The recent flurry of gigs in late November/early December has come as a shock to the system, as we've barely been further than our corner shop for many a long month. We had to ask Pete Ward, the band's Head Chauffeur and expert mechanic, to dust off Sister Kate - our ancient tour bus - and prepare her for a mini-tour, starting with Wivey Has Jazz, now based in the sparkling village hall in Langton Budville. There we found a decent acoustic, a fine audience, and - best of all - loads of room on the stage! The previous venue was great to play in, but certainly wouldn't lend itself to any notion of social distancing! We greatly enjoyed ourselves at the new venue, and were given a very friendly and supportive reception ... so we look forward to our next visit, which is already on next year's Calendar!
Then came a private party - a Golden Wedding, no less! - at Oborne, in Deepest Dorset, in a fabulous country hotel called The Grange, where we were looked after most royally by the staff and our hosts, and we thoroughly enjoyed playing for an enthusiastic audience of keen dancers! Some of us were so taken with the elegant but homely surroundings in The Grange that we're hoping to return in a private capacity some time in the future, in order to sample the evident attractions of what promises to be very friendly hospitality and fine cuisine!
Next came a GJazz Promotions event at The Bedford Hotel in Sidmouth - by no means our first at this comfortable and spacious venue. We certainly had a 'captive' audience, for they had all signed up for a GJazz residential weekend, and we were only the mere hors d'oeuvres ahead of the weekend's jazz feast. After a lavish dinner and accompanying beverages, our audience settled down happily (or so it seemed!) to listen to our programme of mainly less well-known fare, including a substantial cluster of rarely-played Jelly Roll Morton numbers like The Chant, Georgia Swing and Smokehouse Blues. As far as we could tell, none of the audience crept out for a nocturnal swim, so they must have enjoyed our music - or maybe they just wanted to avoid hypothermia ...
We've always enjoyed our visits to The Old Barn at Great Bookham in Surrey, despite the very long drive from the West Country. There's always a great atmosphere, a great audience and great dancing, and it's a big tribute to Mick and his team that the club is still thriving! Sadly, after much agonising over the possibility of reducing our travelling - especially night driving - this was to be our last visit to this fine club, as for us West Country lads it means such a long day out with too much stressful motorway driving. As ever, the audience were brilliant, Mick was in top form and very understanding of our decision, and we thoroughly enjoyed playing for the Old Barn crowd. We even managed to sell out of copies of our latest CD Old Man Blues ... farewell, Old Barn - we've loved playing for you all!