Best Kept Secret Band History
People have often asked us how Best Kept Secret
James had been playing with Taunton-based rock
outfit Burning Chrome for around ten years when he realized that,
due to varying commitments and interest within the band, they
were not playing as often as they once had. Along with Simon the
Burning Chrome bass player and Ian the lead singer they thought
about filling in the gig calendar by trying to set up an acoustic
band for a bit of variety. Robert was invited as a fourth member
and rehearsals began at Robert's house in Taunton.
For various reasons this never came to fruition
and soon rehearsals seemed to stop happening.
It was later in July of 2003 at James's brother
Andrew's 40th Birthday party that James and Robert talked again
about an acoustic band. Robert said he would be prepared to do
some lead vocals and suggested that his friend Robin would be
a great person to play with us as a third member. Within a couple
if weeks we'd got together at Robin's house, started talking about
songs and already had several working ideas.
It took us a few weeks to realise that our
instrumentation was working really well but that vocally we were
going to need some help. Robert was happy to sing some lead vocals
but didn't feel he would be strong enough to carry a whole evening.
We therefore decided to advertise for a singer.
We created some advertising cards for local
music shops but James' contacts in the local music scene came
in very handy and an invitation to audition was printed in the
Somerset County Gazette at the end of August the same year.
When we planned the auditions we didn't expect to get lots of
people applying so decided to try and make it as fun as possible.
We thought that we would invite each person to come to Robin's,
where we rehearse, and spend a couple of hours chatting and having
a go at a few songs for an evening.
When we started getting the first responses
we asked each person if there were any songs they would like to
have a go at and for the girls told them they were welcome to
bring a friend with them. We had six responses, two men and four
women and organized the auditions over a period of two weeks.
We'd never had so much fun. The individual
sessions worked out just as we'd hoped. Each person got the chance
to sing several songs and chat about their music and ideas and
we got to know them to see if they would fit in with us as individuals
and with our idea for the band. We did surprise each of them however.
In Robin's dining room we set up a little mini PA with mike and
stand and after a while looking at some songs took them into the
dining room to see how they would do with a microphone. This also
allowed us to do a little recording of each to review later when
the auditions had finished. After the first audition none of us
slept very well, we were just too excited and we'd had too much
In the end one of our auditions backed out
at the last minute so we saw a total of five. It didn't take long
to decide that Laura was the girl for us. She'd sounded great
both in person and on the recording and her song suggestions were
just our thing. In fact we use them in the set now. We phoned
her that night to ask her if she would like to join us, which
she thankfully did, and we began rehearsals in late October.
At that point we hadn't decided on a band name.
We'd been using Highly Strung as a working title but as we started
planning our set we started considering other names. Everyone
was coming up with suggestions and e-mails were flying backwards
and forwards until we ended up with a list of names that had potential.
Finally we agreed on Best Kept Secret as something that would
work for us. It had an air of mystery and suggested something
With only a few weeks of Monday night rehearsals
behind us we were already excited about where things were going.
A pub in Taunton called the Charlie's Bar in the Royal Charlotte
Hotel had Hoppy Horton hosting an open mic night so we decided
to check it out. It seemed a safe, relaxed place so after a quick
chat with Hoppy to make sure it would work we decided to polish
a couple of our songs and try our first live performance one Tuesday
It was a nerve-wracking night but it went down
really well. We'd kept it pretty secret from people we knew as
we wanted to find our feet but Laura's mum and sister sneaked
in anyway to offer their support.
We followed this up a few weeks later with
a further couple of songs and as a result the landlord asked us
to do a night for him just before Christmas. We'd been working
hard on our set and with around twenty
songs to call on, including a couple of Christmas numbers, so
our first real gig took place there just before Christmas 2003.
It was a great night.
And that was the beginning
of Best Kept Secret.
After six great years performing with "her
boys", due to professional and personal commitments Laura
decided to hang up her microphone for now. Her last gig with Best
Kept Secret was in Taunton on Saturday 21st November 2009, although
she did help us out by stepping in for a small number of gigs
in late 2011 and we hope that we haven't seen the last of her...
Jess joined us in late 2009 and threw herself
into rehearsals ready to appear in public with the band for the
first time on 19th December 2009. Sadly after only two years with
BKS, Jess had to announce her departure because she is leaving
Somerset to start a new job. As well as wishing her all the best
in her new adventures, we very much hope that she will find a
new band and keep on singing. We decided to celebrate the time
with Jess with a leaving gig at the Racehorse in Taunton in October,
but her final gig was at the Black Horse in Sidmouth on 18th November
We are delighted that Rachael joined us and
appreciate all the hard work that she put in to learning the set
so quickly. 2012 looks like it will be another great year for