Hacktrax News – March 2024

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Velvet Afternoon 20th Anniversary

I remember when I was on tour in the U.S. with my brother in the early 80’s, a guy came up to me after a gig. “So you’re John Hackett?” he said. I nodded. “Wow, I was expecting this ooold man, not someone young like you!” I think it was a compliment – I guess he’d assumed a controlled flute vibrato would only come after a lifetime’s practice. Now I am that old man, though like Clint Eastwood, I try not to let him in too often. But I’m still practising and trying to improve.

Some 10 years later, after the birth of our son (and with house prices being what they were even then!) my wife and I made the decision to leave London for Aylesbury. I’d often gone there as a teenager either by train or cadging a lift off of one of the guys in Genesis. Friar’s was a regular gig for bands like Genesis, Van de Graaf Generator and many others. I guess that’s why Aylesbury held a natural attraction for me.
We stayed there for 10 years, raising 3 children. It was during this time I suffered my neck injury and with time on my hands began to write my first solo album ‘ Velvet Afternoon’.
I got inspiration by wandering up and down the canal, singing melodies into a micro cassette dictating machine (no Dictaphone jokes, please). I’d then go home to my studio (okay, it was a shed at the bottom of the garden) and start to harmonise the tunes that had somehow appeared on those long walks and spin them out into complete pieces.

Later Sally Goodworth the pianist would take my skeletal melodies with chords and improvise beautiful, flowing piano accompaniments. Even later still my ‘Symbiosis’ partner in crime Clive Williamson helped us finally turn these little tunes into a fully-fledged album, and here we are 20 years later.
It’s just flute and piano, very simple but somehow it’s one of the recordings I’m most proud of.

Since then I’ve recorded a number of acoustic, classically influenced albums including Moonspinner which has the original version of Red Hair – now transformed into a prog rock jam by the John Hackett Band.
If you want to listen to the origins of my solo career you can stream Velvet Afternoon on Spotify here

On Saturday 20th April I shall be back in Aylesbury with the John  Hackett Band at the Queens Park Arts Centre where my wife often used to while away a few pleasant hours doing pottery.

Meanwhile, all thanks to Tony Brierly for inviting us to play at Band on the Wall in Manchester back in February. It was a first for me to play at this lovely venue, somewhat improved now from the original  version where the band were  squeezed onto a tiny balcony on the wall, allowing more space for dancing. Congratulations to Tony for organising the evening and our best wishes in his endeavour to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK.

Upcoming Gigs

There’s been a lot in the press recently about smaller venues struggling during the current cost of living crisis – please do book tickets in advance if you can, as it really helps these important venues continue putting on shows.

Fri 15th March – Forum, Darlington – with special guest Heather Findlay
Tickets here

Saturday 16 March – Beatrix Players – Barlaston Village Hall, Stoke on Trent – with Amanda Lehman

Fri 5th April – Crookes, Sheffield – with Del Scott Miller
Tickets here

Sat 6th April – The Village Pump, Trowbridge – with Howard Sinclair
Tickets here

Friday 12 April – Beatrix Players – The Winter’s End Progressive Rock Festival –

Fri 19th April – Square Chapel Arts Centre, Halifax – with Joanne Harris & the Storytime Band
Tickets here

Sat 20th April – Queens Park Arts Centre, Aylesbury
Tickets here

Sat 25th May – 45 Live, Kidderminster + Emerald Dawn
Tickets here

Sat 1 June – Soundle Music Festival
Tickets here

Sun 2 June – Barnoldswick Music & Arts Centre – with Amanda Lehmann
Tickets here

Sat 15th June – East Molesey Methodist Church, London 

Sun 16 June – The 1865, Southampton – with special guest Heather Findlay
Tickets here

12 th April – Winters End Beatrix Players 19 th April – Halifax JHB 20 th April – Aylesbury JHB 25 th May – Kidderminster JHB 1 st June – Soundle JHB 2 nd June – Barnoldswick JHB 15 th June – East Molesey JHB 16 th June – 1865 Southampton JHB