Great friend of The Brownhills Blog, top photographer and graphic designer, twitter wit and aspiring returnee cyclist Peter Barker had a remarkably off-beat find the other day. Lurking in his father’s personal effects was a reel to reel tape, containing a recording of some local jazz music, played at The Crown in Brownhills West in the 1970’s. This fits in nicely with David Evans recent musings on music and its place in local community and culture.
It seems Mondays at the Crown were jazz night. Peter isn’t certain, but thinks the recording is from 1977 or perhaps a little earlier; it’s of a program aired on BBC Birmingham (latterly Radio WM) called ‘Down Your Local’ which used to feature music and entertainment from around the station’s broadcast area.
Peter had this to say about the recording:
I’ve split up the recording from the Crown into separate tracks, and I’m sending them on separate emails so hopefully you’ll get them all. Sorry the quality’s a bit ropy, thanks to the combination of a mangled reel to reel tape and a very temperamental old Ferrograph. I may give it another go in the near future but this is the best I can manage at present. I was planning on putting the Ferrograph on eBay but having tried it I think a skip would be a better destination. (Or failing that, I’ll stick it on Freecycle.)
With regard to the recording: it was broadcast on Radio Birmingham I believe (I’m not sure when it changed to WM). I have a feeling it may have been broadcast earlier than 1977 – could probably be a couple of years before that.
Personnel: Paul Degville: Lead guitar; Fred Degville: Rhythm guitar; Ernie Jones (Johns (?)): Violin; Ron Thomas: Bass guitar; Len Coton: Drums.
I remember it being a long room with the bar down the left hand side and possibly two open fireplaces on the right, with a roaring coal fire in at least one of them. (My dad was always convinced the pub was sponsored by the NCB.) I know you had to get in early or you ended up barbecued by the end of the evening.
There’s a bit about the Crown towards the bottom of this page – you’ll find it if you do a search for Fred Degville.
There’s also a bit about Fred and Paul Degville on this page.
Hope that’s enough info to be going on with.
I can assure Peter that the recordings are fine, and astounding. Calling back from a time when Brownhills had a music scene, it may not be to everyone’s taste (I know [Howmuch?] is allergic to certain types of jazz), but it shows how diverse and interesting the pub circuit was in the town at that time. It must have taken an immense amount of work to transfer them and clean them up. It’s a fine job that Peter has accomplished there.
I’m interested (as is Peter) in any recollections you may have of that scene, or indeed, of the Crown itself. This is a remarkable find, and I’d like to thank Peter for it most profusely. Peter is a top bloke and also has something else for your perusal, later in the week. Top fellow, so he is.
Please feel free to listen or cut out and keep these recordings. Do listen to the intro chats, they’re wonderful.
Track 1: I Saw Stars:
Track 2: Intro chat
Track 3: Body and Soul
Track 4: Intro Chat
Track 5: Nigh and Day
Track 6: Nuages
Track 7: Sweet Georgia Brown
Track 8: Dinah