Tom & the old Joanna

©Ray Smith©Ray Smith

Since Tom Carradine launched his cockney singalong in 2014 he has rapidly become a fixture on the UK's thriving vintage scene. This month, he performs in Wanstead for the Mayor of Redbridge's charity appeal.

Since launching at Wilton's Music Hall in 2014, my cockney singalong has gone from strength to strength. A music hall and old-time music aficionado, I wanted to capture the flavour and atmosphere of a good old-fashioned knees-up and recreate it for audiences, young and old.

Although I was born and raised in Coventry, I have been studying the art of the cockney singalong for the last 12 years. I started playing these songs on the piano as a child, having first been introduced to them while performing in the Scout Gang Shows at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry. Throughout my school days, and whilst studying for a degree in biochemistry at Imperial College London, I continued my musical interests. After graduating, I decided to pursue a musical career. Since then, I have been lucky enough to work across the UK as a keyboard player and musical director on professional theatre productions. I have also performed in a variety of West End shows and UK tours, including Les Miserables and The Sound of Music. I am currently musical director at Brick Lane Music Hall in Silvertown, one of the few remaining companies in the country producing old-time music hall and variety shows.

The concept of my cockney singalong was born out of the late night, impromptu singalongs I started leading at the Twinwood Vintage Music and Dance Festival in Bedford in 2013. Hosting the entertainment from the 'old Joanna', I present an evening of timeless songs with audience participation. I aim to transport the audience back in time for a traditional cockney singalong, with songs from the music hall era, World War One and Two, the West End stage and popular songs from across the decades. There's even a few slightly more modern songs in my programme, which hint at my predictions for the singalong classics of the future.

My piano playing style is heavily influenced by Mrs Mills and her popular party albums of the Seventies. My performances have the same fun, lively atmosphere she famously created, and my act brings back so many memories for people – of family parties or grandparents singing these songs with them as children – a warm feeling of collective nostalgia. When everyone in the room is singing, it's easy to get lost in the sound and forget any inhibitions, even for someone who is self-conscious or says they can't sing. I believe the only way we can keep this historic part of our musical heritage alive is to sing it and share it and I am excited to bring my show to Wanstead for the Mayor of Redbridge's charity appeal.

Tom's cockney singalong will take place at Grove Hall on Grosvenor Road, Wanstead on 14 October from 7pm (tickets: £18, including fish and chips or pie and mash; booking required). Call 07748 155 680

For more information on Tom's shows, visit carradinescockneysingalong.co.uk


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