Preview/ Interview. Carol Grimes at St James Studio



For one of the opening gigs of their new 100-capacity performance studio space in Palace Street SW1, the programming team at the St. James Theatre have booked one of the most truthful, authentic singer-songwriters around, Carol Grimes. A legend. In the sixties she was performing alongside Cream, John Mayall and The Yardbirds

Grimes explains she is very happy to be there at the birth of a new venue:

“London needs more venues if [music] is not live, it dies.”

Grimes will be with her current, top-notch regular band : trombonist Annie Whitehead (“we've worked off and on for 25 years”) , her pianist/ arranger/ MD Dorian Ford (”ten years, we meet every other Tues for just two hours to work on new songs”) drummer Winston Clifford and bassist Neville Malcolm. Carol says: “this group feels bedded in, we're all good mates, it's good to work with people that you've known for a long time, worked with on different things.”

Carol Grimes is one of the authentic London voices. She explained that in the 1970's she lived in America. “ I came away thinking didn't feel it was home. I realised I was more at home in countries in Europe where I didn't even speak the language. In London I get that sense of place and belonging. “London, warts and all, is home,” she says.

Her show to launch the first season at St James Theatre will be a mixture of old and new songs. “Some people want to hear the familiar. What are regular features? Who do you want from the album Eyes Wide Open is a definite favourite.

Another is Billy. A song by Carol Grimes in which she remembers “mad bad boy Billy McClynn” whom she knew decades ago in California. Another favourite is the Oscar Brown Jr version of Round Midnight. “He re-wrote lyrics, inserted a poem. His song is about the ageing process.After all, we've all got to die .” (Carol went into this in more detail earlier this year in a lengthy interview with Brian Blain)

Oscar Brown Jr's poignant words are:

"What is being set

What is Around Midnight

What is to be lent

that we may borrow

For the new today that's made from an old tomorrow"


St James Theatre have found the right voice to celebrate its new today in its new premises, and the opening of the Studio space. Some other names in the Studio to watch out for: are bassist Peter Ind on November 16th, Radio 4 comedy god Barry Cryer's Butterfly Brain show on November 18th and a Christmas gala presented by Peter Conway on December 7th.

Bookings at St James Theatre website

5 comments:

  1. A true human voice in a music world that sometimes appears to have lost its way (in a sea of auto-tune and empty publicity) ~ an evening with the sublime Carol Grimes puts all of that on hold.

    Catching her sell-out performance at “The Vortex” jazz club last week, she was on top form, kicking off with a sprightly “Little Red Top”, followed by an impassioned reading of Clive Langer and Elvis Costello’s “Shipbuilding” ~ Carol Grimes reaffirms faith in the power of genuine music to heal and inspire, and she literally wiped the floor with the competition (whoever that may be this week) ...

    Back catalogue favourites such as “Who Do You Want” and an achingly desolate take on Billie Holiday’s “I Cover the Waterfront” were mixed with brand new songs such as “Inside” (with Dorian Ford’s haunting gospel keyboard arrangement underpinning her impressive lyrical abstraction) and the narrative reminiscences of “Billy’s Song”.

    An intimate and sensual duet with bassist Neville Malcolm on the Eden Ahbez classic “Nature Boy” stunned the capacity audience into silent reverie, while an extended “Alexandria Dance” (complete with Tibetan bells) and a bewitching encore of Monk’s “Round Midnight” brought forth raucous applause and cries for more.

    And when she lets loose on Oscar Brown Jr’s cautionary tale “But I Was Cool” ~ to quote the old adage: “you better hold on to your hat, buster, we may end up miles from here...”

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  2. I saw Carol Grimes at the Vortex a few days ago. This was a wonderful exciting performance by a really talented artist.

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  3. A very versatile and talented performer and a true survivor in the business whom I had the pleasure to interview earlier this year. http://www.aylesburyfriars.co.uk/interviewscarolgrimes.html

    Cheers, Mike

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  4. In her wide-ranging choice of songs - jazz, pop, folk - Carol Grimes captures the spirit of London. Magic!

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  5. An evening with Grimes is without fail exciting, emotional, thrilling and without a doubt FUN! Time spent with Grimes and her wonderful musicians is not to be missed! Carol Paul

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