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.