We caught up with Dean Beresford & Al Palooka of the infamous ‘shite raffle’ during lockdown. For those of you who don’t know, the ‘Shite Raffle’ is a popular, regular Sunday, live rock and roll event at The Actress hosted by the duo. Its unique name is in light of the post-gig cheesy raffle finalies with cheesy prizes to match. As well as the remarkably distinctive Rock and roll music, the raffle became a trademark for the day and thus lovingly named ‘the shite raffle’. Dean and Al have been gracing The Actress and Bishop stage with their fun-filled, jive worthy, one of a kind performances since it all began back in November 2003 and we can honestly say it has been a pleasure! It’s fair to say the infamous duo, now regularly accompanied by Oliver Darling, are a huge part of the family, they’ve seen the pub change, grow, and have plenty of stories to boot!
In the beginning, Dean and Al (drums & bass) hosted a live music session, The Prairie Oyster Club, at The Tab & Spile, Brum. Outgrowing the space they decided to look elsewhere. One Friday afternoon after loading out the equipment from the previous night’s session at The Tap & Spile, Dean & Al headed across town to make a proposal to their mate Colin at The Actress. “I don’t even open on a Sunday!” was his first response, but he soon warmed to the idea of Sunday Sessions at The Actress. As the venue had not long opened and was yet to be fully established Dean & Al played for a small fee while Colin plied them with free booze and each week they did a raffle to top up their wages. The Shite raffle is still going strong (don’t worry we’ve upped their wages!) and with the likes of Imelda May (pictured), King Pleasure & Mike Sanchez known to have made guest appearances it really is a day well spent. It’s theatrical, endearing, unique, entertaining, and is a far cry from its self-titled name ‘shite!’
As it’s been a while, the lads have kindly agreed to take part in a quick Q&A where Dean & Al talk Roy Wood, Giant Cabbages and let’s face it, plenty of shite…
You guys have been together for such a long time, what keeps you going as a band?
D: We’ve actually been playing together since 1988 and the list of bands and artists that we have performed with, is indeed, a long one! We don’t get to play together as much these days as Al now lives in Glasgow; the most regular gig we do together is ‘The Shite Raffle’ at The Actress & Bishop which is mainly due to you inviting us to do it!
A: Being long time mates I think, there’s nothing we can’t say to each other, together we’ve had the best, the worst and weirdest gigs.
You were one of the first live acts to play at the actress, tell us about your favourite memories of playing at the pub?
D: The occasions that spring to mind are the birthday celebrations that we’ve enjoyed at our Sunday Sessions (ie: we’d use our Sunday afternoon gig as a way to celebrate/host mine or Al’s birthday). We’d usually have a whole host of musical guests performing with us (Imelda May, King Pleasure, Mike Sanchez etc) and a pub-full of people partying. The sight of Colin’s beaming face due to the fact that his boozer was full and the band was playing his favourite music, was a sight to behold for sure!
A: Too many great memories of our Actress gigs, many, many special guests, one of my favourites was when we got Roy Wood from ‘Wizard’ to draw the numbers of the raffle, haha, brilliant!
You’re the kings of rock’n’roll on the Brum scene in our eyes, do you continue this theme back home or do you have any secret/guilty music pleasures?
D: I think it’s just Al’s teddy boy haircut that gives the impression that we’re old rockers! We both actually have very eclectic tastes in music, but the roots of most popular music can be traced back to blues/rock’n’roll.
A: I don’t think I have any musical guilty pleasures, I listen to pretty much everything. Music has been my living since I was 17 so I think it helps to be open-minded.
Who inspires you guys? Either currently or growing up?
D: We were lucky enough to be starting our professional playing careers in the mid/late 80s when most of Brum’s old music legends of the 50s & 60s were still active and whom we learned a huge deal from and were greatly influenced by.
A: Difficult question to answer, I get inspired daily by music I like, I have my favourite bass players which is pretty boring, but I mostly get inspired by bands, I know that’s vague but if I named any it would be out of date by the time you read this! Ha!
Do you guys have a favourite song you like to play live, at The Actress or anywhere else and why?
D: Most of what we play on our Sunday afternoon sessions are old rhythm & blues / rock & roll classics that we jam along with. A favourite that we’ve been playing with Oliver Darlings in recent months though is the Dr Feelgood classic ‘She Does It Right’. Also… I would often make a compilation CD to play before and after our gigs at The Actress, which (for the sake of Colin because it was one of his faves) would always feature ‘Beyond The Sea’ by Bobby Darin.
A: Any Howlin Wolf tune is great… used to love playing the Ivory Dan stuff and the Oliver Darlings instrumental stuff is great too, I especially like the last number of the set so we can have a couple of sherberts
Your resident event ‘’the shite raffle’’ at The Actress is known for its awful raffle prizes, what has been the WORST raffle prize so far?
A: The prizes are truly the selling point of our raffle, we’ve had some stunning prizes such as a giant cabbage, Charles & Di flask, half a packet of biscuits, terrible lps/cds we have glove compartment roulette and of course the famous confectionary surprise
D: The bottle of plonk donated to the raffle by The Actress & Bishop.
If you guys were to make a film about yourselves and your music, who would play you both?
A: I would say Bill Nighe and Toby Jones
D: Vic & Bob.
To people who don’t know you and haven’t yet been to The Shite Raffle, how would you describe your show?
A: Big prizes to be won with a really charming friendly host
If you weren’t in the music industry what would you be doing?
A: I’d probably be prime minister
D: Now there’s a question! Neither of us are currently in the music industry! Actually, Al is doing a lot of DJ-ing, and I sell my own brand of pork scratchings.
Old classic this one… Three people you would have to dinner, dead or alive?
D: Vic & Bob, so that we could discuss how they are going to portray us in our bio-pic. And Louise Woodley.
A: Tom Waits, Vincent price and Bette Midler
The Actress is on fire, what 2 items would you save?
D: Two packets of Porky Rinders.
A: The last drop plaque from out the front and the hand dryer from the gents ( it’s so loud we have to incorporate it into our set!) eBay gold.
(Fun fact: The Actress and Bishop was the site of the last hanging in Birmingham, keep a lookout for the ”last drop” plaque at the front of the building!)
What can we expect from your future shows at The Actress?
A: More great prizes, more great stars,
Dean & Al want to give a huge shout out & a special thank you to all the awesome vocalists and acts who have shared the stage with them over this time: James O’Hara, Katz Kiely, Big Boy Bloater, Diz Watson, Roger Hill, Imelda May (19/09/06), Darrel Higham, Darren Lince, John Lewis, Oliver Darling, King Pleasure, Pete Williams, Ricky Cool, Richard Heath, Mike Sanchez – The Roger Hill Band, The Magnificats, Carmen Ghia & The Hotrods, Colin Brown & Mick Giliker, Pete Hyde & Friends, Carl Sinclair, Dave Day, Mean Old World, Stevie Hayes & Les Hunt, Drugstore Cowboys, The Toy Hearts, Ann Dugan, Laurence Jones, Cracker, Ben Gunn, Tricky Troubadours, Rebecca Downs.
Dean, Al & Co will be back at The Actress soon with more Shite Raffle shenanigans! Download our app to keep up to date on gig listings, news, offers & more.