Kolakoca had been hired for a 50th birthday bash at the Beehive, I took the night off to attend. It is not much of a secret that I love the music of Kolakoca, I have tried to spread the word of their musical brilliance, but sadly to little avail.
Kolakoca is Ray’s band. He plays rhythm guitar whilst singing. He’s composed all the songs, with one exception. There is also a lead guitar, a bass guitar, a sax and drums. Then there is Nova who sings alongside Ray. She’s his daughter and an integral member of the band. She sings backing, and then she turns DIVA. She out-sings the best singers that Pink Floyd could find. She has a power, a control, a musicality that leaves me awestruck. This is sheer brilliance. She completely exhausts herself. Musical perfection. The one song they perform that Ray did not write is Zappa’s “The Torture Never Stops”. This is covered brilliantly. Nova of course, supplies the screams. Zappa himself would surely have approved.
I have seen this remarkable band quite a few times and feel in tune with them. I feel at one with the music, as soon as they begin. During the gig I tried work out why I love their music quite so much. I know I am only a few months younger than Ray. One generation older than some of the band, and possible two generations older than others, but the songs are Rays. He doesn’t keep them static. They evolve, they grow. They are exciting. They are slightly dangerous. They are real. They are fun. Then I had it. They remind me of a few fleeting moments in my life, half a century ago when the world was so very different.
I remember travelling by express train to London in the 1950s. This was pulled by a giant living steam engine. It was like nothing you can experience today in this country. No open plan carriages, no smooth ride, no quiet. You sat in a small compartment, squashed together. There was a constant rhythm as the short rails produced an unending musical pattern. Then, as you shot at full speed over the points, a magical discordance and hint of danger as the carriages shivered and shuddered. Train whistles, black smoke, steam. The engine was alive, and continued to make wonderful noises as you walked passed it at the journey’s end. The crew were always friendly, and proud of their work. Impressions made on a little boy from Swindon. This, at a time when Swindon was the railways. It was all marvellously magical.
When Kolakoca play, I become that little boy again, listening to the constant beautiful rhythms, living them. The danger as the expected turns into surprise. The music is played with a power, a pride, and such fun. There is always something unexpected within known songs. One of the joys is when one song goes on and on simply because they are enjoying themselves so much. Ray once apologized for being over indulgent by playing one song for twenty minutes. I though, was in seventh heaven. I had my nose against the carriage window as we hurtled over the points at a major junction. Now lest you think this band is for boys only, let me assure you that nothing but nothing could be further from the truth. The band has a very powerful and strange effect on the ladies. They want to dance. Not only do they want to do this, they do! Dancing to the guitars, the sax, and the drums whilst Ray and Nova sing rock/jazz/blues that are so perfectly attuned to my musical habit. For I feel I am hooked and sadly, they do not play as often as I would like. I make up for it when they do. I listen to, and hang on to, their every driving beat. From a very selfish point of view, stay away from their gigs. I love to be at the front when they play, and don’t want to be squashed. So continue to stay away, and don’t tell your friends. I can continue as I am, and that’s very, very, happy!!!