The Brandy Jacks are a busy acoustic duo from Yorkshire, fronted by former ‘Face of Le Keux’, Alison Oade. Lisa-Marie Rose caught up with Alison to talk vintage finds, Billy Holiday and Queen Dita!
(Face of Le Keux image credited to Le Keux Vintage Salons)
How would you introduce yourself to our readers?
We are Alison and Richard, a soon to be wedded twosome from Yorkshire, who specialise in performing old blues, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll. After meeting through music (at a local open mic night), we began to explore our shared passion of vintage music/music of yesteryear and realised that our individual sounds perfectly complemented one another.
Brandy Jacks’ signature style is stripped back acoustic versions of classic songs. What is your favourite song to perform live?
With Richard’s blues background, I was quickly introduced to the rich roots of rock ‘n’ roll, and on first hearing St. Louis Blues, performed by Billie Holiday, I instantly fell in love with the song. This has subsequently remained our all-time favourite song to perform live, and we were even filmed on holiday in Santorini last year giving an impromptu rendition of the track, a video of which can be found on our Facebook page.
Do you have any plans to write your own material?
For many years Richard has written and recorded multiple original songs, some of which have been played on local BBC radio, and others we have recently re-visited to bring them back to life as part of our duo. However, we do plan on recording some original material of our own in the very near future.
What’s your favourite vintage era and why?
My favourite vintage era for fashion and style would be the 1940s for its class and sophistication, however my earliest and most fond memories of music involved listening to several 1950s rock ‘n’ roll love songs cassettes in my mum’s car as a child. I could never have imagined how much those old tapes would have influenced my life as an adult.
Who are your biggest influences in terms of vocal style?
As a vocalist, I have always stayed true to what comes naturally and focussed more on wanting to develop my own sound, rather than being overly influenced by anyone else. That being said, I have huge respect and admiration for Mary Ford, Etta James, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.
Who is your vintage fashion icon and why?
I can’t say I have one ‘vintage fashion icon’, as my style tends to be a hybrid of elements from the 1940s and 1950s. However, I adore the natural beauty of Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth and can’t forget our Queen Dita. If only I had more time to set my hair more often! A girl can dream!
If you had to choose 5 ‘vintage’ desert island discs, what would they be and why?
Both mine and Richards top 5 ‘Desert Island Discs’ would include:
An Elvis compilation – featuring as many of his classics as possible!
Bob Marley – For the ‘feel good’, chilled out, summery vibes his music creates (and we even cover several of his songs!).
A bit of a cheat answer, but a good old rock ‘n’ roll compilation featuring the likes of The Everly Brothers, Bobby Darin, Buddy Holly, Frankie Valli, Sam Cooke and The Shirelles.
Ry Cooder Anthology (mainly for Richard, as his main music hero!) – for the sheer depth of his musical influences and repertoire.
A guilty pleasure for me would be the Dixie Chicks – Fly. After listening to this album as a youngster, I immediately wanted to play the guitar. And playing the guitar then led to me finding my singing voice, so I owe a lot to this album!
How big a part does vintage style play in your everyday life?
We live a very vintage inspired life. I bought my first home due to the fact it has an original cast iron stove fireplace, complete with working creole! Both our fashion styles would also be classed as ‘vintage inspired’, with Richard’s love of tweed waistcoats, braces and granddad cardigans, and the fact I only own swing or wiggle dresses, (I don’t even own a pair of jeans!) and sport victory rolls 90% of the time.
What’s your favourite vintage item?
My favourite vintage item (other than my little old cottage!) really isn’t anything special. It’s an unnamed dress that cost me £6 on eBay about 10 years ago – back in the days when you could pick up vintage pieces for next to nothing! I have re-sewn the joins and hems several times, but it still remains a staple and favourite piece in my wardrobe.
Where do you like to shop for vintage style?
Like most vintage enthusiasts I’m a keen charity shop shopper, particularly in York and Harrogate. However, I have only visited Amsterdam twice and on both occasions I have picked up some absolute vintage treasures in the form of dresses and scarves, and most recently two beautiful vintage handbags. So, whenever I visit European cities, I always make sure I Google all of the local vintage shops and add these to our itinerary!
Tell us about your time as the face of ‘Le Keux’.
I was the ‘Face of Le Keux 2016’ and the whole experience was more than I could have ever dreamed of. I entered the competition with an, ‘I’ve got nothing to lose’ attitude, thinking I was just proud of myself for even entering. As someone who has always struggled with self-confidence, especially wearing the clothes I love to wear, this was simply a confidence boost for myself. I never imagined I would win! For me, winning the competition was a sign of acceptance, a pat on the back for being true to myself, and that’s what meant the most to me. Diablo Rose and Lynsey LeKeux are such inspiring women, and I am so proud and grateful that they chose me to represent their brand.
If you could collaborate with anyone living or dead, who would it be?
This is one for Richard – as previously mentioned, Ry Cooder is his all-time musical hero. Recently honoured by the BBC Folk awards for the Life Time Achievement award, his signature slide playing inspired Richard to develop his own unique bottle-neck slide style. Ry’s wealth of musical knowledge and experience would be an irresistible draw for Richard.
How can readers book you for their event or keep up to date on upcoming gigs?
We currently have a website www.brandyjacks.com specifically aimed at wedding bookings, although here you can also find a list of songs we perform and links to promotional material. You can also track us down on Facebook at www.facebook.com/alisonandrichard.