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Friday, July 13, 2018

Durham Brass Festival - Remembering Ivy Benson.

(Press release)
Opening the Festivals’ women and brass celebration we pay tribute to the legendary bandleader Ivy Benson. Her all-female band overcame scepticism and prejudice to become one of the most popular and famous dance bands during the war years and beyond. Original Ivy Benson band member Chrissy Lee brings her dynamic all-female big band featuring many of the UK’s leading female jazz stars to salute Ivy’s pioneering spirit. Our celebration will also include internet sensation and Swedish Jazz trumpet star Gunhild Carling (pictured) whose high energy performances and remarkable multi-instrument videos have been viewed millions of times on YouTube.
(BSH preview) 
Long before the current 'Women Make Music' concerts were being promoted there was Ivy Benson and her All-Girls Orchestra. The band's signature tune was Lady be Good which sometimes wasn't always true - particularly when the GIs arrived in the UK. Ivy recalled, in Sheila Tracy's Book Talking Swing how her pianist said, "Oh there's Skip, may I go and talk to him?' Off the girl went and never returned leaving her band uniform in the dressing room.
My wife recalls hearing the band at the Isle of Man's Villa Marina where they alternated sets with an American Air Force Band. When not playing, the bands intermingled and, the following day they appeared on stage with love bites on their necks - I'm not sure whether she meant Ivy's girls or the Yanks!
I'm sure Chrissy Lee, who I think was Ivy's last drummer, will have lots more stories to tell at tonight's show at the Gala Theatre, Durham. 7:30pm.
Lance.
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