Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Photo courtesy Paul Way-Rider

Photo courtesy Paul Way-Rider

The Red Geraniums

An exciting new group The Red Geraniums is due to hold its launch gig at the Stag Inn on Saturday 16 January at 9pm. Sean O’Shea talks with band members Angie Phillip (AP), Paul Way-Rider (PW), John Revell (JR), Liz Porter (LP) and Rob Porter (RP) about the genesis of the group, their style of music and hopes for the future.

How did this group come about, Angie, and what inspired you to choose the name?

AP – The name was chosen because we like red geraniums, so we followed in the footsteps of The Tiger Lillies (who reportedly looked at a vase of flowers and chose their name).

We started as a duo, just Paul and I, playing folk and jazz and experimenting with our own arrangements. In summer last year, when we played at the Bexhill Festival of the Sea, we were joined by John Revell, guitarist, banjo player and singer songwriter. Shortly after that we had a try-out session with Liz and Rob Porter, who come from a shanty background and who are famous for singing acapella on stages, pubs and folk venues round the country. It was so easy to play together, it was like coming home and we had such a good time making music together that the 5 piece The Red Geraniums was born.

Would you like to say a bit about your individual backgrounds as musicians and some of your musical influences?

AP – My mum played piano, organ and mandolin and my dad was always singing round the house. I grew up playing the piano and the church organ. Later I grew to love folk and blues. Oxford was where I first discovered jazz and learned to love it, but it was only when I moved to Hastings a few years ago that all the music came together. It wasn’t until Hastings where I was inspired by the many amazing musicians in the place – Garry Blakeley, Polo Piatti, Liane Carroll, Nuri Koseoglu – that I took up the fiddle and the accordion and have never looked back.

PW – At school and university, I was a huge fan of Jimi Hendrix and also listened to a lot of Prog Rock. I played guitar in a band at school (mainly playing covers) and later, in Oxford, played bass in a blues outfit and then bass and guitar in Kenny Hung’s jazz band. Hastings is an amazing place with so many opportunities to listen to, and play music. I play regularly in sessions in the area and really enjoy playing in our band.

JR – I was introduced to folk and folk-rock music at University, alongside the ‘regular diet’ of rock music that was in vogue at the time. (Anyone else remember those tracks that were too long to fit onto one side of an LP?). My all time favourite band is Steeleye Span. Later I fell in love with blues music as well. When I started playing the guitar about 25 years ago, I wanted to play all styles of music (to the limits of my technical ability), but folk music is probably my most enduring influence. I now play guitar and banjo, sing a bit and have written a few songs. I’ve recently moved to the Hastings area, and I thank my lucky stars; what a fantastic place full of musical delights. I enjoy playing in sessions, folk clubs, and, most of all, playing with The Red Geraniums!

LP & RP – Our musical influences are shared because we’ve been together for over 40 years. Folk interest started with Fairport Convention folk rock . Up to then more interested in Beatles, Stones, Pink Floyd, Hendrix and most of the bands at that time. Girl singers Sandy Denny, Joni Mitchell, Carol King, Janice Joplin, Dusty Springfield, Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin. We have both sung unaccompanied until joining The Red Geraniums.

LP – I first started singing about 7 years ago. Very first go was with Rattlebag, but performing with the Shanty singers gave me the confidence…. Really enjoy singing with the music and the band – a whole new experience for me.

Why did you select the Stag Inn as the venue for your launch of The Red Geraniums?

Every Tuesday night there’s a folk session at The Stag and that’s where we first heard each other play and sing. It feels like our natural home, so we are delighted that our 5 piece band launch is happening there.

What kind of repertoire can people expect to hear on Saturday?

You can expect lots of songs to sing along with, the old favourites that people know from the Tuesday folk sessions, as well as a few folk tunes and a tiny bit of jazz and blues.

You are multi instrumentalists, so what instruments will feature at this gig?

The Stag is a small venue, so although between us we play guitar, bass guitar, banjo, accordion, fiddle and keyboards, we shall keep it light – 2 guitars, accordion and fiddle.

How do you see this group developing and might you be heading for the recording studio in 2016?

We have such dreams! In the middle of rehearsing for this gig, we keep saying – oh what about doing this one or that one…..and can’t wait to try it. After our launch gig, we shall concentrate on getting some recordings on the web. We’ll still be playing folk with a bit of jazz and blues – but that is a huge span so we’ll play the songs we love and hope that everyone else likes them too.


Facebook:  The Red Geraniums


SOS January 2016


Posted 23:05 Wednesday, Jan 6, 2016 In: SOS

Also in: SOS

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