Sail on Bidgie Reef
February 22, 2002
Wilde would probably be able to relate to local musical stalwart Pete Brookes and actor-turned pop star Roger Winslet, who know the importance of a sharp turn of phrase.
And they are wild about their music too.
The dynamic duo form the beating heart of Bidgie Reef and The Gas, a unique band which scooped a double prize in the Sounds’ readers poll of 2001.
Their debut gig, a storming set at Womad last summer, was voted the best live performance by a Reading band while the band claimed best Reading act in their rookie year.
The partnership is something of an arranged marriage, born out of a comical meeting at a wedding reception gig.
But the result is a match made in heaven, “I saw something in Roger straight away,” explains Brookes.
“The first time I was aware of him was when I was playing a gig for his elder daughter Anna’s wedding.
“I was suddenly aware of these unfamiliar vocals and when I saw him I didn’t know who he was.
“But what struck me was his timing and style and the power of his voice. When the track was finished I went to shake his hand and told him I was blown away by his voice.
“I suggested we got something going together. Then, when he started to write, I was blown away again.”
Winslet also subscribes to the mutual appreciation society.
“Pete encouraged me to write but I really didn’t know how. It was just a stream of consciousness.
I was writing down anything I thought of there and then.”
In Brookes, a classically trained musician and well-known in Reading music circles following his involvement with Readipop and the popular local band Chocolate Starship, he had a good tutor.
But Brookes insists he is not teaching Winslet, merely guiding him.
“I know what a good song is but I couldn’t describe the criteria for a good songwriter,” Brookes claims.
As we meet in a Reading pub virtually overlooked by Wilde’s old compulsory dwellings, the two mutual literary lovers look like father and son.
Both love words, love jazz and love life.
The evidence is winning its battle to be seen in their music.
“First and foremost it’s about the songs and they are all written from our lives and experiences,” reveals Brookes.
Both are flattered by comparisons to the likes of Ian Dury and Tom Waites, but insist they do things their way.
The band plan three singles and an album during 2002 and will be playing live in Reading during March and April, including a stint at the Reading Beer Festival.
Release dates and gig news are available on the band’s website at www.bidgiereef.com.