21 February 2015


Boats coming down a hill!
Here you can see three - perhaps four - of the ten locks.
Jazz Band emerging from a lock.
For five years in succession, my friend Ralph Hunt, the composer and banjo player, took his narrowboat through the famous descent of the ten Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal, here in the Midlands of England. Every time, we had a four-piece traditional jazz band playing on the boat. 
We performed as we descended through the locks, playing such tunes as Canal Street Blues, On a Slow Boat to ChinaUp a Lazy River and Down By The Riverside. The descent took about an hour.
A great crew of volunteer helpers, including Ralph's wife Anne, did all the really hard work, such as opening and closing the lock gates.
Ralph and Anne
After that, we played When The Saints Go Marching In while crossing the famous Bridge 62 (The Rainbow Bridge).
Then we gave a short concert outside the Bridge 61 Pub including Basin Street Blues by the ‘Basin’ at the foot of the locks.
Our programme included a brand-new tune that Ralph specially composed for the occasion. It is called The Foxton Rag. It is a pretty little piece that incorporates three themes and two key changes. It was a joy to play.
Every year, the Foxton event attracted hundreds of people. It was a fun occasion and we always seemed to have good weather.
In the pub.
There was for me the extra delightful surprise one year that my brother and his wife suddenly appeared: they had driven 100 miles from London just to support the event and to enjoy a brief get-together over a beer!

And I send a special word of thanks also to those of you who came along to support us. Someone once made a VERY short video of us:
Click here to view.
Canals are fine places to have a rehearsal or give a jazz concert. I recommend them.