HOT RATS HIGHLIGHTS Click on any photo below to see a larger version.


  1. Brook Theatre, Chatham 1992.
    This was the first ever Hot Rats gig and it was as a support to Doug Hudson's stage show. In addition to the Celtic influences, this show also featured 'Wild Thing', 'Nissan Dorma' and 'Dickie Ranter's Theme'.

  2. Le Dyck, 1997.
    This was the first visit to Dunkerque's fabulous music venue. The Rats had the audience dancing on the tables.

    Now owned by the percussion player with Kriek Balise, they celebrate their birthday the same day as Dougie!

  3. Dranouter 1997.
    Playing to an audience of 5,000 at 3am is no mean feat. A 16,000 watt rig and a one hour set that had the whole venue rocking.

  4. L'Epicerie des Dunes, 1998.
    Not the biggest gig ever, just an audience of around 50 people crammed into a grocer's shop in Dunkerque run by three brothers. It took them half an hour to convert the counter from carrotts and parsnips to a fully fledged bar. One happy punter asked Dougie what he wanted to drink, and in response to a glass of red wine, he returned with nine bottles in a carrier bag.

  5. Broadstairs Folk Week - the jetty, August 1999.
    An almost impromptu gig saw a growing crowd flock to the jetty and dance along to the Rats. The merchandising crew could hardly keep up with the demand.

  6. Woodville Halls, Gravesend, September 1999.
    One of the famous Hot Rats barn dances but with guest drummer Dave Mattacks giving both the band and the audience a thrill.

  7. Theatre Les Insolites, Gravelines, November 1999.
    Always a sell out, again people dancing on chairs in the theatre dedicated to Juliette Greco and run by Emmanuel Valloy, a brilliant young French comedy impressionist.

    A wonderful night at the Brook Theatre in Chatham with Dave Swarbrick on great form.

    Martin Smith (he wrote the first ever Hot Rats website) took these photos of a memorable evening.

    Alan Greenwood provided excellent sound with Mick's Bose set up and it was very much a 'busk it on the night' show!

    Kevin Dempsey and Joe Broughton broke a tour of North Yorkshire to come down, whilst Alistair Hulett came down from Glasgow.

    .Peter Learmouth did the interview which included questions from the audience which revealed a few ripe Swarbrick anecdotes.

  • PRAGUE 2003

    What a week!!

    First gig at Malostranska Pivnice for friends of the Prague Castle Orchestra, followed by a trip to the mountains for a festival in Lety.

    Staying in luxury at the Cechie Hotel, the Hot Rats feasted on good Czech beer and food and benefitted from some good sound work by George.

    On Saturday they headed off to the mountains...

    Here the band had the difficult job of following a Tyrolean oompah band that was into it's second hour of waltzes, but the Hot Rats came out triumphantly - fuelled by Pig's Blood soup with pearl barley and blood sausage.....

    Onto the evening and a great gig in the village of Jilove at the Florian Restaurace - an upstairs venue with a fireplace 20 feet long!

    The band were joined for the finale by Josef and Radek from the Prague Castle Orchestra for a rendering of Monti's Czardas and Rehradice.

    .The big gig at the Malostranska Beseda (see poster above)was sold out by 8.10pm on Monday - including the Prague G.I.T.S. - and featured concert pianists, accordion players, the Prague Castle Orchestra and the Hot Rats topping the bill.

    Here's what Prague G.I.T. Andy Newman thuoght, "Like I mentioned earlier I was lucky enough to see Doug Hudson and his 2 pals (Ian & Mike) - aka "The Hot Rats" playing at Malostranska Beseda (Old Quarter, Prague) in conjunction with the Prague Castle Orchestra!! (3 man band as well)The hall was packed - over 120 people there - and thanks to being on Dougie's "guest list" we had a table reserved for myself and 3 work colleagues who also went along.Their music was a mix of irish folk and punk jazz (whatever that is) and so was very easy on the ear and perfect accompanyment for a few cheeky bottles of Pilsner Urquell!The final 2 songs was a free-for-all with Doug (Guitar/vocals), Ian (Jazz violin), Mike (Bass Guitar), Joszef (flute/vocals) and Radek (accordian) joining together and playing a couple of traditional Czech and Russian folk tunes.Managed to have a chat with Doug afterwards - along with his lovely girlfriend (Nicole) - and bought a couple of CD's which the girls in the office have been going crazy about for most of this morning.So that's it really, if you ever get a chance to see them then i'd say "go for it" as you won't be disappointed - and knowing Doug, there will always be a bar nearby should the music not appeal to your personal taste!"

    The last night saw the Rats at the Golden Pear in Novy Svet near the Castle in a restaurant frequented by Bill Clinton, Maggie Thatcher, Ted Heath and every world politician invited by Czech PM and folk fan Vasclav Hadek!!!!

    Here's Mike's view of the tour, "It was surreal in many ways as you walked through the dimly lit streets by night and just trams to litter the roads by day, the only way you could get run over would be to walk in front of the tram after getting off. It was almost like going to a huge Dickensian filmset with prices to match at 18p per pint and under 2 for a decent meal. The audiences were bemused for the first two boistrous Celtic offerings but then they seemed to be animated if by some unknown catylyst followed by a lot of back slapping at the end of the gigs and lively CD sales.

    I think the HotRats have started something in Prague which could become a desirable part of their culture."
    And Ian's view was, "Personally I have to say this was one of the most enjoyable tours to Europe I have been on. Superb hospitality, fabulous scenery and great reactions at the gigs. From the first gig for the Orchestra's friends to the last at the tiny restaurant in "Novy Svet" the atmospheres were warm and inviting. What a wonderful excuse to visit the most beautiful city in Europe. Can't wait to do it again !"


    Here's a bit of culture from Rats' resident poet Bob White:

    Celtic folk meets seaside restoration

    At a marvellous location in the bay of Herne

    Wherein observant folk discern that Eastern Europe isn't far away

    Here today the dances are traditional

    With calling so positional to match the music to the dancing feet,

    Made complete by bass, guitar and fiddle strokes.

    And at long last the blokes are dancing too,

    Between a drink or two of course, for this is thirsty work!

    The Hot Rats do not shirk their task, so in amongst the steps

    They take us out to Russian Steppes in song,

    Along with reels and standards from the world of folk

    As at a stroke, and in the Bandstand oh so very grand,

    The band performs a virtuoso presentation.


    What a review for Dougie's solo gig at Broadstairs:

    A Day Trip to Broadstairs Folk Week

    Having played the Broadstairs Folk Week as an artist in 2002/3 it was a huge buzz for me to return to Broadstairs as a regular punter to just enjoy watching some music. So I headed down the A2 in a heavy thundery downpour with a good friend in search of a fun day out. We weren't to be disappointed.

    I remembered seeing a great band called the Hot Rats on the pier at Broadstairs the year before. So when looking at my programme notes I noticed that their lead singer/guitarist Doug Hudson was doing a lunchtime gig at Harpers Wine Bar. I thought I'd be in for just a regular gig with a guy doing some covers and original songs on a guitar. But what a shock I was about to receive

    On entering the bar I saw a flier on the window detailing Doug's prowess as a worldwide touring comedian. He's performed in every corner of the globe from Dubai to Siberia. Doug started of course with the 'Wild Rover' in German - apparently Borussia Munchengladbach supporters (- 1977 v Liverpool remember?) have adopted it at their home games. The translation didn't appear completely pure and the bar maid was obviously very lavish in her appreciation of some gold sovereigns! Then Doug told us how he'd had taught Russians to play cricket on the 56 stops of the Siberian Railway and subsequently been asked to call barn dances on a band's Russian tour.

    Next up a song about sheep shearers fighting other sheep shearers in the 18th century battles in the lowlands of Europe. Actually quite a lovely song which showed that as well as entertaining everybody with his repartee Doug's actually got a sweet voice and also has quite considerable prowess as a musician. Then some lyrics put to Mozart's 40th symphony about throwing up, beer and curries! To finish off with the fantabulous 12 drinks of Xmas which I won't attempt to describe but had the whole audience in hysterics. FIVE WHITE WINES! Doug ended up on the floor but resurrected himself for a version of Pavarotti's 'Nessen Dorma' with the lyrics changed to admonish the masters' failings and assets. He was close to the top C at the end!

    As my friend and I supped up it was clear that we'd been in the presence of a living legend. A complete one-off. Doug is a very talented performer - a Kentish Billy Connelly. Also if you're ever in these parts his band the Hot Rats are also quite an outfit with a great violinist Ian Cutler. They're also touring France and the Czech Republic this summer. By the way if you ever go to Gillingham FC - guess who's on the PA - yep its Doug!

    Andy Smythe


    The Nelson Brewery has borught out a new beer - Folk Ale - and the Hot Rats are featured on the beer pump logo!

    The Nelson Brewery is based in the Dockyard at Chatham and has links with many local pubs who are involved with music.

    Drop into the Barge in Gillingham and you will see the new pump boasting the Hot Rats snapped at Broadstairs Folk Week.

    Not, of course, that the band are averse to a drop of the Real Ale, themselves.

    Plenty of it was sampled at the Puzzle Hall Inn in Sowerby Bridge where the Rats featured in Joe Stead's Birthday party.


    Doug and Ian playing on the Arena Stage for Albion Morris.

    The band included John Watcham, Tom Leary, Guido Rincon and Tim on banjo and they lead the musical finale of a show called 'Leap'to around 2000 people.

    Back at Dougie's bed and breakfast, the newly styled morris musician found himelf in a bathroom converted for the disabled. After using the toilet he was curious to see the effectiveness of the flushing mechanism when a metallic pipe swung around from under the rim and squirted a jet of water into his face.

    Was this the only automatic bidet in Sidmouth?

    A LOOK BACK AT 2005

    A pretty good year for the band with the members notching up over 220 gigs for the twelve months.

    As ever, with January and February, it started fairly quietly with a couple of French gigs, Dougie's One Man Show in Broadstairs and then March took off with the usual run of St Patrick's Week 'do's'.

    Easter was spent in Norfolk with a couple of gigs at Cromer and Weasenham and then the Rochester Sweeps came with plenty of good music and fun.

    May had some great festival gigs at Cromer on the Pier and Ostend at Anchor with Sowerby Bridge the following month. July was French influenced with Dunkerque festival and Gravelines before a trip down to Dorset and back to France again.

    August was triumphal with packed concerts at Sidmouth and Broadstairs festivals, September had the beer tent rocking at Faversham Hop Festival and in October the band left for Australia.

    Great fun down under before sailing off to the Herring Festival in Etaples and the usual Christmas run at Leeds Castle culminating with Ian and Doug exhausting the champagne in a Caledonian spree on New Year's Eve.

    Not a bad one!


    1. Cooley's Reel/Maid Behind the Bar
    2. Song of the Plains/Troika Ride
    3. Banks of Newfoundland
    4. Lark in the Morning/Rakish Paddy
    5. January Man/Paddy Ryan's Dream
    6. Dark Eyes
    7. Mercedes in the Drive
    8. Andy Renwick's Ferret
    9. Tell Me Ma
    10. Arabesque/Hava Negila
    11. Flowers of Edinburgh
    12. Monty's Czardas

      Second Set

    13. Drunken Priest
    14. Santy Anna
    15. Teetotaller/Merry Blacksmith
    16. Orange Blossom Special
    17. Dirty Old Town
    18. Jig of Slurs
    19. Midnight in Moscow
    20. Farewell to Ireland
    21. Katusha

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