March 2019 Concerts

31 March – Bob Dwyer’s Bix & Pieces:   This band was warmly welcomed back after a fairly long absence.  Leader and  on trombone was Bob Dwyer, on reeds Sarah Spencer, Brian Bates was on trumpet, Hugh Crozier was on the piano, John Bayne was on double bass and bass saxophone and Nick Ward (a previous SJS  Musician of the Year Award winner) was on drums.  Numbers included “Oh Look at Her – Ain’t she Pretty”, “Strutting with some BBBQ”, “Putting on the Ritz”, “The Riverboat Shuffle”, “The Dada Strain”, “Little Coquette” and “Good Morning Blues”.  A good concert with some classy playing.  I hope we see them again soon.

24 March – Eric Newton’s Willy’s Weepers: Welcome back to this lovely band: Eric Newton (leader) on reeds, the irrepressible Terry Brunt on trombone, Pete Ainge on trumpet, Peter Robinson on banjo/guitar, John Musket on bass and Chris Pendlebury on drums.  They started with “Way Down Upon the Swannee River”, went on to a favourite of mine “Mood Indigo”, “I’m Nobody’s Sweetheart Now”, “My Indiana Home”, “China Town”, “Strutting with Some Barbecue” and “Won’t you Come Along With me to the Mississippi” to name but a few. During the second half they had a guest appearance by ex-N’Orleans Jazz Band – Ned Fogg  now aged 86 – which was well received.  The gig was rounded off with “Sheik of Araby”, just smashing. Although it does not show all the band members I so liked the posing of the front line that I chose it to represent the concert, which I think it does so well.

17 March – Dart Valley Stompers: Well the band opened with a storm with “Ain’t Misbehaving”.  There was Jeremy Huggett (leader) on reeds and vocals, Kevin Grenfell on trombone, Graham Trevarton on trumpet, Howard Williams on Banjo/guitar, Keith Tolley on double bass and Chris Stockings on Drums.  There was a bit of a leak on the stage but one resourceful musician used one of the brolly parade umbrellas as a temporary cover. Other numbers included “I’ve Got Your Number”, “I Found a New Baby”, “Some Day You’ll be Sorry”, “Isle of Capri, “Careless Love and “Sweet Georgia Brown” and of course “Bourbon Street” for the brolly paraders to name but a few.  Thoroughly entertaining and I think we all look forward to seeing them again in the near future.

10 March – Matt Palmer’s Rhythmic Reeds with Christine Tyrrell:  Matt is almost a regular now with one or another of his bands.  This time along with Matt Palmer on reeds there was George Huxley on reeds, Mark Challinor of banjo/guitar/ukelele, Brian Lawrence on bass and Jack Cotterill on drums.  Christine Tyrrell, a great favourite with Stafford Jazz Society, sang along with several numbers, including “Fair and Square in Love”, “In the Garden”, “I Just Couldn’t Keep it to Myself” and “My Mother’s Eyes” to name a few.  The band also gave us several Sidney Bechet numbers including “Le Moulin de Café” (the coffee grinder) and “As-tu le cafard” (have you got the blues) together with “Who’s Sorry Now”, “Ain’t Misbehaving”, “Lover Come Back To Me” and “Some Like it Hot”. Great concert which was well received. 

3 March – No Concert

February 2019 Concerts

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24 February – Arthur Brown & Matt Palmer’s “Jazz Buddies”:  These are musicians we know well at SJS.  Arthur Brown on trumpet & vocals, Matt Palmer, on reeds and vocals, Mike Owen on trombone, Brian Mellor on guitar & banjo & vocals, Peter Robinson on double bass and Tim Jones on drums.  They gave us a good range of music from “As Long as I Live”, to “Georgia”, “When it’s Thursday Night in Egypt”, “Beale Street Blues”, “Dapper Dan” and “I Can’t Believe You’re in Love with Me”.  As always the band was well received and their finishing number was “Buddies Habit”.

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17 February – Frog & Henry String & Brass Band: This is the first time we have seen this band, formed in 2013, and what a treat.   There was Ewan Bleach on reeds, vocals and piano, F.H. Henry on guitar and vocals, Laurin Habert on reeds, David Neigh on the tuba machine and 6-string banjo and Kermane Arken on violin and vocals.  At one point I counted at least eleven instruments on stage, meaning each member of the band was playing several different ones.  The members of the band come from USA, Canada, Germany and the UK.  Their music was essentially their own version of early 1900s dance and street jazz music of New Orleans.  Much interest was displayed in getting a closer look at David’s foot-operated tuba which allowed him to play a six-string banjo at the same time.  There were numbers like “Hot Tempered Blues”, “Weary Blues”, “In my Little Red Book”, “As you Sew so Shall you Reap”, “Just Another Memory”, and “By the River Sainte Marie”, together with much more.  Because they used Electro-voice microphones when singing this added to the 1900s aura.  For young men they played brilliantly and give you hope for the future of jazz.  I hope we see much more of them in the future.

10 February – No Concert

3 February – Wabash Jazzmen:  Sadly I missed this concert as I was up at Lytham St Annes – a lovely place but the weather was really cold that week!!  I can however report on a very favourable reception of this band, which is well known to SJS.  The atmosphere was said to be good and everyone seems to have enjoyed themselves, certainly if the scores they achieved were any indication.

January 2019 Concerts

27 January 2019 – The Debonaires Little Big Band:  It was good to welcome back this classy and versatile little big bang and their little singer, Sarah Eastwood, with a huge voice.   The band consists of Max Debon – leader (trumpet), Austin Ralphson (trombone), Rick Hallwell (alto sax), Peter Robinson (double bass), Rob Turner (drums), Peter Wilson (keyboard) and Anne Holder (saxophone).  As well as singing Sarah also plays the clarinet.  Some of the tunes were: “Cheek to Cheek”, “You’ve got to see your Moma every night or you ain’t gonna see her at all”, “It don’t mean a Thing if it ain’t got that Swing”, “Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend”, “Mambo Italiano” and the theme tune to Austen Powers, International Man of Mystery – Soul Bosa Nova.

During the interval there was a presentation of a cheque for £1,000 from Stafford Jazz Society made by Nick Balmforth and Gwen Kenyon in support of a guide dog for the blind.  Accepting the cheque was Colin Proudlock with his dog, Oakley, and Helen Stokes, Secretary of the Association.  There will be a collecting tin for ongoing support for this project.

20 January 2019 – The Alex Clarke Hot Five: This was a great performance from a fairly young band. The band consists of Alex Clarke (reeds & flute) – leader, Mike Owen (trombone), Tom Kincaid (piano), Richard Vernon (double bass) and Jack Cotterill (drums).  What seems to happen is they take songs we all know and love and just put their bit of magic into them.  Numbers included “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”, “Sheik of Araby”, “Nobody’s Sweetheart Now”, “Some of These Days”, “I’ll Fly Away” and “The Man I love”.   The White Eagle Club was pretty full and the band were well received.   I know most people will be delighted to see them back on stage again soon.

13 January 2019 – Matt Palmer’s “Aces of Rhythm”:  It was lovely to see Matt, in one of his combination bands, along with Chris Mercer (cornet), Dave Kimmins (banjo + guitar), Al Harris (double bass) and Jo Nutman (not just a keyboard player but a genuine ragtime pianist).  Dave, in particular, was able to give much knowledgeable insight into the numbers although Matt was no slouch in that department either.  Some of the numbers they played for us included:  "Keg Walking Babies", “Candy Lips”, “Got Butter On It”, “Wolverine Blues” and “I Never Knew What a Girl Could do”.  Many of these numbers were new to me so as well as enjoying the music it was a learning curve.  Matt will be back in March with his “Rhythmic Reeds” and Christine Tyrrell.

6 January 2019 – Chris Pearce & Andy Leggett’s “Sopranos”:   It was a lovely way to start the second half of this year’s programme.  This band has long been a favourite of Stafford Jazz Society. As well as Chris Pearce (leader) on reeds, Andy Leggett also on reeds, Dave Deakin on trombone and Tony Sharp on double bass we had Dave Andrews on drums and Rachel Haywood on guitar and banjo. A quick flavour of some of the numbers they played:  "Way Down Upon the Swanee River"; “Trogs Blues”; “Oh You Beautiful Doll”; “Buddy Bolan Stomp”; “Angel Flying too Close to the Ground”;  "Russian Lullabye" and “In my Darkest Hour” there was a fine rendition of “The Mooch”.  Terrific jazz all with the unmistakable quips by the two reeds players.

Stafford Jazz Society General Information

VENUE: White Eagle Club, Riverway, Stafford ST16 3TH

DAY: Sunday lunchtime

TIME: All concerts commence at 12.30 unless otherwise notified or indicated on the programme

CLOSE: Concerts generally conclude by 2.30pm but there are a few which go on until 3.00pm (please refer to programmes available throughout the town or contact Nick Balmforth on 07974 131797 or nickbalmforth@gmail.com

PRICE: Admission is currently £6 for members and £7 for non-members.

REFRESHMENTS: There is always an interval when raffle tickets are sold. This also provides an opportunity to select something delicious to eat from the kitchen or purchase a hot drink. There is also a bar available.

PARKING: There is adequate parking but anyone not a member of the White Eagle Club is asked to park on the left hand side of the building

December Concerts

16 December – Chicago Teddybears Society Jazzband: We warmly welcomed back this band for our Christmas concert.  We have Rae Owens on double bass and vocals (and jokes!), Andrew MacKenzie on trombone, Jim Lucas on trumpet, John Padfield on reeds, Ed Lee on keyboard and Brian Singleton on drums.  Some of their numbers were: “China Town My China Town”, “Dr Jazz”, “That’s My Fun Day”, “Canal Street Blues”, “Doo Wah”, “Magnolia’s Wedding Day” and ended up with a medley of Christmas numbers which had everyone singing along.  During the interval Ian and Jennie D’Arcy presented the band with SJS Band of the Year Trophy, an accolade they have now received for the third time.

9 December – Jake Leg Jug Band:  This band represents the sounds of America in the 1920s and 1930s.  The leader is Duncan Wilcox on double bass, Bryony-Rose Ward on washboard and vocals, Neil Hulse on guitar, Toby Wilson on banjo and dobra and Liam Ward on harmonica and jug.  Numbers from the afternoon included: “I can’t Dance because I’ve got Ants in my Pants”, “Little Black Train”, “Kitchen Man”, “My Feets too Big”, “Nuts for Sale”, “I Need a Little Sugar in my Bowl” and “On the Road Again”.  Duncan explained for all those who may not have heard them before that Jake Leg was an ailment – a paralysis of the lower limbs due to consuming assorted home-made alcohol.  During prohibition money was scarce and so musicians used various substitute instruments, such as a job for bass.

2 December – No Concert

November Concerts

Mike Owen’s Scarlette’s Serenaders – 25 November:  Jazz reminiscent of the New Orleans dance hall bands.  Musicians are: Mike Owen (trombone), Sarah Spencer (reeds), Brian Mellor (guitar & banjo), Jim Swinnerton (bass) and Baby Jools (drums).  Sadly there is no photograph for this gig.

18 November – No concert

Frog Island Jazz Band – 11 November:  This band was formed in 1962 and still has two existing members from those days.  This is proper New Orleans-style jazz at it’s best.  The band comprised John Whitehead (cornet & leader), Jim Hurd (clarinet), John Jeanes (trombone), Rob Fullalove (brass base), Keith Durston (keyboard) and Brian Lawrence (banjo).  During the second half Chris Mercer on his coronet joined the band. Music included “The Charge”, “The Dip”, “Room Rent Blues”, “Spanish Shore”, “Mandy Make Up Your Mind” and timely “Santa Claus Blues” to name just a few.

Thame Valley Stompers – 2 November:  This band has such a sense of fun.  This band is top entertainment and quality.  Some of the numbers were:  "Dr Jazz", “The Entertainer”, “When There’s a Shine on Your Shoes”, “Don’t Bring Lulu”, the “Stevedore Stomp” and “I’ve Found a new Baby.  Band members are Terry Brunt (trombone), Norman Pennington (drums), Paul Broomhead (reeds), Roger Wimpenny (trumpet – and the jokes!), John Gordon (banjo/guitar) and Peter Smith (bass guitar).

October Concerts

28 October – JB Jazz & Blues Band:  Well this was it – the final performance by JB Jazz & Blues Band on the circuit.  Roger Mainwaring had come out of retirement to play on this occasion and there was the addition of Owen Williams on bass guitar.  Owen had been the original bass player when the band was first formed, under the name of JBQ (John Beckingham Quartet).   This band was a three times winner of our coveted Band of the Year Award.  John as always played the keyboard with enormous energy and was accompanied, in addition to Owen and Roger, by Phil Probert on guitar and banjo and Paul Holder on drums.  The group seemed to put their very soul into this their last gig and the music, by turns lively and poignant, was sooo enjoyable.  Some of the numbers were: ‘Pennies from Heaven’, ‘That’s the Story of Love’, ‘Hello Dolly’, ‘Caldonia’, and finishing with ‘Bye Bye Paris’ (surprisingly they couldn’t find anything about farewell to Stafford!!). A presentation of an engraved dish was made by Shirley Ollier and Ian D’Arcy presented each member of the band with an SJS Pin Badge.

21 October – Baby Jools & the Jazzaholics: It’s always a joy to have this band play for us but especially today and with an extra long concert to celebrate the 37th anniversary of Stafford Jazz Society.  Baby Jools on drums (leader), Mike Owen on trombone, Brian Mellor on guitar/banjo, Jim Swinnerton on double bass, Denny Ilett on trumpet and Karl Hird on reeds play together so well.  The room was crowded and extra seating had to be brought in.  Numbers included ‘Who’s Sorry Now’, ‘The Postman’s Lament’, ‘I’ve Found a New Baby’, ‘Black Bottom Stomp’ and ‘Since I Laid my Burden Down’. Joining the band for a few numbers was Alex Clark with her saxophone.  During the interval it was with great pleasure that Ann Crofts presented Jim Swinnerton with his award for winning SJS Musician of the Year Award and he seemed truly delighted.  

14 October – No Concert.

7 October – Chase Jazzmen:  Sadly I was not available at this concert, which I am given to understand was well attended, although there were some technical problems. You will find earlier reference to this band for concert on Sunday 8 April 2018.

September Concerts

30 September 2018 – Savannah Jazz Band: This is such a great band and a joy to listen to.  My all time favourite is the deadpan presentation of jokes by reedsman Roger Myerscough.  Other members of the band are:  Bill Smith (leader) on trumpet, harmonica and vocals, Dave Morrell on trombone, Tony Pollitt on double bass, John Meehan on drums and Chris Marney on banjo.   The music was an exhilarating mix of blues, marches and jazz so there was something for everyone.   “Move Your Body Over”, “My Gal Sal”, “Beedlum Bum” (just don’t ask!!), “Walking with the King, "The Dallas Blues” to the final “Going Home”, to name but a few, were all well received.

23 September 2018 – Kevin Grenfell’s Jazz Giants: Always lovely to have a visit from this versatile group and this time we had an additional treat in the shape of Jeremy Huggett on reeds.  Kevin was his usual jokey self, on trombone and trumpet, Jack Cotterill on drums, Federico Leonori on double bass and Ian Parry on guitar and banjo all played some pretty good jazz.   The session included the likes of “New Orleans”, “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie”, “Some Day You’ll be Sorry” and “Swing that Music” and finished with “Bye Bye Blackbird”.  The group received a standing ovation from more than half of the room.

16 September 2018 – Robin Mason’s Apex Jazz & Swing Band:  With almost a year since we last had a visit from this band, everyone was pleased to see Robin Mason and his band back.  Giving us a repertoire that included “My Baby Just Cares for Me”, “Watermelon Man”, “Happiness”, “I Hate to see that Evening Sun Go Down” and “Autumn Leaves” this was music to our ears.  The band consisted of Robin Mason on reeds, Dick Wiltshire on keyboard, Ron Hills on trombone, Roy Dutton on drums, Bob Boucher on guitar and John on trumpet

9 September 2018 – Matt Palmer’s Eagle Jazz Band: This band is an old favourite of Stafford Jazz Society.   Matt Palmer leading on reeds, Baby Jools on drums (a rare treat), Mike Owen on trombone, Pete Brown on Trumpet, Brian Lawrence on double bass and sousaphone and lastly Brian Mellor on guitar and Banjo.  A good mix of music and a good bit of singing from Matt through numbers like “I Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None of my Jelly Rolls” (don’t you just love that title?!), “You’re Driving Me Crazy”, “Dans La Rue Entibe” and “Yellow Dog Blues”, ending with as always “Bring me Sunshine”. They most surely do.

2 September 2018 – Phoenix Jazzmen with Sheila Fawkes: Well, the moment all have been waiting for … the start of the new jazz season.  And what a band to open with – winner of the Band of the Year in 2012-13.  A room full of enthusiastic jazzers suffering from acute withdrawal symptoms visibly relaxed to the likes of “That’s My Home”, “The Creole Love Call”, “Stevedore Stomp” and “It’s Times Like That”, along with many more.  The musicians were the usual suspects:  Peter Robinson on guitar & trumpet, Mike Hayler on reeds, Pete Ainge on trumpet, Terry McGrath on trombone, Ken Wright on drums and Mark Johnson on double bass.

May Concerts

27 May 2018 – Baby Jools & the Jazzaholics:  This is the last concert of the season, sadly, but nevertheless what a concert to go out on.  This 6 piece band wowed the audience.  Baby Jools – leader, on drums, Jim Swynnerton on double bass, Mike Owen on trombone, Denny Ilett on trumpet, Karl Hird (from Australia) on reedsc and Brian Mellor on banjo and guitar.   Along with “Old Spinning Wheel” was “Travelling Blues”, “Muskrat Ramble”, “Old Rocking Chair”, Black Cat on a Fence", “Lucille”, “A Hundred Years from Today” and the “Chimes Blues”.  The band played to a large size audience as SJS members have good memories for good groups and so flocked in to hear Baby Jools.  I just know its only a matter of time before they are back at the White Eagle Club once more.

20 May 2018 – Steve King Big Band featuring Lynn Dawes:  This band, with traditional Dixieland-style jazz and swing repertoire, has proved popular with SJS audiences.  USA born vocalist Lynn Dawes adds to the entertainment. The band leader, with his bright orange jacket and tie, was easy to spot and gave occasional input on his trumpet. Numbers played included: “Ain’t Misbehaving”,  "Let the Good Times Roll", “Frankie & Johnny”, “Googletown Races”, “Sweet Georgia Brown”, “What a Wonderful World” and “I Want to be Loved by You”. With 20 musicians in the house you can imagine the music filled all four corners and then some.  

13 May 2018 – Pete Allen & his Hot Rhythm:  This four-piece played at the White Eagle Club as part of the Stafford Music Festival.  Leader, Pete Allen, is on reeds, Richie Bryant on drums, Dave Hanratty on bass and Dave Moorhead on banjo and guitar.  The group injected humour into its programme and the concert was well received by Stafford jazzers.  Some of the numbers were:  "Nobody’s Sweetheart Now", “Roses of Piccardy”, “Way Down Yonder in New Orleans”, “Lady be Good” and “You Meet the Nicest People in your Dreams”.   They finished with a rousing “When the Saints Go Marching in”.  

6 May 2018 – Pedigree Jazz Band “Salute to Trad Jazz”: As you can tell from the photograph, the day was one of those rare sunny days and yet there were still many people attending Stafford Jazz Society to hear this concert.  The band consisted of leader on clarinet, Chris Walker, on trumpet was Andy Chislett, trombone was Tony Mann, double bass was Mike Bennett, Banjo + guitar was John Noddings and on drums, taking over from Colin Larn who sadly passed away earlier this year, was Jim Newton.   The numbers were all recognisable even for beginners with sons such as “In a Persian Market”, “Bourbon Street March”, “Peter and the Wolf”, “Original Dixieland One Step”, “Autumn Leaves” and of course “Midnight in Moscow” and “Stranger on the Shore”.  All in all the concert was well received and we look forward to seeing them again next year during Stafford Music Festival.