The Scene Showband, Portstewart

Aye, its a pretty awful pose, but that is still me third from the right, 17 years old playing a Hofner violin bass guitar just like McCartney's. A laugh a minute with Charlie (Alistair) Esler to my right (guitar/vocals) and sax-player Jimmy Burnside (extreme right). From left, the late James Atcheson (died awfully young) on keyboards and guitar, Barry Platt (drums/vocals), a really good soul voice whose father Bobby owned and ran the Strand Ballroom, Portstewart and Vincent O'Neill (sax/vocals). Music was current pop and soul and we played all over Ulster, including the Floral Hall, Queens University Students Union, Golden Grill (I think) Letterkenny, somewhere in Castlederg, the Hub Belfast, Strand ballroom and an unknown place on the Shore Road, Belfast. Great days, great times.

Cheers, Alan Hunter (bass-guitarist Scene showband circa late 1960s)

Nice to see my older brother acquiring a presence on the internet 41 years after his untimely death - thanks, Alan - although I'm sure James would have been amused that it's on a showband site. I know that he (and probably the rest of the band) regarded showbands as a relic of the '50s. The trouble was, it was the only way to get gigs, since dancehall owners didn't like rock bands, and there weren't really any other places to play then. Pubs closed at ten, and Kelly's was only just getting started. So that meant white corduroy suits and floral shirts and ploughing through dreadful country and western crowd pleasers just to get to play Knock on Wood and Midnight Hour etc. I remember that Barry had a copy of Solid Gold Soul Vol 1, which was my introduction to Otis Redding (Barry did a great version of Mr Pitiful).

I was an occasional bass player with the band for a few months in 1966/67, I think after Alan left and before Ivor Gordon took over, and James still had his Fender Jazz bass then, so I got to play that, through a Selmer treble'n'bass 50, part of a full brand new Selmer backline (couldn't afford Marshalls) which looked very impressive at the time, In fact, we played support for The Fortunes - in Edendork Parochial Hall of all places - and when they saw our gear already set up they asked if they could use it, to save the trouble of hauling their stuff up the stairs. Couldn't really refuse - these people had a hit record after all - but afterwards Charlie looked in the back of their van and realised their gear was a pile of old junk. Chancers.

The Scene also supported Peter Frampton's first band The Herd in the Strand ballroom, and Portstewart was covered in DayGlo posters reading HERD + SCENE. I wish I had kept one of them, but the best poster of all was the one that read CREAM + TASTE + SCENE in the Strand and then the following night in the Guildhall in Derry. Well, Cream didn't turn up* (their gear was stuck in America) but it was no big deal because we were completely blown away by a nineteen year old Rory Gallagher. The next night in Derry I remember standing on the stage after the equipment had been set up staring at Rory's strat (which even then had half the finish missing) and when everybody else was backstage I lifted it, strummed a single chord and quickly put it back on the stand, terrified I might break it.

Like Alan says, those were great times. I had just turned 16 and feel very lucky that James let me experience some of it. Most big brothers - he was six years older - would not have tolerated their little brother hanging around. We played in the Quay Road Hall in Ballycastle, the Floral Hall, Queen's Students Union (good audiences - the students wanted to hear soul), and one night in the Ulster Hall - opening for Eileen Reid and the Cadets (ridiculous uniforms), before shifting all the gear up the road to the Dub for a Queens rugby club dance. Best gig of all was the Coleraine High School Formal in 1967.

Thanks, James

Glenn Atchison, Belfast. May 2012

Acheson, Atchinson, Atkinson, Aitchison. A few alternative spellings (being for the benefit of Mr Google)

*Cream did play a couple of months later, but they could only honour one date, so Bobby Platt won on the toss of a coin, apparently.

from Portstewart, Derry

Vocals: shared
Lead Guitar:
Charlie Esler
2nd Guitar:
Alan Hunter
Sax/Vocals: Jimmy Burnside / Vincent O'Neill
Barry Platt

James Atcheson

Discography: if they released anything, we'll find out!

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