Big names of blues head for Coolham Village Hall

Geoff Achison
Geoff Achison
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For music lovers, there’s nothing quite like seeing a first-rate band live.

It’s an invigorating experience as you gaze up at the performers onstage, awestruck as they perform their hits before your very eyes, creating musical magic that only seems to exist in that moment.

It’s glorious to see this kind of gig, but there’s always a price to pay, with some shows costing an arm and a leg.

People living in rural areas also end up paying with the significant amount of time they spend getting to concerts, which only seem to take place in large cities.

Graeme Tame is attempting to change all that with a new series of music nights at Coolham Village Hall, featuring popular musicians like renowned drummer Sam Kelly and boogie-woogie pianist Ben Waters.

The Coolham music promoter and blacksmith runs Tame Productions with Sarah Reeve and Toni Langridge. Richard Donnelly, a lover of live music and a friend of Graeme’s, also helps promote the shows.

“The aim is to offer fabulous live music from top class musicians in an intimate setting,” Graeme tells the County Times. “The hall only holds about 75 people. To see quality musicians people would normally travel up to London or places like that. This gives them the chance to see them out in the Sussex countryside.”

Graeme also wanted to bring live music back to Coolham after the passing of prolific session guitarist Big Jim Sullivan, who played on more than 50 number one hits and used to run the music club at Coolham once a month.

However, Graeme doesn’t have any interest in making money from his efforts and aims to donate profits to Chestnut Tree House children’s hospice.

He says: “I thought if there was any money left after the hall was paid for and the bands we’re paid it would be nice to give it to a charity.”

Getting together such big names – which include Australian guitar wizard Geoff Achison and rising blues/soul star Jo Harman – sounds difficult but Graeme says the performers are enthusiastic about performing in Coolham.

“They’re really up for it,” he laughs. “Jo does a lot of big festivals abroad and plays to five/ten thousand people there, so she’s more than happy to play to about 75 people in an intimate atmosphere.”

In general, the musicians seem to like the fact that these gigs are ‘up close and personal’ events, says Graeme, with an audience that’s only three feet from the stage.

Judging from the response to Graeme’s two previous shows, finding the audience for these upcoming gigs won’t be a problem either.

“Both of the gigs sold out, so the response has been good,” he says. “Hopefully, once people become more aware of the club and of the quality of the music we should get a hard-core group of people that want to come to every gig that’s on.”

The future certainly looks bright for the Coolham music nights. Gigs are planned until January 31 next year and Graeme is organising more for later dates.

The shows should offer a unique treat for music fans in West Sussex, with affordable prices that include a hearty meal and a location that should drastically cut travelling times.

Rock on, Coolham!

Tickets for all events are £20 and will include a fish supper (or similar). Tickets without supper cost £15. Call Graeme Tame on 07889775173.

Visit www.tamepromotions.co.uk or search for Tame Promotions on Facebook.

The gig list so far:

Saturday, April 19: Jo Harman & Company with support from Steve Simpson, Coolham Village Hall (money for the Yellowfish Hutchins Foundation).

Saturday, May 3: Larry Miller and Ron Sayer with support from David Simmons. Ashington Community Centre.

Friday, June 6: The Ben Waters Band featuring Tom Waters and Tommy Hare, Coolham Village Hall.

Saturday, July 26: The Ali Maas Band and The Sam Kelly Band featuring Papa George, Coolham Village Hall.

Saturday, September 13: Sam Kelly, Spy Austin and Frankie Conolly with support from Storm Warning, Coolham Village Hall.

Friday, October 17: Geoff Achison and the UK Soul Diggers with support from Dave Beckett, Coolham Village Hall.

Saturday, December 6: The Ron Sayer Band with support from Red Butler, Coolham Village Hall.

Saturday, January 31, 2015: Protect the Beat with support from The Red Butler Acoustic Trio, Coolham Village Hall.