White Magic

White Magic has been your resident band at Corton for an impressive 28 years now. We recently chatted to the band to find out their musical influences, how they got started and how they keep today’s audiences singing and dancing despite widening musical tastes

White Magic - David

As soon as you meet White Magic – David, Simon, Pete (deputising for regular bass player Neil) and Claire – you’ll find it hard to miss the glint in their eyes as they talk about their love for music and the buzz of a live performance.

White Magic - Pete

Despite forging different careers in their grown-up years (Neil, on a night off when we visited, is senior partner in a local law firm) and pursuing varied interests such as golf and horse riding, they’ve all been involved in show business in some shape or form since a tender age.

White Magic - Simon

David began piano lessons when he was just five, for instance, while Claire used to put on family Christmas shows after receiving a keyboard and microphone aged three. Since 1989, the band has been putting on foot-stomping performances at Corton, year in year out, in the process becoming part of the property’s furniture.

White Magic - Claire

Its clear that they’re naturals at this and love being the centre of attention as they command the stage. Claire, who now has 25 dresses backstage and another 45 to 50 back home, puts the good vibes down to the intimate nature of Corton itself. “It’s a very warm atmosphere here and the way the room’s set up is inviting with the stage so close to the tables. It’s almost like doing a gig in your living room.” She explains: “You can’t interact with a sea of darkness. Here, though, it’s almost as if I’m one of the guests. When they’re dancing I’m so close I can smile at them and almost touch them.”

Their job, they say, is to ensure people enjoy themselves. They cite Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, Hank Marvin and The Everly Brothers as their muses, but are just as happy performing standards that go back 40-odd years through to 60s music and right up-to-date stuff from Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars. Pop music, no matter which era, is almost always on their playlist and rock ‘n’ roll numbers and party crowd-pleasers such as ‘Dancing Queen’, ‘YMCA’, and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ invariably feature. It’s not just music that’s changed over the years – dance styles have too, it’s why they often start the evening with a rumba or quickstep, albeit to a modern tune. More than anything, they have the expertise to adapt to different types of breaks. For Late and Lively weekends, there’s more of a party set going on, whilst at other times, audiences might just want to listen. One thing on which they all agree is that there’s a lot to be said for live music, and as they told us “there’s still a big place for it in people’s hearts and the beauty is that we never do the same song two nights running.” Now, isn’t that the kind of magic we all like to hear?