Two Big Egos In A Small Car Episode 157: Yorkshire’s Now Then and The Beatles’ Now And Then; Sunderland’s Pop Recs Indie HQ

Stephen Millership’s cover illustration for Rick Broadbent’s Now Then: A Biography Of Yorkshire

GRAHAM Chalmers unexpectedly introduces a new fashion slot, where he reviews the surprising return of a plethora of fashion styles enjoying a comeback.

Charles Hutchinson explores the Yorkshire phrase “Now Then” with a look at Rick Broadbent’s new book Now Then: A Biography Of Yorkshire and Richard Hawley’s new compilation album Now Then and follows up with questions for Graham on The Beatles’ remarkable resurrection single Now And Then.

Finally, Graham recounts what happened when he spent a night in Sunderland at the heart of the city’s indie scene, watching Field Music’s Peter Brewis in concert.

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The cover artwork for South Yorkshireman Richard Hawley’s career retrospective Now Then

The then and now and Now And Then of the Bootleg Beatles at York Barbican tomorrow

Bootleg Beatles: Get back to York Barbican tomorrow night

LET’S start at the end: the “final” Beatles song, Now And Then, the Fab Four’s 18th chart topper and first in 54 years since 1969’s The Ballad Of John And Yoko.

Yes, the fastest-selling vinyl single of the 21st century will be incorporated into the Bootleg Beatles’ perfectly timed return to York Barbican tomorrow night (13/12/2023).

“It will feature towards the end of the show, in the section when we’re covering the final years of The Beatles,” says Steve White, who is entering his 12th year as the tribute band’s Paul McCartney.

“We hope people are moved by it, the way we present it with the lighting. I’ve seen a video of our performance and it’s really quite haunting.”

First watching the documentary that accompanied the reawakened ghost of  John Lennon’s ballad, with its combination of Lennon’s original late-1970s’ demo, 1994 guitar lines by George Harrison and new parts by McCartney and Ringo Starr, Steve felt the hair on the back of his neck standing up on encountering Lennon’s vocal, separated through the magic of AI.

“It’s a melancholy song, appropriate for the end of The Beatles, and then having to learn it, I could have broken down in tears when we played it for the first time at The Crown in Melbourne on our Australian tour,” he says. “The moment we started the first chord, the crowd just stood up. It was an amazing feeling.”

The song’s title could not be more apt: the now and the then of The Beatles. “We have lost two already, and there are two to go, so to speak. We’re never gonna see anything like them again. Never ever going to see the real thing again,” says Steve.

“With every year that ticks by, we appreciate more than ever that Paul and Ringo are part of the UK’s fixtures and fittings. I’m dreading when they go. Paul is my absolute hero.

“I don’t know him and yet I feel like I know him, and it will feel like losing a member of the family when the day comes. I just hope that I get the chance to say hello, shake his hand and thank him for all the music he has brought us, telling him ‘you are the most amazing musician there’s ever been’. That’s all I’d want to say. He means so much to me.”

Nottinghamshire musician Steve had first been a member of The Beatles Experience with three friends. “We didn’t set out to be a Beatles band but a Sixties’ covers band, but we were all huge fans of The Beatles and kind of based ourselves on them,” he recalls.

“We used to do a few Beatles songs in the set, and someone asked if we could  play just Beatles songs at their 60th birthday party, then a wedding anniversary, and it began to overshadow our Sixties’ tribute show.”

At the time, Steve was the band’s rhythm guitarist, “effectively John Lennon”, he says. “But people kept saying you have to be Paul, because you look more like him – I’m blessed with the eyebrows! – so me and the bass player switched over.

“That meant I had to learn to play [guitar] left-handed, being a right hander. To get to a very crude level of playing took me three months, playing six to eight hours a day, then gradually getting more professional to fill in the blanks.”

Steve went on to audition for the Bootleg Beatles, first sending in a video, then auditioning in person, the process whittling down the applicants to “serious contenders to play with the rest of the band to see how we gelled”.

White, who had seen the Bootleg Beatles many times, was the right fit and continues to travel the long and winding road through the Fab Four Sixties after more than a decade of Bootleg service.

For the past six years, he has been accompanied on the nostalgia trip by Tyson Kelly’s John, Steve Hill’s George and Gordon Elsmore’s Ringo as they re-create the sound and look of each Beatles’ phase in fastidious detail.

“We always go through the Beatles’ career from start to finish, picking out the key points, and so many are iconic, but you can switch the material, like the choice of psychedelic songs,” says Steve. “This show is markedly different: different costumes, guitars, material – and Now And Then of course.

“As usual, we’ll be travelling with our resident orchestra too, four brass and four string players, and another guy, who plays keys.”

The Beatles are back with Now And Then and expanded reissues of their Red and Blue compilations, just as old rivals The Rolling Stones resurface with Hackney Diamonds, their first album of original material since 2005’s A Bigger Bang.

Steve will always be in the Beatles camp. “The Rolling Stones, no discredit to the Stones, as they’re an incredible, iconic band, but they do have a ‘sound’, more of a blues edge. Early on The Beatles were more popified, the ‘unclean’ Stones were more edgy, still are, but The Beatles went on to be so diverse in such a short time together, spanning pretty much everything,” he says.

“How could you ever pigeonhole The Beatles? You couldn’t. It’s impossible.”

Bootleg Beatles, York Barbican, December 13, 7.30pm. Box office:

Everly Brothers’ tribute show Walk Right Back heads to Grand Opera House in June

Lars Pluto and Luke Wilson as The Everly Brothers in Walk Right Back

WALK Right Back, the Everly Brothers tribute show, is back on tour, playing the Grand Opera House, York, on June 12.

From the producers of That’ll Be The Day, it tells the story of the most successful close-harmony duo of all time: country-rock pioneers Phil and Don Everly, from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bye Bye Love, All I Have To Do Is Dream, Cathy’s Clown, Wake Up Little Susie, Bird Dog, Crying In The Rain, Walk Right et al feature in this concert-based musical that “entwines the wonderful, sad yet glorious story of The Everly Brothers around those trademark harmonies from heaven”.

Performed by Lars Pluto and Luke Wilson, Walk Right Back – The Everly Brothers Story follows the American brothers’ rise to fame, through their decade-long feud, to the reunion that gave them back to the world and back to each other.

Accompanied by steel-string acoustic guitar, The Everly Brothers influenced The Beatles, who referred to themselves as “the British Everly Brothers” when Paul McCartney and John Lennon went hitchhiking south to win a talent competition.  

The Fab Four based the vocal arrangement of Please Please Me on Cathy’s Clown. McCartney later referred to “Phil and Don” in the lyrics to Let’Em In, from the 1976 album Wings At The Speed Of Sound.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards called Don Everly “one of the finest rhythm [guitar] players”. Paul Simon, who worked with the Everlys on the song Graceland, said on the day after Phil’s death: “Phil and Don were the most beautiful-sounding duo I ever heard. Both voices pristine and soulful. The Everlys were there at the crossroads of country and R&B.  They witnessed and were part of the birth of rock’n’roll.”

Tickets for next month’s 7.30pm performance are on sale at

Badapple Theatre on song as Eddie And The Gold Tops does the milk rounds on return to full-scale touring on your doorstep

Pop of the Gold Tops: Zach Atkinson’s milkman Eddie with fellow cast members Emily Chattle and Richard Galloway in Badapple Theatre’s Eddie And The Gold Tops. Picture: Karl Andre

GREEN Hammerton company Badapple Theatre’s 25th anniversary tour of Eddie And The Gold Tops is doing the milk rounds.

Delighted to have secured “crucial 11th hour funding” from Arts Council England in March, North Yorkshire’s “theatre on your doorstep” practitioners are back on the road with their best-selling show on its first outing since 2017.

“We’re thrilled to have made it to our quarter century,” says funding and media manager Annabelle Polito. “After two unsuccessful requests for funding support across the autumn/winter of 2022, we were looking at having to close the company this year.

“So, this £24,283 in support means a huge amount. We hope it means we can add to the life of the small communities that we serve right across the country and spread a bit of theatre joy and bring folk together.”

Travelling by van rather than milk float, a cast of York actress Emily Chattle, Zach Atkinson and  Irishman Richard Galloway has been milking every laugh from artistic director Kate Bramley’s 1960s-inspired comedy since April 15.

The tour will conclude back home at Green Hammerton Village Hall on June 13 after travels to Northumberland, Cumbria, Lincolnshire, the Midlands and down to Bristol, as well as across Yorkshire, on the company’s return to full-scale touring for the first time since the pandemic hiatus.

Zach Atkinson, left, Emily Chattle and Richard Galloway in a scene from Kate Bramley’s 2023 tour of Eddie And The Gold Tops. Picture: Karl Andre

Eddie, the much-loved village milkman, becomes a pop star, completely by accident, in the frenzy of 1963’s music fever, when The Beatles were the cream rising to the top. “You could become an overnight star,” says Kate.

No sooner has Eddie inherited the family milk round from his father than suddenly his songs are heading up the charts. If he can arrive by tonight, he will be on Top Of The Pops [Editor’s pedantic note: TOTP did not start until January 1 1964!].

Confusion reigns and when things take a ‘churn’ for the worse, how will Eddie get back for the morning milk round? 

“It’s a very cheerful piece, really funny,” says Kate. “People love the Sixties because it was a very full-on time and the songs were great! It’s definitely got a real feelgood factor, and what’s endured in the 12 years since we first did it is that people need to have a good time. This is our vocation: generating joy!”

Recalling the play’s origins, Kate says: “It took a while to come up with the title. We had the story first, and the reason the main character is a milkman came from a wartime land girl telling us about her time as a milk lady just after the war. Green Hammerton was ahead of the times!

“So, I’d already collected stories from Liz Powley about those experiences, storing away that idea, and then when Jez [composer Jez Lowe] and I started talking about doing something rooted in Sixties’ music culture, it came down to putting a milkman in the story!

Voice of the BBC: Richard Galloway in Eddie And The Gold Tops

“It’s not that he’s a ‘singing milkman’, but it’s the contrast between his village life and how he wanders through life saying yes to everything and everybody. He’s just a really nice fellow who, when a producer needs a singer, he says yes, as long as he can be back for morning milk deliveries.”

Compare and contrast with today’s wannabe pop stars. “What’s pure about this story is that Eddie doesn’t want to be a star, he just becomes one by accident, whereas now people say, ‘I’m going to be famous’ and then find a way to do it,” says Kate.

She knew the dawn of the Beatles era would be the ideal setting.  “That sound of the Sixties, we were just coming out of the skiffle craze, and everything was really upbeat: Elvis, Eddie Cochran, The Beatles. That’s why people are still drawn to the Sixties’ style. Great fashion; really colourful; anything goes. Teenage led. Politically switched on too. It was a time of excitement and a quest for happiness and not just for yourself.”

As for the cast’s milk tastes, Zach says: “I’m addicted to milk, but it’s got to be refrigerated, not warm.” Richard says: “I don’t really drink milk, but I’d have it in cereals, though I do like coconut milk.” Emily? “I’m vegan, so it’s oat milk or soya milk for me,” she says.

“None of their milk preferences affects their acting,” says Kate, who resides in a North Yorkshire village with dairy herds in the fields. “I’ve written a play about milk. What more do you want?! I’m guilty [of drinking milk] by association!”

Badapple Theatre are on tour with Eddie And The Gold Tops until June 13. For tour and ticket details, go to: Yorkshire tour dates include: Sutton upon Derwent Village Hall, May 13; Cherry Burton Village Hall, May 21; Husthwaite Village Hall, May 24; Tunstall Village Hall, May 25; Otley Courthouse, May 28; June 9, North Stainley Village Hall, near Ripon, June 9, and Green Hammerton Village Hall, June 13 (box office, 01423 331304). All shows start at 7.30pm.

Kate Bramley: Badapple Theatre artistic director

Did you know?

IN a brief tour break in June, Badapple Theatre cast member Emily Chattle will be exchanging her wedding vows. Congratulations!

Beat that! The Shakers celebrate Sixties’ Liverpool sound in This Is Merseybeat musical at Joseph Rowntree Theatre

The Shakers: The band fronting the Liverpool musical This Is Merseybeat, featuring York musician Kevin Benson on bass

BEAT City Productions’ nostalgic Liverpool musical This Is Merseybeat heads back to the 1960s at at the Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York, on August 6.

This vibrant celebration of all things Merseybeat features the Cavern Club’s resident Merseybeat combo since 2006, The Shakers, whose line-up includes York resident Kevin Benson on bass and vocals.

Every weekend he travels over the Pennines for their regular Shakin’ Sunday slot at the world-famous Liverpool club, in addition to playing their many other gigs around Britain and abroad.

This Is Merseybeat was devised, written and produced by Liverpool musician, actor and The Shakers founder Tony O’Keefe, building momentum around the North West since its Southport debut in 2018 until the pandemic intervened.

Billed as “Merseyside’s foremost beat combo around today”, The Shakers have shared a stage with Liverpool legends The Searchers and the late Gerry Marsden, as well as backing Sixties’ stars Tommy Roe, Chris Montez and Elvis Presley’s guitarist, James Burton, and performing with Hamburg legend Tony Sheridan at the Lennon Remembered concert at the Liverpool Echo Arena.

Add to that list such Merseybeat alumni as The Searchers’ Mike Pender; The Merseybeats’ Billy Kinsley; The Hollies’ Terry Sylvester; The Swinging Blue Jeans’ Ray Ennis; The Mojos’ Nick Crouch; the late Undertakers frontman Geoff Nugent; The Big Three’s Brian Griffiths; Kingsize Taylor; Karl Terry; Beryl Marsden and Lee Curtis.

For This Is Merseybeat, they will be joined by guest artists Neil Ainsby as Gerry Marsden and Sophie Irene, stepping in at short notice to cover the Cilla Black role. Liverpool actor Paul Codman will be the host.

The poster for This Is Merseybeat’s visit to the Joseph Rowntree Theatre on August 6

“It’s very much a celebration, not only of Liverpool but also of the man who was the architect of the Merseybeat boom, Brian Epstein,” says Tony O’Keefe. “Uniquely, every song in the show was performed by a Liverpool Sixties’ artist and showcases the city’s world-beating musical heritage like no other touring production today.”

Here is Tony’s synopsis of the show. “It’s 1962 and there’s a whole lotta shakin’ goin’ on in a backstreet beat cellar in Liverpool called the Cavern Club. This is Merseybeat, the Sixties’ sound of Liverpool, from the depths of Number 10, Mathew Street.

“The ‘Beat Boom’ starts here and during the next two years ‘Merseymania’ rules the world! You will hear the big Mersey Sound hits, classic Cavern stompers and a shot of rhythm & blues, with just a little rock’n’roll on the side, just for good measure, from The Beatles, Gerry & The Pacemakers, The Searchers, Cilla Black, The Swinging Blue Jeans, The Merseybeats, The Big Three and many more. It’s the beat that’s hard to beat!”

Tony continues: “Merseybeat was the bedrock of the ‘Swinging Sixties’ and the key that opened the door for the British Beat Boom in 1963 and the worldwide British Invasion of 1964 with The Beatles leading the way.

“As our story unfolds, you will experience the birth of the beat in the Cavern Club right up to the ‘Merseymania’ hit parade years, when Liverpool established its formidable status as top of the pops!”

Next Saturday’s audience is invited to “experience the ‘Benzedrine beat’ up close and personal, in all its savage glory, with Liverpool’s premier beat merchants, The Shakers, as this fab beat combo perform the hits, misses, B-sides and lost classics from the golden age of Merseybeat with a passion and energy not seen since the heady days of the Sixties’ beat boom”.

“Our ethos is based around the early Sixties when beat music was at its most exciting, so don’t expect anything past 1965,” says Tony.

Tickets for this 7.30pm show are on sale at £18 on 01904 501935 or at

What happens when the lead singer leaves just as you release your second album?

Bagged up: The artwork for Black Country, New Road’s second album, Ants From Up There

AS Black Country, New Road head out of the departing Isaac Wood’s song world, podcasters Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson review sophomore album Ants From Up There and ponder where they might roam next, now they are six.

Under debate too in Episode 79 of Two Big Egos In A Small Car are PJ O’Rourke’s righteous literary legacy; Peter Jackson’s newly revealing Beatles rooftop concert film and American musicians’ love of British indie acts.

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There is nothing like…two dames

Berwick Kaler: Had to miss the last week of Dick Turpin Rides Again at the Grand Opera House, York, after positive Covid test. Picture: David Harrison

HOW did a York theatre cope with Covid crocking its legendary dame? Find out in Episode 73 of Graham Chalmers and Charles Hutchinson‘s Two Big Egos In A Small Car podcast. Under discussion too are Peter Jackson’s fab, formidable Beatles documentary Get Back; Mike Leigh’s Naked foreseeing Britpop and The Tourist going down better than Novax in Australia.

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Alan McHugh: Aberdeen’s dame answered the call when Covid struck Berwick Kaler

What hasn’t yet been written about The Beatles that still needs to be said?

FIND out in Episode 61 of Two Big Egos In A Small Car, when arts podcasters Chalmers & Hutch make room for a special guest.

Let it be Knaresborough DJ, author and Beatles buff Rory Hoy, who discusses his new book, The Beatles Acting Naturally: Obscure, Rare, Unfinished And Abandoned Film And TV Projects Of The Fab Four.

Just enough time too to squeeze in Adele’s return and The Rolling Stones leaving Brown Sugar out of their American tour set list.

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Book ahoy: Rory Hoy holds The Beatles Acting Naturally aloft

As the super-deluxe All Things Must Pass arrives, it’s time to ask: Is George the Fabbest solo Beatle ? For the answer…

HEAD to Episode 54 of Chalmers & Hutch’s arts podcast, Two Big Egos In A Small Car at:

Under discussion too are: the London lag and York boom after Step 4; Sharon Latham’s Noel Gallagher exhibition at RedHouse Originals, Harrogate; M Night Shyamalan’s hokum new movie Old, plus futurist novelist Julian Barnes on foreseeing no future for the arts in 1980’s Metroland. Should we be worried?

Strange question, Graham! “Was Ralph Fiennes ‘menacing'” in TS Eliot’s Four Quartets at York Theatre Royal?

The look of a man who has just heard Graham Chalmers’ question: Ralph Fiennes in Four Quartets at York Theatre Royal

DISCOVER Charles Hutchinson’s answer in Episode 53 of Chalmers & Hutch’s arts podcast Two Big Egos In A Small Car.

Also under discussion are digging out your Harry Potter first editions; Graham’s review of a long-overdue documentary appreciation of undervalued music filmmaker Tony Palmer; Amy Winehouse, ten years gone, and dreamers versus schemers.

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