Another first for me!!!!

My very first older person’s illness. I’ve had shingles, and it stinks. Here’s the gruesome evidence…..

shingles calendar

I’d been feeling a bit low for a while, starting end of Feb really, but as lots of people were getting colds/flu, I thought I’d maybe go the start of something like that. Next I came out in a rash. Nothing new for me, as I often get a slight rash just before I’m ill (ever since I went to Turkey in 82!). Things seem to be getting worse by the day, and I come out in blisters. A trip to the doctors confirms I have Shingles. There isn’t really anything you can do apart from rest, and take painkillers if you need then. I’m thinking i’ll be over it in a few days, but 5 weeks later I’m still not clear. I’m feeling much better, the pain has turned mostly to itching, I’m healed enough to be able to wear a cycling jersey, and I managed an hour on my bike yesterday, but that wiped me out.

Anyway, not complaining…..onward and upward! :-)

Jazz n Blues Club Programme 2014

Yeah, I know, bangin’ on about the Jazz n Blues Club again! Yeah, but it’s got to be done, it’s going so well, and people keep asking me, “where, when?”. So, I put together a flyer, got 500 printed, and started putting them in all the likely places. Here’s an online version just for you…
Bennetti's Jazz n Blues Club - dates 2014

Bennetti’s Jazz n Blues Club was one year old at our last meeting. The place was packed as usual, and we had a really great night. I had no idea when I started this last February that it would go so well, and become so popular. We’ve had close on 50 musicians play with us at some point through the year with ages ranging from 13 to mid 60s. New friendships have been formed, new musical projects have been started, and I’ve seen players grow in stature and confidence. It really has been an amazing year, and there’s no sign of it letting up either. I’m still getting new musos contacting me, wanting to come along and get involved. Long may it continue. I am really looking forward to those summer evening sessions.

Finally, the SEO bit….
If you are looking for some Jazz and Blues action in the Haute Vienne, Charente area of France, then Bennetti’s Jazz n Blues Club could be the place for you. We meet on the last Thursday of each month. All players of all abilities are very welcome, all I ask is that you contact me first so that I can fit you in where you’ll be happiest. Bennetti’s Jazz n Blues Club is primarily for musicians, our aim is, “to create a warm loving environment in which like minded musicians can meet, play, share, grow, and get hip!”, having said that, all fans of jazz n blues are welcome.

See ya down the line :-)

Thank you…

If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Rupert Brooke. 1887 – 1915


stratobiker.com is 10 years old!!!

Blimey! stratobiker.com is 10 years old this weekend! Where did that go?

10 years ago I started this blog while recovering from a bike crash. Little did I know at the time the significant part that would come to play.

I’m gonna chew it over on a bike ride and get back to you later….

Yeah, so 10 years ago I was a hardworking IT contractor. I earned great money, but I hated it. In my spare time I raced my bike and played guitar.

When I crashed my bike it really shook me. I remember the surgeon telling me my shoulder would never be the same again…and he was right! 10 years down the line I can hardly raise my arm high enough to scratch my head. I cannot throw a stone, and I had to give up my dream of becoming a trapeze artist. It still hurts too. Not all the time, and my brain has learned to switch off to it, but from time to time. It get’s very sore after a couple of hours on the bike, but I manage it, usually by putting my hand on my leg and cycling my arm up and down. I’m not complaining, I can still ride my bike, and I can still play my guitar.

Yeah, so 10 years down the line, I live in France, where I’m semi retired. I still ride my bike a lot. I don’t function if I don’t get my exercise fix, and France is such a beautiful country to cycle in. I still play my guitar. I’m in “The Sugaree Band“, playing Rock, Blues, Funk, and anything else that takes our fancy. I started a Jazz club! It’s been going from strength to strength. In fact so many good things have come out of it it deserves a post of it’s own.

When that surgeon told me my shoulder would never be the same again I was gutted, and I didn’t realise the extent of the effect it would have on me. If he’d told me I would move to France and start a jazz club….well…who knows what’s around the next corner eh?

Here’s to the next 10 years. I wish you all well.




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Jazz n Blues Club update

I’m taking the Jazz n Blues club on holiday! It’s gorra be done! Fristly because it’s summer, and I want to go to the beach! Secondly, because there is a series of concerts being staged on the streets in Saint Junien during July and August, and I don’t want to detract from them.

In July we’ll be visiting Le Soleil Couchant, right next to one of the Lacs de Charente. There’s beaches, swimming, sailing, and us! :-) Le Soleil Couchant do great Fish’n'Chips btw!!!

In August we’ll be jazzing it up at Golf de Saint Junien. It’s a super posh place, a great venue to play. Yeah, so we’ll be jazzing it up with the swingers!!! :-)

The Sugaree Band – gigs coming up!

I have a nice string of gigs coming up with my band ‘The Sugaree Band’. As follows…

July 18th – Blues Rock Cafe, Angouleme
July 20th – Soleil Couchant, Plan d’Eau, Verneuil, 16310 Massignac
July 26th – Le Rivage, Exideuil 16150
August 3rd – Santrop, Lac Saint Pardoux.
August 8th – Saint Junien, 87, ‘Comme un Effet de L’Art Scene’
August 10th – Bessines sur Gartempe
August 17th – Soleil Couchant, Plan d’Eau, Verneuil, 16310 Massignac
August 24th – Wedding, Bordeaux
September 8th – Mecaniques Passion, Saint-Mathieu
September 13th – Golf de Saint Junien

We have a bunch of new songs that we’ve been practising, and we are ready to rock! I’m really looking forwards to these.

….and all this on top of the Jazz n Blues club, which by the way is going very strong. More on that soon.
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Crossing Over – Tim Bragg – Album review

Local musician and writer Tim Bragg has a new album out. Here’s what I made of it….

Crossing Over - Tim Bragg

There is a way, the way of no way, in which all ways are contained, but no way is followed.

What is Crossing Over? A threshold, a transformation, a one way journey that can never be made again? Is it jazz, rock, ambient, happy, sad? Yes, all of those, but none specifically!

Tim Bragg is a talented multi-instrumentalist who sings, composes, and writes books! So, is he like a drummer who plays flute, or a flautist who plays drums? Is he a writer who plays, or a player who writes? Yes he’s all of those, but not one specifically!

In Crossing Over Tim presents us with a dense mesh of musical influences. Here we find him uncoupled from musical trends. There are jazz elements, there are rock elements. Tim teases, pushes, pulls, weaves….It’s a pure sonic experience that takes you through the streets, over the mountains and beyond, towards the light and heavenly plains, and asks whether you’ll be waiting, on the other side. It is a musical journey that can be taken again and again, and the destination will be different.

It’s impossible to pick ‘stand out’ tracks as each one is so rich, and textural. But, if I had to single out a couple I’d choose ‘Streets’, I just love the strong groove on this, and ‘Heavenly Plains’, those opening flute lines just shoot straight through me.

If you are familiar with Tim’s work you will love this album even though it is different from everything that went before. If you’ve never heard Tim before I urge you to take a listen. This is an album that will cast a spell on you, the spell only being broken by the realisation that you were under its spell. Let the master lead you along the way of no way, Crossing Over.

Buy Crossing over here in UK, or here in France.

This is the second album I’ve bought of Tim Braggs, the first was “Revamped” , which I love! Crossing Over is brilliant but completely different , it’s relaxing , and totally mood lifting. If you’ve had a bad day this will certainly help. The music equivalent of a great Yoga practice! Love it! ….Roxanne Sutton




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