Sharing a stage with stars of the 60s

Aged 16 she was not even born when they were formed. But teenage singer and songwriter Alex Hill will make her concert debut on the same bill as one of the legendary bands of the 1960s.

Aged 16 she was not even born when they were formed. But teenage singer and songwriter Alex Hill will make her concert debut on the same bill as one of the legendary bands of the 1960s.

Alex, who lives at Hoxne, near Eye, has been asked to join the line-up for the third annual Christmas Jam at the Corn Hall, in Diss.

And this year that includes guitar-driven blues-rock group the Yardbirds, formed in 1963 by Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja.

The band is often remembered as the launching pad for three lead guitarists – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page.

The Yardbirds broke up in 1968, but originals McCarty and Dreja decided to reform in the 1990s and last year released the album Birdland, which featured guest appearances from Brian May, Slash and Joe Satriani.

For Alex, who hopes to make career out of music, the concert will be a chance to perform to an audience of at least 300 people and showcase original material – accompanied only by her guitar.

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She started writing her own songs two years ago, having spent years listening to her father's records, and appeared in music evenings as a pupil at Hartismere High School, Eye.

Now studying fashion and textiles at City College, Norwich, Alex has performed at a couple of music nights in the Railway Tavern pub, at Mellis, near Diss, which is run by Christmas Jam organiser Denny Newman, a former guitarist with pop group Manfred Mann.

"It's a really nice environment, it's much more interesting and challenging. If they don't like you they don't like you," said Alex.

The response has been good and so Mr Newman asked her to join the jam, which in the past has included former Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor and Snowy White, who played with Thin Lizzy and Pink Floyd.

"I was just so pleased, it's a great chance to learn things. I am definitely looking forward to it," said Alex.

"I had heard of the Yardbirds and the people who came out of the them, such as Eric Clapton and Jeff Beck. People who have been in the industry for such a long time, you can learn such a lot from them."

She added that she does not fit one musical style, but cites Fleetwood Mac – in particular Stevie Nicks – Counting Crows and Patty Griffin as being among her influences.

Joining Alex and the Yardbirds will be Mr Newman and his band The Regulars, which includes his son Scott and keyboard player Max Middleton, who has worked with Chris Rea.

"Alex has got a good voice, writes her own material and wants to play live. If we can give her a bit of help and pass on some of our experience, this concert will be her first step," said Mr Newman.

Alex, whose 13-year-old brother, Rory, is in a band called Vanilla Kick, has recorded eight songs at Penny Lane studios in Eye, four of which will be available on a demo CD from mid-November.

The Christmas Jam is on December 11, from 7.30pm. Tickets, £13.50, are available from the Railway Tavern or Revolution Records, Diss. Alex is playing at the tavern on November 20 and the Cider Shed, Banham, on December 18. Copies of her demo CD will be available via allyhilly@ tiscali.co.uk.

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