Alchemy News ......

Perhaps 'news' is not the right title for this page, 'band trivia' seems far more appropriate, maybe even Banal Intercourse!



Off to a flying start at the Lord Nelson on Poole Quay; good crowd, fantastic landlady, still the best pub on the quay.



New Years Eve at the Manor Arms Burton was a hoot. After years of neglect, Dean and Mel are turning the corner with this once busy venue; it's getting known again as a good place to play and to see a band. Keep up the good work!

Unfortunately, I can't say the same about the King Charles in Poole; it's still a good gig but it's the customers upstairs, the 'music followers' that make it so, despite the management who's attitude and ineptitude staggered me. I am of the opinion that if it continues the way, in a month or two it will be a restaurant and no bands. It would be a shame to loose the venue but if the management ethos is not reviewed soon, it's inevitable.


Very busy this summer, highlights were Bournemouth Carnival and Swanage Carnival (where we played twice!).

Looking forward to taking it easy in the winter to sort out next year's show.


Too busy gigging and rehearsing a new set to write a full update! More here.


The Foundry Arms, Poole
Although technically last year, this gig has found its way into 2007; I can honestly say this is one of Poole's most pleasant and friendly pubs. Alchemy were the first band to play the Foundry (in recent years), their usual entertainment being solo and duo acts. And what a gig! We arrived in a howling gale, sideways rain and got soaked unloading. The band's area was the size of a large postage stamp, but once we'd got rid of at least half of Pat's drums, cut down the lights and squeezed stuff in it was really rather cozy.

But the real reward was the enthusiasm of the audience, they made the night, we just enjoyed it.

The Foundry Arms web site.


July to December

Too busy to update this!
In short, Bournemouth Carnival, Swanage Carnival, holidays and lots of local gigs.


Strummin Monkeys
Nice shop full of Indie guitars. The man lent me the Indie custom shop LP for a gig at the Railway and it is superb. Buy one now!


Cheers Norbert
Many thanks to Louisville Kentucky entertainer Norbert Blocker for a number of guest appearences with Alchemy; if he enjoyed it half as much as we did, he'll have a smile from ear to ear for weeks.


The Vine Inn, Stockbridge
Another new venue for Alchemy, the Vine Inn is a good music venue with good food and most importantly, excellent ales. Highly recommended.

Hot or wot?StarIn the spotlight Pat and Les


Thanks to Pete Christie, who lent me his valuable vintage Yamaha SG. I've gigged it remorsley, beaten back avid groupies with it, we even threw it out of a hotel window and d'you know what - it's wrecked! Well, it's hardly surprising, but with a little Araldite and some sticky back plastic, he'll never know the difference ;)


January 2006

The Railway, Blandford
Tucked away down a side street lies the Railway, Blandford's first and only 24 hour pub. We liked it so much we just played until we ran out of songs; and still they shouted "ONE MORE"!

December 2005
blowing hard!
The New Queen's Head Winchester
What a great venue. We did this gig with Norbert, exhibitionist, entertainer, micky taker, harp player and singer from the USA; had a great time and enjoyed the gig immensely, especially Norbert's impromtu impression of Eminem!



The Dean Park Inn
A really friendly gig, great staff and a lot of feedback from the floor. Already looking forward to our next there on April 1st (not fooling). cancelled due to no music licence

Back at the Anchor on the 24th with Nick from Stone Cold Sober standing in on bass - thanks Nick. Thanks also to Pete Christie, well known local celeb who popped in to see us. If you've not seen Pete live yet, then do it!



Anchor in Swanage
A cosy and intimate (small) venue, but nonetheless a stonking gig largely thanks to John Lloyd's excellent vocals.


The Lord Nelson
Busy Sunday night, hot, cramped stage but an excellent gig. And we only set the noise meter off once! Looking forward to our next gig at the Nelson.


not bad for phone cameraStudland Beer Festival
Not listed on our gig guide due to late confirmation, nevertheless this gig was a stonker. Hosted at the Bankes Arms, behind the longest bar in the world (well, Studland anyway), there were 70 ales to choose from! Only problem was we were driving so couldn't sample more than a couple of small ones :(

Lewis at the Beer Festival

We had a great night, one of the highlights being a young guest singer, Lewis who sang half a dozen songs from the Foo Fighters to Black Sabbath to The Kinks; this chap will go far (if he learns the words!).


The Salisbury Arms
Our first gig here (last Friday 12th) done as a 3 piece as Les was unavailable. We loved it and will be back soon.



John , John, IanThe Red Shoot Inn

Once in a while, a gig comes along that is just great.

Its a combination of audience, surroundings and the general buzz. It also helps if you're not having an 'off night' and fortunately, we were all 'on it'.

I've been going to the Red Shoot for years and know that it normally plays host to some very good, very loud and Ian Pat and Les, nice shirt Ian!very heavy bands, so we were anxious that the clientele may not appreciate our 'softer' classic rock set. Well, we had no need to worry; the audience were very enthusiastic, the whole place was swaying, I've never seen so many happy faces in one place! We enjoyed the gig immensely and can't wait to do it again.

The only drawback was that we couldn't use half of our 15k lighting rig :)

Thanks to John Lloyd for lead vocals, future excursions with John will billed as STEALER with a set list of classic, less hackney'd rock. Watch this space for details.


Alchemy goes from Strength to Strength
The Grange was our fist gig with the new line-up (see next paragraph) so we were a tad nervous, especially as we had only a limited rehearsal. But what a gig; we'd like to thank the audience who were so keen and responsive, especially the girls at the front waving their lighters. A great night and probably our most enjoyable gig.

Hello Les, goodbye Andy
An eventful month for Alchemy, June saw a change of personnel.

Welcome to Les. A skilful guitarist and accomplished keyboard player, Les has expanded the range of songs we are able to perform; in fact we've already included around a dozen extra songs we've wanted to do for years. We are now in a position to move forward and are more positive than we've ever been.

Les joining Alchemy was thanks to the departure of Andy, founding band member and singer who left for personal reasons.


Spring 2005

Cheeky Monkeys

Bought 3 PAR56 lights complete with bulbs from a not very well-known Moordown guitar shop, was absolutely assured they were working by the woman there. Surprise; they'd all blown!

Rather than just replace the bulbs and apologise, she chose to argue, saying that the lights worked but the bulbs didn't - that's a good one. Best bit, she offered replacement bulbs but wanted me to pay for them! I don't know about you but I resent paying for something twice.

She argued the toss with me in front of her customers and finally agreed a refund. This was a particularly stupid attitude to adopt as I had asked about 2 guitars (total about 750) and would probably have bought them if she'd been more reasonable. If this is her normal standard of customer service, she doesn't deserve to sell anything - no wonder it's closing down.

Winter 2004


Lots of gigs, lots of fun but no time to write it up - sorry. Two events that did impress were ABB at the Salisbury Arms and Below The Belt at the Manor Arms.

Someone I'd previously respected once said of ABB "boring", well if that's what you call smooth accomplished professionalism then I'm certainly never going to get that accolade, the number of bum notes I play! I think a more apt word would have been jealousy.

Sue Hutton-Robbins

Summer 2004

Functions are dull?

Who says functions are dull: we played at a wedding recently and as often happens, we received a request for Sue, the Bride to sing a couple of songs. She grabbed a mic and off she went. We've heard a lot of singers but this was different, a power and range that impressed us .

Turns out Sue sings in a band in Gloucestershire. She liked us too so together we've arranged a gig for her to stand in as 'guest singer'.

Kinson Conservative Club on Friday September 3rd. We're looking forward to it so (if you're not a member) find someone to sign you in, just don't miss it, it's going to be a goodie!

Sue Hutton-Robbins

Spring 2004

Mesa Rect-O-verb combo

Picked up a Mesa Rect-O-verb 50 combo, and no, it's not some type of personal probe, but it is the loudest 50 watt amp I ever heard. Not just loud, this amp does clean to absolutely filthy with everything in between including subtle. All my guitars, including the kids cheapo ones sound good through this.


February 2004

The Manor Arms click to enlarge

Thought we'd lost this one as Andy was ill but invited Ted and Larry from Total Recal to join the gig. Total Alchemy! What a stonker, everything 'gelled' right from the first song. Both the band and the audience had a great night. This is definitely a line up that will appear again, soon!

Video 2 Mb WMV - broadband recommended!

January 2004

The Green Room

We always seem to have a good gig regardless of how many turn up. Not exactly full but bags of ambience, this was a comfortable evening. Thanks to all who came, particularly a young lady singer who had the b*lls to get up with us, unrehearsed, and wow us with the best voice I've heard for a long time. Thanks Fiona.

Salisbury Operatic Society

We've had some good gigs lately but this one was a cracker! A great crowd out to enjoy themselves. Shame all functions are not like this.

December 2003


Season's Greetings to all who remember the original meaning of Christmas; a pagan celebration of the shortest day of the year. Now sadly hijacked as the season of receiving and obligation, we had a good one, hope you did.


November 2003


Its official, nothing happened in November, apart from 3 weeks of fireworks; talk about burning money.

October 2003

Juju Men

Heard a good band the other day, the Juju Men, they play 60's stuff just like you remember it, raw! No over production here, it's great, plus they have possibly the best blues harp (harmonica) player around.

Their next gig is at the Green Room on Friday October 12th so get down there and check them out.

September 2003

Indie Guitar Company

click to enlargeI've been around long enough not to believe everything I see, so I read Total Guitar magazine's review of the Indie Guitar Co ILP 523 with some cynicism. This Les Paul style guitar had such a glowing review I thought I'd check it out. I tracked one down (most dealers were out of stock) to a music shop a few miles away.

The first thing that struck me was the superb finish, a little on the 'flash' side but if it sounded as good as Total Guitar reckoned, it was a bargain. My initial cynicism was justified to a degree when I found the set-up to be less than ideal, I didn't plug it in but left the music shop to see what was wrong with the set-up.

A couple of days later I got a call from a guitar technician - the neck had no 'relief' and a high fret, now sorted. What a difference that made; having owned a few Gibsons I know what I like and I liked this guitar a lot. I hadn't intended to buy it but after playing it I had to have it. It was so good I didn't even ask for a discount!

I may not play as well as the late lamented Paul Kossoff but I can now sound like him!

I've since compared the ILP523 with a variety of 'approved' copies and genuine items - it buried most of them! There's not enough room here to go into fine detail, but to my ear its a Les Paul with a full tonal range for a fraction of the price - buy one now.

ILP523 detail pictures


August 2003

Finally realised that I'm never going to get the sound I want from my Marshall combo (the one Marshall gave me when mine was stolen from them whilst they were servicing it). I ditched it in favour of a Peavey Blues Classic - half the price, half the knobs but twice the sound. What it lacks in volume it more than makes up for in quality.
It wasn't just a guitar mis-match with the Marshall; I have a variety. But regardless of which guitar or channel used, when the volume went up I couldn't dial out the hard upper mid-range. I suspect decent speakers would sort it but you could spend a fortune before you found the right ones.
I would say "full marks to Peavey" but they discontinued the Blues Classic just when it was getting the acclaim it deserved: obviously too good for the price!

A big 'thank you' to all who came to our gig at the Manor Arms last night (Aug 8th). Not seen it so crowded since QED played there a couple of months ago!

Green Room again! August 2nd. This one is a cancellation gig and has not been advertised so we don't expect to see so many people this time - unless the band that cancelled have a good following!


July 2003

This month saw our first gig at the Green Room, which went surprisingly well. In fact, we packed the place! Being a straight 'covers' band, we were concerned that the regulars might not appreciate it but we had them rocking, both downstairs and upstairs.

Zena and Mike who run the place do a great job featuring good local music plus new bands so if you haven't checked it out yet I can recommend the Green Room. The beer is not stupidly expensive either; good pint of Flowers. Keep an eye on the gig guide for our next one at this excellent venue.

Swanage Carnival
We were pleased to be asked to play this year's carnival on Thursday 31st. Unfortunately the weather washed out much of the entertainment but luckily, the Alchemy gig went ahead.

Originally booked for the Wednesday there was a cock up and Rat Pack were unable to perform as listed in the programme, so we swapped on the understanding that this change would be heavily advertised and announced. No one seemed to cover this so there were a number of people expecting another band (as there were for Alchemy the previous night) but they all stayed right to the end.

It couldn't have been timed better; as soon as we struck the last chord, the heavens opened. Within 5 minutes the Seafront was deserted so we had no trouble getting the gear out.

We hope to be invited next year; watch this space.

More details on Swanage Carnival


April 2003

First, a few words about a new band I had the pleasure to catch recently...

It's often the way that recommended bands don't somehow live up to the hype: happily, here's one that exceeds it: Bazuzu? !

Playing their first ever gig in the intimate and smokey Green Room, one could be forgiven for thinking that Bazuzu had been gigging together for years. And when it comes to original, it's not just the material, I was unable to attribute the style, fully justifying the 'original' accolade, people just don't write songs like this any more!

Poppy hooks over a solid base (and bass), frequently with a great reggae groove form one of the most interesting and fresh performances I've heard. The lyrics, everything from dark satire, through irony and cynicism to subtle and downright humour, play cleverly on words. The writer has those rarely combined qualities, descriptive literacy (borne of experience?) and elusive ability to write about the mundane in a most lyrical and compelling fashion. Presented by fluid and competent musicians, this is the perfect combination, not only does the music breathe, it has a space, timbre and an excitement all of its own.

Never a dull moment, Bazuzu are one of the few 'original' local bands that I would sincerely recommend.


If you've got this far into the web site, you will probably have sussed that Alchemy don't just play one type of venue, and just as well. Seemingly more and more social clubs are finding it difficult to make ends meet. Yet another instance occurred last Saturday when we were met with a disco (sorry for the bad language) already set up. We did the normal thing and settled for half but that's little compensation when all the leg work is taken into account: getting the gig, making sure it's advertised in the various gig guides, loading up and driving to the venue. All the more annoying as we had turned down almost twice the money and honoured this gig!

By way of compensation, I popped into a pub on the way back which was very happy to have us play, and it turned out to be a real stonker, AND the audience appreciated it.

But the real point of this whinge is ROI, that's 'return on investment'. We get to see a lot of social clubs and form some unavoidable conclusions, so if you are a social club entertainment secretary or chairman, read on.

For what it's worth, there's a definite correlation between the status of a club and the entertainment it provides its members. I'm not saying it's cast iron, but in almost every case that I've seen over the years, each club that thins out good professional live music in favour of discos, karaoke and cheap duos (I know, some are excellent), are the very clubs who's membership and general level of business have declined.

Conversely, the clubs that have made a name as good music venues have a busier, more vibrant and thriving membership.

Yes, I know its not just that and I've a vested interest but there's still nothing to touch professional live entertainment on a Saturday night.


February 2003

Marshall, having had my 30th Anniversary combo amp for repair for rather longer than I was lead to believe finally phoned and told me it was stolen from their carrier's depot.

I didn't have time to drop it to the factory so my main concern and first question to Marshall when arranging collection wes "do you cover amps at market value when in transit?" They did, so I packed it up and let it go with an easy mind.

Imagine my surprise when they spoke casually about £200 compensation. When I came down off the ceiling, I phoned back to seek a direct replacement or reasonable recompense and got a disconcerting response: "we have to resolve the issue with the carrier first - it won't be quick". I pointed out that my contract was with them, not with the carrier but got nowhere.

I brought it up with Chris at Guitar Mania, being my nearest Marshall dealer and the very next day, a brand new top-of-the-range combo turned up on my door step. It's not the same as my anniversary but I'm not complaining.

So thanks to Chris at Guitar Mania and to Marshall who have redeemed themselves.

The moral of this story is to get it in writing: it doesn't matter what it is, goods in transit, repairs and don't forget gigs, just get the terms agreed and in writing.


Alchemy - Live Music in Bournemouth, Poole Dorset & Hampshire...
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