VIOLINIST Mik Kaminski is used to performing in packed stadia.
As part of Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) for six years, he played in some internationally renowned venues, for audiences numbering tens of thousands.
But he still gets a buzz out ofŠ entertainingŠ smaller gatherings, so he is relishing his return to Huddersfield’s The Keys restaurant.
Mik will be on stage with Phil Bates, who was a member of the reincarnated version of ELO,ŠELO II, in the 1990s, on March 21.
They will beŠ playing their Beatles, Blues and Blue Violin Project set, a collection of BeatlesŠ and blues covers, plusŠ some ofŠ their ownŠ compositions and ELO classics.
Mik, who hails from Harrogate, said: “It’s hard to describe what it’s like playing in front of thousands of people. It’s an unbelievable feeling.
“One day I was playing pubs and clubs and the next I was on a plane to America playing in front of massive crowds.
“It’s different doing the small gigs, but it’s fun because you get so much more contact with the audience. You’ve got a lot of freedom and it gives you room to experiment.”
This will be Mik’s third performance at the town centre eatery.
But his connection to Huddersfield goesŠ back to the late 1960s when, as a teenager, he joined forces with Huddersfield musician John Hodgson on an early musical project that would later result in chart success.
Drummer John, whoŠ grew up in Moldgreen and now lives in Cumberworth, started playing with Mik when they were both students at the Leeds College of Music in 1967.
They called their fledgling band One by One a Cow went Past, which was later shortened to Cow so that the name could fit on John’s bass drum.
John was 15 at the time, Mik 16.
After hearing a Frank Zappa record featuring an electricŠ violin, Mik was inspired to pick up the instrument and never looked back.
The pair quit college and moved to London, playing violin and drums in a band that also featured keyboards, a bass guitar and a saxophone – but no regular guitar.
“Not having a guitar was a bit avant garde at the time,” John said. “The manager of Led Zeppelin was interested inŠ us until he realised we didn’t have one.”ŠŠ
Mik and John later went their separate ways, John playing for a time with Rick Wakeman while Mik played with ELO.
They joined forces again after Mik formed rock outfit Violinski in 1977 and reached number 17 in the charts with Clog Dance in 1979, which theyŠ performed on Top of the Pops.
But despite two albums,ŠViolinski failed to make an impact and John and Mik parted musical company again.
John, 57, now a teacher with Kirklees Music School as well as a member of Huddersfield band Cherry Picasso, said: “I don’t listen to any Violinski or any of the stuff I did with Rick Wakeman now. The past is the past. But it’s not something I would be without.”
Vicki Ridgway, owner of The Keys, said: “We are trying to establish the restaurant as a place for cabaret. The last time Mik was here we were getting enquiries from as far away as Argentina and it sold out months in advance. It has been the same again this time round.”