The History of the Cosmic Sausages

By Simon Palmer

In the beginning

The Cosmic Sausages was origionally born out of a band called ‘The Swinging Plonkers‘ which was an acoustic Rock and Roll skiffle band with guitar, banjolele, T-chest Bass, snare drum, harmonica and saxophone, and played the streets and lots of parties between 1983 and 1989. Some of the members were actors, so despite some glorious summer tours to places such as Milan, Barcelona, Seville and Brittany and some great streetshows in Covent Garden, the band was unable to play for months on end due to acting commitments.

So in the summer of 1990, Simon, Jo, Mark and Sophie decided to find a new direction with some committed players. To make the band a totally new and interesting venture they all swapped instruments: Jo from T-chest bass to violin, Simon from Guitar to Double Bass, Sophie from drums to accordion and Mark from Harmonica to Guitar. And they found a new member: Frank Powlesland ("Sausage Presley"), who played Guitar and Mandolin. The name they thought of (as they ventured off for a month to play the streets in France) was Frank and the Centimes, and off they went to the mountains of Chamonix and Argentiere, where a brand new street act was formed. The comedy and humour of "the Plonkers" was retained and developed with a brand new set of songs and some juicy jigs and reels thrown in. The tour was so successful and the earnings so good that it was realised that the band could travel and survive almost anywhere, for as long as it wanted.

Epic European Tour

They decided to embark on a 5-month street tour of Europe, and left on April 9th 1991. For the tour they added Adrian Walker on snare drum and played their first shows of the tour in France. It was here that the name the Cosmic Sausages was found, as the band realised that whilst visiting lots of different countries the name 'Frank and the Centimes' was not the ticket! A Frenchman suggested 'Les Saucisses Cosmiques' as a good name and seeing that the other suggestions were ridiculous names such as "John Barnes and the football results" and "Anal Si and the Wafters'", the name Les Saucisses Cosmiques got the nod. The tour turned out to be an epic adventure with over 250 streetshows performed in France, Italy, Austria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Germany, and Switzerland. The name changed to Le Salcicce Cosmiche, Cosmichen Wursten, Kolbekosh Korbesok and Parki Kosmitski, depending on the language of the country we were in, and it was only five month's later when they returned to England that they were called The Cosmic Sausages. The Sausage show was developed hugely during this tour and by the peak of the summer in the packed cities of Vienna, Budapest and Prague, the Sausages played a whole series of massive Streetshows. The Old Town Square in Prague was perhaps the peak, where audiences of 400+ watched the 90-minute show every night for two weeks. The show was squeaky tight and the audiences screamed for more. After a few nights, a large crowd would assemble waiting for the nightly performance and the crowds full of 'Sausage fever' were quite amazing - their noise reverberating and echoing around the square. The band fell in love with the place and vowed to return. September arrived and the band with voices gone, instruments worn and after 5 month's of intensive activity, trooped back to England to resurrect their homes and relationships.

5-alive

Back in England the band played on, but playing the streets of London in the cold and rain with the oppressive busking laws didn't have quite the same appeal. However the band started playing a whole range of Pubs, Clubs, Weddings, Funerals, barmitzvahs, Stadiums and Garden fetes.

The following summer (1992) the Sausages decided to embark on another tour, but with Adrian unavailable, recruited local talent Greg Orford to play Guitar and went straight to Prague. Again they had a whole series of stunning streetshows in the Old Town square, but also took time out to visit the small Czech village of Potstejn where they played shows for some huge children's summer camps and all the local bars and made many friends. The time spent in Czechoslovakia was so good that permanently locating there was seriously considered. At the end of the tour the band was invited to the Ferrara Buskers’ festival in Italy, which is an amazing festival with over 80 street acts playing to thousands of people for a week, and the band went down a storm and sowed some serious seeds in Italy as a result.

A Bath connection had sprung up through Steve Henwood, (a fellow busker at Ferrara, promoter of the Bell pub and co-organiser of the Bath Fringe festival). Bath and the Sausages was a happy marriage with the streets of Bath being great for busking and with many family and friends also living there, the Band found themselves trooping up the M4 for long weekends with regularity.

The following summer the band emarked on another long european tour revisiting Prague and Budapest where the shows were as good as ever, heading over to Eger for Jo and Simon’s cousins wedding, revisiting Potstejn and then heading to Switzerland for the Neuchatel Buskers festival where another great series of shows occurred and the financial advantages of performing large streetshows in a rich western country were realised bigtime. The tour ended in the mountains of Chamonix where again the Sausages revisited old friends and found very fertile Busking territory. Chamonix seemed to be an excellent place with its proximity to Italy and Switzerland and just full of bar gigs and fertile Busking opportunities. The Band soon made a name for itself there.

Home...

Back in England, several agencies started offering engagements and the Band started getting better known even though the vast majority of it's shows especially the streetshows had been abroad. Appearances at the Glastonbury festival started as well as jaunts to places such as Monte Carlo, Rome, Andria, and all over England. Sophie fell in love with an Australian and decided to emigrate, so Celia Forestall joined to play accordion and became an excellent addition to the band.

...but not for long!

In fact over the next couple of years the line up jiggled around quite a lot. Omar Kharmi, a Danish friend living in London joined us for a tour of Denmark and was so good he played with us for the next 2 years until he went to Jordan to learn Arabic and become a journalist. Celia played with us for several years until she fell in love with a Mountaineer who had just returned from Antartica. It was fairly obvious he wasn’t going to follow her to London so they settled on the lake district and are now married with kids. But with Omar and Celia large summer tours were undertaken in 94, 95 and 96 with also a spring tour to Holland and Belgium and a winter visit to Italy as well as performance at the Boomerang Ball in Monaco.

Ex Funky Salamander’s Luke Moreton and Dan Teper joined the band in 1996 and this line up of Jo, Mark, Simon, Greg, Dan and Luke became the settled 6 piece.

Regular trips to the ski resorts followed using Chamonix as a base and the bandstarted going to Switzerland, France and Italy on a regular basis both in Summer and Winter. Major Alpine tours occurred in 96,97,98,99,2000 and 2001 with concerts all over the French and Swiss Alps including Val d’isere, Meribel , Morzine, Megeve, Chamonix, Argentiere, Les Crosets, Champery, Champoussin, Saanen, Chateaux d’Oex, Pontresina and St Moritz. Swiss friend Phillippe Wittwer on accordion was recruited for a spell to help with the Alpine workload.

The Summers were spent doing street theatre festivals all over Italy, France and Switzerland and slowly but surely they managed to deliver the show in French and Italian. Italian festivals included the Ferrara Buskers festival (x5) Coast to Coast in Calabria, Santa Sofia,Ferrara buskers festival Lecce, Castellaro Legusello (x5), Avelino, Martina Franca, Ischia, Lovere, Sarnico, Costa di Mezzate, Pennibilli and Novara.

Back in England The Sausages became ever more busy with a diet of parties, weddings, funerals, barmitzvah’s, stadiums and garden fetes with several agencies such as Crowdpullers, Zap productions, Fools Paradise, Jillie Bushall, Continental drifts, the Full Effect and The Ultimate Experience offering a whole range of gigs in a huge variety of situations.

The band appeared in Pantomime in 2000 appearing in Circus chrimbo at the Blackheath concert halls and also started to perform in Village Halls up and down the land as part of the rural touring scheme.

The band has also performed at many English festivals including eight Glastonbury festivals, playing the Theatre marquee, the outside Circus stage, Croissant Neuf, the Nip Inn, the Wise Crone Cafe, the Bandstand and Babylon -  as well as the backstage pyramid last night bash.
They have performed at the Big green gathering, Ferrara buskers festivalthe Lincoln sausage festival, the Canterbury festival, the Bath festival, the Cardiff Festival, The Hope festival, numerous food festivals and bizarre events all over the place too numerous to mention.

The band has also developed different ways of performing. As well as the the full blown streetshows of the early days the band has adapted to different situations by doing walkabout animations, or circulating tables with an a la carte menu and with a repertoire of over 250 songs and melodies it has found itself able to adapt to every conceivable situation and tailor a suit to fit.

The band has also been able to perform in many different combinations.On TV with Eric Idle Many of the gigs have been done by the core four of Simon, Dan, Greg and Luke especially while Jo has been Child rearing and Mark has been a house husband but with Maurizio Pala also joining the squad in 2008 the band has been able to do almost everything asked of it.

In 2008 they performed with Eric Idle in the finale of ‘ We are most amused’ a comedy gala for HRH The Prince of Wales 60th Birthday at the Wimbledon theatre.

Recordings

The Sausages have two CDs -  'A Fistful of Sausages' and 'Great Hits' both of which have been highly acclaimed and played on many radio stations.

2008 and beyond...

The Sausages still play the streets of local towns in and around London and make regular visits to Bath.
The last few years have seen the Cosmic Sausages become ever more popular - and from the long (but mainly summer) tours of the early days, we now perform practically all year. Alongside the weddings and parties and corporate events have come new festivals, new agents and ventures into cyberspace with this website and a MySpace presence (www.myspace.com/cosmicsausages).

The show goes on and hopefully will do for a long, long time.