Our friend Tracey, Heather and I, enjoyed a marvellous sell out gig last night at the Cluny in Ouseburn, roughly situated beneath Byker Bridge. Tracey has been here several times before, but it was a first for us – and the place was packed. I was on the alcohol-free lager and Heather was supping water so I can’t give you an opinion about the beer, but the music was fantastic.
As already reported in this blog, Sleeping Dogs are an eight piece band of musicians, but they play in various combinations, including headlining as a threesome at the Tyne Folk Club in the Black Bull, Blaydon, last January, and three of the members are Rytonians. The full line up is; Mike Soanes (vocals/guitar) Helen Forster (cello/vocals) Martin Hoile (piano and vocals) Emma Scott (alto sax) David Gold (trumpet) Alan O’ Neil (bass) Janet Longbottom (trombone) and Steve Forster (percussion). These consummate musicians play original material mostly written by Mike. On our drive home we tried to categorise the Sleeping Dogs genre, and came up with jazz, blues and folk – in other words we couldn’t. The most is made of Sleeping Dog’s eclectic talents, every instrument could be picked out individually, no single one drowned out another as so often happens in smaller venues. My favourite songs were Raphael and Red Dust Ghost, and the crowd seemed to agree with me as both got them up dancing. These numbers can be found on The Watch CD (available now) and I gather the band are soon to be making a return to the recording studio. For more information you need to visit Sleeping Dogs Facebook. If you aren’t on Facebook you can contact me and I will put you in touch.
Sleeping Dogs will not be sleeping for much longer, because they are running a competition to find a new name. They presently share their moniker with a couple of other bands as well as a video game. £25 goes to whoever chooses a good’un, plus the prestige of having their suggestion adopted by this fine outfit. I am currently working on an idea involving the word ‘jumble’, because they are a jumble of performers who come together to make an unmissable infectious whole, and they obviously enjoy themselves as much as we do.
The gig last night was to benefit the West End Refugee Service. This is a charity set up in 1998 by a group of volunteers led by its current director Lindsay Cross. Lindsay, who introduced the band to us, first began to work with a small community of asylum seekers living in Benwell, providing clothing and food parcels. Initially she ran operations from her garage, but with local support the service grew and it’s now based in St. Philip’s Vicarage in Arthur’s Hill. If you would like to help you can contact Lindsay via the link above.