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The 2011 new line-up of Best Kept Secret

Best Kept Secret Band History

People have often asked us how Best Kept Secret started.

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 fun.

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 special.

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 night there.

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 2011.

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 BKS.

 



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