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Papa Shango see in December with Christmas Voodoo Special at Horn at the Half Moon

By Tom Ryder

Papa Shango
Papa Shango

On Saturday (Dec 1), the mighty Papa Shango play their annual home-town show. The event is a festive special, and dressing up is encouraged, as is 'drunken dancing and shouting'. The band have been boosted by the recent news that they will be a headliner at Bish Bash 2019. Tom Ryder asks Papa Rob (Rob Scatchard) what revellers can expect..

Papa Shango
Papa Shango

For those who don’t know, who are Papa Shango and what can one expect from a Shango gig?

On a base level you could describe us as having repetitive riffs with childish lyrics. Live, it is a general assault on the senses, including sight (pretty girls and costumes), sound (we play instruments) and smell (we get people to sniff milk that has gone off). We also throw feathers and sponges around and try to make people smile.

When did you form, who is in the band and what is the role of each member?

Papa Shango
Papa Shango

The band was formed about 15 years ago; we have many members. The more the merrier, the bigger the show. My favourite members are the ones who turn up and do as they’re told without a fuss.

We still have three founding members from the original line-up – Ryan Cowell and Steve Harcourt. At the end of every year I conduct a Papa award ceremony. Members are awarded ‘Papa Stars’ for attendance and good behaviour. Also, stars can be removed for lateness and ideas that are too silly or impractical. Two stars are removed for talking out of turn or forgetting props.

You last played at Bish Bash in 2015 before Toploader… How was that?

I would genuinely say, playing to so many people was definitely one of our career high points, particularly on the back of a very difficult tour of Lithuania. It was really humbling to hear that even after Toploader had played their hit record Yellow, more people had come to watch us than them. That gig was truly our ‘Live Aid’ moment.

What does the Christmas special at the Half Moon hold in store?

Christmas is a crazy old time. Audience members are strongly encouraged to dress up in voodoo fancy dress. It’s going to be a sexy, hot and sweaty voodoo extravaganza.

We have two support bands and one comedian. The Autodisko are a voodoo original disco band, we have Dave Mullen, an award-winning voodoo comedian recently seen on TV in Live at the Apollo, and local voodoo pub covers band The Real McKoys.

We will be showcasing a new song called Check Your Phone. We also have new members, new Pappettes, a new saxophonist, a new drummer and a new guitarist.

How important has Bishop’s Stortford been in developing the band and providing opportunities?

This is a very good question! I would say Bishop’s Stortford has had a direct influence and importance in what we do. Every band has to have a home and playing in Stortford is most definitely our home.

We get very excited every time we come back. Simon Baker (from corporate sell-outs Uncle Funk) was kind enough to give us a slot at Stortfest around 2013 and we haven’t looked back.

What have you been up to in 2018 and what are your plans for next year, apart from Bish Bash?

2018 has seen some transitional phases in the line-up, but I do believe we have a very strong team now, including the introduction of a new character, Mama Shango.

We’re working on our third album, Risk Assessment, which will be released and ready to buy on the same day we play Bish Bash. There’s also a constant recruitment drive for any singers/dancers. Please get in touch – the only payment is fun with nice people.

* Papa Shango bring their Voodoo Christmas Special show to The Horn at the Half Moon on Saturday (Dec 1). Joining The Papas on the bill are pop disco band The Autodisko and pub rockers The Real McKoys. Tickets are £7 on the door. For more information visit www.thehornbs.co.uk.


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