The Kings Band came together in 1987 as a co-operative band in which playing for dance but not too often were to be key features. The connection with King John's Morris attracted some of
their musicians and this membership shaped the eclectic playing style of the band. And it continues to evolve.
So many Kings then ... but due solely to co-oincidence. Spookily, during the very first Kings Band practice, a stage cupboard door opened and a sign bearing the legend The Kings Messengers tumbled out. With such an omen we promptly named ourselves the Kings Band. It’s a simpler name which also reflects the members' backgrounds.
Over the 20 or more years some have left the band in many cases they've played with other well known bands in the Hampshire area - Bursledon Village Band, Turk Town Troopers for examples - it's part of the give and take in folk dance bands. One key feature of the Kings Band is that it counts expert callers amongst its members and this means that there is never any need for an event organiser to look separately for a band and a caller. It also gives greater fun and a more varied event as the dancing styles differ.
What happened to the original bands? ... Kings Hat Band closed in 1989. Its keyboard and guitarist - John Shepherd - left to join the Albion Band. Cliff, its percussionist, left to join the local 70s revival band Peter Pod's Peas. The members still keep in touch. The Biggest Trio continued until the late 1980s. King John’s Morris is a thriving morris side based in Southampton and which dances out throughout most of the year. See www.king-johns-morris.org.uk/
From time to time the band enjoys the presence of guest players. The influences of the band are varied - both new and old. They range from Bottine Souriante, Blowzabella, Albion Band and Steeleye Span.
Members of the band
Members of the Kings Band vary. There'll be a core of four of us, including the caller, for most dance bookings.
Allen Mornington-West – a founder of the band back in the late 70s - had been playing folk music to guitar accompaniment from early days whilst at Durham. He graduated to
the fiddle via the mandolin - it's the same tuning. He started up the folk rock group Kings Hat Band in the late 70s with John Shepherd. He also plays the guitar, bass and
mandolin for the Kings Band - you might see him doubled up on fretless bass as occasion demands. He is also a member of the four piece KokoPelli group.
Dick Gurney – a founder of the band - has been with King Johns Morris for over 25 years and, in addition to calling, he plays the button melodeon. Dick is a keen dancer and a keen attender at the myriad of dance workshops at festivals. Dick is also the guardian of the band's electronics - a role he shares with Allen. Dick is also the prime contact point for band bookings and has the hazardous task of co-ordinating all the band members to put gig dates in their diary.
John Miller – a founder of the band - is one of the band's callers and researches new dances and brings them into the repertoire. John's experience with King Johns Morris goes back more than 30 years and his passion for dance and folk tunes has led him to nearly all of the festivals. His drumming keeps the band on time and he never misses a beat.
Ferd Schwausch – a founder of the band - started his playing career touring Europe whilst at University and he's not stopped since then. He's a master of eclectic musical styles on the accordion and together with Dick and Allen he checks out new tunes for old and new dances or perhaps just for the fun of playing - the repertoire of the Kings Band is ever evolving. He often pairs on tenor sax when Nigel plays on trombone.
Nigel Colebrook - has been playing trombone in jazz bands since a youth. He's keeping up the family musical tradition as his father was a well known pianist in the Hampshire area. In addition to the Kings Band he has played with Southampton All Stars, Marchwood Orchestra, Winchester Chamber Orchestra, Solent Brass Jazzaholics, Turktown Troupers and quite a few others. With the Kings Band he is most often playing fretless bass and when the opportunity presents itself he'll be on the trombone exploring new musical textures in some of our arrangements.
Our more occasional members have included
Chris Buet - has been playing guitar since early times at the Cutty Wren Folk club in Hythe (Hampshire) back in the early 70s. Chris has been adding rythmns to the Kings Band for more than 10 years drawing on his experience with a number of other well known bands in the area.
Henry Pugh - a founder of the band, star gazer and great family man – is a virtuoso on bones - he says it keeps us regular - and he doubles up on melodeon when the band goes for the full wall of sound. Henry joined King John's Morris not long after it formed and is still an active member.
Dave Williams – a founder of the band and no longer playing with us as he has moved up to Scotland. But he started out with the Biggest Trio in the World back in 1968 - he recalls Dave Shepherd as one of their members. His musical styles borrow from the English traditions as well as the French Auvergne and Britany cultures.
Contact us - email book @ thekingsband.co.uk or call Dick Gurney on 00 44 77 59 88 09 05