Local Worcester Talent: Russel Underwood
I’m Dave Webber and I present a weekly show on Choice Radio highlighting local musical acts. This month I want to tell you about a man who manages to find the time to play in two bands as well as organise live music and entertainment evenings.
Worcester has a growing number of places where you can see live entertainment, often for free, and part of that is thanks to Russell Underwood. He runs a regular Vaudeville night at Monroe’s Cellar Bar on Foregate Street as well as The Big O at O’Neills.
Russell must enjoy being busy because he’s also lead singer with East of the Sun, a band that manages to write and perform some amazing songs. Although the bands roots are in 70s rock, it took them a while to settle on a name and style of music. Around eight years ago Russell met drummer Jamie May after joining a band called Rainmaker. When this band finished they tracked down a bassist online and formed Volume One, then with the addition of another band member formed a different group again, called Uncle Monty! The band drifted apart as children came along, and work got in the way, but after another year they came back together, and in 2011 East of the Sun was born.
Their first gig was The Bridge Bash at Stanford Bridge (near Great Witley) where they played alongside bands including Ocean Colour Scene and Dodgy. After that they gigged heavily for eighteen months, got some money together and produced their first album, called ‘The Future We Make For Ourselves’, which you can find on Bandcamp.
Perhaps its Russell’s sense of ‘anything is possible’ that gets him so far in the music business. In April this year he started another band with his wife Kelly and his friend Andy Davies. The Grimaldi Band has a much more acoustic, folk feel to its music, and with that in mind Russell wrote to a number of big folk festivals asking if they had any space left in their line-ups. Shrewsbury Folk Festival did, and so despite only playing as a group for a few months, they performed five times during the weekend, and in the words of Russell, ‘had a wail of a time’! You can find some of their music on the reverbnation website.
Russell’s determined to keep both bands active and playing live in and around Worcester. ‘Its two very different sides of music’ he says, ‘and both equally enjoyable. Its a challenge to be playing in more than one musical genre, but starting the folk band has made me a more confident guitarist. You make a mistake and people know exactly who made it!’
You can hear more of Dave’s interviews with local musicians on Choice Radio at choiceradio.org.uk and clicking on Live! In the Past.
Choice is the hospital radio service for the Worcestershire Royal Hospital in Worcester, a voluntary service broadcasting a wide variety of music and programmes for patients seven days a week.