Tim Buckley London Tribute Concert
10th May 2008
Anthony was the headliner at the 2008 Tribute to Tim Buckley,
held at the Cockpit Theater in London. A few weeks later,
he set down his thought and experiences and passed them onto
Some spellings have been Americanized.
was a hot day for England; twenty-six degrees Celsius in London.
I arrived late at the Cockpit Theatre after a demanding two
hundred-mile haul across the country - slightly dehydrated,
but still full of energy. It was 4:45pm and I had originally
planned to arrive at 3:00pm.
Cockpit can be found sitting rather unassumingly on tiny Gateforth
St in the Marylebone district of London. I made my way through
the pleasant foyer/bar area and noted all the cool pictures
of Tim that concert organizer Jay Dubber had plastered everywhere!
I followed my nose to the backstage door, which lead down a
narrow corridor to two populated rooms.
room contained a piano and musician Jedd Holden and his three-piece
band were having a warm up session. My long time musical partner
Eamonn Hennessy was already there, having traveled down overnight
on the bus. Jay came into the room and we finally met after
months of emails and phone calls arranging the concert.
showed me the theatre space. It was smaller than it appeared
in photos, but lost none of the purposeful impact of its three-sided
tier design and black interior.
I was late I missed my first-to-sound check privilege, but
I had already agreed on the phone with Jay that he could let
second-on-the-bill artist Cherry Lee Mewis sound check first,
and, as I made sense of the theatre, she and her group were
rehearsing their lively interpretation of Sally Go Round
I also introduced myself to Tom Clark whom I recognized from
the webpage that Jay had set up.
Cherry finished her sound check, I got my Guild D412 twelve-string
guitar out of its case and out of the corner of my eye, I
noticed the stares from other musicians. Twelve-strings seem
to have that effect, and I was the only musician on the night
that was going to be wielding Tims preferred musical
to sound check came and it was readily apparent that the sound
engineer and his assistant knew their equipment and knew their
theatres acoustics. I chose to have the guitar miked
rather than use its pickup. Jedd Holden let Eamonn plug my
Fender Standard Telecaster into his Marshall Valvestate amp,
as it wasnt practical to for us to bring my amp 250
miles from Lancaster.
had bad nerves but once he was on the stage and realized that
it all wasnt quite as imposing as he imagined, he relaxed
and even cracked a few jokes.
for myself, I was finally sat on the stage in the vantage
point and it felt good. The sound engineer knew his theatre
and got us sorted nice and smooth.
2009 Rik Pennington
Anthony and his trusty D412
fiancée Christine arrived shortly after, and I showed
her backstage and introduced her to Jay and James Edge. I
already knew James from the Nick Drake tributes in Tanworth-in-Arden
and indeed, I had suggested him to Jay when we were scouting
around for musicians to play at the concert.
had laid on food and drink in the dressing room, but I stuck
to water and a light salad, terrified that I would affect
my pipes if I ate something salty or got slightly inebriated.
I wanted to be on top form and not cut loose until after the
theatre foyer was now filling up with audience members and
the sense of anticipation grew with the numbers. There was
no sign of our special guests yet, Bob Harris and his wife
Trudie and Jeff Dexter, but I told Jay that famous people
are never on time!
audience filtered into the theatre proper. The house lights
lowered and Jay Dubber welcomed everyone and introduced the
first musician of the night, Stuart Masters. Jay and I stood
left of stage peeping through the black curtains as Stuart
kicked the night off in great style playing I've Been Out
Walking, Strange Feeling, and Phantasmagoria In
ball was rolling. The concert now took on a life of its own
as it lifted itself from the planning page. The cameras purred
found myself hovering between the left stage area and the
dressing rooms. Burning off nervous energy, I guess. I chatted
in the dressing room to Tom Clark, one of the other names
on the bill. He had a headache after getting too much sun
two days before in his day job as a tree surgeon, but he was
holding it together.
my way back to stage left I encouraged a nervous Helena C
Carter as she made her way to the stage. She didnt need
to worry. She knocked out a heartfelt atmospheric Once
I Was and Morning Glory. I was originally billed
to play Morning Glory, but I wasnt sure I could
deliver it right, plus I felt my set was too long. It turned
out that Helena wanted to play it, so I agreed to let her
have the song.
glad I did. She seemed very pleased when she came offstage
grinning a Cheshire cat smile.
was like a cat on hot bricks, tending carefully to the night
in which he had invested so much time and commitment. As he
began to realize it was all going smoothly, he wound down
a bit. There was still no sign of our guest Bob Harris as
Jedd Holden took to the stage with his three-piece outfit
and launched into Sweet Surrender, Carnival Song and
a blend of Love From Room 109/Strange Feeling. I didnt
watch all of his set as I was hanging backstage with the next
performer James Edge, whom I was going to introduce on the
stage. I met James in 2006 at the Nick Drake Gathering in
Tanworth-in-Arden and I had personally recommended him to
Jay as a performer.
seemed calm. He has suffered nerves in the past, but I think
he knew he was well prepared. We made our way gently down
the corridor and stood in the dark wings watching the last
minutes of Jedds set, which sounded great.
then made my first foray into the lights and with great pleasure
introduced James to by now, an up and interested audience.
was hot and I was running on adrenaline, as it had been
a very long day. I didnt pick up what Jeff was saying,
but I heard him introduce me and call my name. I stepped
gently to the stage making sure I didnt trip or
drop anything as I settled into place..."
played Buzzin Fly and Sing A Song For You
beautifully. While I was watching him, I became aware of an
approaching buzz, and as I turned around there was Bob Harris
with his wife Trudie and friend Jeff Dexter. It was a very
strange moment for me.
is a legend to anyone who cares about music here in the UK
and I was so pleased to see him here. Immediately he came
across as approachable and friendly and we showed him the
best place to peek through the curtains back stage. He was
obviously really up for the evening and his enthusiasm was
palpable from the start.
came backstage and we accompanied him and Bob to the dressing
room for some group photographs. My memory is a little hazy
at this point, but Bob and I got chatting. I think the conversation
started when his friend Jeff Dexter who ran the famous Middle
Earth club in London in the 60s pulled out some copies
of the original poster that had been made to promote Tims
was amazing to see it. I had something to show too. I had
bought my Tim Buckley Folder in which I kept my
original 1967 Tim Elektra press release and also my original
1973 press release from Discreet which was circulated in the
UK when Tim came over in 1974; the same visit where Tim had
met Bob and played the Old Grey Whistle Test.
folder also contains the handwritten track listing of Tims
first posthumous compilation The Best of Tim Buckley
that was released in 1983 and compiled by Bert Muirhead of
Hot Whacks magazine. Bert sold the 67 press release
and the track listing on E-bay and I had grabbed them. Bob
was fascinated to see them and it broke the ice.
spent the next hour before I went on stage talking about music,
music, music. I was just enthralled to be able to talk Tim
and Jeff Buckley and Nick Drake with this man I had spent
years watching on TV and catching on the radio. Christine
had even bought me the Old Grey Whistle Test DVD box set the
previous Christmas before any inkling that I might meet Bob
was Bobs turn to take the stage. His appearance had
been a secret and as soon as word got out in the theatre,
that Bob was here and on stage, the bar emptied like a bucket
with a large hole. He spoke about his appreciation for Tim
very eloquently and then introduced a screening of Tims
1974 Whistle Test performance of Dolphins, and as it
played he came and stood in the wings.
was just I and Bob in that dark spot, and I tried to reflect
on the fact I was watching a Bob Harris/Tim Buckley Whistle
Test clip stood in the dark with Bob himself right next
to me. It will always be great memory moment for me. Bob turned
to me and with his characteristic smile whispered, Wasnt
he just awesome? I grinned back and gave the thumbs
next act was Tom Clark, who has a phenomenal voice, but I
was keeping Bob, Jeff and Trudie company, so only caught parts
of his set wafting down the corridors. Tom played Dolphins,
Pleasant Street and I Never Asked To Be Your Mountain.
was back in the dressing room chatting to Bob and Jeff about
all sorts. Jeff told me a bit about hanging out with Tim after
the Middle Earth gig that that Tim was a babe magnet
and great to hang out with if you wanted to meet girls. He
also told me that he knew Nick Drake well, and that he had
owned the Guild M20 that you can see on the cover of Bryter
Layter. It is now owned by Nick Laird Clowes of UK band
the Dream Academy and that its original owner was, bizarrely,
spoke to Bob about Jeff Buckley and filled in some gaps in
his knowledge about the relationship - or lack of it - that
he had with Tim. Someone snapped a photograph of that moment
and you can see Bob in the picture concentrating on what I
was telling him and absorbing new information.
then asked Bob if he wanted to go outside for a smoke, Bob said
yes, and we all trooped outside. Again I was chatting freely
with Bob about music. I told him about the Nick Drake tribute
I attend each year in Tanworth-in-Arden, and about the unreleased
only live tape of Nick that my friend Peter Rice had. Bob was
fascinated by this.
also asked me if I had ever visited the United States and
I told him that I hadnt and had always wanted to but
never had the money spare. He said I should visit Austin,
Texas as he regarded it as the live-music capital of the US.
A few jokes were made about starting a fund to send me to
said she wanted to take a picture of me with Bob and Jeff
for Bobs website, I readily agreed, and we posed outside
the theatre as the sun began to set.
was time for me to go back into the theatre and get my guitar
ready to play and to chill with Eamonn so we all went back
in. Jeff came down to the wings with Eamonn and I and we watched
Cherry Lee Mewis set reach its finale.
was in an up mood and was bopping like a trooper to the blues
sound of Cherrys band. Cherry performed Sally Go
Round The Roses, Healing Festival and Happy Time.
Again, I only caught snippets of her set but it seemed like
a great lively performance.
and I then stood in the wings as Jeff went on stage to talk
about his memories of Tim. We were both nervous. I was balancing
my guitar, my copy of Lees letter, my glasses and his
book Blue Melody as I would be reading the letter and
showing the book.
was hot and I was running on adrenaline, as it had been a
very long day. I didnt pick up what Jeff was saying
but I heard him introduce me and call my name. I stepped gently
to the stage making sure I didnt trip or drop anything
as I settled into place. I was going on without Eamonn for
my first song, which was my paean to love, water, color, Christine
and Jeff and Tim.
I got playing, I read out Lee Underwoods letter specially
written for the concert and plugged his wonderful memoir of
his life with Tim. I read Lees moving and uplifting
letter calmly and with as much grace as I could.
time came to play and I started The Blue (from Stuart's
first album, The Colourful Truth). In the moment, I forgot
to remove my reading glasses and kinda noticed as the song
started, but managed to ignore it and focus on my performance.
My guitar sounded great and I could hear everything good.
I slipped into the music and let it take me. My location became
then joined me on stage with my Fender Telecaster for Blue
Melody, Venice Beach (Music Boats By The Bay) and
Song To The Siren. I sang my heart out. Eamonn played
like the gifted guitarist he is and we gave the audience,
and ultimately Tim Buckley, the dues owing.
Song To The Siren came to an end, I felt compelled to
look up to the ceiling because I really thought Tim was tuning
in. There were moments in our set where I realized I was singing
and playing with something more than I had experienced in
partially, it was the fact that Venice Beach had not been
performed in public since Tim played it with the Starsailor
band in 1970, but things were charged and ready for it. Maybe
it was the adrenaline and the sheer fact that the tribute
concert had gone so well and that the atmosphere was all there
for us to step into. The rehearsals had paid off.
audience clapped and cheered. The atmosphere had reached its
peak on the last song and as the house lights went up, the spell
was a backstage party. Everyone wound down, drank and smiled
and exchanged compliments. I got my twelve-string out again
and played Happy Time to a couple of Jays friends
who asked me if I knew it.
and Trudie had watched my performance, but had to leave just
before the concert ended so we didnt get the chance
to talk after. Jeff seemed to like Chrissie and asked her
if she loved me, which was delightfully funny. It was all
in good humor. Eamonn was smoking his roll ups and winding
down and passed me his hip bottle of whiskey, which also helped
take the edge off things.
night drew to a close and after goodbyes, Christine and I
called a cab and sped off through the heart of London back
to our hotel. As we drove, I gazed out of the taxi window
and watched the revelers, drinkers, the good, the bad, and
the ugly flow through the streets. After my experiences this
night the life of the city seemed distant and unattractive
yet poignant and focused. Then it came to me
behind, the city moans.
Well worthy of the people there
Tim, but tonight Tim Buckley, the song was for you.
Anthony June 18th 2008
Stuart Anthony Webpage