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Sheila Collier onstage at Band on the Wall. The background is a mural that used to be at the back of the stage.

Photo possibly by Sefton Samuels.

Sheila Collier’s ‘Memories of The Band on the Wall’


When The Band on the Wall opened up its doors as a music venue in September 1975, Sheila Collier’s Smoky City Jazzband took up a weekly residency that lasted for six years. It was every Wednesday from 9pm to midnight. Prior to that we had a weekly club at The Midland Hotel [now The Metropolitan] in West Didsbury which became very popular, and where we had a wonderful array of guests, including The Alex Welsh Band, George Melly and Joe Harriott.

The Band on the Wall was very special for me. There was a real stage, good lighting and sound, a grand piano, and space to perform – a chance to dress up and ‘do my thing’. I would dream up fantastic ensembles to wear – and be teased by the band for my efforts! At that time I was a freelance fashion designer and worked on vintage garments with my friend Carl Twigg who had a boutique on King Street. I created some great outfits which I teamed with stretch black trousers and stiletto heels, over-the-knee, black leather boots! Years later I was having afternoon tea alone in Buxton when a lady approached me, she said she and her friends loved anticipating what I would be wearing on Wednesday nights.

Musically and artistically, it was a wonderful time for me. The Smoky City Jazzband was at its best. We had a great repertoire, and we were very creative in our choice of programme, varying it from week to week. We played New Orleans, Ellington, Gospel and Swing. We did not copy, but made our own arrangements.
Artefact added : 24th June 2020
by nameless
Abigail Says –
Wow - any idea who took this photo or where it came forom?
COMMENT ADDED 25th June 2020
nameless Says –
I have a thumbnail of the is image, under it is hand written:
Sheila Collier singing at "the Band on the Wall" 1970s 75? with her Smokey City Jazz Band.

No idea who took the photo, I have it because of the work Ian Croal did on the history of Band on the Wall, and I don't know who he got it from, possibly Sheila because I also have the following piece in a word doc:

She wrote:
Sheila Collier’s ‘Memories of The Band on the Wall’


When The Band on the Wall opened up its doors as a music venue in September 1975, Sheila Collier’s Smoky City Jazzband took up a weekly residency that lasted for six years. It was every Wednesday from 9pm to midnight. Prior to that we had a weekly club at The Midland Hotel [now The Metropolitan] in West Didsbury which became very popular, and where we had a wonderful array of guests, including The Alex Welsh Band, George Melly and Joe Harriott.

The Band on the Wall was very special for me. There was a real stage, good lighting and sound,
COMMENT ADDED 25th June 2020
nameless Says –
a grand piano, and space to perform – a chance to dress up and ‘do my thing’. I would dream up fantastic ensembles to wear – and be teased by the band for my efforts! At that time I was a freelance fashion designer and worked on vintage garments with my friend Carl Twigg who had a boutique on King Street. I created some great outfits which I teamed with stretch black trousers and stiletto heels, over-the-knee, black leather boots! Years later I was having afternoon tea alone in Buxton when a lady approached me, she said she and her friends loved anticipating what I would be wearing on Wednesday nights.

Musically and artistically, it was a wonderful time for me. The Smoky City Jazzband was at its best. We had a great repertoire, and we were very creative in our choice of programme, varying it from week to week. We played New Orleans, Ellington, Gospel and Swing. We did not copy, but made our own arrangements.
COMMENT ADDED 25th June 2020
nameless Says –
Entertaining too, with piano player Roger Godfrey’s dry wit on the microphone, Terry Brunt’s clowning [trombone] and John Hallam’s great virtuosity on all reeds and flute. In 1978 we recorded our first album, using the studio at the Royal Northern College of Music. Bill Smith, leading on trumpet, kept it all together, plus: Brian Morrison on bass; Bob Jones, drums; and various banjo players, Tony West, Roy Tweedie, Charlie Bentley. We also invited great guests to join us from time to time; I remember George Chisholm and Buddy Tate.

For me personally, it was a watershed. I said my week started on Wednesdays! I would get all dressed up and drive myself from my home in Bowdon, to my other life and self with my musician friends.

Our long residency at The Band on the Wall established the band and myself both professionally and artistically.
COMMENT ADDED 25th June 2020
nameless Says –
The venue was hugely popular and the place to go for jazz fans, newspaper men, students, TV and radio people and visiting businessmen of all kinds.

From our residency at ‘The Band’ came our first album, programmes for BBC and Granada TV, Piccadilly and BBC radio, and our first visit to a jazz festival abroad – at ‘Jazz in Duketown’ in Holland. I gained my Equity card by singing at the Contact Theatre in ‘The Marvellous Magical Mystery Plays’.

The traditional jazz scene was very active in the North of England in the 70s. As well as our Wednesday night residency at ‘The Band’, I started my own Monday night Jazz Club at Brahms and Liszt on Upper King Street. The first band to play there was The Ken Colyer Band. Then came the Peacock Club (1978?) where I presented a mix of jazz, blues and folk. That was at Mauldeth Hall in Chorlton-cum-Hardy. I presented Stephane Grappelli, Mike Harding, Danny Moss and Humphrey Lyttelton, among others.
COMMENT ADDED 25th June 2020
nameless Says –
--Sheila Collier, 21 February 2013, Helsingborg, Sweden
COMMENT ADDED 25th June 2020
nameless Says –
Most likely option for the image though is Sefton Samuels - who took a huge number of Jazz photos at Botw, and always gave us a print.
COMMENT ADDED 25th June 2020
Abigail Says –
Thank you!
COMMENT ADDED 30th June 2020
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