Elkie stays as young as she wants to

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Jul 2019 Elkie stays as young as she wants to

By Jim Stewart

AS EACH summer approaches, we are offered more and more music festivals to enjoy, from the monster events, like Glastonbury, Donnington, and Isle Of Wight, the nationwide weekends when a line-up of artists move from site to site over the three nights, the themed weekends like Reading, Ramblin’ Man, Black Deer and Love Supreme, But the sensibly-sized, CORNBURY MUSIC FESTIVAL, in Oxfordshire between July 5 and 7 is the perfect one for me. Now in its 16th year, it continues to offer family fun and great music for all tastes and ages.

Another really impressive one this year includes The Specials, Keane, Beach Boys, Elkie Brooks, K T Tunsall, Paul Carrack, Sam Moore, The Shires and Alfie Boe – to name a few, and if you add The Hairy Bikers, and the Comedy and Acoustic Areas, you certainly will be entertained non-stop for the weekend.

I was offered a choice of artists to talk to about the event and, not surprisingly, I opted for another chat with ELKIE BROOKS, celebrating 60 years as a professional singer very soon, still at the top with a recent No.1 album and a sell-out date at the London Palladium, and no stranger to the festival scene.

I posed several questions to her, beginning with:

Have you played the Cornbury Festival before?

“I don’t think so, but I’m sure it will be really nice, and I’m particularly looking forward to meeting K T Tunsall, The Shires and Paul Carrack because they are three artists that I really do admire, so that will be good.

“I’ve not been given a time frame yet but what we’re trying to do is work out a set list, I don’t know if you’ve seen any of my shows?”

As many as I could, which isn’t enough, but you normally do hits in the first half, then blues, rock and so much else when you come back on.

“Bless you, people do want to hear the hits so I try to make it as interesting for myself and the band, and it all seems to work out well.”

You’re obviously used to the festival scene.

“I have done lots going back to my Vinegar Joe days, and plenty more on my own, but everything depends on the day and the weather. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve walked to the side of the stage with my frock on, and with a pair of wellies and then had to change into my high heels to go onstage, but those days are gone.

“I’ve done a number of photo shoots where I’ve been lowered into high heels that I could never wear for the shots, but onstage I wear a comfortable heel because the feet are so important, especially when you’re going to be standing onstage for an hour or so.”

You will also be doing another tour this year?

“I don’t tour like lots of people do. I didn’t like those in the old days; I prefer to do one show and have a couple of days off before doing another show because, quite honestly, I need to rest my voice, I’m 74 now and singing as well as I am is down to how I look after it. Fortunately, I have a band of musicians who I’ve had for many, many years who don’t mind working that way either because they do other things as well.”

Is there a new album on the horizon?

“Well, working this way allows me to spend time in the studio with my son. We’re working on a new album, our fourth together, and then get it out there and start promoting it.”

I loved your last one ‘Powerless’ and also the recent compilation.

“The one with Virgin/EMI: they have been very good to me, I don’t know if this will be with them but we just need to get it finished first and then we’ll see.”

It’s amazing what the power of media and advertising can do.

“I know: that’s what Virgin said: ‘People just need reminding who you are’ and it proved right. We were searching for a movie to watch at the weekend and stumbled across ‘Finding My Feet’ which has such a good cast, you couldn’t ignore it, and whilethe credits were running ‘Running To The Future’ started. ‘I loved that film, everyone in it is always so good, and I love my music being part of the movie.’

Somehow I happened to bring Timi Yuro in to the conversation.

“Oh, I love Timi. I must tell you my Timi Yuro story. I’m a huge fan and I’d just come off stage and I’d recently put out a record with ‘What’s A Matter Baby’ on it, and Timi phoned me up, even though she had throat cancer, and I really couldn’t believe it, her voice was really husky:
‘Elkie, it’s Timi here, I can’t talk much because I’ve got throat cancer, I’ve just heard your version of my song and it’s amazing!’ It was one of the biggest thrills of my life having that call because there are very, very few singers from that particular time, especially in the sixties that I admired that much, unless they were from a jazz or blues background, but she was fantastic, I adored the woman.”

Elkie has achieved so much in her career, still totally
unchanged and her love for music and performing is
exactly the same as the young girl who joined Johnny
Preston on a package tour, singing better than ever.

Catch her at Cornbury and you’ll get so much more, and check ‘www.elkiebrooks.com’ for tour information.