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Sunday, April 21, 2013

Hot Fingers: Customs House, South Shields: Friday April 19.


Thomas ‘Spats’ Langham (banjo, guitar, ukulele, vocals, wearing spats); Danny Blyth (guitar, mandolin, clarinet, bass clarinet, triangle, vocals); Malcolm Sked (bass, tuba, vocals)
(Review by Ann Alex)
What a fun night was enjoyed by all, including Lucy (aged 7, I suppose) sitting at our table, when this band played to a full house, giving us loads of tunes and songs from the 1920’s, many anecdotes from Spats about the composers and performers of the past, and amusing crazy lyrics in many of the songs.  
They certainly knew how to write a happy song way back then.  I quote:   ‘God charges no rent’ (from the singing of Al Bowlly, in The Old Man Of The Mountains); robots mentioned for the first time in the song Persian Rug; from the song It All Belongs To Me (about a likeable woman), ‘a disposition like a sugar bowl’.
From a 1925 song about a beautiful woman: ’she could take a Scotsman out to shop’.
And of course, very skilled playing from the band.  Spats' banjo was wonderfully tuneful with varied tones, the best banjo I’ve heard anywhere. Danny Blyth is a skilled multi instrumentalist, blowing, plucking and tapping, and it was good to see such an unusual instrument as the bass clarinet, which stands on a spike like a cello.  And I mustn’t forget the triangle, you don’t see many of them at jazz do’s. Malcolm Sked was a faithful anchor man, with the rude-sounding tuba and a steady bass which produced good tunes.  You had to be there to fully appreciate the chat and humour, but if I mention some of the songs, you’ll get the idea.  We had Shanghai Shuffle; Change Partners; Leisure Town; Skirts (this was recorded by Billy Cotton);The Harry Lime Theme; A Russian Lullaby; In A Persian Market; Doux Ambience; Good Little Bad Little You; Brother Can You Spare A Dime? (this was banned in the USA originally); You Can’t Get To Heaven That Way (the audience clapped along); Besame Mucho (the audience sang the chorus); By A Waterfall; Nagasaki; Buona Sera.
The evening was rounded off with a well-deserved encore  I’ll See You In My Dreams.
Good all round jazz-based entertainment, which could be enjoyed by non-jazzers as well, and would be an excellent introduction to jazz for beginners.  
Ann Alex
   

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