Tuesday May 11, 2021

Curly’s Retirement, The Rivercity Jazzmen
by Curly Jones 10/5/2021

My interest in music started in 1956 when I played in a skiffle group with local friends, and then joined the Rivercity Stompers in the early 1960s who were then based in Bangor, hence the name Rivercity, and lead by Clive Evans. We played mostly in North Wales in weekly jazz clubs, weddings, private functions and Christmas work parties, and performed a few times on television.

(L-R) Rivercity Stompers: Clive Evans, Ken Rowlands, Cliff Parry, Dick Baddley, Curly Jones, Albert Rees


Trumpeter Dick Baddley retired in the 70s, at the same time as a North Wales newspaper wrote about a young, up and coming trumpeter Stan Williams from Deganwy. We contacted Stan and a few days later, arranged a rehearsal with him and the band in Bangor, and that first rehearsal went very well, as he played the trumpet with us for many years after that. By this time, we were now performing under the name The Rivercity Jazzmen. One of our memorable concerts at that time was supporting George Melly at Theatre Gwynedd, Bangor in 1979.

Photo 2: Ticket for George Melly concert, 1979

In the early 80s, Clive Evans left the band, and I took over as leader. Glyn Edwards was now our bass player. We performed all over North Wales and further afield, including regular gigs on a ferry from Holyhead to Dublin, travelled to Brittany and over to Germany twice.

(L-R) Curly, Mad Ed, Dave Renton, Alan Davies, Stan Williams, Martin Peel, Ray Hayes in Germany

The band frequently appeared on Welsh television and were honoured to perform with Sir Bryn Terfel in 1984 in his younger years. Another highlight was inviting Kenny Ball as a guest artist for an evening at The Oriel House, St Asaph. At this time, Nia Medi (Dolgellau) performed with us many times as our vocalist. We also produced 3 CDs.

Taro Tant (S4C) 1984: The Rivercity Jazzmen with Sir Bryn Terfel and John Eifion

(L-R) Ron Hall, Gerry Owen, Nia Medi, Curly, Kenny Ball, Stan Williams, Glyn Edwards in Oriel House, St Asaph

The Rivercity Jazzmen has seen various line-ups over the years, some long-term members, and others depping.

(L-R) Bruce, Reg Fury, John Fogg, Glyn Edwards, Stan Williams, Curly at Llangollen Festival

(L-R) Brian Legan, Curly, Billy Edwards, Rod Ledsham, Glyn Edwards, Derek Galloway at a private party, Denbigh

Over the years, we had many residencies. We spent many happy summers playing at Butlins in Pwllheli on weekends. And Wednesday night was always jazz night, which including residencies for many years at both Castle Hotels, Llandudno and Deganwy, and The White House, Conwy. Our annual summer and bank holiday booking on Llandudno Pier lasted 30 years and came to an end before its time in 2019, cut short due to the pandemic.

(L-R) Curly, Glyn Edwards, Harry Price, Rod Ledsham, Gerry Owen, Charles Wilson at The White House, Conwy

(L-R) Gerry Owen, Gwyn Evans, Bob Hambleton, Glyn Edwards at Conwy British Legion Club

Now I have decided to hang up the banjo and step down, I would personally like to thank all the amazing musicians for their support from the early 80s when I took over the band - apologies, too many to mention here - not forgetting our faithful fans. My years in a jazz band have been fantastic - countless road miles and phone calls, many happy memories, but above all, plenty of laughter!

(L-R) Gerry Owen, Rod Ledsham, Ian Royle, Curly, John Restell, Andrew MacKenzie
the last ever photo taken of the band on Llandudno Pier, 2019

If you'd like to take a trip down memory lane, take a look at The Rivercity Jazzmen Youtube channel here

It would be lovely if we had some feedback from musicians with memories of playing with the band when they see the photos! - Curly Jones


Main Menu

Please visit my Home Page