High Fives 2015 – Little Devils’ Graeme Wheatley
It’s always good to shoot the breeze with Graeme Wheatley from Little Devils and it’s great that he wants to share some of the highlights from 2015 with us. It’s been a chequered year for Graeme and Little Devils with a superb album to get behind and some recently-announced personnel changes; the Riot Squad are looking forward to the 2016 line-up. Graeme makes an unnecessary apology towards the end of this piece; whoever we are and however we do it, we’re all trying to promote music we love and there’s a place for all of us. So, let’s get on with it and hear what Graeme has to say.
Well, the time is upon us – the end of the year draws close and it’s been a topsy-turvy world for Little Devils – so if I may take this offer of writing a “High Fives” article – I will draw a veil over the low fives – and stay positive and mention 5 good things that happened this year.
We had many great gigs this year – really enjoyed Doncaster Blues, Norwich Blues, Maryport, Colne and lots more festivals and lots of gigs – but if I had to pick out one gig, it would have to be Dock Rock in Hartlepool. This festival is organised annually to celebrate the life of a good friend of mine. Peter “Dock” Oliver. It’s organised by his wife and one of his close friends and it’s been my privilege to play there the last two years. It keeps Peter in my mind and gives me a chance to meet many mutual friends, play for them, chat and remember our friend. So, my heartfelt thanks to Gillian and Neil for giving me this chance.
We recorded “The Storm Inside”, pressed it, released it and toured to promote it all within the first 5 months of 2015. It was amazing to see it reach No 1 in the IBBA play lists for May and to stay there for June! We were knocked out at the reception. We put heart and soul into the music. Belief in what we were aiming at, commitment into getting it as good as we could make it. The art work was our concept, every word and very note was sung and played knowing we were doing the best we could, the mixing, the mastering, the tea making and the mixing of the G&Ts – we did it all – especially the G&T bit.
I dunno where she came from! Back in January Louise Davies didn’t exist. Simple as that. There wasn’t a person called Louise Davies in our world. Then I met Bill Mead of The Sharpees. Bill can talk for England, and in one of his monologues about what I needed to do to move the band forward he mentioned this person he knew who could maybe help a bit if she liked the music (and if I somehow passed her “human qualities” assessment). A tentative “friend request” was extended. Then the storm broke – and it was a hurricane. How such a small person can generate so much activity I dunno. Whirling dervish springs to mind. Within maybe two months Louise was championing the band, playing our back catalogue on her radio show on Radio Seagull, promoting us at our gigs, speaking to agents around the world, telling everyone we were actually better than sliced bread – not just the best thing since – and in every other way – looking after us. We were honoured she accepted when we asked her if she would manage us. Since then, I have been given my instructions on a daily basis, I am kept in check, advised, encouraged, praised and slapped in equal measure! Louise is another pintsized powerhouse – I seem to be drawn to them! This, for Little Devils, has more than anything else, been the year of Louise!!! We are eternally grateful for the support, belief, advice, efforts and tireless bloody-minded hard work she has put in – long may you run.
Now this is a bit cheeky, praising a music magazine in a music blog! But, come on. We are all grown-ups and it’s a wide world. I just wanted to say a big thank you to Alan Pearce for having a lot of faith in Little Devils. He signed us to Kross Border Rekords, promoted the band, booked us at Colne and Skeggie and on a regular basis, calls me up and chews the fat. The guy is dealing with health issues, but through all of that stuff, he keeps his enthusiasm for music burning bright. He’s juggling a stack of different things that would tire a fully fit person – but he’s battling on with determination, energy and commitment. And I just want to take my hat off and say well done Alan. We are Spartacus. (And of course, there’s a load of space for Blues In Britain, The Blues Magazine, Music Riot, Blues in the South, BluesDoodles and all the other believers and dedicated enthusiasts of music – we are all in the same boat – let’s get rockin’).
I am not going to say anything about the hard times we’ve had. This is high fives – and so – even tho’ this is kinda a review of 2015, I am going to have a sneak peak towards 2016. Last night, the new line up had our first rehearsal. Now, I dunno how people are gonna react. We are going to walk out on stage next week and introduce Mags Supel on vocals and Chris Walker on guitars with the usual suspects, the Pintsized Powerhouse, Sara Leigh Shaw on drums and what’s his name on bass. Mags has a thousand and one lyrics to learn, melodies, arrangements, dance steps, choreography and conjuring tricks (no – obviously not – but it must feel like that!) and Chris has 11 notes to learn – all of which, he assures me, he’s played before. At least once. It is a daunting task. Frightening. But listening to Chris play last night, I smiled. Listening to Mags getting her head around the vocal and then adding her own touches, I nodded. Yes, it’s going to be good. It’s going to be great. So, out of the ashes, in December 2015 into the brave new year, Little Devils rise. Having new people come in, full of enthusiasm and commitment is, in itself, energising. Two days ago, for the first time in maybe 4 months, I had to jump out of bed, grab a guitar and quickly get down a new song that had just been delivered to my head via wherever. This is how it starts….