stephen smyth BACK IN BUSINESS

If you look below at the posting about the very talented Stephen Smyth and his band  having quit the business, it is a great pleasure to announce that his retirement from touring was happily short lived. Stephen is now back on the scene, now taking a limited number of bookings as a three-piece unit featuring himself and two excellent musicians – superb guitarist, Chris Blair, and Stephen’s brilliant former band member, John Taylor on keyboards and saxophone. Of course, multi-instrumentalist, Stephen, will be playing everything else guitar, keyboards, fiddle, saxophone, penny whistle and pedal steel guitar among other things in addirion to being the fine country singer that he is. We are delighted to annnouce that The Stephen Smyth Trio will be appearing at Lazyacre on Monday 14th August 2017 (details on the Lazyacre Programme page.) Stephen has already got two more dates at Lazyacre booked in for 2018, the club’s 40th anniversary yea. On Monday 7th May, Stephen will be supported by another fine artiste from Northern Ireland, Kenny Paul, and Stephen will also appear on Monday 29th October 2018.

WED 2nd MARCH 2016


A piece by John Malam.

Tony’s 80th Birthday – “Afternoon Tea” and Autobiography Book Launch Party.

Well, that’s what the invitation said!!!
So on Wednesday 2nd March 2016, we all turned up at the Greenhous Stadium, the home of Shrewsbury Town Football Club for “Afternoon Tea.” What ensued was far more spectacular than “a piece of cake and a cup of tea.” Lynne Best has obviously inherited the “Best Organisational Genes,” with a seating plan and place cards for the numbered tables, thus ensuring that everyone was soon in place for this amazing event.
Apart from a number of Lazyacre club members, there were guests from TBL events the length and breadth of the country and a retinue of well known artistes – Raymond Froggatt and H.Cain; Blake & Brazil; Carole Gordon; Tony Goodacre; Graham Hall and Susan Hedges. Then there was a guest appearance by the “King of the Diddymen – the Squire of Knotty Ash. Yes, the legendary Ken Dodd came to pay a very special tribute to Tony. In addition, all the Best family were on parade, children, grand-children and great-grandchildren.
Throughout the afternoon and evening, those very popular illusionists, Geoff Ray and his son, Paul Rushworth, were kept very busy visiting each table with their amazing repertoire of close-up magic, involving card tricks, rope tricks, coin illusions and even pyrotechnics, to the delight of all those present.
“Afternoon Tea,” sandwiches and a selection of cakes, cream scones and fancies were served by the club staff before we were entertained by the multi-talented Andy Eastwood, who delivered a brilliant set of music from the 40’s to the present day, including George Formby and Elvis Presley, played on a variety of instruments, banjolele, ukulele, fiddle and guitars. He picked up his violin and gave us a brilliant rendition of the gypsy violin solo, Csardas, also giving us a simply stunning version of the William Tell Overture played at high speed on his banjo-ukulele, leaving the whole audience breathless.Then it was Doddy’s turn. He had told Lynne that he would like to say a few words about Tony, so Lynne invited him to come on stage to say those few words. He was given a great reception and proceeded to pay tribute to Tony, which in true Ken Dodd style, was just hilarious, and it included presenting Tony with a genuine “Tickling Stick,” which we were assured was made with pure virgin wool, (made with wool from the sheep that could run the fastest!) He had said he wanted to say a few words. He spoke for about half an hour, which to Ken Dodd, is just a few words!
In his response, Tony paid tribute to Lynne and Jean, complimenting Lynne on the amount of work she had done putting this party together. We all sang “Happy Birthday” (two days early! Well, we daren’t be late or we’d be fined!)
Tony said Lynne had asked him to choose what entertainment he would like at the party, and that he had chosen Andy Eastwood, and Lazyacre favourite, Morgan Reeves, who delighted the whole audience with songs from a wide range of genres, ending his set with his most requested song, sung in his native Welsh language, “Myfanwy.” Morgan wouldn’t be Morgan without including his comedy, and the crowd loved his wicked sense of humour. His well deserved encore was “Amarillo,” with Jean and me leading the “Peter Kay Walk” all around the club followed and supported by a number of guests.
An emotional Tony was toasted in Champagne, and a fantastic time was enjoyed by everyone there. “Afternoon Tea” finally reached it’s climax at about 8.30 pm!
The autobiography – Tony Best – “The Best 80 Years,” was on sale with Angie doing a roaring trade, with people queuing patiently for their copy to be signed by the man himself.
As Tony didn’t want any “presents” – all he asked for was our presence, a box was provided for donations to Tony’s chosen charities, the local “Air Ambulance” and the “British Heart Foundation.” The stunning amount of £900.00 was raised for these wonderful causes.
Once again, our congratulations and a huge “Thank You” to Lynne for organising and inviting us toa sensational event, and also congratulations to Tony on the launch of your excellent autobiography – and finally a very HAPPY 80TH BIRTHDAY.
This event was a marvellous tribute to a very special man, to whom we all owe such a lot. Thank you Tony, it was great and a real privilege to be there. JOHN & VALERIE

mon 22nd february 2016

stephen smyth quits the business

We have just received the disappointing news of the retirement form the business of one of the finest country music artistes ever to come out of Ireland, the amazingly talented Stephen Smyth. Stephen, from Northern Ireland, has folded his band, the Stephen Smyth Band, with immediate effect and has cancelled all his bookings.

Aside from being a fine country singer, Stephen is a phenomenal multi-instrumentalist, playing guitar, keyboards, fiddle, saxophone, penny whistle and pedal steel guitar among other things – and not just playing them but being absolutely brilliant on them. He will be very much missed from the scene, and we will certainly miss his visits to Lazyacre. He first appeared at the club at the age of sixteen, a few days after he left school, as part of Philomena Begley’s backing band, “Shotgun.” He went on to lead the band, touring with Philomena and playing in their own right, before getting valuable experience playing with various bands including, the Indians, the Dominic Kirwan Band and the Declan Nerney Band. He went on to form his own Stephen Smyth Band and became one of the most popular bands on the scene. They were regular visitors to Lazyacre, winning our “Most Popular Band” award in three successive years in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

Stephen and the band were due to appear at Lazyacre on Monday 27th June 2016. This is one of the gigs which has been cancelled. We have been very lucky to be able to now book Paddy O’Brien and his band for that evening. All of us at Lazyacre wish Stephen the very best for the future in whatever he does.



After Tony officially retired in July, he  took three days break to “recover” from the hectic “Grand Finale Weekend” in Blackpool, then he immediately set to work on his autobiography, which had been planned for a very long time. He completed it a couple of weeks ago and preparations for the publication of it is now at an advanced stage. The plan is to release the book, entitled THE BEST 80 YEARS to coincide with Tony’s eightieth birthday at the beginning of March.

The book contains details of Tony’s life from his early days in primary school during the war, his school days, his life in the Royal Air Force for fifteen years, his time as a club steward and a as a publican in the licensed trade, his time as a music shop proprietor before changing his lifestyle and becoming a professional entertainer. It goes on to talk about his Tony Best Leisure business, and his hobby for nearly forty years, The Lazyacre Country Music Club. The book is packed with amusing anecdotes and stories of Tony’s life on the road, and about many of the characters he came into contact with and the many friends he made along the way. It should be a good read. Tony wishes to thank Raymond Froggatt for very kindly writing the following:

THE BEST 80 YEARS –          Foreword by Raymond Froggatt 

I met Tony Best a long time ago. He was then a troubadour of song and comedy entertainment, “A One Man Show.” His performances reached the hearts of everyone in the audiences of his days on stage.

Tony Best became far more than that. He created a family of people he didn’t know. Still today, this family of people sit around the warm fire of laughter and entertainment, and in their joy of thinking, remember all things good.

Tony Best pioneered the long weekend, and sometimes longer periods of holiday breaks and country music holidays. Tony did this without the benefit of social media and freeview showcase TV stations.

He created “the club magazine” in which he featured his up and coming events and he showcased his stars of entertainment. Tony Best was, and still is, at the forefront of every show he promotes, with a full input of personal entertainment, with his natural comic and warm talents as genial host.

In these pages, there is a story of an entertainment man who achieved extraordinary things in an extraordinary business. These extraordinary things are now emulated by many other people, and I think he can be very proud of that.

When the moments of joy and friendships become golden memories, the rainbow and fine sunshine of great days will remain like stars, and at the top of that rainbow will be the name, Tony Best, shining down on the family he created and loves still.

“Read on.”

Raymond Froggatt

Mon 13th Jul 2015


After two hugely successful “Celebration Events” in the Spring of 2015 at Gunton Hall, Lowestoft in Suffolk and at Bracklesham Bay in Sussex, Tony Best Leisure presented the company’s final event with a wonderful country music event on the weekend of 10th to 12th July 2015 at Blackpool’s Norbreck Castle Hotel. It was a weekend of mixed emotions with the TBL team of resident and guest artistes celebrating thirty marvellous years of TBL, always knowing that this is the end of an era.
Special guests in attendance for this celebration event included TBL’s original DJ, now retired, the amazing IAN ASHCROFT, who did over150 events for TBL from 1985 onward. We had a few songs from another guest, former stage manager for TBL, JOHN ASTON who still has one of the finest country voices you’ll ever hear. When TBL presented it’s first event abroad (inTenerife) a little 7-year-old blind girl from the Wirral, came along with her Mum and Dad, and stunned everyone when she sang a couple of country songs on stage. Her name – Susan Hedges. Since then Susan has completed her education, gone through University, and recently obtained her Doctorate – so she is now Doctor Susan Hedges PhD. She was with us in Blackpool and gave us a couple of songs. She is still into the music, having her own band and having played in Nashville, Memphis, Austin and Las Vegas. The Hedges Family said that they couldn’t miss TBL’s final event and it was great to have them with us. We were also delighted to see our former DJ, GRAHAM HALL, who drove over from his home in Leeds to be with us.
We had a wonderful send off. The 400 guests had a great time and saying farewell was very emotional but what a great way to go! Thirty great years and we’ve enjoyed every minute. Thanks to everyone who has supported us at our 317 events in those thirty years.

Mon 13th Jul 2015


Lazyacre Country Music Club was founded and is still run by member of the British Country Music Hall of Fame, Tony Best and his wife, Jean. The club opened its doors on Monday 6th March 1978, so in March 2015, the club will celebrate 38 great years of country music in concert in Shrewsbury. The club meets fortnightly with very occasional variations and extra shows, and it has a great following. The list of artistes and bands who have appeared at the club reads like a “Who’s Who” of country music in Great Britain, with many visiting artistes from Ireland, Europe and the USA. The club celebrated it’s 38th Birthday with a very special concert which took place on Monday 7th March 2016. The show stars award-winning artiste from Northern Ireland, the brilliant JOHN McNICHOLL AND HIS BAND, supported by popular country singer, STEVE CHASE.
Anyone interested in learning more about the club can obtain a copy of the club’s latest newsletter which contains the entertainment programme for the next twelve months. Simply send a self-addressed envelope with first or second class stamp to “Lazyacre CMC,” 233 Lancaster Road, Shrewsbury SY1 3ND.

Fri 9th Jan 2015


Hi Everybody, How wonderful the last 20 years working in TBL has been for me. To work alongside my Dad (Tony Best), has truly been a privilege. He is one of the most respected organisers of country music holidays, festivals and shows on the British country music scene. He taught me every aspect of the business and showed me how to run events successfully. I quickly gained the confidence from him to take on the responsibility of managing this very established and wonderful company.
Throughout my life he has been my rock, guiding, advising and supporting me through thick and thin!! I have so much to thank him for. Mum, too, has always been there. She quietly observes everything that goes on, gives her advice, guidance and unconditional love. She is amazing. She has always been right by our side in the business as well, keeping us in check, she is really “the boss” as we certainly couldn’t have done any of this without all her fantastic support. Together we are Tony Best Leisure and I can’t imagine doing this without them. This is their time now to take things steadier, to stop travelling all over the country living out of a suitcase. It is my time to look after them and I most certainly intend to do just that.
I have got to know many of you as friends. I have even been “adopted” by some of you and your families. We have all shared so many stories together over the years and that is priceless. Thank you and keep in touch!!
Tony Best Leisure has organised well over three hundred events in the UK and abroad and we want 2015 to be a celebration of all the brilliant times we have had together. We shall be inviting friends and family to the events to help us mark the anniversaries and our success.
This year we will have been presenting our Tony Best Leisure events at Richardson’s Bracklesham Bay in Sussex for 18 years in May. We are celebrating our 21st year of Easter mid-week holidays at Warner’s Gunton Hall in April and the biggest and greatest party of all will take place on our 30th Anniversary in July at the Norbreck Castle Hotel, Blackpool. This is TBL’s Grand Finale.
None of this though, would be at all possible without YOU, so I would like to personally “thank you” most sincerely to everyone who has been a part of the 30 fabulous years and hope that you will be able to come along to see us at one of our TBL final events this year.
“Thank you everyone. I have loved every minute.” Best wishes, Lynne.

Fri 9th Jan 2015


When I formed Tony Best Leisure in late 1984, I was 49 years of age, travelling the country, singing at clubs, hotels, theatres, festivals and holiday centres. With invaluable help from my wife, Jean, I started presenting our holiday events with three in 1985 – two country music gala weeks at Cayton Bay, Scarborough in May and September and a country music weekend in Blackpool in the July.
From these modest beginnings the business thrived and grew to find TBL presenting up to 22 events each year at venues all over this country and abroad including venues in Tenerife, several in mainland Spain, and in Cyprus and Portugal.
In 1995, our daughter Lynne joined TBL to help with the workload of our growing company and just after the Millennium, she took over the running of the business full time, with me taking a back seat, but always there with help and advice. Lynne was quite brilliant and the company thrived under her stewardship. TBL was soon registered as a Limited Company, with Lynne as Managing Director, but behind the scenes, we continued working together as a partnership.
Now, thirty years on, I am now coming up to 79 and following a couple of health scares, I have decided to take things easier and retire from the company. Lynne would rather not run the business without me so we have decided to “call it a day” and make our 30th Anniversary weekend in Blackpool in July 2015 our final TBL event.
The joint decision to close the company was very difficult and may come as a shock to some of you but Tony Best Leisure will definitely go out “on a high” with six months of Celebration events. We’d love to have you with us for one (or more!) of them.
Jean and I have made so many friends throughout the 30 years of Tony Best Leisure and we feel we have really had “the best of times.” Many of our guests have become much more than clients to us, and are now personal friends. You know who you are!! We will never forget all the great times we have had in your company. Thank you for your friendship during the life of TBL, and a massive “Thank you” to everyone who has given us such wonderful support over the years.
“Thank you, thank you, thank you! It has been a great pleasure!”
Our very best wishes to you all from both of us. Jean and Tony.

Thu 20th Nov 2014


Tony Best, singer, comedian, promoter and member of the British Country Music Hall of Fame, now retired, takes you back to when he was on the road as a full time entertainer, clocking up 40,000 miles of driving and performing over 300 one-night-stands a year in hotels, clubs, theatres and festivals all over the UK and abroad.
This recording is a snapshot of just one of those one-night stands on Tony’s travels, when he appeared in the village of Shackleford in Surrey back in the eighties. It features him singing about a dozen songs, all self-accompanied on the piano accordion, interspersed with a liberal helping of Tony Best nostalgic humour, plenty of jokes, and audience participation.
This is what it was like back in those days!
The new CD is available at all Tony Best Leisure events, at Lazyacre CMC on clubnights and by mail order from Tony at 233 Lancaster Road, Shrewsbury SY1 3ND. It is £7.00 including P&P. (cheque payable to “Tony Best.”)
When I was on the road full time I used to tape most of my shows on a portable cassette recorder which I used to place at the side of the stage. That way I could play it to myself before going back to a venue so that I wouldn’t tell all the same jokes as the last time.
I came across a few of these old cassettes whilst I was rearranging my office a few months ago and just for interest I played one. It really didn’t sound bad and when my daughter, Lynne heard the cassette she suggested I should do something with it. The tape was a show in early 1986 at Shackleford Country Music Club in Surrey, held in the local Village Hall, a place I really used to enjoy playing. Listening to the tape took me right back to those days.
It’s not very often you hear of anyone recording something and then twentyeight years later bringing it out on CD, but that’s just what’s happened here. I really hope you enjoy it. It’s me in what seems like a former life. The atmosphere is definitely there on the CD and it’s lots of fun.
ALSO AVAILABLE: Two one-hour long compilation CD’s –
“A GOLDEN HOUR OF TONY BEST” – 20 Tracks – Old Flames, Everybody’s Talkin’, Amanda, Try A Little Kindness, To Daddy, Let Me be There, I Love You Because, The Most Beautiful Girl, I’ll Need Someone To Hold Me, Maggie, I’m Beginning To Forget You, A Tree In The Meadow, Kelly, Before The Next Teardrop Falls, They Don’t Play Rock Of Ages, I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen, Old Scotland Again, Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast, Don’t Tell Me Lies, The Answer To Everything.
A Buch of Thyme, Angeline, Nobody’s Child, San Antonio Rose, The Old Rugged Cross, Some Broken Hearts Never Mend, China Doll, Who Were You Thinking Of, You’re My Best Friend, The Great “El Tigre,” Today I Started Loving You Again, The Jimmy Brown Song, Roly, A Legend In My Time, I Don’t Want to Cry, Turn Out The Light (Love me Tonight), Mansion On The Hill, Catfish John, One Day At A Time.

Thu 6th Mar 2014


Jean, Lynne and Tony Best would like to thank everyone for their tremendous support following Tony’s recent stroke which happened on the morning of Tuesday 21st January 2014. The good news is that Tony is making excellent progress after speech therapy and occupational therapy by the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital’s stroke team. He has been greatly heartened by the hundreds of messages of support and “Get Well Soon’s” from family, friends, club members and TBL guests in the form of letters, cards, phone and text messages, facebook etc. It has been quite overwhelming for him but this fantastic support has been hugely gratifying. Thank you all.