1957 Roll-Call


sees Eel Pie Island Jazz Club’s “Grand Gala Opening Night” celebrating the opening of Michael Snapper’s footbridge to the Island, with Cy Laurie headlining. Others featured during the year include Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen, Mr Acker Bilk and His Paramount Jazz Band, Kenny Ball’s Jazzmen, Merseysippi, Dick Bishop’s Skiffle Group and Mitz Mitton…..

January 1957

Fri. Jan 4th – Mick Mulligan

George Melly at Eel Pie? Probably, given he’d first been enticed to the Island to see Cy Laurie the previous year, with Melly equating ‘Eel Pie Island’ with ‘Honky Tonk’ and ‘Gut Bucket’ linguistically and thematically…

Fri. Jan 11th – Crane River Jazz Band

A kind of ‘supergroup’ of their day, any number of performers listed below passed through the ranks of the Crane River Jazz Band, most notably Ken Colyer, Sonny Morris, and Monty Sunshine

Sat. Jan 12th – Alex Welsh

Sat. Jan 19th – Sandy Brown

During 1957, Sandy and old schoolmate Al Fairweather (who features later in his own right), both alumni of Edinburgh’s Royal High School, recorded and released the seminal “McJazz” album, which, as far as Melody Maker’s critic Steve Race was concerned, was “one of the twelve greatest Jazz recordings of all time” – heady praise indeed. Sandy went on to perform on the Island many times over the next few years, before leaving ‘trad’ for a more mainstream direction. He died in 1975 in front of his TV, watching Scotland lose to England at rugby, but with a whisky in his hand

February 1957

Fri. Feb 1st – Crane River Jazz Band

Sat. Feb 2nd – Omega Jazz Band

Arthur Chisnall’s choice won out in a stand-off with the Cy Laurie Agency’s preferred Alec Revell Band – see next entry

Sat. Feb 9th – Cy Laurie, Bill Brunskill’s Jazzmen, The Alpha Jazzmen

Though Terry Lightfoot had been down to play, other accounts quote this evening as Eel Pie Island Jazz Club’s “Grand Gala Opening Night – A Three Band Session” with Cy Laurie as headline, together with Bill Brunskill’s Jazzmen, and The Alpha Jazzmen. This was, in fact, to mark the opening of the new footbridge over to the Island. Over and above this particular activity, there had been a power struggle going on between Arthur Chisnall and the Cy Laurie Agency surrounding the running of the club: whilst Chisnall ultimately won out, tonight had been promoted by the Cy Laurie Agency, hence Laurie’s appearance tonight – I guess Terry Lightfoot’s New Orleans Jazzmen had been Chisnall’s intended performers (for details of that power struggle, Michele Whitby describes the whole episode in full in her book “Eel Pie Island”)

Fri. Feb 15th – Clyde Valley Stompers or Merseysippi (the flyer is hedging its bets)

Sat. Feb 16th – Ian Bell

Fri. Feb 22nd – Alex Welsh

Sat. Feb 23rd – Piltdown Seven

Thu. Feb 28th – Ken Colyer

March 1957

Sat. Mar 2nd – Ian Bell

Fri. Mar 8th – Crane River Jazz Band

Fri. Mar 15th – Dave Carey

Sat. Mar 16th – Sandy Brown

Fri. Mar 22nd – Crane River Jazz Band

Sat. Mar 23rd – Ian Bell

Fri. Mar 29th – Crane River Jazz Band

Sat. Mar 30th – Sandy Brown

April 1957

Fri. Apr 5th – Ian Bell

Sat. Apr 6th – Dick Bishop’s Skiffle Group & Omega

A rare concession to skiffle being the main musical action here: Dickie Bishop recorded with Chris Barber, and ‘Omega’ was the Omega Brass Band, a marching band at that, who used to feature Ken Colyer within its ranks, and whose elusive only recording of themselves was issued with Ken Colyer as “Colyer Plays Standards”

Fri. Apr 12th – Ian Bell

Sat. Apr 13th – Avon Cities

Fri. Apr 19th– Sandy Brown or The Gateway Jazzmen from Carlisle

Who actually showed up to play tonight? It looks from the flyer that options were being kept open: perhaps Sandy Brown was on the subs bench in case the Gateway chaps couldn’t make it from the far North West, though they were able to make a TV appearance on “Six Five Special” the following year

Sat. Apr 20th – Ian Bell

Fri. Apr 26th – Rob Thornton

Sat. Apr 27th – Alex Welsh

May 1957

Fri. May 3rd – Crane River Jazz Band

Sat. May 4th – Ian Bell

Fri. May 10th – Rob Thornton

Sat. May 11th – Acker Bilt [sic]

While they may have misspelt his name on the flyer, Mr Acker Bilk had his huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic some five years later with “Stranger On The Shore”, when he could also be found sharing the bill on an occasional ‘Riverboat Shuffle’, organised as an alternative night’s entertainment by Liverpool’s Cavern Club, with a bunch called The Beatles

Fri. May 17th – Crane River

Sat. May 18th – Sandy Brown

Fri. May 24th – Casey Bottom

Sat. May 25th – Purest In The West

Both Casey Bottom and Purest In The West are bracketed together on the flyer, so whether that meant both played on both days is unclear

Thu. May 30th – Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen

A live album was recorded tonight, and while, no doubt, the album itself is rare, the CD reissue is just as much so, being out of print at the moment. The CD, at least, is entitled “The Classic Years Volume 2”. The fact that tonight was recorded may explain why it was a Thursday night performance, which rather bucks the Friday / Saturday trend prevalent at this point

Fri. May 31st – Alex Welsh

June 1957

Sat. Jun 1st – Omega Jazz Band

Fri. Jun 7th – Ian Bell

Sat. Jun 8th – Alex Welsh

Fri. Jun 14th – Terry Lightfoot

Sat. Jun 15th – Ian Bell

Fri. Jun 21st – Mike Peters

Sat. Jun 22nd – Mitz Mitton

Responsible for the wonderfully titled read “Don’t take the pith (helmet): A safari through the jungles of jazz”, coming out in 2008, which draws on his years in the jazz business, with the likes of The Omega Jazz Band, and Alan Elsdon. In fact, proceeds from the book went to the Alzheimer’s Society in tribute to his erstwhile boss, Elsdon

Sat. Jun 29th – Alex Welsh

July 1957

Fri. Jul 5th – Alex Welsh

Sat. Jul 6th – Mitz Mitton

August 1957

Fri. Aug 16th – Graham Stewart

Sat. Aug 17th – Merseysippi

Referred to in 1962 by John Lennon as “the old buggers” – Lennon’s Quarrymen supported Merseysippi in January 1958, in what was Paul McCartney’s Cavern debut – and a Liverpool institution since 1949, the Merseysippi Jazz Band headlined on the opening night of that city’s esteemed venue back in January, and performances proliferated thereafter, though not, it appears, in this neck of the woods 

Fri. Aug 23rd – The Storyville Jazz Band

The Storyville Jazz Band were still playing on the Island ten years after tonight, so some sort of long service award should be due. The band provided an early outlet for a young Peter Baker’s talents on drums: later, he would be known as Ginger, and people would learn to beware him!

Sat. Aug 24th – Acker Bilk

Thu. Aug 29th – Ken Colyer

Fri. Aug 30th – The Storyville Jazz Band

Sat. Aug 31st – Ian Bell

September 1957

Fri. Sep 6th – The Storyville Jazz Band

Sat. Sep 7th – Sandy Brown

Fri. Sep 13th – Jubilee

October 1957

Fri. Oct 25th – Jubilee

Sat. Oct 26th – Ian Bell

November 1957

Fri. Nov 1st – Sonny Morris

Sat. Nov 2nd – Sandy Brown

Fri. Nov 8th – Ian Bell

Sat. Nov 9th – Alex Welsh

Fri. Nov 15th – Temperance 7 and Jamaican Steel Band

Sat. Nov 16th – Terry Lightfoot

Fri. Nov 22nd – Mike Peters

Sat. Nov 23rd – Bruce Turner

Having left Humphrey Lyttelton’s band, Bruce Turner formed his Jump Band, and as such represented a more swing / mainstream approach to jazz, as opposed to the Trad style which was prevalent in virtually every other act appearing at the Island at this point. On his debut with Lyttelton’s band in 1953, his alto sax work was unappreciated by the band’s fans, who unfurled a banner bearing the legend “Go Home Dirty Bopper” – he had developed a be-bop style during the Forties.

Fri. Nov 29th – Don Steele’s Jazzmen

December 1957

Sun. Dec 1st – “Grand Opening of the Hacienda Ballroom” (From invite)

The invite (from owner Michael Snapper, actually) only describes the performers as “A well known Dance Band” and “Also a celebrated Caribean [sic] Steel Band”. Who were these mystery bands? And how did this differ from the “Grand Opening” back in February?

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