IN the 60s, as the Beat Boom took off, one of the places you could catch your favourite local act or see a new one was the village hall. While Newbury had The Plaza – alas no more – and a very echoey Corn Exchange, plus Bernetts nightclub
and the military bases in the area, local village halls normally had different bands appearing on a regular basis. It was via the village halls that a band could grow its audience and move on to larger venues. Such was the case with the band
Ricky & The Gamblers.
Cutting their teeth in the village halls of Ecchinswell, Compton, Kingsclere, Lambourn, Chieveley, Hermitage and many others, Ricky & The Gamblers learnt their craft and went on to play major venues around the country, including The Whisky a Go Go, the infamous 2 Eyes Café in London, as well as Wimbledon Palais and other leading 60s venues in Brighton, Portsmouth and Southampton. Countless times they shared the billing with hit artists such as The Pretty Things, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders and others.
The band re-formed last year to do‘one-off’ anniversary gigs at both The Liberty Ballroom, at Greenham Common, and Shaw Social Club. Both gigs were sell-outs and the band have been inundated with requests to do more shows. As a result they have decided to revisit some of the village halls they played in when they first set out as teenagers.
Leader of the band Dave Hicks said: “At first we were reluctant to do more gigs as we had just finished on two incredible highs, but we had so many requests from people to get out there and do it again that we thought the best way to do this would be to return to our roots and do the village halls again.
“This time around, the facilities in the halls should be a lot more welcoming. They now have dressing/changing rooms, a bar and all round better facilities. No more changing in the toilets or outside on the football pitch.
“Yes, it is a trip down memory lane but we are looking forward to it... we have added a brass section this time and we will be playing a lot of soul material from the 60s period.”
The band kick off at Ecchinswell village hall on Saturday and move on to Shaw Social Club on Saturday, December 3. Dates at Chieveley, Kingsclere and Compton will be announced shortly.
Tickets are available from Hogan Music and Shaw Social Club.