Elizabeth Lamb still taps away to music. It’s a fond reminder of the days when she was the bass drummer in the Sunderland Westenders.
And Bev Paul would love to be a member of the Bluetonians all over again.
They were among the people who responded to our recent nostalgic piece about Wearside jazz bands, by sharing their own memories.
Chris Cordner tells their story.
Elizabeth Lamb had five years in a jazz band.
She was a part of the Sunderland Westenders from 12 years old to 17.
I remember one bank holiday, my whole family including my parents came to Richmond to come and watch our jazz band. Once the parade and display had finished my dad told me ‘wow I never thought you were that good.’ I was so pleasedElizabeth Lamb
It even helped romance to blossom. She explained: “I met my husband to be. He was not in the band but followed us on his scooter.”
It was a highlight in a whole string of them and jazz bands helped in a really positive way.
“Those that were in a jazz band were dedicated children. It took you off the streets and once a week you practised and went away on a Saturday to march in a parade and display,” said Elizabeth.
Her memories were of competitions where “around 10 bands would take part sometimes more. Our band was very large. We also had a large drum section to which I was the bass drummer.
“I, together with our Drum Major Audrey Green and Band Major Doreen Tate plus our mascot won medals each week, plus trophies for best band - lots of them.”
Competitions were exciting times for Elizabeth and her friends. She added: “We would travel all over the country. We had a good bus full of supporters who cheered us on weekly.
“Mr Nicky and Audrey Krager from Ford estate ran a dedicated youth jazz band with a committee. I can only speak for myself but I won well over 110 medals for best bass drummer, but the others in our band won more or same.”
Elizabeth even had her own nickname. It was all down to a quirky photo taken of her. She explained: “I had a nickname of being the one legged bass drummer. This was due to me marching on parade and a supporter took a photo of me which had my second leg missing - not in the shot - which looked as though I only had one leg. It was funny at the time.”
Competing meant a chance to meet new people. “Whilst we attended carnivals all over the country we made friends with other children from other jazz bands and we all had a good selection of friends.”
There were the quirky moments, and the ones which left Elizabeth with a wonderful glow. She said: “The only toy I used to play with was a broom stick with a Domestos bottle on the top. I thought I was the bees knees. I used to march up and down the street where I used to live, not having a care in the world.
“I remember one bank holiday, my whole family including my parents came to Richmond to come and watch our jazz band. Once the parade and display had finished my dad told me ‘wow I never thought you were that good.’ I was so pleased. Of course he praised the Westenders too.
“The band made me a good person, disciplined me. I miss it a lot. My husband still thinks I am still in the band because I tap away all the time to music. This will never leave me. To date I still see quite a few of my band friends from the Westenders. We are good friends I am now 62 years old and I miss it still.”
Bev Paul loved her time in the jazz bands just as much. “Those were the days,” she said. “I was in the Bluetonians owned by Mary Barker and Steven Barker was our trainer.
“I absolutely loved it. We used to go all over.”
She remembered going to Great Yarmouth for championships and the Bluetonions had a sister band in Wales “where we went to stay but mostly we went to Murray House in Newcastle for weekly competitions competing against the massive Embassy Heralds who were fantastic.
“Wish I could do it all again.”
Wonderful memories from both ladies and we thank them for their contributions.