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Comet Chaser

How exciting. A song, Comet Chaser, that I wrote about fifteen years ago when the Rosetta Space Mission was first launched, has been used as the closing credits for the BBC Sky at Night’s special on the project. Somehow it feels like it’s gone full-circle.

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Economics Burlesque

Sandra and Phil 3
I know – it’s an odd concept – economics and burlesque don’t normally immediately sit together in the same sentence, but that’s just the way Dave and the guys over at the Cockpit Theatre roll. They’d already had a Science Burlesque, where all the acts were sciency and – well, burlesque-y, and they decided to do the same thing with the world of cash.

Sandra dressing room cockpit

They got me in to do a couple of songs on the theme of money – hardly difficult given the number of songs in the jazz repertoire that deal with cash. It was quite hard work as it was unplugged, though that did at least mean that I was able to wave my arms about in my new purple frock (see photo, taken in the dressing room just beforehand…)

Sandra and Phil 2

Never a dull day, eh. Great to be on the same bill as Timandra Harkness once again, and to be able to say I was part of the first ever Economics Burlesque which, judging by the turnout (a near full-house) and the response, won’t be the last…

OOoh-er, Missus…

 

Apparently Noiresque is one of the Twenty Sexiest Album Covers of All Time. Okay, so I’m Number Nineteen – but hey – I’m in there. I’m a contender.

Odd, really – I didn’t think I’d made any impact whatsoever on the world – but someone, somewhere thinks that the fabulous Gordon Ayres photography and me trying to look all pouty is sexy…

Cool…

Comet Chaser

Vendettas A GoGo low

Back in 2001 I was very excited by a rather obscure project by the European Space Agency called ‘Rosetta’. The idea was to send a satellite a gazillion light years away to hitch a ride on a comet, and study the comet’s make up to answer Big Questions about life the universe and everything. I wrote a song called Comet Chaser all about it, recorded it for the album Vendettas A-GoGo and forgot about it.

Rosetta was launched in 2004 and has been travelling through the cosmos to visit her comet. She has been asleep for some time now, all her instruments switched off to conserve energy, but this morning an alarm clock went off and, like Sleeping Beauty, she was woken by a handsome prince with a kiss a team of geeky-types with an electronic prod.

I thought I’d revisit my old song Comet Chaser in celebration of today. It’s not the best song I ever wrote, and I’m not singing the best I could, but hey – it’s fun to look back sometimes – and the band sound great…

Vintage Life

Evening Gloves Vintage Life 1

I am delighted to have a four page article in this month’s Vintage Life – all about my evening glove collection.

Evening Gloves Vintage Life 2

It’s a practical discussion on how to wear them, what with and how not to look daft doing it.

Evening Gloves Vintage Life 3

Never sure I’ve totally pulled that one off, but the pictures, by Gordon Ayres, are a joy.

Evening Gloves Vintage Life 4

Beret Chic

Don’t miss this month’s frankly scary-looking issue of The Chap – with a definitive history of – and practical guide to wearing – the humble beret by, modestly, Yours Truly…

Back at the Manor

Back at the Manor last night – where Phil and I tried out some new material – Brazil, Nature Boy and Something’s Gotta Give. Good fun (and nice to return after the summer break). I’m keen to try some more new stuff soon.

The Old Ship

Heavens – I’ve forgotten to update AGAIN! Just noticed that the last blog post was back when John, the Guv’nor at Bootys was having to close up so they could something unspeakable to the historic riverside pub (I believe it involves luxury flats – ghastly).

But – he’s bounced back and just a few months after losing 15 years worth of regulars, he has a new pub – just around the corner, and in some ways, even better than the old one. AND HE ASKED ME AND PHIL TO PLAY FOR OPENING NIGHT!!!

The Old Ship is a gorgeous 19th Century affair in a delightful Georgian square a cough and a spit from Limehouse DLR. When I visited John while he was doing the place up, he’d just discovered a fantastic (huge) original window that had been boarded up for years. He’s put a fabulous chandelier in over the bar and it’s all lovely.

The place was full for opening night – mainly new faces – but the old Bootys crowd will be there, too, I suspect, just as soon as the word gets out. Phil and I had a marvellous time; Phil has a stage (I never use one anyway) and he doesn’t have that annoying lampshade over his head any more that he used to knock his head on whenever he moved, so he’s happy. I met nice new people, belted out some new stuff and – hey it’s going to be great fun. Can’t wait for the next one.

The End of Booty’s as We Know it…

A sad day last night as John, after 15 years of being guv’nor, held the last music night at Booty’s before leaving. It’s a real shame – it’s an historic, charming, riverside pub with a vibrant (and successful – it’s not closing for recessional reasons) atmosphere, but not even John could stop the landlord from closing it down. I’m guessing luxury flats.

My heart is heavy at Booty’s passing. I’ve loved playing there over the years – from the crazy celebratory nights like John’s 14th ‘birthday’,through the warm, balmy summer evenings when the doors out onto the river were thrown open (even if it did get a bit noisy when the party boats went past) to the quieter, cosier winter evenings which had a real old-time feel, it’s felt like a second home to me. Not least because it’s the only pub I’m aware of that has a framed photo of Yours Truly on the wall:

It was good to see old faces one last time – including fabulous singer Paul Wood, with whom I toured France for seven years and who I don’t see nearly often enough, photographer Ian Dunnigan, the regulars who truly love the place (yeah, even the guy who I’ve never seen sober but who is extremely ‘enthusiastic’ about my singing…), guys like Martin, whose own birthday party was the nuttiest night I’ve ever played there and, of course John himself, who was on fine form last night.

Of course I’m hoping this isn’t the end. John’s already been offered other pubs and, after a well-earned break with his family, I suspect he’ll be raring to go again. Onwards and upwards. But as for Booty’s itself – well, yet another Docklands riverside pub is biting the dust for, as far as I can see, no good reason…

New Year at Prism

me at prism 2 low

A phenomenal send off to 2011 when Phil and I played the fabulous Prism Bar and Restaurant in Leadenhall for their amazing, classy New Year’s Eve event. The former Bank of America, Prism is a fabulous, high-ceilinged, marble-floored palace and it sparkled last night. I managed four dress changes (well – I offered them the choice between ‘gleaming’, ‘twinkling’, ‘sparkly’ and ‘could be mistaken for a drag act’ and they chose all four. What’s a girl to do?)

Phil had a grand piano, so he was happy, I had a floor to dance around on (sometimes joined by the audience…) and utterly giant 1940s hair so I was happy, a quick download of some lyrics meant I could comply with all the requests so the audience was happy – all in all a pretty perfect evening.

The lovely Saul was taking photos all night (thank you Saul!)

From the Sublime…

Heavens – if Friday’s gig was a sublime little jazzer last night’s was its ridiculous friend. It was Martin’s birthday at Booty’s and I don’t think I have ever seen the place so crowded – not even at John’s 14th Anniversary of being Guv’nor last year. A mad, alcohol-fuelled frenzy of a gig where the floor was so full people were on the tables by the end. Our gear was overloading, but probably not as much as we were. Blimey – that was a hot time in the old town last night…

Jazzer at the Manor

An unexpected little surprise yesterday evening.  The Manor’s normally a nice, regular little gig which Phil and I enjoy – then go home from – but last night turned into something rather special. One by one the tables finished their meals then gathered round and settled in for the evening. Phil and I kicked off our jazz shoes (in my case, literally – I felt like Sandie Shaw or something) and had a lovely time digging out our favourite ballads, standards and ‘hard stuff’ from god-knows-where in the repertoire. Great fun – and a special g’day to Cobber (no – really) from Australia who was celebrating his 75th birthday…

Jazz and the City Volume 2

I was surprised to find that a track I recorded with the Vendettas, The Long Goodbye, has been included in this three-CD complilation album.

It’s flattering, I suppose…

Spring in to Summer

Oops – I’ve done it again – managed to go bloomin’ months without posting. I’ve been tootling along doing gigs at, among others, Bootys and The Manor in Rainham, which has become somewhat of a regular for Phil and me. Thanks to Ian Dunnigan, as ever, for the pic.

Phil, by the way, is fully back to health and out cycling like a mad man again…

Update on Phil…

Thanks to everyone who’s been sending good wishes to Phil. He’s recovering well from the bike accident and no permanent damage has been done, despite all the jokes about needing his head examined…

Wiltons Music Hall



Oh, what a night! I can’t remember the last time I had so much fun – and believe me, guv’nor John’s birthday party at Bootys where Phil and I played for a very well-refreshed crowd back in November took some beating…

Wilton’s Music Hall is just great. The last surviving great Victorian Music Hall, it is exquisite, delicate – and tumbling down around your ears. Volunteers have made the place into a delightfully bohemian space, and the theatre itself useable again.

Phil and I were in the fabulous Mahogany Bar, which has the only example I’ve ever seen of the actual bar being made out of a (very ornate) theatre box with a wooden surface (I’m told much of the original mahogany is in the British Museum, who won’t let them have it back – huh – at least the Elgin Marbles are on display…) bare brick walls and a truly brilliant atmosphere (we were assured that the peeling plaster above us wasn’t just about to fall on our heads – but that’s only thanks to the efforts of the incredible bunch of people who love the place. I can see why they do…)

The place was packed to the gills (thanks to everyone who made a special effort to come) and was supplemented – to the point where people were spilling out of the door – by LAMDA students who’d been rehearsing in the theatre itself.

I would SO love this to become a regular gig – it’s cool, it’s funky – but above all, it’s HUGE fun.

Pics ©Ian Dunnigan.

I'm in this picture, honest...

The Chap

It’s rare I get to combine both areas of my professional life – writing and singing – but in this case, it just might work.

I have written two features about costume in Film Noir for The Chap magazine, the first of which (mens’ attire) can be found in the latest issue (to be found in all good bookshops, yada, yada), followed by its friend (about the ladies)  in the next edition.

Hot on the heels (or perhaps the wrists) of those two comes  a feature about evening gloves, which have become a bit of a trademark for me over the years, and, ahem, the etiquette of Hawaiian Shirts, an item of clothing in which I have never seen either Phil or Gary, which I think is a shame. Others will disagree…

Noiresque on itunes

Noiresque - The Lonely Fate of the Femme Fatale

I’ve been asked a couple of  times recently whether Noiresque – The Lonely Fate of the Femme Fatale is still available. I’m not sure whether it has officially been deleted by Silva Screen Records, but there are a couple of hard copies of it on the US Amazon site (it’s always gratifying to know that I only actually know one of the people who put very-nice-indeed-thank-you reviews of it on there…) It’s not on the UK site at all as the album was never released over here ( I know, I know…)

But I’m delighted to announce that you can now buy the whole album or just tracks from it at Itunes wherever you are in the world, thanks to my dear friend/producer/manager/guru, music-supervisor-to-the-stars Don Gallacher, actually making the time to put it on there.

I’ve also been asked about the availability of other albums. Although I’m pretty sure that The Glenn Miller Memorial Orchestra Live has been deleted for some time now, and I know that Vendettas A-Go-Go isn’t around, but for all you hardcore completeists out there, Bim Bam Baby, the album I made with the Flying Fortress,  is, I believe, still around on Ace Records.

Why This Site Has A Weird Domain

It wasn’t me, honest. – it was the guys over at Jazz Umbrella – and the very wonderful Simon Selmon at the London Swing Dance Society , who both called me that in their publicity, almost simultaneously – and it was ages ago. “This extraordinary diva…” became a bit of a joke with the guys in the band but it was available, way back when, when I needed a domain name  and – well, it’s on all the business cards now and until I get a new lot printed I’m stuck with it…

Last Narrow Gig before Christmas

Photo: Ian Dunnigan

A lovely (if a little tardy, thanks to various items of kit having a silly half-hour) evening at the Narrow with Gary Baldwin and guitarist Rob Greenfield. We now play in the room with the boat hanging from the ceiling which is a big improvement on the main bar area (the slate tiles played merry hell with the acoustics). One of the waitresses asked for Marilyn Monroe’s I Wanna Be Loved By You, which I’ve never dared do before, but since she asked, I indulged my inner diva. I think I might have to sing it more often now…

Apparently the place is so booked up for Christmas that there’s no room for musicians (and their underperforming gear – grrrr) so this was our last gig there before January, but I’m already looking forward to getting the place jumping in the new year.

Booty’s Birthday!

photo- Bootys

A very special event last night – John’s been guv’nor of Booty’s in Narrow Street for fourteen years – and he asked me and Phil to play for the birthday party – quite an honour, when you think of a all the glittering stars Bootys hosts…

For once I was car-less, which although meant a schlep from Limehouse DLR station with three costume changes and a load of gear, also meant I could have a drink or three. It was an absolutely fantastic night –  full up to the gills (as was I before the end of the evening…) and a really great start to the festive season – not least for John’s own tribute to Frank Sinatra… I’m looking forward to many more nights at Bootys in months to come, but I doubt much will beat last night for sheer entertainment – and the silliest hat I’ve worn for some time.

Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens...

Gigs and More Gigs

Heavens – how the time’s flown – I can’t believe it’s November already and I’ve failed to write this blog for months. Basically, I’ve been playing around (if you’ll excuse the expression) in various venues, including Milo’s, the Manor in Rainham (pictured) Booty’s and a new, regular slot over at the Narrow, with Phil and Gary, as well as bassist Dave Moses and guitarist Rob Greenfield, having a marvellous time.

The Narrow

Last night saw the first of (we hope) many nights at Gordon Ramsay’s East End bar, the Narrow. I used to do this wonderful Thames-side pub with Phil many moons ago when it was the Barley Mow, with the lovely Pete and Tracey as the guv’nors. There’s been a bit of a lull in the music there, but the new manager, Simon, asked me to try out a little music again and I was delighted to play there with Phil and fabulous bassist Dave Moses. It was a fun, loud and and nutty night, with all the old favourites and a large audience – thanks to everyone who turned up. Ian Dunnigan sent me this rather odd picture – I am pointing at Dave, but since he’s not in the picture, poor old Phil’s getting the full brunt of my finger…

Not the most flattering picture ever - but we were having fun...

And, just to prove Dave was there, here’s one of us all:

Back at Milo’s

So nice to be back at Milo’s in Clacton so quickly last Saturday. Word is getting around there’s a new venue in town and there were plenty of new faces, especially now the nice weather’s almost here. Gary and I tested out a few new tunes in the repertoire – hooray for actually rehearsing occasionally (even if we do spend most of the rehearsal gassing…)

Gary being groovy

Milos

Saturday saw a brand new venue for Gary and myself – Milo’s Bar at Clacton on Sea. It’s the new venture from John and Lorraine, who used to run the Barton Hotel, and who were kind enough to book us there on many occasions.

It was blowing a hooley  on the seafront, but lovely and warm inside Milos – as was our reception.  Lovely to see Lorraine and John again, and a lot of their old regulars from the Barton who have followed them to Milos.  Gary was on grooving form, and we tried out two new originals, Spycatcher and The Beast, both of which seemed to go down just fine.

Good to see Lorraine again!

As the weather warms up I can see this venue going from strength to strength.  We’ll next be playing there on the 27th of this month…

In the meanwhile, Gary and I are keen to try out the new numbers with a band on Tuesday, then get them demo-ed soon. Watch this space!

Limehouse Blues

Waving my arms around as usual...

Phil and I had a great time on Saturday night, playing to a full house at Booty’s Riverside bar in Limehouse.  We always have a fantastic crowd there, but this week it was so packed we could hardly move! Lovely to see some old friends and fans, as well as new people.

I stole the photo from the speedily-updated Booty’s website – hope you don’t mind, guys!