POOKA, their name comes from a nice Irish elf, were formed at the beginning of '92 at Nottingham Polytechnic by SHARON LEWIS (v,g,k) and NATASHA JONES (v,g), both born in Manchester, 1971. Sharon previously sang (and played accordion) in the traditional folk band RED CIEL, together with ED BOYD (who went on to FLOOK! and ELIZA CARTHY), then she formed a strange "all women trio" together with a dancer and an opera singer and just in that period she met with Natasha in a comedy club. They, encouraged by the fine songwriter PAT ORCHARD, quickly decided to try their luck going to London and, after playing some gigs at the glorious Bunjies, RODDIE HARRIS (who was running the club, in addition to be the leader of the lamented MIRO') organised a showcase. A Wea A&R man attends to it and give Pooka the chance to record a demo tape, gaining swiftly an amazing 5 albums deal. Sharon & Natasha recorded their first work in '93; it was issued at the end of August with a lot of praises from critics. After some weeks the CD was followed by the "City Sick" EP which contains three non-Lp songs, also a 7" edition was pressed accompanied by a Video clip. Fans had to wait till March '94 to buy the 12"/CDs "Graham Robert Wood", where the title track is completely rearranged, other 3 songs not on the album are featured in this brilliant item and again a Video clip was produced. After having toured with TINDERSTICKS, KRISTIN HERSH, AL STEWART and LEVELLERS and played, with a lot of success, in places like London's Garage and Bath's Moles, at the beginning of '94 Pooka were already preparing demos for their second album. The new LP ("Spinning" being the working title) was expected for the end of the same year, but changes of label and management, from John Coxon (he will work with EVERYTHING BUT A GIRL) to JOHN BRAND (experiences with ALL ABOUT EVE and TO HELL WITH BURGUNDY among the others) caused a long delay. A "rough mixes" cassette including 7 brand new songs circulated among fans in February '95. Anyway in June the independent Rough Trade label published, for her Singles Club label, a 7" containing a different mix of "Sweet Butterfly" and the enchanting "Love Song". At the end of August arrived the "Bel Air" CD from ULTRAMARINE, that features 4 tracks co-written by Pooka who also sang on them, titles are "Buena Vista", "Mutant", "Citizen" and "Rainbow Brew" and are easily the best songs of the entire work. In the meantime a change of MD at Atlantic had cancelled a possible US issue of the new CD. In June '96, after having resumed, and with many consents, their live performances, Pooka were able to see another little jewel in the shops, again for Rough Trade. In spite of great reviews something didn't work with the glorious label, so after having pressed only a few hundreds copies of "The Insect", also RT is being abandoned.
Meanwhile Pooka privately issues "Spinning" as a demo tape cassette. It's an extremely convincing work which, besides the already known "Sweet Butterfly" e "The Insect", contains other excellent songs like the opening track "Higher", "Rubber Arms" "Mean Girl" and moreover the splendid title-track, but strangely enough there is no trace of the haunting "Lubrication", maybe reserved for a possible single. Anyway it does include the otherwise not available "All I Want Is A Life". On the 12th October '96 (at Birmingham), helped by ex-Miro' JULIA PALMER (cel) e JAMES DeHAAN (pc), they began with "Mean Girl" to go on with many songs included in "Spinning", together with new compositions like "Come Over", "See My Side", "Don't Make Me Sweet", "This Is Life", "Claire", "Deep Sleep" e "Stony Ground". During their charity gig down to London at Paradise Bar, the 22nd of November '96, Sharon e Tash, helped on some tracks by the always outstanding Julia Palmer and in front of an audience made of friends and musicians like Pat Orchard, VINCE DeCICCO e AMANDA of PRAYING FOR THE RAIN, Roddie Harris himself, confirmed themselves as performers of the highest level, playing some new excellent compositions too.
In 1997 Pooka are back in London, having split from John Brand but, at last, with a new deal with TRADE 2, a label distributed by ISLAND and managed by ex-Rough Trade founder GEOFF TRAVIS. A new CDsingle was issued on the 16th of June, the "Mean Girl" video was directed by ex-RAINCOATS GINA BIRCH ! The long awaited CD was issued one the 22nd of September and a couple of days on POOKA, with bass man STEVE LAMB and a drummer are at Camden's Underworld, supported by nice MOIRA LAMBERT's OVA (the ex-FAITH OVER REASON singer), while PETER BRUNTNELL wasn't inexplicably present. After the extensive promotional tour there was a brief blackout, the promised second single for Trade2 "Lubrication", being not issued. But good news for POOKA came from France, where the Bandido Agency recently put together two nice tours (comprising also some Swiss dates). Between the two tournée Sharon and Natasha had a beautiful gig at the prestigious Ronnie Scott in London and now we are waiting for the results of their latest recordings. The new recordings should begin in early 1999, and they will be probably the first DIY product for Sharon and Natasha, as they are no more with Island/Trade2. But they are still under Geoff Travis wings and, in the meantime, the new "Monsoon" can be heard in the "Playpen" compilation, available from mid September 1999. After a few week, a new French label connected to the Bandido Agency, issues a five tracks CD by Pooka, with all new acoustic songs, which Sharon and Tash promote with a French mini tour in late November.
The New Millennium sees Sharon & Natasha still working hard to get the new recordings completed. They first finished an "acoustic" album ("Fools Give Birth To Angels") with strings, accordion and even pipes before their first (and very successful) Italian tour. The new CD includes songs like "Yes, Lad", "One In A Million", "Gypsy Rose Lee", "Claire", well known by those who have seen Pooka on stage in the last couple of years. But they have worked on a very different kind of album too, with a much more "electronic" approach, and this has been issued mid July 2001, by the reborn Rough Trade Records.
Unfortunately these hard efforts seem to have dried up Pooka resources, and after a few gigs in Holland and UK, at the end of March 2002, these writings appear on their official website:
"Natasha Lea Jones and Sharon Lewis collectively known as Pooka have split up.
They would like to thank Pooka fans everywhere for their support over the years."
Now we can only wish Sharon and Natasha to go on with their solo careers, we are sure they can do it, and do it fine. They leave behind them some beautiful and unique recordings and we are really grateful for that.
So, Pooka is dead, VIVA Sharon and VIVA Natasha!
And now, at last, both Natasha and Sharon have their first CD available, see the discography page!
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