Nathaniel Laker and Dave Cowley at Epic Studios, photograph Bob Hobbs

Norfolk Deaf Association’s 120th Anniversary Celebrations

Nathaniel Laker (18), a student at Access to Music and member of Norwich band The Visitors, is set to perform on the same bill as the man who inspired him to learn electric guitar when he was 12.

The Bobcats in the studio, Dave Cowley far left (photograph The Bobcats/Keith Hoban)

Dave Cowley (64), lead guitarist for local function band The O’Fenders, set Nathaniel off on the music path, when Nathaniel and his elder brother Stanislav, played three numbers with The O’Fenders at their sister Natasha’s wedding, six years ago.

Nathaniel and Dave will be reunited on stage when The O’Fenders and The Visitors perform at Norfolk Deaf Association’s 120th anniversary celebrations, ‘Turn it Down’ at Epic Studios on Saturday, June 16.

The Visitors (Nathaniel’s band)

Nathaniel explained: “It was an amazing experience to play guitar, when I was 12, alongside Dave and the rest of The O’Fenders. I was self-taught up until then. We had four rehearsals with the band, who were very welcoming, and put together two Beatles songs, Back in the USSR and All You Need is Love and Natasha Dance by Chris de Burgh.”

“Straight after the wedding I decided that I wanted to learn music properly and had four years of electric guitar lessons, before getting onto the two-year performance course at Access to Music in Norwich.”

“We are all aged between 17 and 21 in The Visitors,” added Nathaniel. “It’s going to be quite a unique experience sharing the stage at Epic with The O’Fenders, who definitely have a few years on us!”

It was Nathaniel’s idea to stage a gig to help celebrate Norfolk Deaf Association’s 120th anniversary and raise awareness in young people about protecting your hearing when listening to loud music, as well as raising money for NDA.

Dave Cowley has lived in Norfolk since 1992, but is originally from Birmingham. He was also 12 when he started his musical journey, and became lead guitarist in a band called The Bobcats. The band was founded in 1965 and, with Dave’s dad, Fred, as ‘minder’, were soon playing clubs and pubs. In 1966 they won a Battle of the Bands competition at the Locarno Ballroom Birmingham and this led to a contract with Pye Records, making them the youngest professional band at the time.

Pye Records released one Bobcats single, Can’t See For Looking and the band made appearances on national TV on Blue Peter and the David Frost Show. Dave then played in touring bands until he moved to Norfolk and had a break, but returned to the music 10 years ago, when he stood in as lead guitarist for The O’Fenders, and has been with them ever since.

Dave said: “It’s great that Nathaniel was inspired by his appearance with The O’Fenders. I am looking forward to being reunited with him on stage at Epic Studios on 16 June. Good luck to him as he pursues his musical dream.”

Nathaniel is going to do one more year at Access to Music, taking a neo-classical guitar course, after which, he hopes The Visitors will be able to do some serious touring and see how far they can go in the music industry.

The band write all their own songs and to date have released an 8-track LP ‘The Visitors’, with a four-track EP due out this year. “We write on a co-operative basis,” said Nathaniel. “One of the band will come in with a musical idea. If it’s accepted we then work out our own parts. I’d describe our music as rock pop with a bit of punk.”

Norfolk Deaf Association

Norfolk Deaf Association’s 120th anniversary celebrations, ‘Turn it Down’ are at Epic Studios, Magdalen Street, Norwich, on Saturday 16 June. Doors open at 6.30pm, with the evening beginning at 6.45pm. The O’Fenders and The Visitors will each play one-hour sets. There is also a talk, ‘That’s music to my ears’, by Rob Shepheard, an expert in noise induced hearing loss. Tickets are £25 and £20 for under 25s and include a welcome drink, hog roast and pudding. Tickets are available from or Norfolk Deaf Association, t. 01603 404440, email [email protected] ,

For more information about The Visitors see and The O’Fenders

For more information about Dave Cowley and The Bobcats see