The Web Consultant

Songs from Ithaca New York circa 1974
(written by Rich Wagner and Tony Brannon)

 

 

Budget Day Theme Song

Veteran musician and tourism activist Tony Brannon has provided Bermuda with a theme song for Budget Day, which you can listen to here (from Bernews). Read more »

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Better Days

Check out my Band: Better Days. We play great music from the 60's and 70's for those who grew up with the Beatles, Stones, Temptations and more.

GO AHEAD AND ENJOY ...

Better Days World

 

MY SONGS

Here are some of my songs. Please click on each song to listen to it. Sense of Justice was written by Tony O'Malley and Tony B and his band Tropical Heat played on the track.

 

MY CD'S

Here's a link to listen to some of the songs below: betterdaysbermuda.com/bermudasongs

BRockCD2

Hot Hot Calypso Reggae

Hot Hot Calypso Reggae

 

MY BIO

Tony started playing the piano and age 6 and took classical piano with a brilliant teacher who ran Bermuda's first philharmonic orchestra. On moving to the UK he continued with his piano lessons and entered the Mid Somerset Music Festival in Bath, Somerset where he won the Sainsbury Cup in 1967. All along Tony took yearly Royal School of Music exams on the piano.

In the early 60's there was an explosion of music in the UK defined by the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and indeed the Motown & Stax soul sound.

Tony got his first guitar in 1963 and within a year had taught himself all the basics (knowing the piano actually helped a lot). When Tony came back to Bermuda on summer holidays, gone were the crooners like Mel Torme and Mat Munro (the crooners were featured at The 40 Thieves Club from 1962/1964). By the mid 60's, much to Tony’s delight, Terry was bringing in almost every act that came out of Motown or Memphis. The Drifters, Wilson Pickett, Ben E. King, The Shirelles, Gladys Knight & The Pips, Ike & Tina Turner, King Curtis and The Kingpins, Sam Cooke and many more.

The guitarist for The Shirelles was impressed by young Tony's enthusiasm and showed him more than a few soul licks on the guitar backstage. Then the guitarist for King Curtis, Cornell Dupree, showed Tony his famous lick from Memphis Soul Stew, and Tony was hooked.

Being a fan of the Beatles and Motown gave him all the influences he needed to cut his hand on the guitar.

Tony graduated from high school in the UK in 1969 with 9 O Levels and 2 A levels. But that wasn't good enough to get into a UK University as you needed 3 A levels!

So Tony headed back to Bermuda in 1969 and went to the 6th Form Center to retake his Economics A Level. Somehow he managed to pass!

In the summer of 1970 Tom Jones was doing his first MEGA TOUR of the USA. Tom Jones had performed in Bermuda at his Dad's club, and Terry and Gordon Mills (Tom's Manager) were good pals. Gordon Mills said they were looking for an assistant to the Tour Manager and asked if Tony would be interested.

Tony had the time of his life from May 1970 until early September, traveling all over America with Tom Jones. The tour went to every major US City. The band was the Count Basie Orchestra, the opening act was Gladys Knight & The Pips and the comic was Norm Crosby.

Tom Jones had his own rhythm section. Guitarist Big Jim Sullivan, Bassist John Rostill - formerly of The Shadows, Kenny Clare on Drums and Derek Watkins on lead trumpet. Again in the hotels and dressing rooms backstage, Tony picked up some great guitar tips from Big Jim Sullivan one of the top guitarists from the UK.

In September Tony headed off to the UK, and went to Reading University for one year. Studying economics was not his "cup of tea", so he spent most of his time listening to Pink Floyd records, going to concerts and yes flunking his exams after year one.

Tony was delighted when in May of 1971 he was asked to do Tom Jones tour again. It wasn't easy to pass up as you can imagine being on tour with Tom Jones had lots of plusses, and being an 18 year old, who wouldn't love it!

In August of 1971 we rolled into LA where Tom performed at the LA Forum. We were staying at the Continental Hyatt House on Sunset Blvd. Everything you saw in the movie ALMOST FAMOUS was true folks! Whilst we were there I met Arlo Guthrie, Led Zeppelin, Savoy Brown, Atomic Rooster. It was 3 days I will never forget.

After the tour in 1971 I came back to Bermuda and worked for my Dad at the 40 Thieves. Things were changing in the club business. Name acts were getting bigger money, and clubs couldn't afford them much anymore. So we turned to hiring "Lounge Acts".

In January of 1973, much at the behest of his Dad, Tony returned to college, but this time in America. He went to the Hotel School of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Again it wasn't long before Tony found out that the college had a great music scene. When a position came up for the executive student board who hired the bands, Tony ran for the spot and was elected Secretary of the Cornell Concert Commission.

From 1973 until 1976, we bought to Cornell some of the greatest Rock Acts ever. Including: Santana, Loggins & Messina, YES, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Sly & the Family Stone, Aerosmith...just to name a few.

After graduating from Cornell Hotel School in 1976, Tony stayed in Ithaca working in a bar/restaurant but later that year his Dad asked him to come and help him with the 40 Thieves Nightclub after he fell out with his business partner.

Tony came and told his Dad that times had changed and that John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever and Disco were all the entertainment rage. So we opened Bermuda's first disco in 1978 and soon had Robert Stigwood (producer of Saturday Night Fever) onboard as a partner for several years.

The Disco ride lasted 10 years and we also bought many live shows to Bermuda including the Ramsey Lewis trio, Billy Preston, Nils Lofgren, Jeff Golub, John Sebastian, Roger McGuinn and others.

In 1985 Tony organized the Bermuda portion of LIVE AID, and the people of Bermuda contributed in excess of $ 250,000 which was per capita the 2nd highest in the world. Bob Geldof even showed up in person to collect the cash and bought his pal Simon Lebon from Duran Duran with him. Needless to say, they caused quite a stir and there are many great memories of the Geldof/Lebon visit to Bermuda. The highlight of the LIVE AID visit was Geldof being met by the Governor of Bermuda at the City Hall, and all the top political brass where there and the check for a quarter million was presented to Geldof.

To cap it off Robert Stigwood threw a party at his private estate where he was hosting a vacation for John Travolta. It almost seems now in 2007 that all that hope raised by LIVE AID has in historical terms not made the difference to AFRICA that everyone hoped for. BONO now holds the torch but it is troublesome that after Live Aid we see the disasters that still plague the African continent.

Towards the end of the 80's, tourism was plunging into a death spiral in Bermuda. Many hotels were closed or in the process of closing. Nightclubs were almost all gone, and with the changing scene, and the more aggressive attitudes of the Bermuda youth, going out at night was not on everyone's list of things to do. The Video rental business and the evolution of the Computer were all pointing away from clubs being viable. So it was in July of 1988 that the 40 Thieves closed its doors. It was indeed the end of an era.

In 1989 TonyB went on a short tour playing keyboards with MAXI PRIEST. The tour included, Bermuda, Dominica and Barbados.

TonyB eventually got into making a living by playing his guitar with the former lead singer of the house band (THE SHARKS) he had at the 40 Thieves throughout most of the 80's. Singer Victor Chambray and TonyB performed for 2 seasons at the Castle Harbor Marriott Hotel. In the process they recorded an album Chambray and Brannon, which was a collection of personal songs written by TonyB.

In the mid 90's TonyB put an island band together and ran the entertainment at Hawkins Island right up until 2006. The band went through many changes but the best days were in 2004/5 when Bajan Reggae singer BIGGIE IRIE joined TonyB and his band Tropical Heat for 2 great years.

In 1998 TonyB, together with well known rock drummer Andy Newmark, were contracted for a season to bring in some of their Rock 'n Roll friends from the UK and the USA. A new club opened for a short time called The SURF CLUB. Many great players came to Bermuda's Surf Club and thrilled the fans: SQUEEZE, PAUL YOUNG, PAUL CARRACK, HIRAM BULLOCK, WILL LEE and friends, NILS LOFGREN, JEFF GOLUB and a host of other great musicians from New York and London.

It was fun while it lasted and if it wasn’t funded by the rich Arabs who owned the ELBOW BEACH hotel it would never have happened.

In 1999 Tony found a great marketing idea whilst on holiday in Barbados and bought it back to Bermuda. The Tourist Box mini flyer brochure box became all the rage in the hotels and visitors service bureaus. Almost every hotel, restaurant, water tour operator were clients. From this Tony bought the Internet Domain Bermuda.com. This coupled with The Tourist Box became the biggest advertising business in Bermuda. After 5 years Tony sold the whole lot to The Bermuda Sun newspaper in 2004. It really saved his ass, Tony recalls, as the music business is tough at the best of times with Bermuda Tourism being in a tourism freefall.

In addition to music and marketing, Tony has owned a recording studio for many years in both Bermuda – Blue Clouds Studios, which he recently sold, and CRS Digital in Barbados, which he also sold. Tony has produced many of the jingles people have heard on Bermuda radio for years.

He still makes jingles for a few exclusive clients.

Music is something you do for the love of it and if you make a buck along the way that is a bonus. At least that is the case in Bermuda!

ALAS, it is now 2007, and with virtually nowhere left in Bermuda that features great live music, with the exception of a great new Bermuda reggae band HOME GROWN, it is now time to try and make something happen again.

The market in Bermuda is essentially all business driven, since we are the offshore insurance capital of the planet. Better Days are targeting this market and the convention business.

That being the case, Better Days have put together a concept that is directed at an older crowd with music from better days! The average age of the Better Days is past 150 years for the three players combined. So we make no apologies for not catering to the teenage generation!

Better Days are focusing on private parties, corporate functions and conventions.

 

SOME OF MY PHOTOS --- click below to view

photo collection