E-History - Dixieland Jazz

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Boschstraat  Banjo  Band
From the Rotterdam Branch of the George Formby Society to the Boschstraat Banjo Band

It started from the Rotterdam George Formby branch (of the English George Formby Society) to found the Boschstraat Banjo Jam. This branch celebrated its 15th anniversary in 1999 and an anniversary book was published to mark the occasion, which you can download if you wish (with special attention to pages 24, 28 and 32). It should also be noted that this Dutch branch no longer exists. In the years after the anniversary, the interest in Rotterdam (and the rest of the Netherlands) turned out to decline considerably, so that our last meeting finally took place on August 8, 2004. This was visited by Jonas Svensson from Gothenburg (Zw.), Who was also very active within the Swedish department and with whom we have maintained good contacts for many years. Jonas (see photo, front row, second from right) made a report of this ukulele swan song, which was published a few months later, in the Winter edition of the Vellum (the quarterly magazine of the English George Formby Society).
Focus on Bill Denver


It was in late September 1992 that I received a call from a certain Bill Denver, from Pinner (Middlesex, near London). He was a member of the George Formby Society of GB and had heard a lot about our "Rotterdam" George Formby branch (founded May 1984). Because he had been organizing meetings for about eight years and many of his compatriots had already attended them. Of course he was very welcome. So I met him a few days later at the metro station of the Rotterdam Zuidplein, where I lived around the corner. Then we went to the home of one of our members; Bill was invited (with a couple of us) for dinner there. That consisted of, something else, the "Dutch pot" and besides the Dutch beer he also seemed to like this meal and so Bill felt right at home that evening. The first meeting with us, on October 4 in the Rotterdam Grand hotel Central, was one not to be forgotten for him and therefore also that day the foundation was laid for a long-term friendship. The next day he was also extensively discussed in an article in the Rotterdams Dagblad that, whether or not alarmed by his arrival, paid attention to his performance.

Since then, Bill was indispensable when we got back together. Partly for this reason, he was already present on January 31, 1993, when we took the “ukes” out of the suitcase in our home port, that beautiful, English-style hotel on the Kruiskade. But three months later, on 23 May, the big "breakthrough" came for him when he came over for the Breda jazz festival as well as for the George Formby Meeting. After that, Bill did so regularly when we devoted another afternoon to our great "inspirator" and was, up to and including the 2009 edition, always at his permanent place at the entrance of Gantau Village in Boschstraat; of course his favorite song, Rosetta, was played there. Over the years BN / De Stem had discovered us, and Bill, there as well and so its presence was announced in June 2003.

In all those years Bill did not only make the crossing for "Breda" and "Rotterdam". Jazz festivals in Utrecht, Kijkduin, Eindhoven, Wageningen and Den Bosch did not escape his attention either, of course always in the company of a number of us. He also proved to be an enthusiastic representative of our branch in England, so the board (consisting of Janet Grootoonk, Remco Houtman and the undersigned) decided to appoint him as Ambassador on May 16, 1999. This presentation, which also included (on the occasion of our 15th anniversary), the anniversary book saw the light of day, took place in the Rotterdam jazz club C5: the location that we had chosen especially for this.

As said, Bill was a loyal visitor to “Breda”, but unfortunately he has been unable to attend for a few years now, his health is not always cooperative. For that reason, too, it couldn't hurt that we honored him with a visit on June 21, 2009, when he reached the respectable age of 85. Because five of us, under the guise of the Jazzy Janet's Banjo Band, then entered his house unannounced to underline the great appreciation for him on behalf of all the musicians of the Boschstraat Banjo Band with a musical tribute.

Hans de Roon
BANJO GROUPS

Just like the California Ramblers, of which various members formed splinter groups under obscure names such as The Goofus Five, The Little Ramblers and The Five Birmingham Babies, many members of the BBB have also made such a detour. This musical cheating was reflected in formations such as ...

UB2
On October 3, 1992, the Bill Brookers 'Jugband gave a reunion concert in' t Kapelletje in Rotterdam, the city where this formation was founded in 1969. Among other things, UB2 (two ukulelebanjos) were invited: Mike Metcalfe (specially flown in from England for this) and Hans de Roon were the characters behind this duo, which also marked their only appearance ever. That night's line-up was completed by the Oldtime Cityslickers (Dordrecht), one of the few Dutch groups that still honors the authentic string band music of the America of the 1920s and 1930s. In doing so, a historic concert took place in this atmospheric and music hall-like "candy box", fortunately also captured by the cameras.

THE SMALL CASES
With Janet Grootoonk, Remco Houtman and Hans de Roon on ukulele and ukebanjo. Founded during the years of the Rotterdam branch of the English George Formby Society. Between 1984 and 2004 they organized dozens of meetings there, mainly in Grand hotel Central on the Kruiskade.

THE HAREMS
In November 1994 Hans de Roon moved for, what turned out to be, four years to Sunderland, located in the north-east of England. (See also page 11 of the Jubilee book 1984-1999 of the Rotterdam branch of the English George Formby Society; this can still be downloaded: see "Opmaat Rotterdam branch of the George Formby Society / BBB" on this website). Anyway, the (musical) home front did not leave him to his fate and he received a visit from Remco Houtman, who of course had brought his ukebanjo with him. In doing so, they performed on September 8, 1995, under the name of "The Harems", 1 2 3 4 at the Gateshead Fell Cricket Club, the location of the jazz club in this nearby town; musically they were supported in this by some members of the Tyne Valley Stompers, one of the house orchestras.
For the record: the direct object has not missed a single edition of the "BBB" in those four years, he faithfully came over every year for this!

                                                                       
VELLUM STOMPERS
With Remco Houtman and Hans de Roon on ukulele banjo, Ben Calis on clarinet, Jo Vroomen / Frits de Groot on washboard and Gerlof Abels on tuba. In May 2005 they performed informally during the jazz festival in Enkhuizen. A few months before that, on March 26, a CD of them was released: "Live at the triangle", recorded in Amersfoort. On 5 May 2007 they also contributed to the international Ukulele Festival in Belsele (B), which was co-organized by Remco Houtman, together with Janet Grootoonk, who has now returned. During the early years of this century, the Vellum Stompers, supplemented by some members of the BBB, were regularly to be found during the Eindhoven jazz festival, Bill Denver was invariably there. They could be admired in various places, especially on the terrace of the local O'Shea's pub. The August 2003 edition of this event was further highlighted by the Eindhoven's Dagblad, five of us were then captured on film. A month earlier, the Ghent Festivities were brightened up and in November of that year, visitors to the international Banjo Festival in Duisburg (Ger) were appropriately escorted inside. Again informally they were also present in August 2004 at the jazz festival in IJsselstein.

JAZZY JANET'S BANJO BAND
With Janet Grootoonk on plectrum banjo and ukebanjo, John van Almkerk on tenor banjo, Hans de Roon on ukebanjo, Caspar Scharten on violin, Jo Vroomen on washboard and Hans Veels on sousaphone. It was performed on May 8, 2009 in the Grote Kerk in Breda, as part of the annual Keyser children dinner; in the following October also to liven up a private party by Frans Derks, the well-known former football referee. They also paid a surprise visit on the occasion of Bill Denver's 85th birthday. As party poopers, they entered his house on June 21, 2009 to pay a musical tribute to this highly esteemed member of the band. You can follow this on YouTube: JJBB crashes a party.

POPPEL STOMPERS
The most recent musical fruit on the BBB tree. In August 2010, the barbecue on the estate of Menno Bloemhof (tenor banjo), who lives in Poppel (Belgium), was brightened up with their only, but exclusive, performance so far. The basis was formed by the JJBB, this time reinforced with Miente Boersma on soprano sax and Ad de Bree on washtub bass and bones.
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