Fret & Fiddle – 26 March 2023: Good to see this group back again. Sally Minchin leads on the jazz violin + vocals and in addition there is Andy Bole on guitar, Richard Hughes on piano, Simon Smith on string bass and Steve Street on drums. As a special treat during a number called ‘Suzuki Blues’ composed by Sally she was joined on stage by her two sons Ben (10) and Freddie (8). Their opening number was ‘Stomping at the Decca’ and numbers following included ‘After You’re Gone’, Tiger Rag’, ‘ Misirlou (a fabulous folk song from the Eastern Mediterranean region – performed by Andy Bole)’, ‘It Had to Be You’, ‘That’s Why I’m Riding the Rails’, ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, ‘J’Attendrai’, ‘Tiger Rag’ ‘Has Anybody Seen My Gal’, ‘Chocolate Jesus’ and ‘I’m Ready (a Spanish piece – marvellous)’. This is not the full programme. If you want to see/hear this group don’t wait until the next time they come to the White Eagle Club find a venue near you where they are playing!
Paul Harrison’s “Over ‘Ere UK Tour” Band – 19 March 2023: Well, was it worth waiting for? You bet! The band consisted of Kevin Grenfell (leader) on trombone and trumpet, Paul Harrison on clarinet and sax, Soren Stausbol on piano and vocals, Simon Smith on double bass and ‘Baby’ Jools Holland on drums. They opened with ‘The King’ and went on to play, in no particular order: ‘Rondo (by Mozart in D major)’, ‘Lips from New Orleans’, ‘Mr Sandman’, ‘Blue Drag (first time I have heard this and I just loved it)’, ‘How Can You Leave Me Now’, ‘Swing 42 (which I also loved)’, ‘Bei Mir Bist Du Schon – or My Dear Mr Shane’, ‘Once in a While’ and ‘Mr Sandman’. They finished with ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’. The audience leapt to their feet to give a well-deserved acknowledgement and express their enjoyment of hearing a virtuoso international performer with his all-star touring band. I really do hope we see these again.
Wabash Jazzmen featuring Nick Ward – 12 March 2023: One of SJS’s favourite bands they play traditional New Orleans style flair in the style of Ken Colyer and early Chris Barber. The band consists of Mark Challinor (leader) on banjo, guitar and ukulele, Richard Leach on trombone, Tony Pipkin on cornet, Richard Vernon on string bass,n Mike Hayler on reeds and Nick Ward on percussion. They opened with ‘At a Georgia Camp Meeting’ and went on to play, in no particular order, ‘Wolverine Blues’, ‘Put on Your High Heel Sneakers’, ‘One Sweet Night’, ‘I Never Knew (that Roses Grew)’, ‘I’m In Love’, ‘Weary Blues, ‘Louisiana’, ‘There’s Yes Yes In Your Eyes’ and ‘Take Off Your Skin and Dance Around in Your Bones’. They received a standing ovation and happy people spilled out to the car park to drive home. I am sure it won’t be long before we see them again.
Sarah Spencer’s Transatlantic Band – 26 February 2023: Sadly I was missing for this concert so cannot report fully on the range of music. However I do know the band, lead by Sarah Spencer on saxophone, played with Mike Owen on trombone, Mike “Magic” Henry on trumpet, “Lord” Jim Swinnerton on string bass, Hugh Crozier on piano and “Baby” Jools Aldridge on drums. They are always a class act and well liked by all who come to hear them play.
Jake Leg Jug Band – 19 February 2023: So nice to see this band back again, and with a new young member, Cohen Wilcox, on the washboard (yes, son of Duncan). Duncan Wilcox, leader, on double bass, Neil Hulse on guitar, warren “Lonnie” James on banjo, Liam Ward on jug, harmonica and musical saw, and Mike Pembroke on trombone presented a fabulous concert of music from the 20s and 30s. They opened with ‘I Can’t Dance I’ve Got Ants in My Pants’, and went on with some of the following numbers: ‘On the Road Again’, ‘Some Day You’ll Be Sorry’, ‘Making Whoopee’, ‘You’re Feets Too Big’, ‘Let the Midnight Special Shine a Light on Me’, ‘Champagne Charlie is my Name’, ‘Get ‘em from the Peanut Man’ and ‘St James’ Infirmary’. Vocals from most of the band gave this concert a very nostalgic sound of early 20th century America. Already looking forward to seeing the band again soon.
Matt Palmer’s Gatsby Go-Getters – 12 February 2023: This was the first time this new combo has played to a live audience. With Matt Palmer leading on reeds and vocals, Dave Leithead on trumpet and vocals, Joe Nutman on ragtime piano, Al Harris on bass and vocals and Nick Ward on percussion they opened with ‘Lover Come Back to Me’. Music from the 20s and 30s was brought to life by the stylish outfits and the music was chosen with care. Amongst other numbers were: ‘Yes Sir That’s My Baby’, ‘The Man I Love’, ‘Top Hat, White Tie and Tails’, ‘Fair and Square in Love’, Jazz Me Blues’, ‘Nagasaki Blues’ and Joe giving us ‘Shreveport Stomp’ that completed the first half. There followed ‘You’re Driving Me Crazy’, ‘St Louis Blues’, ‘Everybody Loves My Baby’, ‘The Ragtime Dance’, ‘Cheek to Cheek’, ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’, ‘The Charleston’ led to their finishing number ‘ Goodnight Sweetheart’ and then people were up on their feet. What a lovely concert and so very evocative of those early years of jazz. I am sure we cannot wait to hear them again.
Baby Jools’ Jazzaholics – 29 January 2023: We were thrilled to see the return of this well liked band with leader and on the drums, ‘Baby’ Jools Aldridge himself, playing alongside Jim ‘Lord’ Swinnerton on string bass, Warren ‘Lonnie’ James on banjo, guitar & vocals, Karl Hird on reeds, Mike ‘Magic’ Henry on trumpet and Kevin Grenfell on trombone, vocals and jokes!! This popular band has a wide repertoire of traditional jazz music and their opening number was ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’. This was followed, in no particular order, by ‘When The Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbing Along’, ‘Give Me a Kiss to Build a Dream on’, ‘One of These Days’, ‘Sentimental Journey’, ‘The Way I Walk’ and two lovely numbers by Warren and Jim only – ‘Cotton Fields Back Home’ and ‘Midnight Special’. This just whets my appetite for when Warren comes with the Lonnie Donegan Story in April. They rounded up the concert with ‘Going Home’. They received a standing ovation at the conclusion of this number.
New Orleans Hotshots – 22 January 2023: What a treat to have the New Orleans Hotshots with us on 22nd. Leader, Dave Harmer on the trombone and vocals, Dave Leithead on trumpet and vocals, Dave Wood on the clarinet and saxophone, Al Harris on double bass and vocals, Keith Chaplin on drums and Joe Nutman on piano keyboard all gave us a great show of traditionally New-Orleans style jazz. They opened with ‘Muskrat Ramble’ and in no particular order some of the numbers were ‘ What a Wonderful World’, ‘Up A Lazy River’, ‘Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone’, ‘Kitten on the Keys’, ‘You Belong To Me’, ‘Old Rocking Chair’, ‘Marching to Georgia’, ‘Yes Sir That’s My Baby’ and ‘Home in Pasadena’. They finished with ‘Hello Central Give Me Doctor Jazz’. This is the first time we have had a band whose front row are all called Dave – so it’s a first for SJS. Good music, good programme, good presentation – what more to say except please can we have them back soon.
Robin Mason’s Apex Jazz & Swing Band – 15 January 2023: It was good to see Robin Mason’s band again. This consists of Robin (leader) on reeds, Jon Stone on trumpet and vocals, Ron Hills on trombone and vocals, Rod Kelly on keyboard and vocals, Bob Boucher on bass and Jim Harney on drums. They opened with ‘Swinging the Blues’ and went on with ‘My Blue Heaven’, ‘ I’ve Found a New Baby’, ‘Mood indigo’, ‘Because I’ve got a Crush My Baby on You’, ‘Rent Party Blues’, ‘You’re Nobody’s Sweetheart Now’, ‘The Sunny Side of the Street’, as great rock number ‘Route 66’, ‘My Baby Just Cares for Me’, ‘Skylark’ and finished with ‘Stevedore Stomp’. This band will soon be celebrating its 30th anniversary.
Matt Palmer’s Eagle Jazzband – 8 January 2023: What a way to start 2023. This band was something to hear and behold. Leader, Matt Palmer, was on trombone and clarinet, Pete Brown on trumpet and cornet, Richard Slater was on trombone, Brian Mellor was on banjo and guitar, David Deakin on double bass and sousaphone and Jack Amblin on drums (and washboard and … tap dancing!). They opened with ‘When We Were Young Maggie’ and went on to include – in no particular order – ‘The coffee Grinder’, ‘Dinah’, ‘South’, ‘Quincy Street Blues (renamed Blame it on the Blues by Sidney Beshet)’, ‘Yes Sir, That’s My Baby’, ‘There’s a Rainbow Round My Shoulder’ and ‘Homeward Bound’. It finished with ‘Bring Me Sunshine’ which they did, for sure. Along the journey we had Richard Slater, complete with hat and tube with funnel on the end, give us a Boys Brigade band rendition of Everyone Likes Ice Cream but with his own words, and Jack Amblin was great on the washboard and also, much to our surprise, on tap dancing. What an amazing variety of things to listen to and see. People went out with big smiles on their faces and thoughts of Sunday Night at the London Palladium. Thank you for setting a good standard for this year’s gigs. At the interval Matt Palmer, who was the first to call our little tuck shop the Sunset Café, was happy to formally hang the sign on the official nail(!) and for good measure we also had Dave Rochelle who designed the sign for us.
Kevin Grenfell’s Jazz Giants: 18 December 2022: The band consists of leader, Kevin Grenfell, on trombone, trumpet, vocals and jokes, Jeremy Huggett on reeds, Richard Hughes on piano, Simon Smith on double bass and ‘Baby’ Jools Aldridge on drums and percussion. They opened with ‘Running Wild’. In no particular order some of the following numbers were played: ‘Girl of My Dreams’, ‘Moon Glow’, ‘Nobody Here But Us Chickens’, ‘The Shadow of Your Smile’, ‘Singing the Blues’, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Spanish Eyes’ and ‘It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie’. With just a week to go before Christmas it was very appropriate that they ended up with ‘I’d Dreaming of a White Christmas’. The room was packed and everyone enjoyed the concert, the free mince pies and coffee and that lovely feeling of belonging to something rather special. Altogether it was a lovely pre-Christmas concert.
Jake Leg Jug Band: 4 December 2022: Duncan Wilcox leads on double bass and vocals, Bryony Rose on washboard and vocals, Neil Hulse on guitar, Liam Ward on harmonia, jub, miniature French horn and the saw along with vocals, Warren James on banjo and Alex Clarke on clarinet and saxophone. This amazing group just gets better and better. Their opening number ‘I Can’t Dance I’ve Got Ants In My Pants’ (don’t you just love that title!) and to give you a flavour of the gig numbers included ‘I Love Me’, ‘Some of These Days’, ‘Midnight Special’, ‘Some Day You’ll be Sorry’, ‘Making Whooppee’ ‘Your Feets Too Big’,
‘Can’t Do Without My Kitchen Man’, ‘I Hate a Man Like You’, ‘Nuts, Nuts, Get ‘Em From the Peanut man’, ‘Pick a Bale of Cotton’, ‘Alabama Blues’, ‘Jesus is Dying There Naked’ and ‘I Need a Little Love’. Now for the sad news. Bryony Rose is now going to retire … now I understand why Alex Clarke had a bit of a go in one number. Bryony Rose had it all, washboard rhythm and a lovely voice – we will surely miss her but wish her well for her plans for the future.
Richard Leach’s Street Band – 27 November 2022: Playing its debut at SJS today was this amazing band comprising Richard Leach (leader) on trombone, Will Robinson on cornet (replacing Tony Pipkin – currently out of action), Zoltan Sagi on clarinet + alto sax, Mark Challinor on banjo + ukulele, Dave Deaken on sousaphone and Nick Ward on drums/percussion. They opened with ‘Give Me Your Telephone Number’, and went on to play, in no particular order, ‘Should I Reveal’, ‘That’s A Plenty’, ‘Bogalusa Strut’, ‘Let The Light from the Lighthouse Shine on Me’, ‘Too Busy’ and ‘Redwing’. One of their numbers is an old favourite of mine – ‘St James Infirmary’ – and this never fails to move me. They finished with ‘Wolverine Blues’. The room was rocking. Smiling faces and tapping feet. Can’t wait to see them back again.
Sax Shack Big Band – 20 November 2022: This big band of 20 highly talented local musicians from the Stoke-on-Trent area, created only in 2018 with Nigel Ashworth as their Musical Director, played at the White Eagle Club for the first time. I list all the names of the musicians: on piano was Aidan Goldstraw, on electric guitar was James Shufflebotham, on drums was Rob Phillips and on bass guitar was Sam Johnson. On baritone sax we had Chris Davies, on tenor sax were Ben Oakes and Steve Slater, on alto sax were Nicola Letts and Kevin Sharpe, on trumpet were Jo Austerberry, Adam Bentley, Paul Connor, Steve Harris and Tez Smith and on trombone were Derek Hurst, Neil Lawton, Steve Lee and Dave McGarry. On vocals was Charlotte Phillips. Their opening number ‘You Gotta Try Harder’ was followed, in no particular order by ‘Witchcraft’, ‘Don’t Know Why I Didn’t Come’, ‘I’ve Got the World on a String’, ‘Smooth Operator’ and ‘Spain’ and others and finishing with a wonderful rendition of ‘Riverdance’. First time with us I sincerely hope it is not their last. Many smiley faces left the room, which you can see from the picture, was full to bursting.
Bob Dwyer’s Bix & Pieces – 13 November 2022: It was lovely to see this band again with their music influenced by Bix Beiderbecke. Leader and trombonist, with vocals, was Bob Dwyer, Mike “Magic” Henry on trumpet and cornet, Hugh Crozier on keyboard, Paula Jackman on reeds, Marc Easener on sousaphone and Graham Collicott on drums played, in no particular order, ‘Love Nest’, ‘Savoy Blues’, ‘Caldonia’, ‘So Do I’, ‘Beale Street Blues’, ‘I Scream You Scream Everybody Likes Ice Cream’, ‘When You’re Smiling’, ‘Maple Leaf Rag’, ‘Strutting at the Waldorf’ and ‘Putting on the Ritz’. The verdict – simply smashing. Hope to see you back again before long.
Savannah Jazz Band – 6 November 2022: We learnt with sympathy that this band’s leader and drummer, John Meehan, was in hospital in Halifax following a stroke. We asked the band to pass on our wishes for a speedy recovery and a card was set up in the front for people to sign. Replacing John was Ray Barron, on bass was Tony Pollitt, on banjo and vocals was Chris Marney, on trombone and keyboard was Brian Ellis and on reeds and vocals (replacing the irreplaceable Roger Myerscough) was John Bird. The opening number was ‘Let me Call You Sweetheart’ and selected randomly throughout the concert were: ‘All Alone’, ‘Going Home’, ‘Bourbon Street Parade’, ‘Old Ragged Cross’, ‘Can’t Escape from You’, ‘Together’, ‘Magic in the Moonlight’ and my far and away favourite ‘C.C. Rider’. Bliss. Come back soon.
Jeremy Huggett’s Jazz & Boogie Band – 30 October 2022: What a brilliant band this was. Leader – Jeremy Huggett – usually known for his reeds was on keyboard and wow could he boogie. Along with Jeremy were Alex Clarke (saxophones), Kevin Grenfell (trumpet, trombone and vocals), Mike Green on bass and Steve Street on drums. Their opening number was ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Aint Got that Swing’. Various titles, selected randomly from the concert were: ‘ Hello How Do You Do?”, “Indiana”, “Some Day You’ll be Sorry”, “I’m confessing that I Love You”, “I’m Walking”, “Any Time You Feel Downhearted”, “My Blue Heaven” and a fantastic performance of “A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On”. There were grins from ear to ear on faces as people staggered out of the Club at the end of an amazing performance. I am not the only one who can hardly wait to hear them again.
(Sorry folks – no iPad, no phone and so no pictures of the lovely Andy Leggett’s Centenary Serenaders).
Andy Leggett’s Centenary Serenaders – 23 October 2022: This Band had the pleasure of playing on the 41st anniversary of Stafford Jazz Society, and they did us pround. Kerry Williams (trumpet), Dave Deakin (trombone), Rachel Hayward (guitar/banjo), Bill Frampton (bass), Dave Andrews (drums) and Andy Leggett – leader – on clarinet/soprano sax/alto sax and tenor sax played their socks off. Their opening number was ‘Black Cat on the Fence’ and the programme throughout included numbers such as ‘Everywhere You Go (Sunshine Follows You)’, ‘The Savoy Blues’, The Coffee Grinder (also known as the Rubber plant Rag in New Orleans)’, You’re Nobody’s Sweetheart Now’, ‘Poncho Train’, ‘Jacqueline’, ‘Bourbon Street Parade’, ‘Breeze Blow My Baby Back to Me’ and ‘Halleluja’. Great sound, great playing – we look forward to them coming back soon.
Mike Owen’s Scarlette’s Serenaders – 16 October 2022: This band is always welcome in Stafford. The band consists of Mike Owen (leader) on trombone, Sarah Spencer on reeds and vocals, Ian Wynne on piano, Nick Ward on percussion and Richard Vernon on bass. Sadly Christine Tyrrell who was due to guest with them had to cry off as she was unwell. The band opened with ‘All I Do is Dream of You’ and went on to include ‘Memories’, ‘Absolutely Positively’, ‘Tie Me To Your Apron String Again’, ‘Don’t Tell Jesus’, ‘Pay Day Blues’ and one with a real long title – ‘If That Isn’t Love it’ll Just have to do Until the Real Thing comes Along’. I loved every minute of the show and look forward to seeing them back at the White Eagle Club next year.
Chicago Teddybears Society Jazzband – 9 October 2022: It was lovely to see this favourite band back with us once more. There was Rae Owens (leader) on banjo and guitar, Jim Lucas on trumpet, John Padfield on reeds, Andrew McKenzie on trombone, Dean Revera on brass and Brian Singleton on drums. Some of the numbers they played included ‘Dr Jazz’, ‘China Boy’, ‘Canal Street Blues’, My Blue Heaven’, ‘Sunday’, ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’, ‘Indiana’ and ‘Everybody Loves My Baby but My Baby Don’t Love Nobody But Me’ and ‘The Muskrat Ramble’. Such music, such musicianship, such a lovely time had by all.
25 September 2022 – Baby Jools’ Jazzaholics: Now this was the one everybody was waiting for – a particular favourite of the man who runs the White Eagle Club (Andrew). Baby Jools on drums, ‘Magic’ Mike Henry on trumpet, Karl ‘Tarzan’ Hird on reeds, Jim ‘Lord’ Swinnerton on bass, Warren ‘Lonnie’ James on banjo and guitar and Ian ‘Professor’ Bateman on trombone produced the most amazing sounds, including taking us back to the days of Lonnie Donnegan. They opened with ‘Alexander’s Ragtime Band’ and went on to give us ‘Dinah’, ‘Lost John’, ‘Down by the Riverside’, ‘Basin Street Blues’, ‘Putting on the Style’, ‘Dr Jazz’ and ‘Tiger Rag’. The room was awash with memories and faces wreathed in smiles – this was certainly a concert worth waiting for. A little bird tells me that they are due to return in January 2023 … can’t wait!
18 September 2022 – Wabash Jazzmen featuring Nick Ward: How lovely to see this band back with us again. Lead by Mark Challinor on banjo and guitar (and occasionally his ukulele), there is also Mike Hayler on reeds, Richard Leach on trombone, Tony Pipkin on cornet, Richard Vernon on string bass and Nick Ward on percussion. Music at its best included ‘At a Georgia Camp Meeting’, ‘My Blue Heaven’, ‘The Gospel Train’, ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out’, ‘The Bobalusa Stroll’ and ‘The Algiers Strut’ to name but a few but the title that really caught my imagination was ‘Take Off your Suit and Dance in Your Bones’. Looking around the room one could see heads bobbing in time to the music, feet tapping and a general atmosphere of admiration for this band.
11 September 2022 – Tame Valley Stompers: This band has come year after year. Today, after a one minute silence in respect for the Queen’s passing, Terry Brunt played the National Anthem on his trombone. There was sad news that Norman Pennington had passed away recently. A warm welcome was given to the new drummer – Rod Macmanara. Other members of the band included Terry Brunt on trombone, Paul Broomhead on reeds, Roger Wimpeny on trumpet (and mirth!), Peter Smith on bass guitar and John Gordon on banjo and guitar. Some of the numbers they played were as follows: ‘Roll Out the Barrel’, ‘Just a Little While’, ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got That Swing’, ‘As We Danced at the Mardi Gras’, ‘Lady be Good’, ‘Basin Street Blues and Downtown Strutters Ball’ to name a few. See you again fellas.
4 September 2022 – Sarah Spencer’s Transatlantic Jazz Band: As first gigs go this one went down to hugh applause after each number. The band consisted of Sarah Spencer on saxophone, Mike “Magic” Henry on Trumpet, Mike Owen on trombone, Hugh Crozier on piano, “Lord” Jim Swinnerton on string bass and “Baby” Jools Aldridge on drums. Their programme included ‘First Choice’, ‘Blue Monday’ (which was my favourite of the afternoon), ‘If It Don’t Fit Don’t Force It’, ‘It feels So Good’, ‘All that I Ask is Love’, ‘Send Me Some Loving’, ‘Get Out of Here and Go Home’, ‘Going Down by the Levee’, ‘Eh! La Bas’ (which means Hey, Over There), ‘Without You for an Inspiration’, ‘Kansas City Stomp’ and Papa’s Got No Jim Jams’ to name some. There were smiling faces and tapping feet – no doubt that these fine musicians were well received. We look forward to hearing from them again in the near future.
Tame Valley Stompers – 29 May 2022: Unfortunately the Band Leader, Norman Pennington, was in hospital. However the show still hit the road with Roger Wimpenny on trumpet (and humour), Paul Broomhead on reeds, Terry Brunt on trombone, Peter Smith on bass guitar and John Gordon on banjo and guitar. Their opening number was ‘Just a Little While to Stay Here’. Some others during the gig included: ‘Night on the Delta’, ‘Petit Fleur’, ‘All of Me’, ‘It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Swing’, ‘Bourbon Street Parade’, ‘St James’s Infirmary’, ‘The Stevedore Stomp’ and ‘Canal Street Blues’. They ended with ‘The Royal Telephone Line’. Roger was in ‘fine fettle’ with his lovely sense of humour having the audience chuckling in their seats. See you again soon I’m sure.
As this was the last concert of the season, with the exception of the free concert on Saturday 4 June to celebrate HM The Queen’s platinum jubilee, tokens of thanks for all their invaluable service were given to Julie and Martin from the Sunset Café and a box of chocolates for the lovely ladies behind the bar.
The County Darts fixture list had only been received on Friday 27 May and apart from letting you know that the season for 22/23 will start on Sunday 4 September with Sarah Spencer’s Transatlantic Band, and that bands like Wabash Jazzmen featuring Nick Ward, Chicago Teddybears Society Jazzband, Savannah Jazz Band, Sax Shack Big Band, Richard Leach’s Street Band, the Jake Leg Jug Band and Kevin Grenfell’s Jazz Giants have provisionally agreed to come, I can let you know that there will be no jazz on 2 October, 11 December, 26 September, 5 February 2023, 5 March 2023 and 16 April 2023 I can give you no further information. We will ensure that a full gig list is made available as soon as Nick can put everything in place. Keep an eye on our website for a full programme.
Max Debon’s Debonaires Little Big Band – 22 May 2022: It was lovely to see this little big band back with us. Led by Max Debon (trumpet) the following players were: Sarah Eastwood (vocals and clarinet), Rick Halliwell (alto sax), Anne Holder (tenor sax), Austin Ralphson (trombone), Pete Wilson (piano), Peter ‘Pedro’ Robinson (bass) and Rob Turner (drums). The opening number was ‘Sing Sing Sing’ which set the mood for the next two hours. In no particular order the following numbers were played ‘The Folks Who Live on The Hill’, ‘Don’t Get Around Much Any More’, ‘I’m Beginning to See The Light’, ‘Fever’, ‘Come to the Cabaret’, ‘My Heart Belongs to Daddy’, ‘You’ve Gotta See Moma Every Night or You Can’t see Moma At All’ and ‘Midnight in Moscow’. It was good to see and hear this popular band and we look forward to welcoming them back in the future.
Sheila Fawkes’ Café Orchestra – 15 May 2022: It was good to see this band back in action again with everyone fit and well. There was George Huxley on reeds, Mike Owen on trombone, Tim McGrath on guitar/banjo, Mark Johnson on bass, Andy Lowe on drums, Gary Bell on trumpet, Terry McGrath on trombone/saxophone and the always lovely songster, Sheila Fawkes. They opened up with ‘Crazy Rhythym’ and went on with numbers such as ‘If I Could Be With You’, ‘All That I Ask From You Is Love’, ‘Stardust’, ‘Petit Fleur’, ‘Lover Come Back To Me’, ‘The Folks Who Live on The Hill’, ‘Happy Feet’, ‘I’m Coming Virginia’, ‘I Hate to See the Evening Sun Go Down’ and ‘I’m a Little Blackbird’ to name but a few. The balloons overhead were remnants of decorations the previous day and were a tribute to Ukraine, the winning country in this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.
Pedigree Jazz Band’s ‘Salute to Trad Jazz’ – 8 May 2022: This Band is an old favourite of SJS and indeed we will be seeing it again at our free concert on Saturday 4 June to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Leader, Chris Walker, plays clarinet, Tony Mann on the trombone, Andy Chislett on trumpet and flugelhorn, John Noddings on banjo and guitar, Sy Gorelick on drums and Colin Cooper on double bass. Their opening number was ‘Bourbon Street Blues’ which set the pace for the rest of the show. Some of their other numbers included ‘Livery Street Blues’, ‘Martinique’, ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, ‘It’s At Times Like That’, ‘Creole Love Call’, ‘Blueberry Hill’, ‘The William Tell Overture’, ‘You Are My Sunshine’ and ‘You’re gonna See Baby Tonight or you can’t see Baby at all’. In recognition of the crisis in Ukraine there was a beautiful rendition of ‘Hymn to Freedom’. The finishing number was the ever green ‘Midnight in Moscow’. All around the room people’s toes were tapping to the beat and smiles on everyone’s faces. Simply a lovely concert.
Baby Jools’ Jazzaholics – 1 May 2022: The Band consisted of Baby Jools on drums (also leader), Karl Hird on reeds, Kevin Grenfell on trombone, Warren James on guitar/banjo, ‘Lord’ Jim Swinnerton on double bass and ‘Magic’ Mike Henry on trumpet (ex-Chris Barber band). Immediately you can see how much talent was available for the concert. They opened with a rousing ‘Alexander’s Jazztime Band’, went on with several numbers such as ‘Careless Love’ and ‘Jambalaya’ and ‘Sheik of Araby. Once in the first half of the concert and once in the second half of the concert Jim on double bass and Warren James on his banjo got together to give us skiffle music, such as Lonnie Donegan played, and which although originating in the USA came over to the UK and went underground in jazz venues. There is only one word for these pieces – FABULOUS. The room was rocking and such energy you could have burnt lights on those listening. Amongst other numbers were ‘Who’s Sorry Now’, ‘Rock Island Line’, ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ and finishing with a trumpet solo by Mike ‘New Orleans’. What a concert, simply smashing and hitting all the right notes for a very appreciative audience who leapt to their feet at the conclusion. See you all again soon I hope.
24 April – Mike Owen’s Scarlette’s Serenaders: Led by Mike Owen on trombone the band also had Ian Wynne on piano, ‘Lord’ Jim Swinnerton on bass, Nick Ward on percussion and Danny Blythe on reeds. Their opening number was ‘There’s an Old Spinning Wheel in the Parlour’. Other numbers, in no particular sequence, included ‘I want a Little Girl to Call my Own’, ‘Trust Me’, ‘Alabama Jubilee’, ‘Easter Parade’, ‘All Alone By the Telephone’, ‘I’ll Fly Away’ and ‘Beg Your Pardon’. They finished with ‘Hold That Tiger’ with Mike making a good fist of tiger growls on his trombone. This band was put together at short notice when the original band booked – Henderson Big Band – felt they were not ready to perform in public. So a big thank you to Scarlette’s Serenaders for saving an audience from disappointment.
17 April – Kevin Grenfell’s Giants of Jazz: What an Easter treat we had in store with the arrival of the Jazz Giants, led by Kevin Grenfell (trombone, trumpet and vocal). He was joined by Jeremy Huggett in fine form on reeds and vocals, Richard Hughes on piano, Simon Smith on double bass and Jules Aldridge (Baby Jools) on drums. Their opening number of ‘Running Wild’ set the stage for this concert. Kevin was on the button with his comedy and indeed introduced a song dedicated to Boris Johnson ‘It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie’. Some of the other numbers included ‘Up a Lazy River’, ‘Love’ with the audience happily joining in with the spelling of this with their arms, ‘Some Day You’ll be Sorry’, ‘Slow Boat to China’, ‘There Ain’t Nobody here but us Chickens’, ‘Hello Dolly’ and ‘Blueberry Hill’. Since it was Easter there was a brolly parade to Bourbon Street and the group finished with ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’. We will see both Kevin and Baby Jools for the Baby Jools’ Jazzaholics on 1st May. Can’t wait to see them again. Fantastic music and a standing ovation at the conclusion of their concert said it all.
10 April – Fret & Fiddle: Led by Sally Minchin on jazz violin, this band exceeded all expectations. Along with Sally were Andy Bole (guitar), Richard Hughes (piano), Steve Street (drums) and Jodie Carey (string bass). The music they made simply blew me away. They kicked off with ‘Stomping at Decca’ and then went on to play, in no particular order, the following selected from the day: ‘Jeeves & Wooster (theme tune)’, ‘Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor’, ‘Caravan’, ‘Dance Me to the End of Love’, ‘Tinko Tinko’, ‘Je t’endreai’, ‘Misirlou’ (spine-tinglingly lovely), ‘Chardash’ (also amazing) and ‘Dark Eyes’. Individuals in the audience leapt to their feet to applaud after a number which simply blew them away.
The sons of Sally and Andy were with their parents and Fred – only 6 years old – found the courage to come up on stage to play with the band whilst his brother, Ben (9) found it a little challenging and remained in his seat. Good to see youngsters ready to take over. What a concert, what music, such a show. Look forward to seeing this group again.
3 April – Original Panama Jazz Band: This band, led by John Critchley on trumpet, plays a mix of classical and contemporary jazz. John also has quite a line in humour. The rest of the band consisted of Dave Dixson on reeds and vocals, Andrew McKenzie on trombone and vocals, Malcolm Hogarth on piano, Isabel Toner on string bass and Bill Buck on drums. Some of their numbers included the following: ‘China Town’, ‘Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans’, ‘Dinah’, ‘’deed I Do’, ‘Sorry’, Autumn Leaves’ (sung in French by Dave – Les Feuilles Mortes in French should you be interested), ‘Hold That Tiger’, ‘One, Two, Buckle my Shoe’, ‘The Goof and I’ (a new one on me) and ‘My Blue Heaven’. They finished with ‘Maryland My Maryland’. Good jazz, good musicians, good attendance.
Additionally the amount collected for Ukraine as at 3 April stood at £730 until a very generous and kind-hearted person put an envelope in with £1,000 in cash. God bless whoever did this.
27 March 2022 – Andy Leggett’s Centenary Serenaders: This fabulous band, leader Andy Leggett (clarinet & saxes); Lewis Taylor (trumpet); Dave Deakin (trombone); Rachel Hayward (guitar & banjo), Joe Trudgeon (double bass) and Dave Andrews (drums) take you back to New Orleans in the 1920s and 30s. They opened with ‘Halle Halle Halleluja’ and went on to give us renditions of ‘Everywhere You Go’, ‘Flee as a Bird to your Mountain’ – this Louis Armstrong number was dedicated to Ukraine, ‘The Coffee Grinder’ ‘Poncho Trail’, ‘Louisiana (my Home)’, Pat du Bouche’, ‘Jacqueline’, ‘The Mooch’, ‘Poppa’s Gone Goodbye’, ‘Weary Blues’ were some of the numbers I wrote down to remind myself. They concluded with ‘Dans Les Rue d’Entibes’. The applause at the end of the concert was thunderous and people leapt to their feet in a standing ovation. This group brought a whole heap of magic to a Sunday lunchtime in Stafford.
It was announced that the money bucket for donations for Ukraine over the past three weeks now tallied £615. Well done Stafford jazzers.
20 March 2022 – Sussex Jazz Kings: Welcome to Sussex Jazz Kings consisting of leader Dave Stradwick on cornet, Bernard Stutt on clarinet, Iain McCauley on trombone and vocals, Pete Lay on drums and vocals, Peter Clancy on bass and tuba and Paul Segley on banjo. They did look smart, wearing matching green short sleeve shirts. The opening number was ‘The Old Spinning Wheel in the Park’ and the session went on to include such numbers as ‘Painting the Clouds with Sunshine’, ‘Rose of Tralee’ (an Irish number sung by a Scotsman in Enland!!), ‘Gigaminco Blues’, When You and I were young Maggie’, ‘Magnolia’s Wedding Day’, ‘Big Chief Battle Axe’, ‘The Curse of an Aching Heart’ (which the band said they were renaming ‘The Curse of an Aching Everything – ha ha), ‘Creole Love Call’ and ‘My Blue Heaven’. They ended with ‘You are My Sunshine’. Toes were tapping around the room at this New Orleans-style jazz. Great.
13 March 2022 – Wabash Jazzmen with Nick Ward: Yes, the Wabash Jassmen are back bringing with them a fine percussionist – Nick Ward. The group consists also of Tony Pipkin on cornet/trumpet, Richard Leach on trombone, Mark Challinor (leader) on banjo, ukulele and guitar with some vocals, Richard Vernon on string bass and in place of Mike Hayler (currently unwell) we have the renowned Eric Newton with his clarinet. They opened with ‘At a Georgia Camp Meeting’ and went on to include numbers such as ‘China Boy’, ‘The Bogalusa Strut’, ‘The Moose March’, ‘Good Night Sweet Prince’, ‘This Love of Mine’, ‘The Weary Blues’, ‘Muskrat Ramble’ and ‘Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out’ to name a few. The afternoon flew by and before you know it we were packing up to go home. Could have gone on for longer but all good things must end. I am sure they will be back in the next season.
We had an unexpected guest by the name of John, a ukulele player celebrating his 80th birthday with family. I hope he enjoyed the concert – I am quietly confident he did!
6 March 2022 – Ron Hills’ Swing Kings: The opening number was dedicated in tribute to two fine musicians gone to the jazz front in the sky: Roy Sainsbury and Frank Nicholls (also a skilled painter who painted the SJS portrait of Louis Armstrong). The Band, consisted of Tony Pipkin on trumpet + vocals, Terry Roberts on reeds (recovering from a nasty bout of shingles so very brave of him to come along today), Ron Hills (leader) on trombone + vocals, Nick Wiltshire on keyboard, Simon Smith on double bass and Roy Dutton on drums. Some of their programme included ‘Sing, Sing, Sing;, ‘ All I Do The Whole Day Through is Dream of You’, ‘Blue Bossa’, ‘My Blue Heaven’, ‘I Never Knew’, ‘I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter’, ‘It’s d’lovely’ and ‘Bye Bye Blackbird’. There was a lovely trio (piano, bass and drums) in the middle of this when they played ‘My Romance’. Great to see them again.
You would be interested to know that £320 was raised for the Ukraine situation by taking donations at the desk. Well done everybody.