- Big River
- Groovy Uncle
- Jim Riley’s Blues Foundation
- Suzi Chunk
- The Pastel Waves
Big River are a UK based Blues Rock band from London. They have all the groove and swagger of the great 70’s Rock Bands and hit real hard, with heavy riffs, sheer power and melodic hooks. They make music because they love music, passionate about what they do and really put their heart and soul into recordings and live shows.
Groovy Uncle is the brainchild of Medway based songwriter Glenn Prangnell. The project began around the dawning of the new millennium when Glenn found himself at a loose end, creatively. His previous band, Goodchilde had recently disbanded after five or so years of gigging and recording and while the other members were busy working with a number of projects, Glenn had an empty diary. Songwriting had always been his top priority so he carried on doing exactly that for the next few years until, in the mid Noughties, the world hit the My Space age and with this in mind he uploaded some of his home recordings of brand new songs to the site with no plan to record or release anything ‘properly’. But fate had other plans…
A number of encouraging comments regarding the new material were gratefully received, not least from drummer and author Ian Snowball who gave Glenn the tip off about the existence of a small recording studio/label called State Records, based in Sandgate on the south coast. Insisting “they’d love your stuff”, Ian suggested a trip to the seaside would be a good idea. So, sometime during the latter half of 2009, Glenn and Ian met up with Marty Ratcliffe and Mole Lambert at the studio and a recording date was set to record what would prove to be the very first Groovy Uncle release- the vinyl only 45rpm Monkey Trousers / Now Your Pain Is Over . Glenn got together his first line-up of buddies, pals and to play on the session- Paul Moss on bass, Ian Snowball on drums and Ben Jones on lead guitar while Glenn played rhythm guitar (oh, and kazoo!). The session took place in October 2009 and was released in March the following year on the State Records label and effectively kick started Glenn’s ‘comeback’. This was a pleasant but definitely unexpected return.
Having enjoyed the analogue recording experience by the sea, Glenn wanted to go back to record some more songs and Mole suggested recording an album which State Records would be happy to release. The original line up was used for some of the tracks, though Mole (drums), Marty (guitar/sitar) and former Prisoner Allan Crockford (bass) also contribute to what was not only the first GU album but also the first LP to be released on the State Records label. Play Something We Know! saw the light of day in March 2011 and kick started Glenn’s ‘comeback’.
Having enjoyed the experience of making records with a ‘hand picked’ line up that was never going to be a ‘set in stone’ band (everyone had a too many other commitments), Glenn decided to crack right on to the second album. Not exactly sure how it would pan out, Glenn was adamant about one thing- the follow up was not going to be “more of the same” – “I really didn’t want it to be Play Something We Know! Part 2 “ he said. There were a couple of songs in particular that didn’t make it on to the first album because they were deemed more suitable for a female vocalist but were too good to lose so that’s when Glenn decided to ask Cardiff based funk/soul ’singist’ Suzi Chunk if she’d like to record them as well as some backing vocals on the rest of the tracks. Glenn had met Suzi via My Space and by the time work had started on the second album, they’d already known each other for four years. Suzi agreed to travel to Kent to record lead vocals on 4 songs initially (No Stone Unturned, Probably Normal, I Can’t Stop the Rain and Big Screen ) but it soon became obvious to all that the whole album should feature Suzi on lead vox. So the 2nd Groovy Uncle album was Suzi’s debut solo LP – thus killing two birds with one stone unturned! A single was also put out- Look Back And Laugh with the exclusive, non album B-side Tripwire. Both cuts are covers of two Prangnell compositions from his days with Medway Garage band The Kravin’ A’s. The single featured the blinding guitar work of Bruce Brand was released in 2012 on red vinyl. The single was well received by BBC6 Music’s Radcliffe and Maconie. The album, Girl From The Neck Down was released in September 2012 on vinyl.
Since then, the Groovy Uncle Project has gone from strength to strength with many fine and dedicated musicians contributing to the recordings but always featuring Glenn and Suzi (or Unc’n’Chunk as they’re affectionately known). Album number 3, One Vowel Away From The Truth (2013) was the first to be released on their own label Trouserphonic Records (CD only). The cover artwork by Darryl Hartley and Bruce Brand captures the band in caricature form. As Glenn says, “There has never been a set in stone band and we rarely gig. There’s no live act. I’ve always seen us as a cartoon band like The Archies, so a cartoon album sleeve was perfect!”
In 2014 another single on the State Records label was released. Barefoot In The Car Park (‘from the forthcoming album Persuaded’) became a favourite of Little Steven’s Underground Garage and was billed on the station as Steven Van Zandt’s ’Song Of The Summer’. October that year saw the release of the “imaginary film soundtrack” album Persuaded which introduced the glamorous and mysterious Miss Modus on vocals. Both album and single were recorded at Ranscombe Studios after a serious flooding at State put paid to any chance of recording there. Released in October on Trouserphonic.
Next up, Life’s A Gift. Back to Jim Riley’s Ranscombe Studios for this one and Darryl Hartley’s updated cartoon artwork for this CD only release.
Got Up And Gone/Find The Morning was the only release this year and the first single to appear on the Trouserphonic label. Suzi on lead vocals. Orange vinyl only.
Album number 6, A Clip Round The Ear released on limited edition green vinyl and CD.
Meanwhile Back In Medieval Britain is the first to feature songwriting contributions from other writers. Andy Morten (‘She’ll Never Be Mine’),Jon Barker (‘Days Like This’ , ‘You Think Too Much Of Me’) and Darryl Hartley (‘Meanwhile Back In Medieval Britain’, ‘Astronauts’) added to 7 of Glenn’s tunes to complete GU’s 7th LP. Vinyl and CD release.
Jim Riley’s Blues Foundation
Jim Riley is probably best known as a producer/sound engineer at his own Ranscombe Studios in Rochester, Kent (since 2002) but he is also a highly respected musician, having for many years fronted bands including Wipeout, The Brothers Grimm, The Herbs and The Gurus Of The New Millennium. In March, 2017 Jim joined Medway indie legends The Claim on stage at the 100 Club for a one off performance of Sonny Boy Williamson’s ‘Help Me’ and everyone enjoyed the experience so much they decided to get a set together under the name of Jim Riley’s Blues Foundation to play a few gigs and record an album.
The band’s debut album, ‘A Very British Blues Explosion’ was released on Trouserphonic Records and launched (appropriately) at the 100 Club on 20th January 2018.
Suzi Chunk first came to the attention of Glenn Prangnell of Groovy Uncle in 2007 via her My Space profile but it wasn’t until 2011 that Glenn got around to asking Suzi if she would like to record some vocals on what was intended to be Groovy Uncle’s second album.
Glenn had written a few songs for Suzi to take lead vocal on but during the recording session it became clear that the album should be hers and thus, the debut LP from the Cardiff based, funk soul ‘singist’, “Girl From the Neck Down” was recorded and released in 2012 on the State Records. A red vinyl single, “Look Back And Laugh b/w “Tripwire” was also put out by State the same year.
Since then, Suzi has been a regular feature on all Groovy Uncle recordings, from the first Trouserphonic release ‘One Vowel Away From The Truth” onwards. There have also been another two single releases featuring Suzi Chunk on lead vocal, namely “Barefoot In The Car Park” b/w “Wet Weekend” (State) and “Got Up And Gone” b/w “Find The Morning” (Trouserphonic).
The Pastel Waves
The Pastel Waves formed in 2017 in Medway, Kent. Initially made up of three ex-members of Speedwell – a band who existed from the early to the late nineties – began writing new material in late 2015.
Chris Parsons, Rob Percy and Brian Percy eventually recruited vocalist Joe Liste – previously the singer with The Ambience (of whom Chris had also been the guitarist). Brian eventually left at the end of 2016 and Mike Grigson (drummer of The Ambience) stepped in for an amicable change-over with Brian late in 2016. Last to join was Conor Toner on guitar, after a chance meeting introduced by a mutual friend at a local gig in March 2017.
The five-piece are about to release their first album, ‘All Things To All People’ on the Trouserphonic Records label and are well into completing material for follow-up releases later in the year.