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Bebop Spoken There

Shri Sriram: "I realised that regular jamming was the college I needed, and not a formal musical education at all!" - (Jazzwise, March 2020).


The Things They Say!

Hudson Music: Lance's "Bebop Spoken Here" is one of the heaviest and most influential jazz blogs in the UK.

Rupert Burley (Dynamic Agency): "BSH just goes from strength to strength".

Today Thursday February 27



Vieux Carré Jazzmen - Holystone, Whitley Road, Holystone NE27 0DA. Tel: 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Blues, Soul, Funk etc.




Lindsay Hannon & Mark Williams - Revolución de Cuba, Cloth Market, Newcastle NE1 1EE. Tel: 0191 917 7076. 6:00pm. Free.

Lieko - Bobik’s, Punch Bowl Hotel, Jesmond Road, Jesmond, Newcastle NE2 3JY. Tel: 0191 284 0490. 7:30pm. £8.00. + bf, £5.00. concs + bf. Support TBC.

’58 Jazz Collective - Hops and Cheese, Tower St., Hartlepool TS24 7HH. 7:30pm. Free. Last Thursday in the month residency.

Paul Skerritt Band - The Pennyweight, Bakehouse Hill, Darlington DL1 5QA. Tel: 01325 468411. 8:00pm. Free.

Maine Street Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Hollywell Lane, Sunniside, Gateshead NE16 5NJ. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:30pm. Free.

New Orleans Preservation Jazz Band - Oxbridge, Oxbridge Lane, Stockton on Tees TS18 4AW. 8:30pm.

Tees Hot Club w. Gus Smith (vocals); Josh Bentham (alto sax); Ted Pearce (keys) - Dorman’s Club, Oxford Road, Middlesbrough TS5 5DT. Tel: 01642 823813. 9:00pm. Free.


The Slim Bees - The Hotspur, Percy St., Newcastle NE1 7RY. Tel: 0191 232 4352. 8:00pm. Free. Acoustic blues set by Scott Taylor & Michael Littlefield. Any donations will go to the under seige peoples of Syria.

To the best of our knowledge, details of the above events are correct but may be subject to alteration.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

New Orleans Swamp Donkeys @ Cobalt Studios & Ernest, Newcastle - July 19

James Williams (trumpet, trombone, vocals); Bryce Eastwood (clarinet, soprano sax, vocals); JP Brion (trombone); Sam Fribush (piano, vocals); Gary Washington (string bass); Tim Rachbach (drums)
(Review by Russell)

One band, two gigs, two venues a stone's throw a part, the Swamp Donkeys were in town! The Ouseburn Delta had rarely seen anything like it. All the way from New Orleans via Leeds and London, James Williams strolled into Ernest, sat down, and began to play. 

Ernest on Boyd Street welcomed its regulars and an influx of expectant jazz fans there to listen (and dance) to the 'real deal' from New Orleans. This, the first of two performances, served as a promo for a gig later in the evening a few doors down at Cobalt Studios. No PA, no amplification, the Swamp Donkeys played it entirely acoustically, just as the music's pioneers did way back when. 

Washington and Lee Swing opened the show. Williams, trumpet and vocals, sat down as though a customer, flanked to his left by Bryce Eastwood, clarinet, to his right by trombonist JP Brion. Standing before them were their fans - yes, Newcastle welcomed its American visitors with open arms. Williams sings like Louis Armstrong but, make no mistake, this isn't mere pastiche, this is what he does! hundred years ago Armstrong would have played gigs like this, no PA, battling to be heard. And here he was - Williams, that is - gigging down in the Ouseburn Delta. To coin a phrase, you couldn't make it up! 

Blue Turning GreyMuskrat RambleRoyal Garden Blues - this way spine-tingling stuff. Veterans of the scene turned out, they weren't about to miss this one. As Williams held court one local bandleader remarked: Fabulous! Terrific!

The stripped-back rhythm section - Gary Washington, string bass, Tim Rachbach, snare drum, and pianist (sans piano) Sam Fribush brandishing a tambourine - laid down a Big Easy foundation upon which Williams did his thing. Yes, this was fabulous and terrific alright. Bring on Cobalt!

A couple of hours later Cobalt Studios' industrial space opened its doors ready for business. A former warehouse premises on Boyd Street, all manner of gigs have been staged beneath a somewhat incongruous glitterball. This evening a genuine Big Easy sextet took to the stage. Ernest's acoustic Swamp Donkeys morphed into an amplified outfit for what would be a highly charged performance.         

The Swamp Donkeys' horns sat on Cobalt's on-stage sofa, it was as if we were in a Storyville saloon bar. James Williams cut a relaxed figure, leaning back, blowing hot trumpet, then singing (RosettaI'm Confessin'), yeah, we were in N'Awlins, for sure. Williams stood tall, engaging the audience, he's a real showman is the Swamp Donkeys' main man. 

The Swamp Donkeys is a drinking band (Jack Daniel's and the like). Mid-set an overly-keen glass collector swept-up Williams' drink from the front of the stage. Williams, quick as a flash: Hey! Where ya goin' with my beer? In N'Awlins that could get you killed! Turning to his band mates...Ain't that right boys?! Our glass collector returned Mr Williams' drink, double quick.

Earlier, Ernest's acoustic set was as a young Louis Armstrong would have played it. Here at Cobalt the amplified Swamp Donkeys moved into Blues Brothers' revue-style territory with Newcastle's swing dancers readily switching to a boogie-on-down style. A storming Everybody Needs Somebody to Love to a chilled Wonderful World to Jesus on the Mainline, Williams and his ace band (Bryce Eastwood, clarinet/soprano sax, particularly impressive) gave the audience what it wanted, and more. St James' Infirmary (a request), it was almost time to go and When the Saints sealed the deal. It had been quite a night down in the Mississippi/Ouseburn Delta.    

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