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Bebop Spoken There

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11,740 (and counting) posts since we started blogging just over 12 years ago. 880 of them this year alone and, so far, 17 this month (August 4).

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Thursday 6: Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free. OUTDOOR gig.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Vieux Carré Hot 4 @ The Spanish City - Dec 26

Brian Bennett (banjo); Jim McBriarty (clarinet, vocals); Phil Smith (double bass); Fred Thompson (drums, vocals) + John Broddle (vocals)
(Review by Russell)

Boxing Day, the day after the Big Day. Time to get out and about. A bright, sunny day, Metro running, let's go down to the coast. The North Sea resembled a mill pond, promenaders were eating ice cream - yes, ice cream! - on this very mild winter's day.

The Spanish City is an oddity. The Alhambra it ain't but nevertheless, the north east coastal landmark pulls 'em in, not least since a long overdue multi-million pounds' refurbishment. An added Boxing Day attraction (for some) was a festive appearance by the Vieux Carré Hot 4. 

Brian Bennett's portable quartet - the bandleader could pick 'em up, put 'em in his waistcoat pocket and roam around Whitley Bay's iconic building - popped up first in Valerie's Tea Room before moving into the adjacent Trencher's Restaurant. The Champagne Bar up on the first floor would be the Vieux Carré's third and final stop on a Pied Piper tour of the Dome (aka Spanish City).

Three sets, the third with its own interval, found the Vieux Carré in good form; Runnin' WildI Get the Blues When it RainsHoneysuckle Rose - familiar material but none the worse for another airing. The Hot 4's line-up today comprised Bennett with his ever-trusty banjo, multi-reeds maestro Jim McBriarty, as ever singing a few numbers, regular sidekick Fred Thompson playing a single Gretsch snare drum throughout with brushes, and erstwhile Vieux Carré Jazzman Phil Smith helping out on string bass. 
Darktown Strutter's Ball, McBriarty crooning Walkin' My Baby Back Home, a seasonal Winter Wonderland with sleigh bells accompaniment by a youthful friend of the Hot 4, the afternoon flew by as patrons exited doors, belongings in hand, in pursuit of/attempting to escape from the on-the-move Vieux Carré.

Coffee and walnut cake in Valerie's Tea Room, Trencher's fish and chips declined, then on to the sea view splendour of the Champagne Bar. No fizz on this occasion, a hand-pulled pint of the Whitley Bay Brewing Company's Spanish City (ABV 4.2%) the better option. My Honey's Lovin' Arms, then in walked John Broddle to join the band for a couple numbers including If I Had You.

The band's regular singers sang Margie (McBriarty) and Lonesome Road (Thompson) and as McBriarty insisted The Alcoholic Blues didn't pertain to him it was fast approaching three o'clock and time to go but not before MC Bennett acceded to Bebop Spoken Here's request to hear Muskrat Ramble. The Vieux Carré Hot 4 can be heard Sundays, from noon, at the Spanish City. 
Russell.

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