Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Teen prodigy steps out of shadows to take us back to swinging Sixties

Chris will play Shadows hits

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the teenage boy on the stage of the Black Box is way too young to remember The Shadows – most of us are too young to remember Cliff Richard's backing group, who went on to create their own success with their instrumental hits.

But OTL will today be taking a step back into the Sixties when Larne prodigy Chris Braniff starts to strum his guitar. His show, Relive The Legend Of The Shadows, will conjure up those waistcoats and pointy shoes, and Hank Marvin's NHS specs. But more than that, it's a musical extravaganza packed with hits like Apache, Kon Tiki, The Savage and Atlantis.

So how did a young man like Chris turn his attention to the sounds of The Shadows, rather than, say, Iron Maiden?

Blame the parents. Chris began listening to The Shadows when he was a young boy (his father was a big fan), and learned to play the guitar to The Shadows' sheet music. While hours of practice helped his playing, it didn't give him a lot of kudos among his friends: "Some of them would laugh at the music I was playing, as Cliff Richard and The Shadows wasn't really their thing – they wanted me to play newer music – but I knew that if I could play The Shadows I could move around other styles later if I wanted to."

But the guitar wasn't the first instrument Chris mastered – he started out on his musical career playing the trumpet at primary school. "I wasn't very good," he admitted, "but it gave me a start in reading music." So instead of treating us to the tunes of Kenny Ball, Chris picked up a guitar and began strumming.

It wasn't long before he had built a set of Shadows songs, and he and his dad formed The Shadowmen. Then they bagged their place in the spotlight. "Being on stage is an indescribable feeling, especially when an audience knows The Shadows," he said.

And he's confident that the OTL crowd will tick that box.

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