Mike Denham :
piano & leader
Introduced to the piano by his father, who needed someone to accompany his violin, mandolin and guitar playing, Mike's music career suffered an early setback when he was asked to leave the school madrigal group - too much syncopation. His jazz initiation came at Exeter University and then, moving to Leicestershire, he cut his teeth with bands led by Eric Dolby and Ron Radford, both very fine trombonists. Back in Dorset, he co-founded the Sunset Cafe Stompers with the late Alan Potton. Despite heartless criticism, Mike is still determined to eventually master - some fine day - the Swanee whistle, and (thanks to a Covid-19 'Lockdown Project') the piano accordion ...
Steve Graham : trumpet/cornet
A skilful multi-instrumentalist, (the lute and the bagpipes are amongst his accomplishments), Steve is one of the UK's most-respected New Orleans style trumpet players, and is first call for many bands when their trumpet player is indisposed. His ability and desire to explore the full range of the music, from the sweet and melodic to the hot and dirty, from the low-down to the cultivated, lifts any band he plays with to a higher level. He's been applying this magic to the SCS since he joined in 2012, and has recently been assiduously mastering the kazoo as well as contributing his vocal talent to the band's performances.
Pete Middleton : trombone/arranger
Piano lessons where he had his knuckles rapped for 'jazzing '... then on to skiffle ... but hearing his cousin Don Perrin playing trombone along with George Lewis LPs was a life-changer, and a £12 pawnshop trombone got him started in his early teens. Tons of undergrad jazz failed to sabotage landing a teaching job - plus piano fame with The Solway Eight at Workington Iron & Steelworks Social Club. A move to Somerset saw Pete on trombone with the anarchic Great Western Marching Band, Henry's Bootblacks, The Milenburg Six, and others. With the SCS since 2010, he has also played with Tim Newman's Celebration Band, the DS Big Band, and (a dark secret!) bass trombone with Frome Symphony Orchestra.
Trevor Whiting :
clarinet & saxes
It seemed something of a minor miracle when Trevor was somehow 'poached' from the Chris Barber Band by Mike Denham's persuasive oratory. Apart from his three separate stints with the Barber band, Trevor used to appear regularly in the 80s on BBC Jazz Club, played for a while with Ken Colyer, worked with visiting American musicians like Al Casey, Art Hodes, Marty Gross and Scott Hamilton, and more recently has been working with Clare Teal. His technical expertise and melodic inventiveness contribute enormously to the overall impact of the band, and we still can't quite believe how lucky we are to have him on board!
Keith Hall :
banjo & guitar
Aged nine, Keith started piano lessons, but he constantly dreamed of becoming Hank Marvin of the Shadows, and so took up the guitar at the tender age of 14. Having discovered Blues and Bluegrass, he fell under the spell of the blind guitarist Doc Watson. In his early twenties, he splashed out and bought a 5-string banjo and formed a Bluegrass band. Based in Oxford, by his mid-thirties he had moved on to playing jazz, learning sophisticated chord progressions from a friend who had lived with Diz Disley. He soon joined the Royal Garden Jazzmen, but only after removing the 5th string from his banjo and buying an electric guitar. Later, having moved to Somerset, he spent several years with the Beachcomber Stompers and over twenty with the Tone Valley band, not to mention surviving several gigs with Henry Davis. He currently owns 15 guitars and 8 banjos, but fortunately only brings one of each to gigs. We were absolutely delighted to recruit him to our ranks during the Summer of 2019.
John Coad :
Played drums, as a spotty youth, on his brother-in-law's 1930s traps kit complete with red skull blocks and swan-neck cymbal holders. 'Worth a small fortune now - why did I part with them?' This led him into saving up his pocket money to buy his first jazz LP, featuring the great Chicago drummer George Wettling. The die was cast, and the neighbours moved! Alongside an illustrious career in aeronautical engineering - he practically invented Concorde single-handed - gigs in the mid 60s led to west-country groups such as the Panama Jazz Band and New Society. He was delighted to be offered the drum chair in the SCS when it became vacant in 2014, because it came with three coloured shirts! He seems to have become the band's 'Logistics Manager', and our trips to foreign parts - like the Isle Of Wight - are now preceded by a mountain of impressively arcane operational directives ...
Pete Ward :
Abandoning an early career on Slough's dodgy pub pianos, Pete - being a talented chap - swiftly moved on to banjo, then in 1961 equally seamlessly onto bass. Since moving down to Somerset his melodic style has contributed to the success of many a fine band, including Nigel Hunt's Imperial Jazzband, the Panama Jazz Kings, Dennis Armstrong's Western Jazzband, and John Shillito's Rhythm Aces. Pete has travelled widely to play jazz throughout the UK and has appeared at many major festivals. Pete's 'proper' job was particularly noteworthy - Editorial Director at Haynes, the car manual publishers. Thanks to this automotive background, he has owned a greater variety of motor vehicles than the rest of the band put together. Currently the band's longest serving sideman, he's been with the SCS since 1999, and permits the occasional band rehearsal to take place in his luxury pad in the Ancient Capital of Wessex.
Hamish Maxwell :
There can scarcely be a greater claim to fame within the band - Hamish was Best Man at the wedding of Ian 'Stu' Stewart, pianist and founder-member of The Rolling Stones! Add to this a glorious and varied career, beginning with the London skiffle scene in the 60s, a 'proper' job at The Dorchester Hotel, invitations to guest with Axel Zwingenberger at the Vienna Boogie Festival (where he was given standing ovations!), frequent appearances at the International Boogie Woogie Festival on our very own shores, and mainstay of many a jumping blues outfit - latterly Custer's Last Blues Band. He was rescued by the band from the the seedy bohemian underworld of Bridport, and we now count ourselves extremely lucky to have a Living Legend in our midst. Such is his talent, he is even able to interpret gender-specific numbers by the great Bessie Smith! On gigs, he regularly manages to earn more applause than the rest of us put together ...