London, England 1974-1975
In 1974-1975, Carol and I were in England on Sabbatical from Penn
State. We spent some time in Cornwall and Devon at the Plymouth
Polytechnic University as it was known then.
Most of our time we were in London and lived at a small place on Camden
Mews, off Camden Road near the center of Camden Town.
Shortly after we were settled there, I saw an ad for a banjo in a local
Camden paper. I called the owner and he invited me to see the banjo and sit
in with a band at a Sunday lunch gig at the Alexandra Palace ( the Ally Pally).
It turned out that the banjo was not very good nor was the owner. At the
end of the gig, he said he was retiring and that I should take his place in the
band. I did and worked with them for quite a few gigs.
George 'Kid' Tidiman's New Era Jazz Band
In the mid 1970’s,London was a hot bed for traditional and New Orleans
jazz bands. You could find lots of bands playing all over the London area
every night of the week. I took advantage of the situation and managed to
sub or sit in with some of the bands.
During late winter of 1975, I started following an excellent trad jazz
band called the New Era Jazz Band. It was led by George ‘Kid’ Tidiman.
Not only was George a talented trombone player and band leader, he had a
wonderful happy, smiling personality. Also, he had a never ending supply of
funny stories that always delighted his audiences. During his long career, his
various bands had an extensive repertoire of tunes ranging from early
Armstrong through New Orleans to the Yerba Buena Jazz Band.
Eventually, I was able to work my way into the band as a sub and then a
regular on quite a few gigs. One of my favorites was the Waterman’s Arms
on the Isle of Dogs. Another was the Stapleton pub near Camden Town.
The bandstand was in the corner of a room. On the two side walls, there
were railings that held 21 pints of beer, three for each band member. They
were there in advance of our first set because the pub was so crowded we
could not make our way to the bar to collect our free beer during the
George and I have remained long distance friends for many years. George
visited the US several times and played with my band, the Tarnished 6. He
also arranged for the Tarnished 6 to play at the prestigious Edinburgh music
festival on two occasions.
George continues to perform and has recorded a dozen or more CDs with
many different bands. George was a real fan of 'Kid' Ory as evidenced by
one of his CDs pictured below.
Brian 'Bee' Minter's Gothic Jazz Band
The Stanhope Arms Pub on Gloucester St, Kensington was a well known pub
that hosted trad jazz bands several times a week. It was an attraction for
non-British musicians visiting London.
I was fortunate to be able to work there twice per week with Brian 'Bee'
Minter's Gothic Jazz Band.
Bee had a tune list of some 400 songs. He tried to be systematic and
work his way through the list in alphabetic order! Requests from the crowd
interrupted his orderly approach.
One night, there were jazz musicians from seven different countries
playing a set. I was one of them!
Another night, a Russian sailor jumped ship, borrowed a tenor sax and sat
in with the band. See second photo below. (I am the obvious American with my plaid pants.)