Groovy British Invasion at Matoaka Ampitheater

Friday night at Lake Matoaka was about singing, dancing, remembering, and getting downright psychedelic! We could almost smell the Strawberry Alarm Clock ringing. The English Channel far exceeded our* expectations. This was not just a tribute band singing a few oldies. The English Channel is a group of six highly accomplished musicians paying tribute to an entire era, with an amazingly long play list that covers all the best English pop-rock artists from the 60s to the mid-70s.

Julie Quarles of The English Channel The English Channel plays British Invasion Music at Matoaka Lake Ampitheater, Williamsburg, VA, June 18, 2010

Before they sang a note, lead vocalist Julie Quarles painted a visual mood with her “Thoroughly Modern Millie” beaded mini dress, mod earrings, and white go-go boots. Her dance moves and selective percussion accents swept us back to the late 60s. Graciously giving us an interview after performing 3 hours of outstanding music, Julie shared some of her favorite performance moments. We were not surprised to hear that “To Sir with Love” was her favorite, because she sang it with so much feeling.

We were surprised to hear that Julie is the mother of two teenagers, and her husband Bob is a physician by day, keyboardist and vocalist by night. Bob loves the music so much, he looked like he could play another set. I guess sleep isn’t all that important when you’re making so many people get up and dance.

Bob’s impressive keyboard skills did much to capture the sound of the era. “It’s my job to orchestrate the music to support the vocalists,” Bob explained. That’s quite a modest attitude for the man who led the vocals for the Moody Blues’ “Nights in White Satin” and anchored multiple Beatle’s tunes with lead vocalist/guitarist Marion Hodges. Backed up by guitarist David Tetlow, bass player Gary Shortridge, and drummer Bob Saydlowski, the group almost made us believe we were hearing the original groups.

In one case I found them to be even better than the original. I confess I’ve never been a Rolling Stones fan, because I could never understand what Jagger was singing. Marion Hodges laughed out loud when I thanked him for helping me to hear more than “…can’t get no satisfaction.” It only took me 45 years and the help of The English Channel to figure out what that song is about!

Marion’s vocals were especially strong on Paul McCartney’s songs. When asked his favorite songs to perform, he proved his love for the fans by replying, “whatever the crowd gets into. Tonight it was “Hippy Hippy Shake,” “No Matter What” and “I Only Want to Be with You.”

We thought the groups’ best songs were Beatles tunes, but they were also impressive with a number of other artists, including Badfinger, Cream, Dusty Springfield, Elton John, Petula Clark, The Who, and The Kinks, to name some.

We’ll be back for more performances by this intelligent and talented group. Formed in 2001 and based in Richmond, VA, The English Channel will play for large events, clubs, and private parties. Check their web site for upcoming performances. We’ve no doubt you’ll want to book them for your next event.

*Special thanks goes to my husband Jeff for his interviewing and writing assistance on this post.


  1. Kathy and Wayne Burgess says

    You are totally right. We’ve seen the band many times. We discover that they’ve become more talented since the last time we saw them. Great article! Great Band!!

Speak Your Mind

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *