Geraint Watkins and The Mosquitoes

Here and There

These days, in between his other session work, Geraint Watkins performs regularly with his band - The Mosquitoes. The personnel has changed a bit since its early days when Watkins started to play his own material in public with a few chums in a pub in south London, but the general idea is unchanged. Since the lockdown, Geraint and his band have occasionally recorded some shows and their upcoming album release, "Here and There," is a snapshot of their exhilarating performances from Cardiff and London and will be available as a limited edition 10" vinyl album on 20th September, 2024.  Here's the bigger picture...

Geraint Watkins. Vocals, keyboards, accordion.

It all started when he caught a break with fellow Welshman Tommy Riley in London’s pub-rock favourites Red Beans and Rice and inevitably, Watkins soon found himself living in Balham, south London where he went on to join Juice on the Loose before taking off on the Be Stiff Route 78 tour as part of Micky Jupp’s band. Andy Fairweather Low heard Watkins on the radio and, knocked out by what he heard, doorstepped him in London offering to produce the album that became Geraint Watkins and The Dominators for the Vertigo label. Session work for producer Stuart Colman led Watkins to a regular spot in Shakin’ Stevens’ band for a few years on a good run of hits. From then on, he was always in demand to play in the top division with the likes of Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Van Morrison, Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Mark Knopfler, Dr. Feelgood, Rory Gallagher, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, The Stray Cats, Carl Perkins, Tom Jones, John Martyn to name but a few.

In the midst of all this, Geraint, Robin McKidd, Gary Rickard, Arthur Kitchener and Kieron O’Connor formed the Balham Alligators. With Watkins’ eye-popping vocals and accordion at the front, the nucleus of this riotous yet pioneering outfit somehow held together for fifteen wild years between other commitments, keeping the music of Louisiana alive in London's pubs and setting the bar impossibly high for those in their wake.

After the release of the final Balham Alligators album, Neil Brockbank and Bobby Irwin produced his solo album, Watkins Bold as Love, drawing attention to Geraint’s outstanding song writing. At the time, the three of them were key members of Nick Lowe’s touring and recording team (including Neil as sound engineer) and so Nick and drummer Bobby Irwin generously offered to perform on the album. Due to his talents being constantly in demand elsewhere, it was not until 2004 that the follow-up Dial “W” For Watkins saw daylight. Then, egged on by plenty of enthusiastic demand for more of his own material, Watkins continued recording with Neil and Bobby’s close involvement and In a Bad Mood came out in 2008.

By 2011, Neil Brockbank’s Gold Top studio had relocated to Tooting, and another album - Moustique - was scheduled for release heralding the arrival of The Mosquitoes. Opposite Gold Top studio in Tooting Beck stood The Wheatsheaf which promptly became a favourite post-session destination for a pork pie and a pint for Neil and his studio regulars during the making of the album and other studio work. At the time this crew largely comprised Watkins, Matt Radford (bass) Bobby Irwin (drums) and others including engineer/drummer Tucker Nelson, Nick Lowe, and Steve Donnelly. Whenever a horn section was needed, in came Martin Winning and Matt Holland. The old back bar of the pub appealed to Neil as an ideal spot to record a string section…and he was proved right. Then Matt Radford suggested that they drag their equipment over the road one Sunday afternoon and just play for the fun of it. And then they did another. With free entry, these occasional dates were hugely popular and rapidly became good-time gigs, packed to capacity as can be seen and heard in several videos. With Tooting resident Martin Winning on sax/clarinet and Oliver Darling recruited on guitar to join rhythm sectioneers Bobby and Matt, Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes became an essential gig on the calendar of London’s music aficionados. And while we’re at it, here’s a shout out to Niall Kelly for keeping the plates spinning!

Following the deaths of his close associates Bobby Irwin and Neil Brockbank in 2015, Watkins returned to the idea of recording his own material with Simon Ratcliffe of Basement Jaxx. Rush of Blood was released just as Covid disabled the world. The effect of the pandemic lockdown put an end to any serious chances of the record achieving anything, but after things started opening up again in 2021 Watkins decided to have a go at doing some live shows to include some of the new material in the repertoire. Since then, subject to availability of the members, the current line-up of Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes has been racking up more shows than ever.

Martin Winning. Saxes and clarinet.

Martin was born in Skegness, Lincolnshire and was classically trained on clarinet. He became a member of the Lincolnshire Youth orchestra at the age of thirteen. By the time he was just fourteen he was playing second tenor sax in the Peter Tomlinson Dance Band at a Holiday Camp in Skegness. In 1980 he moved to London as a session musician. Throughout his career he has played toured or recorded with Van Morrison, Ray Charles, Nick Lowe, Geraint Watkins, John Martyn, Dennis Brown, Tanita Tikaram, Mike Sanchez, Ray Gelato, Robert Palmer, Solomon Burke, Jools Holland, Lee Scratch Perry, Ben E King, Kevin Rowland, Roger Daltrey, Pentangle, Chris Farlowe, The Proclaimers, Dana Gillespie, Rocky Sharp and the Replays, Sonny Burgess, Frankie Ford, Wang Chung ,Curiosity Killed the Cat, Psychedelic Furs, Ken Dodd and many more. How ’bout that?

Oliver Darling. Guitar/vocals.

Oliver got his first buzz from playing live at the age of fifteen and was further inspired by Mike Sanchez when he saw the Big Town Playboys. While guesting with Al Gare’s band Electric Leg, he was jokingly introduced as Oliver Darling…and the nickname stuck. His association with Al led to the formation of instrumental band - Palookaville! Mike Sanchez became a fan of that band and it wasn’t long before Oliver landed his dream job of playing guitar for Mike for the next four years…where he also met Martin Winning. Imelda May was the singer in Mike’s band and when she left to pursue a solo career, Oliver got a call in 2015 to be her permanent guitarist. He has also worked with members of The Buena Vista Social Club, Tanita Tikaram and Tony Christie while also keeping his own projects active. Martin Winning introduced him to Watkins when the Mosquitoes first started to play at The Wheatsheaf and he has been in the band ever since in between his other work.

Paul Riley. Bass.

In the early 1970s, Pub Rock was a back-to-basics reaction against the level of musical and lyrical pretension to which mainstream Rock had by then risen. It was amongst this movement’s vanguard that Riley began a career in music as 'Bassman' with Pub Rock favourites, Chilli Willi and The Red-Hot Peppers. An enduring association with their manager and Stiff Records founder, Jake Riviera, and fellow Pub-Rocker, Nick Lowe, led to album credits as a bassist with Dave Edmunds, Nick Lowe, Elvis Costello and (indirectly) Van Morrison.

Malcolm Mills. Drums.

Malcolm Mills inherited the disorder of beating inanimate objects with bits of wood when he joyfully discovered his father’s drums in the attic at home as a young teenager in 1963. He gave up his day job as manager of Drum City in 1974 in an attempt at making a living from playing, but the reality of a stint with a trio in Soho strip-clubs followed by a couple of months barely surviving on the road with a band in Germany in 1975 put the kibosh on that idea. Subsequently, he has pursued a career on the other side of the desk in the music industry, running his own companies. However, the second-hand drum kit he bought in 1969 has been regularly mistreated along the way while he has had fun making a racket as a semi-professional with artists including Screaming Lord Sutch, Sonny Burgess and Bill Kirchen among others. Now retired from the mainstream of the music business since 2021, these days, and with those same drums, he smiles and chews gum as a Mosquito and runs The Last Music Company.


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upcoming tour dates

24

Wed

Jul 2024

Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes

Greystones

Sheffield, U.K

25

Thu

Jul 2024

Geraint Watinks and the Mosquitoes

The Cluny

Newcastle, U.K

26

Fri

Jul 2024

Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes

Wirral Blues Club

Birkenhead, U.K

27

Sat

Jul 2024

Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes

Afternoon show. Tickets to be purchased on the door.

The Garibaldi Hotel

Northampton, U.K

28

Sun

Jul 2024

Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes

Afternoon Show

The Sound Lounge

Sutton, London, U.K

10

Tue

Sep 2024

Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes

The Bedford

Balham, London, U.K

26

Sat

Oct 2024

Geraint Watkins and the Mosquitoes

What's Cookin' @ Leytonstone Social Club

Leytonstone, U.K