Calling Sinatra Fans in Grimsby and Hull

I'll be live on BBC Radio Humberside on Monday 2nd February with an appeal for help. I've been commissioned by BBC Radio Humberside to make a two hour program celebrating 100 years of Frank Sinatra. I want to know American music sung by a skinny guy from Hoboken meant to people living in Hull and Grimsby? What made him so popular and what legacy has he left behind? What did Sinatra mean to you? Maybe you saw him in concert, fell in love to one of his songs, took a date to one of his movies.

If you've got a story to tell, please click here and get in touch. I'd love to hear from you.

Crazy Coqs sold out again

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This year's week run of A Swingin' Christmas at the Crazy Coqs is now sold out. If you haven't already got a ticket there are a few more shows before Christmas.  I'm at Salvatore's Bar in London's Playboy Club this Wednesday (3rd) and next Wednesday (10th).

On Sunday I'm in Burgess Hill for Big Band Wonderland with the Len Phillips Big Band, The Patriot Girls and Nia Coleman.

On Monday 9th I'm at Soho House London with Harry the Piano for Sinatra Jukebox and on 10th with at Little House Mayfair. These two events are only open to club members.

Sinatra Jukebox at Soho House

I'm delighted to announce two new Sinatra Jukebox show exclusively for members of Soho House and Little House in London. I'll be joined by Harry the Piano for the show where you choose what happens next. The dates are Monday 8th (Soho House) and Tuesday 9th (Little House, Mayfair). Showtimes 10pm which leaves plenty of time for dinner and cocktails before showtime.

Remember if you don't like this show, you've only got yourselves to blame.

Julian Clary a genuine National Treasure

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When Wayne Rooney is called a national treasure you know something's up. Like 'legend' and 'genius', it's been over used and misused so that anyone who's been on the telly for more that five minutes is an automatic candidate. Tonight I've found a surprising but truly worthy candidate in Julian Clary.

Having grown up watching him on on Saturday Live with heavy makeup, a leather collar and spikes, I wasn't sure what to expect. We were after all at the Crazy Coqs, one of London's swankiest cabaret rooms. I assumed we'd get a hard hitting, acerbic set designed to keep us on their toes and ever so slightly afraid. I couldn't have been more wrong.

This Julian Clary was charming, gracious, gentle, intelligent and quick to smile at his own preposterous (but probably true) stories. It's a clever ploy. By wrapping us up in his cozy warmth even the inevitable bum jokes and references to Norman Lamont didn't seem smutty or cheap. You can't help but like him. His everyday observations had me thinking more than once of Alan Bennett. “I don't have children,” he tells us, “but I've often thought that waiting for your suitcase to appear on the carousel at the airport must be very like standing at the school gates waiting for your kids to come out.”

He sang in the Professor Higgins speaking style only four or five times. The rest of the set was a collection of anecdotes about holidaying with his mum, cheating on his partner, and his affair with a confused people smuggler. With each one he shared a little more about himself. Like all great cabaret performers his honestly shattered the forth wall and fostered intimacy amongst strangers. Simon Wallace at the piano provided the ideal unimpressed stooge.

The laughter was suspended mid-set when he sang the Nick Cave's 'Into My Arms'. It's a moving lyric which Clary the actor delivered with poetic sensitivity. The moment could have been even more poignant had he contextualised it with a reference to finding true love (or not) in his own life. It did though show a maturity and confidence by suspending the laughs in favour of a theatrical arc.

Anyone who's read Cabaret Secrets will know the importance of leaving the audience with a poignant “message”, some kind of sincere wish or thoughtful reflection that makes us stop and think. Clary did just that closing with a song of his own reminding us that gay rights still languish in the dark ages in many parts of the world. Whereas John Barrowman can't help shoving his sexuality down our throats, Clary's subtlety makes him a far more effective politician.

Julian Clary has grown up. He's had the highlife snorting crystal meth (by accident, he says) in New York and these days prefers to walk the dogs in Kent. What we get is an intelligent performance from a man comfortable in his own skin who's ready to share himself with his audience.

It was a sublime blend of music, wit and camperoo that left me in no doubt Julian Clary is indeed a national treasure.

Big Band Christmas show in Burgess Hill, 6th December

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Take a sleigh ride with me and the The Len Phillips Big Band for BIG BAND WONDERLAND a show packed with the all-time holiday classics including Let It Snow, White Christmas, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas and many more. Special guest stars The Patriot Girls bring a touch of glamour and tight vocal harmonies to a sprinkling of Christmas classics including Santa Baby and Santa Claus Is Coming To Town. Lord Jeffrey Archer described the girls as “bloody marvellous” after a special Olympic Ball and Bob Hope's daughter, Linda, told them, “Bob would have adored you! You were incredible”. Local talent Nia Coleman also makes her debut with the band bringing her own touch of holiday magic to this very special show. The whole thing's for local charity It's Magic. The date is 6th December so for bookings and more details, click here.

Ronnie Scott's sold out, again

The Ronnie Scott's gig on 12th October has sold out. If you're around the Sunday before, 5th October, I'll be at the Crazy Coqs with Barb Jungr for a new show celebrating the music of 1968. If you've already got your tickets for Ronnie's I'll be performing hits of Nat Cole, Fred Astaire and Louis Armstrong in the first half. The second half will be Sinatra Jukebox where you decide what I sing next. It's always a lot of fun. I can't wait!

Piano is Matt Regan, bass Joe Pettitt and drums James O'Carroll.

Castle Howard's annual Proms Spectacular

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I'm delighted to providing pre-concert support for Castle Howard's annual Proms Spectacular concert. The date for your diary is August 16. It's a spectacular classical proms concert for the whole family, come along and celebrate the very best music at Castle Howard. Featuring the renowned English National Orchestra with Jae Alexander at the helm, star soloists Wynne Evans and Janet Mooney, an aerobatic display by an original World War 2 Spitfire, choreographed to dramatic themes with split second timing. And a rousing finale of flag waving favourites from The Last Night of The Proms and spectacular firework display. I'll be there with my band singing the best of the Great American Songbook. Should be a lovely day out! Click here to book.

"...a brilliant example of how cabaret should be done."

We're having a great week at The Crazy Coqs with the Nat Cole show. You can click here to read Classical Source's review of the show and here's what Debra Craine from The Times said:"Gary was terrific. Lovely voice, yes, but a wonderful sense of humour too and he made everyone in the room feel special... It's a brilliant example of how cabaret should be done." 

 
 

Harry and Gary impersonators unmasked in Barbados

Harry and Gary after the show in Barbados

Harry and Gary after the show in Barbados

As you know, a couple of weeks ago I was in Barbados with Harry The Piano and Sinatra Jukebox for the Holder's festival. I've just had this email from a Mr Rob Brooks who came to the show with his wife and friends: “Just thought I'd let you know that on the Sunday night in the Lime Bar, Limegrove Mall, two likely lads were trying to pass themselves off as you and 'Harry the Piano' to gain access to the ladies in the throng. However they got a flea in their ear and short shrift when they tried to use the patter on our wives, Rose and Shirley, who'd just seen you two - the real deal - at the Holders festival! My pal and I called their bluff when we challenged them to a 'Sinatra-sing-off'. Only in Barbados eh?”