Some thoughts from SJS Member Bob Williams ……

I first saw the Eagle Jazz Band in the upstairs room at the Giffard Arms in Wolverhampton in the early sixties.

In those days, steam trains were the norm, a computer was totally unthought-of and if you wanted to make a phone call, you pressed button A.

Of course the band had been going for over ten years before I first discovered them, so little wonder that to my then teenage eyes, they look old.

How remarkable then that two of the original band members should still be going strong.

Bob Smith on clarinet complete with his magnificent trademark handlebar moustache, and Nick Williams, who back in the good old days played double bass with the late great Tony Hobson on trombone and Ken Ingram on cornet, showed once again that age is no barrier to either playing or enjoying our music.

A few years ago I had booked The Eagle Jazz Band to appear at Newport Cricket Club. Unfortunately Bob was too ill to appear. His son, playing double bass with the band, sadly told me that he was in a bad way and “unlikely to make it.”

Sad I thought, but then he had a good innings. Two or three years later, I attended a concert at Albrighton and enjoying the music, told my wife that the man on reeds played just like the late Bob Smith I even said that he reminded me of him in looks.

To which the elegant lady sitting near to us, said that he jolly well should look like him he was, and of course still is, her husband.

As Bob proudly told me at Stafford’s concert, she was his first wife (insinuating of course that he was on the lookout for another) but after 52 years together, I don’t think he would swap her.

So what do I remember about the old Eagle Jazz Band? Well, I regularly went to see them, again in an upstairs room, this time at the Wheatsheaf in Walsall.

I remember that they were always up to jolly japes, and while now in their eighties, Nick and Bob still enjoyed clowning,

Nick, as I mentioned earlier, played bass with the Eagles, but then, as now, he had a wonderful voice. His rendition of St James Infirmary I can recall to this day.

I am also pretty sure that it was the Eagles who during the interval insisted on playing old black and white silent comedy films for the audience.

That sort of summed them up.

Always happy, always joking and always providing wonderful music.

It was no surprise to see them opening their set at Stafford with their traditional opening number Just A Little While to Stay and while Nick might not be quite as good a pilot as Tony when it comes to The Dambusters, how wonderful it was to once again, fly with The Eagles.

Keep blowing lads. You are an inspiration to us all!


The snow blizzards and drifting throughout today (Friday) together with bleak weather forecasts of freezing temperatures for Saturday and of yet more snow expected on Sunday have forced Stafford Jazz Society to take the difficult decision to cancel this Sunday’s (January 20th) concert.

Roads in the Midlands have already been badly hit with severe traffic problems resulting and even if the Band manage to get through – some need to travel a considerable distance – it is almost certain that audience numbers would be very badly down.

I regret any inconvenience and disappointment caused by this decision that is beyond our control.

Nick Balmforth

Finding what you need on the new site?


I hope you’re enjoying the new format of the site. Hopefully it’s just as easy to find everything you wanted, and more – but did you also notice the “Search” bar at the top? Scratching your head to remember that brilliant piece of prose that Nick put in one of the Jazz Matters? Well, try and search for it at the top and see what comes back.

Did you also know that the site is now optimised for searching in Google, so hopefully – over time – you’ll be able to search for SJS events from the comfort of the world’s most popular search engine.

Feel free to post suggestions here about likes or dislikes for the site. It’s a new venture for all of us, but hopefully you feel that it’s a big improvement on the old site.


Roger and Chris

Jazz Matters

This promises to be a very important new season for Stafford Jazz Society. Last season had its difficulties; out of the 37 concerts held, 22 of them resulted in a financial deficit. Your Committee has acted to arrest this slide and hopes sincerely that you will continue to support the Society both by your concert attendances and by your participation in our weekly raffles. Some jazz clubs have closed down in these recessionary times; we are determined not to.

In a very real sense clubs like ours have become preservation societies for an endangered species of music. Not so in other parts of Europe but here in UK many clubs are struggling; may Stafford buck the trend!

Visiting musicians repeatedly compliment Stafford Jazz Society both for the way we manage our organisation and for the welcoming, respectful, listening, friendly audiences that have become our hallmark. Long may this continue.

I believe the new season’s programme offers much to look forward to, indeed to get excited about. Many established favourites, some new attractions and a rich variety of jazz styles. There will be some of the most popular names in jazz performing for us: Derek Harrison; Ben Holder; Robin Mason; Mart Rodger; Mel Hill; Taff Lloyd, Annie Hawkins; Pete Ainge; Matt Palmer; Terry Brunt; Ian Royle; Eric Newton; Chris Pearce; Graham Smith; Richard Leach; Christine Tyrrell; Dave Leithead; Malcolm Hogarth and Willy Entwistle… (I’ve run out of space!).  With the quality of entertainment assured all we need are good audiences.

If what we provide is your kind of music and Stafford Jazz Society is your kind of club I urge you to be evangelical about it! Let others know what can be enjoyed and bring them along.  Nick