Touch The Pearl are one of the most uplifting and exciting covers band on the Fylde.
But that’s not the story. The story is how fantastic it is they’re still going, after what lead singer Kevan Schools has had to endure.
A Blackpool lad who became a drama teacher but has always loved his music, Schools set up the band in the late 80s. They split in 1999 but reformed three years ago, only for the frontman to suffer some terrible news when he was diagnosed with throat cancer.
“I found a little swelling in my neck and it didn’t go away,” he said. “I went and got it checked out and after various tests they discovered cancer.
“I ended up having major surgery to cut it out, followed by radiotherapy and chemo.
“It took me out of the game for a while and I didn’t know whether I’d speak again, let alone sing, because I know a lot of people have come out of that process without a voice.
“I didn’t think there would be any chance of continuing the band but a couple of months after all the treatment ended, we got together and I started croaking along.
“We’ve given a bit more work to the backing singers, so there’s a bit less for me to do, and I can’t sing falsetto any more – but if that’s the worst to come out of all this then I can’t complain.”
Fantastic for Kevan that he’s back, and fantastic for people who go to gigs because there are few better covers bands around.
It hasn’t always been so though. The band used to play original songs and had a brief flirtation with fame.
“Within three months of forming we were finalists in The Gazette’s Rock Battle and we got wined and dined by a couple of record companies,” said Kevan, 50.
“But it was at a time when the Stones Roses and Happy Mondays exploded. We weren’t really in that scene, so the interest faded away.”
For more than a decade the band played gigs throughout the Fylde, the north west and beyond, heading to Europe and representing Blackpool at the Irish Tourism Convention in Cork. “I recall there was plenty of Guinness consumed on that trip,” said Kevan.
“We did loads of stuff, a lot of functions, the Christmas Tree Balls at the Tower and Winter Gardens, and we supported ELO at the Pleasure Beach.”
The band split at the end of the 90s – “People got married and move away – usual story,” says Kevan – before the recent comeback.
Kevan feels fully fit and the band – who are getting more bookings now than the first time around – are sounding better than ever.
You can judge for yourselves on Saturday when Touch The Pearl – who are a nine-piece soul-funk band – play what used to be the Layton Institute, reopening as The Layton.
They are headlining and dedicating their set to band fan and friend Michael Stenhouse, who recently passed away after battling with throat cancer himself for three years. Many of his friends and family will be at the gig.
For more about Kevan and the band go to www.touchthepearl.com