Kiki Dee, Elles Bailey and Ben Waters bring blues and rock party to Coolham

Carmelo Luggeri and Kiki Dee. All pictures by Lawrence Smith
Carmelo Luggeri and Kiki Dee. All pictures by Lawrence Smith

Big names from the world of blues and rock helped raise over £1,000 for charity at Coolham Recreation Ground on Saturday, August 11.

Elles Bailey, Ben Waters, Kiki Dee, Carmelo Luggeri and Sam Kelly were among the musicians raising funds for Chestnut Tree House at the special outdoor event.

Crossfire

Crossfire

Graeme Tame, who has been organising gigs for Coolham Live Music Club since 2013, confirmed that the total from the evening hit £1,174.

This brings the grand total raised for the hospice to roughly £9,600 to date.

Saturday’s concert was arranged by renowned boogie woogie pianist Ben Waters who kindly agreed to donate £5 from each of the £25 tickets sold.

Ben said: “I’m normally on tour all the time and I was going to Canada for the whole of August but it got postponed until later in the year.”

Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri

Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri

However, seeing as the English weather has been particularly good this summer, Ben decided to make the most of the situation.

He explained: “I thought it would be nice to do some outdoor things. So I set up four gigs around the country in four of my favourite places, and I wanted to involve local charities and get different people that I really like.

“It’s more of a party really rather than just a usual concert that I’d do because I do a lot of stuff on my own.”

“Graeme’s a really old friend of mine,” Ben continued. “He’s been booking me for 20-odd years and I know he’s involved with the Chestnut Hospice for kids so I asked him if we could do one here together.”

Ben Waters (left) joins Kiki and Carmelo onstage

Ben Waters (left) joins Kiki and Carmelo onstage

The gigs so far have been in Maiden Newton in Dorset with Kiki Dee and a ’60s band called Replay, and in Moreton, Dorset, with Mungo Jerry and C Sharp Blues Band.

For the Coolham gig Ben wanted to bring along the band Crossfire, which features the award-winning drummer Sam Kelly and the virtuoso teenage guitarist Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens.

“Marcus is absolutely brilliant,” said Ben. “And we did a gig with Kiki Dee in Stuttgart three years ago and we just thought she was wonderful.”

“Then I asked Elles Bailey, who’s one of the best singers in the country. I met her through Graeme Tame and I’ve seen her online. She’s going great guns and playing all around the world.”

Elles Bailey

Elles Bailey

The first band of the evening was Crossfire who offered a mix of both mellow and fiery blues numbers. Next up was Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri who performed hits from the singer’s back catalogue, plus some stirring new tunes. Then Ben Waters and his band got the whole crowd up and dancing with an astonishing set full of high-energy, piano-driven numbers. Finally, Elles Bailey brought a harder rock edge to the evening with her gritty, feisty and soulful sound.

Speaking after their performance, Kiki Dee and Carmelo Luggeri said that they had enjoyed playing the Coolham venue.

“It was great fun,” said Kiki. “We’re friends with Ben Waters. We’ve done two shows with him – one in Germany and one a few weeks ago – so he invited us along to be special guests. We mostly do theatre shows, the two of us, so it was a real treat to do something different in summer.”

“It’s nice seeing a lovely big tree in front of you when you’re singing,” she laughed.

Kiki and Carmelo were also pleased to see some talented younger people playing the blues – singer Elles Bailey, guitarist Marcus Praestgaard-Stevens and Ben Waters’ son Tom on saxophone.

“I just think it’s great,” said Carmelo. “And taking Tom and Marcus as examples they’re really world class.”

Click here to see who else is playing at Coolham Live Music Club.

A full review of this concert will be in the West Sussex County Times on Thursday, August 16.

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