The Untouchables’ gig for Welwyn Garden City charity
PUBLISHED: 21:46 10 April 2013 | UPDATED: 21:48 10 April 2013
A CHICAGO-style blues band will be playing a rare local benefit gig for a Welwyn Garden City-based charity this weekend.
The Untouchables play Wheathampstead Memorial Hall on Saturday, April 13 for Hertfordshire Action on Disability (HAD).
Buntingford-based singer and harmonica player Keith Parker first got the blues when he was 11. Keith got hooked on the music in 1964 when his older brother Francis brought home a record player.
“The first record I heard was the Rolling Stones’ Not Fade Away,” Keith remembers.
“As soon as I heard Brian Jones playing the harmonica I knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
Keith saved his pocket money and learnt to play on a Hohner Echo Super Vamp.
By the early 70s, the music scene was beginning to change with progressive rock taking over from blues-influenced bands and Keith put the harmonica away until the mid 90s.
“I started playing guitar in a club in Hertford where I met Pete Ellison. I soon realised that Pete was much better than me and reverted to the harmonica.”
Keith and Pete played in a few jam sessions at the Half Moon in Bishop’s Stortford.
“It was a really good place with an excellent house drummer named Malcolm Buckland,” Keith explained. Three quarters of The Untouchables were in place.
“We placed an advert in the local press for an upright bass player and Paul Green replied,” said Keith. “He was perfect.”
The band formed in 1996 and since then have gained quite a reputation for their live performances, particularly at The Blues Kitchen in Camden and The King’s Head Theatre, Islington.
Keith has also visited Chicago a few times and has even recorded in the famous Chess recording studio, now the Willie Dixon Blues Foundation Museum.
“I paid Willie’s nephew $10 and went into the studio and played a version of Little Walter’s Juke,” Keith explained.
“Soon a crowd had gathered outside the studio wondering who this English guy was. The receptionist even gave me a list of blues clubs myself and my partner Julie were invited to that night!
“We ended up only visiting one – Rosa’s Lounge – but it was worth it, a fantastic night in an authentic Chicago blues club.”
One year Keith and Julie even managed to track down the grave of Keith’s harmonica hero, Little Walter.
“It took us all day, but with the help of a very kind Chicago bus driver we did it.”
Keith likens his harmonica to a passport: “It’s enabled me to visit different countries and meet and play with many of my musical heroes.”
Tickets for The Untouchables’ HAD gig are £10 and are available from the charity’s Woodside Centre HQ, which is close to the QE2 Hospital. You can also get them at the door.
There’s a bar and authentic Chicago-style hotdogs, too.
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