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The Celtic Cajun
Geraint Watkins is the embodiment of the journeyman musician. He's the
perfect guy to have in your touring band, he's always engaging on stage,
full of good humour and to top it all, he's a damn good player. His work on
piano and accordion has been heard on more tracks than you'd imagine, as
well as being an integral part in the careers of two other fine Welshmen,
Dave Edmunds and Shakin' Stevens. I know we're a bit incestuous here and
there's a lot of in-breeding, but Geraint has managed to work with a few
foreigners as well!!
Born Geraint Meurig Vaughan Watkins in Abertridr, South Wales in February
1951 his music career began in the early 70's with local Welsh language
bands as well Buck Dancer, Juice on the Loose and Red Beans & Rice. He did a
session for Stuart Colman's It's Rock 'n Roll radio show and was included on
the second volume of the shows albums. Similarly, Charlie Gillett's Honky
Tonk radio show and Demos album. He made a name for himself as a fine
session player and over the years has worked with such artists as Rory
Gallagher, Andy Fairweather Low, Sting, George Harrison, Status Quo, Eric
Clapton, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Paul Young, Mark Knopfler, The Blues
Band and Box Of Frogs (featuring ex-Yardbirds). As well as Edmunds and
Stevens he's also played on many a rockin' album including Carl Perkins, the
Stray Cats, Frankie Ford, Restless, Matchbox and yet another Welsh band, the
great Crazy Cavan & The Rhythm Rockers. He played on the five albums by the
good-timey roots/cajun pub band, The Balham Alligators.
Recent times have seen him work with Nick Lowe, Van Morrison and Bill
Wyman's Rhythm Kings. As well as all this he's also released a couple of
solo albums, the first one, GW and the Dominators coming out in 1978. Anyone
who caught Johnnie Allan's great shows in 1992 couldn't have failed to be
enthralled by Watkins. He was part of a blinding backing band and really
seemed to enjoy himself on backing vocals on Running Bear. He was also a
part of the superb Carl Perkins and Friends Rockabilly Special. With ten
guitarists on the go, GW still manages to keep his rolling piano up in the
mix. Apart from the Balham Alligators, his most prolific time has been as a
member of the Refreshments. If the UK had it's own A-Team of musicians,
Geraint Watkins would be the equivalent of Pig Robbins or Floyd Cramer.
There aren't many Dave Edmunds produced sessions where he doesn't call on
Geraint, even flying him to Texas for a Fabulous Thunderbirds album.
I must confess to not having any of his solo releases but I've got two self
explanatory bootlegs called The Sessionman Vol's 1 and 2. They perfectly
demonstrate how his piano and accordion can bring a new dimension to a song,
adding just the right amount of sparkle.
Here's a butcher's dozen
to tap your feet to:
Dave Edmunds - Run Rudolph Run or Dear Dad - GW's piano plays the Johnnie
Johnson to Dave's CB.
Shakin' Stevens - Oh Julie - almost a cajun rocker thanks to GW's accordion.
Crazy Cavan - Both Wheels Left The Ground - stomping JLL piano pounding from
GW, and CC and the boys follow suit. Brilliant.
Southside - Don't Lie To Me - great GW boogie intro.
Nick Lowe - True Love Travels On A Gravel Road - to be honest GW is fairly
restrained on the organ here, but what a version.
Memphis Bend - Choo Choo Ch'Boogie - driving accordion.
Refreshments - Veronica - I love Ronnie Dawson's version but this kicks ass
Mason Ruffner - Baby I Don't Care No More - sounds as much like Dave Edmunds
as DE sounds like Chuck Berry!!
The Balham Alligators - Gotta Have Money - does ever have a boring session?
Honeyboy Hinkling - It's Over - nice moody piece with some tasty brass and
Willie & the Poor Boys - Saturday Night - GW takes the vocals on a stonking
version of the Roy Brown rocker.
Juice On The Loose - The Blue Flames Boogie - hot rocking boogie baby with
GW in fine fettle.
Stray Cats - Look At That Cadillac - last but not least. GW works in fine
unison with Mel Collins' sax. A romp.
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