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In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

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Today

As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Fats Waller plays Sunderland Empire!

(By Russell/Programme pics courtesy of Keith Belton)

It had been a great day for the people of Bishop Auckland. The town's football club won the FA Amateur Cup beating Willington 3-0 in the final. The County Durham non-league clubs battled for silverware in the final staged at Roker Park, Sunderland. 

The year was 1939, war was looming but for one day all eyes were on Roker Park. How many of those who were at Roker Park that day walked across Wearmouth Bridge to go to the Empire Theatre in the evening? Touring Britain at the time was Fats Waller and his itinerary included a concert performance in Sunderland!*

The above story was told by the Tees Valley Jazzmen's  Keith Belton on Aycliffe Radio's Jazz Time programme. Mr Belton, the sole surviving founding member of the enduringly popular Dixieland outfit, is a big football fan and an avid collector of match day programmes. An advertisement in the match day programme that memorable day caught the eye of Belton...Fats Waller at Sunderland Empire! 

Assuming some people in their teens - let's say 15 year olds - went to the Empire that night in 1939 they would now be in their mid-nineties. Is there anyone out there who remembers the day - going to Roker Park in the afternoon and on to the Empire in the evening? 
* The tour also included Newcastle Empire.
Russell

2 comments :

Lance said...

... and the Mills Brothers on the same bill!
I wonder if Fats played solo or if he had some Britiish guys with him?

Some football scores that day:
Liverpool 1 Sunderland 1
Middlesbrough 2 Derby Co. 0
Newcastle 1 Swansea Town 2
New Brighton 0 Gateshead 1
Chester 0 Darlington 0
Barrow 1 Hartlepools Utd 1

Dave Kerr said...

My parents went to see Fats on the same tour at Newcastle Empire.
I remember asking her if she could remember anything about it.
She said he was just one of several acts and played and sang three tunes.
Ain't Misbehavin',My Very Good Friend the Milkman and a very fast number probably A Handful of Keys.

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