Julie Usher Lead Guitar, Vocals
Julie has worked with musicians such as Harry Kakoulli (Squeeze), and Pete Perrett (The Only Ones), toured the UK and Europe with various soul and rock bands. In the 80’s she was guitarist and songwriter for The Flatbackers a new wave girl band (Red Shadow Records, and Deram). Their single “Pumping Iron” made it onto the Old Grey Whistle test via one of the famed Whistle Test’s animations. Other released singles; Kid From Kidbrooke featured Billy Lyall on keyboards ( Pilot, Bay City Rollers) and Serenade of Love featured Alan Wilder (Depeche Mode). The Flatbackers gigged throughout the UK, headlining at The Marquee, Wardour Street W1, Dingwalls and The Electric Ballroom in Camden, London. TV followed: BBC’s Friday Night Saturday Morning and Granada’s Fun Factory. As did radio: BBC Radio1 Maida Vale sessions (John Peel, Pete Powell, Mike Read and Kid Jensen); and Live In Concert (BBC Paris Theatre Studios, London). Burnout took its toll and Julie quit the music business and guitar for the next 20 years.
A return to music in 2013 saw Julie performing and writing again for The BlueTone Groovers; playing a mix of originals, blues and old style American R’n’B. Julie as main songwriter, producer, and arranger, recorded a CD “Kick It” for The BlueTone Groovers in 2015. The Kick It CD has been well received and gained airplay. An article in Blues In Britain followed.
Neil is originally from Northumberland and has been playing variously lead and bass guitar for far more years than he will admit to!!! The giveaway is that he started off in a “Top Twenty” band in 1963! Being from the North East, The Animals were a huge influence on him in those early days. Since then he has played with many bands and across most genres but particularly heavy rock, classic rock, blues and blues/rock.
Neil was also active for a number of years on the Traditional Folk Club circuit as part of a duo and a close harmony trio. He was known for turning up at gigs with a wide range of instruments, usually two guitars (one in conventional tuning and one in open tuning), mandolin, autoharp, dulcimer, pipe and tabor and even an Indian sitar (a devil of a thing to tune up)!
Some years ago he went back to his origins in blues/rock as a lead guitarist but quickly decided to concentrate solely on bass guitar. He has gigged extensively with three bands over the last ten years and the journey of musical inspiration and learning continues!
Neil is also a classically trained pianist and organist having first tickled the ivories at the tender age of six, moving on to the classical organ when his legs grew long enough to reach the pedals!!!
Neil plays Lakland and Fender basses through Gallien Krueger amplification.
Neil Paxton Bass
Piers is self taught and plays an open style (left hand for Hi Hat and Ride) on a right handed kit. He has played in many bands embracing many musical styles from Jazz and Blues through Rock, Prog Rock, Funk, Soul, Reggae and many fusion forms. Live performance is still his passion. Piers designs and builds drum kits including his own illuminated Gatton kit for "those special occasions".
He has played in a band with Danny White (Matt Bianco), Warne Livesey (producer for Deacon Blue and Midnight Oil), Emile Lobo (guitarist/producer) and Peter and Andy Ross (The Immaculate Fools, A&M). Piers toured with The Immaculate Fools for 3 years as stage manager/Roadie.
Gigging and recording continued during the late 80’s and early 90’s, followed by the formation of a heavy blues band, "The Bone". The Bone played support slots for visiting American Blues artists like Michael Katon and Karvin Jones.
Other musical associates include such luminaries as Gary Sanford (formerly with Joe Jackson, Joan Armatrading, Kirsty McCall, Aztec Camera), Ian Ellis (Formerly Clouds, Savoy Brown, and a who’s who of stars from Steve Hackett to Chris De Burgh). Piers has recorded and gigged extensively with Tony Morley, Ryk Mead and Mick Hawksworth. Most recently playing several Rock and Blues festivals with Ryk Mead and The London Blues Machine.