15th October 2006
They started it six years ago - and on Sunday night the Chicago Teddy Bears finally brought down the curtain on the Fylde coast-based Madfortrad jazz syndicate.
Madfortrad was the brain-child of enthusiast Eddie Simpson, designed to bring top bands to a jazz-starved region and since
2000 it did just that. Unfortunately a recent switch of venues to Fleetwood's Marine Hall showed there wasn't as many fans around who were quite so mad for trad. . Dwindling attendances, which often resulted in Eddie being forced to put his hand in his own pocket, to pay for bands, brought about its demise.
It was a nostalgic night for Eddie, the band and the 60 fans who were present at the final session. Chicago Teds' leader Ken Doran and stalwart supporter Les Wright led a deserved host of tributes.
And for once the warmth of it all almost left Eddie speechless. But he managed to he pay his own tribute to pal Colin Threlfall, who supported him from the start.
Then Eddie brought things to a close in his inimitable way - by grabbing the microphone and serenading the audience to a song without accompaniment.
The swan song was warmly applauded, just as all Eddie's other efforts have been in the cause of top-line jazz on the Fylde.
It was a sad night for a man who has done so much for jazz on the North-west coast. But there is one bright note on the horizon. A possible successor is seeking suitable premises in the hope of continuing the legacy that Eddie built.
Thanks, friend - and good luck. We'll miss you.