Elaine - her Life and her Band
Born in Hampton in 1962, Elaine grew up in Ashford, Middlesex. Her mother was Doris Jones and her father was Desmond Jones, the artist. She has one brother, Chris Jones. At Feltham Hill junior school, Elaine took her 11+ exam, passed and won a scholorship to St. David's school (for girls) in Ashford, Middlesex. At this school she passed 10 "O" - levels & 5 "A" - levels (maths, physics, chemistry, biology & Art). During this period, she began teaching herself to paint in watercolours and play the guitar. At the age of 14 she began performing at Staines Folk Club with her best friend & class mate, Tracy Scott, who was having guitar lessons & also taught Elaine what she had learned. Alongside her school work Elaine worked for & achieved her gold Duke of Edinburgh's award & met the Duke of Edinburgh at a special ceremony in Buckingham Palace. At the age of 15 Elaine & Tracy performed as a duo for the Russians (while on a schooltrip around the Baltic) at a special concert in Leningrad. They were on board the cruise ship "Uganda" (later used during the Falklands War). She met her first husband, Michael Samuels (a university friend of her brother's) at the age of 16. She stopped playing the guitar and performing when she began studying for her "A"- levels, as the pressure of work became too great.
In 1982, at the age of eighteen, she passed her driving test, got married to Michael Samuels and began a sponsorship with Marconi Space & Defence Systems (as a trainee electronic engineer) all within the space of two weeks. She got a 2-2 degree in Electrical & Electronic Engineering from University College, London, and worked on the computerised fire control system for Challenger & Chieftain tanks with Marconi in Frimley for a couple of years. She was the first female engineer to go on a firing trial up in Kirkcudbright, Scotland. Her presence on the trial was determined not by her engineering ability, but by the quality of her dirty joke-telling (something she developed as a tool to break the ice with some of her more awkward male colleagues). In her spare time she also trained and achieved her wood badge (the highest Scout training award) alongside her husband to become an assistant scout leader (for First Richmond Scout Group - a sort of Samuels family tradition) as well as training & becoming a canoe instructor.
Elaine Gets M.E.
It was probably the pressure at work combined with a hectic teaching & training schedule that caused her to become very ill at the age of around 25; she developed shingles & glandular fever at the same time & a year of ME followed, where she was constantly tired & unable to do very much physically. Due to her illness & the lack of scout parents' support she and her husband (who was also ill with glandular fever) had to give up scouting. Incredibly, she still realised she would have to get a better job; as she felt quality of work at Marconi was deteriorating. Just before she developed ME, she joined Thorn EMI Radar Division in Hayes, working on interfaces for an air navigational data gathering computer system to be housed in an aeroplane. Having ME was an extremely depressing experience because it was impossible to tell for how long the symptoms would continue, combined with the constant tiredness and everyone assuming that you are making it all up (since you don't look ill). She decided that, due to her illness, she would have to work part time until she was fit again (her doctor had advised her not to work at all for a while & take sick leave - but she refused to do this as she valued her work). She left after less than a year because she was penalised financially for being ill even though she was producing satisfactory work. Angry at her treatment & hoping she would soon recover her health, she got a better job with Redifon Technology, a very small company in Leatherhead, where among many projects she designed some anti-terrorist equipment and became a manager for a test equipment project.
Devizes To Westminster Canoe Race
At this time, fed up with her continued physical image of "weakling" with friends & family, she built herself up with vitamins, tried to avoid catching a cold and convinced she could recover from here ME, she began, with huge support from husband and friends, training to do the gruelling Devizes to Westminster canoe race in 1989. She had been inspired to try & compete since two women from her canoe club (Thames Young Mariners, in Ham) had competed & won the previous year. The reason they had won was simply because they had been the only women's team to enter. They also told tantalising tales of how when they arrived at Westminster, after 72 hours of paddling, too exhausted to climb out of their kayak, they were carried into the showers by marines, who then hosed them down - it sounded worth it ! Well Elaine teamed up with her sister in law, Susan Pease & competed in the 1990 race. Out of the 9 women's teams who entered only 5 teams made it to the finish. Elaine & Susan came second, with a time of 29 hours, raising £1000 for charity, and regaining Elaine's status with her family & friends as officially recovered. Sadly, the marines were not waiting for them when they arrived at Westminster - it was quite a let down !
Elaine (four months pregnant with Peter) busking at Sidmouth Folk Festival
Elaine Begins Singing and Performing Again
Now feeling much stronger and fitter and "ready to rock", Elaine began to go to local folk clubs again. She was invited to join the band "Staying Up Late", with Andy Peters (bass guitar) and Paul Vile (acoustic guitar). During a period of writer's block, the songwriter of the group, Andy, only wanting to perform new original work, caused Elaine to make up her mind to have a go at songwriting herself. The band dissolved when Andy mysteriously disappeared and Elaine began performing her own songs. Her husband began recording her songs too and between them, they brought out a couple of albums on cassette; "Obsession" and "Reach Out For Me". She also joined "new country" & bluegrass trio, "Now & Then", who were subsequently featured on volume 1 of the British Bluegrass album and performed at the Edale Bluegrass Festival supporting the famous Alison Krauss.
The Arrival Of Peter Samuels
In January 1993, Elaine gave birth to a baby boy, Peter John Robert Samuels. They had to include the "John" name to keep banjo player, John Muhlhaus, with "Now & Then" happy. Guitarist Peter Jennings was already chuffed about the baby's first name. Elaine began learning to play the banjo during this time and gave up engineering to try to combine pursuing a new career, performing as a singer, with bringing up her baby son, with the support of her husband. It was tough at first because the birth had been breach and prolonged, resulting in Elaine having a paralysed left foot and being told that she may never walk properly again! She was limping without support, however, after about four months and eventually fully recovered. Her solo career began to take off, with supports to Dave Cousins & Brian Willoughby, Roy Bailey, the Albion Band, Isaac Guillory and many more. Unfortunately, rehearsing and performing with trio "Now & Then", which was not getting so much work as a group, became too time consuming; so she left. Before she left, however, they did manage to record an album together ("New Country"). Performing at folk clubs & festivals was not bringing in enough money compared to the cost of sending out publicity, however, so she began performing solo in pubs, which was quite a shock. Elaine had some brilliant times too performing live on Wire TV at the Bentalls Centre in Kingston, coming second on a televised talent contest called "Live at The Y" at Leicester's Y Theatre (she was the only solo act out of a show where the other performers were all rock bands). She was also filmed for HTV, as part of an environmental series, on top of Glastonbury Tor, where she sang one of her own songs, "Blue Skies", which was also the title track of her next cassette album.
"Kindred Spirit" Is Born
"Kindred Spirit" was born when Jane Eldridge, who played the violin and viola, was introduced to her by her husband (Jane was a friend of one of his work colleagues) and they began performing as a duo. Elaine's brother, Chris, became involved in music; helping to promote folk / rock band "Wayward Child" for whom, Elaine & Jane played a number of supports including the Marquee in London. With Jane she was chosen to perform at Guildford Folk and Blues Festival as well as Glastonbury Festival in 1995. Unfortunately for Elaine, Jane was spotted by Christian rock group "Why" (some of the members of which were already known to Jane from her school days). They needed a new fiddle player; so Jane decided to give up her day job, join them & go off on a European tour. Just before this, Jane performed with Elaine at Richmond's riverside music event "The Edge" and met Laura Hodges, a classical violin player from Twickenham, with whom she performed for around a year including a support at The Bottom Line, in Shepherd's Bush. Just as Laura was getting fed up with performing in pubs, Jane returned, having decided the rock group lifestyle was not for her; so Jane became the "Kindred Spirit" violin player again. While performing at a pub in Reading, a girl from the audience came over to congratulate them and, on chatting to her, Elaine discovered that she played the bass guitar & sang. That's how Joey Burke joined the "Kindred Spirit" line up. Elaine met Mike Patton, a superb mandolin player, at music jamming sessions in her local pub, "the Red Cow", Richmond. He liked Elaine's own songs and soon joined the "Kindred Spirit" team. As this line up, they performed a number of band gigs at "the Half Moon", in Putney, "the Grey Horse" in Kingston and Twickenham Folk Club, in the "Cabbage Patch" pub. They also recorded their first CD album comprised entirely of Elaine's own material; called "The Dance Of Life". At Twickenham Green Studio, where Elaine recorded the album, she was introduced to talented, multi-instrumentallist and singer / songwriter, Paula Smith, who also joined the "Kindred Spirit" team. With Paula, Elaine played special gigs on HMS Belfast, Southsea Festival and a special tour up North, where they played at Rattan and Rush, in Kirkby Stephen, and the Trades Centre in Hebden Bridge. Elaine also performed a number of gigs at Leeds Castle in Kent, where they dressed as medieval minstrals and performed at banquets.
The Break Up Of Her Marriage
In 1998, Elaine separated from her husband and, with son, Peter, went to live with her parents.
Elaine Meets Violinist, Sim Jones
When Jane Eldridge left for the Cayman Islands to live, in 1999 (her husband had managed to get a job out there), Elaine placed an advert in Loot magazine for a violin player, which received only one response; from excellent violinist, Sim Jones. "Placing that ad. was one of the best things I've ever done", says Elaine, "He is an exciting and phenomenal player and performer". Paula Smith also left the group by 2000 to pursue a life in southern Ireland. Elaine, Sim and Joey carried on gigging together and exciting crowds with their music; people have been known to crouch down and pay homage to Sim - like a god - they are so "gob-smacked" by his playing! It was through Sim that Elaine was introduced to drummer, Russell Morgan, and flute player, Annie Parker; forming the band line-up of Elaine, Sim, Annie, Joey & Russell. Mike Patton did not perform so much with Elaine or the band due to a lack of festival type gigs (which he preferred to do as opposed to pub gigs - don't we all !) combined with two children and the pressure of his teaching day job.
In the year 2000, Elaine and Clive bought a house together in west London. In September, the same month as they celebrate their joint birthday (unusually being born on the same day), they were married. Her son, Peter, started at the local cub pack, where Elaine became a cub-helper for a while. In 2001 he began learning to play the flute. Also in 2001, there was a new member of the family; Hugo their furry canine companion, who they got from Battersea Dogs Home. They took him to agility classes every week for some while, where he learned to jump gates, run through tunnels and over bridges etc.. Hugo even has his own page on Elaine's web site (which was set up by her husband, Clive), which according to hit rates seems to be the most popular one!
In 2003 Elaine joined "Girls With Guitars UK" and performed regular monthly songwriter showcases at the Porterhouse Covent Garden. She stayed until 2005, when she decided to devote more energy to her own band. In 2004, Elaine came up with the idea of a "Songwriter Festival" and the Windsor Songwriter Festival was born.
Elaine Meets Violinist, Gavin Jones
In 2005 Elaine and Sim met Ian Gillan (of Deep Purple) by chance in a tiny pub in Bentley, where they were performing a duo gig. Gob smacked with Sim's rock violin playing, Ian, who was recording tracks for his new DVD, "Gillan's Inn" just down the road invited Sim to record some tracks straight after the gig. After Sim's performance at the Royal Albert Hall in March 2006 with Ian Gillan and friends, he realised that he wanted to have more time at weekends to be with his family, since he had increased his weekday teaching load considerably and wasn't getting much time to be with them, with all the Kindred Spirit weekend gigs. Sadly, he reduced the times he wanted to work to the extent that another violinist was going to be necessary and Elaine began looking. By a strange coincidence, the manager of the Barley Mow pub in Shepperton, John, asked Elaine at their next gig there whether she might be looking for another violin player and we discovered the hugely talented and very keen Gavin Jones. Gavin began gigging with Kindred Spirit in June 2006.
The Cavern Club
In 2006, through connections with Dean Howard and Ian Gillan, the band were invited to perform at the famous Cavern Club. Annie, Sim and Elaine did a trio performance in June 2006 and in November 2006 the whole band performed and met John Lennon's sister, Julia, who came up to say how much she enjoyed our performance.
After a few changes of bass players and drummers, we now had a stable line-up - for a while - full of enthusiasm and meeting to rehearse on a regular basis in the form of Elaine, Annie, Gavin, Mike Hislop (bass guitar) and Alan Barwise (drums and percussion). This line up recorded the CD album "Metamorphosis".
Phil Martin and David Rowe Join the Band
In early 2011 Gavin Jones leaves the band as a main player due to pressure of day job and studying and Alan Barwise also leaves. First wonderful singer, violin, viola and guitar player, Phil Martin, is recruited and shortly after excellent drummer and percussionist David Rowe joins the band.
Elaine suffers back and neck problems
In December 2011, Elaine suffered a disc prolapse in her neck. She spent most of 2012 coping with sleepless nights and adapting her way of performing while doing the necessary physio and other work required to rectify 20 years of repetitive strain and awkward posture on her shoulder and upper spine musculo-skeletal system. Find out more ...
Catherine Dimmock Joins the Band
In July 2012, Catherine Dimmock took over as the band's flute and saxophone player. Catherine is an extremely qualified classical player with bags of enthusiasm and talent as well as a really beautiful voice.
Gavin Jones Returns
Gavin Jones, the fabulous electric violin player on our "Metamorphosis" album, returned as main electric violin player, in October 2013, being that Phil Martin left to live up in Whitby and Gavin was more available to play following a period where his other commitments would not enable him to have time to play with the band. This is our current band line-up and it will be interesting to see how the two lead players influence each other's styles, with Gavin learning to tame his wild and wonderful playing and be more supportive and Catherine learning to "let go" a bit more in some solos! It should make for a brilliant sound!
New Drummers - Les Binks and Chris Goode
In the autumn of 2014, Les Binks and Chris Goode took over the drumming role in Kindred Spirit, Les beginning as the official main drummer but not always being available; so Chris picking up quite a few gigs.
Martin Ash Joins
Following Gavin Jones leaving to pursue more classical violin work, we discovered the brilliant Martin Ash. Martin is a real character; for instance, at his first gig he leapt off the stage to play amongst the crowd!
Alan Barwise Returns
Following Chris Goode moving house, such that he was too far for band members to get him and his drums to gigs (until he passes a driving test and gets a car), we have been rejoined by the newly retired and raring to go Alan Barwise. Both Chris Goode and Les Binks will be drumming with the band but Alan will probably be playing more often.
New Wind Players July 2016:
Emily Nash, Stevie Mitchell and Becky Menday
We decided to recruit another lady wind player and singer to share Catherine Dimmock's role for when she isn't available, so that we can (with deps for other roles in the band too) do all the band gigs we'd like to.
During this search, we have discovered not one, but three, super lady wind players and singers!
Have a look and read about our new wind players here.