About the band...
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.
"Something Blue" is released on Tea Pad Recordings on June 3rd 2016.
The Tea Pad are Rob Heron (vocals and guitar), Ben Fitzgerald (guitar), Tom Cronin (mandolin and harmonica), Colin Nicholson (accordion) and Ted Harbot (double bass).
"That's one hot band right there!"
- Huey Morgan, BBC Radio 2
"Each young member of this band are amazing musicians who play with both passion and a sympathetic regard for the history of the genre. In Rob Heron and Tom Cronin they have two songwriters that neatly combine modern topics with a quality old-school arrangement. From start to finish, Talk About The Weather is a fun romp, with some wonderful Gypsy jazz guitar flourishes, harmonica that will make your hair stand on end, and Colin Nicholson somehow manages to make the accordion listenable.”
- ★★★★ Maverick Magazine
"On this, their second album of skewed Texas swing, gypsy jazz and hot, humorous country blues they’ve added reeds and horns for a big, thick sound, but their spontaneous combustion is always unstoppable. The chord sequences, rhythmic chops and zesty lyrical fun pour out in Drinking Coffee Rag and their YouTube video track High Speed Train. Six retro-cool lads from Newcastle, having clever fun.”
- ★★★★ Scotsman On Sunday
"With relentlessly upbeat tempo and generous dollops of humour, Money Isn't Everything is a light hearted affair, but it is great fun. Individual Tea Pad Orchestra solos are mostly short, but razor-sharp, while Heron's singing has the fullness and brio to make his stories sparkle. They are surely best enjoyed in a saloon or dance hall.
★★★ - Songlines Magazine
"The six debonair young bucks who comprise the band – decked-out in retro-suits and ties that resemble the typical bootleggers’ garb – have immersed themselves in a whole range of musical styles. This year looks like it could well be the year that this backward-sounding, forward-looking young band steps up a level or two. They have paid their dues on the live circuit and have become a popular draw by admirably sticking with their own sound. I would imagine that future festival exposure would be a certainty, at the very least, but if they can stay together the wider world is likely to sample this intoxicating brew."
- Evening Chronicle
"Rob Heron evokes the spirit of Bob Wills and Django Reinhardt with a quintet that shuffles and boogies with panache. Infectiously good-humoured"
- 7/10 Uncut Magazine
"With a plethora of instruments to make up the body of sound, special mention is reserved for the mandolin licks an chops which punctuate tastily throughout the eleven track album. The retro recording sound is captured perfectly on this album; Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra continue on their train of, as they call it, ‘North Eastern Swing’, fusing country, western swing and ragtime into a fun-packed production”
- fRoots Magazine
"Out of the growing UK scene of bands with early American music influences, I'd say Rob Heron & the Tea Pad Orchestra are most likely to be the gem. I mean to say that they have one of the more original sounds budding. There is good songwriting with dynamic and unique instrumentation for the style. It's only magnified by the their clever arrangements. Most importantly they feel the old music but they're more concerned with speaking in their own voice, like you should, instead of someone else."
- Pokey LaFarge
"Originating from Tyneside and playing pinpoint accurate period ragtime blues, this six-piece, made up of members from as far afield as Warwickshire and the Orkneys, shine on their debut album, whether it be bemoaning the current financial mess of the nation on Bank Failures, extolling the virtues of sharing a tub in Hot Bath or feeling the effects of alcohol on Hangover Blues. They also cleverly mix their Southern states sound with a recent scrapyard blaze in their home town on Great Fire Of Byker."