Keith’s initial push into the world of music was slightly different from the fretboard spanking, wahwah cranking, guitarmeister that he is today. His first musical steps (blows?) were on the Bass Trombone as a member of the Warsash Brass Band, playing such events as school fetes, Christmas carol concerts and even a number of concerts in foreign climes.
Leaving this behind he discovered the guitar, and got together with Neil Hunt to form Maggie’s Farm. A two-piece band (with drum machine!) named after the Bob Dylan song. They played songs that ranged from self-penned youth angst, to 60’s & 70’s classics from the likes of The Beatles, Rolling Stones & Eric Clapton.
With Neil leaving to study at University and then moving to live in Pennsylvania, USA, Keith had a few years to try some different things and even filled in as drummer for a local sixties cover band “Monkee Business”. During his stint there was talk amongst the band of possible work with Davy Jones from the Monkees! Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately!) this did not come about.
Starting to play guitar at his church, he became interested in forming a band. Getting together with Stephen Hearn (Piano & Vocals), Andi Bawden (Bass) and Nikki Abel (Drums) to form Curious. The band’s collective aim to pick up on the then-current Britpop scene. Their repertoire included cover versions of songs by Blur & Oasis, and their own compositions.
With the bands love of folk-influenced music and Keith’s newly found skills on the mandolin, the unlikely partnership of Britpop and Folk emerged from the melting pot! At this point, the band also enlisted Mark Tilyard, also part of the church music group, to add some of his “interesting” keyboard sounds. Around this time the band “rebranded” themselves to become Sound. After about a year and a half of gigging across the south coast, several band members felt the need to further their education and thus Sound were muted (or they split – whichever term you prefer!).
Once again Keith (and Mark) were bandless and talk of starting a new band with their shared love of Jazz Funk music began. Gavin George joined the fray and thus began the musical voyage of Chukkawah!
Gav began his musical toilings up a tree with a didgeridoo – not really – I’m just waiting for him to write something for this section!
Mark made his initial steps into the murky world of music by joining TradeMark. The band had a fairly fluid line up but during his time with them it comprised of Gavin George (Guitar), Nick Foot (Bass), Tim Rombach (Drums), and Mark (Keys).
They produced (with the artful technical wizardry of Tim) a demo cassette that was impressive enough to get a number of gigs – and WAS representative of what they could achieve live.
Tim left soon after the initial spate of gigs and moved to London. Gav, Nick and Mark continued jamming up tunes which in the main never saw the light of day! TradeMark slowly faded away, during which time the trio set up a mobile disco called GrooveMachine – which is still going strong. Nick and Gav have since hung up their headphones and are giving their backs a well earned rest.
During the bandless period Mark was approached by Sound, a band featuring Stephen Hearn on Keys / Vox / Penny Whistle (I kid you not!), Andy Bawden on Bass, Keith Francis on Lead Guitar and Nikki Abel on Drums. They played a kind of folk prog rock (yes, a tricky eclectic mix of styles) and wanted some electro “icing” on their audio cake – step in Mr T with squeaks and bleeps (and even the odd backup on electric and acoustic guitar!) The result being a completely uncategorisable (is that a word?) but remarkably accessible noise.
They gained quite a reputation in the south central area and were kept busy gigging for over a year. Then jobs and education placements forced band members to move on and Sound was laid peacefully to rest.
During Sound rehearsals (and at music rehearsals for church services) Mark would often talk to Keith about setting up a funk based band – the name Chukkawah was thought up before the band was even formed!
So, in the winter of 1999, Gav, Keith and Mark started to jam. Slowly the musical ideas began to form and a unique melting pot of funk, jazz, pop and rock bubbled away.
The band went on a crusade (well, BIT of a strong term there) to find a drummer and hooked up with a guy called Dave. He was THE funky drummer and could also play the drums UNBELIEVABLY LOUD – so much so that Mark invested in a pair of those special “loudness reducing” ear plugs. These are the type that musicians in metal bands wear – turning their amps up to 11, they put their ear plugs in, whilst the audience feel the hairs in their ears melt from the noise – and that’s entertainment! 😉 Jams with Dave went on for a few months but, due to other commitments he had, he gradually pulled out of the project.
Chukkawah were now back to their original line up of the three funkateers (Gav, Keith and Mark). Mark started digging out breakbeats and looping them up into useable drum tracks – and Chukkawah were back on course.
Chukkawah’s portfolio of songs is continually growing and the word is getting to the streets – look out for details of upcoming gigs elsewhere on the site.