New Orleans, London, Memphis, Manchester… British Blues before the 1960s

This was the title of a talk given by Lawrence Davies on Saturday 26 September 2015 at the National Jazz Archive in Loughton, Essex, UK.

Blues researcher Lawrence Davies talked about the story of early British blues as seen through the collections of the National Jazz Archive and his own research. Blues, ‘hot’ jazz and boogie-woogie became a vital part of the 1930s and 40s musical landscape in the UK through the release of US ‘Race Records’ on popular UK and European record labels. After the war, broadcast on the BBC, VOA and AFN, and the emergence of ‘traditional’ jazz and skiffle set the stage for the first visits of African American blues musicians – Leadbelly (Paris), Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, James Cotton, Muddy Waters, Sister Rossetta Tharpe and blues piano players like Specked Red and Otis Spann, usually with Chris Barber’s band.

The Cyril Davies website provides a lot of background on what happened.

Lawrence Davies is a research student in jazz and popular music at King’s College, London.


Fox and Goose, Ealing Jazz Club.

Fox and GooseI visited the Fox and Goose pub on Hanger Lane, Ealing , London, on Wednesday 19 Aug with Colin Kingwell to talk to the current  manager,  Julian Peters. Julian wanted to know more about the pub’s musical history. He was aware that The Who played there when they were known as The Detours.

We talked about about the Ealing Jazz Club, which was held there on Friday nights in the 1950s. Steve Lane, cornet, ran the club with his New Orleans Jazz Band, The Southern Stompers. Colin played trombone  and the banjo player was his friend Cyril Davies. During the evening, Cyril switched to 12 string guitar and played acoustic blues in a small group with  Bob Watson.  This was the start of the British Blues boom 10 years later. You can hear more about this in the broadcast I posted earlier, and read more on the Cyril Davies web site

The pub has changed a lot since the Jazz Club days. It was a skittle alley before it became the club room and now it houses the new kitchen and a conference room. We gave them some photos and newspaper cuttings about the Jazz Club’s acoustic blues sessions, which are now on the pub’s history wall.

Cyril moved on to The Round House pub in Soho in 1955 where he and Alexis Korner absorbed blues and amplification from visiting American artists and recordings. They emerged in 1962 as Blues Incorporated in the Ealing Club and the British Blues Boom was underway!


Cyril Davies – from Trad Jazz to the Rolling Stones

The story of Cyril Davies, the first British blues harmonica player. From Traditional Jazz to Country Blues and Jug Bands in the 1950s. Joining up with Alexis Korner at the Round House pub in Soho. The meetings with blues greats like Big Bill Broonzy, Sonny Terry, Muddy Waters and James Cotton. Amplification and the Explosion of Blues Incorporated into the Ealing Club and The Marquee in 1962. A year of fame with his own band, The All Stars, and his early death in January 1964.

This comes from a podcast radio show I did in 2013 on Jonathan Baillie Strong’s “Live Lockdown” on K2K Community Radio in Kilburn. I covered the life of Cyril Davies on from his beginnings in Denham, West London, until his death in 1964, aged 33. With live music from Simon Prager, Doc Stenson, Hylda Sims, John O’Leary and Laurie Garman.

Live Lockdown – Cyril Davies – from Trad Jazz to the Rolling Stones  

1 – Intro – 00:00
2 – Cyril Davies – Country Line Special – 01:36
3 – Mick Jagger – Warm up – 03:00
4 – Talk  – 03:37
5 – Barbeque Jazz Band – Trad jazz – 05:30
6 – Talk – 06:30
7 – Steve Lane – Tennessee Twilight – 07:25
8 – Talk – 09:10
9 – City Ramblers – On a Monday – 12:40
10 – Talk  – 16:05
11 – Big Bill Broonzy – Glory of Love – 21:02
12 – Ramblin’ Jack Elliott – San Franciso Bay Blues – 21:38
13 – Speckled Red – Dirty Mistreater – 22:22
14 – Sonny Terry – Harmonica Blues – 23:06
15 – Muddy Waters – Catfish – 23:38
16 – Talk – 24:20
17 – City Ramblers – All by Myself – 30:30
18 – Talk- 33:00
19 – City Ramblers – How Long Blues – 35:10
20 – Talk – 37:20
21 – Blues Inc – Hoochie Coochie Man – 40:54
22 – Alexis Korner Blues Inc – Spooky but Nice – 42:45
23 – Blues Inc – Down Town – 44:30
24 – Alexis Korner Blues Inc -How Long Blues – 46:45
25 – Talk – 49:20
26 – Cyril Davies – Preachin’ the Blues – 55:00