Nine Below Zero
The band formed in 1977 and were heavily inspired by Dr Feelgood. Their well-established high-energy act was captured forever on their classic live album 1980’s Live at The Marquee
. Legendary producer Glyn Johns subsequently worked with the band on 1981’s Don’t Point Your Finger
and they became a familiar sight on seminal TV shows like The Old Grey Whistle Test
, The South Bank Show
, and memorably performed 11+11
on the first episode of comedy hit The Young Ones
. High profile tours with The Who and The KInks followed and although their musicianship was reaching new heights 1982’s Third Degree
was the last album released by the classic line-up.
During this period, Dennis formed the soul/pop outfit The Truth, producing two Top 20 singles in the UK and a Top 5 R&B hit in the US. Meanwhile, Mark Feltham went on to become one of the most sought after harmonica players in the session world.
In 1990, the band made a triumphant return with an all-new rhythm section consisting of Brendan O’Neill (Drums) and Gerry McAvoy (Bass) from Rory Gallagher’s band. A sell-out UK tour with this line-up led to a new record deal and tours Sting, Ray Davies, Brain May and an incredible 12 nights at The Royal Albert Hall with Eric Clapton.
They formed their own record company, ZED RECORDS, and this creative control brought further success including 2009’s critically acclaimed album It’s Never Too Late
and appearances with the likes of Gary Moore, Chuck Berry, Jools Holland and Paul Jones. Universal’s re-release of the band’s first three albums inspired the classic line-up, including Brian Bethell (Bass), to reconvene for the first time since 1982. They were welcomed with open arms by loyal fans at shows culminating in a 35th anniversary tour with The Stranglers.
In 2015, Mark and Dennis released their first album as acoustic duo, and the band return to Glen Tilbrook’s 45 RPM Studios. Here they recorded their own versions of rare blues and soul tracks for inclusion on the upcoming album 13 Shades of Blue
. For this recording, the band introduced a horn section, keyboards, violin and backing vocalists to create an exciting new big band sound.
A new 8-Piece NBZ Big Band took to the stage for the first time at Glastonbury Festival 2016 to an enthusiastic welcome from fans.
The new line-up consists of Dennis Greaves
(Guitar/Vocals), Mark Feltham
(Harmonica/Vocals), Mickey Burkey
(Drums), Ben Willis
(Bass), Charlie Austen
(Vocals), Andrew Noble
(Keyboards), Chris Rand
(Saxophone) and Paul Jordanous
(Trumpet). They embarked on a 30-date tour of the UK to coincide with the release of 13 Shades of Blue
in September 2016.
‘Tonight, Nine Below Zero are reborn as a big band. They have all the essential qualities that an 8-piece combo requires, from the core duo of seasoned front man Dennis Greaves and the magisterial harp player Mark Feltham, to a hot horn section, a fine accompanying vocalist, an intuitive keyboard player, a swinging rhythm section and a strong back catalogue of songs topped by some well researched covers from their new
13 Shades of Blue album.’
Band membersDennis Greaves
(vocals and guitar): Dennis’s father bought him his first real guitar in 1976 and he’s collected many more along the way. His musical influences include Chicago Blues, BB King, Freddy King, Muddy Waters, The Rolling Stones, Hubert Sumlin, The Beatles, and Billy Gibbons. To read more about Dennis Greaves, visit the Nine Below Zero website here
(harmonica): Mark started playing at the age of 6 and became seriously interested in the harmonica in his late teens. His influences include Chalei McCoy, Magic Dick (J Giels Band), Paul Butterfield, Elvis Presley and Mickey Raphael.
His first musical break came when he was approached by Dennis Greaves to form Nine Below Zero in 1977. In 1982, the band dissolved and Mark went into session work and then became a permanent member of the Rory Gallagher band. In 1991 Nine Below Zero got back together, using the talents of Gerry McAvoy and Brendan O’Neill on bass and drums, both from Rory’s band. This format lasted for one year and Mark then decided to go back into session work and come off the road for a while. He was then enlisted back into the Rory fold where he stayed until Rory’s untimely death in 1995. After this he toured and played with Talk Talk, Oasis and Texas while still maintaining a busy studio schedule with various film and TV credits. Mark then embarked on a world tour with Rock giant Zucchero through 1999 and 2000 finally he rejoined Nine Below Zero in January 2001. Mark was the winner in the ‘Harmonica Player Of The Year’ category at this year’s British Blues Awards 2016. To read more about Mark Feltham, visit the Nine Below Zero website here
Mickey started playing drums at 12 ‘after constantly beating the hell out of my mum’s cushions with knitting needles’
. His influences include Stanton Moore, Zac Starkey, Dave Weckl, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith, Charlie Watts, and Keith Moon.
He’s played in several local blues/R&B bands up until the earl 1980s and was then approached by NBZ manager Mickey Modern who asked him to join the band.
After the band dissolved, he took some time out but in 2012 he played an anniversary gig with them in Islington, which led on to the successful ‘Classic Line Up’ tour over the autumn of 2014. To read more about Mickey Burke, visit the Nine Below Zero website here
(bass): Ben first picked up a bass at the age of 15 “because my uncle’s old Gherson Jazz copy had been knocking around in the loft for years waiting for someone to take an interest”. His early influences were “the drive and flare of Cliff Burton and the unequalled melodicism of Paul McCartney”. He plays a Fender Jazz bass through an SWR Studio amplifier driving an SWR Goliath II 4x10" cab. To read more about Ben Willis, visit the Nine Below Zero website here
(vocals): Charlie is a singer-songwriter, who in addition to her “powerful voice blues-infused vocal style”, is noted for performing in her bare feet. To read more about Charlie Austen, visit songwriternews.co.uk here
(keyboards): Andrew is a versatile keyboardist who has immersed himself in a wide variety of musical genres and ensembles. He plays regularly with The Fontanas, a latin funk band. He has performed with saxophone masters such as Derek Nash, Gerald Albright, Steve Cole, Alex Garnett, Paul Taylor, Peter King, Brandon Allen, guitarists Jim Mullen, Carl Orr, Guthrie Govan. He has also performed with singers such as Anastacia, Omar, Kenny Thomas, Leee John of Imagination, Ola Onabule, Lily Dior, Vanessa Haynes, X Factor finalist Roberta Howett, The Voice finalist Jamie Bruce and toured with Keavy and Edele from B*witched. To read more about Andrew Noble, visit his website here
(saxophone): After studying at London’s Guildhall School of Music, Chris quickly became one of the UK’s top saxophone side men, playing and recording throughout the world with many of UK’s top jazz and blues artists. Chris has performed with many artists including The Rolling Stones, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood and many more. He has been a part of the Ben Waters Band for many years, made his first appearance with Nine Below Zero at the Glastonbury Festival in 2016. To read more about Chris Rand, visit his website here
(trumpet): Paul Jordanous is a trumpeter, pianist, composer and arranger. He’s been a regular on the jazz, funk and soul scenes for the last 13 years and has recorded on over 60 releases, including his critically acclaimed debut album And Now I Know with the Paul Jordanous Ensemble. He has played as a sideman with the Clark Tracey Sextet, Soundspecies, Atomic Hooligan, Scott McKeon and the Baker Brothers amongst many others. To read more about Andrew Noble, visit his website here
What the press says
“13 Shades Of Blue sees them [NBZ] evolving into a full blown big band who tackle the kind of soulful, funky and blues related influences that have made them an enduring and cutting edge band.”
“Dennis Greaves is a charismatic front man with a great line in South London patter. He backs it up with some surprising nifty guitar work, a soulful voice and the art of stage craft, which draws us into a well-paced set that has something for everyone. So far so good, but as the band powers it way through a soul-blues set Mark Feltham’s blues-harp playing leaves us in no doubt as to why he’s picked up the British Blues harp player of the year award.”
“…one of the most potent big bands on the blues circuit...”
4 November 2016, Pete Feenstra
, www.getreadytorock.com “If you were going to ask one band to take you through the different styles of Blues music, you really could not pick a better one than Nine Below Zero…”
2 September 2016, Dave Jennings