St Patricks Two Night Special, Intercontinental Hotel, Doha, Qatar

Doha Skyline by Rob Blackham

So this was a first for Rollercoaster.  Sure, as our original band, Redwood, and as individual musicians, we have toured outside the UK…
but as Rollercoaster, we have never left these shores.  The reason for this, is we are usually booked up with weddings etc. which are often booked 1 year in advance.  But as it happens, St Patricks 2017 was available (it’s a premium date for this band), so we were booked in to play 2 nights in Doha, Qatar, at the Intercontinental Hotel!!  The hotel promoted the gig under the name ‘Four Leaves And A Fiddle’, as we hadn’t gained too much of a following in deepest darkest Doha as Rollercoaster (it’s early days yet though).  We would be taking top fiddle player Jake Walker with us, to fill in the fiddling gaps… it was gonna be good.

After 7 hour flights, we landed in Doha on the Thursday morning, were picked up from the airport and taken to the hotel.  We spent the rest of the day snoozing, eating, sun bathing, and eventually, setting up for the evening’s show.  The hotel food was INCREDIBLE, and the staff were super friendly.. which set us up for a great gig.  The show was in a marquee on the beach, and the audience was great.  By 1.30am, we were pretty well exhausted, and enjoyed some well deserved post gig drinks!

The next night, the show was in at the in house venue, the Paloma.  We used the in-house band’s gear, and setup and sound checked on the Friday afternoon.  Once again, a great show – lovely crowds to play to, and wonderful staff to work with.  The sponsors, Sixt car rental, were there for both gigs, handing out promo sunglasses, and taking photos – and were super supportive throughout.

The whole experience was fantastic, and unforgettable – and now that we’ve broken the ‘playing abroad’ bubble, we’ll be heading out for more shows… looking forward to that booking in the Maldives to come in 😉

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    Doha by night

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    Rockin Paloma

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    Onstage art Paloma

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    The sponsors

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    Apres Gig

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    Jake and Rob

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    The View

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    Before the carnage

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    The band (by Sixt)

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    the gear (by Sixt)

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    Onstage on the beach

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    Rollercoaster with Sixt

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    Holly in Paloma(photo by Tom)

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    Jake Walker

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Thursley Village Hall Dinner Dance fundraiser, Thursley, Surrey, Feb 2017

This was to be a dinner dance raising funds for the Thursley Village Hall renovation project, alongside the very worthwhile charity Action For AT.  The band only play a few charity shows a year, though this one was local, and we had played here before, so knew it would be great (and knew it was for some very worthwhile causes).

Catering was handled by a Thursley based company (Lucy Goble), and there were lots of volunteers on hand to make sure the evening went as planned.  The event itself was the brainchild of Action For AT’s Susie Shillingford, who had tirelessly co-ordinated the whole event, as well as pulling together various auction prizes – not forgetting various donations from village hall supporters.  On the day, the Village Hall fundraising crew were at hand, in the kitchen, clearing tables, greeting guests etc.  It was seamless, and all because of the huge amount of work that went on ‘backstage’.

The band had their own dressing room – Maltesers, chocolates, and supply of refreshments at hand – what more could we want 😉  Rollercoaster’s Alistair compared the evening, chivvying the crowds along, urging folk to find their seats, hosting the ‘heads and tails’ game, reading auction and raffle prizes.  The auctions were silent bids, though one lot (a Peter Blake original) went to a live auction – at which point local legend Peter Rickenburg took the mic and drove the bidding along.

The band eventually hit the stage at 10.45pm, which meant we would be playing straight through.  We kept it lively, as the crowd were definitely an energetic, up and dancing bunch.  During I Will Wait, we were treated to ‘The Bottom Dance’ by Phil and Becky Shayler – seeing is believing.

Once again, this was a gig with the perfect crowd.  They just wanted to party on… and the atmosphere was fun all the way – they even managed to get an encore out of the band!

It was all for charity, and with over £11,000 raised, it was certainly a worthwhile event to play.  i’m sure we’ll be seeing many off the guests in the future.  Huge thanks to Susie Shillingford of Action For AT, and the Village Hall Committee, for making us feel so welcome… see you all soon!

Bucks County Farmers Ball, Doubletree Hilton, MK Doms Stadium, Milton Keynes, Feb 2017

We played last year at the Bucks County Farmers Ball. They were a great crowd to play to – and we must have been doing something right, as they asked us to play again for the 2017 event. This year, we had the full 7 piece band – including two fiddle players, female vocals, and our new keyboard player, Tim Pearne.

The venue was the Doubletree Hilton at the MK Dom’s Stadium in Milton Keynes. We arrived early, and made sure we were setup in time. By 7pm, the guests were arriving, and we were chilling in the green room (taking band photos, which is the usual thing to do).

By 10pm, the guests were fed, and the charity auction had finished… and its was time for the band. We hit the stage and the guests hit the dance floor. They partied on into the night, and we threw in tracks from all the eras – relatively new songs like I Got That Feeling and Shake It Off went down equally as well as the Beatles songs. Basically, these guys wanted to party, and it was great to be able to provide the sound track!
Last song, at the request of the organisers, was God Save The Queen… which we played in the style of… Queen!

Absolutely great night – thank you so much for looking after us, hopefully we’ll see you guys again soon!

St Clarets Gaelic Football Club Fundraiser, Ealing Golf Club, November 2016

We had the very wonderful Chris Haigh with us on fiddle for this gig (he had previously been playing with Bob Geldof)… so it was going to be  good’n!  They were a friendly crowd for the outset, and we knew that we would be able to throw in quite a few Irish tunes (as well as popular jive numbers, to suit the crowd).

It was a late finish, but we still had a full dance floor at 1.30am, which was a great sign… and they still called out for more!

Thanks for looking after us – hopefully see the friends of St Clarets Gaelic Football Club again in the future!

Kempton Park Irish Night 2016

This could be the 5th time we have played Kempton… and as always, it is a favourite of the band.  The staff are great, and the crowd is simply there to have a good time.  And this year didn’t disappoint…

ROLLERCOASTER_JULY 16_0036It’s an early arrival for the band – 1pm – so as to soundcheck before the horses arrive.  After that, we took the chance to grab some more promo pictures.  We had top photographer Jason Leaman documenting the event for us – and we were a full 6 piece band, with Chris Haigh on mandolin / fiddle,  Jason Dickenson on fiddle, and our female vocalist Holly.  Our pre-gig meal was in the ROLLERCOASTER_JULY 16_0037Panoramic Restaurant, where we hooked up with our video crew, Jeff, Darren and Andy.  We often take the chance to film the Kempton shows, as it give prospective clients a chance to see the band in action… as public appearances are rare for Rollercoaster.

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Vertical Days, 10th Anniversary Celebration, Haydock Park, June 2016

Vertical Days have been a regular client for the band for the past 5-6 years, so it was great to be heading back up north to play their 10th Anniversary Event.  Set in Haydock Park racecourse, you can see the cherry pickers and cranes from the motorway as you approach – it is an event especially for cranes and access vehicles… and the supporting business – hence the cherry pickers!

Rob and Jason played their cocktail set before the event in a smaller venue… then the whole band (5 piece including Jason and Holly) played in the larger marquee – which had 800+ guests in attendance.  We started off with the more acoustic songs as the buffet was being served.  There was a break for speeches, and then Liverpool Pipes and Drums band marched onto the dance floor and played a ‘set’. After that, we pushed on with the more up tempo music.  Final song was 500 Miles, and as can be expected, the guests sang and danced – though we couldn’t persuade them to do a conga.

This has always been a great event to play – with such a friendly atmosphere from the organisers and crew.  Hopefully we’ll be back again!  Best of luck in the following year – thanks for looking after us

Action For AT Annual Ball, Old Thorns, Liphook, May 2016

Action For AT are a great charity.  At the moment, they are small, but the grow in size every year… and this was the second fundraising event we had played in the space of a year. We choose a charity each year to support, playing for a reduced fee – and this year it was the very worthwhile Action For AT!!!

We hit the stage around 10.45, and played through until 12.30.  Up until that point, the guests had been enjoying fine food and drink, with Rollercoaster’s Alex Keys playing his own blend of dinner jazz.  It was a 20’s theme for the night – cocktail duo Rob and Chris had played during the drinks reception earlier, knocking out the perfect blend of gypsy jazz.  It was a fundraiser, and third song in, it was great to announce that the guests had raised £37,000 for the charity!

It was a top night – the crowd were dressed to perfection, the dancing was a pleasure to witness… and venue looked lovely.  High thanks for looking after us, and well done to all involved, and to all who helped contribute to such a worthwhile cause.  Checkout the charity website, and donate – big or small, it all makes a difference –

Belmont School PTA Ball, Belmont School, Surrey Hills, March 2016

We were introduced to the Belmont School PTA via Suzie and Graham, whose wedding we played in 2015… so at Suzies recommendation, we were booked in to play the PTA School Ball.  The theme was Alice In Wonderland, and the hall was decorated beautifully.  Lots of effort had gone into the whole presentation of this event – which will in part have led to the wonderful atmosphere throughout.  There was a meal, followed by an auction, and then onto the band.

We had Jason on fiddle, so with the close proximity to St Patricks, we threw in a few Irish tunes.  In all, this was a prefect crowd – similar to the Action For AT gigs we have played in Headley, and similar to the 40th and 50th birthdays the band have played for.  We kept the tempo up, and put in all the hits.  After a micro-break (5 minutes) we pushed on into the second set, and the guests partied on.  It was a 1am curfew, though the audience wouldn’t let us leave at that point, so we played a few encores, then finally finished.

This was a great event to play – the perfect crowd for Rollercoaster.  Hopefully we’ll be back again – thanks for looking after us!