January 2020 Concerts

Frog & Henry Brass & String – 26 January:  What a treat to get another band composed of younger musicians.  The big draw was Dave Neigh, who plays the world’s only foot operated tuba whilst playing a 6-string banjo but he had fierce competition from FG Henry on guitar, Ewan Bleach on Reeds and piano, Kenmare Anker on violin and Laurin Habert on reeds.  Surprisingly for a band of only five they come from four nations:  Canada, Germany, UK and USA.  The harmonies were good and it was nostalgia at its best.  The opening number was “Cushion Boot Stomp” and other numbers included “In My Little Red Book”,  “Imagination”, “I Ain’t Got No Body”, “Sweet Sue”, “Just Another Memory” “Dance Hall Shuffle” to name some and ending with “Bouncing Around”.  There was a dreamlike quality about the concert that took many back to a different time.  I am sure we shall see them again.

Jake Leg Jug Band – 19 January:  In addition to the five members of the band Mike Pemberton joined them with his trombone. Duncan Wilcox (leader) was on double bass, Liam Ward on harmonica and jug, Toby Wilson on Banjo, Neil Hulse on guitar and Bryony Rose on Washboard and vocals.  They opened with “I Don’t Dance I’ve Got Ants in my Pants”.  Other numbers included “Champagne Charlie”, “She’s on the Road Again”, “Little Black Train”, “Your Feet’s too Big”, “My Handiman”, “I’ve got Nuts for Sale”, “Sugar in my Bowl”, “He’s in the Jailhouse Now” and “My Pencil Won’t Write No More”.  There was plenty of good humour and all of the musicians give vocal.  They were well received and I think the band enjoyed it as much as the audience.

New Orleans Hotshots – 12 January:  It was some 14 years since SJS had a visit from the New Orleans Hotshot.  Today, with only one remaining from the original band – Dave Harmer – this reformed band made another visit.  New members of the band are:  Ivan Huke (cornet), Kelvin Smith (clarinet), Al Harris (bass and vocals), Keith Chaplin (drums) and Joe Nutman (piano).  Some of the tunes in this appearance were: ‘Working Man Blues’, ‘Yes Sir that’s my Baby’, ‘Bad Loser Strut’, a really lovely spiritual ‘Hush, Hush, Somebody is Calling my Name’, ‘Magnetic Rag’, ‘Petit Fleur’ and ‘Clarinet Marmalade’.  I am sure the White Eagle Club will echo to their talented music making again in the near future.

Chris Pearce’s & Andy Leggett’s Sopranos – 5 January 2020:  Members of the band consisted of Chris Pearce and Andy Leggett on reeds, Dave Deakin on trombone, Rachel Hayward on banjo and guitar, Tony Sharp on bass and Dave Andrews on drums.  They started with ‘There’s a Blue Ridge Round my Heart’ and included ‘Cake Walking Babies from Home’, ‘The World is Waiting for the Sunrise’, ‘Creole Love Call’, ‘The Buddy Bolden Stomp’ and ‘Texas Moaner’ to name but a few.  As always the music was lovely and I noted many jigging feet and nodding heads.  Their swinging jazz is always welcomed and their sense of humour appreciated.  Come back soon.

November 2019 Concerts

24 November – Alex Clarke Hot Five featuring Jamie Brownfield:  This band comprises five musicians, all talented and accomplished, with Alex Clarke on reeds (also the leader), Jamie Brownfield on trumpet, Tom Kincaid on keyboard, Jack Cotterill on drums and Richard Vernon on bass.  Songs included:  ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’, ‘All of Me’, ‘I’ve Got Rhythm’, ‘Teach Me Tonight’, ‘Pennies from Heaven’, ‘Give me a Kiss to Build a Dream on’ and ‘When You’re Smiling’.  Delightful to listen to.  Hope to see them on an SJS programme again in the not too distant future.

17 November – Chicago Teddy Bears Society Jazzband:  This was the John Moore Tribute Concert, our Chairman for many years.  The Teddybears are currently our Band of the Year for the fourth time – the only band to receive this award so many times.   The band consisted of Jamie Brownfields on trumpet, Rae Owens on double bass & tuba, Brian Singleton on drums, John Padfield on reeds, James Lucas on trumpet, Andy Mackenzie on trombone and Ed Lee on piano.  Sadly I missed this band as I was away that weekend but everyone has told me how well they played and how warmly SJS welcomed them.

10 November – Bob Dwyer’s Bix & Pieces:  This band presented a mix of traditional style jazz and, as its name suggests influenced by the legendary Bix Beiderbeck.  Bob Dwyer (leader) on trombone with Paula Jackman on reeds, Tony Mowell on trumpet, Hugh Crozier on piano and vocals, John Siret on double bass and bass sax and Graham Collicott on drums.   Amongst the numbers were: ‘Davenport Blues’, ‘Oh Look at Them, Ain’t she Pretty’, ‘Bourbon Street Parade’, ‘Alligator Rag’, ‘A Hundred Years from today’, ‘Putting on the Ritz’,  ‘Caledonia’ and ‘So do I’.  I am sure we will be seeing them again.

3 November – S & G Band:  this band seemed able to recreate a sound belonging to an earlier era and it was delicious.  George Huxley on reeds (leader), Mark Johnson on string bass and sousaphone, Tim McGrath on banjo and guitar, Andy Peat on trumpet & flugelhorn, Terry McGrath on trombone and reeds and Sheila Fawkes the vocalist.  Some numbers were:  ‘I’m a Little Blackbird’, ‘The Folk Who Live on the Hill’, ‘Blue Moon’, ‘Talk of the Town’, Petite Fleur’, ‘Hey Big Boy’, ‘Zing Went the Strings of my Heart’, ‘Dans La Rue Entibe’ and ‘Dancing Cheek to Cheek’.  This band made its SJS debut last April and this time we knew we were in for a good concert.

October 2019 Concerts

27 October – Merseysippi Jazz Band

20 October – Baby Jools & the Jazzaholics:  This group were playing today to celebrate SJS 38th Anniversary Concert.  The band consisted of Baby Jools on drums (leader), Jim Swinnerton on bass, Brian Mellor on banjo, Mike Owen on trombone, Danny Illet on trumpet and Karl Hird on reeds.   This band are simply superb with music including:  ‘Girl of My Dreams’, ‘Old Man Moses’ (my favourite of the day), ‘Mama’s Gone to Buy’, ‘Since I laid my Burden Down’, ‘Petite Fleur’, ‘Those were the Days’ and ‘When My Dreamboat comes Home.  Feet were tapping and everyone left with smiles on their faces.   What a great gig.

13 October – No Concert

6 October – Wabash Jazzmen:  A highly entertaining band with a distinctive rhythmic style influenced by early Ken Colyer and Chris Barber bands.  Playing today were Mark Challinor (leader) on banjo/guitar/ukulele, Richard Vernon on string bass, Mike Pemberton on trombone, Bill Smith on cornet and harmonica and Matt Palmer, standing in for Mike Hayler currently sick, playing the reeds.  Their opening number was ‘Curse of an Aching Heart’.  Some of the other numbers played during this gig were: ‘Savoy Blues’, ‘I’m Doing Nothing’, ‘Blue turning Grey over You’, ‘Fidgetty Feet’, ‘You Meet the Nicest People in Your Dreams’ and ‘East Coast Trot’.  Also played, a number first recorded by the Band twenty five years ago, was ‘The Fat Cat on a Fence’.  They finished up with ‘TheWolverine Blues’.  I don’t need to say it but I will, the Band were very well received as they are popular with Stafford Jazz Society and their programme and music is great.  Look forward to next time.

September 2019 Concerts

Kevin Grenfell’s Jazz Giants – 29 September 2019:  What can I say – simply one of my favourite bands.  Kevin (lead) on trombone and trumpet, Jeremy Huggett on reeds, Richard Hughes on piano, Simon Smith on bass and Jack Cotterill on drums gave us a smashing performance of music and comedy.  Some of the numbers included:  “Running Wild”, “Algiers Strut”, “Tikka Masala”, “Girl of My Dreams”, “There Ain’t Nobody  Here But Us Chickens”, “China Town My Chinatown” through to their finishing number of “Bye Bye Blackbird” received some pretty high scores and drew a strong audience.

Robin Mason’s Apex Jazz & Swing Band – 22 September 2019:  Since its formation some twenty years ago this band always gives a polished performance.  Robin Mason (leader) on reeds, Jon Stone on trumpet, Ron Hills on trombone, Jim Harney on drums, Bob Boucher on bass and Nick Wiltshire on piano brought joy to Stafford.  Unfortunately there is no picture since I was in London that weekend so cannot report personally.  However I can say that everyone I spoke to said it was a good concert, something we have come to expect from Robin and his merry men.

Manchester Jazz – 15 September 2019:  The lead is Louis Lince on banjo, with Allan Dent on trumpet, Derek Galloway on trombone, Chris Pendlebury on drums, Roger Browne on piano, Allan Wilcox on bass and Eric Newton on clarinet.  The music ranged from “Stevedore Stomp”, through “Jambalaya” and “Louisiana Fairytale” to “Lady be Good” and “It’s a Sin to Tell a Lie”. The band finished with “Sweet Georgia Brown” and looking around the room I could see that this band was well received by Stafford jazzers.

Mat Palmer’s Eagle Jazzband – 8 September 2019:  It was lovely to see this band again.   We had Dave Morwood in place of Brian Mellor, who is poorly – speedy recovery from SJS – on banjo/guitar and vocals, Matt Palmer on reeds, Pete Brown on trumpet, Terry Williams on trombone, Brian Lawrence on double bass and Tim Jones on drums.  I will say at the outset I thought Tim’s drumming was very good indeed.  People think it’s quite easy to beat out a solo piece but that’s not the case.  However Tim produced several really fine pieces which I think the whole room appreciated.  Numbers included: ‘Algiers Strut’, ‘Travelling Loose’, ‘Mama’s Gone – Goodbye’, ‘Bugle Boy March’, ‘High Society’, ‘Everywhere You Go the Sunshine Follows You’, ‘Poor Butterfly’ and ‘Cakewalking Babies’ – to name but a few.  Look forward to their next visit.

Mike Owen’s Storyville Six – 1 September 2019:  This is the first concert after the summer break, and what a concert.  Mike Owen had been selected as SJS Musician of the Year and so was presented with his trophies.  This time his family took centre stage for the presentation and all three girls and his mother presented him his various trophies.  The band was at its best and for those starved of jazz for the last three months it was delicious to hear the blues, the struts and the Dixieland-style music we had been missing.   Some of the pieces included: ‘You Can’t Escape from Me’, ‘Hey What’s the Matter Now’, ‘Four or Five Times’, ‘Take it Easy Greasy’, ‘Give It Up’, ‘Get out of Here’ and ‘The Wabash Blues’.  What a way to start a season.

May 2019 Concerts

Well that’s all folks but join us again on 1stSeptember when we will be listening to Mike Owen’s Storyville Six. The full programme will be posted on the website once it is all done and dusted but I know that there will be a concert on each Sunday through September.

Tame Valley Stompers (Terry’s Dead Good Boys) – 26 May:  The one we hoped would not come yet but it has – the final concert of the season.  The band consisted, as always, of Terry Brunt on trombone, Roger Wimpenny on Trumpet, Paul Broomhead on reeds, Peter Smith on bass guitar, John Gordon on banjo and guitar with leader, Norman Pennington on drums.   Their opening number was a favourite, “Original Dixieland One Step” along with “Kansas City Kiss”, “The Martinique”, “Over in Glory Land”, “When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful”, “Swing that Music”, and an interesting combination of Canal Street Blues and Route 66.   

Original Panama Jazz Band – 19 May:  Here we are already at the penultimate concert of the season but what a way to go. Leader, Jon Critchley, on trumpet, Laurie Cooper on trombone, Dave Thomas on clarinet and vocals, Malcolm Hogarth on piano, Isabel Toner on double bass and Bill Buck on drums gave us a concert to remember.  Some of the numbers were:  “You Meet the Nicest People in Your Dreams”, “Night Ferry”, “Midnight in Muscow”, “I’m Crazy About my Baby”, “I Used to Love You but it’s all Over Now”, “Bad Penny Blues” and “Some Day You’ll be Sorry”.   It was good to see the piano being used again.

Savannah Jazz Band – 12 May:  The second concert with Stafford Music Festival, this band is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.  Now that really is something.  In the band is John Meehan (leader) on drums, Bill Smith on cornet and harmonica, Brian Ellis on trombone and keyboard, Roger Myserscough on reeds, Chris Marney on banjo and Tony P9ollitt on bass.  Music and laughter throughout the whole extended concert.  Some of the numbers:  “See See Rider”, “Blame it on the Blues”, “A Hymn to Freedom”, “Look Down that Lonesome Road”, “While we danced at the Mardi Grass”, “Running Wild” and “Buddy Balden’s Blues”.  A lot of smiling faces left the building at the end of such a lovely show.

Pedigree Jazz Band – 5 May:  The first of two concerts with the Stafford Music Festival, this band is well known to Stafford and was made very welcome.  The Band consists of Chris Walker (leader) on reeds, Andy Chislett on trumpet, Tony Mann on trombone, John Noddings on banjo and guitar, Mike Bennett on double bass and Sy Gorelick on drums.  This was a longer concert than usual and the music had everyone bopping in their seats.  Some of the numbers were:  “In a Persian Market”, “Dixieland One Step”, “Livery Stable Blues” (which included cock crows, lowing cows and neighing horses .. on the instruments not impressions!), “The Martinique”, “Peter and the Wolf”, “Strutting with some Barbecue”, “Whistling Rufus”, “Tansy” and “You Gotta see your baby tonight or you won’t see Baby at All”.  I am sure we all look forward to 2020 and the next visit from this professional band with their Salute to Trad Jazz.

April 2019 Concerts

28 April 2019 – No concert

Ron Hill's Swing Kings

21  April 2019 – Ron Hill’s Swing Kings:  The band has Ron Hills on trombone (leader), Tony Pipkin on trumpet and flugelhorn, Nick Wiltshire on piano, Terry Roberts on reeds, Roy Dutton on drums and Roger Heath on bass.  A selection of the numbers included “I’ll be Your Friend with Pleasure”, “One Morning in May”, “Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter”, “Take the A Train”, “Corner Pocket” and “I Think You’re Wonderful”.  It was good to see this band again and hopefully it won’t be too long before they give as a return visit.

Kevin Grenfell & Richard Leach's Slide by Slide

14 April 2019 – Kevin Grenfell & Richard Leach’s Slide by Slide:  It was good to see Kevin Grenfell back to his usual cheeky and cheerful self.  The band consisted of Kevin Grenfell and Richard Leach on trombones, Simon Smith on double bass, Richard Hughes on piano and Graham Smith on drums.  Some of the numbers were:  “Back Home Again in Indiana”, “Mean to Me”, “There’ll Never be Another You”, “Mood Indigo” and “My Little Suede Shoes” (which featured a trombone duet.  In the second half we had “St James Infirmary Blues” – a favourite of mine – “Sway and “In a Persian Market” to list but a few. All these and interspersed with jokes and laughter.

Debut of S & G Band

7 April 2019 – S & G Band:  This was the debut performance of this band with the S standing for Sheila Fawkes and the G standing for George Huxley (on reeds). On trumpet was Gary Bell, on trombone was Terry McGrath, his son Tim McGrath was on guitar and banjo, Mark Johnson was on double bass and Andy Lowe was on drums.  Some of the numbers were: “Cheek to Cheek”, “I’ll be Seeing You”, “Dans La Rue Entibe”, “I’m a Little Blackbird”, “The Folks that Live on the Hill” and “I’m coming Virginia, My Dixieland Home” along with a stunning rendition of “Petit Fleur” by George. Lovely music by fine musicians.  Look forward to them coming again.

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


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”.


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.