Whatever Happened To -
Brian Williams & The Druids Jazz Band


Hi Fred, I was pleased to see the video of the Toronto "Silverleaf" Jazz Band. The clarinettist mentioned in Hans Erwig's letter was Brian Williams, a brilliant New Orleans reed player who died much too young. The drummer/leader, Dennis Elder, also died young. The trumpet player, Don Chapman, spent a couple of years in India, became interested in holistic lifestyle and gave up the horn. Cliff Bastien and Joe Van Rosen often played trumpet. After Brian died the band had one or two "short term" clarinet players until I joined them in the mid 1980s and stayed with them for 6 or 7 years. My good friend Brian Graville has been the the clarinet player since I left the band. Dennis Elder was a great New Orleans style drummer. He and Brian Williams can never be replaced.

Trevor Hodgson, Southern Comfort JB & Sensation JB


Hi Fred, I hope I am not providing information that has already been contributed, but here goes. I was doing a web search and got a hit for Brian Williams, visited your page to see more and saw the message about him playing with the Silverleaf Jazz Band in Toronto. Brian also played for quite some time before that with Cliff Bastien's band.

If you go back further you will find Brian and I playing with a band called the Dolphin Jazz Band and we played the first Saturday at the Cavern - there is a picture of us in the book "The Best Of Caves". Soon after that Brian and I (we were both from Wallasey) formed the Druids Jazz Band with Ray Penny (tmb), Vick Sanderson (bjo), Roy Hartshorn (dms) and John Dunlop (bs). We played Saturday nights at the Cavern in 1958 and 1959 and played around Merseyside until about 1964. Also, for a time, our manager was Tony Davis!

Roy Penny in later years played with Roy Potts. John Dunlop played with the New Orleans Express and sometimes with Roy Potts.

Just before Brian and I left UK, to Canada and USA respectively, we both played in The New Climax Jazz Band based in Leicester. The band included Malc Murphy who would later join Ken Colyer. Brian also did some tours and festivals with the New Black Eagle Jazz Band.

Tony Pringle

19/02/18 -

At the start of the skiffle boom in 1957 with 3 mates Henry Parker Vince Bibby and Dave Stroud we decided that we were going to form a skiffle group I said that I would buy a double bass as I was really impressed with the sound of it and it would be easier to play than a guitar and at that time people were playing tea chests. When we formed our first group and I said I would play bass so I went over to Liverpool to buy my first bass on the bus and ferry to take it home to my parentís house in Leasowe road. At that time I only had a motor bike so I used to travel to the Cavern which at that time was a jazz/folk club. This meant travelling on the bus to Seacombe ferry and then walk up to Mathew Street Cavern from the pier head. The ferry was no problem but I did have a problem at times being allowed onto the double decker buses where I had to stand at the bottom of the stairs holding my bass. At the time I only had a motorbike. Because of the countless refusals by the conductor I sold my motorbike and bought a second hand ex dairy Morris small van. Transportation problem solved.

I went to New Brighton tower to listen to a jazz band which I think was Kenny Ball. In the audience I saw a school mate Brian Williams and said how great this music is and he said that they were forming a jazz band where he was playing clarinet and I said my mates and I were trying to form a Skiffle group and he asked what instrument I played and I said bass. He said tea chest? I said no the real thing! He then asked me if I would like to join his Band, The Druids, which he was forming, and they needed a string bass player. I said great because our group had folded. His band consisted of Tony Pringle trumpet/cornet Vis Sanderson banjo Rusty Hartshorn drums Roy Penny trombone.

We played at the Kraal club (new Brighton), the Temple bar (Liverpool), Harrison Hall and rugby clubs. We also played at the Cavern which started off as jazz/skiffle until the arrival of the Liverpool sound meant goodbye jazz, hello the Mersey sound - No more jazz

I am unsure of the years it happened but it was the late 50's early 60's. Everything was going great until Brian decided to emigrate to Canada Tony to America Rusty to Canada and Vic Australia. I didn't realise I was that bad!

The next band I played with was the Roy Potts band in the seventies. As I said before when the Mersey sound arrived that was the end of our band gigs.

John Dunlop

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