Meet the Band
Richard is a renegade from rock music. He was bass player and founder member of the Climax Blues Band. After graduating from University, he joined the ground breaking multi-media group Principal Edward's Magic Theatre. Richard later rejoined Climax Blues Band on keyboards, and toured extensively, mainly in the USA. The band enjoyed worldwide success with the single Couldn't Get It Right. He is a prolific composer and brings both his keyboard grooves and accordion skills to the band. He played with Chris in Meridian and Angles (with Cliff Stapleton) and is currently a member of MoltenAmba.
We only use the very best callers, who are guaranteed to help everyone have a great time dancing, and we are unusual in that we bring our own sound man to operate our PA.
We have a pool of excellent musicians we can call upon if necessary. For public events, for example, we usually add more musicians.
Chris, who plays English and French pipes, saxaphone, wooden concert flute and whistles, has been involved in folk music since the tender age of six. He played in The Duellists with Nigel Eaton and Cliff Stapleton, and in Angles with Richard and Cliff Stapleton. He is currently a member of Zephyrus, the English Bagpipe Orchestra, and MoltenAmba. He is also the inventor of the world famous ABC Notation.
Since the 1970s Geoff has toured and recorded extensively with Principal Edwards , Astra/Dave Ellis, Electrotunes, Regiment, G T Moore, Hugh Harris, Cliff Bennett, Chicago blues artists Carey Bell, Mojo Buford, Mississippi Red and Nappy Brown - plus many others. In the 1980s Geoff was drummer/presenter on BBC2's 'Rockschool' TV series. He has written several music series for BBC Radio 3, winning a Gold Award at the New York International Radio Festival. He writes regularly for Rhythm magazine and has published several definitive books on drums and drumming.
Climax Ceilidh Band was formed in 2003. We have had thousands of satisfied clients since then, playing at weddings, parties and corporate functions, as well as major folk festivals in the UK and Europe such as Sidmouth, Towersey, Chippenham, Rudolstadt.
Our name derives from the fact that Richard was in the Climax Blues Band. That band was founded by Colin Cooper in 1968 - a famous formula 1 racing car of the time was the Cooper Climax.
We have gone through various personnel changes over the years.
Bruce adds his rocking electric guitar as well as mandolin and slide guitar. Bruce has played in many different bands and genres, from various acoustic settings to full on electronic styles. Mainly known in Blues, Jazz and world music circles, he has toured the world with the likes of the Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain, and pan European band The Bluesmasters. His blues, soul and jazz influences can be heard in Climax's arrangements.
The band writes a lot of its own material, while maintaining all that is best from the traditional repertoire.
We make music which is as good for the ears as it is for the dancers.
More about our history and our thoughts on music making in this:
fROOTS December 2006
Another blues band refugee becomes born-again country dance bandsperson! Chris Nickson reports.
It's a mighty long way down rock 'n' roll, as Mott the Hoople sang long ago. But they never said what lay on the other side. They'd certainly never nave guessed it was ceilidh music. But for Richard Jones, who served his time and experienced a glimpse of chart fame with the Climax Blues Band, salvation arrived in the form of country dance music. Now he leads the Climax Ceilidh Band, who've just released their debut, Come Dancing, on Beautiful Jo.
It's the, er, climax of about two years work, Jones explains. "I'm in a band called Meridian, with Chris Walshaw [pipes and whistles] and Anna Tabbush [fiddle]. She was in Pesky with Mark Weaver [a.k.a. Swerve; guitars] and Holly Sheldrake [fiddle]. We used to go down to a session in Hastings run by Holly and Mark, and when we got together, we made a really good noise, so we decided to get together in a big band. It was an idea I'd had, to try and play the Meridian tunes in their full arrangements, so we're five people and an amalgam of two trios."
A lot of thought went into the new group. They wanted to be a ceilidh group, but with a few subtle twists. "We wanted to be a dance band rather than a concert band, and keep a traditional line-up, but we (well, mainly I) didn't want to go electric . But it was important to make the music very listenable as well as danceable. I'm quite new to the folk scene, I've only been doing it for about six years, so I couldn't live with the idea you have to stick to specific formats. Obviously, to dance to it, it has to be the right rhythm and the right speed, and the right number of bars. But I've never understood why it had to stick to the A-B
format. So about a year ago we began to write tunes and change the arrangements about, so you get the A-B of the first tune, the A-B of the second tune, then you go back to the B of the second tune, and things like that. We've been trying to write things that become more organic."
That sense of adventure grew even more when they went into the studio. "Because of the way we recorded, with the multi-track equipment pop bands use, that lent itself to experimenting with arrangements, both in the recording and even more in the post-production. Then we had to learn the arrangements! But we're all interested in stretching the format."
But how did a former pop and blues man end up playing dance music? Jones's particular road to Damascus was very long and winding. "I was a founder member of Climax Blues Band when I was at school," he remembers. "We made our first album in two days at Abbey Road with the Beatles recording the White Album downstairs. McCartney was in the studio listening to us playing! Then I went to Cambridge. After that I joined Principal Edwards Magic Theatre in 1972, stayed with them on bass until 1975, and rejoined Climax on keyboards, and spent the next three years touring, mostly in the States, after Couldn't Get It Right became a hit. I stopped with Climax in the late '70s. Like so many others, my career ended in court cases and I left music for a long time."
"What happened was that I saw Flook in a local park, and then I came across these two guys playing in a tiny folk club in Greenwich and they played melodeon and fiddle, the most beautiful music I've heard. It was Andy Cutting and Chris Wood. I thought they were two local guys playing Irish music - I had no idea. I'd just bought an accordeon, thinking I'd play French music, so I began looking for Irish music. After that I heard about Folk Camp in Devon, and went. I met Chris Walshaw there, and discovered we worked at the same place. There were a lot of other good musicians there, and I got hooked. Chris taught me a lot and through him I met the others. I got accordeon lessons from Karen Tweed and Becky Price. That's how we started Meridian."From there the new band slowly evolved, but Jones couldn't shake the ghost of his past. When they tried to come up with a band name, Climax kept cropping up. "It certainly wasn't my idea, and I wasn't comfortable with it in the first place, but it's a really good name, and I think it fits what we're trying to do. We do try and keep everything really exciting and we do lead to a climax. And I think there's a bit of jazz and rhythm and blues in the music."
With the album out, and garnering favourable reviews, the band is looking ahead. "We're trying to break into the festival and ceilidh circuit," says Jones. "It's quite exciting for us. The good thing about this genre is age is no barrier, and the bands have a good long life. There's a community involvement. I've heard some tunes I wrote for Meridian played at sessions; you hope your tunes will get taken up. We staff at Folk Camp, and people learn the tunes there, and there's no distance, people are involved. And there's a link between the dancers, the band and the caller.