For one of the opening gigs of their new 100-capacity performance studio space in Palace Street SW1, the programming team at the St. James Theatre have booked one of the most truthful, authentic singer-songwriters around, Carol Grimes. A legend. In the sixties she was performing alongside Cream, John Mayall and The Yardbirds
Grimes explains she is very happy to be there at the birth of a new venue:
“London needs more venues if [music] is not live, it dies.”
Grimes will be with her current, top-notch regular band : trombonist Annie Whitehead (“we’ve worked off and on for 25 years”) , her pianist/ arranger/ MD Dorian Ford (”ten years, we meet every other Tues for just two hours to work on new songs”) drummer Winston Clifford and bassist Neville Malcolm. Carol says: “this group feels bedded in, we’re all good mates, it’s good to work with people that you’ve known for a long time, worked with on different things.”
Carol Grimes is one of the authentic London voices. She explained that in the 1970’s she lived in America. “ I came away thinking didn’t feel it was home. I realised I was more at home in countries in Europe where I didn’t even speak the language. In London I get that sense of place and belonging. “London, warts and all, is home,” she says.
Her show to launch the first season at St James Theatre will be a mixture of old and new songs. “Some people want to hear the familiar. What are regular features? Who do you want from the album Eyes Wide Open is a definite favourite.
Another is Billy. A song by Carol Grimes in which she remembers “mad bad boy Billy McClynn” whom she knew decades ago in California. Another favourite is the Oscar Brown Jr version of Round Midnight. “He re-wrote lyrics, inserted a poem. His song is about the ageing process.After all, we’ve all got to die .” (Carol went into this in more detail earlier this year in a lengthy interview with Brian Blain)
Oscar Brown Jr’s poignant words are:
“What is being set
What is Around Midnight
What is to be lent
that we may borrow
For the new today that’s made from an old tomorrow”
St James Theatre have found the right voice to celebrate its new today in its new premises, and the opening of the Studio space. Some other names in the Studio to watch out for: are bassist Peter Ind on November 16th, Radio 4 comedy god Barry Cryer‘s Butterfly Brain show on November 18th and a Christmas gala presented by Peter Conway on December 7th.
Bookings at St James Theatre website