Vicky meets… Andy Beaumont, band leader and musician
The ultimate prescription for anyone feeling out of sorts, when Andy and the band play scorching numbers like Sing, Sing, Sing! even the grumpiest of us cracks a smile.
Such is the infectious feel-good power of superbly played live music.
Catching up with Andy during rehearsals for the forthcoming Live at the Regis! variety show at Bognor’s Alexandra Theatre, the youthful-looking seventy-one-year-old was quick to praise Hazel Latus, the show’s Executive Producer.
“It would be nice to think that variety is having some sort of revival, so all credit to Hazel for putting the show together.”
Certainly a rapidly growing year-on-year audience at the Bognor show suggests that good quality variety remains popular, but while TV shows like Britain’s Got Talent may have played a part in the renascence Andy remains unconvinced that performers benefit from the experience.
“One or two acts from shows like that might go on to make a lot of money, but they never get the grounding of going around working men’s clubs like I did to toughen them up and give them the staying power,” he told me.
Now in its third year, Live at the Regis is one of the few true variety shows in Britain. Including comedy, ventriloquism, music and dance, headlining this year is much-loved comedian Joe Pasquale. Joined by super-talented funny lady Hilary O’Neill and a host of brilliant performers, it is, promised Andy, a show that embraces the nostalgia and glory days of summer at the seaside, but served with a modern twist and contemporary flair.
Now based in Barnham, Yorkshire-born Andy told me how he and his cousin Howard Beaumont (of BBC ‘The Organist Entertains’ fame) began piano lessons together as small children.
“I’m from a musical family. My dad played violin and mum plays piano – she is ninety-nine now and still plays every day. I turned professional as a drummer when I was twenty-two and played pubs and clubs in the West Riding, which just about sustained me,” he chuckled.
Setting up his own band and swiftly establishing an outstanding reputation, offers of tours and summer seasons poured in.
“Later we played American bases in Germany and on cruises,” said Andy, who met wife Carol in 1989.
“We moved to Bracklesham Bay in 1997 and I was at Pontins there for twenty years,” he recalled, adding: “but I was also performing special variety weekends with Carol and fixing musicians and supplying music to cruises and circuses and at the same time.”
With a passion for almost all genres of music, Andy has a special affection for the Glen Miller sound.
“When I first heard a seven-piece band play it brought tears to my eyes,” he confessed. “To think some people die without hearing that! It took my breath away then and it still gives me a kick now.”
Variety, it seems, really is the spice of life.
Live at The Regis! is at The Alexandra Theatre Thursday 9 - Sunday 12 August. Tickets: www.alexandratheatre.co.uk; 01243 861010