They’re not the likeliest bunch of musicians to get together, it’s fair to say.
But the James Legal-eagles from Hull are the driving force behind a charity CD designed to raise funds for Yorkshire Cancer Research. They released an EP consisting of five tracks, including a Christmas song, on 1 December, which will be followed by a full CD next year.
The CD is all the more poignant because two members of the group – The Elusive Mandarins – unexpectedly lost a much-loved family member to cancer while recording it.
Three of the band’s members – Chris Hutchinson, Gary Swann and Tom Owens, are from James Legal Solicitors in Hull.
Chris freely admits that he is by no means the best musician in the group, although he has written a track for the CD. Gary plays a major role on the EP and the CD, as both a songwriter and guitarist. Meanwhile, Tom, currently the youngest member of the group at just 19, sings the lyrics on the third track ‘Hometown’, which was written by Chris’s eldest son Pete.
The group had already started work on the CD when Chris discovered that his younger brother Damian had terminal cancer. Damian sadly passed away last August and his wife Teana sang an extract of a track which is written and performed by Gary and Teana, at Damian’s funeral service. That track is called ‘The Journey’ and is the first on the EP.
The whole thing is being produced by Gaz Richardson, MD of established local firm Richardson Electrical (UK) Ltd, who is a serious hobby musician and has his own recording studio.
Chris said: “The project has really taken off since my colleague Gary and I originally had the idea of producing some songs for charity last Spring.
“We’ve ended up bringing a diverse range of people together to work on something truly special, and have discovered all sorts of hidden talents we didn’t know they had.”
Indeed, one of the backing musicians, Derek Ward, now in his 70s, played guitar with Jimi Hendrix at the Bag O’Nails club; was a bass player with the John Evans Band, who became Jethro Tull, and was also the bass guitarist on The Casuals’ recording of their classic track ‘Jesamine’.
Chris’s wife Hazel, a teacher at a Hull school and hobby artist, has designed the CD cover.
“It sounds a bit of a cliche but the album is proving to be greater than the sum of its parts,” said Chris.
“All sorts of people have got involved, mainly work colleagues, family and friends, about 20 in total at present, from different backgrounds and with different skills, and they’ve all given their time to raise cash for a good cause.
“We’ve all got on incredibly well and worked as a team, united by the love of music and enjoying performing and jamming together. Some of us knew each other quite well already but I think some real life-long friendships have been formed as a result of this whole process.”
Chris continued: “It was an awful shock to lose my brother along the way, but producing the EP has been a truly wonderful experience. Although we’re biased, of course, we think the eclectic tracks on the EP, which finishes with a Christmas song, are decent and hopefully better that most people might expect.
“We just hope people will get behind us and buy their copies to help us raise funds for a really deserving charity.”
The EP has also been championed by members of the community in the village of Roos, where Chris lives.
The first airing of the Christmas EP was on Burnsy’s show, on BBC Radio Humberside, on 29 November. Copies are available to buy from James Legal’s offices at Planet House, Hedon Road, Hull; The Music Academy, also on Hedon Road; Burton Pidsea Garage and the Roos Arms pub in Roos.
It can also be downloaded electronically by googling Bandcamp and searching for ‘The Elusive Mandarins’.
The net proceeds from the sale of every EP and CD bought will go to Yorkshire Cancer Research.
Alex Green, Relationships Manager at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: “We are delighted that The Elusive Mandarins have chosen to raise money for the charity through the sale of their CD. The money raised will help fund vital research and community health initiatives to improve the diagnosis, treatment and care of cancer patients living in Yorkshire.”
Anyone who would like to donate to our efforts for Yorkshire Cancer Research can also do so via Chris’s Just Giving page at http://www.justgiving.com/Chris-Hutchinson9