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Monday, 12 December 2011

Hank Wangford and the Lost Cowboys

Back to earth after another busy weekend. The highlight was the annual gig at Hovingham Village Hall, a tiny venue in a picturesque North Yorkshire village which features regularly in the Mike Pannett books. In fact I’d just written a chapter in which our hero investigates the theft of lead from an old building on the edge of said village (a fictional building, I should add) when I set off from here on Friday evening.

The man was in great form. Exceptional form, considering that he passed the 70 mark this year, suffered a heart attack and had three stents inserted in the old ticker. Hank Wangford and the Lost Cowboys (
are my favourite band just now - and have been for several years. Thanks to A’s generosity, they played at my 60th birthday party back in 2009, the one in York Brewery. Memories are made of such great, great nights.

Hank is a legend, having combined a career as a gynaecologist with his other life as a Country and Western artist. What we all love about him is that while he takes the music of the genre very seriously, he delights in a tongue-in-cheek approach to its lyrical content, dwelling with sheer relish on the misery, heartbreak, divorce and alcoholism that has informed so many country classics - as well as plenty of his own compositions.

And what a band he has behind him. On guitar (a Fender Strat) Martin Belmont ( is just a massive presence, producing a sound that makes your bones rattle and your feet tap.

Kevin Foster is one of the most animated bass players you’ll ever come across; and he can sing. Drummer Mike Pickering is watchful, intense, and full of clever little flourishes, and B J Cole on pedal steel guitar adds a slightly quaint, but essential, country flavour.

I always feel we’re lucky to get a band of that quality at a tiny venue like the village hall. It used to be even tinier, back in the days when it was held at The Shed in Brawby (  Did I say lucky? No, blessed is the word; blessed to have a guy around like Simon Thackray. He has managed, year after year, to attract performers of the calibre of Billy Jenkins, Helen Watson, Ian Macmillan and Snake Davis to a remote rural outpost. Why don’t people like him get recognition in the New Year’s Honours List? Well, I think we know….

Ten days to the big one. No, not Christmas, which I doesn’t really ring my bell these days, but rather the Equinox, the turning-point of the year - and a cause for real celebration.

However, right now it is the 12th, it is 2.50 p.m., and I have set my sights on completing the first draft of this book before the holidays. Better crack on. 

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