Purple Space Monkey rocks for Pop’s benefit show

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At 12 Noon on Sunday 12th February, a caravan of vehicles left the Nova Gold/Jameson’s car park led by our rock ’n’ roll leader Captain Steve Ponter, who had heard of the plight of one of our fine fellows, Popsxl Joralee, known locally by the shortened Pop.

Pop is the driving force of Pop’s Pattaya All Stars, and lead guitarist to, among others, The Band of Smiles, admired by the stars themselves and a general all round good bloke.  He is also one of the finest lead guitarists I have ever witnessed (this writer has witnessed Rory Gallagher, Jimmy Page, Kim Simmonds, Jeff Beck and all in their prime, and Pop’s up there.  Don’t believe me?  Go and see him in concert.)

‘Pop’ leads the The Band of Smiles through a rousing set.‘Pop’ leads the The Band of Smiles through a rousing set.

For the last twenty years Pop has been helping charities himself with his devil may care attitude, generous smile and giving nature.  On New Year’s Eve, his wife had been hospitalized with kidney failure.  Large hospital bills were run up, and the man we all went to for help, needed help himself.  Of course no rightful mind would deny it.  So there we all were in Jomtien.

The Purple Space Monkey’s stage was ready and proceedings were started off by Tom Rosetti with some homely acoustic guitar, including a great re-working of Elton John’s Rocket Man.

The tone of the day was rapidly changed by the arrival of Darryl Read and Band.  To a charged atmosphere, pumping fists, wind-milling arms and pointing elbows, Darryl rampaged through some Seventies charged rock as if playing to Wembley Arena and got the crowd’s attention.

Coming on after this was an electric Tom Rossetti and Friends who treated the crowd to their own rather special version of Americana music, bringing the audience to their feet with their versions of Simple Man, The Loner and Hot Rod Heart.

This was quickly followed by Mexican Suicide, a great band made up of locals from Pattaya including some who had been playing cricket for the town the previous day.  Great versions of Hey Joe, Around the World and Love Me Two Times came out of the speakers to keep the atmosphere high and the money pouring into the donation boxes.

Darryl Read’s electric opening act.Darryl Read’s electric opening act.

Next up, receiving a loud local reception, stalwarts of the Pattaya blues and rock scene and a welcome addition to any rock card were Scott Ecie and The Leo’s Blues Band.  Playing a great selection of classic songs they immediately had everybody tapping their feet, clapping their hands, stomping, singing along and thumping the tables while pulling on the beer bottles (you try doing all that in one go!).

Opening up with some Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Cold Shot, before revving up into Statesboro Blues when, if you closed your eyes, you could have been whisked off to the southern tip of the United States, before bringing us up to date with some Kenny Wayne Shepherd and then lighting the fires by closing with the Allman Brothers classic One Way Out, from the album Eat a Peach.

Headline act Goober Gun were as slick as ever.Headline act Goober Gun were as slick as ever.

To riotous applause and hollers the first appearance of Pop was seen on stage as he took to the boards with The Band of Smiles.  This is what we had come to see and the band did not disappoint.  Opening with a rocked up version of Drop The Pilot with Pop ripping the chords out to the packed audiences delight.  The Band took it up a notch with their own take on The Who’s Baba O’Riley with Pop bringing the song to a roaring crescendo playing the recorded violin solo on lead guitar to devastating effect.

Professor Jerry Stewart then gladly forfeited a thousand baht for the cause to hear the Band of Smiles signature tune Zombie which raised the roof of the Purple Space Monkey a foot closer to the sky.

Another quick change around saw B.B.L.T. take the stage to thunderous applause from the crowd who by now were baying for more excitement… and they got in spades.  The band features Brian Thomas, previously with the Helen Reddy Band and Ike and Tina Turner, Leonard Tuckey of The Nashville Teens and Suzi Quatro, and Tony Stevens, formerly of Savoy Brown, founding member of Foghat and member of Midnight Flyer who were on the Led Zeppelin Swansong label managed by Peter Grant, making this a legendary line-up.

Launching straight into Crossfire the band handled themselves with the smooth confidence that only comes with great knowledge of their craft and mastery of stage work.  They are so tight they could be one and with only a slight hand gesture or nod of the head, would change the tempo or key according to requirements.  Quite a lesson in stage craft was witnessed by those there enjoying every second.

B.B.L.T. flitted through a bombastic set swapping in the blink of an eye from Black Magic Woman and Walking the Dog to the Thrill Of It All before the crowd even knew it, such was the smoothness of music which could only be called raunch and roll, however hypocritical it sounds.  Even with the tight schedule the crowd demanded three encores including versions of Leave Your Hat On, Bring It On Home and The Weight.  All agreed that this was really a high class set.

Another quick turnaround saw no let up in the entertainment as Pop’s Pattaya All Stars took to the Stage.  Lots of thumping rock came belting out with plenty of room for each musician to show their undoubted skills in the solos.  This was a wonderful show in itself (a show within a show!) as most of the musicians at one time or another had cut their musical young teeth by being given a chance to show off their wares in Pop’s Band, often leaving to form new bands and returning when the needs must.

Money going to a good cause.  We wish Pop’s wife a speedy recovery.Money going to a good cause.  We wish Pop’s wife a speedy recovery.

It was with a warm heart that you actually saw all the different generations of Pattaya musicians lining up beside the stage to pay homage to their friend and mentor.  If Pop was their teacher, he was a good one as the music simply rampaged out across the floor as the musicians came and went on stage.

This was a hard act to follow, but the Purple Space Monkey House Band were more than a match for it and came out and gave the crowd more of what they were by now craving for – and also giving everybody a good reason to go back to the Purple Space Monkey on another night!

Headlining the show, after taking a night out of their heavy Asian touring schedule and starring at the Burapha Bike Week the previous night, were none other than Pattaya ‘regulars’ Goober Gun.  It’s hard to come onto the stage after such a fine display of music from bands that have been playing songs already familiar with the crowd.  Then to come on playing original songs which only some of the audience know can be quite a task, especially whilst still trying to break in a new member of the band.  But you would have known none of this as Goober Gun soon had the whole audience in the palms of their hands.

The rhythm section of Goober Gun, stalwarts and brothers Tim Hardwick on drums/vocals and frontman Ian Hardwick on bass/vocals were as solid and entertaining as ever.  It’s the first time I have seen the band with new guitarist Paul Dymott.  Yes there is a difference, but certainly for the better with Dymott’s choppy guitar licks suiting the Goober Gun sound perfectly, especially on some of the older more established Goober Gun songs such as 1979, as well as brand new songs like Rock in Bangkok (co-written by Pattaya’s own Barry Upton).

Goober Gun also played some crowd pleasing covers with their own versions of The Knack’s My Sharona, as well as a souped-up version of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s Relax and were the second band of the day that the crowd would just not let go home and were brought back three times for more music.  The Purple Space Monkey has never been hotter.

Of course a huge thanks has to go out to the Purple Space Monkey for hosting the event, the stage managers from all across Pattaya, including Leo’s Blues Bar and where would we be without the Bryant family.  The Python Motor Bike Club turned up in their pomp to show solidarity with Pop whilst Paige Bryant and the Dogman worked tirelessly collecting money through the donation boxes and the raffles.  Many businesses, restaurants and bars in the area also generously donated prizes.

So far we have raised over one hundred and twenty five thousand baht towards helping Pop pay off his hospital bills but more money is still needed, and the donation boxes are still open at The Purple Space Monkey, Leo’s Blues Bar, Tahitian Queen and Jameson’s. Love to all of you that have contributed so far!