Britain's Best Mince Pie

 

We're all a bit obsessed with mince pies so decided to do a BLIND TASTING of 10 different types. We were SHOCKED at the results! It's just a bit of fun, it's not a scientific test, and there are some glaring omissions - sorry Sainsbury's, Asda and Lidl, but we were too busy buying prosecco to get those.

Watch the video for the results. My fellow tasters are: Hilary O'Neil and Jo Gibb.

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The pies are:
Fortnum and Mason Almond Topped
Iceland Luxury
Coop All Butter
Marks and Spencer
Heston at Waitrose Spiced Shortcrust with Lemon Twist
Starbucks
Harrods Classic with Brandy
Tesco Finest
Aldi Deep Filled
Tesco Lattice Top

 

Over £3000 raised for Hospice

Sinatra Jukebox was doing a bit of good last week in Hertfordshire. The event at The Gatsby in Berkhamsted was organised by Rayden Solicitors and managed to raise £3030 for the local St Francis Hospice. I was joined by Rob Barron at the piano. Thanks for Mikaela Morgan for the pics. 

Glittering Line Up for London show

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I'm delighted to confirm some terrific guests for my West End Cares show at Pizza Express on The Strand. Violinist Gregory Scott, comedienne Lynn Ruth Miller, singers Sarah Eyden, Glenn Macnamara and Joe Stilgoe plus comedy duo Bounder and Cad. It'll be a terrific night and tickets are from only £10!

Sunday 21st May, Pizza Express on The Strand. Tickets from £10. Click here to book.

Here's a bit about the line up, including yours truly:

Gary Williams is a singer, writer and broadcaster described by the London Evening Standard as "the UK's leading standard-bearer for the supercool era". He starred in the West End's Rat Pack, has recorded eight albums and wrote 'Cabaret Secrets', a book on stagecraft called “an invaluable guide” by Playbill.

Joe Stilgoe is an internationally acclaimed singer, pianist and songwriter described by the Scotsman as a “sheer joy”. He's appeared in jazz clubs from New York to Berlin to Kuala Lumpur, including sell-out runs at legendary London venue Ronnie Scott's. He has appeared as featured soloist with orchestras, including the BBC Concert Orchestra, John Wilson Orchestra, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Northern Sinfonia, Lahti Symphony, and the RTE Orchestra in Dublin.

Bounder and Cad is the musical comedy duo whose mischievous lyrics 10 Downing St tried to censor... until their jazzy tunes had the PM dancing. They have entertained two princes, two PMs, and been hailed for their “laser sharp wit”.

Lynn Ruth Miller has been dubbed the new Joan Rivers of Fringe Comedy at The Edinburgh International Fringe. She is a regular at the San Francisco Punchline, The Stand in Scotland and The International in Dublin and at 83 is proving that aging has been amazing. Time Our said, ‘Miller is a personable and charming presence onstage, with generations of wit and experience….’

Greg Scott is a the violin showman, who has performed with Bryan Ferry, kd Lang and as a soloist with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. Greg's debut album "DUEL" reached Number 1 in the UK Classical Charts.

Sarah Eyden was first soprano with The Swingle Singers enjoying international concert touring and five album recordings. Toured Europe and USA with Steve Reich & Musicians, and performed as a soloist with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra and classical ensembles throughout Europe. Sarah is currently a member of Access All Arias, a three part harmony girl group.

Glenn Macnamara was described by Timeout as "The UK's finest swing singer”. He's performed with The Len Philips Big Band, The Mike Richards Big Band, for The Duke and Duchess of Wessex at Hampton Court Palace and played Frank Sinatra in The Rat Pack in Dublin. The Guardian described his as an "amazing young talent."

 

Who's your valentine?

While most teenagers might be obsessed with Katy Perry or Justin Bieber, my love affair was with metal detecting.

When I was 14, my dream was to spend my weekends walking across a muddy field searching of buried treasure. I desperately wanted to go metal detecting. My parents, suspecting another whim (hot on the heels of bottle collecting, stamp collecting and an unhealthy obsession with stationery) drew the line. So I wrote to the local paper. I was interviewed, photographed and within days declared myself President of the first local metal detecting society. I didn't even own a metal detector.

Lesson learned: If you want something, get up and make it happen. No one's going to do it for you.

Years later when I wanted to make my living as a singer, I knew I couldn't wait to be discovered. I spent years dragging my PA around Grimsby's Working Men's Clubs and hustling for gigs wherever I could find them. Eventually it paid off. I did some nice work and wrote a how-to book for anyone who wanted to do the same.

Next I set my sights on radio presenting. What I lacked in experience I made up for in enthusiasm. But that wasn't enough. Who was going to let a novice like me loose on the airwaves? I was too old to be an intern and my erratic schedule as a singer proved problematic for hospital radio.

So again, I took maters into my own hands. I launched the Cabaret Secrets Podcast, interviewing over 80 movers and shakers from the world of cabaret. Then I launched the In Conversation Radio Podcast - a sort of Desert Island Discs only I got to ask the questions. Over 70 more interviews followed with people like Jeffrey Archer, Michael Ball and Lorna Luft.

By now, with over 150 interviews under my belt I was beginning to get the hang of it and I had a body of work to prove it. It was time to see if anyone would let me loose on air. Eventually, my old friends at BBC Radio Humberside gave me the break I was looking for, letting me write and present a two-hour special on Frank Sinatra. That led onto another special for BBC Radio 2, then a guest slot on Jazz FM. Eventually I was lucky enough to get my own show on The Wireless, Age UK's own radio station. It's my dream job. Every Thursday night at 7 I present The Legends of Las Vegas, two hours of great music and stories from the stars of the Strip like Sammy Davis Jr, Dean Martin and Ella Fitzgerald. If you've not managed to catch it, the great news is that Sunday 26th February sees the launch of the Legends of Las Vegas Podcast. Then you'll be able to enjoy the show at your convenience. Just search for the show on iTunes, subscribe and enjoy. For more details click here.

My dream is to get the podcast into the iTunes chart but I need your help. When it's out, I'd love you to subscribe and take a listen. That's all you need to do. I promise you'll love the music and the presenter's quite nice too.

Goodbye Desmond Carrington

I've just listened to a wonderful and deeply moving final programme from Radio 2's Desmond Carrington. What a career he's had. He's been a unerring friend and supporter of mine since I first started singing. He played my very early records before anyone else did. Honoured to be included in his last show. Thank you Desmond and thank you Radio 2. You will be missed. You can hear the last show for a month from now by clicking here.

Two Knights, Three Legendary Songwriters and One Spice Girl

 

I'm just back from the best party I've ever played at. It was a benefit for Gloria Hunniford's Caron Keating Foundation presented by the Hard Rock Cafe.

LBC's Nick Ferrari kicked the night off, I sang with Brian Conley, Lord Archer raised £100,000 on the auction, Tony Hatch and Don Black auction off a song cheered on by Leslie Bricusse, I sang Congratulations with Sir Cliff Richard (it was his birthday) Luke and Matt Goss popped in, Sir Rod Stewart told me, "You and your band were f**king marvellous tonight" and asked me to sing A Nightingale In Berkley Square for him and his wife - I guess it's their song, and finally Melanie C sang a killer set. All for a great cause.

 

Sell out at Ronnie Scott's

 
Gary Williams at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London

Thanks to everyone for making last Sunday's show at Ronnie Scott's a huge success. It was another sell-out and actually great fun. The vibe is always good but this one was a cracker thanks to a great audience and Clive Dunstall at the piano, Tom Mark the bass and James O'Carroll at the drums.

The next London shows are at Zedel in December. A Swingin' Christmas is on sale now. 

 

Gary, Mel C and the Hard Rock Cafe

Gary be appearing with Spice Girl, Mel C for a special Hard Rock Cafe concert at London's Dorchester hotel on 14th October.

This will be the second time Gary has performed at a Pinktober concert in aid of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's expected to be a start-studded event and all proceeds will go to the Caron Keating Foundation. Tickets are on sale £2650 for each table of 10.

The foundation was founded by Gloria Hunniford after the death of her daughter, Caron from breast cancer.

BBC Concert with Michael Ball

Tonight I’ll record a Friday Night is Music Night for Radio 2 with Michael Ball and the BBC Concert Orchestra. The nice thing is that the last time I had my picture taken with Michael Ball was about 25 years ago. I was just a fan. Tonight I share the stage with him. I never would have expected that when I was singing in Grimsby's youth theatre 'Stage One', Funny how life goes.

Rodney Earl Clark, Michael Ball, Emma Jacobs (David Jacob's daughter), Hannah Waddingham and Gary Williams

Rodney Earl Clark, Michael Ball, Emma Jacobs (David Jacob's daughter), Hannah Waddingham and Gary Williams

The special Friday Night is Music Night with the BBC Concert Orchestra marks what would have been the Jacobs' 90th birthday and will be presented by his daughter Emma Jacobs. As well as Michael Ball I'll be will be appearing with Hannah Waddingham (Game of Thrones) and Rodney Earl Clark.

Click here to see the concert on the BBC site.