A village hall wedding today in the town of Dillhorne, Staffordshire. The weather was not perfect but we were all under cover and a high-energy performance by Jason Kester and the Believers kept everyone on the dance floor. Here are the lads and Lucy warming up
It is always a pleasure to work with singer Lucy Sian, we have performed together for many years and she has now started her own function band the Ruby Tuesdays. This occasion was a wedding in Barnet where we played dinner Jazz to welcome the guests followed by a full-on party set for dancing. Here’s the lady herself looking as glam as ever
Although we were a little alarmed to see this-best behaviour everyone!
Some great gigs with Soul stars Judy Duff and Nu Soul Generation this month, if you would like to see the band in action, there are some live video clips here
What’s Going On with myself on solo sax
Some band snaps from Oakengates Theatre in Telford
A lively afternoon at the Lounge About in Manchester today, great sing-along versions from the crowd with a particularly spirited version of Happy, thanks to all for a great reception. I was overseen by this stern looking gentleman, possibly not a Pharrell Williams fan
Arley Hall is a magnificent Jacobean Hall in Cheshire and a perfect setting for weddings. Unfortunately today the weather didn’t permit the use of the gardens for which the Hall is renowned, but I think you’ll agree the interior is none too shabby either
The library is one of the most interesting rooms with it’s elaborately carved fireplace
The guests enjoyed my music while they explored the hall before heading into the beautifully laid-out dining room for the wedding breakfast
Always one of my favourite gigs, playing in the sunshine for Abbey Leys farmer’s market
as well as artisan food we have crafts, gifts and flowers
and you can always pick up a brew from the ever-smiling Tony
A night with funksters Soulfire playing for a 30th Birthday party at The Banyan Tree in Manchester. There was a Hollywood theme with many celebrity guests
Although Birthday Boy Shea rather stole the show
The Dr Who cake was also a big hit
Plenty of swing tonight, appearing with singer Lucy Barlow and a Jazz quartet at Pickers club in Poynton. Many thanks to the crowd for a wonderful reception and their sterling vocal efforts on Minnie the Moocher
Today I travelled to the Metro Hotel, Southport for the wedding of Tony and Gill. The staff were a great team and had dressed the room beautifully
All the best to the happy couple, judging by the cake married life is going to be rather easier on the bride than the poor old groom!
Here’s Wayne the drummer laying down a solid groove for some Stevie Wonder
The band were all dressed up for a 70′s wedding
with bandleader Judy Duff outglamming us all as usual
wielding the Wand of Funk to great effect!
Yours truly went for a more gritty look
Off to Stourbridge today with my duo buddy Lucy Barlow to provide tunes for a 60th Birthday party
We got into some laid back Jazz as the guests wandered in, moving through to the conservatory for a dance set after the buffet. The music went down very well but the star of the evening was Maisie who stole the limelight from us
It’s always exciting to play with a new band, today saw my first gig with 121 Soul, a tight outfit based in the West Midlands. We were performing for 2,000 people in Telford, here’s a snap of the stage with an accidental giant selfie on the video screen
the gig was a high-energy performance of classic Soul numbers, I tried to get a photo of the crowd dancing in the aisles but unfortunately…
Nice to be going to a gig for a change, my old teacher Jean Toussaint was appearing at the Cinnamon Club. Jean worked with Art Blakey as a young man and has been in the UK for many years where he teaches at the Guildhall. An amazing tenor player and inspiring teacher
The first Sunday of the month means Abbey Leys farmer’s market. This was a special occasion being the 10th anniversary of the market so I was very honoured to be part of the celebrations
I was closely supervised by a member of staff
but some of the younger inhabitants were a bit bewildered by all the fuss
The next market is May 4th
Back with expert exponents of party classics Jason Kester and the Believers for a retirement do this evening. Viv, a head teacher had decided to call it a day with a night of dancing, Jazz, Pop and Soul from us and one of the funkiest cakes we’ve ever seen
A 60th Birthday celebration today at the Wild Boar Country House Hotel in Tarporley
a beautiful Tudor-style building as you can see, here is my tenor completely dwarfed by the majestic fireplace
The staff were working hard to set up a perfect afternoon tea room
where I enjoyed playing some Jazz and Soul for Jane and her guests
A busy start to the year so it’s probably time for a round-up of recent gigs. The wedding season is starting early, last week I was booked as a secret sax player for a bridegroom who is a big sax fan. Andrew is a nephew of renowned British Jazzer John Barnes so he knows his stuff. I conspired with the lovely staff at the Etrop Grange Hotel to be smuggled in through the shrubbery as the ceremony took place. We then waited outside
ready to spring into action as the couple came through.
Andrew was delighted by the surprise and everyone had a great couple of hours of music, champagne and speeches.
A nice shot here of the best man’s left ear
The previous week saw another wedding, this time at Bowden Rugby Club where I was again playing for a drinks reception. I had not visited this venue before and was very impressed with the room dressing, full marks to the staff
Valentine’s Day is always an important one in the musician’s calendarand I was delighted to be back at the Simla restaurant near Tamworth for the third year in a row. I started proceedings off in traditional style by clanging my head on this charming brass lantern
before airing my repertoire of romantic tunes for the customers. It’s a lovely setting
and as a well-fed sax player can assure you that the menu is excellent too. Thanks to Mohammed and the staff for their hospitality and for the rose
I look forward to being back again next year.
Back in Chorlton with the Bourbon Street Preachers this week playing our popular mix of Blues and Cajun numbers at a benefit night in Dulcimer. The upstairs was heaving as a paired-down version of Lou and the Llamas kicked the entertainment of with a great acoustic set. Here’s Lou on uke and Alice on fiddle
If you would like to know more about the band you can follow them on Twitter @louandthellamas
After the speeches and raffle the Bourbons hit the stage for a fine sweaty set. It was a bit of a milestone for us as bandleader Dave is off abroad for a while, so my duo buddy Lucy Barlow who sat in for a few numbers is taking over the band in the interim. You can keep up with our carryings-on on Twitter @BourbonStPreach
I was caught in full flight in this sneaky pic courtesy of Lou Armer, cheers duck!
If anyone has made a New Year’s resolution to finally learn the saxophone I have some vacancies for new students. Many people who come to me have no prior knowledge of music, that’s no problem at all, all levels of experience can be accomodated.
Here’s one of my regulars Keith looking the part with trilby and black Selmer tenor
A sophisticated evening of ballroom dancing to see the New Year in at the Manhattan Club in Harrogate. I had a very classy backdrop on stage
matched by the beautifully turned out dancers on the floor
foxtrots, rumbas and quicksteps, thanks to all the dancers for a great reception.
It’s always a pleasure to play at the Cinnamon Club in Bowden, a fantastic live music venue, and even more enjoyable when I’m with Soul giants Nu Soul Generation fronted by the stunning Judy Duff.
In November we had a lot of fun at the 50th Birthday bash for Neil the club’s owner who had his name up in lights for the occasion
and here’s the Birthday boy himself in full 70s gear
and the big surprise of the night, Neil had secretly been rehearsing with me to appear onstage with the band as a surprise for his guests
which was great fun, nice job Neil
The band joined in the 70s fun too, Wayne the drummer got best Afro award
Judy was of course the most glam
and here are the girls from the band in our best Charlie’s Angels pose
We also had some great nights at the Cinnamon Club Christmas parties, halls were beautifully decked as you can see
and who’s sparkly shoe is this? Not Cinderella’s but our leader Judy’s fabulous footwear
But I think you’ll agree the whole band looked pretty festive, thanks to the Cinnamon for a wonderful time
The Bourbon Street Preachers were back on the road today with a night of Blues and Cajun tunes at the Lloyds Hotel in Chorlton. Here’s front man Dave with his new high-tech headset mic and flat cap combo
One of my regular spots this weekend at Abbey Leys Farmers Market, this time playing Christmas tunes under the watchful eye of my supervisor
The market is on the first Sunday of every month featuring wonderful food and craft stalls from local suppliers like this lovely display of jams and cordials
drop in if you are in the area, the farm shop is open seven days a week.
Always fun to sit in with the house band at the Junction Hotel jam night backing the most eclectic range of performers imaginable. Here is legendary bass player Bo Lee arriving to sit in
Back to my home town of Nottingham this week playing at a 1920s themed event for the Nottinghamshire Junior Lawyers. Everyone was dressed up to the nines enjoying the speakeasy atmosphere
but I was a little worried that they’d lose all their money at the gaming tables before I got paid!
Thanks to the staff at the Nottinghamshire Golf and Country Club for making me feel welcome
Out with the Believers again, this time a regular spot for the Otis long service awards. Here’s a quick snap of our lovely singer Lucy Sian, now running her own function band in North London called the Ruby Tuesdays, look out for them
Very busy with Jason Kester and the Believers party band at the moment, one recent gig was for a head teachers convention at Carden Park hotel in Shropshire. We managed to fill the backstage area with the usual musical debris
but it was soon assembled onstage, here is John the guitarist and bandleader Jason relaxing while we waited to go on
Maybe it’s having to keep order all week, but teachers certainly know how to party, we had a full dance floor all night, got a couple of snaps from the stage to give you a musicians-eye view
a bit blurry but it catches the atmosphere.
Later in the week we were at Goldstone Hall for a wedding, a nice country house venue. I think the bridesmaids may have taken in a bit too much sugar, this was the scene during the speeches
Looking forward to more party nights with the lads in November
My first gig with the Dhol Drillerz Indian drummers this weekend, a very colourful occasion at the Nawaab restaurant in Stockport. We welcomed the bride and groom and led them upstairs to the function suite, no mean feat as there was a full banqueting room and another wedding on the premises, but we all made it to the correct place and paraded across rose petals with the bridal party. No pictures as I was busy playing, but you can see the boys here
A Bar Mitzvah in Hertfordshire was the occasion this evening, working with vocalist Lucy Sian and The Believers party band
The Bar mitzvah boy was a magic fan so all the tables were named after favourite magicians
As well as our usual party repertoire, we played some traditional Jewish tunes for dancing which gave me a welcome chance to use my soprano sax, perfect for klezmer
Back at Denton Golf Club again, always nice to see Diane and the crew. Tonight was a bridal evening for couples to come and see the venue and wedding suppliers. Here’s duo partner Lucy Barlow
and our retro table of wares
Photographer Kyle Hassall was also on hand to take some professional shots of the evening which you can see here
A real mix of music tonight, Pop to Swing to Soul for a wedding evening at Denton Golf Club. Jane and Kim had been to the Vegas to get wed, so this was party night for the home crowd and duo buddy Lucy and I had a fantastic response from the guests, completely cleaned us out of CDs too. Here we are in our finery before the madness began.
A riotous evening at the Cinnamon Club tonight. I often have the pleasure of working in a duo with Jazz singer Lucy Barlow, but tonight we turned out with our band the Jazz Jam Jukebox. The Cinnamon is renowned for having a discerning audience and it was great to see folk hitting the dance-floor to our mix of Jazz and Swing numbers, some fantastic dancing from members of the resident Jive club too.
Here’s the lady herself in the spotlight
I attended a wedding fair at Denton Golf Club this evening, it’s a very well-run venue just off the M60 in North Manchester. The function room is upstairs, and Diane the manager would be delighted to advise on music/DJs, menus and table settings
There were also many outside suppliers attending, perfect wedding attire from Dream Dress Bridal
Fabulous flowers from Bloomin Lovely 0161 624 2414
Stunning cakes from Ann Paxton of Slices 07977 610 094
Somewhere for all those cards by Kelly’s Wedding Post Boxes
And a very impressive portfolio from photographer Mark Whittaker 07968 607 886
Another live radio session with my duo partner Lucy Barlow, an acoustic spot for Preston FM with guitarist Gabriel Amick. Here they are at rehearsal
We had a two-hour session in the studio on a very warm day, chatting to the DJ and playing Jazz standards, including Girl From Ipanema and Autumn Leaves. As soon as the tracks go up on the station website I will post a link for your listening pleasure.
I got a couple of nice shots of my fellow superstars in action
As regular readers will know, I occasionally sit in with the house band for the Junction Hotel jam night in Moss Side. This time I had the great pleasure of seeing two of my students get up and play some Blues with a rousing chorus of Kansas city, well done to Chris and Keith
A fun day at Abbey Leys farmer’s market, very hard to concentrate on the music with all this great food surrounding me
even gourmet dog treats for the canine clients!
The market also has a good selection of craft stalls so you can pick up gifts while you get your groceries in
All this and live music too, what more could you ask?
back with the Believers again at The Upper House, Barlaston, a lovely hotel in Staffordshire where we have played several times before. The band specialise in classic party songs with a repertoire stretching from the 50s to present day hits, so keeping a wedding party on the dance floor is never a problem. Here’s singer Lucy Sian relaxing before a hard night’s work
Another Summer wedding with Jason Kester and the Believers, this time at The Parks, a very pleasant restaurant in Staffordshire.
We were joined on stage by old mate Adrian Burns who DJs and plays percussion, seen here posing behind his congas
Another addition to the usual line up was Jerome standing in on drums, nice to catch up with him too. Here he is with our bandleader Jason getting ready for the all-important first dance
Candi Staton being the choice tonight, followed by Pop classics old and new .
Back at the Trafford Centre in Manchester today with the wonderful Jazz artist Lucy Barlow, we were in our beach gear as you can see
performing a mix of Summer hits.
From our spot on the bandstand we have a good view of the crowd and were treated to some very entertaining dancing, notably from a group of youngsters who did an impeccable routine to Jessie J. My favourite thing about the stage is that we are in direct line with the cake stand, very inspiring
The first Sunday of the month means it’s time for Abbey Leys Farmer’s Market again, always a fun gig and a chance to do my shopping as well.
There was a fine display of fruit and veg as usual
including the organic shed. Here’s Patrick from Bryn Cocyn Farm in Wales, a regular at the market
It’s not just food though, there are crafts stalls including beautiful jewellery from That Silver Touch
Another warm day, leading to a queue at the smoothie van
The next market is September the first, please come down and say hello
Yorkshire folk are not renowned for being romantic, but this year must have been an exception as I headed to Halifax for yet another wedding.
This time the venue was The Fleece, an attractive modern pub with fantastic views from the terrace where I was playing for the drinks reception
Things were looking very smart in the dining room too with Yorkshire Venue Dressing doing a lovely job
I played mostly contemporary numbers today, including a bit of Coldplay at the Bride’s request. Here’s the audience taking a break for photos
before heading in to eat.
I think Beyonce would have approved of the cake
The second gig of the day was with the Believers at Wolstanton Golf Club, a regular gig for the band, this evening playing for the captain’s dinner.
I was going to post a shot of the lovely grounds but just as I was setting up we were invaded by ducklings
Even cuter than the band!
The evening went very well with a set of laid-back tunes after dinner and some party numbers for the dancing later on. A great evening and we look forward to being back there soon
Two gigs today, the first being a wedding in Yorkshire at Wentbridge House. The sunny weather has meant the chance to play in some beautiful settings
this day also featuring an ice cream bike, nice touch!
Although I think the guests might have appreciated this even more
I played Jazz and Pop tunes while the champagne was being disposed of, here are the guests posing for the group shot
Every now and then I sit in with the house band for jam night at the Junction Hotel in Moss Side. It’s always a lively night with people of all levels of ability dropping in, this evening we had a West African band with some fantastic drumming and vocals
Have to say though there are sometimes…. lets just say enough guitarists turning up
Back with Jason kester and the Believers in Staffordshire today, the Cricket Club at Abbotts Bromley hosting a Summer wedding. It was perfect weather, the mood was more like a festival than a wedding as you can see
A word of warning to all sax players though, don’t leave the stage to take photos, your space will be encroached on!
Jason and the boys are experts at keeping a dance floor full and the party carried on into the small hours. If you would like to find out more about the band, please visit our website here
Abbey Leys farmers market was the venue for my gig today, always a fun setting with all the colourful stalls, not just food but craft and refreshments too
I was playing opposite the smoothie man who was doing great business in the sunshine
but managed to save a Very Berry special for the sax player.
A special mention for the egg supply team
who had been working overtime for the market
At Arley Hall in Cheshire today where I had the pleasure of playing for the sister of one of my students. The Hall is in the beautiful Cheshire countryside and is known for the gardens surrounding the house
although the house itself is well worth looking round
providing a lovely setting for the meal
I played a selection of classic and modern tunes on the lawn as guests assembled for the drinks reception
which was very pleasant, but the best moment of the day came when my student Mike stepped up to perform a solo number for his sister
It took a lot of nerve as this was his first public performance and I was extremely proud of the way he carried it off.
the Bourbon Street Preachers were back at the Bleachworks again in June, our mix of Blues and Cajun tunes seems to go down well with the dancers. I caught Dave and John pretending they can lift the heavy stuff
We had superb keyboard player Paul with us tonight, he needs a bit of room on stage
so we all squeeeeeeze up a bit, leaving room for Dave’s mighty accordion of course!
It was another riotous night, big thanks to the enthusiastic crowd, fuelled by the well-stocked champagne cabinet perhaps?
A glorious day for a wedding at Rogerthorpe Manor in Pontefract. I was playing on the terrace for the drinks reception
and had a good view of the nervous bridegroom and his gentleman escorts heading off for a pre-ceremony photo-shoot
with two imposing white lions supervising arrangements
Rogerthorpe Manor is an interesting building dating back to the 17th century
when bicycles were apparantly much larger than today
The bride and groom had their ceremony at the hotel, followed by champagne in the conservatory
I was playing in the sunshine as the wedding party came through and we had a very pleasant afternoon on the lawn. Here are the guests assembling for a group photo
A live radio session today on WA12 Radio with DJ John White. The session featured Jazz duo partner Lucy Barlow and guitarist Les Renshaw who we borrowed from the Fretbusters
Here are Les and Lucy during our soundcheck
Spot who knows where the camera is
We spent an hour in the studio with John
doing a Q&A session using the Very Big Microphone
after which we went through to the live room and played a selection of Jazz standards. We were snapped in the act by John’s phone
The session can be heard in the Live Lounge page here
Before leaving, we autographed the walls in true superstar style
Big thanks to John and all the staff at WA12 Radio for inviting us down, hope to see you again soon.
Back at one of my favourite gigs this weekend, playing for Abbey Leys farmer’s market. It’s not just the pleasure of playing music in the sunshine, it’s the opportunity to sneak off in my breaks and get my shopping from some of the best food producers in our area.
There is plenty of top quality fruit and veg as you’d expect
but also hand-made sweets and cakes
preserves and cordials
award-winning pies from the Great North Pie co
and even soap for your Sunday bath
Jane’s bread stall is always a great favourite, here’s the queue snaking out of the door as usual
Up to north Lincolnshire today for a wedding at the Forest Pines resort, a bit of a drive but one of the first sunny days of the year which made it more pleasant.
The theme for the day was sunflowers
inside the hotel
which made a lovely setting.
I played as the guests arrived for the drinks reception, inside the hotel and then as it was such a nice day, out on the decking
until it was time for the bride and groom to welcome their guests into the dining room for the wedding breakfast.
The Junction Hotel in Moss Side has hosted a jam night on Monday evenings for many years, I used to play with the house band on a regular basis and it’s always nice to be asked back. It’s a friendly session, open to all from beginners to professionals popping in for a drink, this time we had the pleasure of hearing great harmonica player Franny Eubanks sit in. I particularly enjoyed seeing one of my students, Keith get up and play a blues riff on his tenor, only the second time he’s performed for an audience.
Here is local singer Lorraine in the middle of a soulful rendition of Stand By Me
From tranquil garden parties to howling blues, out with Night Train again this time in the Rising Sun, well established music venue in Hazel Grove. Here’s Alec doing the final tweaking of his guitar sound
Is it just me or does time move a little differently in Stockport?
I have to admit, I was a bit distracted when I spotted this little beauty in the pub, I do enjoy a game of pinball… or two… or three
it’s a testament to my professionalism that I arrived on stage in time and with most of my wages unspent.
Another rocking night with the boys and a great crowd in the Rising Sun.
A new venue for me at today’s wedding, Rodbaston Hall in Staffordshire. Fortunately the day was fine so I could set up in the lovely garden for my first set, Jazz for the drinks reception
with a little help from the resident peacocks
Afterwards we moved into the beautifully decorated dining room for some Pop tunes with the wedding breakfast
I should give a mention to Lesley, the wedding coordinator and her team who were fantastic, friendly and efficient, meal and drinks reception went like clockwork and they still had time to look after the sax player We were all slightly upstaged by the peacocks though who took a great interest in the proceedings
After a very enjoyable afternoon I managed to catch this gentleman being very dramatic in the car park on my way out
A wedding booking at the Belle Époque restaurant in Knutsford this afternoon. It was one of those wonderful English days where it’s cloudy and clear in alternate minutes but fortunately just as the bride and groom came out of the ceremony, the sun came out and we were able to have the drinks reception in the garden
where I played some Jazz and Pop numbers for the guests.
I tried to recruit these guys into my backing band but no success
The restaurant is in one of the older buildings in Knutsford with many original features including this mosaic floor
in the bar area
The dining room upstairs was beautifully laid out, here are a couple of snaps of the room and cake
which I took before the wedding party headed indoors for their meal.
The Belle Époque
Back on the Blues scene again with Night Train, this week at the Crown in Darwen, Lancashire, a regular live music venue and a bit of a squeeze to get in. We managed to assemble this amount of gear
in this amount of space
The band have been going for many years under the leadership of frontman Alec and play a mix of standards and original songs. It’s a powerful sound, appreciated by the audience at the Crown who enjoyed guitarist Wally’s showmanship as he hurled himself into their midst.
This isn’t the best quality photo, taken by a fan on their phone, but it shows how mean and moody we are
If you enjoy Blues-Rock, keep an eye open for us at venues around the North-West
It’s always a pleasure to work with new musicians so I was delighted to be contacted by guitarist Les Renshaw recently. Les plays in the Fretbusters specialising in classic Americana, and also organises live music at Poynton WMC. We are putting together a set of Jazz numbers with particular emphasis on the Latin repertoire, should be perfect for restaurant gigs and parties.
A very smiley Les
I usually reserve this blog for my own musical misadventures but would like to give a mention to Beatnik Records which has just opened in Altrincham.
There hasn’t been a record shop in Alty for some time so this is very welcome, even if they are a bit cheeky to the Jazzers!
The best thing is they also serve excellent food, so you can listen to good tunes and admire the window art with a brew and a bun,
I can see this being a very popular musicians hangout.