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Mammas & papas live their dream.

Byline: By Liz Hands

They are possibly one of the most unlikely rock bands around.

But a group of mums and dads who got together after meeting each other outside the gates of their children's school are preparing to play the biggest gig of their lives.

From nine-to-five, they work in jobs such as computer program-ming and business management.

But at 8pm on February 26, Haley's Comets All Stars ( made up of David Haley, Terry Easton and Elaine McCartney on vocals, Kev Simpson on drums, Jez Stephenson on bass, guitar player Peter Rea, Simon Hoban on the keyboard and saxophonist Jason Isaac ( will be playing in front of 2,000 people at Newcastle City Hall.

It all started two years ago when some of the band members met through their children attending the same school, Darras Hall First in Ponteland. Then, after a dare from one of David's friends, they ended up booking and playing Newcastle City Hall in February last year ( raising pounds 15,000 for charity ( and launching the concept of Party in the Hall.

Now, after what David describes as "quite a bit of cajoling" from healthcare charity The Children's Foundation, they are rehearsing for Party in the Hall 2.

"I love the City Hall. It's steeped in history," said David. "I remember going to see The Darts there in 1978. As a kid, I remember thinking how amazing it would be to play there.

"I've always loved music. But when I then went on to start work as an apprentice engineer in 1982, the idea of playing at the City Hall, at a venue of that size and magnitude, was more than beyond my wildest dreams. I can't really remember much about the gig last year. I think it was because when we finally got on stage, after months of rehearsing and organising, the feeling was just one of relief

It's just amazing to have lived the dream, to be living it again, and to have created the concept of Party in the Hall."

The band will play an eclectic 30-minute set, featuring music from the likes of Robbie Williams, The Darkness, Police and Texas. Also on the bill will be the Dave Connolly Big Band, illusionist Kendrick, Opportunity Knocks winner Bernie Flint and entertainer Brendan Healy.

Tickets ( pounds 10, pounds 12.50 and pounds 15 ( are on sale at the City Hall on (0191) 261-2606. Details from

Jez Stephenson: Bass player: Age 33

An analyst programmer at British Airways. From Westbourne Avenue, Gosforth. Plays in another band, called Spangler. First picked up a bass aged 11.

"As an all-round musician, I have a lot of admiration for local lad Sting," he says. "He's not only a greatly underrated bass player, but also a great vocalist and songwriter.

"When I'm not playing bass or recording in my home studio, you might find me out on my mountain bike. I run a mountain-bike website and I've worked as a guide on some of the world's most famous bike trails in Colorado and Utah, USA." No children.

David Haley: Vocals: Age 38

North-East regional manager for British Telecom. Lives in Darras Hall, Ponteland, with wife Samantha, 36, a lecturer in counselling and psychology at North Tyneside College.

Father of three ( Joe, 13, a student at Ponteland High School, Connor, 10, who goes to Ponteland Middle School, and Darras Hall First School pupil Jake, eight.

David is originally from Fenham, Newcastle, and is a former pupil of St Cuthbert's High School.

Musical influences include Police, Sting, Bryan Adams, Coldplay, Maroon 5 and Keane. Used to be a DJ at the Tuxedo Princess and Julies in the 80s. Favourite record was anything by Chic.

Peter Rea: Guitar: Age 48

Airfield operations and safety manager for Newcastle International. Lives in Ponteland with wife Jane, 41, a nursery nurse at Darras First School.

His daughters Jennifer, 15, and Sally, 13, both go to Ponteland High School.

"My influences are Clapton, Free, Zeppelin, Weller, Police, Hendrix, plus a million more ( all the people who consistently write great songs".

Says his proudest moment was stepping out on stage for Party in the Hall 2004.

Toured with Margy Clark in the 80s and also played with The Grip and Erogenous Zones.

Elaine McCartney: Vocals: Age 28

Business analyst for British Airways. Lives in the Sunderland Road area of Gateshead with husband James, 28, a civil servant.

Lists Simon and Garfunkel, the Mamas and Papas and The Beatles among her musical influences. Also sings in a band called Replay. No children.

Simon Hoban: Keyboards: Age 30

Reporter for the BBC.

Lives at Inskip Terrace, Gateshead with partner Joanne, 26.

Likes Mozart, Rachmaninov, Muse and David Moyes.

Simon also plays in the covers band The Spanglers.

Kev Simpson: Drums

Gives his age as 38 years, four months and four days. A business analyst for A. Lives in Ponteland with wife Linda (determined not to reveal age), a medical librarian at Newcastle University.

Has two sons, Joel, 10, a Ponteland County Middle School pupil and Max, four, who goes to Darras Hall First School.

Influences: The Ramones, The Wildhearts, "in fact most things loud, melodic, fast and rockin'".

Seen Rush, Motorhead, Stiff Little Fingers, Guns'n'Roses, Kiss, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake at Newcastle City Hall. Met Jon Bon Jovi there in mid-1980s.

Terry Easton: Vocalist: Age: 33

Full-time mum from North Kenton.

Sings in another band, Replay, with Elaine McCartney. Lists Stevie Wonder and Gladys Knight as musical influences. She has one child, Tia, aged 8, who is a pupil at Gosforth First School.
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Copyright 2005 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Feb 10, 2005
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