Above: Backstage at the Kings Hall, Belle Vue, Manchester in 1969 with ballet girls taking part in a Joan Bates Children's Ballet. Joan Bates Dancing School, Stockport (then called The Melbourne School of Dancing) was a large School presenting Ballets, Pantomimes etc., and had been established since before WW2.
Above: In The Snowdonia Bar Lounge at Pontins Prestatyn Sands in 1978. You'll find a 1979 recording on my Soundclick list from this venue on Gulbransen Organ. Pontins was in it's heyday then employing 1000's or Musicians and Artistes as well as "Bluecoats" (a rather run down delapidated sad company in 2019/20.)
Above: The Alan Anthony Set Function Band at The Belgrade Hotel, New Year's Eve 1980-81. Left to right: The Late Alan Yates on Guitar / The Late Eddie Hosey on Bass Guitar / out of sight Ronnie Arnold (unknown) on Drums; and Tony squeezing the life out of a piano accordion! A very successful Band working out of the Alan Arnison Agency Old Trafford and Bramhall, Stockport.
Above: The year is 1991 and Tony performs at a Manchester City Centre Club for dancing and playing for Cabaret Artistes usually on Hammond Organ - although this is not a Hammond. The changes in Society, changes in smoking regulations, home entertainment, cheap supermarket alcoholic drinks, plus of course older generations passing on brought about the decline of what was once a wonderful Manchester Working Men's Club scene.
Above: The year is 2012 and Tony plays for a Function at Capesthorne Hall, Cheshire on the Bechstein Piano.
I am by instinct a live performing musician. I don't "sequence" music and faced with a computer full of software for making music I'd just retire and have a cup of coffee and maybe even a rare cigar! (or just go off for a cycle ride!) By far the most rewarding instrument of course is the Piano. In my case a Yamaha Digital as pictured above, that unlike pianos of years gone by does not need tuning, does not make clattering and banging sounds whilst recording music, and is completely artistically fulfilling. I have various Keyboards - some have fantastic sounds and built in patterns to work around, I enjoy these but the Piano is still first and foremost to me.
In a way I was an accidental musician. My parents started me off at age 7 with lessons and I had a great tutor in a lady by the name of Jessie Davies in a place called Heaton Norris in Stockport UK. I also played Piano at school in Heaton Chapel - St Annes RC on Glenfield Road. But at age 14 I was required to play piano for a relative's Stage Dancing School by the name of The Melbourne School of Dancing / Joan Bates Dancing School, Stockport. I was faced with music I'd never heard of like "A Whistling Kettle and a Dancing Cat" !! and "Ain't She Sweet" and suchlike for Tap Dancers. I also played various Classics for Ballet, and a piece I remember the most was for a Ballet Championship held in Liverpool at the old (what was) The Crane Theatre. This very same piece called "Rhondda Rhapsody" by Mai Jones you'll find in my playlist above. Being thrust into the limelight as accompanist for very large children's shows in the old King's Hall Belle Vue Manchester certainly gave me a taste of the business ~ and the photos above give a small history of places worked and types of work. I did quit Music at age 31 to start another Entertainment Related Business with my wife. We are now both Senior Citizens and still perform Magic for Children! Do I go out playing? Not at present. If any enjoyable work came my way I'd consider it, but there is no financial necessity whatsoever. But sadly even the Kids Party Business is now in terminal decline, and amongst all self-employed Entertainment Workers this used to be one of the strongest and most lucrative lines of business. When I was in my 20s Pianists, Drummers, Tenor Sax players especially were in HUGE demand for an endless diary of gigs for private functions and in clubs etc. All a long time ago!
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