Cavern Club Spotlight: Resident Band – McDonalds Farm
The Cavern Club regulars and International Beatleweek legends from Dundee have now been performing in Liverpool for more than 30 years.
And Steve McDonald, Grant Roberts and Liam Brennan – formerly of Dead Ringer and Tripper – have shared the stage with a host of artists over the years, including Denny Laine, Steve Holly, Laurence Juber, Pete Best, Bill Kinsley, Chris Sharrock and, most recently, Neil Innes as part of 2017 Beatleweek.
As Denny Laine’s backing band they gigged extensively in and around London and major European cities.
McDonalds Farm are currently one of the Cavern’s resident bands, playing regularly each month on the Front Stage and in the Live Lounge.
We caught up with singer and guitarist Steve McDonald to find out more about the band.
Tell us about how the band was formed?
In 1975 the original line up of McDonalds Farm was formed in our home town of Dundee in Scotland. At that time we were playing seven nights a week at a club called the Ambassador.
Like the Beatles we went to Germany, although we didn’t play clubs, we played eight hours a night on the American base circuit to army, navy and air force recruits.
Over the years the name of the band changed from Ringer, to Tripper to the Shoe’s, and now back to the original name McDonalds Farm.
Grant has been with me from day one and Liam now in his tenth year!
How time flies when you’re enjoying yourself.
Can you explain what goes in to creating an authentic sound on stage?
I think it’s geographical, and bands from Glasgow sound different to bands from London and Liverpool.
I think a lot of bands that try to emulate the sound of a particular band get close, although I believe that their individual sound goes deeper than that, and a big part of that is where you were brought up and started playing and performing.
How does it feel to play at the Cavern Club?
Every time we set foot on stage at the Cavern club we feel honoured. It is without doubt the greatest club in the world for Beatle and music fans alike, the diversity of acts and styles of music that are featured throughout the year in the Cavern Club is second to none.
Together with the friendliness of the bar staff and the professionalism of the door staff, makes it a safe and truly enjoyable experience.
What is the most popular request (if you take them) from the crowd – and what is the oddest one you have ever had?
Well this brings us to the never-ending Hey Jude discussion!
Beatles songs are like the Bible, every line of every song so precious, they were written for us all to take from them what we think and feel – love, peace, joy, sadness, happiness, you pick it they’re all there for us in those amazing words and music.
I never get tired of hearing any Beatles song. Hey Jude is an anthem.
Oddest request? That’s My Life by John’s dad Freddie Lennon.
And what is your favourite song to perform?
This is almost impossible to answer. I love to hear the crowd sing along with us when we play.
This Boy with John’s greatest ever middle eight.
My Love, one of Paul’s never ending amazing ballads.
Here Comes The Sun. full of George’s optimism.
But in these uncertain times I’ll go for All You Need is Love. Followed by the whole catalogue….1 2 3 4!
What do you think is the enduring appeal of the Fab Four? And in your view which country seems to have to most avid fans?
I have been a fan of the Beatles from day one. As I now approach my 65th birthday I can look back and say without a doubt that the Beatles saved my life.
Their words and music have guided me through this journey of life, never let me down, supported me in times of need – giving me the spirit and strength to pick myself up when I was down, fuelled all my hopes and ambitions, a constant companion.
So I salute John, Paul, George and Ringo for what they have given me from the age of nine right up to this present day, thank you.
A real Beatle fan is a real Beatle fan no matter where they are from. We’re all part of the same family.
But I’ll go with the real Beatle fans from Liverpool, the ones from the early Cavern days, the ones still wearing the badges!
If you could live in any musical decade, which one would you choose, and why?
That’s a no brainer, I’d be standing in the queue in Mathew Street waiting to get into a Beatles lunchtime session.
I would have loved to have been in The BEATLES for a night, instead of standing in front of the mirror with my tennis racket with my school tie as the strap.
Yeah! Yeah!! Yeah!!! Yeah!!!!