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The Harp Hotel, Albrighton, Shropshire. WV7 3JF

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The page for jazz news and other newsworthy items


The music you can hear is Tony Hobson singing "Little Lady Make Believe" from the "Eagle Jazz Band in Concert" CD.

I had this email from sax player Charlie Wright, it may interest a few "Big Band" enthusiasts:


"I wonder – would you mind putting a plug on your site for the Brian Newton Big Band

They play the first Monday of most months outside the school holidays at the Triplex Sports and Social club which is between Cotteridge and Kings Norton in Birmingham

 The club is in Eckersall Road Kings Norton Birmingham B38 8SR.,-1.9383056,17z

It’s a band that has been part of the Midlands scene forever and has a great library covering much of the “classic big band” era. 

We all know the current environment makes big band/jazz events precarious and I think this institution could do with a bit of encouragement. 

I appreciate that it’s a bit short notice for this Monday – but if you could put it out on your site, I’d be really grateful

The Band’s website is





Dec. 2nd 2006....I did ask for news or pictures and Harp regular Frank Meeson has again come up trumps with pictures of the Turkey and Tinsel week at Bodelwyddan Castle Hotel.
Frank's comments:
"Just had week doing "Turkey & Tinsel" with friends. Thought you may like to see the results of our efforts. We all did full dress suits for Christmas Day and Fancy Dress for New Year's Eve. When I say all I mean us nutters from Telford. You may consider me going as "The Mad Hatter" was type casting, my friends did, but just look at them, I ask you!!
We'll obviously never grow out of it now. Good clean fun though, except for all the gallons of red we saw off".

The 3rd. Annual Cruise by Jazz Club 90

"A dry, breezy day (please note the "breezy" part of the weather forecast!) with possible showers later." ....... was the predicted weather for our third trip on the good ship "Ernest Thomas II , kindly arranged by John and Barbara Bosworth, the captain and 'er indoors. We arrived at the moorings near the Cee-Ders Club to find Frank Pardoe already there with our hosts.  John and Pat, Gordon, Pauline, Gladys and Gordon and Iris and Terry soon completed the passenger list. After the captain's Health and Safety announcements (remain seated in the locks, if you should fall in, keep your gob shut, stand up and walk out etc!) we set off in a southerly direction with the aim of negotiating the 3-lock staircase at Bratch to enjoy a picnic on the canalside.

Before reaching this happy situation we had to negotiate 3 other locks and the captain did show some signs of trepidation when yours truly offered his services as "driver" of the 72 feet long narrowboat which passed for our luxury cruiser. Under the very capable guidance of Barbara the new helmsman soon got the hang of things again (it is a year since the last trip!) and we made steady progress towards our destination.

As on previous trips it was at times hard to believe we were only a few miles from the centre of Wolverhampton and still on the edge of the huge West Midlands conurbation......the tranquillity of the canal banks, a heron, ducks, nice gardens and passing boats all created a peaceful scene.....a scene made all the more pleasant by the regular supply of red wine and other beverages to the helmsman and the the crew and passengers!
With the able assistance of  John Hill with his lock key we did arrive at Bratch where negotiating the three locks gave us some insight in to the great engineering skills which were needed to build the canal network across the country and, as Barbara said, all done without a computer in sight!

Our captain chose not to trust the inexperience  of yours truly and decided to take the helm in order to turn this rather long vessel in a part of the canal which was about 3 feet wider than the boat was long! Needless to say he did this faultlessly and brought the Ernest Thomas to a mooring alongside the picnic area with the sun shining upon us.

A very pleasant picnic lunch was provided by John and Barbara, very different to last year's fish and chips but equally enjoyable.

With various puddings, including strawberries and cream to follow, we spent a very pleasant hour and a half enjoying a rather nice August day and then John moved the Ernest Thomas to the other side of the canal to be first in the queue to go up the locks this time.

As we rose up the locks certain members of the crew took great delight in watching the passengers at the front of the boat get a trifle damp as the water poured through the paddles in the gates to fill the lock!
It was shortly after this that things began to go a little wrong! recall the weather forecast at the start of this report?....well the wind did begin to freshen and make the rather long boat a little more difficult to control, with the result that negotiating one bend in the canal ET refused to obey any commands and sailed gracefully in to the bank on the other side, with the stern then becoming grounded on the bottom!!
Drastic measures were needed and the mighty muscles of Frank Pardoe, (with the hat!) came to the rescue when he grabbed the boathook and literally pushed us into the middle of the canal whereby some of the ladies were able to, eventually, get a rope ashore to John and Gordon who completed the rescue.

There is absolutely no truth in the scurrilous suggestion that the helmsman had imbibed a little more red wine than was good for him, and the ribald comments which ensued have been noted for future reprisals!

Negotiation of the remaining locks was conducted in a more seemly manner (sobered up comes to mind) and we arrived back at the mooring at Castlecroft after a superb and enjoyable six hours on the canal, a quiet peaceful world we meet all to infrequently.

Our thanks to John and Barbara for making it all happen, to Marie, Pat and Pauline for making sure we were fed and watered very well and that the boat was left clean and tidy.

My own thanks to everyone for making such a pleasant six hours pass so's to next year!

Latest on grandsons!

As this page is not restricted solely to news of a musical nature you may well be interested in further news of Grandson No. 2, Adam and No. 1, Jamie.

Adam's appearance at the Harp brought out the motherly (?grandmotherly) feeling in Barbara, whilst on another occasion he was just comfy!

No doubt it won' be long before he is on the bike or in the water like Jamie!


They do seem to get on very well together.

Another sad day

Thursday morning, June 22nd, just as we were leaving for Upton Jazz Festival, we had a phone call from Pete Ainge to tell us that Derek Halford had passed away in the early hours. Derek was not only one of the finest trombone players in the jazz world but also one of the nicest men you could wish to meet, his appearances at the Harp always raised everyone's spirits a little. He had a great rapport with our audience and his inimitable singing of "Sugar" brought smiles to his lady fans' faces.

A great loss to jazz but an even greater loss to his family who will no doubt be heartened when they hear of the tributes paid to Derek at the Upton Festival.
The photo on the left, sent to me by Frank Meeson, shows Harp regular and popular musician Frank Pardoe when he was playing lead alto sax in the Frank Clayton Band. (our man is 2nd from the right, with a little more hair than he has now!)


The 11 piece band was resident at Sankey's Ballroom, Hadley during the '50s and early '60s with admission 2 shillings and sixpence (12½p) and about 500 dancers turned up each week!

Saturday, June 11th. was another sad day for Midlands jazz with the passing of cornet player Ken Ingram.

A regular at the Harp with his Vintage Jazzmen, New Creole Jazz Band and Central City Jazzmen, Ken will be remembered as one of the gentlemen of jazz, one who thought any music that first saw the light of day after 1920 was modern jazz!

This led to him being recognised as one of the finest exponents of "traditional" jazz, particularly the music of Joe "King" Oliver as demonstrated beautifully with his New Creole band which featured the two cornets of Ken with Chris Mercer.

Ken will also be remembered as the instigator of the nationally recognised Eagle Jazz band which he formed in 1951 with amongst others Bob Smith and the late Tony Hobson.

A fine cornet player and a very nice man, Ken will be sadly missed by everyone at the Harp.

Sunday, May 22nd. was the 60th. birthday of the boss of the Harp International Hotel, Sir Terry Pibworth, Esquire, Jazz Benefactor Extraordinaire, Reluctant Imbiber and General All Round Good Egg!A collection amongst the audience over two or three sessions produced a few shillings to buy Terry a present, but what do you buy the man who has everything?!  The odd bottle of whisky was out of the question (after all he does own his own pub!), we've never seen him eat chocolates and flowers seemed a bit girlie, so Marie suggested a weekend ticket for Upton on Severn Jazz Festival together with the ticket for camping.....unfortunately we couldn't run to a ticket for the bar as well! We actually collected just 20 pence more than the cost of the tickets so Marie presented it to Terry to go towards his first drink!

The presentation of Terry's card and tickets took place during a superb session by the New Washboard Syncopators.

The funeral of John Burnett took place on Tuesday, April 5th. and showed once again the affection which is felt for jazz musicians by their friends, fans and fellow musicians.

St. John's Church at Perry Barr was packed to capacity when John's coffin was played in by about a dozen of John's musician friends. At the end of the service long time friend and colleague Ken Jones paid his own tribute and the band led the procession out of the church.

At the nearby crematorium it was the same story with many people having to stand outside for the final act in John's sad journey.

The solemn atmosphere was shattered in true John Burnett Jazz Bandits style with their recorded version of "Choo Choo Cha Boogie", a ploy John used to wake up the audience at the Harp if he thought they were too quiet!

The large number of people who went on to John's "local", the Conservative Club at Great Barr, and the musicians who took to the stage once again emphasised John's standing in the jazz world. 

Our thoughts and best wishes go to Lesley and her family.

   This page is sadly becoming more of an obituary column with the news of the death of one of the Midlands finest trumpet players, John Burnett, who died  on Tuesday, March 15th. 2005. John and his Jazz Bandits had become firm favourites with Jazz Club 90 audiences ever since the sessions were first started way back in 1990. As one of our regular bands they had played for us on the last Tuesday of almost every month for 15 years.

With the Bandits John had backed many of the stars of the jazz world who appeared at the Harp. These included Bruce Adams, Alan Barnes, Pascal Micheaux, Denise and Tony Lawrence and Kenny Baker, the first and to my mind greatest "star" to play for us. 

The Kenny Baker session was the only one where John started a session early....only because he and the band were so nervous waiting for Kenny to appear they just had to do something!! Needless to say both John and the band rose to the occasion and he played some of the finest trumpet of his life. Apart from his music John's rapport with the audience at the Harp contributed enormously to the enjoyment of the sessions, even his obvious glee when, on rare occasions, he was able to announce that his beloved West Bromwich Albion had won their football game and the Wolves had lost theirs! 

We will all miss a fine musician and a nice guy who's life ended much too soon.

Thursday, February 10th. 2005-02-11

Today was the funeral of one of the most popular Midlands jazz musicians, trombone player Tony Hobson.

How popular Tony was can be judged by the unbelievable number of musicians, fans and friends in the congregation at both St. Margaret’s Church at Great Barr and the crematorium at Streetly, a congregation which numbered several hundreds….the “convoy” of cars following the hearse was one of the longest ever!

Tony’s friends from the Eagle Jazz Band played him in to the church and tributes were paid by the vicar, Tony’s daughters and fellow musicians Bob Smith and Selwyn Newton. The bond between the latter two and Tony was obvious as both became emotionally upset during their tributes and deserve praise for undertaking such a sad task, as do Tony’s daughters.

The Eagle led the procession from the church to the hearse and saw Tony off in fine style with all his friends following.

At the crematorium the procession took the form of  25-30 musicians, the “Brollie Ladies”, Tony’s wife Pat and her family and finally the hearse.

Everyone was packed into the chapel, 4 deep along the sides and even behind the vicar who digressed from her planned programme to start off with “Wow, what a send off!” I don’t think Streetly Crematorium has ever seen such a congregation!Probably the most emotional part of the whole service was when, with the curtain closing around the coffin, Tony’s voice could be heard introducing and then singing “I’ll see you in my dreams”….I doubt if there was a dry eye any where in the chapel.

Outside the chapel the huge orchestra again played Tony’s style of music, finishing up with “I’ll be glad when you’re dead you rascal you”…apparently requested, no, ordered by Tony himself!

Back at the hotel where Tony had played almost every week for many years I’m sure Pat would have been heartened by the many comments about Tony, not so much about his music, it was taken as read that he was a brilliant musician, but more about his love of life, his personality, his ability to make friends and above all his desire to entertain.

A very sad day but a wonderful way to remember one of the greats of Midlands jazz.

  A very sad day for British Jazz

Monday, January 31st. was the day British jazz, and particularly Midlands jazz, lost one of its most popular trombone players with the sad death of Tony Hobson. Tony was a popular figure for over 50 years, not only for his trombone playing (and piano, and drums as in his three drummers spot with Barry Norman and Pete Brown in the Eagle) but also for his enthusiasm and enjoyment of his music. He will be greatly missed by his fans in audiences everywhere, especially at the Harp where Marie in particular will miss his version of "Little lady Make Believe" which he never failed to sing for her.

Wherever you are Tony we know someone will be enjoying your music!

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