The duo has lived in the beautiful Algarve for 15 years and are born entertainers, they are looking to get back at playing more shows post Covid-19 and would love your consideration next time you are planning an event.
Collar&Cuffs have a varied repertoire that they perform live with no backing track, meaning they can adapt the performance to fit the audience at the time. “We never do the same show twice so it is a unique experience” whereby they bring audiences great popular music from the 60s and 70s including Rock n Roll, Country, Ballroom, Swing, Ballads, Reggae and Latin. They mostly cover big hits from a particular artiste; some of the songs that Nigel covers are by Jerry Lee Lewis, Neil Sedaka, Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley and Sarah covers Dusty Springfield who is one of her favourite singers and Bonnie Tyler who is a favourite amongst the Portuguese audiences, humorously adding “maybe one day I’ll meet her here in the Algarve but it hasn’t happened yet”, as well as The Carpenters, Connie Francis.
Nigel became a musician when he was just eleven years old, “my dad was a drummer in an army dance band and after he always had small three or four-piece bands and when I became old enough, I joined them and I taught myself piano”, proudly saying “I got my first payment at eleven years old.” Sarah then told me “He has now been doing music longer than Cliff Richard and any of The Rolling Stones”, further affirming that Nigel “lives and breathes his music and is very passionate about what he does and to have done it this long”.
Nigel then explained that “from there, Dads band folded up and I had learnt to play drums in the meantime so I joined an R&B band called Spiders and we did that for a few years. Then I went back to playing piano in pubs and then I got my dad out of retirement to play drums with me and then we worked as a duo which is when I started singing and we got jobs playing at theatres, clubs, dinner dances and around holiday parks in the UK, also two seasons on cruises.”
“We then went on tour with our Variety Show called “The Old Farts on Tour” which was an 8-piece company touring the theatres. It was basically a music tribute, comedy show, we even had a ventriloquist with us.”
Towards the end of playing in the UK, Sarah got involved and became part of Collar&Cuffs. Sarah explained that “I was in the choir at school but singing was never my thing, it wasn’t until Nigel and I got together that I started helping him and coming along to gigs. He then asked me to sing one song with him and when you get great feedback from the audience, it keeps you going” with Nigel adding “Sarah comes alive when she gets out on stage and that she is definitely a performer”.
But because Nigel hated the English Winters (who can blame him), in 2007 they decided to make the move to Portugal and found work here, having their first gig shortly after moving. Sarah and Nigel both agreed that they love it here, “We just feel so at home here, the Portuguese people are so friendly and we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
They went on to tell me about their active music journey in the Algarve, “We were doing seven nights a week and sometimes lunch times at restaurants and hotels. We worked continuously for about eight years at the Pestana hotels in Alvor and at the time we were the only English entertainers there.”
“We haven’t been as busy for the last few years because things have changed especially with Covid-19 now and we really miss it.”
Nigel then kindly shared a highlight for Collar&Cuffs, by saying “it was probably when we first moved here and performed regularly at the Pestana Hotel because we had a very welcoming reception”. Sarah then added that a particular memory that stood out for her was that “they used to have groups of ladies come out for a pampering and beauty week and they were all there to have a good time and the floor would be covered with people dancing.” Nigel also said “We did a few New Year’s eves at Vivenda Miranda Hotel in Lagos which was a great place to work and we have done Christmas dinner dances for Afpop and Charity fundraisers for the children’s home in Lagos as well as the local firemen.” Nigel also played piano with the New Orleans Jazz Band at The Tivoli Hotel in Lagos for a while.
They also told me that they organise a show here in the Algarve which includes a music quiz which they have done previously to raise money for a charity, which they do at a restaurant with a meal, followed by quiz then live music for dancing or singing-a-long to. For example, you would need to guess the name of the song from the intro or instrumental break from original tracks.
Looking to the future
In terms of the future, the duo plans to continue to perform to groups who are out for a good time and never giving up on doing what they love doing most. One of Nigel’s ideas for the future is to put on an entertainment show in Lagos in the Summer, following on from “The Old Farts Show”, with Lagos being known as a tourist town, “I wanted to put on a show there at least once a week and I think that will be a good place” so please watch this space as this could be something great to come from this wonderful duo.
If anyone is interested in Collar&Cuffs, please do reach out to them as they cater to any theme and do all kinds of events from parties to weddings. To keep up to date with Collar & Cuffs events please search sarah.hockley.18 on Facebook. Additionally, they stated that "If anyone has any memories relating to gigs in the UK or Algarve, please contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org as it would be great to hear from you". You can also contact them by calling 282 798 109 or 916 563 191.
Following undertaking her university degree in English with American Literature in the UK, Cristina da Costa Brookes moved back to Portugal to pursue a career in Journalism, where she has worked at The Portugal News for 3 years. Cristina’s passion lies with Arts & Culture as well as sharing all important community-related news.