Foz on Jazz and Blues

This month Foz previews the annual Ipswich Jazz Club blues night and urges you to get StowBlues in your diary as well.

For well over a decade now the ever-popular Ipswich Jazz Club has put on an annual blues night which sees me booking the cream of the British blues scene and BBC radio Suffolk recording the proceedings. The very first one we did back in the days when the IJC was at The Manor Ballroom was a great evening in the company of the Queen of UK blues Dana Gillespie and over the next few years there we welcomed Matt Schofield, Mike Sanchez, Ben Waters and The Barcodes. The latter act even released a CD of the highlights of their two sets which I’ve very proud to have in my collection.

Since the IJC has been at The California Club we’ve programmed more top names like Ian Siegal, Paul Lamb and the King Snakes, Zoe Schwarz’s Blue Commotion, the Mark Flanagan Trio, The Keno Kings, Charlie Wood, Big Boy Bloater and The Limits  and most recently Cherry Lee Mewis. We’re ringing the changes a little bit for 2016 by having an acoustic evening featuring two duos – Dennis Greaves and Mark Feltham and Dennis Greaves from Nine Below Zero and Jon Amor and Joel Fisk.

It’s a real battle of the duos but not in a pistols-at-dawn sense! Dennis and Mark are founder members of NBZ and are no strangers in Suffolk’s county town. Since the early 1990s when the group re-convened NBZ have played at virtually all the town’s main venues, the last one being at Venue 77 in the autumn of 2015. In the days ex-Rory Gallagher bassist Gerry McAvoy was part of the show they regularly sold out The Lion’s Den before sharing the bill with Dr Feelgood across the way at the Corn Exchange.  Dennis and Mark have a real soft spot for my hometown and will be back on Sunday, May 15 to play songs from their excellent Duo album.

Another band who used to pack out the Lion’s Den during the Smokestack-era were The Hoax. Their lead guitarist was and still is Jon Amor who also manages to front his own band and play acoustically with Colchester’s Joel Fisk. They’ll be opening the show the IJC blues night. Doors open at 7-30pm and admission’s £14. BBC Radio Suffolk’s Big Bad Dave Butcher will be recording the entire proceedings and I’ll be pulling together the highlights for a special programme to be broadcast at 6pm on Monday, May 30.

The aforementioned Joel Fisk is also taking part in next month’s StowBlues. He’ll be rounding off proceedings outdoors on Saturday, June 11 with his superb band The Breakdown. The event starts earlier a couple of hours earlier this year (midday) and then at 8pm moves indoors into the barn for an unplugged finale with Jamie Williams and The Roots Collective. Once again BBC Radio Suffolk will be there to record all the music on the main stage. The outdoors line-up also includes The Blues Situation, The Makeshifts, The CCJs and Back Porch with two more bands to be confirmed. I’ll have a full preview for you in next month’s Grapevine. In the meantime, do put the date in your diary. I promise you it’ll be a real blues celebration.