14 February 2016


Regular readers will know I'm strongly in favour of having jazz performances at lunchtimes, especially in pubs here in England, because the elderly folk who make up most of the audience prefer to go out for a leisurely pub lunch and hear some good music, rather than be out late at night, having to make their way home from a jazz club at 11pm. Many of them have told me so. Another reason is that the music gets heard by some younger people too, and that is surely important.

Good news is that yet another pub in the English Midlands started in May 2016 to have traditional jazz in the lunchtimes. The pub is The Boathouse at Barrow-on-Soar (beautifully situated on the river bank between Loughborough and Leicester). The Secret Jazz Band has been booked to play every second and fourth Monday of the month, between 12.30pm and 2.30pm. The band gave its first performance on 9 May 2016, when there was some fine music and a good audience enjoying the sunshine at the tables overlooking the river.
Some of the boating people moored up and stopped to have a lunch and hear the jazz, too.

If you live in the region, why not give the music your support? You can see a YouTube clip of the band by clicking on here .

The Secret Jazz Band was formed in June 2014. The percussionist Alan Cole had been invited to provide a six-piece traditional jazz band for a once-a-month Thursday lunchtime session at another public house - The Dog and Gun in Syston, Leicester. He agreed to do this - and then set about forming a band.
Alan Cole at The Dog and Gun
Alan gave the band the working title of The Secret Jazz Band (secret because he did not know who the musicians would be) – and the name has stuck.

Alan did not have much difficulty in finding players who said they would be happy to spend a lunchtime, at least occasionally, taking part in a relaxed jam session. They knew it would provide a good opportunity to have fun and keep in practice.

Since then, The Secret Jazz Band has played every month at The Dog and Gun. The pub belongs to the 'Steamin' Billy' chain, whose management team are keen supporters of live music.
It is a pub that looks after its customers well, with a cosy log fire:
And if offers a good lunch:
With such a pool of musicians, the fans never know who will be in the 'secret' band.
Pete Crebbin often turns up and plays trombone.
The Secret Jazz Band plays at The Dog and Gun from 12.30pm until 2.30pm on the first Thursday of every month.
The band does not get together to rehearse, so it wisely sticks to familiar, uncomplicated numbers – tunes such as Make Me A Pallet on the Floor, Running Wild, Alexander's Ragtime BandWhen You're Smiling, The Girls Go Crazy, Hindustan, Careless Love.

The audience grew over the months and at the performance on 7 January 2016 reached a peak of 45, so the bar was crowded.

Band manager Alan eventually had some business cards printed. He became ambitious enough to hope The Secret Jazz Band might attract bookings beyond the confines of the two pubs!

The secret is out.