All about the FenlanderZ (The Fenlanders)
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|The FenlanderZ (also known as "The
Fenlanders") were a popular music group of the early 1960s. The original members of the group were
Kenneth S and Brian G, who met in the Youth Club in Metheringham village in Lincolnshire when they
were both aged about 16. They started playing together in 1961-62 - Kenneth had started to learn the
guitar when he was eleven years old: his father's 1928 Dobro, which Kenneth learned on, is shown on
the Guitars page of this website.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king, and so it fell to Kenneth, with his smattering of musical knowledge, to spend time helping Brian with the chords of such melodies as "Winter Wonderland" and "Return to Me". The person who ran the youth club then arranged for the two of them to enter a local talent contest - which they did but didn't achieve any great prizes!
Fairly soon after that, two other lads, one from Metheringham, George B, and one
from the nearby village of Scopwick, Keith R, joined the original duo. George
played the drums (although he originally had only a single snare drum in his
kit), whilst Keith played the bass guitar. And so, with Kenneth on lead guitar - playing his new Hohner Apache
(made by Fenton-Weill),
Brian on rhythm guitar and vocals, Keith on bass and vocals, and George on
drums, the band was born!
The band needed a little equipment and somewhere to play: for a while, they practised in Metheringham's small cinema, by courtesy of one of the Parker sons, who also owned Metheringham's cycle and electrical emporium. The Parkers also lent the band an amplifier, which Kenneth soon got connected up and working.
Slowly but surely the band built up a small repertoire of hits of the day, including many instrumentals, by the likes of, for example, the Shadows and the Ventures.
After losing their access to the cinema for practice, the band were lucky to obtain the permission of Brian's older brother, Alan G, who was a farmer, to use one of his feed and potato storage sheds on his farm. Although it meant a cycle trip down to Metheringham Fen to practice, they soon settled into their new location. "Cowshed Blues" became Kenneth's first self-penned instrumental!
By now the group had a repertoire of music extending over about an hour, and they decided that it was getting close to the time when a public performance might be possible. And so two opportunities arose on a forthcoming Saturday: first, Kenneth's sister was to be married, and a reception was to be held in Lincoln, at the Co-operative Hall. The band could give their first performance at the reception, where (they hoped) the audience would be friendly. Then, in the same evening, the band obtained a booking to play at a Saturday dance at Hykeham village hall. That would be a real gig!
The original FenlanderZ
[Kenneth, George, Brian, and
|For these appearances, a name would be required: several, including "The
Megatones" (a good pun really on the nickname of Metheringham village
and a loud sound!) were rejected, but eventually, "The FenlanderZ" was
chosen. The due Saturday arrived and the band members went off to prepare for
their afternoon session. Kenneth had to attend the wedding ceremony at a church
in Lincoln, and so only rejoined the band after that. However, they duly played
their repertoire and got their first taste of applause and stage fright!
Then they went on to Hykeham village, and set up their equipment in the village hall: when the hall was empty the sound was excellent, however, as often happens the sound became less alive as the hall filled. However, notwithstanding the need to play several tunes more than once owing to a certain deficit in the extent of their repertoire, the band survived it's first encounter with a young audience relatively unscathed!
The band started to get regular Friday and Saturday night bookings all around Lincolnshire, as well as in Lincoln itself. They also managed to get a radio interview recorded on the farm, in their practice shed. Neville Powley, a radio broadcaster of the day, carried out the interview, and the band played "Cowshed Blues", one of Kenneth's instrumental compositions.
|After their first year they recruited Susan K, a local girl,
as female vocalist, which was great for extending the available repertoire. They
could now play numbers by artists such as Little Eva and Millie.
Then George's brother, Dick B, volunteered to learn to play a keyboard instrument for the band, and so a Hohner Clavinet was purchased, and Kenneth, who was the only member with any knowledge of musical theory, set about teaching Dick the chords of the tunes that they played.
Alan G, who by now was fulfilling the rôle of manager, persuaded the band that they could broaden their repertoire further by taking on a singer with a wider experience of standard tunes and so we were joined by Brian M whose repertoire included many 1940s standards. As well as these new numbers, the group had an extensive list of "pop" music tunes of the day, ranging from many of the songs of the Beatles, Billy J Kramer, The Dakotas (his backing group), Gerry and the Pacemakers, Johnny Kidd & The Pirates, Mike Sarne and many others.
The FenlanderZ full lineup
[Kenneth, Brian M, Keith, George, Susan and Dick
(Brian G not present)]
|As time went on the band had a few additional instrumentalists join and leave,
including guitarists Johnny and Pete R, but the original four members
stayed on as a continuum to the music and the line-up. There was a change of
name, to the "Brotherhood Combo", which we thought might reflect a more
mature kind of music, towards which they occasionally leaned.
The band was now playing two or three gigs a week, for dances and in clubs, extending their area of coverage into Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, and as far south as East Anglia. One of their best local nights was spent playing at a Saturday night dance in nearby Scopwick village hall, where they received a truly enthusiastic welcome: that night there was honour for a prophet in his own country.
Unfortunately few photographs of the band seem to have survived, and although a few recordings were made, including a few of songs written by Kenneth, none of these have survived either.
[Sadly, Brian G died suddenly in April 2015. We'll remember his contribution to the group from the very beginning. KAS]
[Johnny R, Kenneth, George (on drums at the back), Susan and
Brian G on bass]
Kenneth still does a few gigs here and there, usually on solo guitar,
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