Testimonials

Saw and heard you for the first time tonight in the Floral Pavilion in New Brighton. Awesome. Would love to have a copy of you singing (especially) the Dylan songs. Is this possible ? Would love to make a purchase if this is available.

Joan Radley

I thoroughly enjoyed everything about your show, the music and the storytelling had me enthralled. I can’t wait to see the next one.

Jean Stam

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  1. Calli performed for us at a charity event at Wirral Met College last year and their performance was quite simply sensational. Their repertoire was just perfect with something to delight everyone of our guests. Calli’s voice is stunning and the harmonies with Mark and Mike are truly breathtaking – we can’t wait to welcome them back to the college in the very near future.

  2. Calli have worked with Hand in Hand Theatre on many of our productions not only performing but also contributing and collaborating with the music soundtrack of After the Dream, The Crucible, A very Victorian Christmas, A festival of War Peace & Remembrance and The Winter’s Tale.
    Calli’s vocals have been a truly professional and stunning addition to our performances. The band have also run workshops during the rehearsal process
    They are a superb band with a really diverse repertoire and can turn their musical style to suit any occasion. Vocalist Calli has one of the most beautiful voices telling wonderful stories through the music. Mark and Mike are experienced, talented musicians who provided a wonderful backing .
    They are also lovely people who are a joy to work with. We wish them every success with all their new ventures and look forward to working with them again..

  3. A fantastic sound and highly professional trio.
    Looking forward to seeing their performances whenever possible
    I have worked with both Calli and Mark in different youth productions where they have used their immense talents to help and support young people. They have used their experience of professional performance, giving their own time freely to provide genuine, positive advice and help to encourage young people to make the most of their talents.
    Not just very talented musicians but genuinely lovely people as well.

  4. Thanks to Calli and the boys who performed for us here at Wirral Met College once again at our annual Blue Butterfly Gala Dinner in aid of North West Cancer Research. The obvious passion which they have for their craft shines through and they delighted our guests with a wide selection of songs old and new, familiar and less well known, each performed with intense feeling and emotion – absolutely exquisite.

  5. Seemingly it was her first ‘big’ stage outing with six musicians and two backing singers but it came across and sounded as if Wirral based – but Athens born – vocalist Calli Hughes had been performing this kind of super octane show for decades, so effortless did she make it look.

    There was a buzz of anticipation humming through the Floral Pavilion’s sold out Blue Room for what was tagged as a celebratory concert of Cohen and Dylan songs, a repertoire of material Calli says she has long wanted to tackle.

    The show was promoted by Wirral’s highly acclaimed Hand in Hand Theatre Productions outfit with whom Calli, who trained at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, has also appeared, including a stint singing on the Royal Shakespeare stage in Stratford.

    For sure many folk know of Calli as a singer and she has worked as a lead vocalist with several bands across the musical genre and with personalities such as Sean Styles, Pauline Daniels and Mickey Finn, and she also has a fine track record in teaching music at both Wirral High School and LIPA.

    But here, she was out in front of an audience that clearly knew the source material by heart, indeed glancing around it wouldn’t be far fetched to presume that many of the songs Calli had chosen had probably been the baseline for a lot of people’s emotional life trajectories, as they had been for the composers.

    Sporting a striking scarlet outfit, Calli’s first set was focused on Leonard Cohen and she escorted us through the weals, woes and passions of the late and already legendary Canadian poet. Her soft and yet often soaring vocal range delivered sparkling versions of such memorable songs as ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’, ‘Song of Bernadette’, ‘Bird on a Wire’, ‘Suzanne’ and of course the inestimable ‘Hallelujah’.

    Her magnetic stage presence was enhanced by the band, which included a guest appearance by the outstanding violin player Kate O’Brien whose own 20-year track record spans the whole range of the entertainment and musical world.

    Her other ‘guest’ was Wallasey’s own Brian ‘Saxophone’ Jones who is actually renowned and revered in his own right through his links to the mighty Undertakers beat band in the 1960s who had a cult following in the fabled Iron Door club.

    Here, Brian’s superb tenor sax was a fitting addition to a lively line up that included guitarists Mike and Mark Hughes, drummer Mal Peters, Keyboards Paul Tolley and singers Nicky Tolley and Joanna Hewlett.

    Switching to a black costume for the second act that featured a range of Bob Dylan songs that demonstrated that fifty years and more on the now gravel voice bard’s stuff has a resonance that echoes to this day, Calli was by now in her element, and the audience quite literally in her pocket.

    As she introduced some of the songs – such as ‘Don’t Think Twice’, ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ and the haunting ‘Simple Twist of Fate’ – Calli gave a little breakdown of the background to each which highlighted her warm rapport with the audience.

    Her semi-rock versions of ‘Masters of War’ and ‘Blowin’ in the Wind’ were actually a master class in themselves and she and the band enthusiastically swept into a cracking upbeat, exhilarating version of ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door’.

    With this marvellous outing Calli has surely not just boosted her mojo but found her forte in showbiz: an ability to interpret a wide range songs but with a fresh and exuberant style. Look out for future shows!

    Five stars

  6. Songs of the Poets celebrated two of the most revered songwriters and musicians within popular music, Leonard Cohen and Bob Dylan. This Hand in Hand Theatre Production at the atmospheric Blue Lounge at the Floral Pavilion, featured a nine piece band of local musicians led by charismatic singer Calli Hughes. This was a night made special by expert musicianship, respect for musical history and a clear love of the source material.

    Leonard Cohen Set

    The evening consisted of two distinct sections. The first half of the concert featured the songs of Leonard Cohen. There is a challenge to singing other people’s songs and arguably that challenge is increased when the original artist is as iconic and distinctive as Leonard Cohen. Calli’s delivery of the material was pitch perfect; both in the high standard of vocal delivery and the emotional engagement with the songs. We can take poetry for granted within lyrics and hearing these songs countless times in the past can make us blasé about just how meaningful they are. To hear them again with such a different interpretation from the original had me listening afresh. Familiar songs such as Hallelujah, Joan of Arc and Suzanne sounded fresh and vibrant. Alternatives to the originals that made me listen closely again and reminded me just how deep these songs are.

    The performance was supplemented with projected images that included lyrics and photographs of Cohen; made even more poignant by his recent passing. Alongside these, interesting anecdotes from Calli gave each song context. Stories about the history of the songs added depth but there were also more personal stories as well. An example was So Long Marianne. Calli’s personal memory of the song showed her connection to the material. This approach engaged the audience very well indeed.

    Bob Dylan Set

    The second part of the show featured the songs of Bob Dylan. These songs have been covered extensively by many artists, in many styles, for many years. Dylan himself is known for constantly rearranging his back catalogue to extract new and interesting approaches to his work. His choice as the second ‘poet’ of the evening was particularly relevant following the debate around literature and music that was generated by his Nobel Prize in literature award for 2016. I was interested to see which songs would be included and how they’d be performed.

    Songs were again accompanied by anecdotes and projections. These really added to the impact of the performance in a substantial way. Songs were presented from relatively early in his career and performed with expertise and feeling. The band adapted well to different approaches and moods ranging from fully acoustic numbers to a full band approach. Mr. Tambourine Man, Blowing in the Wind and Simple Twist of Fate were outstanding. An unexpected choice was Masters of War which sadly, as one of Dylan’s most powerful anti-war songs, is still strongly relevant today. There was a marked contrast here between the obvious happiness of the musicians to be playing and the haunting meaning of the lyrics. For me it emphasised the seriousness of the song. Knocking on Heaven’s Door closed this section and was stunning. The full-house audience offered a standing ovation.

    Calli gave an outstanding vocal performance throughout, supported by an expert group of musicians. Of particular note were the contributions of Kate O’Brien on violin and the legendary Brian ‘Saxophone’ Jones doing what he does best, but everyone had a vital role to play. As the evening drew to a close Bird on the Wire by Leonard Cohen was an inspired choice of encore as the room was fully conscious of the loss of Cohen last year. This served as tribute, celebration and fitting end to a most enjoyable evening. There was music, poetry and respect in this celebration of two giants of modern music.

    Denis Parkinson

    Review © 2017  Denis Parkinson, Liverpool Acoustic

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