Who knew that actor Kevin Kennedy who played Curly Watts in hit soap ‘Coronation Street’ could have played a part in Rock and Roll history? New Note Strummers did and ‘Guitar Saves Lives’ is a yearly event in which this guitar group plays alongside special guests to raise money for award winning charity ‘New Note Projects’.
In an interview with Kevin he said that he became obsessed with the guitar at aged 8. Being a good Irish catholic, he joined a folk mass where Johnny Marr, (yes, of ‘The Smiths’) sat next to him. Along with Andy Rourke, they formed a band called ‘Paris Valentinos’ as teenagers and the other two went on to form ‘The Smiths’.
Mis-quoting, but eloquently put, Kevin described how his guitar was a constant companion through his drinking days and that ‘music soothed the savage beast’, ie: his addictions. When his fellow actors were out getting photographed in front of nightclubs, Kevin joined an Irish show band in Manchester called ‘The Borderline’ where he played bass for a number of years.
After a visit to Nashville where country music portrayed his two favourite things, ‘drinking and misery’, he formed ‘Kevin Kennedy and the Bunch of Thieves’. They played a number of festivals including Reading and being a big drinking band, sang songs such as ‘Poor Me, Pour me Another One’.
Kevin is now the face of recovery service ‘Kennedy Street & co’ run by his wife, Clare.
Another interesting guest for the evening was Tour Manager, Andy Franks. After being in a successful Bristol band, he became a sound engineer and one of his first tours was with Depeche Mode who he stayed with for 20 years. After a rather inconvenient brain haemorrhage, they had to replace him as sound engineer and he came back as ‘Production Director’ in charge of the tour. In 1998 he went on to manage tours with Robbie Williams then Coldplay.
He tried to maintain control by buying the drugs for the bands so he knew how much they had. Little did he know that the bands were also buying drugs. A hedonistic lifestyle pursued, awash with money, drugs and subsidised BBC bars with the gigs almost becoming secondary. He faced particular difficulty with the band ‘James’. Phoning up their manager, he told him that he had a great way to save lots of money, he was leaving them.
Andy hit his own ‘rock bottom’ when he got sacked by Coldplay in 2011. He has been sober since 2013.
A raffle prize of a guitar signed by members of Madness and Paul Weller was won by a lady who should also have won the best reaction to winning a raffle prize. Her fist punched the air as she screamed ‘yes!yes!’ and she collected it from a surprisingly shy Chris Foreman (guitarist, Madness). All in all it was an evening of music, recovery, vulnerability and fun. Not a bad mix.