The Old Comrades at their former venue of  “The Rope Walk”. This was on 19.06.07

The Band Line up at that time was somewhat different to the latest Band members

kindly donated by Geoff Smith.


(For additional information and audio recordings go to the History Page)

Ten years ago, a very old buddy and ex business acquaintance of mine, Tony, who had run a band called the St.James Jazz Band for many,many years until he was hospitalized, had become despondent about ever playing regularly again.

I suggested to him that if we could find a banjo player and any other musician with nothing to do on a Tuesday, we might get together just for a practice . I was finding that work with my Trent Valley Stompers was diminishing, so an extra blow would be beneficial too.

We ended up with a clarinet player, Dave, who hadn’t blown for 20 years, a banjo player Stan Owen, who wasn’t very busy, another banjoist and a bass player, Steve Slater, who was relatively new to Traditional Jazz.

We were upstairs in a pub in Halesowen until the clarinet player said he knew a licensee in Birmingham, who had an empty lounge on Tuesdays where we could play.

We moved there, to The White Swan, to practice. After a few weeks half a dozen or so lost souls would come and listen, so we would practice a few numbers and then play properly. The licensee suggested we put our name and venu in the Birmingham Jazz Festival Guide - we hadn’t a name, so we chose Old Comrades.

We played for the love of the music, and were eventually given a pint apiece,

a plate of sandwiches and a huge bowl of chips. I eventually started a raffle, so that we had a little brass to give to deps.

We were at that venue for 6 years, during which Tony developed cancer of the larynx and had to stop playing. Just before we moved to The Rope Walk, four years ago, Chris Carmell took over the cornet lead.

The crew at The Rope Walk still includes Stan Owen and Steve Slater, with John (Reliant) Hulett on clarinet, Terry Illingworth on keyboard, and either Al Jones or Tony Caldicott share the drums.

Al is on drums on Tuesday - he had major back surgery a couple of years ago, but we have got him going again .

 That's about it I think. We all love our Tuesday nights - what else would we do on that particular night ?

The Rope Walk is a big pub and I think it struggles to keep its head above water. It is in an area where there are some decent eating places, and free parking is invariably easy, either in the street, or behind the pub.

We look forward to meeting you.

(Big) Eric Dodgson