So, I’m sat on the train on my way to a client meeting, casually browsing Facebook, and am suddenly struck by how many of my friends (young and….not quite so young – ha) have been to see Lionel Richie on his recent tour, and how fantastic they say he was.
Here are a few stats for you; 65 years old, performing for 40+ years, 100 million albums sold worldwide, 5 time Grammy winner, Golden Globe winner, 16-time American Music Award winner….(Oh, and he’s a Gemini, in case you were wondering). Who else has had a career as long and as diverse as his?
That got me thinking about Session’s career – a baby compared to Lionel but still a span to be proud of! Since our first performance at a St. Cyres Sixth Form assembly in 2001, we’ve changed line-up, instruments, learnt countless songs, performed at many wonderful venues (from muddy fields to swanky hotels) and learnt songs from genres we never have before. We’ve met some lovely people, have learnt lots and have improved both musically and professionally along the way.
It’s hard to believe that the fresh-faced youngsters you see in some of these pictures are none other than the original members of Session (Andy was so small he could hardly see over his drums…. I, on the other hand, don’t look that different, not aged one bit, incredible really ☺). With our original line-up including Dan Lewis on lead vocals and guitar, and Cameron Stewart on bass guitar.
And from that moment on we started performing regularly together; from supporting the Beachwood Sparks in Barfly (who are still going strong), to playing (and winning!) Battle of the Bands contests in Moloko’s Bar and The Toucan Club (if you remember these relics of Cardiff you are officially ‘getting on a bit’).
There have been many, many highs…. And a few lows (although not that many – we’ll come to those in a minute). A personal high for me was Session being nominated in (and winning in 2018!) the Best Entertainment category at the Welsh National Wedding Awards for the last five years; a great achievement and one we’re incredibly proud of.
Of course another personal high for us all is having the opportunity to play at many family and friends’ weddings, which has been an absolute honour in every instance (there’s nothing quite like seeing your nearest and dearest dancing like nobody’s watching to songs you’re playing). And even performing for people we don’t know; we remember every single wedding we’ve performed at. Spending the evening with people that are there to celebrate such a happy occasion, and have a great time, really is a huge perk to the job.
We’ve played at some cracking festivals; the Hog Rally in Bristol (where we ran an experiment to see how many ‘hogs’ we could fit into the Session van – 43 in case you’re wondering). And, of course, not forgetting Penarth Summer Festival which is always a fabulous event (all day sunshine this year please!).
And there have been many Session socials, Christmas Do’s, inter-band weddings (and, no, Session did not perform at the Stewart wedding… although Cam and I did sing, but that’s for another blog…).
But of course, there has been the occasional low. I can’t say I’ll miss the scraps and brawls we’ve experienced at some venues we’ve played in the early years; from fighting with hammers and chisels at a certain pub in Maesteg, to the stage being stormed at an un-named pub in Cardiff (although one thing I will say is that both venues hold a special place in my heart as having the best gig atmosphere and crowds we’ve played to!). Or the Session van breaking down at 3am on the way home from a gig in London… That wasn’t ideal either.
In 2006 we said farewell to singer and guitarist Dan Lewis as he embarked on his adventure to London and in 2012 we waved goodbye to bassist Mike Heneghan as he left to begin a successful career in Psychology in Australia. However, this also lead us to recruit the super-talented Andy Brown on bass as a replacement and gave us the opportunity to perform with some other fantastic bassists (Tom, Dave, Kev and KT to name a few).
Following that, there is so much for Session to look forward to this year and in the future. Penarth Summer Festival will, again, be fantastic (rain or shine) not to mention the many weddings we’ll be performing at for couples tying the knot this year and next (we really do have the pleasure of meeting some lovely people in our line of work). And we’re looking forward to returning to venues to see the regular faces who have been instrumental to us pulling off great wedding performances over the years and who really do look after us, and hopefully meeting some new ones.
So, if you’re a couple that has booked us to play at your wedding, or a venue that has invited and recommended us to perform, or an agency that continues to encourage people to book us – thank you for enabling Session to continue to perform and enjoy what truly is a wonderful career in live music. May it long continue!
See you soon,