BRIDGWATER will always hold a special place in the heart of Tommy Banner, the longest-serving member of West Country legends The Wurzels.

Tommy, 84, who lives in Taunton, joined the band (then called Adge Cutler and The Wurzels) in 1967 to replace accordion player Reg Chant.

Now, 57 years later, the band are enjoying a busy spring and summer at shows and festivals across the country, including a successful gig at Somerfest at Bridgwater Rugby Club in May.

The festival was organised by local couple Dan and Sarah Smith, who also put on Somerrock.

Tommy praised Somerfest as “excellent”, despite some adverse conditions.

“It was cold, the weather was a bit iffy, but Dan does a great job promoting it,” he said.

“Bridgwater’s very lucky.

”I love playing in Bridgwater, because we always get a great reaction there, whether it be at the Palace or at the rugby club in the marquee.

“Bridgwater should feel very lucky it’s got somebody like him promoting it locally.”

Somerfest came eight months after their previous performance in the town; a packed gig at The Palace Nightclub.

“The Palace is a lovely venue. It’s a classic, old-sized venue,” said Tommy.

“We do a few like that, and they’ve got a built-in atmosphere because the audience is right in our faces and we’re in theirs.

“They’re brilliant. Bridgwater’s one of my favourite places. I’ve led the carnival procession on three occasions. You get sucked into the atmosphere.

“It gets blocked off in the Wurzels’ diary every year so that I don’t miss it. Everybody in Bridgwater comes out to enjoy themselves.

“When we did Somerfest, it was like a carnival atmosphere. I come to the carnival concerts every year, as well. The talent in Bridgwater is incredible.

“They’re so dedicated. If pros put as much work into rehearsals as they do, it would be so much better! They put everything into it.

“It is a brilliant town to play.”

The Wurzels' remaining shows this summer will see them play across the region – and one thing that's not changed is Tommy's desire to send the audience home happy after every performance.The Wurzels after performing at Somerset County Show in 2022.The Wurzels after performing at Somerset County Show in 2022. (Image: NQ Staff)

Tommy said: “We go out to entertain. We hope we entertain, and we’ve all got the same principles. We don’t try and educate.

“In West Harptree (at App-Fest in early-June), in an hour and 20 minutes, we never played a slow song; we kept the crowd going. That’s what we go out to do.

“People say, ‘why are you still going?’

“We’re still going because we enjoy it so much. We’ve got the same outlook. Every gig is a challenge to us that we’re going to win. We’ve got to win that audience.”

Proud Scotsman Tommy initially joined The Wurzels on a three-month contract, but soon decided to stay in the West Country. 

“People say, ‘you’ve not lost your accent – I thought you’d be talking in a West Country accent by now!’,” he said.

“But I made a point of it. I’m not going to try and use a West Country accent, because I feel that people would see through it and think I was taking the mickey out of it, and I certainly don’t intend to do that.

“I’m so proud to be a Wurzel, and I’ve retained that right through my career. But I’m still very proud to be a Scotsman.”