Illingworth Celebrate Their 100th Gig!

Salisbury-based acoustic rock duo John Illingworth Smith and Jolyon Dixon play The High Post Golf Club, between Amesbury and Salisbury this Friday 2nd December, and celebrate that it’s their 100 gig.

Although the duo had been collaborating musically for over three decades, gigs dried out proir to 2019, and they stopped, as Jolyon vaguely explained, “for one reason or another!”

He told of how around the Christmas peroid of that year, “John and I were chatting about how we missed doing gigs, wondering if we should maybe get a set together and have go at performing again as a duo.”

We wasn’t certain if anyone would want to listen,” Jolyon continued, “if we could actually get any gigs at all, or even how to get the songs working with just the two of us playing.” Today it’s still a wonder to us how they manage such a gorgeous sound as a duo, but they do! At Bishop’s Cannings’ CrownFest this summer they stole the stage following two heavy rocks bands, and to see Illingworth stamp their mark on a cover as technical as Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here, or The Beatles’ Hey Jude, is something really special.

To maintain a pub circuit, Illingworth have mastered the cover scene with a plethora of memorable and sing-along rock classics, but neither are they strangers to creating originals, knocking out two breathtaking albums to date. This is where their relationship with Salisbury’s Tunnel Rat studio producer, Eddie Prestidge, comes in handy.

Our good friend Eddie encouraged us to give it a try,” Jolyon said, “offered to become our manager and handle the bookings. So, we gladly accepted and sure enough we got our first booking in February 2020, with several more following soon after. Of course, early in March the lockdowns started and we couldn’t go out and play. We were gutted, but, undeterred we used the time to make a new album of original songs and we did gigs whenever the restrictions allowed.”

Well, this weekend will be our 100th gig, So we would just like to say thank you so so much to all the excellent venues that have booked us, the weddings, parties, festivals, celebrations and absolutely everyone who has come to see us along the way! It’s been an absolute blast getting to this point. We still love doing what we do, and hope to make it to our 200th gig!”

With the trajectory these guys are flying on, I estimate that’ll be around spring! What more of an apt venue name, then, for their 100th gig than the High Post?! But seriously, these guys could bring joy to punters and provide a cracking night to any pub. I’d wager they could even raise the morale of the Queen Vic in Eastenders given half a chance!

Congratulations to John, Jolyon and Eddie, and hope to catch you again soon, guys.

Tunnel Rat Refurb their Studio for Social Distancing Recordings

Unaware of their sound until now, but I’ve heard only good things about South Wiltshire duo Illingworth. Via this video you can hear their worth, a wonderfully executed rock power ballad, “Sing it.” High time to review their September debut album New Normal based on this, me thinks, but for now we’re here to mention the recording studio, as that’s what the video is promoting.

In a friendly, rural setting Tunnel Rat Studios is based in Haxton, near Salisbury, and only opened last year, but since had clients such as professional opera singer, Deborah Mansi, singer-songwriters Paige Dobson and Emma Burton, as well as aforementioned Illingworth. The news is though, they have just had a major refurb. “Is this to enable better social distancing measures?” I asked engineer and producer Eddie Prestige, one half of studio’s pair, with Jolyon Dixon, each of whom have over thirty years proven experience in the industry.

“Yes,” he replied, “it was mainly for social distancing measures. However, we have upgraded our equipment too.”

Tunnel Rat Studios can now offer fantastic quality recording in a larger, covid19 secure environment, with experienced professional engineers and session musicians available in house to help. There are separate performance and engineering rooms, with full line of sight between the two.

Their comfortable live room is plenty big enough for up to four people to play together. The control room, which can record up to sixteen channels of audio simultaneously, and have high-end outboard equipment, like the Manley Voxbox channel strip, and it’s accessed by a separate door. Containing a 2020 iMac, running Logic pro X with many of the latest software instruments and first-rate plug-ins, including Waves bundles and Celemony Melodyne studio 5, a Black Lion audio analogue to digital converters, mind-print DTC channel, and Kemper profiling amplifier, and Peluso 2247le (Tube U47 clone) Lauten audio Clarion (FET Condenser) microphones. There are a matched pair of Miktek C5 (small diaphragm condensers) and 2 MXL Lundahl edition R77 ribbon mics. They also have all the usual dynamic mics like shure SM57 (x2) shure SM91 (x2), and for monitoring they use genelec 8020 speakers and Event Opals.

Now, you see, that technical jargon is all double-Dutch to me, sounds good though and I’m certain if you’re a musician into getting sound production perfection, considering Tunnel Rat might be an option, they promise it’ll be an affordable one. They’ve even a unique Christmas gift package, a voucher for the aspiring singer or musician, offering studio time vouchers from as little as £125, valid for a whole year from purchase. Each voucher entitles the recipient to studio time at Tunnel Rat, and they encourage you to get in touch for more details or to discuss any special requirements you may have.

Here is their website.

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