Take it to the Bridge - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. £1. 8pm.
Lindsay Hannon - Cherry Tree Restaurant, 9 Osborne Rd., Jesmond, Newcastle. 7:30pm. No cover charge.
Chris Sharkey Trio - Jazz Café, 25 Pink Lane, Newcastle NE1 5DW. 8ppm. £4 (Students free).
Cancelled this week only. Levee Ramblers NOJB - Springwell Village Community Venue, Fell Road, Springwell, Gateshead NE9 7RP. 8:30pm. £3.00. Cancelled.
To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.
Thursday, February 19, 2015
The Road to Hong Kong with Colin Aitchison Part Three
When one door closes another door opens. With Steve's
blessing, my next chapter was the cruise ships. I was offered a job on the
Royal Cruise Line Ship "The Golden Odyssey". This was through Nick Ross, who still has a
popular big band going on in the UK today. I was with the relief band on the
ship on their Vancouver-Alaska sailing.
What a chance to get to see the world and get paid for it. The band
backed up Broadway shows and cabaret acts and I must say that this was when my
sight reading was at its best. We were
lucky to get one night off each month, plus band calls galore and temperamental
cabaret acts. There was a fond memory of a 30 minute chat with Vincent Price on
deck while in port at Nagasaki.
When the relief stint came to an end, I was asked to stay on
board to join the Mike Fackrell band (Pictured) as their trumpet player. It was during one
of the Golden Odyssey's Asian Cruises that I happened to be in Singapore and
became friendly with piano player Paul Gostelow. He asked if the band would be
interested to take up a 6-month residency in Taiwan. Whether it was my Geordie
accent or my poor geography .. I do not know. I urged our the bandleader Mike
Fackrell to contact Paul asap as we had a fantastic chance to work at a
nightclub in Thailand! It was paradise. After a 10 minute conversation, Mike
called me into the room. I will never forget Mike's face and his words
.."Colin my boy, you got your "T's" mixed up".The job offer
is for Taiwan not Thailand !!
So in 1987, the band left the ship we went on to work in
Taipei, Taiwan. It was a 6 month
contract at a nightclub. It was a little
like going back to the days of the speakeasy but more on the posh side and very
shady. The drummer in our band was Steve Rushton who went on to take Ronnie
Varrells place in the Syd Lawrence orchestra. When the 6 month contact came to
and end. most of us decided to stay on in Asia, and Taiwan was a good a place
as any to start.
In the 1980's Taiwan was a bit like the wild west. I boldly
decided to form my own band. With a Canadian trumpet player Tom Shorthouse, and
some local talented Filipino musicians we called ourselves "Foreign
Affairs". I played the trombone with this band. Our repertoire was some
jazz, pop and slapstick comedy. The locals loved it. I also formed a Dixieland Band "The
Ploughman Stompers" plus the "Tom Colin's Big Band" for the
Farmhouse pub for Sunday afternoon jam sessions. The music scene was lively and
the bands were very much in demand. Life was good.
It was here in 1988 that I met my lovely wife Jeannie who is
from Singapore, but was working in Taiwan at The Ritz Hotel. She tried often to
book bands for events at the hotel.
On one of the Farmhouse Jam Sessions I met Hong Kong bandleader Ken Bennett of The Kowloon
Honkers. They were the Resident Band at Ned Kelly's. Ken also managed three
bands at Ocean Park. Ken made an open offer that if I’m across on a visa run or holiday, I
could perhaps stand in for him when he was on holiday? It was another door and another option. The visa situation in Taiwan was slowly but
surely becoming uncomfortable, as the authorities were starting to clamp down
on illegal workers. Yet there was no official way to get a work permit! After 6
years I was once again at a crossroads. To go back on the cruise ships (for a
New Orleans and Amazon cruise) or to keep my feet on dry land and take a chance
for a 2 month summer season in Hong Kong. I decided for Hong Kong, which was
then a British Colony
I moved to Hong Kong in 1993, and Jeannie followed a few
months later after completing her contract. It was fairly easy for her to get a
job in one of the many hotels in Hong Kong.
My first summer in Hong Kong saw me working for Ken Bennett's German
Oom-pah band in the daytime, and some Sunday nights at Ned Kelly's. At the end
of the summer, it was odd gigs here and there. Jeannie was still in Taiwan
completing her contract. I was a stranger in Hong Kong, trying to find a start.
It was my good fortune to meet up with Lt-Col David Kerr who
was the CO at the Royal Logistic Corps in Hong Kong. He suggested that with the
imminent handover in 1997, more units were being disbanded and it would be a
great spot for a small. mobile and affordable band. Hence in 1993, our quartet "The China
Coast Jazzmen" was formed. There
were numerous events over the next 4-5 years and the band made quite a name for
It was somewhere during this period (1994-5) when I was once
again offered a cruise of a life time - a chance to join the old band for a 2
month South American cruise on the SS Rotterdam. It was a lovely old steamship.
It was a memorable trip, and where I had a chance to meet Buddy Greco and have
a good chat about his days with Benny Goodman. Jeannie ran the business and the
bands during my absence and kept things afloat.
With the handover approaching, Ken Bennett decided to leave
Hong Kong. It was now my time. That
year, I was asked to be the full time bandleader at Ned Kelly's. It was also
the year when our tender to supply bands to Ocean Park was accepted. Added to
that, the Peninsula Hotel found our old folio (from a couple of years before) and I was asked if we could supply a quartet for their lobby. 1997 was a good year! Colin. Link to Part One. Link to Part Two.
Bebop Spoken Here -- Here, being the north-east of England -- centred in the blues heartland of Newcastle and reaching down to the Tees Delta and looking upwards to the Land of the Kilt. Not a very original title, I know; not even an accurate one as my taste, whilst centred around the music of Bird and Diz, extends in many directions and I listen to everything from King Oliver to Chick Corea and beyond. Not forgetting the Great American Songbook the contents of which has provided the inspiration for much great jazz and quality popular singing for round about a century. The idea of this blog is for you to share your thoughts and pass on your comments on discs, gigs, jazz - music in general. If you've been to a gig/concert or heard a CD that knocked you sideways please share your views with us. Tell us about your favourites, your memories, your dislikes. Lance (Who wishes it to be known that he is not responsible for postings other than his own and that he's not always responsible for them.)