lead guitar / midi pedals / guitar synth /
Stuart began playing guitar at 14 with a school friend, Mick Cheale (who is still playing in local Cambridge bands). It began as the traditional story of struggling through “Smoke On The Water” etc. (not to mention the pain of the “barre” chord!). They formed an acoustic duo going by the name of “The Swarf” – inspired by a poster in the school metal workshop which said “beware of the swarf” – this was 1977 remember! With that in mind it is not that much of a leap to understand their set, which consisted of several Punk songs by bands like The Clash and The Stranglers, mixed with Manfred Mann (Are you sure?, Ed.) and Black Sabbath. All played in completely the wrong keys using just the 4 chords they knew!! As a home made badge at the time said “We’re A7 Crazy”!
It was not until he went to Long Road 6th Form College in Cambridge that he joined his first “real” band. This time playing fretless bass in a group called”Horizon”. Playing mainly their own instrumental tunes in a jazz rock/pop vein. The band consisted of Angus Graham (he now runs a P.A. hire company, Guitar), Martin Freeman (keys), Pete Heslam (drums), Stuart (bass) with occasional vocals by Andrew Gerrard. The band split when they began jamming without Angus and with various other drummers and Stuart taking over guitar duties.
Stuarts second year at 6th Form saw him forming “Orcrist”. The 5 piece line up consisted of Martin Freeman (keys), Andrew Gerrard (vocals), Stuart (guitar), Tim Maitland (bass) and Chris Maitland (drums). They played gigs at the College and a few local parties. They were very into heavy prog bands such as Led Zeppelin, Rush and Magnum, and included a full version of the Rush classic “Xanadu” in the set. The band split up just after the end of school in 1981 when Andrew and Martin left Cambridge to go to University.
Having left 6th Form things went quiet for a few months before Stuart got together with a few ex-Long Road-ites to form the Psych’ band “Masque”. This band, which consisted of Stuart (guitar), Steve Watling (acoustic guitar and bass), John Reed (bass and keys), Ashley Wykes (drums) and Jo de Waal (vocals), played self-penned songs which tended to be in the vein of Hawkwind, Steve Hillage and Gong… with a hint of folk. This was, by far and away, his first serious gigging band playing all around East Anglia, although making no money at all! Their girl singer Jo gave the band an unusual sound due to her very precise choir-type voice. She was compared to Sandy Denny in one advert for the Peterborough Glasshouse. After a year and a half he felt that they had run out of steam and were beginning to repeat themselves, it turned out this feeling was shared by the rest of the band and in early 1983 they split.
Stuart had begun to be interested in Jazz-Rock again after a year and a half of “head” music and was able to go some way in this direction when he joined Mick in their first band together “Cheap Sneakers”. This band played mainly their own songs written by Mick and Pete with a few by Chris Bartlett (keyboards). The band played a few gigs around Cambridge and split in 1984.
After “Cheap Sneakers” split Stuart was involved in a band called “PMS” formed by Pete Boyd, Mick Holloway and Stuart but they never played a gig and soon fizzled out after a period of rehearsing, mainly because they felt that without a singer they couldn’t carry on.
In 1984 Stuart also began filling in on second guitar with local metallers “The Axe Band”. The line up consisted of the Brown brothers, Andy (guitar) and Phil (vox), the Maitland brothers – again! (Tim on bass and Chris on drums), and Stuart (rhythm guitar). Playing a combination of Brown Bros. songs and covers they gigged regularly around East Anglia, with material leaning towards the twin guitar sound of Thin Lizzy. Steve Jackson (vox) (see “Livin’ Dangerous”, “Burn” and “Bedlam”) who had been generally hanging around with the band began guesting on a few songs – in a similar way in which Stuart had been guesting with the band at the beginning.
This situation lasted until Phil left; at this point the band became”One Night Stand”. This band continued in a simlar vein, with Steve on lead vocals, for about a year or so until Tim left to work in the USA at which point they called it a day.
After the demise of “One Night Stand”, Stuart felt a need to change direction completely and so I called on Andreas (Rez) Rose. He knew he had a leaning towards folk music and owned the various instruments needed to play it on 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars and a mandolin. Stuart had played a mandolin before and thought he could pick it up. They got together and Stuart quickly became familiar with the instrument while they jammed some self penned jigs and reels. “Scallywag” only played one proper gig at The Ely Festival held at The Maltings in Ely in 1988. They went busking in Cambridge a few times but gradually the enthusiasm petered out and they eventually stopped playing together. In 1989 Rez moved to Northampton to go to Teacher Training College.
After “Scallywag” had played at The Ely Festival in 1988 the organiser of the event asked Stuart if they could play at a charity event he was holding at a barn near Soham, Cambridgeshire. As “Scallywag” had by then ceased to exist he said that he could get together another band to play. Calling on his “Cheap Sneakers” mates (minus Chris, as he had moved back to Wales) they began rehearsing for the event playing anything which was quick to get together and soon had a greatest hits set of 60’s and 70’s material. The gig went very well and they blew the organisers band off the stage. They were so pleased with the way the evening went that they decided to carry on, calling the new band “Current Event”. They played several more gigs around the Cambridge and Peterborough area. The band split when Graham was offered a national tour with his other band “The Jailbreakers”.
Formed during the summer of 1990 to play at an annual event held at a pub in Hemingford. “The Hemingford Band” for this year included Dan Soar from “Strontium”, event organiser Olaf Laos and Steve Jackson. The band needed a drummer so Stuart bought in Mick. They rehearsed for about 4 Saturdays before the event and it turned out to be a fun evening. They enjoyed it so much that they decided to continue although Mick declined to join the band. Instead they turned to another ex-“Strontium” man, Phil Bryant. This band became known as “Livin’ Dangerous” and played hard rock and heavy metal covers of bands such as Cinderella, Poison and Dirty White Boy. Very much the “Hair Metal” of the time.
They replaced Olaf with my cousin Simon Pledger on rhythm guitar and changed the name of the band to”Burn”. They played a few gigs around Cambridge and supported local metallers “Hope and Glory” on several occasions. The material by now had shifted to a more punk and grunge form of metal, although they did keep on a few of the old Thin Lizzy numbers. They heard at some point that there was a band already going by the name of “Burn” and so he band’s name was changed to “Bedlam”. Not realising that this was the name of several other bands already in existence.
Stuart continued to play with “Burn/Bedlam” during this time. He also auditioned for and joined a 60’s and 70’s cover band which was orginally called “After Midnight”. After their first gig they changed the name of the band to”Matrix”. This was to turn out to be Stuarts most continuously working band up to this time. The line up was to change several times during this period most notably when Ken Scullard was bought in to replace Eddy Boyd on bass and later, on New Year’s Eve of 1995, when Mike Richardson played his final gig with the band.
By 1996 “Burn/Bedlam” had fizzled out. In 1996 several jam sessions were held with Mick, Bill Terry and Stuart and a singer called John. The first of these sessions included a keyboard player called Chris. This pointed the way to future but it was not until a year later in 1997 did they we finally get the first line up of “S.w.a.m.p.” together. Stuart was still working hard with “Matrix”. They tried several singers out to replace Mike Richardson and played several gigs with various stand-in singers. They also held auditions but in the end it was decided that Stuart should take over the role of lead singer. The band was still as successful as ever and played many gigs over the next 2 years until in early 1998 the band split.
“Matrix” still had 2 outstanding bookings to play at large venues which they had played at over the previous years on a regular basis. So while Bob Leach, lead guitar, went on to join “Get Back” (another local 60’s cover band) the remaining members, along with Bill Terry on rhythm guitar, decided to play the outstanding dates. After these 2 gigs were out of the way the band changed it’s name to “The Timebeats” and continued on with this line up until Bill decided to leave the band after just 6 more gigs. At this point the band became a 3-piece and remained this way until they decided to split after the New Years Eve gig of 1999. In August of 1998, “S.w.a.m.p.” played their debut gig at the Blockfest Festival, near Ely.
During this time “S.w.a.m.p.” was Stuarts only band and they continued to bring in new songs and play gigs around the Cambridge area.
“S.w.a.m.p.” played more gigs. “The Timebeats” also reformed to play a one-off gig for Stuarts parents Golden Wedding and decided to carry on. Over the next 2 years they played 5 gigs. Meanwhile, Bill had not been happy within”S.w.a.m.p.” for some time and after a gig on May 1st 2003, he announced that he would be leaving the band. He fulfilled his commitments to the band by playing 2 more gigs. The final one being on July 30th 2003. The band continued with Ken Scullard taking over on bass. He played his first gig with the band on October 29th 2003 which also signalled the end for “The Timebeats”.
“S.w.a.m.p.” ditched a lot of the jazzier pieces and began concentrating on the more progressive rock side of the band. This still gave an opportunity to stretch out as musicians without the self indulgence that jazz can sometimes bring. Ken’s input re-energised the band for a while and the band added lots of new material on a regular basis. “S.w.a.m.p.”played at many new venues to a good response. Unfortunately in 2006 they probably played a few too many gigs and were not able to rehearse enough or bring in new songs. This may have contributed to the bands eventual “burn-out”. The band officially played it’s last gig on 29th November 2006. Rehearsals for a new 3-piece band and a whole new set began taking place.
In the middle of January, the new band became “The Kurmújun” and they played the first gig at The Rock, Cherry Hinton Rd, Cambridge on Friday February 9th 2007. The band continued to develop over the next 2 years. Stuart began to play a set of Elka PM-13 midi bass pedals, which were later upgraded to a set of Roland PK-5A pedals. This expanded on the sound of the band greatly. In fact, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” would have been impossible to do without them.
2009-mid 2012 In January 2009
“The Kurmújun” became a four piece with the addition of Phil Morgan on vocals. With Phil in the band, They have become more and more successful. Gigging regularly, playing many new venues as some of their old regular haunts were closed down. In late 2011 Stuart became the proud owner of a Fractal Audio Axe FX II. In January 2012, Peter Boyd announced that he was going to leave the band. He played through several more gigs until a replacement could be found. The initial replacement was Bill Terry who Stuart played with in S.w.a.m.p., but it soon became apparent that he was not as committed to the the band and our gigs as the rest of us and so we parted ways, once again. Pete came back to help us for a few more gigs and we also did a one-off gig with Mick’s son Phil Holloway on bass.
Through holding auditions they came across Rob Holloway. Not only is Rob very talented, he shares their tastes and vision for the band. Phil and Mick are now helping out by playing some of the keyboard parts on small midi keyboards and Rob has expanded his set up to include Bass Pedals, a Moog Minitaur, a MicroKorg and a Sampler, between the 4 of them they have all our keyboard needs covered!