Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra don’t care what genre you choose to put them in – western swing, country blues, ragtime hokum or whatever else– as long as you understand that they’re 100% sincere and 100% immersed in this stuff. This is no lazy pastiche, no dressing up box. They live and breathe this music and want you to get immersed with them.
The Tea Pad are five years into a remarkable story that began with four friends studying folk and traditional music at Newcastle University and now sees them playing clubs and dancehalls and festivals the breadth of the British Isles and into mainland Europe (there was even a brief trip to India last year). Based on Tyneside but with members hailing from Orkney to Warwickshire, the Tea Pad sound draws on myriad influences – from Bob Wills to Django Reinhardt, George Jones to Cab Calloway – yet ultimately sounds like nobody else, that North Eastern Swing style that’s utterly their own and changing all the time.
Across the three wonderful albums – 2012’s “Money Isn’t Everything”, 2014’s “Talk About The Weather” and now the new “Something Blue” – the band have constantly added new flavours to their sound: Heron in particular is a vinyl obsessive, always fired up about some new passion – calypso or boogaloo or whatever this week brings – and that eclecticism feeds into their songs, with the new album adding gospel and rockabilly to the Tea Pad palette.
The band tour the way bands should – widely and endlessly – winning friends and fans at each new show. They played 150+ shows in 2015, including well-received performances at festivals like Glastonbury, Bestival, Wilderness and Towersey Folk Festival. They’ve appeared twice on Radio 4’s Loose Ends, and had their music played by everyone from Marc Riley to Huey Morgan.