Featured Band The Poor Boys Of Worcester
The Poor Boys of Worcester
This Worcester based skiffle band play old time songs in a unique new style using ukuleles and a variety of other instruments. On stage they are a crazy team, simply oozing bags of foot stomping fun.
A six piece band with five singers and a range of instruments including ukuleles, banjolele, cajon, hammer and chisel, harmonica and double bass, The Poor Boys of Worcester perform a variety of songs in an energetic and often frenetic skiffle style.
We asked The Poor Boys a few questions to find out more about their many talents.
How did you first get together?
We met at Worcester Ukulele Club around 2012; in the front room of The Lamb and Flag in Worcester’s Tything. When the Club grew too big for the room, they moved to a bigger pub and never told us where they went; so we were kind of left in the Lamb and Flag and thrown together.
Actually, we all wanted to see if we could use ukes to form a band playing music we liked, to regular pub-band audiences, who would never go and see a uke band.
I think we succeeded… our regular pub gig audience see us as a hokum-skiffle-blues band and not a uke band.
Two or three of us are still Uke Club members, Tom (Poor Boys’ lead uke) was last year’s “el presidente”.
What style of music do you like to play?
We all have different tastes but seem to gravitate towards an Americana influence when we play together. There’s usually a fair amount of foot stompin’.
We love the 'Wild West' WANTED theme on your website, who came up with the idea?
Justin (banjolele and tenor uke) is the guilty party –he developed his own typeface at one point.
But the poster we occasionally use is actually a genuine poster from the 1860’s; we’ve each had to develop our grooming to achieve the remarkable likeness you now see to the six desperados in the poster, who are long-gone.
What or who has influenced the band the most?
Justin and Andy (tenor uke and cajon) are most influenced by their personal grooming advisor; though that’s certainly not true of Tom, who hasn’t had a haircut since 1983.
As I said, we all like different things and influences come from all over the place.
I guess we owe quite a lot to the Quiet American (Aaron and Nicole Keim; not the Graham Greene Vietnam war thriller) and we like the post-Faces Ronnie Lane albums. Tom is big on old R&B and Mick (Bass) brings us a Steve Earle influence, through his country, Irish and folk stuff.
Wilf (tenor uke, harmonicas and other stuff) is heavily influenced by all those great hammer and chisel players from the the 1920’s – particularly “Dead-Thumb” Caruthers and “Blind-Lemon” McMellon – although Blind-Lemon was a bit hit-and-miss (for obvious reasons) and ended up with a deader thumb than Dead-Thumb – something Wilf is keen to avoid.
What do you like to do outside of playing your instruments?
When we’re not playing instruments, Mick, Justin, Dave, Tom and Andy generally seem to be arguing about which piece of kit belongs to which Poor Boy (Wilf generally occupies these hours by picking bits of crisp out of his harmonicas).
Whilst most of us like beer, Andy and Tom are obsessed. They are constantly in search of new places to drink decent ale. One of the reasons we enjoy going to GNUF at Huddersfield is the surfeit of decent places to get beer.
There are a few gardeners (very rock’n’roll); walkers; a twitcher; a couple of cyclists. Oh, and we mustn’t forget that we all have jobs and families who need attending to occasionally.
Tom is restoring a house… It was new when he started, now it’s what you would call “Victorian”. You’ve got to feel sorry for his long-suffering wife Elizabeth.
Do you ever meet up or play with other artists?
Mick isn’t fussy and will play pick-up bass for anyone who asks (he played with the Quiet American a couple of times last year); he’s has been in (and out of) more Worcester-based bands than he can count (although he claims to have been “in” one more then he’s been “out” of) .
Dave (concert uke and cajon) is also in The Naughty Corner Ukulele Band and gigs with them a lot, as well as busking with Poor Boys Tom & Mick.
Wilf is in the Worcester Volcano Choir – singing a-cappella world and folk with 60 other people means that nobody has noticed what the Poor Boys already know about his voice.
Andy and Justin are just getting the Moth Masters going – ukes through loops and synthesisers. Anyone who saw them at GNUF’s Vinyl Tap stage won’t forget them in a hurry.
Where have you travelled? Most memorable experience?
We don’t like to get out of Worcester much… Tom went to Hereford once but felt queasy when he got beyond Bransford and turned back.
Rumour has it that Mick is banned from Ledbury - so he must have been there at one time, though if you ask him about it his eye starts to twitch.
Of course, we do a bit of international travel - Dave has climbed Pen-y-Fan; Andy once cycled to Aberystwyth; and Tom Dave and Mick took the Poor Boys-Lite to Builth Wells in May.
We try not to talk about our memorable experience –because the polar bear has never fully forgiven Tom, and we’re worried that if we mention it, it might come after him and we’ll need to find another lead uke player. Hmmm… maybe we should talk about it…..
What are you currently working on? Plans for the future?
We’ve just released a cd – Hard Luck Songs for Hard Working People – so we’re trying to pay off our debts. Details of availability are on our web-site http://www.thepoorboysofworcester.weebly.com/
What advice do you have for people who want to make playing the ukulele into more than a hobby?
Keep it fun and remember our one joke ….
What’s the difference between a professional ukulele player and a pizza?
A pizza can feed a family of four!