Here you will find month-by-month reviews of the Teddybears’ gigs and activities.
The first gig of the month was at Maghull on the 10th with John Padfield on reeds. The setlist featured two requests from earlier months: Deep Purple, a sax solo for John; and Bad Penny Blues, featuring Jimmy Lucas and Ed Lee.
On Saturday 12th, the band appeared at Darwen Market for a 1940s Day. Dave Burke was on reeds and we played four sets interspersed with various other 1940s-related acts. There were lots of people in 1940s outfits – Colonel Mainwaring especially noteworthy – and it was a very enjoyable event, despite repeated rain showers.
On the 17th, our regular Didsbury gig was very well attended and featured George Galway on reeds. George played Black Orpheus as a flute solo and we also featured Bad Penny Blues again. Two other numbers we don’t play very often were included: Down Among The Sheltering Palms and Pontchartrain Blues.
On the 24th, our regular session at Grappenhall featured John Hallam on reeds. John’s feature this time was the Edmond Hall classic, Flying’ High. We also played Down Among The Sheltering Palms again and, in response to a request, a wild version of Tiger Rag.
The final gig of the month, on the 30th, was for Sutton Coldfield Jazz Club. Walmley Social Club is an excellent venue and was packed – as was the dance floor! Dave Burke was on reeds again and Andy Henderson played long cornet. Rae Owens and Brian Singleton performed their “drum ‘n’ bass” version of Bei Mir Bistu Shein to prolonged applause; and we ended the evening with two jump-jive numbers: Get Off The Table Mabel and Flip, Flop And Fly. During the latter, Dave Burke joined the dancers for his sax solo!
The first gig of the month was at Leeds Jazz Club on Tuesday 12th. With three of the Usual Suspects unavailable, we drafted in Willy Entwistle on reeds (and penny whistle!), Bob Wade on cornet; and his son, Steve Wade, on drums. Willy used to play with the Temperance Seven and hails from Wigan; and Bob and Steve are friends of Rae Owens from the period he spent in South Africa in 1989. They had moved to South Africa but returned to the UK last year and now live in the north east. It was a wild and wet night outside as Aileen, the first named storm of the Winter, raged, but there was a warm welcome inside Armley Conservative Club and the jazz was hot! Highlights included an inspired cornet solo on Wabash Blues, a tuba-powered Jazz Me Blues and Rae’s soulful vocal on Georgia.
On Thursday 14th, our regular Maghull gig featured George Galway on reeds as John Padfield was away playing in an orchestra pit somewhere. George played Gershwin’s Summertime as a flute solo and performed Brian Boru’s March on his Irish tin whistle. We also featured a vocal version of Down Among The Sheltering Palms – in which Ed found himself taken over by the spirit of Al Jolson! – and Rae and Brian again performed their “drum ‘n’ bass” version of Bei Mir Bistu Shein.
On the 21st, our regular Didsbury gig was again well attended and also featured George Galway on reeds. George played Lulu’s Back In Town as a flute solo and Jimmy and Ed performed the Alex Welsh version of Davenport Blues. Other highlights included Brian Singleton’s version of Dapper Dan – which he hasn’t sung for some time – and Andrew and George giving St. Thomas an outing on the unusual combination of trombone and flute! Another featured number which we don’t play very often was Whispering.
On the 28th, our regular session at Grappenhall featured John Hallam on reeds. John’s feature this time was a request for Acker Bilk’s Stranger On The Shore. Rae gave his usual bravura performances of Lazy River and My Blue Heaven and also dusted off Blue Turning Grey Over You. Just before the close, all the front line contributed storming solos as Ed sang the Louis Prima classic, Jump, Jive And Wail.
The final gig of the month, on the 30th, was at Boston Spa. John Hallam was on reeds and played a frighteningly fast version of Flyin’ High as his feature. Rae Owens Salvation Army tuba made several appearances, notably on Jazz me Blues and Just A Little While To Stay Here; Andrew sang Sunday; and Jimmy and Ed performed Bad Penny Blues, which got a special mention before the raffle was drawn! Once again we ended an evening with two jump-jive numbers: Get Off The Table Mabel and Flip, Flop And Fly, with more boisterous solos from the front line.
The first gig of the month was our Maghull residency on Thursday 12th with John Hallam on reeds. The band was filmed by Ray and Jenny Knight for their second documentary of North West jazz bands which will eventually make its way to YouTube. There were three features: John played Flyin’ High, Edmond Hall’s clarinet tour-de-force, which included two choruses of gasp-inducing circular-breathing and ended with an amazing altissimo register C; Jimmy and Ed performed the Humphrey Lyttleton favourite, Bad Penny Blues; and Rae and Brian interjected their signature drum ‘n’ bass rendition of Big Noise From Winnetka into Bei Mir Bistu Shein. Among other highlights were Andrew’s rendition of the original Jule Styne lyrics to the 1926 Chester Conn song, Sunday; Brian’s version of the 1921 Albert Von Tilzer classic – and appropriately-titled – Dapper Dan; and Rae’s rousing rendition of Blues My Naughty Sweetie Gives To Me, first recorded in 1919 by George Beaver. For the final few numbers, a seventh Ted, complete with matching blue jacket, took the stage in the shape of friend-of-the-band sax player, Brian Rennie. The denouement featured the now customary jump-jive number from Ed – this time Bull Moose Jackson’s Get Off The Table Mabel (the $2 is for the beer) – with storming solos from the four on the front line. A very enjoyable evening ended with Rae’s Swing Low Sweet Chariot, which included some fine, unaccompanied singing from the audience. What a show!!
On the 19th, our regular Didsbury gig featured Dave Thomas on clarinet. There were a plethora of very fast numbers, including Wolverine, China Boy and Hindustan, which left the band breathing hard. In response to last month’s promise of a “rude song”, Ed sang Right Key Wrong Keyhole – which the audience seemed to know word-for-word! And, after removing his scarf which had somehow found its way into the bell, Rae played his 1919 vintage tuba on four numbers, including Ain’t She Sweet and Jazz me Blues. Other highlights included Brian Singleton’s version of Dapper Dan – which had the audience shouting for more – and was followed up with Bei Mir Bistu Shein! There were some quieter moments notably a soulful rendition of Wabash Blues and the Duke Ellington classic, Mood Indigo. However, the pace picked up again at the end with some rousing solos as Ed combined Spencer Williams’s Georgia Grind with Papa Charlie Jackson’s Shake That Thing – more suggestive imagery before the audience helped sing us out with Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
On Sunday 22nd, the band was at the White Eagle Polish Club for Stafford Jazz Society’s 36th Anniversary Concert and Dave Burke was on reeds. The Society has twice before voted the Teds their “Band Of The Year” and we learned that only a fraction of a percentage point prevented us winning again this year. There was a warm welcome from a big and enthusiastic audience and the band responded accordingly with some very entertaining playing. Among the faster numbers, Avalon and Blues My Naughty Sweetie deserve mention; and Apex Blues was a standout among the slower tunes. Ed continued his risqué song cycle with Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of This Jelly Roll, one of only four collaborations between the unrelated Clarence and Spencer Williams; and Rae’s tuba made its appearance on Just A Little While To Stay Here and Muskrat Ramble, the latter providing the accompaniment for a colourful ‘brolly parade’ by members of the audience (see photo). As we moved towards the close, Andrew sang Sunday and Jimmy and Ed performed Bad Penny Blues before the infectious rhythms of Georgia Grind and Get Off The Table Mabel had the audience singing along in fine fashion. By the time the last notes of Rae’s Swing Low sounded, the audience were on their feet giving us a standing ovation. What a fine way to spend a Sunday afternoon!
The final gig of the month, on the 26th, was our regular session at Grappenhall and, in the absence of two Usual Suspects, featured Pete Robinson on bass and Mike Swift on banjo and guitar. John Hallam was on reeds and also fronted the band. There was a new number in the set: Too Busy, the 1928 Chester Conn composition which Lillie Delk Christian recorded backed by Louis Armstrong, Earl Hines, Jimmie Noone and Mancy Cara (banjo). Lillie was Johnny St. Cyr’s landlady – and possibly his girlfriend – otherwise almost nothing is known about her. Other less regular numbers also featured including: Black And Blue, When Somebody Thinks You’re Wonderful, Ja Da and Sweet Lorraine. Brian’s mellow tones were heard on I’m Crazy ‘Bout My Baby and Andrew did Avalon as a trombone feature.
The first gig of the month was our Maghull residency on Thursday 9th with John Padfield, newly returned from his thespian-ing, on reeds. We opened up with an old favourite, Chinatown, before Rae sang Keeping Out Of Mischief and Ain’t Misbehavin’ – “chance would be a fine thing” as he is wont to say! Among other highlights in our first set were Andrew’s rendition of Everybody Loves My Baby and Ed pretending to be the Sheik of Araby. A couple of blues instrumentals – Basin Street Blues and Savoy Blues – separated the vocals before we concluded the set with Chu Berry’s rousing 1936 title, Christopher Columbus. According to Andrew this is named after the man who made the biggest mistake in history ……! The second set opened with Rae announcing that Andrew had come 5th in a poll of the best trombone-players in the UK – see the Latest News page – before we launched into Limehouse Blues. This composition premiered in a 1921 revue in London’s West End and made Gertrude Lawrence a star when she performed it on Broadway in 1924. It also linked nicely with our opening number since, before World War II, the Limehouse district was considered the Chinatown of London. We followed it with Hoagy Carmichael’s Old Rockin’ Chair (Ed doing the vocal), the song that re-made Hoagy’s fortune after the Wall St. Crash. After the Washington and Lee Swing – which started life in 1910 as the official (American) football march of the Washington & Lee University in Virginia – Rae’s tuba made another appearance on Just A Little While To Stay Here; and Brian resurrected a vocal from the Teds’ past when he sang My Gal Sal. Another enjoyable evening ended as usual with Rae singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
On Thursday 16th, our regular Didsbury gig featured Roy Burrows on clarinet. Roy is a friend of Rae’s from South Africa – where he plays with the Classic Jazz Masters – and was on a three-week visit to the UK. He also joined us at The Talbot (see below) before flying home the next day. We opened the first set with the 1922 classic, That Da Da Strain, and the next six numbers were all written before 1930, three of them – Chinatown, At The Jazz Band Ball and Darktown Strutters Ball – before 1920! Rae played his vintage tuba on two numbers but, sadly, they may be its last appearance for some time (see The Talbot below); and he also sang the 1928 Dorothy Fields/Jimmy McHugh classic I Can’t Give You Anything But Love. Andrew (or No.5 as he is now known!) took us into the 1930s with It’s A Sin To Tell A Lie before we ended the set back in the 1920s with the Gershwins’ Oh, Lady Be Good. In the middle of the set, Ed sang yet another “rude song”, this time the Bessie Smith/J. C. Johnson composition Empty Bed Blues. Roy opened the second set with a stunning feature performance of Just A Closer Walk With Thee and there were three “blues” numbers including Limehouse Blues, Basin Street Blues and Tin Roof Blues, the latter being especially poignant given the number of shanty towns in Roy’s home country. Ed sang yet another suggestive song, this time a masculine version of Trixie Smith’s My Man Rocks Me from 1922. This was the first secular song to use the phrase “rock and roll” and it changed the meaning from the religious fervour that it usually indicated to another sort of passion altogether! Trixie was as famous as Bessie Smith and Mamie Smith in the early 1920s and recorded with many great musicians including Louis Armstrong, Freddie Keppard and Fletcher Henderson. However, from the late 20s, her career focused on vaudeville and movies before she recorded again in the late 1930s with Sidney Bechet, Henry Red Allen and Barney Bigard. Sadly, she died in 1943 aged only 48. Towards the end of the set, Brian sang My Gal Sal – and Rae had to caution the ladies in the audience about rushing the stage! – before we ended the set with That’s A-Plenty. More wonderful audience singing accompanied Swing Low Sweet Chariot – we think Didsbury is, so far, definitely the best in this regard – and it was a great night which we hope will stay in the memory until we play at Didsbury again in January.
On Sunday 19th, the band was at the Talbot Hotel for the last night of Julie & Gilbert’s Jazzmas Weekend and John Padfield was on reeds. Roy Burrows also joined us part way through the first set and again performed his feature version of Just A Closer Walk With Thee – we look forward to his next visit to the UK. There was a warm welcome from a merry and enthusiastic audience complete with Christmas hats, crackers and presents from the hotel. However, when Rae started playing his tuba on Jazz Me Blues, a valve, some springs and an elastic band shot out and that was that! Since then, Rae’s attempts to re-solder the offending pieces have resulted in a “tuba kit” being available if anyone is interested ……! Among the faster numbers, Avalon, Hindustan and China Boy deserve mention; and Old Rockin’ Chair was a standout among the slower tunes. Ed sang a song about cake – Ain’t Gonna Give Nobody None Of This Jelly Roll – and Andrew sang Sunday – very appropriate given it was a Sunday! As we came to the close, Ed sang Get Off The Table Mabel – which had the audience singing along in fine fashion – and then, it being nearly Christmas, we performed the 1947 composition Boogie Woogie Santa Claus. By the time the last notes of Rae’s Swing Low sounded, the audience were “revved up” and ready to enjoy what was left of a great weekend at the Talbot!
But there was no rest for the band, as the following night – Monday 20th – we were in Bolton playing for the Eagley Jazz Club with John Hallam (fresh from hosting his Burnside weekend) on reeds. Maybe we were all “warmed up” after our playing at the weekend, but, whatever the reason, the band played “out of their skins” and the audience were suitably wowed! Every number seemed like a highlight, so here is the full giglist:
- Set One: Wolverine, Canal Street Blues, Keeping Out Of Mischief (Rae on vocal), I’ve Found A New Baby, Empty Bed Blues (Ed on vocal), Rosetta, Apex Blues, Deed I Do (Andrew on vocal), Just A Little While To Stay Here.
- Set Two: At a Georgia Camp Meeting, Dinah (Rae on vocal), Bad Penny Blues (Jim Lucas feature), My Gal Sal (Brian on vocal), Jazz Me Blues, Runnin’ Wild (John Hallam feature), Old Rockin’ Chair (Ed on vocal), That’s A-Plenty, Get Off The Table Mabel (Ed vocal).
And there was more of the same to come as our regular Grappenhall gig on Thursday 23rd – with John Hallam again on reeds – produced another memorable performance with an almost identical setlist. This time, Ed’s rude song was My Mama Rocks Me (see Didsbury above) and John’s clarinet feature was the 1919 classic, The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise. And next month it’s the Grappenhall Christmas Party!!
The final gig of a busy month was on the 30th, for the Burton upon Trent Jazz Club at Marston’s Sports & Social Club with John Padfield on reeds. From our previous two gigs we changed in: Royal Garden Blues, Rosetta, Wabash Blues, Creole Love Call and Muskrat Ramble. In response to a request for a trumpet feature, Jimmy played Bad Penny Blues and, as we approached the close, Ed segued Shake That Thing with Georgia Grind and did yet another rendition of Get Off The Table Mabel. This led to a member of the audience telling us the fascinating story of little-known Mabel Mercer, born in Burton upon Trent in 1900. She became the toast of Paris in the 1930s and, from 1942, a very successful singer in America, counting Frank Sinatra among her admirers. You can read more about her here. Unfortunately, Rae wasn’t feeling 100% and couldn’t do his usual quota of vocals; but he still fronted the band and managed Swing Low at the end. Another exceptional night ended with shades of P. J. Proby when John Padfield split his trousers climbing down from the stage! Perhaps the exuberant leg moves he displayed during his playing had weakened the seams!!
The first event of the month was our annual gig for the Aughton & Ormskirk U3A on Friday 8th and John Hallam was on reeds. Aughton Village Hall is one of our favourite places to play and the gig was a sell-out. We did three sets and opened up with Jelly Roll Morton’s Wolverine before a stream of familiar and favourite numbers including Canal Street Blues, Apex Blues, At A Georgia Camp Meeting, Darktown Strutters Ball, Jazz Me Blues, Bourbon Street Parade and Christopher Columbus. Among other highlights were Andrew’s rendition of Deed I Do, Rae’s tongue-twisting Blues My Naughty Sweetie, Ed’s suggestive My Mama Rocks Me and a fine feature performance of Avalon from John Hallam. Towards the end, several couples took to the floor as we played some jump-jive and another enjoyable evening ended with a Christmas themed version of Rae’s Swing Low Sweet Chariot.
On Thursday 14th, our regular Maghull gig marked the start of a busy week leading up to Christmas. Our line-up included both John Padfield and John Hallam on reeds; and in the second set we were also joined on-stage by regular visitor Albert on banjo. In the interval, the Chicago Teddy Bears Pocket Pantomime Company performed their singular version of Dick Whittington – or was it Whick Dittington? – ably scripted and directed by Rae’s wife, Jean. We included some different numbers this time, among them: Big Butter And Egg Man, Indiana and Undecided; and there was also a great duet version of Lady Be Good from the two Johns. In addition, there were three features: Bad Penny Blues (Jimmy and Ed), Bei Mir Bistu Shein (a request for Rae and Brian); and Wild Cat Blues (John Hallam – see note below). As usual, Rae closed the show with Swing Low Sweet Chariot which again had a Christmas flavour. Note: Wild Cat Blues was Fats Waller’s first published composition and originally a piano piece. It is also credited to Clarence Williams, no doubt because his company published it and his Blue Five recorded it in 1923. It is now more usually a clarinet piece and, for UK clarinettists, the “landmark” version was the 1955 Monty Sunshine recording, with Chris Barber on bass and Lonnie Donegan on banjo.
The following night, Friday 15th, the band was at a packed Sale Conservative Club for their first Jazz Night in some little while; and John Hallam was on reeds. We rang some more changes in our setlist, with That Da Da Strain, That’s A-Plenty, Memphis Blues and Ain’t She Sweet among the numbers. Three features were also included: Bad Penny Blues (Jimmy and Ed again), St. Thomas (Andrew) and High Society (John) – the latter a request from a member of the enthusiastic audience. As we came to the close, we included a Christmas Medley – Walking In A Winter Wonderland, Jingle Bells and Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer; and, by the time the last notes of Rae’s Swing Low sounded, we got a standing ovation. The club is now undergoing a major refurbishment and we look forward to playing there again at the end of November 2018.
On the following Monday – the 18th – we were at the Fairways Hotel in Dodworth playing for the Barnsley Jazz Club with John Hallam again on reeds and Andy Henderson on trumpet. It was cold and foggy outside but the audience were very lively as usual with dancers on the floor the whole night. We opened with a few bars of Jingle Bells before Brian’s drums heralded the start of Bourbon Street Parade; and then it was classic jazz all the way for three solid sets. Among the less usual numbers were Ed’s version of Baby, Won’t You Please Come Home (complete with verse); and Too Busy, which Andy sang. Before we started our third set, there was a wonderful buffet and an amazing raffle in which our MC gave out 18 prizes in five minutes! A couple of big band numbers – Christopher Columbus and Hindustan – preceded Swing Low; and the weather had improved a lot as we all headed back across the Pennines. A memorable night and we’ll be there again in June 2018.
Our final gig of 2017 was the Grappenhall Christmas Party on Thursday 21st – a week earlier than usual and featuring John Hallam on reeds and Phil and Jimmy Lucas on trumpets! It was another sell-out and we opened up at the earlier time of 8:00 and finished at 11:45. In the first set we included Washington & Lee Swing and China Boy before Phil led the band through six numbers for set two. These included: Oh, Lady Be Good, Georgia On My Mind and Satin Doll – all of which featured Phil’s vocal dexterity (as Rae would say!). In the final set, Phil’s mum (Gill) got her revenge for some remarks he’d made earlier by requesting Tiger Rag; and we also did It Don’t Mean A Thing and Just A Gigolo. And, for the first time ever, Ed was able to dedicate Get Off The Table Mabel to a young lady of that name in the room! Perhaps because of Mabel’s presence, the audience singing of the chorus was terrific; as it was earlier when Rae sang When You’re Smiling and, especially – unaccompanied – on our final Swing Low of 2017. The “best audience singing” award we gave to Didsbury last month was most definitely superseded!