Our first gig of 2018 was at Maghull on the 11th and John Padfield was on reeds. In the first set, we mixed some good old jazz instrumentals – That’s a-Plenty, Beale Street Blues, At A Georgia Camp Meeting and Marching Through Georgia – with some good old jazz vocals – Doctor Jazz and Pennies From Heaven, both sung by Rae. Ed also sang two less often performed numbers: Fats Waller’s I’ve Got A Feeling I’m Falling, written in 1929; and Moonglow, made famous by the 1955 movie Picnic, but composed in 1933. We also included Fats Waller’s Black And Blue, often regarded as one of the first protest songs about colour prejudice but, as Rae pointed out, actually from the 1929 Broadway show Hot Chocolates where its purpose was to amuse white audiences by making fun of black skin. Our second set kicked off at a considerable tempo with the ODJB’s Tiger Rag and went on to include Too Busy, Magnolia’s Wedding Day and the traditional spiritual Lily Of The Valley. There were two features – Bad Penny Blues (Jim) and Deep Purple (John); and two vocals – Tangerine (Andrew) and Georgia Grind (Ed). Rae closed the gig with our first Swing Low of 2018 – but most certainly not the last!
The second gig of the month was at Didsbury on the 18th and John Padfield was on reeds – his first appearance at this venue. We opened up with two numbers from the start of the 1920s – Margie and There’ll Be Some Changes Made – before including Sweet Lorraine and Someday You’ll Be Sorry – Louis Armstrong’s 1946 composition which he said later was written about his third wife, Alpha Smith. We reprised several numbers from the Maghull programme – Black And Blue, Marching Through Georgia, Too Busy, Tiger Rag, Tangerine and Georgia Grind – and added in Memphis Blues, When You Wore A Tulip and S’Wonderful. There were two less usual vocals from Ed – Just Squeeze Me and When It’s Sleepy Time Down South; and, in response to a request from a young lady, Rae sang I Wanna Be Like You. Finally, we preceded our usual closing Swing Low with a first rendition of the Ken Colyer composition, Goin’ Home.
Our third gig on Sunday the 21st opened up a new venue for us – The Arts Centre at Burscough Wharf. John Hallam was on reeds, the place was packed and, before long, the joint was jumpin’! We opened up with Royal Garden Blues, written in 1919 and one of only four collaborations between Spencer and Clarence Williams; and closed the first set with Maceo Pinkard’s Sweet Georgia Brown. In between, there were vocals from Rae (Doctor Jazz), Andrew (Everybody Loves My Baby – another Spencer Williams number) and Ed (Old Rockin’ Chair); a feature from Jim Lucas (Bad Penny Blues) and some swinging playing on Ain’t She Sweet, Earl Hines’ Apex Blues and the Gershwins’ Oh, Lady Be Good. The second set began with Hindustan and continued through Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of This Jelly Roll (another of the Williams’ few collaborations); and South – composed by Bennie Moten and made famous by his Kansas City Orchestra. There was a vocal from Andrew (Sunday), a seriously quick John Hallam feature – Runnin’ Wild – and Rae and Brian did their drum and bass version of Bei Mir Bistu Shein. Finally, before the usual Swing Low close, the audience sang loudly and proudly to the chorus of Get Off The Table Mabel – definitely the best audience singing so far in 2018, but there’s lots of time for Didsbury and Grappenhall to reclaim the crown! It was a most enjoyable first gig at Burscough and we’ll be back there again in April.
Our fourth and final gig of the month was at Grappenhall on the 25th and John Hallam was again on reeds. We also performed the Pocket Pantomime once more – the last time until next Christmas! Our programme was based squarely on the tunes which had featured most often throughout the last year – Wolverine, South, Apex Blues, Oh Lady Be Good, Ain’t She Sweet, Basin Street Blues, Jazz Me Blues, Chinatown, Jazz Band Ball and That’s a-Plenty. In addition, we included the year’s most popular features – Flyin’ High (John) and Bad Penny Blues (Ed) – and the most popular vocals: Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me (Rae), Dapper Dan (Brian) and Jump Jive And Wail (Ed). There was also time for a recent addition to the repertoire – Ed’s take on Trixie Smith’s My Daddy Rocks Me – and another rendition of Goin’ Home before Swing Low. It was another very enjoyable night at Grappenhall and the audience singing at the end almost reached the standard set at Burscough – maybe next month it will better it?