Sixtyplusurfers Interview

Foster & Allen

By Jenny Itzcovitz

Foster & Allen will be touring in the Autumn. They are also bringing out Putting On The Style, a 2 CD/DVD set. We caught up with Mick Foster and Tony Allen to find out more about their music, the early days of their career, and forthcoming tour.

Can you tell us a bit about yourselves and where you are from?

Mick:  “I am originally from Ballymore Eustace, County Kildare. I was born in Ardenode Stud where my father was a horsebox driver but we moved to Milltown, Rathconrath, County Westmeath when I was 12 years old.”

Tony: “I was born the youngest of a family of nine children in a small village in the heart of Ireland called Mount Temple, Co. Westmeath. I now live with my wife Trionagh in Armagh, Northern Ireland.”

What musical instruments do you each play? Do you have any favourites? And who taught you to play them?

Mick:  “I play the piano accordion, a bit of guitar, tin whistle and mandolin. I was taught the piano accordion firstly by Sister Agnes when I attended Ballymahon Secondary School and I learnt all my traditional accordion music  from the former All Ireland  Accordion Champion, Frank Gavigan, Rathconrath.”

Tony: “I started playing the accordion when I was a young boy after one of my brothers brought one home from England for me. I then moved on to play guitar and keyboards and sing. I taught myself how to play all of the instruments.”

Can you tell us about the early days of Foster & Allen and how you got together?

Mick:  “Foster and Allen was formed in the Prince of Wales Pub, Kilburn Park, London in 1975.”

Tony: “We met when playing in a small local band around the Midlands of Ireland back in 1967. The story of Foster & Allen started in 1975 when we were on a short tour of the UK working in Irish Music venues.

“Mick and I had, at this stage, the idea of working together as a duo, playing easy listening music with a touch of traditional Irish instruments. When the tour ended Mick and I stayed behind to try out the Duo on the public. We played several venues in the London area and the reaction was very favourable so we decided to remain as Foster & Allen.”

How would you describe your music?

Mick:  “Our music is a mix of middle of the road, traditional, folk and easy listening.”

Tony: “Easy listening, middle of the road with a bit of traditional Irish music and song.”

How were you discovered and how did you make your first record?

Mick: “We had a number 1 hit with A Bunch of Thyme in Ireland in 1979 and it got into the British top 20 in March 1982.”

Tony: “It was difficult at the beginning and after a time working on the Irish and UK circuit we released our first single The Rambles Of Spring with CMR Records and we are still with CMR.”

You appeared on Top of the Pops in 1982 with your hit single ‘A Bunch of Thyme’ dressed in fabulous green silk traditional clothes. Can you tell us what it was like to appear on the show, and who designed your outfits?

Mick: “To me it was just another gig because I had never even seen Top of the pops until we appeared on it and Mick O’Riordan who was involved in the record industry in Ireland, suggested that we wear outfits from the Barry Lyndon film which had just been released.”

Tony: “Top of the pops was unreal. I was a big fan of the show so I really enjoyed it. The Green clothes were made by Jas Fagen menswear in Thomas Street, Dublin who also made the white suits for Joe Dolan.”

I love your hit song, ‘Maggie’. Can you tell us about it?

Mick: “It was a song written in the late 1800s and it was a hit for Count John McCormack in 1919.”

Tony: “The song Maggie is a very old song. It was recorded by the famous Irish Tenor Count John McCormack from Athlone near where I was born and it is a song we have to include at all our concerts. It is still a winner.”

You will be doing an extensive UK tour in the autumn. Can you tell us what fans can look forward to and some of the songs you will be singing?

Mick: “We will be doing all our hit songs from over the years, a selection from our new CD and a cross section of our songs over the past 43 years.”

Tony: “The programme for the tour will be made up from tracks from our new 2 CD/DVD release Putting On The Style which was released on the 28th September in the UK and Ireland, as well as all of our hit songs.”

How do you prepare for a tour like this and keep your voices in good shape and stay in good health?

Mick:  “It’s getting harder each tour as we are getting older each year! I play handball twice a week and have horses at home, which I work with every day, which keeps me quite fit.”

Tony: “I try to look after both my health and the voice. It’s not easy, especially when you are on the road touring, but I try.”

What do you enjoy most about performing live and interacting with the audience?

Mick:  “We started playing music because we love being on stage and have done that since primary school, and I love the comedy songs and monologues that get the audience laughing.”

Tony: “I think everybody who plays music likes to do it live in front of a live audience. It’s much better when you have people listening, and you get the feedback from the audience, and it’s good to meet them after the show.”

Do you have any favourite songs you particularly like to sing and the audience joins in with?

Mick:  “I don’t really a favourite out of all our repertoire, I like them all.”

Tony: “I like to sing some of the great old ballads and love songs from the twentieth century.”

You are releasing ‘Putting on the Style’ a 2 CD / DVD Set. Can you tell us about it, the theme, and some of the songs included?

Mick:  “We took 50 videos, some from our numerous TV series here in Ireland and some promo videos, then we picked out 50 songs to go with them, so people have 50 songs plus 50 matching videos.”

Tony: “This new release features 100 tracks, as a 50 track 2CD/50 track DVD set and includes our most recent single and video Burning Bridges with Country & Irish Superstar, Nathan Carter. The DVD features on location videos, TV studio recordings and promotional videos recorded over the years.”

How did you record and compile it? And what did you enjoy most about the process?

Mick:  “We leave all the recording side to the record company.”

Tony: “We have recorded nearly a 1,000 songs during our career, so we really enjoyed picking out some that were not on any recent releases and also some of the DVD’s were only on video and not DVD.”

Over the years you’ve toured around the world, bringing traditional Irish music to the people. What have been your favourite venues, and do you have any special memories you can share?

Mick:  “My favourite city to play in is Glasgow and the most unusual country we toured in was South Africa.

Tony: We don’t just play Irish traditional music. We’re more easy listening/middle of the road, and I have to say I enjoy all the places we play. When people come to a venue and listen to us it’s very, very enjoyable for me.”

What is your favourite aspect of Irish culture? And how does it reflect in your music?

Mick:  “Traditional Irish dance music.”

Tony: “There is a great Irish culture of songwriting and some great songwriters come from Ireland, and we have been fortunate to record original songs from so many of them. Included in these would be P.J.Murrihy, who wrote some of our recent singles, ‘We Owe It All To You’ and ‘Mrs. Brown’s Boys’.”

How do you tend to relax when you are not singing and performing?

Mick: “I play at traditional Irish music sessions and festivals, and I enjoy going to horse race meetings and hurling matches.”

Tony: “I live in Lurgan with my wife Trionagh, and when she is not on tour with Daniel O’Donnell we just take it easy or go to visit our grandkids.”

How will you be spending Christmas?

Mick:  “I will be spending Christmas quietly here, at home in Ireland with the family.”

Tony: “Nice and peaceful. I will enjoy the run up to Christmas but then we are back on the road touring Ireland from the 27th December running up to the end of January.”

Do you have a special message for readers of Sixtyplusurfers?

Mick:  “Age is only a number!”

Tony: “Enjoy yourselves.”

Watch Foster & Allen sing ‘Burning Bridges’ with Nathan Carter

Click on arrow to watch the video

Foster & Allen are touring in the Autumn.

For details click on www.fosterandallen.ie/live-dates

Order Foster & Allen Putting on the Style from www.amazon.co.uk

For more information visit www.fosterandallen.ie

Sixtyplusurfers Competition

Win Andrea Bocelli The Music of Silence,
a Great New DVD

Sixtyplusurfers has teamed up with 4Digital Media to offer two lucky readers the chance to win Andrea Bocelli – The Music of Silence, an inspiring new movie on DVD.

Internationally renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli has been entertaining and thrilling audiences all over the world with his astounding voice for some 25 years, selling more than 20 million records, filling stadiums galore, and bringing joy to the masses.

He has earned critical acclaim and many accolades including Best in the World at the American Music Awards, a Classical Brit Award, a Billboard Latin Music Award and a Golden Globe and has performed for Popes, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Kings, Queens and Princes, and performed with world famous singers including Pavarotti, Celine Dion and Ed Sheeran. Now his amazing life story is told in a fascinating biopic, The Music of Silence, based on his bestselling book.

Starring Game of Thrones’ Toby Sebastian as Andrea Bocelli, Hollywood favourite Antonio Banderas, and an appearance from Bocelli himself, who also provides his angelic singing, The Music of Silence arrives on DVD and digital from 4Digital Media, ahead of Bocelli’s arena tour dates, including London’s O2 Arena and Dublin’s 3Arena.

Before he was Andrea Bocelli, he was Amos Bardi. Born nearly blind and gifted with a superb voice, Amos (Sebastian – Barely Legal) is separated from his family to attend an institute for the visually impaired, but a terrible accident occurs while he’s there, resulting in complete loss of sight. 

Despite being told that he will never be a serious opera singer, Amos is driven by great ambition and with the help of his maestro (Banderas – The Mask of Zorro, Puss in Boots), overcomes every obstacle and achieves his first great success on stage. From there, he begins a life studded with victories and becomes one of the most renowned opera singers in the world.

Directed by the multi-award-winning Michael Radford (Il Postino, The Merchant of Venice, 1984) this heart-warming and inspirational film also stars Jordi Mollà (Colombiana) and Luisa Ranieri (Letters to Juliet).

With an astounding soundtrack featuring the voice of a living legend and superb performances, experience the wonder of The Music of Silence.  

Special features on the DVD include a behind-the-scenes featurette which has interviews with Andrea Bocelli, Antonio Banderas, Michael Radford and more. 

Review by May Babatsikos

Being a big fan of Andrea Bocelli I was delighted to be able to review The Music of Silence DVD.

Toby Sebastian gave a very compelling and moving performance of Andrea Bocelli’s life story. It was fascinating to hear the actual story of this talented man’s difficult obstacles he had to overcome until he became the amazing opera singer that he is today. I also enjoyed the role that Antonio Banderas played as the Maestro.

The interview with Andrea Bocelli was also very interesting, as were the bonus scenes in the DVD. I would highly recommend this inspiring DVD of Andrea Bocelli to classical music fans and in my opinion it would make a wonderful Christmas gift.

The DVD has a running time of 101 minutes approximately. RRP is £19.99.

For Your Chance to Win

Tell us which actor plays the part of Andrea Bocelli in The Music of Silence?

     a) Daniel Craig
     b) Toby Sebastian
     c) Richard Madden
     d) Tom Hiddleston

To Enter the Competition

Tell us which actor plays the part of Andrea Bocelli in The Music of Silence? Then send in your answer together with your name, address and telephone number by clicking on the Sixtyplusurfers link below:


* Please label your entry
Andrea Bocelli

* This competition is open to
    our UK readers only

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will not be shared with third parties
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Strictly Come Dancing News

Strictly Come Dancing Live Arena Tour

There’s FAB-U-LOUS news for Strictly fans across the country as it’s announced that all four TV Judges will join the 2019 Strictly Come Dancing UK Arena Tour. Craig Revel Horwood, Darcey Bussell and Bruno Tonioli will star alongside Head TV Judge Shirley Ballas – who makes her debut on the live extravaganza – for 29 supersized sparkle-filled shows fox-trotting around the country in January and February next year. Tickets are on sale now!

The awesome foursome will join tour host and 2016 Strictly winner Ore Oduba, at some of the biggest entertainment venues across the UK. Opening at the Arena Birmingham on 18 January, the tour will then visit Leeds’ First Direct Arena, Manchester Arena, Liverpool’s Echo Arena, Sheffield’s Fly DSA Arena, The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, Nottingham’s Motorpoint Arena and The SSE Arena, Wembley.  The tour culminates with four shows at The O2 Arena in London on 9 and 10 February.

The live show will also be directed by Craig Revel Horwood and feature many of the celebrities and professional dancers from the current series of the award-winning BBC One show.  Further casting announcements will be made over the coming weeks.

Shirley Ballas says, “I’m really looking forward to joining Darcey, Bruno and Craig on the Strictly live tour judging panel. I’ve heard so much about the amazing audiences at the arena shows and can’t wait to get the show on the road in January!”

Darcey Bussell adds, “I had a wonderful experience with the Strictly company on the 2018 tour and am really excited to be able to join them again in January, and to meet the show’s fantastic audiences across the country!”

Bruno Tonioli remarks, “It’s great news that Shirley will be joining us on the judging panel on the live tour next year. We are all in for a treat – with the amazing dance routines, the stunning costumes and the incredible live music – it’s going to be fantastico!”

Craig Revel Horwood agrees, “2019 is going to be our best Strictly tour yet. There’ll be the glitz, there’ll be the glamour and of course the Glitterball winner at every show. And Shirley joining us on tour and Ore back as our host, it’s the perfect night out for all the family to enjoy. One word, three syllables: FAB-U-LOUS!”

Arena audiences are in for a real treat, as they enjoy a fantastic evening of entertainment, showcasing all the amazing choreography and incredible live music that Strictly is famous for.  They will experience a host of breathtaking dance routines guaranteed to leave them spellbound, together with all the glitz, glamour and magic of the TV show live on stage. This is a must-see spectacle for fans of all ages.

As well as enjoying the glittering routines, arena audiences have the power to decide who wins the coveted Live Tour Glitterball Trophy at the end of each show.  After each celebrity couple has performed, the judges will provide their invaluable critique and scores – but the audience can also vote via text for their favourite couple and ultimately they will decide who wins!

To book tickets please contact the venue or call 0844 875 8758

For more information and to book tickets visit www.strictlycomedancinglive.com  

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