This Week’s Shows 31.12.21

Well, it’s the last day of the year and the last day of a busy month. I suppose this is the sort of time when people generally reflect on the year they’ve had and all that sort of thing. Let’s just say it’s been interesting and kind of a wild ride. It started out super slow with live music still being banned in the UK, then things seemed like they were going to take off, only to be scuppered by a spike in coronavirus and more restrictions over the summer. Then, late in the summer, things genuinely did start to go right and live music really picked up…or was that last year? Seems like we’ve been in a bit of a loop for the past couple of years! Anyway, here are a few highlights from the past month.

Last night was the final gig of the year for me. I was at Matt & Phreds with the Jim Wallace Gypsy Project. This band has really come together over the past 8 months or so and I think we are playing with an genuinely intriguing combination very polished swing, reckless abandon, and joy. Playing with the band has really meant a lot to me and I’m looking forward to working out some new ideas with the guys in the new year. Last night’s gig was live streamed and archived for on-demand viewing at Matt & Phred’s Club+ service.

A few weeks back I had a call from a good friend and former cruise ship colleague, Oli Mulkeen, to play with his band, the Jive Swings, in Birmingham. Oli is a guest entertainer onboard cruise ships, who I worked with many times when I was working as a bandleader at Celebrity Cruises. It was super fun to catch up on the drive down to Birmingham and also fun to play his charts in a different context. We played for a winter ball at the Edgebaston Priory Club, and it was a great night of swing music and dancing.

Finally, my saxo/dj act, EDDA has had a busy month. I’ve done a couple of nights at the Blossom Street Social, which is just up the road. It’s always an interesting scene in there with lots of great drinks and food. The owner, Ben, is a vinyl DJ and often plays with me. He tends to get into some rather esoteric territory, which is fertile ground for improvisation and really enjoyable for me.

I’ve also continued my tradition of playing for the Ancoats Pop-Up Christmas markets. I started doing this last year basically as a busking gig because there wasn’t really anything else going on. Back then the market was super small and kind of tucked away in a sleepy corner of Ancoats. Now, it’s really expanded, taking over Cutting Room Square, and MODA and has become quite an operation. It’s really great to see a local, independent business take off like that and it’s been really rewarding for everyone involved, including me!