Rob Heron & The Tea Pad LIVE (promo photo)
Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Live – photography by Chris Searle

Vorige maand waren Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra weer in de Benelux te vinden voor een paar optredens waarin een heerlijke cocktail van swingende stijlen werd gepresenteerd. Het in februari uitgebrachte nieuwe album kan inmiddels op uitstekende reacties rekenen en ook live valt het nieuwe materiaal, waarin de Ragtime Hokum, Western Swing en Country Blues centraal staan, uitstekend in de smaak bij het publiek. De Britse band komt zeer binnenkort weer terug voor een uitgebreide set in TivoliVredenburg te Utrecht en een festivalshow tijdens de R&B Night in Groningen. Met Rob Heron nemen we vlug de laatste stand van zaken door en blikken we vast vooruit op die optredens.

Tekst: Jeroen Bakker

First of all it’s a great pleasure to enjoy the new album ‘Soul Of My City’ and ‘Let’s Go Back In Time’ with you and The Tea Pad Orchestra. It must have been a pretty tough job to produce a follow-up, and record album number 4, after the well acclaimed ‘Something Blue’ from nearly two years ago. What happened between the release of these two albums?

“We toured ‘Something Blue’ for a year and then we buckled down to writing and recording the next record! The process between finishing a record and releasing it is often slow, so we’ve already written half an album before the previous one is even out.”

What makes, compared to the previous 3, recording and releasing this album so special for you?

“I feel like this album shows our maturity as a band, from a very rough and ready, juvenile sound in our first record, we have now progressed into the band I always wanted to sound like! It took us four albums to get there, and I think the new record is definitely our best yet!

My musical taste is ever expanding, and I would like the sound of my band to expand through time also.”

You’ve been travelling a lot around Europe. Are there a lot big differences in each country the way the people respond to all the different musical styles?

“Each country has its joys! We love the audiences wherever we go, because they have made an effort to come out and see us. We love to try new food and beers from new towns, meet new people and learn about their culture! We like to do things their way, for a day or two!”

Is there also a big difference between the older people and the youngsters in the audience? For a lot of young people this must probably be the first time ever they will be introduced in the world of ‘Boogaloo’, ‘Calypso’ and ‘Ragtime Hokum’.

“In Europe, our audiences tend to feature a lot more youngsters than audiences in the UK! If we are responsible for getting younger generations into new genres of music, such as ragtime, blues, country, whatever, then I think a large part of my purpose on this earth is complete!”

How do a bunch of young guys from the New Castle university get involved in this music? Are Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra part of a scene in New Castle or perhaps even in the rest of the UK? Are there other ‘partners in crime’ out there?

“A bunch of us studied “folk & traditional music” at university…most of these studies were music from the British Isles, but I kind of got bored of this, and started wanting to learn about American country music, and Gypsy swing, and calypso, and Cajun music…so I did my own thing…and I still passed! There’s not a huge scene in Newcastle…a couple bands like House of The Black Gardenia, The King Bees, The Often Herd…but there’s loads of good UK bands doing good things! Bands like; Howlin Ric & the Rocketeers, The Most Ugly Child, The Buffalo Skinners, and Scottish bands like, Awkward Family Portraits, Daniel Meade, The Strange Blue Dreams.”

Do you consider yourself as an ambassador of the musical legacy the way it is presented by the greatest American roots-musicians? Is presenting this music on stage also a way ‘to keep the traditional music alive?

“I would hope so. I hope to entertain as well as educate. I love nothing more than to know that someone has gone home from a concert of ours, and discovered some old musicians such as Bob Wills or Big Joe Turner or such like.”

What do you think about the current situation and the future of this music? Here it seems there is a renewed interest. More and more kids start collecting vinyl after listening to their parents’ record-collection and are getting interested in the true and honest music.

“I got into good music from my parents record collection, so I hope that this cycle continues….just as long as people keep buying the good records! Bad music does not last, but good music does….so good music will surely last forever?!”

How did you experience this tour so far? Will this tour be continued in the festival-season? Are there already new dates confirmed?

“Touring Europe has been a blast…. my favourite shows ever! We are back for more in May, playing a few shows in Belgium and Holland. Hoping some summer festivals will be added, we will wait and see.”

You recently played a few club-shows here in Holland and we are looking forward to your next gig here in May during the Rhythm & Blues Festival in Groningen and, one day later, the show in TivoliVredenburg Utrecht. Is there a big difference in the way you approach those shows? You will probably play an one-hour-set in Groningen. What are the main differences?

“I am guessing the Groningen gig will be a shorter set, so we will blast through our best songs with a lot of energy, whereas the Utrecht show might be longer, so we will tell a few stories with our set, and have some quieter moments in there between the madness!”

What are the future plans for Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra in the near future? Will 2019 be year ‘your cowboy boots walk in Texas and your Stetson will be in Tennessee?

“We hope to record some new music and release it before Christmas! Some more mad musical ideas may come to fruition, and we hope to return to tour in Europe before 2020 also! No plans for USA yet, we are too busy focusing on mainland Europe…because we love it, and we are making the most of it before the possibility of a dumb-ass Brexit!”

Some famous last words?

“There is no last words. Write them down, and they last forever.”

10-05-2019: Gent (B) @ Missy Sippy
11-05-2019: Groningen @ R&B Night
12-05-2019: Utrecht @ Tivoli Vredenburg

Rob Heron And The Tea Pad Orchestra

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