Pictures by Alan Coombe, Mags Cummings, Margaret Dewick, John Hetherington, and Maureen Whitehouse
(more pictures and comments welcomed)
Once again, the Sunnyside provided everyone with a wonderful experience.
Those who were staying overnight were mainly split between the Travelodge and the Hilton,
which had its usual deal.
As usual, I was worrying about 500 things that might go wrong when Cathy called me on Friday afternoon to make it 501.
It seemed that Daniel, who was providing the PA and disco for the jam session at the Wooden Walls Of Old England pub on Friday night, arrived there to discover that the new manager knew nothing of our arrangement, and was reluctant to host us.
I called Kevin Summerfield, who has been a tremendous help as usual, to ask him to think of
other pubs to which we might move.
Maureen and I then set off for the Wooden Walls, to see if the manager could be swayed, and
failing that, to see if there was another convenient pub nearby.
When we arrived, Daniel told me that the manager seemed to have relented. He introduced us, and the manager said that although he would be short of staff, he would do his best.
On that basis, everything was settled.
That evening, 14 of us sat down together to have the included dinner at the Hilton, then we set off either walking (Mags and John, Johnny Storme and Diane, Maureen and me) or driving to the Wooden Walls.
Things were in full swing with Daniel on the decks when we arrived.
We had some great impromptu sessions from Rob Dee and Dave Jay.
I sold a few entrance badges to locals.
We all noticed a rather smart local lady who was singing along to every song. She was accompanied by quite a stern-looking chap.
I learned later that he had heard somewhere of our jam session, and attended with the intention of taking part.
However, he specialises in Led Zeppelin covers, and he decided that they wouldn't be appropriate.
We invited them to attend the Sunnyside next day, but the lady said her companion had an
appointment in London.
I gave the manager a couple of opportunities to make a donation to the Alder Hey appeal, but he didn't take the hint at the time.
We trailed back to our respective hotels after a great night out.
However, Daniel produced a £20 note from the manager that he handed over later.
Next day, I had a splitting headache, and I couldn't face my usual treat of a blowout hotel
breakfast, and had to content myself with healthy food.
Maureen and I busied ourselves with the newspapers in our room before setting off for the
seven-mile drive to the Sunnyside, arriving soon after midday.
We found that Daniel had already set up in the stage area.
One big problem at the venue is the number of heavy tables that take up a lot of space, so
Maureen, Ken Darvell and I set to work moving them, to make room for the chairs that people
would inevitably liberate from the adjacent bar.
Ken's wife Cecilia is one of the other key people in Northampton who provided so much support.
I met the new manager of the Sunnyside, Helen, who offered us every assistance - we have been particularly lucky in the management teams we have always encountered at the Sunnyside.
We made space for Pauline Swindells and Diane Hetherington to set up the 27
raffle prizes - many thanks to everyone who donated items, for the two fan clubs to sell memorabilia, and for my long-suffering wife, Maureen, to sell books, badges, trolley tokens and car stickers in aid of our charity appeal. Sound checks were duly completed, and the room started filling. I had been anxious that our first attempt at an afternoon music session might not attract many people, but my fears proved unfounded.By now it was
2.30, and Maureen and I had our last opportunity to stoke up on some comfort food. We went for the Sunnyside's 2-for-1 deal and had giant cheeseburgers and chips.
Jett Scream was due to open at 3pm, as he had a gig in Norfolk that night, but when he had not arrived, newcomer Andrew Tween from Essex gave us a powerful set.
Jett then took the stage in his trademark fringed white leather jacket and gave us a very spirited show.
David Nicholls was a late recruit who kindly volunteered to perform when a difficulty arose a few weeks ago.
David ordered a copy of Billy's biography from me, and mentioned in an email that he was a professional singer who often performed Billy Fury numbers.
Next thing he knew, he was booked!
He even cancelled a gig that night so that he could join us, and he gave a stunning show.
Daniel, our genial DJ and MC, gave us his signature song, Eden Kane's I Don't Know Why, then introduced
Sophie, who was attending her third Sunnyside event, had been practising In Summer and In
Thoughts Of You on her electric guitar for almost a year.
She charmed the socks off everyone with her performance - I think there were more than a few lumps in throats while she was playing.
Daniel also treated us to a Billy Fury quiz.
The first prize was won by Marie, with Russ second - they were separated
by a tie-breaker that required them to state the length of Halfway to
Roger Sea, who was making a rare appearance without his backing band, provided a storming
I have a rule that as I know I'm going to get at least one helping of
aggro from someone who discovers that all the seats are taken, I don't
sit down until the headline band is on, which enables me to keep the
moral high ground when I'm being abused.
So I prepared myself for my one night stand. :-)
The room was gradually filling, and there were very few chairs left by the time Dave Jay opened the show with a characteristically dynamic performance at 6.30. His glittering shirt competed with Roger Sea's brilliant blue jacket for the night's costume Oscar.
Geoff Howlett took over at 7, with his stylish presentation.
Then came David Broadley, the New Zealander who moved to the UK to build his career.
David has developed a polished cabaret performance of standards, and he included for our benefit his own interpretation of Halfway To Paradise.
Russ Dee gave a professional presentation of Billy Fury numbers that are not so frequently performed, donning his trademark white jacket.
Russ dedicated one of his numbers to Bob Taylor, who was too unwell to attend.
Johnny Storme's laid-back, polished set gripped us all - conversation was hushed as we all gave him the respect and attention he has earned over the years.
The interval brought with it the wonderful auction, with its 27 prizes, which raised £196.
Pauline shamed me into increasing my stingy purchase of one strip of tickets, and I even won a prize - every prize was donated, by the way.
I was interested to see which prize was the one left for the final winner. As I anticipated, it was the Tom Jones DVD.
Chris Eley once more conducted the auction for us.
Now, if you've been paying attention, you will recall that the lady with the frustrated Led Zep performer from the Wooden Walls.
They arrived in the interval, and she made the high bid of £40 for David Wyatt's original portrait of Billy in 1982.
Other items were a framed Sunnyside 07 poster, signed by all of the performers, and a framed photograph donated by Chris.
I presented Kevin Summerfield with a bottle of Scotch to thank him for all the work he had done for me locally.
We resumed five minutes early to give Snowy the opportunity to give a rousing performance of Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On.
Then we had the gleesome threesome of Holly, a gorgeous young lady with an amazing voice,
the charming, self-assured and talented Emily Buckley, and the real surprise package, Kevin Summerfield, who initially took to the stage in a blond wig.
Holly's original version of I Will was a real highlight.
Sophie was called back to present Maureen with a wonderful bouquet, and I was earlier handed a very touching card signed by my friends from billyfury.com.
And then there was Rob Dee and the Fury Sound. We all know what Rob is capable of, but this year, he excelled himself. His Fury set had the room alight, and his rock 'n' roll standards session even had me dancing - and that, fortunately, is something few people get to see.
Maureen and I reached the hotel at about 1.30, after everything had been
cleared from the performance room, and next day, I finally got my
That was Sunnyside 07.
It was another brilliant weekend, at which every single performer was in top form.
We made new friendships and we reinforced old ones.
Finally, I have to add to my list of thanks very sincere ones to all of
the performers, to Daniel for his work as DJ and MC, to Rob for heading
the bill so brilliantly and allowing us the use of his PA, and to Russ
for coordinating the sets.
Bob Taylor and Diana Roberts were unable to attend through illness, so
Maureen bought get-well cards which were signed by everyone from the
message board who attended. I posted them on Monday, and delayed
adding this to the report until I knew they had arrived.
I've decided not to organise an event next year.
1 Despite the constantly increasing number of visitors to billyfury.com, the size of the Billy Fury fan base who attend the Sunnyside is slowly declining, and we become more dependent on local
sales. 2 This in turn causes extra concern for me, as so many people buy tickets at the last minute that I do not know if I will cover expenses until three or four weeks in
advance. 3 I become conscience-stricken at asking Kevin Summerfield to do so much on the spot for me.
4 I had one or two unnecessary organisational problems that I
won't trouble you with. So it seems to be the right time to quit while
we're still well ahead.
We made a
profit for Alder Hey of £579 at this year's event.
I think everyone knows, I always pay a proper fee to the headline band,
although they, in turn, heavily discount it, and a small contribution is
offered towards the other artists' travelling expenses. The aim is that
ticket sales should cover this aspect
the outcome looks like this:
Profit on memorabilia
I have now posted a cheque for this and other funds raised recently to Alder
third annual event at the Sunnyside, Northampton, scene of Billy Fury's
last public performance, will be held on Saturday March 17, 2007.
act will be Rob Dee and the Fury Sound.
For the first
time, there will be two Saturday sessions, running from 2.30pm-5pm and
from 6.30pm-late. Food is available at the Sunnyside.
we will again hold a Friday night jam session in a local pub.
The 2005 and
2006 events provided brilliant weekends.
For 2007, the
entire experience costs only £10 a head.
As usual, all
profits will be donated to the official charity of billyfury.com, the
heart fund at Alder Hey Children's Hospital, Liverpool.
by badge. This 2.25-inch diameter badge names you as a
"Sunnyside 07 patron".
appearing to date (with more to come) are:
Rob Dee and
the Fury Sound
(and in alphabetical order)
Magic Daniel Heeney (MC)
The programme is as follows:
Friday March 16:
Free jam session at the Wooden Walls Of Old
England pub, High Street, Collingtree, NN4 0NE. This pub is within walking
distance of the Northampton Hilton Hotel. It is very small, so you are
advised to arrive in the early evening, before the pub’s regulars!
Saturday March 17:
The matinée is due to start at The Sunnyside at
2.30pm and run until about 5pm. The evening show starts at 6.30pm.
The venue serves decent food at very reasonable prices.
We are expecting the fan clubs to have memorabilia stalls, and I am
trying to make arrangements for them to have better locations this year.
There will be another high quality raffle, and probably an auction or
There is always a shortage of seating for late-comers, as the Sunnyside
doesn’t usually host the numbers that we have brought for the past two
There are many hotels in Northampton. The Travelodge’s
£25 rooms have almost certainly gone by now, as have Wellingborough
Travelodge’s £15 rooms, but it’s worth checking on the current price.
There is a Holiday Inn Express, a Quality Hotel and an Ibis, among the
budget ranges. For the past two years, some of us have stayed at the
Hilton, which has had a spring deal, at £119 for two nights' B&B and
dinner on the Friday night. The Hilton is within walking distance of the Friday
night jam session. No hotel is within walking distance of the Sunnyside.
This brilliant 20ins * 16ins
portrait in acrylic paint by David Wyatt will be auctioned at the
Sunnyside. If you are not attending, but would like me to bid on
your behalf, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org,
stating your maximum bid, your name, address and telephone number, and I
will record the high bids here. This offer will close seven days
before the event. Please note that if you are not known to me, I
will require a deposit before taking your bid to the Sunnyside.