Mardi Grass Bluegrass Band

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Windlesham this Friday (4th Nov)

Posted by Ray on November 1, 2011 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

We'd like to see you in Windlesham :-))

Don't forget that we are back at The Windlesham Club (GU20 6AA) on Friday 4th November. We've played here a few times and it feels like home to us. It's a great venue, really friendly and the beer's cheap !

We'll kick off at 8:45pm and hopefully see you all there !!!


The Mardi Grassers

Recording Going Well

Posted by Ray on November 1, 2011 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Hello to all,

Just a quick update to let you know that we are almost half way through recording our first CD.

We've got 3 originals and two covers so far and hope to get another two originals and two more covers finished over the next couple of weeks.

It's a heck of an experience - frustrating at times but really rewarding. Can't wait 'til we mix them properly and get the whole project ready for release.

By the way, if anyone has a good contact to turn the music files into a pressed CD with artwork etc then we'd really like to hear from you.

The Mardi Grassers



We've Bin To Binfield.

Posted by Ray on October 27, 2011 at 10:05 AM Comments comments (0)

…and very nice it was to !

Friday 14th October saw us at The Binfield Club. It’s bigger than you think inside and so was the stage area so there was plenty of space for us to do our single microphone dance :-) )

It was very busy and the locals were very friendly. Somebody near the front was wearing a Hendrix t-shirt so we played our ‘grassed up version of Voodoo Chile. During the break between the two sets we had a request to come up and sing Dirty Old Town – not a song that’s usually in our set but we all knew it and I think it went quite well !

They must have liked us because they have booked us for 2 gigs next year (March 23rd and August 17th) – get them dates in your diary !

We have a busy couple of weeks coming up – we’re recording this Sunday and then we have :

• 4th November The Windlesham Club GU20 6AA

• 5th November Private fireworks party in Alton

• 11th November The Sun Reading Arts Centre

• 12th November The Coulsdon Bluegrass Plus Club CR5 2PT

Hope to see you all soon !!!!

The Mardi Grassers

Phew, What a Scorcher !

Posted by Ray on October 4, 2011 at 12:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Hi everyone,

As September passes and we get some great hot sunny weather in October here’s what the Mardi Grassers have been up to.

We were playing at The King’s Head on 27th August at the Winchester Cider and Real Ale Festival. The weather was kind to us at this outdoor event and it was great to see so many people dancing. The cider and beer was excellent and our hosts were very friendly. The garden had a real bluegrass feel with loads of straw bales and it gave the event a great atmosphere. I hope that we get invited back next year.

The day after, we played a private party. Once again there were straw bales and there was a nice roaring fire to keep everyone warm (good old English summer) – really good fun and I think we’ve made some more bluegrass converts  :-))

Yesterday, we thought that we’d make the most of the unusually hot weather and we all went to Oxford. There’s a first time for everything and we set up in the middle of town and busked throughout the afternoon. Not only did we make a few friends but we got a sun tan as well. We kept being asked if we had a CD but unfortunately we haven’t finished recording yet !

That’s it for now, we’re at The Binfield Club on the 14th October, The Windlesham Club on the 4th November and Reading Rising Sun Arts Centre on the 11th November so come along to hear our high energy bluegrass … including some new songs.

Hope to see you all soon!

The Mardi Grassers

Recording Has Started !

Posted by Ray on September 1, 2011 at 8:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Just thought we’d let you know that after many requests, we’ve made a start on getting a Mardi Grass CD together !

It was going to be made up of a selection of songs from our current set list but we've now decided that at least half of the album will be made up of original songs. We’ve been getting all creative and we’ve got the outlines to some fast-paced ‘future bluegrass classics'  :)  that we are really proud of.

This is all very exciting for us and we’re looking forward to sharing the music with you.

The Mardi Grassers

Busy, Busy Summer

Posted by Ray on August 25, 2011 at 5:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Is it really the end of August ? this summer has really flown by. We haven’t updated the blog for a while so here goes !

In June we were back at the Windlesham Club. We really enjoy playing there and it was good to see so many friends joining us there. Bob runs a great club and it always feels very welcoming.

Next was a private BBQ in Lightwater. We played at our good friend Roy’s house which backs onto a beautiful lake. His daughter had got married the day before and this was a ‘the day after’ BBQ to relax. It’s certainly the most picturesque place that we have played and even the weather behaved itself most of the time. Roy came up and played a couple of songs with us and it went really well – We’ll see if we can get Roy to play Rocky Top with us the next time we play the Windlesham Club !

The same day, after we played at the BBQ we headed off to Frimhurst (which is the home of the charity that Jason works for) to play a set at their summer charity event. It was great to see all the parents and kids dancing to the music and enjoying themselves.

August has been even busier and kicked off with a gig at the Victoria Arms pub in Wokingham. It’s a deceptively large local pub just off the high street and gets really busy (apologies if that sounded like estate agent speak!). We had to follow the Sky football match and didn’t know how we would go down with the football crew but we need not have worried as they were coming in from the outside ‘smoking area’ to bop and watch the usual Mardi Grass single microphone ‘dance’. Steve also had some of his ‘female posse’ there that evening and they really spurred us on !

Last Friday, we played at the Three Mariners pub in Bagshot. I hadn’t been in before - what a beautiful olde worlde pub ! The ceilings were so low that Bob had to position the double bass in between the oak beams to play it :-) What a lovely audience ! They really appreciate live music and we were given a very enthusiastic reception. Amongst the ‘yee haa’s’ and cheering, one of the locals was texting friends to come and see us and we had a fabulous night. Song requests were duly played and we even managed an impromptu version of Devil Went Down To Georgia sung by Bob – well done Bob, that’s now in the set ! We have been asked to play at their fund raising event in January with a couple of other bands and we’ll keep you posted with more details when we receive them. Get yourself down there and have a real good time !

So where next ? We are playing at a cider festival at the Kings Head Winchester this Saturday (27th Aug) and then a private BBQ this Sunday (28th Aug). After that we are going to the Didmarton Bluegrass Festival ( and the Cornish Bluegrass Festival (

We hope to see you at one of our gigs soon.

The Mardi Grassers

Coulsdon and Orwell

Posted by jason french on May 20, 2011 at 3:34 AM Comments comments (0)

Wow, what a couple of great weeks. We played for the London Bluegrass Week a couple of weekends ago at the Coulsdon Blugrass Plus Club with some other great bands. The house band 'the Grasshoppers' kicked off followed by the Biggin Hillbillies, or at least, half the band and some standins. A relatively new band called the One Tree Hillbillies were next (minus their mandolin player, the legendary Hippy Joe Hymus). I really liked those guys. Old Grey Dogs, a duo with the banjo maestro Joe McIlvenny, and guitar superstar Bob McLean followed, they put on an excellent show with a great mix of trad and modern. Mardi Grass finished off the night. It was our first time playing to a bluegrass crowd so quite a big gig for us. We went down a storm and had lots of compliments afterwards. Someone else said he knows the organizer at the Didmarten Bluegrass Festival (the largest UK Bluegrass festival) and that he would put a good word in for us to get a spot.

The next day, Ray emailed the Orwell Bluegrass Festival organizers to see if we could get an Open Mic slot on the bar stage. They replied saying that 'the jungle drums had been playing that morning' and they had already heard about our performance the previous night and we just had to see them when we got there to book a slot!

Ray and I went for the weekend of the Orwell festival and had an excellent time. We got a slot on the bar stage on Saturday and Steve and Bob drove over for that. Steve drove 3 hours for a five song set and then drove another 3 hours home, is that commitment or what!. We got a lot of great feedback for our set including from Joe McIlvenny who said that we showed the 'blugrass old boys network' that the newer bands could really play. I personally had so many people come up me to over the remaining weekend to say how much they liked us and could the buy a CD (that will be our next project!). During our gig, we managed to trap Bluegrass legend Gary Payne (A Band Like Alice) in a small room behind the stage and he had no choice but to listen to our set. He said we have a great little band with superb harmonies!  Not long after we came off stage, one of the organizers of the Festival booked us for the main stage next year!  Mardi Grass has finally arrived on the UK Bluegrass circuit.

All in all it was an excellent weekend, met lots of people, made some new friends, listened to some really good bands and picked 'til my fingers were sore and drank a decent amount of great Real Ale. 

My highlights for the weekend were playing our set and jamming at a hundred miles an hour with a great up and coming young band called Flats and Sharps. Four 17 year old boys from Cornwall who are taking the UK bluegrass scene by storm. 

A big hi to Alex and Eliza-Jane who I had a great time hanging out with.

Proud Camden

Posted by jason french on March 27, 2011 at 3:26 PM Comments comments (0)

Hi all,

It has been a while since our last post but we have not been idle! We played the Rising Sun Arts Centre again a couple of weeks ago to a small but appreciative crowd and last Sunday we played the Proud in Camden (or is it Proud Camden? Or the Proud Gallery Camden? Whatever.). We played as almost-background music along with some other fine-sounding bands, for the students and tourists passing through the halls who were looking at the pretty (and expensive) pictures. 

Anyway, the place was alight, literally! No joke, Ray and I were standing chatting near the sound booth when Ray said something like, has someone got a smoke machine on? Rapidly followed by, oh, there’s a fire. One of the heather curtains that keep out cold air was ablaze just over our shoulders. Amazingly, there were no sirens, no sprinklers, and no real panic, apart from the guy in charge running in heroically with a fire extinguisher. One of my numerous roles at the charity I work for is Health and Safety Officer; I couldn’t believe the lack of, well, everything safety related in the place. After 20 minutes to let the smoke clear, and a staff member with a bucket and rag to wipe away the soot on the wall left by the fire, we set up and played for a bit, actually our second set that day but in a different room. A crowd gradually gathered as people stopped passing and looking at photos and started listening and sitting and we all had a lot of fun. On to the next! 

The Windlesham Club

Posted by jason french on November 29, 2010 at 3:17 PM Comments comments (3)

Our previous gig at Arlington Arts had an unexpected side effect. After the gig, an old friend of Steve's who had been in the crowd came to see us. He is an electric bass player but willing to switch to bass fiddle (good decision to buy a spare one just in case Ray!). He has been practicing diligently for the past few weeks to get up to speed desptie the handicap of living in Banbury (in terms of distance he has to travel to practice with us, not the town, which is lovely and close to my own home town of Northampton). Windlesham was his first gig with us and our first as a four-piece band.

The Windlesham club was a different beast to Newbury. Small place, small stage, handful of spectators, Steve's sound system and lights. We went down a storm however with the locals who were there and even managed to get a few of the (drunker) ones on the dance floor :) We appreciated their enthusiams even though their moves bore no resemblance to flatfooting! We also appreciated the hollerin' and shoutin' for more which resulted in three encores including a grassed up 'Last Train to Clarksville' which we have been toying with for a couple of weeks. Turned out well!

The biggest crowd-pleaser (and mine too) was the gospel song we close with (closed with twice at Windlesham in fact), Hallelujah I'm Ready to which there was an extremely enthusiasic if unsuccessful attempt by the crowd to sing along with the chorus. We recorded the set and I have posted a few mp3s on the Music page. The mix came out pretty well I think.

Finally, thanks to everyone who was at Windlesham, we had a brilliant night and can't wait to come back next March and again in September!

Keep on Pickin'


Arlington Arts - Newbury

Posted by jason french on October 25, 2010 at 1:36 PM Comments comments (0)

So we had an excellent gig at Newbury on Saturday. We played as a warm up for Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band who are an Indiana based professional band. The facilities were excellent at the centre including a dressing room (a first for Ray and I and even veteran gigger Steve said he hadn't had better), a green room complete with complimentary food and drinks (including an excellent beer), a great stage and auditorium...

We sat and chatted to the Rev and the two other band members for quite a while. They were really nice folks and on a hectic European tour at the moment. The Rev certainly had some entertaining stories to tell us about their travels. We played for about 40 minutes to somewhere around 200 people. The atmosphere was great and we hardly messed up at all. Now if only we had had a bass fiddle player to top it all off...

On to the next at the Windlesham Club on November 27th.