Amazing Support at Stand Together Against Cancer gig for Matt Long in Staines

With massive Blues community support for 29-year-old Catfish guitarist/vocalist, after a worsening of his cancer condition, the Staines leg of the music fundraiser took place at the Thames Side Brewery in Staines-on-Thames, Middlesex, close to London Heathrow airport.

With late additions to the line-up leading up to the event there were twelve different acts performing free for Matt Long at the sold-out venue. In the crowd, artists and photographers were wearing either the white or black version t-shirt of  Stand Together Against Cancer, with the design created by close friend Alice Armstrong.

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At 1pm the Thames Side Brewery host Dorian and Paul Long (BBC Radio Producer & Matt’s Dad) opened the event. First up on stage was Windsor based Thomas Heppell playing solo on guitar and singing some of his songs from the band’s new album. This included his new single ‘Hey Victoria’. He was joined on stage at the end of his set by Elles Bailey on a Bonnie Raitt song and Elles had agreed to compare the bands throughout the day.

This was followed by Martin Abrahams Band who had moved back into the blues arena and included his song ‘Acid Man’. He was joined by guests Elles Bailey (vocals) and Paul Long (keyboards) on ‘People Get Ready’.

Then a late addition to the line-up was Alex Voysey Band, with Alex on guitar/vocals, Ben Hands (bass), Paul Arthur’s (drums) and Andy Allpass (keyboards) whose new album ‘Blues in Isolation’ had topped the IBBA charts in April 2024. His well-received set included some songs from his new album including the single ‘Whisky and Wine’ as well as foot stomper ‘Forbidden Rock N Roll Jam’.

Then back to a solo artist with Demi Marriner (now with the nickname of Miss Sparkles from supporting Dom Martin) in her trademark Stetson hat for some Americana music, including ‘One Way Conversation’ and a new song ‘Think of Me’

Next up was Mike ross Band with its heavier slide guitar-based blues with included the slower numbers ‘Lazy and ‘Universal Swing’.

Then Elles introduced fellow Bristol based group True Strays with Joe James on double bass/vocals and James Cameron on guitar/vocals/percussion with their more traditional Blues/Americana sound with great harmonies. Their set included an early song with ‘Heal the Haunting’ and ‘By the Light of the Moon’ and joined by Demi Marriner (vocals) on ‘Camposina’, to the delight of the crowd, and with I Get High’ with Demi again on vocals and also with Joe Wilkins on guitar.

Before the next act Paul Long introduced some very personal audio messages of support from stars from around the world including Dom Martin (Belfast), Erja Lyytinen (Finland) and from the USA Walter Trout and Joe Bonamassa.

This was followed by Elles Bailey as a performer supported by Demi Marriner (acoustic guitar & vocals) and Joe Wikins on guitar. Her set included Elles powerful vocals on songs including ‘Don’t Follow The Stones’ which was played to celebrate hope and ‘Perfect Storm’ and finished with the crowds favourite ‘Sunshine City’.

Now on stage supporting acts, and for the rest of the event, we had ex Catfish drummer Kev Hickman and his bass Catfish partner (for many years) Adam Pyke. They had both had to put in many hours of practicing to learn other bands songs and were on stage for over 4 hours in total!

They first joined Greg Coulson Band with Greg on keyboards and vocals and Mat Day on guitar. The band put on a spectacular show with Greg getting carried away with his keyboard playing on ‘Stitch Me Up’ and ‘Someone To Be There’ and finished with the Steely Dan classic ‘Kid Charlamagne’.

With Matt Long not well enough to join the event, the crowd were allowed to be hear live (via a phonecall over the PA) from him in a heartfelt speech which brought people to tears, and he could hear the great support and love from the crowds.

Next on the lineup was his band Catfish with his Dad Paul on keyboards/vocals, and Kev and Adam, with Alex Voysey taking Matt’s place playing guitar.

This included the haunting song ‘Ghosts’ as well as ‘The Big Picture’ and finished with ‘Don’t Turn Around’ with passionate vocals from Paul.

Before the next act the draw for the 1964 Burns guitar (donated by Derek Pettit) was made which raised over £1000 for the cause

They were followed by close friend Alice Armstrong with her powerful and soulful blues vocals, and she was joined by Mike Ross (guitar) and included ‘Life I choose’ which was her latest single as played on BBC Radio 2. As Alice commented she was submerged in the blues by her parents from a young age and it shows. She was then joined by Jess Hayes, vocalist with ConnellyHayes on an Aretha Franklin classic and finished with ‘Speed Dial’.

Then as an extra surprise Bad Influence guitarist/singer Val Cowell took to the stage supported by her daughter Jess Hayes (vocals), and Mike Ross on guitar, not forgetting Kev and Adam on ‘Shaky Ground’.

Then Kev and Adam were joined on stage by Laurence Jones for one of his electric sets with his powerful vocals and guitar playing to match. His set included ‘Don’t You Leave Me This Way’, his classic first song ‘Thunder in the Sky’, Hendrix’s Voodoo Child and finished with ‘Good Morning Blues’ with Paul Long on keyboards.

To finish the event there was a full stage jam with several guitarists (Laurence Jones, Thomas Heppell, Alex Voysey, Martin Abrahams and Mat Day) Paul Long (keyboards/vocals), vocalist Jess Hayes, Paul Arthurs on tambourine and all still supported by Kev Hickman (drums) and Adam Pyke (bass).

At the end everyone was thanked for coming out to support the cause and a big thanks went to Simon Taylor on sound, the Thames Side Brewery team Sue Voysey managing lanyards and the Merch desk team.

Amazing Support at Stand Together Against Cancer gig for Matt Long in Staines
WiderView Visual Media, Chris Roberts 21 May 2024
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