Spawning such musical greats as Crosby, Stills and Nash, Joni Mitchell and more, Laurel Canyon was a real hotbed of talent in the ’60s and ’70s. Inspired by the scene, Tim Mansell created the musical story California Dreamers as a trip down memory lane. Ahead of the latest run of shows, Total Ntertainment spoke to Tim to find out more.
So, the tour has announced another run of shows with more lined-up for 2019, did you expect the show to be this popular?
“Yes, we’re doing some more in July and then we’re adding more into 2019 as then it will be the fifty year anniversary of Woodstock which was also the first time Crosby, Stills and Nash played at Woodstock. The whole show is a new concept which we came up with and we booked some shows just to get some feedback and it’s all been really positive. The thing about the show is that it’s a difficult concept to sell to people. It’s not a tribute show like say an Abba tribute but more of a story about an amazing place that gave us so many amazing artists like The Eagles, Mamas and Papas.”
What kind of audience does the show attract is it people from that era?
“The last show we played had a lot of youngsters in the front row who had come with their Mum and Dad. I think we get a mix depending on what music kids have been brought up listening to. Like my daughters likes a lot of soul music because that’s what I play in the car and it was the same for me, I grew up listening to the music my parents played. I think another thing that affects the audience is when kids hear a song from that era which is being used in an advert for something on TV.”
When you came up with the show what made you pick that location and era?
“It came about when I started to do more research into the area and found out about some of the great music that was made there. Carole King made her Tapestry album there and that has sold something like twenty-five million albums. The story is just us playing a bunch of songs from that era – it starts out with some vintage clips of The Byrds from the ’60s then there are snippets of film footage then it goes onto Sunset Strip, Crosby Stills and Nash, the Manson murders. The whole show will end up with a piece on Woodstock.”
What are your musical memories from that era?
“You know, I was, I think, seventeen or eighteen when Woodstock happened and I was into that music. My older borther played guitar and banjo and he would play all these albums like Joni Mitchell and it just blew my mind. I remember going to the festival that was the forerunner for Glastonbury – Bath Music Festival – and I saw Zeppelin, Santana and all those bands. Throughout my career though I’ve played in various bands who did a mix of original material and Eagles material but then punk came along and that was the end of that really.”
What do you think made Laurel Canyon the home to such a wealth of musical talent?
“I think it was the buzz element really. It all started when Mama Cass would hold parties at her house and the buzz got around that it was the place to be seen. I think it prompted a shift in America from New York to Los Angeles. It’s like all musical scenes – the same with grunge – that came from Seattle. Eric Clapton would come and play there, Crosby & Stills met Graham Nash there and, well, that was that, the Hollies were no more. The place got a reputation and it just went from there really. Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, once it got onto the musical grapevine, Alice Copoer, Dusty Springfield and so on. Grace Parker, the singer in our show has been out there and visited the Country Store while she was there.”
What is your favourite track to hear performed?
“It’s funny you should ask that because there is a story behind this one. I was talking about Joni Mitchell’s A Case Of You to Grace one day and I said to her that if she could sing it then we would play it. There are so many great songs that sum up that era though like Love The One You’re With. I see all this Love Island stuff and, you know, it’s just nothing new, it was all done in the ’60s.”
Does the show follow a set format or do you get to mix it up?
“It does follow a set format in fact we don’t even introduce anything until the second half. Up until then everything is linked by a newsclip or a voiceover. We even got a guy from Texas to do the voiceover because, if I’m being honest, it’s doesn’t have the same effect in a Black Country accent (laughs).”
What do you want people who attend the show to get out of it?
“I think to be able to get the opportunity to hear some of the songs played that they will have heard and loved but never had, or will ever probably get the chance to see played live. We do Meet & Greets after the shows and it’s amazing to hear people say how they’ve not had chance to see some of the artists live ever like James Taylor, the Monkees, Joni Mitchell. This is a chance for them to hear songs they fell in love with.”
You’re obviously already looking forward to 2019, what about beyond that?
“I think we’re just going to see where it goes. It’s a new thing, a new concept so we’re going to be careful and let it build up tentatively. It’s the same as Take That did with their musical The Band, build it up slowly, get the reaction and keep building it from there.”
Thanks for your time Tim, this is your one last chance to sell the show to our readers..
“It’s a feelgood show with some poignant moments. We’ve got a fabulous vocalist in Grace and the whole thing will give you the chance to sit back and experience the hippy period. It’s a sunshine show!”