When Gerald Diffey first came up with the idea of inviting his old friends from his home town of Medway to his new home in San Sebastian the headliners of The Masonics and The Forefathers were the obvious choices. But he and I were both adamant that there was one other person that we had to have on board to truly make this a celebration of the Medway Sound; none other than that former Pop Rivet and Milkshake himself – yes, the venerable Russ Wilkins.
Russ Wilkins is the Medway legend who got away. He left a great big Russ-sized hole in the Medway music scene when he moved to Scotland in the late 80s. A founder member of the Pop Rivets, he was the Milkshakes second bassist (arguably the best of their three line-ups) and was front man of the magnificent Gruffmen. Leaving very little trace behind them, the Gruffmen, for those lucky enough to have seen them in 1982 and ’83, were the par excellence party band, with Allan Crockford on bass, Martin Waller on sax and Sexton Ming on drums. There was even a brief period, you’ll have to trust me on this, when a triple bill of Milkshakes, Prisoners and Gruffmen would have you thinking, at the end of the night, that they were the best of the three.
Post Milkshakes, he teamed up with Billy again several times by forming the Delmonas, giving Miss Ludella Black her showbizz break, an eponymous blues duo and also a trio with Sexton, The Natural Born Lovers.
At some point in the mid 80s, (Wreckless) Eric Goulden moved to Chatham and he immediately recruited Russ & Bruce Brand to form the Len Bright Combo. Towards the end of the decade Russ and Sexton formed the brilliant punk trio The Mindreaders, with Rocking Richard on drums, and cut one awesome album on his Empire label before his move north.
As I’ve mentioned, we really wanted Russ to be involved from the moment this weekend was first dreamt up and are delighted that he’s bringing both his Tartan drenched Lord Rochester trio (think Bo Diddley, not Les McKeown!) and the marvellous Wildebeests who will sweep majestically over the Dabadaba stage on Friday and Saturday respectively.
Lord Rochester travel light, but punch well above their collective weight, and I’m guessing if you don’t love the sounds of Bo Diddley you won’t ever have come anywhere near this website. Here they are in action on a previous visit to Spain.
The Wildebeests, featuring trusty cohorts Thane Lenny Helsing and Kaiser/Masonic John Gibbs, have been the channel for Russ’ love of the very best of punk ‘n’ Nuggets covers and originals for the best part of two decades. For example…
His Empire record label’s output was small but of exquisite taste, with releases including The Daggermen, Delmonas, Mighty Caesars and Milkshakes. Let’s not forget he also produced the best Prisoners album. Oh, and he’s also going to be spinning discs as one of Friday night’s Guest DJs and, without revealing all his secrets, we’re going to be dancing to plenty of Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers, Otis Redding, The Standells, The Damned, Ramones, Chuck & Bo (of course).