There’s nothing like a live music band to get your wedding party grooving…
There are live music bands on the Costa del Sol and then there’s Monkey Tennis, a soul, funky, rock & roll band that have been performing in southern Spain for over 20 years.
Based in Fuengirola, Spain, Monkey Tennis were formed in 2000 originally as an acoustic outfit.
The band members perform a broad repertoire playing covers from Paul Weller to Stevie Wonder, Coldplay to Pink Floyd, and with all the classics in between, and today we catch up with bandleader, Michael Dickinson, to find out a bit more about Monkey Tennis, the story behind the name and if he is any good at playing racket sports as well as a diverse variety of musical instruments.
I’ve lived in Fuengirola for over 20 years, but I’m originally from Berwick-upon-Tweed, Northumberland, which is where my music journey began. My brother and I were both classically trained in piano from an early age. My mum used to play the piano too and my dad was actively involved in the local theatre company, so there was always a flow of creativity around me in my early years.
Influenced by songwriter and piano man extraordinaire, Billy Joel, as well as Paul Weller and Stevie Wonder, my passion for music grew, and piano playing became second nature. I’m even a self taught guitarist, which is ironically, how my music profession started. I’ve never really considered myself a guitar player, yet I ended up starting an acoustic outfit back in 2000, when I first moved out to Spain, and that’s how my career as a professional musician took off.
At the time, Alan Partridge’s “Anyone for Monkey Tennis?” was a comical ‘meme’ before memes were even a thing, and we decided if Alan couldn’t have it, we would. So what started as a joke, stuck and we’ve had the name ever since.
Our music heavily reflects the funk, smooth jazz and soul music of the 70s, but we are recently updating our playlist to include more modern themes.
We play covers from Paul Weller to Stevie Wonder, Doors to Coldplay, Marvin Gaye to Eric Clapton. Most of the songs we play pretty much guarantee setting a good vibe and get the wedding guests up on their feet, without resorting to Mustang Sally—unless requested of course.
What always works well to get a British wedding party on it’s feet is Oasis – Wonderwall, and for those looking for more Irish influences, we cover popular Thin Lizzy songs.
We usually perform the first dance and then stay on for two hours straight, without a break. There is no point in stopping once everyone is up and dancing. Unless, of course, the bridal couple requests for us to do things differently.
We have a set playlist which is negotiable, up to two or three songs, as new songs take time to learn, but most bridal couples just let us get on with what we do and are happy with our music.
I think what sets us apart is that our band is based around the keyboard, not many live bands have pianos and we also keep our music totally live without backing tracks or drum machines.
I’m on piano and vocals, and sometimes on acoustic guitar. Then we have Luis Rivas Perpen on Bass – with occasional impersonations of ‘Freddy’.
Carl Parry on guitar, drums, percussion and backing vocals. And finally Bastian also on drums, percussion and backing vocals.
My greatest achievement, without doubt, is my two kids, and professionally, making a living out of something I love so much, music.
It’s actually my favourite hobby, besides playing the piano. I’m not sure if I’d be any good at Monkey Tennis though!
On behalf of Sunshine Weddings Spain, a huge thank you for your time and insight into how to get a wedding party grooving. We hope to hear Monkey Tennis playing very soon at future weddings.