Medicine Hat Band came about after a bunch of friends had a jam session in Bill Birks' Devon recording studio in the spring of 2014
The chemistry between them was obvious after only a few bars of playing. By the end of the day the band was born.
Within weeks of formation, the band were invited to play Port Eliot Festival in Cornwall, where they drew such a favorable response from the audience that they were invited back to play the following day, in addition to playing for a visiting radio station.
Festival, club and pub gigs soon followed, with the band attracting a fan base that grew with each gig. To date, the bands' Facebook and youtube have hundreds of followers and thousands of views, enabling more music lovers to enjoy their highly original interpretations of classic Americana, Reggae, Soul, Blues and Rock classics and lesser known gems.
2016 saw the band play 15 major UK festivals where ecstatic crowds cheered and danced their way through an incendary stage show.
Typical audience reaction is as follows:
"The pub was absolutely rammed and rocking. Medicine Hat https://www.facebook.com/Medicine-Hat-Band-254060954788501/… are not your usual pub band, not by a long, long way. What a treat - well known songs reworked with changes of tempo, rythm and time signatures in interesting keys. At times jazzy, at times bluesey, and allways rocky. The band showed just how good covers can be as long as creativity and consummate ability triumph over the desire to replicate what has already been done before. I normally have no time for covers bands but Medicine Hat are a brilliant, vibrant exception. Bill Birks, Mary Caffrey and Co are a cut above, that's for sure. A wonderful way to celebrate the New Year - keep on rocking." Nick Nakorn.
Bill Birks - Guitar and Vocals.
Having arrived in the UK in the early 70s from Canada, Bill became a session musician, playing mostly drums (his first instrument from the age of 6) until 1978. when after playing drums on The Korgis' eponymous debut album, he was also asked to contribute acoustic guitar on what became one of their first hits, "If I Had You".
Following a major motor bike accident in 1980, Bill, upon discharge, concentrated more on songwriting and improving his guitar technique, in addition to learning fretless bass. This lead to a major record deal with CBS in 1981 with the German songwriter / guitarist Martin Preister under the name Contraband. The album was only released in Europe, where one of the tracks was used as the title track for the Warner Brothers German rock film "Radio Power Play", giving the band the unique distinction of being the only band to be signed to two major record labels at the same time in the same country.
The 80s, 90s and onwards saw Bill working as an engineer and producer in addition to session work, and the list of major bands and solo artists he worked with is too long to reproduce here (much to his relief), and he continues to record and teach from his studio on the edge of Dartmoor.
Mary Caffrey - Guitar and Vocals.
Originally a classical guitarist, Mary took up percussion (mostly djembe) and gained a reputation as a welcome addition to the likes of Chris Jagger and others from the folk / acoustic scene.
In 1999 Mary was given a Fender Jazz Bass as a birthday present and hasn't looked back since. Embracing Reggae, Funk, Soul and Rock in particular, Mary has gained another reputation. This time as a master of "sitting in the pocket", whilst dancing with the audience, (courtesy of her radio transmitter).
Mary has also played with other bands such as the legendary Hendrix / Santana band Cat in the Hat, at festivals such as Glastonbury, South By South West (Texas) and many, many more.
Emily Veise Smith - Vocals.
Know in the band as "The Virginian" (she's from Virginia USA ), Emily was discovered by Bill Birks when she started singing along with a track Bill was working on for a client. Realising her potential, when the other musicians were invited for that fateful jam session, Emily was immediately invited. Her voice, soaring effortlessly, combined with a natural stage presence makes her "one of the best vocalists I have ever had the pleasure of playing with." (Bill Birks).
Charlie Bishop - Drums.
From break dancing to teentals in India as a boy to learning drums as a teenager of 14 years old, Charlie is one of the most respected players in the South West. Working as a session player in studios such as Peter Gabriels' Real World, when he was Only 16 Charlie, check out: https://realworldrecords.com/release/74/arcane/ Charlie is on track1 on the Album arcane with Jane Siberry, My Mother Is Not The White Dove. Charlie went to uni in London (W.L.I.B.U) studing music with friends alongside the band Reef... Charlie is also a Dj & Producer with his own electronic Dance Band called Helix13.
Charlie has learned the jazz rock / funk grooves so beloved of Americas' top session players.
Together with Mary Caffrey, they becomea truly awesome rhythm section that propels the band skyward, to the delight of the dancing audience.
John O'Grady - Guitar and Vocals
John met fellow Canadian Bill and Mary at a jam session, where their mutual love of Blues lead to the beginning of a musical friendship resulting in John joining the band from the outset.
Having played all over Canada and parts of the US, John learned his craft with Canadian 70s Blues / Rock bands. Seemingly "endless touring" (his words) was an apprenticeship that made him a Rock and Blues veteran long before he came to the UK, leading one observer to comment, " You can tell he ain't British.". Johns' powerful but sometimes very delicate rhythm guitar work make him stand out as a rhythm player of note, as evidenced by the numourous and very frequent invitations to Blues sessions from fellow seasoned players, who rightly hold him in high (and sometimes envious) regard.