Van Gosh join The Southsea Alternative Choir for concert in aid of Tonic charity
The Southsea Alternative Choir’s annual Christmas concerts have become the stuff of local legend.
The fundraising bash sees the septet, plus assorted like-minded souls, give their own unique spin to hits from the past 60 years of popular music.
Since forming a decade ago, they’ve raised thousands for various good causes, and are practically the Victorious Festival house-band – typically playing six sets over the course of the weekend.
At this year’s concert, they are supported by the oddball trio Van Gosh in what is only the band’s second gig.
Fronted by Rich Keam (guitar/vocals), who is joined by Maff Allen (drums) and Tim Cole (bass), the three-piece will be showing off their curious blend of rock and prop-based craziness. Oh, and a mince pie cannon.
Rich explains: ‘We did our premiere gig at Victorious, so this is our second gig. But I’ve known the guys in the band for ages – I’ve been in bands with Maff the drummer since we were at school, we were in The Ridgeway together, and Tim’s a brilliant musician.
‘This is one of many bands I have, but this one is a lot of fun.’
And it’s Rich’s day job which has helped provide the inspiration for their material – he works in the costume departments of major Hollywood films, and has been involved in projects at Pinewood, Leavesden and Shepperton studios.
‘I found lots of things in skips on movie sets, then I made them into props and I wrote some songs for them, and then I just wanted to go and play.
‘I always ask first before taking something!
‘People think it’s junk, but it’s not really. It’s stuff like giant bits of foam which I’ve fashioned into huge heads, or I’ve got my mince pie cannon, and I’ve got a new song called Favourite Fork, so I’ve made lots of forks.’
So what’s with the name?
‘It’s Van Gosh because we’re slightly artsy and mildly surprising,’ says Rich, sounding very pleased with himself. ‘I only thought of that yesterday!’
He actually says this is ‘probably the most serious’ musical project he’s got on the go. Given that one of the others is Medieval Elvis and The Lonesome Knights, you’re inclined to believe him.
‘We’ve got some proper funny songs, some of them are a bit tongue in cheek, but with great music too.
‘And I love making things, so I find a lot of inspiration in the stuff I create.
‘It’s more like a musical art troupe, I would say.’
Rich says he’s played Victorious most years, but usually as a solo act on one of the smaller stages. This year Van Gosh played on the Mayfield Studios stage – but Rich has higher aspirations: My goal is to play on the common stage next year.’
Headlining? ‘Any time will do!’
Rich has known the guys in the Alternative Choir for years going back to their teens. And among their number are musicians who got signed, made the national press, and with a more favourable wind, could now be big stars.
‘Yes,’ agrees Rich, ‘There’s a lot of luck in “making it” in the music industry, but I don’t really do it for that. If I feel like I’m getting better at playing guitar, or just enjoying myself, that’s enough for me really.
‘This is why I like Van Gosh, I just want to have fun and bring joy to people through a musical performance – and by having the smallest possible carbon footprint. So, car-sharing, no single-use plastic and no meat on the rider.
‘It’s very important.’
The gig is raising money for Tonic: Music For Mental Health.
THE SOUTHSEA ALTERNATIVE CHOIR with VAN GOSH
The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea
Saturday, December 14