Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Mosquitos are Back (Coventry RnB band)

Pete Clemons looks at the return of Coventry RnB band The Mosquitos in the Coventry Telegraph.

Featuring  Nick Robotham, Steve Wallwyn, Steve Aaron, Horace Panter, and Rick Medlock

Check them out on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Mosquitos/200217360021397

Mosquitos are back buzzing!
By Pete Clemons

Rhythm and Blues, often abbrieviated to R&B or RnB, is a genre of popular music that originated in the early part of the last century. Over the years the term has had a number of shifts in meaning. One of those shifts, British rhythm and blues, was developed in the early - 1960s having been influenced heavily by its American counterparts. Successful early British bands which fell into that genre included the likes of e Rolling Stones, e Animals and e Yardbirds who, along with their own compositions, also covered songs by Chuck Berry, Bobby and Shirley Womack and many others.

Successful early British bands which fell into that genre included the likes of the Rolling Stones, thee Animals and the Yardbirds who, along with their own compositions, also covered songs by Chuck Berry, Bobby and Shirley Womack and the British Mod culture that sprang up during the mid 1960s was musically centred on rhythm and blues. The British R&B bands produced music which was very different from its roots with the emphasis on guitars and, arguably, played with a greater energy.

Many of those 1960s bands, toward the end of that decade, shifted style and created what became known as psychedelic, progressive and hard rock. But whatever music they produced those rhythm and blues structures and infuences would still be a major component within that sound. A Warwickshire based band currently doing the rounds and whose set list and performance is loyal to those heady days of the 1960s and 1970s are the Mosquitos. 

The Mosquitos are also unique for several reasons. Firstly they are a seasonal band. Due to geographical reasons they do not begin touring until around May and continue gigging through to July. Another reason for their uniqueness is that the band is pooled from a group of musicians as opposed to having one permanently fixed line-up. Finally, no band member has ever quit the Mosquitos.

The idea for the band came from vocalist and harmonica player Nick Rowbotham back in 1978. The original concept, which still works today, was to use musicians from differing musical backgrounds and experiences to work with him to perform original material and classic R 'n' B tunes. And, based around Nick, a selection of musicians would be put together based on who was available at the time.

Initially the Mosquitos, who were Leamington Spa based, was made up of Nick and his long time friend and bass player Keith Hancock together with guitarist Steve Walwyn, and drummer Andy Bentley. After a couple of years the band was expanded and included guitarist Steve Aaron and bass player Horace Panter. In fact during 1981, when the Specials single Ghost Town was at number one in the singles chart, Horace famously celebrated by performing with the Mosquitos at the Green Dragon In Stratford-Upon-Avon.

The Mosquitos recorded and released a single during 1982 that contained original songs 'Something out of Nothing' as the A side and 'How Could they Know' on the flip side. It was released on the Discovery Label who was also based in Leamington Spa. However, due to some of the band members having other commitments, the single was never properly promoted.

However the track 'Something out of Nothing' was not lost forever. Lee Brilleaux, the enigmatic leader of Dr Feelgood, got to hear the song and was well impressed. So much so that he used it on the B side of e Feelgood's 1983 single 'Crazy About Girls' released on the Chiswick label.

It was at this point that it became clear that the band needed to have an even more liquid membership. So the Mosquitos 'family' was extended further. is resulted in drummer Rick Medlock, fiddle player Martin Bell and guitarist Phil McWalter all being drafted in. The Mosquitos would continue to play many gigs in pubs, clubs and universities and built a loyal following.

Due to the liquidity of the band the various individuals who made up the group were more involved in other projects. As such the musicians were spending less and less time to devoted to the Mosquitos. And by 1985, with all the band members doing other things, the group simply faded out. Despite this the band members remained great friends and even during their hiatus, they still found the time to perform the very occasional Mosquitos gig.

Wind forward more than twenty years and, during 2007, Rick Medlock quite by chance met up with Nick Rowbotham. Rick had long since retired as a musician but, within months of this meeting, he had regained his old 'mojo' and was back behind a drum kit again. After several short stints with other bands Rick became the prime mover in motivating and re-energising the Mosquitos into action again by pulling together this liquid line-up.

The Mosquitos began gigging again in 2011. And, every year since, the call goes out to see who is available. Their first year back saw the band perform a handful of gigs over the course of a month. e following year saw them gigging for two months. And now, in 2014, it's certainly three months, and possibly four months worth of work, as the gigs continue to pour in.

Once again the Mosquitos are generating a tremendous amount of interest. And this is re ected by way of the spread of gigs across the region. And behind the scenes drummer Rick Medlock works hard to secure the gigs and maintain the website. The band are certainly beginning to regain their fan base again as word spreads and each gig seems to bring with it a growing and appreciative audience.

Largely the 'squad' gigging today, with the exception of a few notable additions, is much the same as it was thirty years ago. e additional musicians are guitarist Baz Eardley, bass player Chris Wright and guitarist Pete Gardner. And each of these musicians bring with them an outstanding pedigree. Dust My Broom, Bullfrog Blues, I'd Rather Go Blind, Walking Blues, Killing Floor, Shakin' All Over are just a selection of the band's songs which get covered. But their repertoire is quite extensive and, as such, no two gigs are the same.

These guys are no spring chickens. Yet despite their advancing ages The Mosquitos still play with passion and enthusiasm. They may be playing for fun but make no mistake about how serious they take their craft. Pride in what they deliver would not have it any other way.

The 2014 season is now over. Let's hope the 2015 season continues where the last one ended for the band. In their own words, next time you see an advert for a gig near you, then come and join the malarky that is e Mosquitos!

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