State of Undress - The Band
State of Undress is a rocky rootsy 'fiddlesome' band from Dorset playing a distinctive and exuberant brand of original music.State of Undress are a difficult band to pigeon-hole. Their songs move from the poignant and provocative to the downright shamelessly foot-tapping! With music that’s ‘a blend of roots, rock, country, Celtic flavourings and a full-bodied melodic musical assault’ (R2 Rock n Reel), State of Undress promise you a musical roller-coaster of a gig…oh, and they do have a bit of thing going on with some shaky eggs!
The regular line-up is:
- Charlie Rose: lead vocals, and a bit of percussion and harmonica
- Alan Rose: vocals, acoustic, lead and rhythm guitars and mandolin
- Jerry Bird: fiddle, guitar, mandolin and banjo
- Harry O'Shea - Electric bass, double bass and ukulele bass
- Keith Fletcher - drums, African drum, cajon and percussion
Charlie and Alan have been writing and performing as State of Undress, on and off, for longer than they care to remember. However due to family and work commitments it was always more off than on! Then, a few years ago, sitting outside a caravan in Brittany under a starlit sky and with glass of wine in hand, they made the decision to take this whole music thing seriously and so Charlie gave up her day job to work on State of Undress full-time. A couple of years later, Alan jumped off the corporate band-wagon too. Now they spend their days in a State of Undress, broke but happy! As they put it, they didn't want to end up like the character in their song 'Ghosts of Wasted Chances' looking back thinking 'if only ..'! However, it took more than two years to find the right members. Keith Fletcher on drums and percussion joined in December 2004; Samantha Jane started fiddling with us in December 2005; then Malcolm Windett on bass arrived in September 2006. After four and a half years, the lovely Samantha Jane moved to pastures new and we were then joined by the wonderful Jerry Bird. Then, sadly, not long before Christmas 2011, our band van (which belonged to Malcolm) was stolen together with most of our sound equipment and, worst of all, Malcolm's beloved guitars. As a result, Malcolm decided to give up the rock n roll lifestyle. So, the new kid on the block is Harry O' Shea! Here's alittle bit about each of the current line-up:
Keith's commitment to the band has been unwavering since his first gig with us. He's a terrific drummer and with good drummers in such short supply we know how lucky we are that he chose to play with us. His African drumming on Mudeford Mood, Morning Glory and The Black Hills of Mendip is always a show stopper; and a much earlier song of ours Until Today has become a real highspot of live gigs with a cracking drum solo in the middle. I defy anyone to remain sitting down! On a newer song 'The Hangman's Daughter' Keith sets down a crackling, ambient Celtic beat which gives the track a fantastic feel and the drum feel he gives to the traditional song The Keys of Canterbury has ensured that this track has become a gig favourite very quickly. Keith will travel anywhere for a gig and is at his happiest behind the kit. (Unless there are any females out there who know otherwise?...!) Keith keeps us grounded and never gets completely carried away by the moment. When the rest of us are in danger of getting carried away by how great a gig was, there's always a little voice saying something like 'Yeah , it was good but I think the lighting could have been better...!' He also has a bit of a penchant for hats...!
Harry's been playing bass for many more years than not, in more bands than he'd care to mention. Having passed through just about every musical genre going (with the occasional brush with fame along the way), Harry had a Road to Damascus moment after hearing Steve Earle's 'Train a Comin' which started him down the roots (& upright bass) road...he's never really recovered.
We knew Harry was the right bass player for us long before we met him. A series of quirky emails; followed by a coffee and a chat with his wife, Sally, who popped round to pick up our CDs as the ones we'd sent hadn't arrived, and we don't know why we even bothered to 'audition' him. We could have just offered him the gig there and then! It was definitely in at the deep end for Harry - his 1st official gig with us was playing the amazing Barge Inn, Honeystreet near Pewsey - the crop circle centre of the universe! Always packed and with an audience that's really up for a party - on this occasion, they danced so much, foot stomping to the beat of The Hangman's Daughter that the light fitting dropped out of the ceiling in their newly refurbished kitchen below the bar! Now that's a good gig!
Harry plays a New Standard Cleveland upright bass (a recreation of the American Standard bass played by his hero Roy Huskey Jr,) various Fender, Warwick, Takamine & Gibson fretted & fretless electrics, and a funny little ukulele bass thing (when there isn't room for the upright) - referred to in the band as 'The Little Feller'! He's also a recording engineer, producer & songwriter.
Jerry is a fantastic musician who plays very fine and distinctive sounding fiddle. He also plays guitar, mandolin and banjo. Thank God he doesn't sing as well or Charlie could be out of a job! Anyone who wears a straw hat on stage bedecked with a floral tie and who has a beer-drinking dog is the ideal band-member.Jerry is also a great song-writer. Two of his songs - the haunting and atmospheric Black Hills of Mendip and the joyous and carefree Wild Wood are on our new album Journeys of the Heart. Jerry is a very charismatic stage performer - you know a gig's going really well when Jerrystarts jigging around the stage in songs like When Will We Be Married Molly? and The Keys of Canterbury. (We were just a tad worried recently that we might have to look for another fiddle player when Jerry jumped over the monitor and we weren't sure he was going to stop at the edge of the stage! Could have been the first case of stage diving and crowd surfing to hit the folk world!) And his fiddle solo on The Raggle Taggle Gypsy is extraordinary! Jerry is usuall accompanied by his personal roadie and instrument technician - Freya the dog! She is officially the 6th member of the band and gives us the much needed cute factor!
Alan is the musical director of the band and the glue that sticks us all together musically. He knows what he wants from a song and makes sure that's what we deliver! He's a confident singer and performer and a versatile guitarist moving effortlessly between acoustic and electric guitars. His guitar collection is gradually taking over most of the available living space in their home: every time he needs new strings, he seems to buy a set with a guitar attached! Alan's a great vocalist bringing a gutsy power and emotion to songs like 'Sweet Stuff'; 'Ghosts of Wasted Chances'; and the traditional 'When Will We Be Married Molly?' - a great gig favourite. On our new album Journeys of the Heart, Alan take the lead vocals on the beautiful She Rides So Graceful Through the Night and on Are We Alright? a Show of Hands cover as well as duetting with Charlie on The Keys of Canterbury. Alan also plays a beautiful 1890's Neopolitan mandolin that belonged to his grand-father . At the moment, he only uses it on two songs : the jaunty 'At The Fair Tonight' and 'The Hangman's Daughter'. When Alan's mandolin comes in about two thirds of the way through, picking up and driving the dramatic riff, it's a real hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck moment.
Charlie is the lyricist and lead vocalist for State of Undress. Her high energy performance along with her shaky eggs is a feature of the band. She is a total musical tart and with her cordless microphone, no-one in the audience is safe. In fact, if you are of a nervous or shy disposition, you may wish to stand at the back! Charlie loves performing, loves the band, and loves all the amazing people who come to see them and support them. There's a line in our song 'One More Shot (of you boy)' '....I'm a bottle about to burst...' Charlie spends her life feeling just like that!
The band's shaky eggs are now sponsored by Dorset Piddle Brewery.
Up to this point, most of the song-writing had been done by Alan and Charlie (see Undressed, Ghosts of Wasted Chances and Caught in The Act! albums). However, Malcolm is a great and prolific song-writer. Two of his songs - the lovely ballad It All Comes Down to Love complete with stunning instrumental and Rock it! - alively latinesque number are on the new album Journeys of the Heart. An earlier song of Malcolm's The Love Detective (on the Livin it, Lovin' it! album) is a quirky, theatrical number which gives Charlie a chance to show off her thespian skills. This is a great gig favourite which sees Charlie don trilby and trench coat! We will miss his eccentric but musically brilliant contribution to the State of Undress repertoire. Jerry, on fiddle, is also an excellent song-writer and has extensive knowledge of traditional English music. He brings us a traditional track and we put a State of Undress twist to it! Two of Jerry's songs: The Black Hills of Mendip about the Somerset mining industry and also the joyous pagan romp Wild Wood are on our new album Journeys of the Heart. In the past Alan and Charlie have collaborated with friend and musician Phil di Battista. Phil co-wrote Ghosts of Wasted Chances and Fantasy (both on Caught in the Act!) - but they got hooked on this whole writing and performing thing through their friendship with Peter 'Foz' Foster. He co-wrote their first 'proper' song (by which they mean the first song they weren't embarassed to play in public!) Frightened of the Dark (on the Undressed album). One of Foz's songs 'Take Me to the Leader' received siginificant airplay for Remembrance Sunday 2011. It is also a highlight of our annual Festive Show and features on our Christmas EP - Christmas Round Ours. Before he died, Foz had started work on a beautiful song 'Sweet Stuff'. We finished it for him and it is on our live album Caught in the Act! 'She Rides So Graceful Through The Night' which we also finished for him just before he died is now on our new album Journeys of the Heart and is getting a great response at gigs. We think Foz would have loved this version!
Huge, special thanks go to the following for all they've done for State of Undress:Diane Bird for her unshakeable faith in and boundless support and enthusiasm for the band and her belief that, one day, we would more than scrape a living from this mad music thing. We miss her always.
Malcolm Windett for five and a half fabulous years travelling up and down the country. 500 miles in a van passes very quickly when you're laughing! We've loved having him in the band - his creative and imaginative playing, his idiosyncratic sense of style (!) and his humour have made a huge contribution to the band not to mention his tireless work engineering the majority of our recorded work for the last few years in his studio The G-Spot in Parkstone.
Liz Windett - who has worked tirelessly to put this website together for us. We love it ...and her!
Eric Montague of Netfora TV who, with his wife, Sue, has been trailing us around the country filming us as we try to scrape a living from this mad but wonderful music thing. His enthusiasm, belief and support has really encouraged us.
Richie Brown - friend and fab photographer who always manages to find our good side - even though most people would say we haven't got one!
Ian Hatch - who does our sound on big gigs. He humps masses of gear around, is always looking for new and interesting bits of equipment, never gets flustered, and seems to enjoy every moment twiddling the knobs. In the process, he actually manages to make us sound pretty damned good!
Grant Showbiz - Billy Bragg's long-time producer who has given his time and experience to work with us and produced some great tracks for us. Hear his work on 'One More Shot (of you boy)' and 'Red Waters'. We hope to work with him on future projects.
Samantha Jane - who was our fiddler for four and a half years and her partner Skipper. We had some great times!
Our family, friends and followers - the Undressers! Over the last few years, we have met so many wonderful people through our music - many of them have become friends. Thank you to all of you for your enthusiasm, love and support. It is you who make it all worthwhile.
....and Dorset Piddle Brewery for sponsoring our Shaky Eggs!
Have a Piddle and a Shake with State of Undress!