Sunday, 20 July 2014

The Hayley Oliver Band Call It Quits

The Hayley Oliver Band have called it quits and split.

updated July 22, 2014

We take a look at how they formed, the music they made and what they achieved on the British Country Music scene.

Hayley Oliver Band Montage
Reasons For The Split
According to bass player Nigel Nesbitt the split was “nothing to do with playing the music but disagreements with progressing to bigger and better things”.
He went on to explain that professional people had advised that the way to go forward and make it to the next level following their last album [Abinger Grove] was that they needed to work on their look with more up to date material.
The band members accepted this but lead vocalist Miss Hayley Oliver didn’t.

After their 6 year band project the band musicians were not prepared to ”just keep playing the Country Music Clubs  to the same audiences playing the same stuff, and be like all the other bands doing the same circuit year after year”. They wish Hayley all the luck in the future.

The Hayley Oliver Band, “The Hotdisc hotties” and critically acclaimed UK country band have split but will continue as separate entities. The London/ Kent based band comprised Hayley Oliver (lead vocals), Lee Ellis (electric guitar), Nigel Nesbitt (bass), Wayne Lee (keyboards), Scott Gladman (acoustic guitar) and Nick Cole/ Julian Mclaren (drums).

Shockwaves of seismic proportions not hit and reverberated around the UK country circuit on Monday July 14, 2014 after Mr. Nesbitt from The Hayley Oliver Band announced on Facebook:
“It's with great sadness that I have to report that Hayley Oliver Band has now ceased.
The band would like to thank everyone for their support over the past 6 years, with out you all we wouldn't have been able to record the 2 albums and play some of the fantastic gig's that we played. Hayley is going to carry on with a new band and the 5 members of the band wish her the best of luck in the future. We have achieved a lot in the past 6 years including 2 British Country Music Awards and 11 UK No1's in the Hotdisc charts (a World Record) which we are very proud of. We have also been to some amazing places and met and played for some great people, we have also had the honour to play with some amazing musicians, including Albert Lee, John Permenter, Gerry Hogan, Sean Kenny, amongst many others.

The Band would also like to thank Sean [Kenny] (Ten 21 studios) for all the effort and knowledge where the last album ABINGER GROVE was concerned, as always you did a great job, also a huge thank you to Lee Ellis for bringing us all together 6 years ago”.

Although it is believed that two of the musicians had already formally left, in late June 2014 the band honoured and played their very last gig in Denmark at the Kolding Country Festival (photo) – “What a way to go out, amazing crowd, and a great festival” shared Nigel.
Hayley will move forward with her own career and the remaining 5 members of the band will continue on a new project and they will be concentrating on a more Americana/ Country rock sound.
 The band will have Wayne Lee (son of renowned guitarist/ musician Albert Lee) singing and the rest of the remaining members adding harmonies, but they will experiment with other singers. The band with their unique sound will push the boundaries and explore a slightly more varied direction. The Band website will be left open for a while, and the Facebook page will probably change once the new band adopts a name.

The 38-year old Sittingbourne, Kent based songbird Hayley Oliver (who has a business degree) will be continuing with a new band which she has already formed.
Regarding the lovely and much liked Hayley her now former band mate Nigel paid her a compliment saying “And if she never wins a BCMA [British Country Music Awards] for best female vocalist then the awards are a sham”!!
He went on to say - “I also think that the UK scene just wasn't ready or didn't want to hear the new stuff that we put on the new album, we wanted to go forward and not just be another UK country band doing American covers, that’s why ABINGER GROVE was mainly all new original songs, arranged by us in our way, The Hayley Oliver Band, not just Hayley and her band , we were a unit, a collective all under one name and not individual musicians, we worked as a group, and that’s where the sound came from”

Their former manager Lee Williams, who has been promoting their singles on the promotional Hotdisc, CEO of CMR Nashville (Europe’s #1 Country radio station) and Django Promotions (CMR Nashville ™ & CMR Hot ™ are trading names) and one of the big players on the committee of The British Country Music Awards (BCMAs) stated - “Sorry to hear that, we had some good shows in Nashville and a good run with Hotdisc and the BCMAs”.

About: Hayley Oliver and The Hayley Oliver Band
In 2006, Hayley Oliver influenced by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris and Tammy Wynette released her first self-produced album TWO HEARTS, drawing rave reviews which led to her winning an Evy of Canada Award for Best New Artist 2007.
Later she then worked with Nashville writers and producers on brand new material, which resulted in her second solo album I CAN STILL DREAM, released in October 2009. It was recorded and produced by Oliver with editing, mixing and mastering undertaken by Sean Kenny at Ten21 Studios in Maidstone, Kent.
Hayley made her national radio debut on BBC RADIO 2 back on Jan 31, 2010 (see BBC Playlist) when her song ”Be Love” (written by Stephen McClintock and Debbi Cochran) was played. On Feb 7, 2010 (see BBC Radio 2 Playlist feature) Hayley was made the Sunday Spotlight artist on the station - "She has got an absolutely lovely voice" said Aled Jones the presenter of the Good Morning Sunday national radio show.
Other applause soon followed:
"I think she's just about the best British Talent we've ever had really I think she's got a great voice, and this album is just lovely , …Beautiful voice, real emotion in the voice, I love it I think Its fabulous” – Marie Crichton BBC Radio Shropshire.
 “An authentic country sound from a fresh and breezy British artist" said Maverick Magazine in February 2010.
Hayley Oliver is a definite find!, You won’t be disappointed" said David Allan (Country music journalist, Broadcaster, former BBC Radio 2 Presenter) in an article published in Country Music People magazine in January 2010.

In 2005, she met lead guitarist Lee Ellis which eventually led to Hayley forming her own band. The first stages of band came together in February 2009 and they began to rehearse for their first gig at the Viking Rooms on 18 April 2009.

This project evolved with the release of their first album in 2010, a cover songs project titled NATURALLY, recorded in two days at Ten21 studios in Kent which captured and showcased the bands live sound.
Ellis drafted in two friends from the band Rare Breed, which was formed back in the nineties, comprising Nigel Nesbitt and Wayne Lee (son of Albert Lee). Together they had the honour of performing with Albert Lee and supporting him on various occasions across the country, with Rare Breed. With bass and keyboards in place, Ellis then recruited another friend, Scott Gladman, on acoustic guitar and then finally Julian McLaren (Marianne Faithful/Sean Maguire) on drums.

The concept of putting the band together was to push Hayley’s career and get her more exposure playing bigger venues than playing on her own with manager Lee Williams hoping to grab some attention from America and open doors.
This was not supposed to be “Hayley Oliver and her band” - Whole is greater than the sum of its parts = Teamwork!
In August 2009 in an interview (scanned image) for Forward Magazine (The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association) Hayley acknowledged this when she said: “I’ve played gigs on my own in pubs, clubs, festivals, but it doesn’t really compare with having a band up there with you on stage. Playing with these guys it’s a completely different sound, feeling, atmosphere. You’ve not just there by yourself; you’re playing and singing with terrific musicians. It’s fantastic”

Hotdisc Chart Success
Hayley’s first No.1 on Hotdisc Top 40 single came via "Another Lonely Night" (written by Geri Rowan and Mark Miller) on the chart Jan 14, 2010 for one week. The track taken from her second solo album “I Can Still Dream” also logged 6 weeks atop the British & Irish Hotdisc chart. Hotdisc based in Selkirk, Scotland and run by CEO Stuart Cameron, provides content for broadcasters throughout Europe and claims to be the leading promotional company for country music in Europe via its Rush Released imprint.

Naturally era
The NATURALLY album produced four chart-topping positions two of which headed the main Hotdisc Top 40 chart. On April 15, 2010 The Hayley Oliver Band enjoyed their first #1 with "Tell Me Why" topping the summit for 1 week and a 5-week British & Irish No.1. Their most successful single was a cover of "I'm A Little Bluer Than That" (>> video), written by Irene Kelley and Mark Irwin which was recorded by Kelley on her CD Simple Path. This song also appeared on the CD Drive by country singer Alan Jackson. This single hit number one on July 8, 2010 for 4 weeks and was their final on the main chart it also reigned for 7 weeks on the British & Irish chart. This made it three chart toppers out of three releases for the band and became the most successful British act ever to appear on Hotdisc. No other UK act had managed three No1s on the main Top 40. “It's an incredible achievement for the blind singer who has only really been on the scene for just over a year with her band” said Stuart Cameron at the time.
The band were one of two acts to represent the UK, taking part in a WSM Radio event in Nashville who put on an International show of six country acts at the Loveless Café on Nov 9, 2010. The show was broadcast live in HD via the Internet.
Listen to their Nashville Interview at 16 Ton Studios with Robert Reynolds of The Mavericks >> YouTube

Two more British No1s followed with the Matraca Berg and Harlan Howard song “98.6 Degrees And Falling" (>> video) logging 3 weeks and their take of the Rodney Crowell/ Emmylou Harris "Tulsa Queen" logging 4 weeks on the charts in October  2010 and January 2011 respectively. Then from May 29, 2011 "Heartless" (written by Al Dickenson) had a 2 week British #1 and later the >> official video was shown on The Phil Mack International Country Show on Showcase TV (Sky/ Freesat)
Following on from this chart success the band took home two awards at the British Country Music Awards at Lakeside, Frimley Green, Surrey (the home of World Darts) on Sunday Oct 10, 2010 the first the Horizon Award (presented to them by Alvin Stardust) for the best British Newcomer and secondly the Hotdisc Award for “I'm a Little Bluer Than That” for its 7 week No.1 run. They were also nominated for BCMAward Band Of The Year ( Sponsor – Copper Kettle Promotions ) but lost out to Gary Perkins & The Breeze.
In this archive radio interview first broadcast on Oct 17, 2010 band spokesperson Hayley Oliver talks with former long-time BBC Radio Cambridgeshire country presenter Helen West about winning the BCMAwards and their forthcoming trip to Music City USA!
>> Listen here:

Abinger Grove” Era
The Double award winners released their sophomore album ABINGER GROVE (AOP Productions) on June 6, 2013. The 14 track album had 12 all new original songs (sourced from publishing companies) and 2 of their favourite covers “Dreaming My Dreams” (written by Allen Reynolds and released by Waylon Jennings in 1975) and "I'm Coming Home" (written by Charlie Rich and recorded by Elvis Presley on March 12, 1961 and tracked by Albert Lee & Hogans's Heroes) . It also included a reworked/ carry over track "I Can Still Dream" from Hayley's 2009 solo album.
Lee Ellis worked with Hayley behind the scenes choosing all the songs on the album. All of the arrangements of the songs were undertaken by all 6 members band to create a unique sound that made them stand apart from others on the British country circuit. Guest artists included Albert Lee (who featured on 12 of the 14 songs), Gerry Hogan, John Permenter and Sean Kenny. The album title derives from the street where the rehearsal studio resided. It was made available on CD, UK iTunes and digital download outlets:
Amazon UK , UK iTunes and CD Baby
Happy Days - The Hayley Oliver Band
Wolvestock Festival

On the Hotdisc April7, 2013 chart the band returned after a long break with the first single from the album "Right Person At The Right Time" (written by Tom Paden and Tim Taylor; watch > live video at the BCMAwards 2011)  which made debut at No.16 on the main standings and No.2 on the UK & Irish chart and then racked up 8 weeks at No.1 (No.3 peak Hotdisc Top 40). The follow up single appeared on the June 2013 Hotdisc #174 (Track 5) titled "Could I Be More Blue" (written by Tim Frazier / Phil McNikiza). It featured Albert Lee on guitar and made an entry at No.11 on the Top 40 and No.2 on the Hotdisc British & Irish chart with the south east band holding a rare 1-2!
“Blue” would spend 5 weeks at No.1 (#2 peak on Hotdisc Top 40).  
On the chart published October 6, 2013 the Hayley Oliver Band’s third single Good Old Days” (penned by Tom Paden and Tony Rackley) at No.10 on the chart overhauled Irishman Fergal Flaherty’s “I Won’t Let You Down” to once more head the British & Irish rankings. This resulted in the band being declared by Mr. Stuart Cameron: “without doubt the most successful British or Irish act ever in Hotdisc chart history” as they gained their ninth No.1 single.
Hayley Oliver Band HotDisc Graphic

On the published chart frame of Jan 5, 2014 the fourth single The Hand That Rocked The Cradle” had logged a record breaking 9-week straight No.1 on British & Irish Chart (#2 Top 40 peak) and thus matched the record of Rob Allen's "Pale Rider" single from the chart issued 8th July 2012. The band at this point had logged 23 weeks at the summit.
The fifth and final single Bright Side Of Life” (written by Tom Paden and Carol Elliott) made news when they climbed 8-6 on the main chart to grab themselves yet another British/ Irish leader to add to their growing collection of No1s to make it their 11th success but just falling short of their chart success during 2010 all three singles hit #1 on the Top 40.
ABINGER GROVE has been nominated for at the 2013  British Country Music Awards (BCMAwards) in the Best Album category. At the time the album did not appear on the iTunes Top 1500 UK Country Album chart and had a #40,334 ranking on Amazon UK Bestsellers (MP3 Albums)

In their last recorded radio interview on Sunday Oct 20, 2013 band members Hayley Oliver, Wayne Lee (keyboards), Lee Ellis (lead guitar) and Scott Gladman (acoustic guitar) were live guests on Dave Cash's country hour on BBC Radio Kent (Showpage) . They performed "Labour Of Love" and "Just Once More" live in the studio.
They spoke about their album ABINGER GROVE and the special guests who played on it and about their "World Record" after their ninth #1. 
>> Listen to the interview:

Commerical appeal and frustrations
Many of  the 1000 DJ’s and Industry music contacts across Europe slated to receive the Hotdisc promo disc, via physical and digital formats, once again rated the band’s album favourable as did the main UK country music press publications (CrXss Country, Country Music People (4 STARS page 43 Jan 2014 Issue Review, Maverick Magazine 5 STARS CD Review) who handed out 4 and 5 Stars glowing reviews. However all this critical acclaim has not resulted in success at the major online retail sites with fans and radio listeners showing little interest to purchase this set. It has rarely troubled the top 1000 places in twelve months on the Top 1500 iTunes Country Album Chart and has not showed its face on the chart for several months. At the online retailer Amazon UK it has a current ranking of #98,914 in MP3 Albums (dated July 16, 2014). How to transform chart success into retail sales appears to be have been their biggest hurdle and a common challenge for UK country artists, particularly those making original material.

In October 2013 the bands bass player spoke openly with forum members on about the struggles for UK country music bands to breakthrough and the costs incurred: “The UK public just don't seem to be interested and seem to prefer reworked or straight copies of old American tunes. We recently played a gig in Norfolk, and we decided to play most of the tracks off of the album [Abinger Grove], and the applause was very generous, but the comments afterwards was, why didn't we play all the covers that they could dance to!! 

So what is the point of recording new songs, and spending 6 months picking the tracks from thousands of songwriters, to end up with comments like that after travelling for 4 hours to get there, 2 hours to set up, and then the same after the gig to get home, we sold 2 CD's !!...We have played many gig's to a lot of the clubs and festivals in this country and apart from The Stetson in Nottingham, they want to dance to tunes they know from The States and not listen or buy original material, and that’s a fact not just my opinion.  So why do we do it?
Because a) We don't want to be another UK band that just plays American covers to the same audiences, and b) We are proud of what we do and have achieved so far, so why should we follow the majority of the UK country scene? We are the Hayley Oliver Band not a karaoke band, and we will never be that. We go out of our way to produce quality, in what we record, what we play live and the videos that we produce. We do it because we believe in what we do and want to produce quality, not digitally enhanced, studio auto tuned, same old same old stuff. So far the last album has cost upwards of £18,000 [including promotion, CD production, plus extra's etc] ..but we have a product that can stand up along side any professional recorded material, and the comments from our peers make it worthwhile”

Critical reception/ Quotes:
 (7 Feb 2010)  “What a great voice there and a very great talent that’s Hayley Oliver and a song called 'Another Lonely Night, I'm sure well be hearing lots more from that young lady” - Brian Mann BBC Radio Suffolk

(11 July 2010) “That is absolutely superb, that is a great great sound” 
 - Allan Watkiss BBC Radio Sheffield  

(28 August 2010)  “I tell you no lie, everybody in the studio were dancing to that one”
(11 September 2010) “That’s Hayley Oliver, what a great voice that lady has got” - Keith Greentree BBC Radio Norfolk

 (3 October 2010) “Really sprung onto the scene the last 2 years. It is predicted by many that Hayley and her talented musicians will be flying the British flag for country music for many years to come, and there are not many who would argue with that” :
Stuart Cameron CMR Nashville The HotDisc Top 40 Show

(23 October 2010) A Big congratulation to Hayley and her band, what a year 2010 is turning out to be” ....”A huge congratulations to the lovely Hayley Oliver” - - Jackie Storrar Recording artist and presenter CMR Nashville "The Country Cafe"

(11 November 2010; Album of the Week) “ This stuff is as good as anything coming out of Nashville, well in fact most of it coming out of Nashville…Tremendous this CD, this is The Hayley Oliver Band…. they have a fantastic sound, I think they are a really find as far as British Country Music is concerned “- David Callister Manx Radio, Isle Of Man

(November 2010) “There has been a buzz about Hayley Oliver but her vocals were hard to understand and in country music the lyrics are much more important than the rhythm or beats"…"she [Hayley] was not very good"  - Alan Cackett Maverick Magazine (Live review of the 2010 British Country Music Awards (BCMAward). He also complained about the band doing cover versions. Cackett's main moan was that performers do mostly covers rather than original material and described the Henry Smith Band as "the worst offender".

(16 January  2011)  “Very, very good isn’t it, superb, the names Hayley Oliver have you seen her yet? The whole album’s as good as that....” - Steve Cherelle  BBC Radio Essex, Cambridgeshire & Norfolk

(18 July 2011) “I really do endorse this ladies music I think she’s fabulous... Wonderful album” - Marie Crichton BBC Radio Shropshire

(25 July 2011) “Her [Wolvestock Festival] set was absolutely wonderful...lovely lovely track..the wonderful voice of Hayley Oliver, definitely think she’s the best British solo singer were had for whenever really” ” - Marie Crichton BBC Radio Shropshire

 (14 August 2011) “An excellent version of a Moe Bandy classic...this is the Hayley Oliver Band - Joe Fish BBC Radio Lancashire

(8 January 2012) “A young lady who has set the British country scene alight over the last year or so. A delightful lady and a delightful sound she’s got as well” - Stewart Fenwick Celtic Music Radio

(2 June 2013)  "She has a lovely band, she's a first class singer and she finds good songs..It's a pleasure to play her".."It's very very good isn't it, That could hold its own against anything I think" - Steve Cherelle BBC Radio Kent

(20 October 2013) "Its a brilliant CD" - Dave Cash BBC Radio Kent

(January 2014) “Hayley Oliver is blessed with a voice which was made to sing country music; capable of delivering traditional styles with the freshness demanded by today’s market place….Get yourself a copy, I think you’ll enjoy it” - Chris Smith Country Music People Magazine [ABINGER GROVE 4 STAR album review

(March/ April 2014) “Nashville meets South London in this incredible second album..This is a triumph of an album, which takes you every emotion, from elation to heartbreak and back again in 50 minutes…This album has something for everyone, and from start to finish will keep you engrossed and amazed at the sheer range of sounds that not just Hayley Oliver, but her entire band can achieve – Chris Beck Maverick Magazine [ABINGER GROVE 5 STAR album review]

British Country Music Awards (BCMAward)

The Hayley Oliver Band Hotdisc Chart Success:

Hayley Oliver Band Hotdisc Top 40 Chart runs 2011 – 2014

The Hayley Oliver Band have also drawn praise for their performances at the country music festivals in particular Wolvestock Festival (Wolverhampton on Sunday 25th July 2010), Americana Festival in Newark (July 2011 >> Video) and The Rubber Duck in Norfolk.
We wish both parties good luck for the future as separate bands and wait eagerly to see what unfolds.
Watch this space!

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