

First up I was joined by blues/soul singer Rhonda Merrick, along with her partner Ritchie Swann. Ritchie’s band Loose Change accompanied Rhonda at last month’s Brentwood Festival, and it was fascinating to hear how not just their diverse styles of music but also their different technical backgrounds have come together to produce a great result. Rhonda talked about being brought up near New Orleans in one of the poorest parts of the USA, where hurricanes such as the devastating Katrina were a regular occurrence, and how a rather well known uncle gave her a love for music which remains deep in her soul.Ritchie Swann

As well as singing Rhonda’s also a passionate songwriter, and in 2011 she set herself an incredible challenge that has led to her making a film, Strict the Movical, which may even feature her visit to Phoenix! Rhonda explained how she based the idea for this movie-musical around a song she wrote the day Amy Winehouse died, named after the notorious 27 Club (to which Amy’s name was sadly added), and she sang the song live with a depth of passion that was wonderful to witness: 

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As well as having a website Rhonda is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. To listen again to her inspiring story and more of her music click here:

Part 1 

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Part 2 

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Sarah Courage Ian TwinleyLater I welcomed two of the organisers of Essex Dog Day, Sarah Courage and Ian Twinley. Sarah and Ian are members of the fundraising committee of the charity behind the day, PARC Essex, and they described the excellent work PARC does supporting families with children with special needs. PARC welcomes children from across Essex and beyond with physical and learning difficulties, providing a whole range of services such as activities clubs and holiday respite at its purpose built centre at Great Notley.

The August bank holiday weekend sees the third Essex Dog Day, with the aim of raising £50,000 to support the work of PARC, within the beautiful grounds of Ian’s home, Crix, near Hatfield Peverel. Sarah and Ian described how this’ll be a fun-packed day for everyone – not just dog owners – with competitions, displays and a whole range of classes to suit every dog imaginable – including “dog most like its owner”! There’s also going to be a raffle with a very special first prize, so it’ll be well worth the effort to travel up the A12 and help support an excellent local charity.

For more information on Essex Dog Day or PARC Essex visit their websites, and to listen again click here: 

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A new season already

It’s that time of year already, with the start of a new football season launching the Football League’s 125th anniversary celebrations. Our local teams don’t play until next weekend – with Billericay relegated to the Ryman League Premier Division and Brentwood in Ryman League Division One – but we took a look ahead this morning to the first matches in the Championship.

I also gave you another Word Up! teaser, when I asked if you could identify the song that contains these lines:

Turn back the times ’til the days when our love was new – do you remember?

No matter what was happenin’, I was there with you.”*

*The Word Up! song was Relight my Fire by Take That featuring Lulu:

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England v Germany – at the Brentwood Centre

Jonjo HeuermanIt was a delight this morning to be joined by a charity fundraiser who’s already raised over £116,000 for Cancer Research UK, received a standing ovation from a packed Premier League stadium and earned the Spirit of London Award for National Fundraiser of the Year! Jonjo Heuerman is still just 11 years old, but he works tirelessly to raise money for the Bobby Moore Fund to support research into bowel cancer and raise awareness of the disease which took not only his West Ham and England hero but also his Nanny, Lyn.

cr_093675Jonjo’s amazing story started when he was inspired to do something to remember his Nan by his sister Megan’s own fundraising efforts, and he explained how he decided to walk the 23 mile route between the two stadiums Bobby Moore is best remembered for playing at, Wembley and Jonjo’s beloved West Ham. Next weekend Jonjo’s organising a fun day at the Brentwood Centre – with a celebrity match between Once Upon a Smile FC and Jonjo’s XI, as well as a kids’ match re-enacting England v Germany – full details are on his website.Sue Jonjo Donna

To listen again to Jonjo’s inspiring story – including why he received a letter from the Queen and how he came to have lunch with the Prime Minister – click here:

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To find out more, including how you can support Jonjo in the fight against bowel cancer, visit his website, and follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

I wonder who’ll be celebrating next Saturday – England or Germany…?

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Don’t steal my sunshine!

A real summer feel to this morning’s show, with news from the first test of the Ashes, together with loads of great outdoor events taking place around our area, and a sprinkling of songs that sound great in the sunshine.

I also gave you another Word Up! teaser, when I asked if you could identify the song containing these lines:

My heroes had the heart to lose their lives out on a limb – and all I remember is thinking, I want to be like them!”*

*The Word Up! song was Crazy by Gnarls Barkley:

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Festival’s here!

The Late TwosA brilliant weekend for the Brentwood Festival weather wise, and to get a flavour of things music-wise we heard songs this morning from some of the acts taking part, including Adrian Nation and States of Emotion. I was also joined live by three of the members of one of the bands taking to the stage this afternoon, The Late Twos – a 5-piece indie pop-rock outfit from Belfast. Ryan, Matty and David talked about how the band came about and some of their influences, including Arctic Monkeys and the Libertines, and played a couple of songs live – Never Mind and the song which gave them their name, The Late Twos. They’ve already released one EP and have another one on the way soon, and you can find out more from their website or Facebook.

Listen again here – but apologies that in places the audio quality isn’t up to our usual high standard:

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Chernobyl Children and Billericay’s Art Trail

The South Essex Link of Chernobyl Children Life Line are very busy at the moment entertaining 8 girls and 4 boys from south eastern Belarus, one of the areas worst affected by the 1986 disaster at the nearby nuclear power plant. The children are just coming to the end of the first week of their recuperative holiday in Essex, and I had the pleasure of meeting them last night at a barbecue near Billericay, where I also chatted with some of the organisers.

Listen again – part 1:

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The children are paired up to stay with local host families, and thanks in part to previous coverage on Phoenix new families have come forward this year – however, there’s still a shortage, resulting in the Link’s Publicity Officer Gaynor Manthorpe and her husband Alastair looking after four of the children. I asked Matt, whose family are hosting a couple of the children for the first time this year, how they came to get involved; I also chatted with the barbecue’s host, Peter Brierley of Stock Brook Nursery. Listen again – part 2:

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They’re a lovely group of children, and despite the rain they seemed to be having a thoroughly enjoyable time. If you’d like to talk to the Link about the possibility of volunteering as a host for a couple of children next year contact the Chairman, Anthony Woodman, via the website.

The spirit of “togetherness” is coming to Billericay between Thursday 11 and Sunday 21 July, that being the theme of the town’s Art Trail which will take place at various shops and other venues the length and breadth of the High Street and beyond, and to find out more I chatted this morning with its President, Vin Harrop.

Vin explained that there should be something to appeal to everyone, and it’s not just about art – with other events such as a jazz concert and an evening of storytelling. The Art Trail will be centred on Billericay’s historic St Mary Magdalen Church, with its iconic 116 year old clock, and Vin read a short poem dedicated to the clock by Tim Cunningham.

You can download a brochure with full details at the website; these will also be available at various points in the High Street courtesy of a number of specially created TRAILblazers, designed by art tutor at the Fold, Marion Gill. Vin assured me that these are quite friendly – and won’t run away if you speak to them!

Listen again:

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Who’s the greatest Egghead?

A very busy show this morning, with a look ahead to the Le Mans 24 hour endurance race from Steve Robertson, live from France; closer to home, all the fun of Brentwood’s Strawberry Fair, from Bob Simpson; and two great songs recorded live for us at our Creative Sessions by 3-piece band The River.

We also found out what it was like to be faced with the dilemma of risking losing £218,000 on ITV’s Who Wants to be a Millionaire from a former contestant who had nothing more than a fair hunch about the answer to the £0.5 million question, Dave Rainford. Dave’s now a member of BBC2’s popular Eggheads team, and I caught up with him and fellow Egghead Barry Simmons last night at St Francis Hospice’s Big Yellow Quiz. To find out whether Dave took the Millionaire risk – and why Barry thinks Kevin is the greatest Egghead of all – listen again here:

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Boxcars on the road

Today’s Creative Sessions band being featured throughout the day was Boxcars, a recently formed 5-piece alternative band from Southend. We heard two of their songs during my show – The Road and Promises – along with part of Bob Simpson’s interview with them shortly after recording their session back in April. Bob started by asking them to introduce themselves:

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Bob also asked why they chose the name Boxcars:

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We also caught up with Bob ahead of this afternoon’s Summer Fair at the Woodlands School in Warley, where Phoenix  were to be providing the musical entertainment. I know everyone keeps saying it – but now all we need is a bit of summer weather!

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Promises from the Outset

Another busy weekend sports wise, with previews this morning of  the French Open Tennis finals, rugby union and cricket matches against Australia and tomorrow’s Canadian Grand Prix.

The main focus this morning, though, was today’s featured band from our Creative Sessions – rock trio Outset Ocarina, whose lead singer is our Late Night Rock presenter Alex Hoggett. He’s joined on bass by Jamie Simpson, the son of Sunday Replay‘s Bob, and drummer Ben Heapy. As well as hearing two of the songs they recorded for us back in April – Battalion and Promises – we also heard Chris Siviter’s interview with the band following their session.

Listen here:

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Isn’t she pretty…

Another busy show this morning, including news of Bradley Wiggins being forced out of the Tour de France by injury, a plug for the forthcoming issue of the Billericay Town Guide and loads of requests via the brand new Phoenix FM iPhone app.

We also squeezed in another Word Up! tease, when I asked if you could name the song containing these lyrics:

I’ll be on my holidays; they’ll be doing the rounds.They’ll ask me how i got her – I’ll say, “I saved my money;” they’ll say, “isn’t she pretty…”*

*The Word Up! song was Dignity by Deacon Blue:

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Word up!

A packed show this morning, with a look ahead to this evening’s Champions League Final, tomorrow’s final heat of our own Battle Stage contest and the Go Spike weekend at the Brentwood Centre’s brand new Beach Arena. So far as the Word Up! lyric tease was concerned it was back to the 80s, with these lines:

When you get so down that you can’t get up, and you want so much but you’re all out of luck.
When you’re so downhearted and misunderstood – just over and over and over you could…”*

 

*The Word Up! song was ELO’s Hold on tight:

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The 7th Century comes to Billericay

Listen here:

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Chris Brewster, Curator of Billericay’s Cater Museum, told us this morning about a very exciting visit to the museum by members of the Ealdfaeder Anglo Saxon re-enactment group, who were going to be demonstrating some of the many skills of the time such as weaving and leather craft. Chris spoke enthusiastically about her fascination with the Dark Ages, a period of history which she believes is often misrepresented; she also talked about early Saxon settlement in what is now Billericay town centre, and how a 7th Century ruler of much of East Anglia – King Raedwald – is believed to have kept his options open at a time of great change in religious belief.

Chris also briefly mentioned other things the Cater is involved with, including the forthcoming display of the Billericay Town Model in the Reading Rooms on 19th and 20th July.

The Museum, near Costa Coffee in the High Street, is well worth a visit; it’s open Monday to Saturday (except Bank Holidays), 2-5pm.

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And the World Goes ‘Round

Listen here:

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Nina Jarram, Chair of Brentwood Operatic Society, joined me this morning to talk about their forthcoming production at Brentwood Theatre. Written by John Kander and Fred Ebb – who were responsible for a string of hit Broadway musicals, including Cabaret and Chicago – And the World Goes ‘Round is a revue featuring a number of their songs, including the finale, New York, New York, and Nina explained that it’s best summed up as a jazz musical with a slightly dark theme.

Nina also spoke about plans for BOS’ autumn production – another lesser known Broadway musical, How to succeed in business without really trying – for which they’ll soon be casting. With a history of over a century BOS is one of the strongest theatre groups around, and they’re always happy to chat with people who’d like to get involved, both on stage and behind the scenes. So if you’d like to have a go at musical theatre, why not get in touch! Contact details are on the website. 

And the World Goes ‘Round is at Brentwood Theatre Wednesday 22 to Saturday 25 May; for tickets contact the box office.

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French connection

Listen again:

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A busy show this morning! Firstly the Mayor of Brentwood, Councillor Ann Coe, popped in with her husband, Paul Barrell, to give a quick plug to a tandem skydive she was going to be doing on Sunday. Ann – who had just cut the ribbon at the brand new Brentwood Beach Arena – explained that the skydive was for her three Mayoral charities – Crossroads Care, Frontline Partnership and the Alzheimer’s Society. To find out how you can support her contact Claire.hayden@brentwood.gov.uk, and to hear my interview about the Beach Arena with Nicky and James from Brentwood Leisure Trust along with Volleyball Community Development Coach Rees Warren click here.

Listen again:

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I was also joined by the director and almost the entire cast of Around the World in 80 Days, the forthcoming production of Early Doors Productions. Jules Vernes’ original story included such things as steam boats, trains and even a herd of bison – despite being a small company, Early Doors are very ambitious with the productions they choose to put on! Around the World in 80 Days is at Chelmsford’s Cramphorn Theatre Thursday 16th to Saturday 18th May.

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Sunshine and showers

…typical April weather, perhaps, although despite the sunshine it’s still much colder than its should be for the time of year. Thankfully things always feel much warmer with Phoenix FM, where I was delighted this morning to be joined by Matt Hines, who’s looking to join our happy team of presenters – so listen out for him!

Just for fun I gave you another lyrics teaser, with these lines:

Meeting Mr Right, the man of my dreams; the one who shows me true love – or at least it seems.With brown cocoa skin and curly black hair, it’s just the way he looks at me – that gentle, loving stare!”*

*The Word Up song was Finally by Ce Ce Peniston.

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Chernobyl Hero

To listen again click here:

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We heard this morning from one of the bravest and most important people you could hope to meet, who took time out to speak to me during the week when he was visiting Billericay as part of a Europe-wide speaking tour. Petr Makarenko was one of the firefighters working at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant when one of the reactors ignited in 1986, a battle which claimed the lives of many of his friends and colleagues as they fought to prevent what is still the worst nuclear power plant accident in history from becoming even worse – potentially turning parts of Europe into a nuclear graveyard.

Petr described how life carried on as normal that Saturday in April in the small town where he and his young family had settled, just 3km from the plant; he also told me how he felt on being given the news that he was expected to live just a few weeks because of his exposure to radiation after 5 days on the plant. Petr also spoke about the attitude of the authorities to him and his fellow survivors, who were until recently officially recognised as “liquidators” but are now merely remembered as victims of Chernobyl, and how – despite having many serious medical problems – he is no longer entitled to free medical treatment.

Petr was a guest of the South Essex Link of Chernobyl Children’s Life Line, who are busy planning this year’s recuperative holiday for a dozen children living in one of the areas of Belarus still badly affected by contamination resulting from the disaster, nearly thirty years later. For more information visit the website.

It’s not an overstatement to say that without the sacrifice, skill and bravery of Petr and his colleagues life would most likely have been very different for us all, whether or not we were alive in 1986. He is truly worthy of the title “Hero”; a warm-hearted, humorous gentleman to boot, and I shall treasure for a very long time the memory of meeting him.

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Tractors at bedtime and picking the fruit out of muesli!

To listen again click here:

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My guest this morning was Michelle Robinson, author of picture books for “lap age” children with wonderful titles including “What to do if an elephant stands on your foot”, “How to find a fruit bat” and “Goodnight Tractor”, published last week.

Michelle popped in ahead of a visit to Brentwood’s Chicken & Frog Bookshop, where she was looking forward to meeting some of her Essex fans, and she explained how she went from being a child who loved the Famous Five adventure stories to a grown up stumbling across her own books lining the shelves in the shops!

For details of Michelle’s books, as well as lots of fun ideas to keep the children happy, visit her website.

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British Summer Time… and still below freezing!

I’m sorry to say today’s weather forecasts were all too familiar – another cold day, predictions of sub-zero temperatures overnight, and a similar outlook for tomorrow. The clocks go forward tonight, bringing in British Summer Time – hopefully soon we’ll be talking of unbroken sunshine and highs of 25!

Fortunately, though, the music on Phoenix is always enough to warm the soul, and this morning’s Word Up teaser was no exception. The lyrics I gave were:

Lately I have desperately pondered, spent my nights awake and I wonder
What I could have done in another way, to make you stay.*

 *The Word Up song was Love Fool by the Cardigans.

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Wired for sound

For this week’s lyric teaser I chose a song by an artist who’s pretty much shunned by many radio stations these days. The lyrics were:

Give me the ring on your finger, let me see the lines on your hand.
I can see me a tall dark stranger, giving you what you hadn’t planned!

 The song was Devil Woman by Cliff Richard, who’s been in the recording business over an incredible 7 decades – this level of success probably being the reason so many people like to knock him. At Phoenix we don’t constantly bang on about playing a broad selection of music – we just get on and do it!

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Listen to us!

A bit of self approbation this morning, as we reflected on just some of the great programmes and features on Phoenix over the past few days – such as Sylvia Kent’s Book Club on Eat My Brunch, local politics on One 2 Three and all about Crossroads Care on Late Night Extra. (Do you know how this charity got its name? It’s all there on Patrick’s page!) And, as always, we’ve given an airing to more live music than virtually any other radio station, with loads of sessions by bands and solo artists covering a whole range of music on the likes of Curveballs, Sunday Lunch and Saturday Night Live.

As you’re reading this the chances are you’ll already know why we’re one of the county’s most popular websites, reflecting as we do the wealth of music and topics we’ve featured on air as well as those we’ve got lined up, but if not then take some time to browse around – you won’t be disappointed. And don’t forget to tell your friends about us!

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Real Essex girls

To listen again click here:

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The Essex Book Festival is in full swing, and as part of this a debate taking place next week in Brentwood asks the question “What Next for Essex? From Essex Man to TOWIE – and beyond”. It’s being held at the Ursuline Convent High School in Queen’s Road, with some of the school’s students being involved, and to set the scene I was joined this morning by Amy, Bethany and Ruby from the school to talk about perceptions of being Essex girls. Despite all being born and bred in the county there wasn’t a stiletto or a trace of orange spray tan to be seen, which the girls said often surprises people they meet outside the county, including someone on a school trip to Iceland who was amazed that girls from Essex could be taking A Levels in “proper subjects”! We all agreed that whilst some people undoubtedly do fit the stereotypical Essex girl image, people should be judged for who they are as individuals and by and large the national perception is grossly unfair. We also gave a majority thumbs down to TOWIE!

Next Friday’s debate starts at 7pm and will be chaired by local publisher Malcolm Burgess. Taking part will be novelist Martina Cole, the Daily Mail’s Simon Heffer, Essex headteacher Vic Goddard, Brentwood Gazette editor Neville Wilson and researcher on place and social class in Essex, James Scott. Full details can be found on the website.

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The Stondon Singers

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I chatted this morning with Matthew Butt, PR Officer with the Stondon Singers, ahead of their Choral Masterpieces from Venice concert next weekend in Blackmore. Matthew spoke about the history of the choir, which was formed in 1968, originally to celebrate the work of William Bird, a composer who spent the latter part of his life in Stondon Massey. Saturday’s concert will feature three works from the Renaissance period, with accompaniment from the highly acclaimed Meridian Sinfonia. Matthew explained that the Stondon Singers perform regularly through the year, including an appearance at the Blackmore Village Fair in May. For more information, including details of how to become a patron and how to get tickets for Choral Masterpieces from Venice, visit the website.

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Brentwood First

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I was joined this morning by the leader of the area’s newest political group, Brentwood First. Warley Councillor William Lloyd and three of his colleagues – all former Conservatives – launched their new group of independent borough councillors last month, and I put it to William that being free to vote on an issue by issue basis and yet part of a formally recognised party could create confusion in voters’ minds. William also gave his views on a range of local issues, including the freeze in Council Tax and the Council’s spending plans for the 2013/14 financial year; how some of the poorest in our community will be affected by cuts in Council Tax Benefit; recent changes to car parking changes; and the perennial question of the redevelopment of William Hunter Way. I also asked him whether Brentwood First is simply a breakaway Conservative Party and who he would be supporting at the next General Election, and for his thoughts on the housing crisis and whether he believes homes are over-priced.

I finished by asking William whether he believes the recent division amongst Conservatives in Brentwood is likely to be repeated at a national level…

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Another musical tease

We had all the usual features on this morning’s show, along with some great music – including the song for which I earlier read a couple of lyrics in the Word Up tease:

Step by step and day by day,
Every second counts – I can’t break away.*

*The Word Up song was Heaven 17’s Temptation.

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Mud ‘n’ Madness live

Today was the big Mud ‘n’ Madness 7.5km adventure race in Upminster, with Rob Jelly and Bryan Powis eagerly taking up the challenge to raise money for St Francis Hospice. Bob Simpson and Mike Jones reported live on this morning’s show from Stubbers Adventure Centre on how they were doing, and later on Bryan and Rob popped into the studio – without a trace of mud and looking ready to face it all again! Even though it was a tough course – particularly given the freezing overnight temperatures – they clearly had a lot of fun, which was well deserved for them and everyone else who took part.

They’re up for the challenge again next year, and if you’d like to join them it’s never to early to start thinking about it – but in the meantime, well done guys!

For loads more, including photos and details of how to donate, click here.

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Foray to the Foyer

A foray normally suggests something alien, but in fact this one’s just the opposite as the foyer in question is, of course, the recently refurbished bar at the Brentwood Centre, where Phoenix FM has got some great Saturday night gigs lined up over the next few months. Next weekend we’ve got another of our popular Quiz Evenings; then on 9 March it’s the welcome return of live music – with an exciting list of acts already lined up, including Mila Falls, who recently popped in to Tony Smith’s Sunday Lunch and whose song “Party in the stars” we heard this morning.

This morning’s Word Up was probably the easiest lyric teaser you’ve ever heard – although maybe only if you’re around a certain age:

Buying bread from a man in Brussels-
He was six-foot-four and full of muscles.
I said, “Do you speak-a my language?”
He just smiled and gave me a vegemite sandwich!*

 *The Word Up song was Down Under by Men at Work.

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The first day of spring?

That assumption would be far too premature and it would no doubt play havoc with the natural order of things, but it was nevertheless welcome this morning to see the snow begin to thaw in the glorious sunshine.

On this morning’s show I tested your knowledge of lyrics once again with Word Up:

So let it be what it’ll be
Don’t make a fuss and get crazy over you and me
Here’s what I’ll do
I’ll play loose
Run like we have a day with destiny*

*The Word Up song was Crush by Jennifer Paige.

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Winter tyres and adding years to a child’s life

Managing director of tyre and alignment specialists Skidmarques, Keith Playell, popped in this morning to talk about winter tyres. Keith explained that a better description is cold weather tyres, as their construction makes for better traction as well as improved stopping distances than general purpose tyres once the temperature drops below about 5 degrees, and so changing to winter tyres for the colder months can significantly improve safety on the road. Beyond selling tyres Skidmarques plays an active role in the community, and Keith also mentioned a big charity fundraiser they’ll be hosting at the Brentwood Centre in August, with lots of attractions for the whole family. Keith is a self-confessed petrolhead, and a main part of the day will be a display by the Classic Vehicle Club – if you’ve got a classic car or a modern legend that you’d like to show off Skidmarques would love to hear from you – contact details are on the website.

Click here to listen:

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I was also joined this morning by Gaynor Manthorpe from the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line – South Essex Link, along with the group’s new Chairman, Anthony Woodman. The Link, which we’ve featured on the show before, recently changed its name from the Billericay Link, and Gaynor reminded us that its core purpose is to give a holiday to about a dozen children living in one of the areas still badly contaminated nearly three decades after the nuclear power plant disaster. Gaynor explained that life expectancy in the parts of Ukraine and Belarus worst affected is under 50, but health experts predict that just a month in the UK away from the contamination can add up to 10 years to a child’s life! The Link urgently needs to find families in the area to host a couple of the children during their stay in June and July, and Anthony explained what would be involved. If you think you or someone you know might be able to help please contact hosting co-ordinator Kim Gavan on 01268 471335 or kimgavan@hotmail.co.uk. With the enormous health benefits for the children this is a tremendously worthwhile thing to do, and Anthony said it’s also enormously rewarding from the hosts’ point of view. With a cost of about £9,000 to bring the children to the UK the Link has a number of fundraising events through the year, one of which is a music festival which Anthony is putting together.

Phoenix FM presenter Jed Shepherd got in touch this morning to say that he recently visited Pripyat, the city where many of the power plant workers lived, as well as the site of the nuclear reactor itself:

It’s like I time travelled back to 1986 as everything is a snapshot of what it was back then, untouched and unloved, overgrown and just plain creepy. Walking around the deserted city of Pripyat was an incredible experience, as it was a true ghost town. It was surreal and like walking through a vivid dream, one that you couldn’t escape from by waking up.

 “There were discarded toys and records everywhere because they were told they would only be evacuated for 3 days! I wandered through the empty school with homework still open on desks and teddy bears face down in broken glass. 

 “I went into the cinema (though I shouldn’t have really as it was pretty dangerous) and it brought it home just how much like us these people were. 

 “I had a Geiger counter with me the whole time and kept checking the radiation levels but it got to the point where the alarm was going off all the time so I turned it off. Possibly not the brightest idea. The military checked my radiation levels at various checkpoints so I knew I was okay but I think the sense of danger just made my adrenaline pump even more. I got as close to reactor 4 (the one that went wrong) as I possibly could and saw the construction they are currently building to go over the top of it.

 “I saw photos and watched a couple of documentaries while I was there about the ongoing legacy of the disaster and about how the government will only admit to some of the deaths and secondary illnesses it caused. 

 “I’m planning a concert over there which I know is quite strange but the authorities have said I can be the first person ever to do it so I’m taking this opportunity to teach as many people as possible that in the darkest places there can be a light.”

To listen to the interview click here:

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To listen to the children from Belarus who popped into Phoenix during their holiday last summer click here.

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Brentwood Arts Cinema Club

It was a pleasure this morning to welcome back to Phoenix Jill Dimmock from the Brentwood Arts Cinema Club, whose 2013 season of monthly meetings starts next Sunday. Jill spoke briefly about the history of the Club, now in its ninth year, and also shared something of her own enthusiasm for cinema – in particular her appreciation of film as an international art form. The full schedule of screenings for the year is listed on the Club’s website, and as usual it’s a rich mix – from the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup through to an award winning Iranian film of 2011 which Jill described as giving a view of everyday life in that country not often portrayed in the mainstream media. As well as the films themselves notes are provided, and there’s usually a chance to discuss the films with other members. The cost for a year’s membership is £36, which works out at just £3 per meeting – and the Club warmly welcomes new members. For more information, including a full schedule of the films, visit the website, and to listen again to the interview click here:

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Word Up!

The first Feelgood Saturday of a new year – and the return of an old favourite radio teaser with Word Up – a well-known song to identify from just a few lines:

        If I could turn the page in time then I’d rearrange just a day or two
Close my, close my, close my eyes.*

Whatever your plans, hopes and dreams – a very happy new year!

*The Word Up song was Little lies by Fleetwood Mac

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I’ll be honoured… Not!

With this morning’s news bulletins dominated by the publication of the Queen’s New Year Honours List I took a look at some of the names of people who, in the past, have declined an award. Amongst quite a roll-call are David Bowie, the playwright Alan Bennet, scientist Stephen Hawking, John Cleese, Nigella Lawson, Bill Nighy, Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. Perhaps most appropriate, though is the journalist and presenter of C4 News, Jon Snow, who turned down an OBE – before going on to present a documentary called Secrets of the Honours System!

Also this morning we remembered soul singer Fontella Bass, who passed away on Boxing Day, with her 1965 hit Rescue me. With her death in St Louis, Missouri, Fontella achieved something that few people these days do – she died in the same city she was born in!

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In the mood?

With the world not ending yesterday we can now look forward to Christmas, although the wet and mild weather is hardly in keeping with the traditional festive feeling! That was a good reason to dig out a few songs in keeping with the season, including  quite a catchy one by local band the Hound Dogs, formed especially to record Christmas time is the best time of the year. We also heard the Three Belles’ version of Glenn Miller’s In the mood, which they performed live on Phoenix FM yesterday ahead of their appearance at the first White Horse Gala Night – still sounding good after 70 years!

Have a great Christmas!

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There was the news…

On this morning’s show we remembered someone who was, for people over a certain age, something of a national treasure, who passed away yesterday at the age of 88. Kenneth Kendall was one of the BBC’s stalwart TV newsreaders long before the days of 24/7 news, being – in  fact – the very first newsreader to appear in vision on BBC television, way back in 1955. As well as that, he also made a cameo appearance in the film 2001: A Space Odyssey – playing a newsreader; he was also in the Doctor Who serial The War Machines. But perhaps he’ll be most fondly remembered for his authoritative yet warm style as presenter of Channel 4’s gameshow Treasure Hunt, in which he and the studio-based contestants sent Anneka Rice around the country in a helicopter searching for clues to the treasure.

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Sooner or later…

It was good to be joined this morning by prospective new presenter Alex Hoggett, a regular with his band The Felonie on Nick Field’s Curveballs, who took part in our Creative Sessions earlier this year. Alex did a great job with the Events Guide, and it was good to have someone to chew the cud with between the songs!

My clues to this week’s song that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in a while – were that this 1986 top 20 single was the follow up to their debut chart topper for this synth-pop duo who’ve been churning out hits ever since; and that, according to this song, “sooner or later this happens to everyone.”*

*Acceptable in the 80s was Love comes quickly by the Pet Shop Boys

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Lighting up the High Street

On this morning’s show we took a look ahead to what turned out to be a great afternoon of entertainment hosted by Phoenix FM at the heart of this year’s Brentwood High Street Christmas lights celebrations. Rob Jelly and Tony Smith did a brilliant job holding it all together on the main stage, ably assisted by Bob Simpson and other presenters, with some excellent performances by – amongst others – Leanne Louise, Edd Coates and our own Michelle Ward. As if that wasn’t enough we’ll be doing it all again tomorrow with the lighting up of Shenfield!

My clues to this week’s song that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in a while – were that one half of this electro collaboration was out of his league, and this duet will always be together.*

*Acceptable in the 80s was Together in electric dreams by Giorgio Moroder & Phil Oakey

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Stop the traffik

Sarah and Nigel joined me this morning from the Chelmsford based group Active Communities against Trafficking.

They began by explaining what trafficking is, and how the victims – often children – are used for sexual exploitation as well as a source of illegal labour. They told me that figures suggest the trafficking of people to the UK is on the rise, and – alarmingly – that the UK itself is seventh on the list of countries from which people are being taken for exploitation. Sarah pointed out that the term “child prostitute” is a misnomer, and described the techniques commonly used in grooming. She and Nigel went on to describe the signs to look out for that someone might be being used, and what to do if you have any suspicions. As its name suggests, their group is actively campaigning against this crime, and if you’d like to find out more visit the website or contact them at actchelmsford@cgcchelmsford.com. You can also follow them on Twitter via @actchelmsford. For further information – and for advice if you suspect that someone might be a victim – you can also call the UK Human Trafficking Centre on 0844 778 2406.

Listen here:

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One should be amused…

Next weekend the Brentwood Centre goes back to the 40s, 50s and 60s when it plays host to the Essex Vintage Weekender, and this morning we took a look ahead with a taster from one of the bands taking part. Julie Jive and the Bigshots – who performed live on the Feelgood Saturday last year – is a 5 piece band from Essex who perform swinging, rocking and jiving music from the 1950s, and they’ll be on stage next Friday evening supporting headliner Si Cranstoun. They’re also performing on Saturday, and hopefully will have time before hitting the stage to pop into next week’s show for a chat about what they’ve been up to and what excites them about the 50s.

For a taster of their music click here:

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Meanwhile, three decades later, my clues to this week’s song that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in a while – were that this 1980 top 10 hit has been covered and sampled numerous times, most successfully by German trance duo Marc et Claude; and that perhaps the band was named after the Queen’s favourite pets!*

*Acceptable in the 80s was Everybody’s got to learn sometime by the Korgis

 

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Helping keep the brass in YOUR pocket

I chatted this morning with Nick Brown, Principal of the recently formed Brentwood Bills Club, which helps businesses, homes and community groups in the Brentwood and Billericay area save money on a whole range of bills. Nick explained some of the differences between the Club and price comparison websites, including the personal and flexible service the Club offers – which is especially helpful for people without access to the internet, or who get confused by the bewildering array of options. The Club is non-profit making, and Nick described his personal motivation in simply wanting to help local people and organisations save money, and in the process promote the local economy.

Nick is also involved with CVC Better Living, a charity which offers help and advice on using computers, mobile phones or the internet to people over 65.

If you or someone you know could benefit from either of these worthwhile services simply visit the Bills Club’s website, email bills@brentwoodbillsclub.com or phone 01277 280 301; you can also find them on Twitter and Facebook.

Listen again:

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Stuck in the 80s!

My clues to this week’s song that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in a while – were that this boy band were having anything but a bad hair day with their 1982 top 10 hit, and snooker ace Judd Trump can thank the band for one of his nicknames.*

There’s quite an 80s thing going on at Phoenix at the moment – not only does Stephen Bealey feature a whole hour of 80s music on his Sunday Sunrise, but tomorrow afternoon Bob Simpson begins his top 100 countdown of the decade on the Sunday Replay, in association with Kirby’s Coaches. But for some of the songs from the era remembered for the wrong reasons – and for your chance to vote for what you think was the worst song of the 80s – check out Gary Casserley’s Getting you home page!

 *Acceptable in the 80s was Fantastic day by Haircut 100

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End of an era

I had a brief chat with Scott Ross this morning about the end of an era this week in the world of TV in the UK, with the final switch-off of analogue transmissions and, with it, the BBC’s Ceefax service. The Divis Mountain transmitter in Northern Ireland was officially shut down on Tuesday by Olympic veteran Dame Mary Peters.

My clues to this week’s song that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in a while – were that the song culminates in the singer standing pretty in the dust that was a city, and that this 1984 no 1 was this German Band’s only UK top 40 hit.*

 *Acceptable in the 80s was Nena’s 99 red balloons

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Another musical trip back to the 80s

We enjoyed another nusical trip back to the 80s this morning, with one of those songs that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in a while. My clues were that this Merseyside band liked to sit on the roof and watch the day go by, and if you didn’t have enough crockery for your dinner party the band’s name might describe your predicament!*

 *Acceptable in the 80s was Wishful thinking by China Crisis, sitting on the roof and watching the day go by being a reference to some of the song’s lyrics

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Well and truly puzzled!

We learnt this morning that the Rubik’s Cube European Championships were taking place in Poland, with over 300 contestants from 26 countries taking part. Something about this tickled me – I’m not sure whether it’s simply the fact that there is such a tournament, or that some of those taking part do the cube with their feet – or even blindfolded! Say, what!?!

My clues to this week’s song that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in a while – were that this punk band failed to make a stranglehold on the charts with this 1986 song, and that the weather forecast wouldn’t corroborate the message in the song.*

 *Acceptable in the 80s was Always the sun by The Stranglers

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Encouraging young people through sport and music

I was joined this morning by Richard King, Chairman of Brentwood Rugby Club, who are hosting the Golden Boot Festival, a one day tournament for under-16s in teams from as far away as Norfolk. As well as explaining how the festival works, Richard talked about some of the cultural differences between rugby and football – both on and off the pitch – and how Brentwood particularly encourages youngsters to get involved in the game. Richard said that the Club always offers a warm and friendly welcome to anyone interested in finding out more about rugby, whatever their age; for more information and contact details visit the website. Listen again:

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It was also the first day of the Essex Indoor Festival, with – amongst loads of other great attractions – some excellent performances by bands and duets, one of which took the time to pop in shortly before going on stage. Ever Young have been together for about a year, having met at the Sylvia Young Theatre School, and they explained that much of their work involves touring schools, where they’re particularly keen to encourage youngsters to stand up against bullying. Hollie, Cherelle, Jack and Eyal have quite diverse musical tastes, and from the way they obviously complement each other this is clearly an advantage, as demonstrated by their a cappella excerpts from two of their songs – debut single Warrior, released earlier this year, and Take Control, which they’re still in the process of writing. I look forward to hearing and seeing much more of Ever Young in the future!

Listen again:

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Where does she find the time?!

Prolific local author Sylvia Kent popped in this morning to talk about two fascinating ebooks she’s recently published, both on aspects of local history. In “St Mary Magdalene: Billericay’s Church in the High Street” Sylvia describes how this much-loved landmark has played an important role in the life of the town for over 600 years, with the proceeds from sale of the book going towards the fund for its major restoration 5 years ago. “Brentwood: Historic Town” goes back even further, to the town’s very early days, covering also the many nearby villages, and includes some great insights into many of the notable characters who’ve been linked with Brentwood in one way or another. Both ebooks are available via Amazon.

Sylvia also spoke briefly about Billericay’s Cater Museum, as well as her involvement with the Brentwood Writers’ Circle and the Society of Women Writers and Journalists. Sylvia also writes a regular blog, on a whole host of topics, and appears regularly on Michelle’s Eat my Lunch with her Book Club. To listen again to our conversation click here:

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Coffee time again!

We caught up this morning with Caryl Kwei from the Brentwood Fairtrade Steering Group, who next week will be hosting one of the many local events that make up MacMillan Cancer Support’s annual World’s Biggest Coffee Morning. This one is on Friday 28 September at Brentwood Town Hall, starting at 10am, and as well as providing all sorts of Fairtrade goodies to sample, the group will also be inviting people to sign a pledge to make a small step for Fairtrade.

My clues to this week’s song that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in a while – were the rhetorical question, red, blue and yellow, perhaps?; and that this song was the title track from the second album by a girl who just wanted to have fun.*

 *Acceptable in the 80s was True colors by Cyndi Lauper

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GX0TRG calling the world!

Pete Sipple of the recently formed Thames Amateur Radio Group popped in this morning to explain exactly what amateur radio is all about and why it still holds its appeal in an age of internet, Skype and general 24/7 communication. The Group were holding a special event day at our studios at the Brentwood Centre – with all sorts of aerials set up – and today was the first time their call sign had been used – GX0TRG!  Pete popped back later to tell us some of the far flung places they’d managed to reach – including Russia and Hullbridge! If you’d like to find out more about amateur radio or the Group visit their website.

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I also caught up this morning with Sunday Lunch presenter Tony Smith, who – along with Eat My Lunch’s Michelle Ward – has been working hard putting together the very first Phoenix in the Foyer gigs this evening. This promises to be the first of many great nights out – and a bargain, at just £7!

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The one man band

This morning I was joined by Paolo Morena, the Chelmsford based singer, songwriter and musician whose looping techniques of layering a song as he plays live effectively make him a one man band. Paolo is passionate about sharing his creativity with others, and he encourages members of his fan club to customise their own album – by choosing the tracks, designing the cover and even creating their own remixes of his songs! Members receive a fresh new song every month, together with alternative versions and downloadable files of the raw components allowing them to remix their favourite tracks. To download his new EP, for more information on the fan club or for details of where you can see him play live visit Paolo’s website, or email paolo@themightysmall.com.

To listen again to Paolo, including his songs Be alright and Saturday night, click here:

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Paolo also set a question to win a selection of his CDs, a Paolo t-shirt and a subscription to the website, asking for the name of the Paul Simon album inspired by the music of African artists. Well done to Robert for being the first to enter with the correct answer, Graceland.

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An Inspector calls…

…In fact it was the Chief Inspector, as I was joined this morning by Justin Cartledge, who’s starring as the infamous Jacques Clouseau in Early Doors Productions’ forthcoming performance of The Pink Panther Strikes Again, along with co-star William Wells and director Amy Clayton. Justin and Bill gave a brilliant sneak preview of what you can expect if you go along, and Justin explained what it’s like as an actor playing a character who will always be virtually synonymous with his original big screen performer, namely Peter Sellers. Amy also explained how Early Doors came about, and said that she’s always very happy to chat with anyone who thinks they might like to get involved. The team clearly work very hard but have a lot of fun, and have exciting plans for the future – although their next production is a closely guarded secret!

To listen again click here:

 

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The Pink Panther Strikes Again is at the Cramphorn Theatre, Chelmsford, from Thursday 20th to Saturday 22nd September. To book tickets or for contact details if you’d like to talk about joining the group visit their website.

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Who – or what – is Nicki Minaj singing about?

We took a look ahead this morning to some of the many brilliant events talking place in and around our area over the next week or two, including next weekend’s Herongate & Ingrave Cricket Club Beer Festival and our own Fun Day in association with Brentwood Town FC next Saturday afternoon.

Amongst the usual brilliant selection of music I played David Guetta’s Turn me on, posing the question is Nicki Minaj really singing about a former Billericay MP – or is it just another of those misheard lyrics…? (And I don’t mean Teresa Gorman.)

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Essex Dog Day 2012 on Feelgood Saturday

Was a pleasure to sit in for Alan this week on the Feelgood Saturday.

Thanks to Sarah Courage and Roy Dyer for coming into Phoenix FM to tell us all about the Essex Dog Day event to be held in the beautiful grounds of Crix, a privately owned Georgian house accessed directly off the A12, on Sunday 26th August.

This is the 2nd Essex event, this year supported by Tollhurst Fisher LLP Solicitors and The Spring Lodge Veterinary Group, and it promises to be a fantastic dog event and a great day out for all the family, especially their pooches!

Celebrity Crufts commentator Peter Purves will keep you abreast of the action including displays by the Essex Dog Display Team, Gun and Fun Dog Scurries, Sheepdog and Husky Demonstrations, a Security Dog Display and Falconry.

And there are competitions for you to enter. Full details on www.essexdogday.com

The event is to raise funds for PARC Essex. PARC is a charity that provides vital support to families with children with special needs at the only purpose built centre in Essex. This care helps to keep families together and extends to all children across the county with physical and learning difficulties from birth to 19 years. Since PARC’s foundation in 1997, thousands of children have found a safe and secure environment to learn through play led by fully trained and dedicated staff.

You can find out more by visiting www.parc-essex.co.uk

Sarah outlined the whole event for us on Phoenix FM, whilst Roy Dyer gave us a real insight into the many issues and benefits of having a dog as part of the family.

Click the play button below to hear the Sarah and Roy chatting to Ed:

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Will you need the Egghead?

Lynda Head, St Francis Hospice’s Community Fundraising Manager, popped in this morning to talk about their Big Yellow Q Quiz Night next Friday at the Brentwood Centre, where BBC TV’s Egghead Barry Simmons will be on hand to sell answers for teams who get stuck. Lynda explained that, with annual running costs of nearly £8 million – only about a third of which is covered by grants – fundraising events like this are vital to the work of the hospice, which serves an area of a million people from Ingatestone to Redbridge. Lynda also talked about a fantastic classic car show they’re holding at the Ford Technical Centre in Dunton on Sunday 2nd September, and a fundraising walk a fortnight later for you and your dog around the grounds of Ingatestone Hall. To find out more about the classic car show – which will also include loads of things to keep the children happy – tune in to Rob’s breakfast show next Saturday, when he’ll be chatting with organiser Alan Mason.

Lynda also talked about various other ways people can volunteer to support St Francis, and she emphasised that – whether fundraising or helping in another way – there really is something everyone can do, regardless of age or ability. So – you don’t need to be an Egghead to take part in that quiz!

For more information on St Francis or to book tickets for the Big Yellow Q Quiz visit the website, or phone 01708 723593.

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The Horn behind the music of the 80s

On this morning’s show I unearthed yet another song that was acceptable in the 80s – a UK top 40 hit that you probably hadn’t heard in a while. In this case I wouldn’t be surprised if you’d not heard it since it was a hit 30 years ago! My clues were that one half of the duo who performed it found renewed fame a few years ago in the jungle; and a few years before this song they’d scored a top 20 hit with a cover of a Beatles song.

The answer was Videotheque by Dollar, whose David van Day appeared in I’m a celebrity in 2008. He and Thereza Bazar had met when they were in the group Guys n Dolls, which they broke away from after becoming romantically involved, and their Beatles cover was I wanna hold your hand. Videotheque was their fourth single produced by the outstanding Trevor Horn – of Buggles, Yes and Art of Noise fame – who went on to produce for just about anyone who was anyone in the 80s, such as Seal, ABC, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, the Pet Shop Boys, Lisa Stansfield and loads more besides…

If you love 80s music, don’t forget that Stephen Bealey plays a whole hour every Sunday morning on Sunday Sunrise.

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More local talent!

I had the pleasure this morning of giving the first airing to four songs recorded exclusively for Phoenix FM by Brentwood based singer/songwriter Paul Coogan. Paul was one of 23 artists and bands who took part in this year’s Creative Sessions back in May, when he performed Beneath a still sky, Evil lady, Miss trust and Indiscriminate.

And – if the name rings a bell – Paul used to be a presenter here on Phoenix, and we’d featured another of his songs on the show last September, when he released the charity single Unnatural disaster to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. Profits from that went to an organisation that seeks to spread awareness about the catastrophic health effects on 9/11 First Responders, as well as to help those who are in need of financial support as a result of 9/11 related illness or injury.

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A gentlemanly journalist – an oxymoron?

Stephen “Mr 80s” Bealey sat in for Rob on breakfast this morning, leaving behind a bit of an 80s whiff that wafted across this morning’s Feelgood Saturday – including another song that was Acceptable in the 80s, a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in quite a while. My clues were that the artist who wrote and performed the song is probably best known for the 1973 album “Tubular bells”, and that the song contains the lyrics “he was shot 6 times by a man on the run – and she couldn’t find how to push through.”*

I also paid tribute this morning to veteran ITN newsreader Sir Alastair Burnett, who has died at the age of 84. Loads of people have been paying warm tributes, including Andrew Neil, who described him as “one of the greatest journalists of his generation”, and said of him “he will also always be recalled by family, friends and colleagues for his unparalleled professionalism, humour and gentlemanly kindness, especially to journalists starting out on their careers. Joy it was to be in his company and he was an inspiration to many who followed in his footsteps – the broadcasters’ broadcaster.” Perhaps there are quite a few journalist who wouldn’t be described in such warm terms, but it would be unfair for a whole profession to be tarred with the same brush. Unbelievably Sir Alastair presented his last TV news bulletin in 1991!

 *Acceptable in the 80s was Moonlight shadow by Mike Oldfield featuring Maggie Reilly

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Another vowel please, Carol…

Well, it was still Carol when I last watched Countdown! With yet more rain meaning that so many things have had to be cancelled – including Phoenix FM’s Family Fun Day in association with Brentwood Town FC – I decided this morning to brighten things up with another of those songs that was acceptable in the 80s, a UK top 40 hit single that you probably hadn’t heard in quite a while. My clues were that this song was the summer dance anthem of 1983, and it was by a group who definitely preferred vowels over consonants!*

For more 80s music don’t miss Stephen Bealey’s brand new Sunday breakfast show, tomorrow morning from 7 – http://www.phoenixfm.com/category/breakfast-with-bealey/.

 *Acceptable in the 80s was IOU by Freeez

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From Belarus to Billericay and farewell to a friend

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It was fantastic this morning to welcome to Phoenix FM eight of the twelve children mostly from the Bragin area of Belarus currently enjoying a month-long recuperative holiday organised by the Billericay Link of Chernobyl Children’s Life Line. Ksyenia, Hannah, Kostya, Danila, Nastia, Vika, Andrei and Nikite have been enjoying a very full schedule, and 12 year-old Ksyenia – who’s English is first class – told us how life in England differs from that back home.

Alastair Manthorpe from the Link explained that holidays such as this one for children from the areas still affected by contamination from the 1986 explosions at the Ukranian nuclear power plant are believed to help significantly extend their life expectancy, and English teacher Nadia described why she gives up so much of her time each year to accompany such groups as interpreter and carer. Nadia also spoke movingly of her memories of Saturday, 26th April 1986 – the day that literally changed life across a vast area of western USSR.

Alastair and his wife Gaynor are hosts to Ksyenia, Hannah, Kostya and Danila, although Gaynor explained that hosts normally look after two children. They’re already keen to talk to anyone who thinks they might be able to act as a host family next year, when a group will be invited from Ukraine – clearly it’s a big commitment, but the rewards for the children and their UK hosts are tremendous and long-lasting. To contact the Link – whether you think you could get involved as a host or in any other way – phone Chairman David Gladstone on 01277 653462, or Host coordinator Kim Gavan on 01268 471335.

It was such a pleasure to meet the children – they were so well behaved and extremely patient, particularly as most of them wouldn’t have understood much of what was being said. If I had to pick a highlight of our time together it would be Ksyenia’s reading of our Events Guide – unlike me on so many occasions, she was virtually word perfect!

I also said a few words to wish the very best of luck to one of our best loved presenters at Phoenix – on and off air – Ed Wellman, ahead of his final Sunday Breakfast show. There are so many positive things that could be said about Ed, and suffice it to say that it’s been a privilege and a pleasure to know him, as a colleague and a friend. Ed, thanks for all your support and encouragement – and here’s to the future!

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Hello from Belarus!

We heard this morning from a dozen children from Belarus who are currently enjoying a recuperative holiday in Essex organised by the Billericay Link of Chernobyl Children Life Line. Each year the Link welcomes a group of children from some of the areas still being affected in all sorts of ways by the 1986 nuclear disaster, and I caught up with them at a fabulous barbecue last week, together with a couple of the people who’ve made it all possible. They’ve still got a couple of weeks of their holiday left, and next Saturday they’ll be joining me live in the studio – in the meantime, I’d better brush up on my Belarussian!

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To be, or not to be, honoured?

With today’s publication of the Queen’s Birthday Honours list we took a look this morning at some of those who, in the past, have turned down an award from Her Majesty. Earlier this year, following a Freedom of Information request, the Cabinet Office was forced to publish the names of people who’d refused an OBE, CBE or knighthood between 1951 and 1999 and who’d since died. Perhaps most famous was John Lennon, who returned his MBE in 1969 together with a note to the Queen protesting against the country’s foreign policy in Africa and Vietnam – as well as against his single, Cold Turkey, “slipping down the charts”!

We also took a brief look forward to next Wednesday’s Breakfast Show, when Rob Jelly will be chatting with Robert Winger about the Brentwood Dodgeball League. Knowing nothing about the sport and impatient to learn more I decided to head over to good old Wikipedia – which helpfully describes dodgeball as “any of a variety of games in which players try to hit other players on the opposing team with their own balls while avoiding being hit themselves…” No doubt Robert will be able to elucidate on Wednesday!

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Strawberries and a stripper!

There are so many things going on around Brentwood and Billericay at the moment – many of them, though by no means all, connected with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee commemorations – and we covered a couple of excellent events on today’s programme.

First it was the annual Strawberry Fair taking place on Shenfield Common, which Phoenix FM was delighted to be hosting, and Sunday Lunch presenter Tony Smith took time out from a busy schedule to keep us posted on what turned out to be a great day out for young and old. To mark the Jubilee, this year the Fair had a British theme, and several of the station’s presenters joined in the fun by chatting with some of the organisations taking part.

Then it was a similar theme for the Little Burstead Grand Jubilee Fete, with Ron Whitt shedding some light on the identity of the Beast of Burstead, whose return at the Fete has been advertised on a large hoarding on Noak Hill Road over the past few weeks. He sounded like someone not to be messed with, but fortunately there were loads of other weird and wonderful attractions to make it worth the risk of facing the beast’s wrath – including a fire-eater, chainsaw wood-carvers, a tug-o-war and a fun dog show – together with a Victorian peepshow for the ladies starring Jack the Stripper!

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Southgate and Lee – from busking to the big time!

This morning I gave the first play on Phoenix FM to the debut single by the duet Southgate and Leigh, Reena. Composer and keyboard player Phil Southgate grew up in Hutton, and he and Phillipa Leigh will be playing live at next Saturday’s Strawberry Fair. Reena was named by Cosmopolitan as last week’s single of the week, and next month Southgate and Leigh will be supporting Joan Armatrading as part of her UK tour – after Joan heard Phillipa busking their music on the Tube!

Today’s beautiful sunshine gave the perfect opportunity to dig out some feelgood summer songs this morning, but I’m afraid I couldn’t hide the fact that I’m British – I just couldn’t stop talking about the weather! Hopefully a lot more to come over the next few months…

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Two great bands – live! …and all about the Marillac

With the seventh Phoenix FM Creative Sessions being recorded a stone’s throw from our studios at the Brentwood Centre it was great this morning to welcome a couple of bands onto the programme for a chat and to play some songs live. 5-piece Belter played acoustic versions of three songs, including their recently released first single, TV junkie; and the highly acclaimed Midway Still, who released their first album 20 years ago, sang with Paul on guitar. The Creative Sessions are a great way of giving exposure to a wide range of talent, and it was brilliant to be able to have two great bands in the studio.

I also chatted with Volunteer Coordinator with the Marillac Care Home, Amanda Trew. The Marillac, in a beautiful setting in Warley, is a residential home caring for about 50 adults with a range of physical and neurological disabilities, and Amanda explained that they’re currently going through an exciting phase of expansion, meaning they can improve still further the care they’re able to provide. Amanda also talked about the various ways that people can get involved as volunteers, including joining in with a sport that I’d not heard of before! If you’d like to chat with Amanda about becoming a volunteer – particularly if you enjoy spending time getting to know new people – phone 01277 220276, or email amandat@marillac.co.uk.

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Who’ll be Queen for a Day?

Mark Reed popped in today to talk about a very exciting competition being run by Bennetts Funeral Directors, in conjunction with the Gazette and various local businesses. They’re on the search for two ladies – one in each of Billericay and Brentwood – who deserve to be treated like royalty as Queen for a Day. Mark explained that the lucky winner of each title might have fought back against the odds to achieve the unachievable; given up a lot to help someone else over a long period of time; or perhaps she’ll be someone who works tirelessly to help others within the community. Whoever is crowned will enjoy a day she’ll never forget, being picked up in a Rolls Royce for a day that will include tea and prize giving at a swanky hotel; a shopping spree; hair styling and beauty pampering; and a special VIP visit to a mystery local attraction – all rounded off with a state dinner for two. If you know a lady living in Billericay or Brentwood who deserves all this, send a letter, with their name and contact details, plus up to 300 words explaining why they are deserving of the prize, to Jane Bennett, Bennetts Funeral Directors, 120 High Street, Brentwood, CM14 4AS. The closing date is 21 May; only one nomination is allowed per household, and the judges’ decision is final. Winners have to be available between 10am and 10pm on 31 May for the Billericay prize and 1 June for the Brentwood prize, and they must be happy to take part in all aspects of the competition. The winners may be accompanied by an escort.

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I also chatted this morning with Curator of Billericay’s Cater Museum, Chris Brewster, about their Official Garden Opening taking place this afternoon. These events are always well worth a visit for anyone with even a vague interest in gardening, and today’s was no exception – with two RHS experts on hand giving free advice, and the chance to have a go at flower arranging. If you’ve never visited the Museum before, it’s well worth a look around – at 74 Billericay High Street, look for the door next to the jeweller’s.

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