Here’s something very special, which I’m immensely proud and humbled to share with readers. It shows what a great online community we all share in Walsall, and the generosity of time, spirit and expertise that exists within it.
I’m sure you’ll remember that back in February, I featured some recordings of live Jazz being played at the Crown pub in Brownhills West, by amongst others, Ken Rattenbury, Paul and Fred Degville – very respected musicians. This was recorded from a reel to reel recording of Meanwhile, Down at the Local, a program then broadcast by BBC Radio Birmingham.
Peter Barker, ace photographer and graphic designer, found the tape in his late father’s personal effects, and lovingly digitised the recording using his trusty mac and a grumpy Ferrograph reel to reel tape deck. Peter subsequently discovered another tape of a previous program featuring the Degville band at the Crown from Easter, 1973. Sadly, however, in the process of conversion, the Ferrograph had one last strop and digested the tape. Peter feared all was lost, including some rather special interview moments.
This disaster was a crying shame – people clearly remembered the band and musicians with real affection, and to lose something so rare was hard. Just as we accepted the worst, offers from readers came in, with one particular smokey old jazzer in Walsall stepping out of the shadows with some rather professional kit. The donor would like to remain anonymous, but I hereby to thank him publicly. His generosity was a true act of musical felicity and has enabled Peter to recover the vast majority of what was considered to be lost. The kindness and selflessness of this act will, I’m sure, be appreciated by all the jazz fans and families concerned.
Peter himself put some sweat into recovering the recording. The donated deck played at a different speed to the Ferrograph, and he’s performed extensive tuning, adjustment and enhancement. It’s a work of art.
At the risk of this turning into some emotional oscars-style mushfest, everyone involved in this – Peter, Anonymous and all who made offers – have all been exemplary. Those who condemn the local online community as parochial and worthless really haven’t a clue about the passion, dedication and sheer good will that exists within it.
Thank you all. You can download these tracks by right-clicking and selecting ‘save as’, or play them within the embedded plays. Sadly, this won’t work on iPads or other iOS devices – you’ll need a real browser.
The Program is Meanwhile, Down at the Local, hosted by Mike Johnson, broadcast Easter, 1973. Enjoy, and marvel at the times…
[Edited 25th March, 9:30pm - you can access the files directly from Peter's site by clicking this link. Only required for those on iPads and suchlike, or those who want to easily download the originals]
Track 1: Introduction
Track 2: Ive Found a New Baby
Track 3: Satin Doll
Track 4: A chat with Ken
Track 5: The Blues My Naughty Sweatpea Gave to Me
Track 6: I’m Confessin’
Track 7: A fan from Lichfield
Track 8: Bourbon Street Parade
Track 9: Interview with Fred Degville
Track 10: Avalon
Track 11: Disaster strikes!
Track 12: What a Difference a Day Makes
Track 13: Running Wild
Track 14: Outtro