Havana Republic in Abbey Foregate hosted long-term Shrewsbury favourites The Ronaldos, where they played through a fun set of well-known pop songs in their own Cuban-skiffle-pop style. Not surprisingly, the club was full and the dance floor packed with happy revellers, all singing along and shaking make-shift percussion.
There is nothing pretentious about this band and whilst 'entertainment' is a serious business, these lads don't take themselves seriously (as Ronaldos). That is partly what makes their performances such fun. Shaking and skiffling their way through well-known classics, like It's Not Unusual (Tom Jones), Jolene (Dolly Parton) and These Boots Are Made For Walking (Nancy Sinatra), The Ronaldos have provided a good night's entertainment to appreciative audiences for what seems like, forever.
Who are they, these unpretentious troubadours? Main vocals, guitar and ukulele are comfortably handled by Ron, Rich harmonizes and hits things, Simon (Shunt) looks after guitar and banjo and also harmonizes whilst Ian (E) keeps his bass thumping.
Each of these musicians is a well-seasoned and experienced professional.
Casting my mind back to April 1985 and my arrival in the UK, the first live music I saw was at the then, Pink Elephant, out of town at Yockleton. That band was Ronnie Goes To Hollinswood, fronted by none other than the Ronaldos front man. The musical style of the two bands is remarkably similar and equally similarly, the room was packed and the dance floor bouncing. In between then and now, Ron Rogers has had the experience of international chart topping and touring success as founder member of T'Pau. He also opened his recording studio, Up The Lane Recordings, in Monmouth and has several of his songs recorded by various artists around the world.
Rich, the percussionist, in 1985 was the harmonizing drummer with Easy Money, a hard-working local covers band. In between then and now, he has been performed with the Sk8's and was an integral part of The Loosehound Drifters (the Loosehounds), fronted by Mark Haywood. A fine group with four very good albums to their credit. Several songs have recieved radio airplay internationally and some often featured on BBC2's Bob Harris show.
E (Ian Rowley) on bass, has an international touring record to be envied. Most recently performing with Paul Rogers of Free and Bad Company fame, sharing the stage with the incredible Jeff Beck. Such gigs don't come to those unaccomplished, not confident or incompetent in their performance, nor to those lacking in knowledge of the finest of the arts. E's performances are flawless.
Shunt has travelled and played widely around the world and brings a wealth of interesting subtlety to their overall sound.
Together, these lads produce an atmosphere of relaxed confidence that emminates to the audience, which in turn responds with whooping and hollering, shaking of shakers and joining in with singing the choruses of just about every song in the set.
The Ronaldos: a great, fun band.
photos by Gwen Moon