AN ECLECTIC MIX OF COUNTRY, FOLK, BLUES, JAZZ, CALYPSO, MUSIC HALL AND IDIOCY.
My name is Huw Thomas, and my memory fades so if the details of this journey are only approximations of the truth please refrain from unleashing your lawyers. It’s pointless: I am penniless, have no assets and will only cry.
I started auditioning to form the band Plum Busby in 1976. Tracy Coleman, then 18, and so full of piss and vinegar that men trembled when she danced and wept when she sang, auditioned with 60 other hopefuls. A year later in 1977 I auditioned Stuart Hall and Mandy Carlton. In reality Stuart auditioned me, challenging me to a Guitar duel in the lunch break, foolishly I agreed and found myself playing Sweet Georgia Brown at breakneck speed in a toilet. It was a race. I lost. I had, however found another member for my pension fund, sorry, band. Mandy Carlton was a different matter. Pretty. Eccentric, and a brilliant harmoniser with an uncanny ability to dream up unlikely vocal accompaniments. I saw her initially as a taming influence on the exotic wildness of Tracy Coleman, How wrong can you be? Two years later Steve Boy Rose ran past me. Like roadrunner. Energy and talent bursting from him, a pianist and later a Bass player, he absorbed musical styles like a sponge. I had assembled the basic ingredients of Plum Busby but had yet to start cooking with them.
30 years later, one afternoon in September when there was no snooker on the Telly and the dog had been fed, I absent-mindedly put my plan in to action. Tracy I found on the South Bank running a ridiculously pretentious art gallery, Stuart I found pretending to be a principal lecturer in Jazz at Middlesex University, now challenging his students to guitar duels, and writing impossibly difficult pieces for them to play. Mandy’s distinctive voice I tracked down to the bowels of Channel 4 where she was announcing in tones of succulent warmth the programs being aired, "nice work if you can get it” I snarled at her, "you know where your duty lies”
"I have children to feed,” she pleaded.
"That is no excuse” I said. How wrong can you be? Steve Boy Rose, no longer a boy, I had been in contact with throughout the thirty years I had had to abandon my attempts to bend him to my will as he was now better than me at chess and table tennis, and showed a remarkable degree of independent thought. He, like Stuart, played composed, arranged, and taught music but I mainly wanted him in the band because he was not quite as good looking as I was. My original intention was that I would sing all the songs and the others would make me sound good. How wrong can you be? Tracey is a wonderful singer with an incredibly eclectic knowledge of songs. Mandy has a truly unusual and superbly attuned voice. Stuart is a genius on any instrument. Steve… has a big new piano. So my role is now just to stay alive for as long as I can, just to annoy them all.
After them we gained two new members of the band, neither of whom were my students. One, Megan Waterhouse, is our new Bass player, she is the progeny of one of the Band, (I will leave you to guess which) so I suppose in a way I did audition her. She is doing a sort of internship with us. She learnt to play Bass in half an hour, and is implausibly beautiful. Winston Clifford is the most sensitive and skilled drummer I have ever heard, we are lucky indeed to be able to pay him, he is also implausibly beautiful.
We hope you enjoy the strange little family that is Plum Busby.