Band Of Friends keep Rory Gallagher’s music alive

Band of Friends. Picture by Claire Taylor

Band of Friends. Picture by Claire Taylor

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The music of the late, great Rory Gallagher lives on in the hands of Band Of Friends who play Chichester’s Chichester Inn on Wednesday, April 15, at 8pm (01243 783185).

Driving it are bassist Gerry McAvoy and drummer Ted McKenna, who both worked with Rory.

They are joined by vocalist Marcel Scherpenzeel who’s got something of Rory about him while being very much his own man, Gerry says.

Gerry appeared on every Gallagher studio album until the bandleader’s death in 1995. Ted appeared on Photo-Finish, Top Priority and Stage Struck as a member of the group from 1977 until 1981.

“It’s a celebration of Rory’s music, rather than a tribute,” says Gerry.

“Myself and Ted both played with him. I got to know Rory in the late ’60s. I was performing with him from ’71 to ’91.

“He was great. He was a lovely human being. He was very much a gentleman. As a musician, he was great too, but he could be very demanding of his musicians, which is absolutely fine. I am in the same situation. I can understand that.

“But as a player, he definitely had something different. There was an Irishness to him. He idolised people like Muddy Waters and B B King, but he had that added Irishness to his playing.”

Sadly, Gallagher was to die tragically young, on June 14, 1995, aged 47.

“He had actually had a liver transplant that actually worked, but it was something to do with antibodies in his system.”

After he left Rory’s band, Gerry worked with Nine Below Zero: “I left them in 2011, but before that I found this guy Marcel Scherpenzeel who is a guitar-player. The Gallagher songs are so great and just should be aired by the right musicians.

“I started the band in 2011. It is still in its infancy. Marcel has his own technique, but he grew up on Rory’s music. He emulates it very well, but I like him to play his own way as well. We started off doing Rory Gallagher songs just to try to bring it all to a wider audience and a younger audience, but at the same time we have recorded our own CD as well.

“Rory’s name is still out there, but in certain areas, even in Ireland, there are youngsters that don’t know his music at all.”

After a year of action that saw them consolidate their title Best Live Band (European Blues Awards), Band Of Friends released their debut EP/DVD Too Much Is Not Enough in early 2014.

The new package includes a new recording of classic Gallagher track ‘If I Had A Reason’ to make up the seven-track EP. Packed alongside it is a DVD shot at Kulturhalle, Remchingen, Germany, also in 2013, featuring 11 Gallagher tracks.

“Too Much Is Not Enough is a line in the sand for us,” Gerry says. “We’re always going to keep Rory’s songs alive, but we’re creative artists too and it’s time to make that point.

Now, they return for shows in the UK including Chichester.

For Gerry, it means a trip across the Channel.

“I live in the Loire Valley. I have been here for eight years now. I had a girlfriend who later became my wife who is French. But I still enjoy the UK pleasures. We have got UK TV here, but it is just a lovely life style over here. We have got our own little microclimate between the Loire and the Cher rivers.”

As for speaking French?

“Well, un petit peu,” Gerry admits. “I get by. I can speak to the plumber!”