When The Southsea Alternative Choir bumped into Norman Cook, aka Fatboy Slim, at the Common People festival in Southampton earlier this year, they didn’t let the opportunity go to waste.
They got the dance music giant to record a quick introduction to their own recording of Caravan of Love – a track taken to Number One in December 1986 by Cook’s old group The Housemartins.
The nine-piece band – essentially a group of like-minded Portsmouth musicians – originally formed in 2010 to play some dates around Christmas to raise money for a young lad with cerebral palsy.
They’ve since carried on doing the mini-tour each Christmas, but have also been invited to numerous festivals and events.
‘We’ve had a really lovely year,’ says vocalist Jim Lines. ‘What was conceived as something very simple – a few mates getting together each Christmas to have some fun and raise a few quid for charity – has grown into quite a big thing, relatively speaking.’
Among their 2015 shows – they played six times at Victorious Festival – was the Common People set.
‘That was really lovely. We played the main stage at about 3pm in the afternoon, there were about 15,000 people, and the crowd was very receptive.
‘And that’s where we met Norman. We had a drink and had a bit of a singsong in the artists’ area.’
This year the group are playing three shows – tonight at The RMA Tavern in Eastney, tomorrow afternoon at Portsmouth Beer Festival and a show at Southsea Beach Cafe, which has already sold out.
‘We’ll really miss playing at The Cellars though,’ adds Jim, ‘we’d done that for the past four years.’
‘Christmas wouldn’t feel like Christmas for us without doing this. When I think of Christmas I think of the band now, which is nice as it’s become a tradition.’
Tickets for the RMA show are £5, available from Head hairdressers on Albert Road, Southsea.