The Strawbury Duck

26/12/13 -

In the mid 1970's Bob, Bernard, Derek Jones on trumpet and myself played together as "Webster's Washboard Wizards" (not a lot of washboard playing in the repertoire to be honest) and then very occasionally as "The Bob-Graham Stompers". I didn't play for a few years after that until luckily getting the opportunity to sit in with The French Quarter Band and The Magnolia at The Strawberry Duck in 1985. Meeting those musicians led to some wonderful years of playing with many of the north west's finest. How lucky was I ? I lost contact with Bernard and had many times over the years enquired as to his health without being able to find out anything at all. If you are in contact with Bernard please give him my very best wishes. -

Graham Martindale

27/12/13 -

Re Graham Martindale's memories of gigs at the "Strawberry Duck",(in Manchester probably), or was it the "Strawbury duck" near Bolton where I gigged in the 70's. Anyway he "pinged" my memory re Bolton and a sixties gig with the "Red River" at the "Rivington barn" venue. It was Bolton Polytechnics annual bash and the Reds were first billing. Point is ,the interval group arrived in two "Thames" vans, one they slept in, the other full of old tape recorders and light projectors, which they set up and "played along" with (Very loudly). How we larffed! They had a daft name too-"PINK FLOYD". I know Doug Whaley was on the gig (he made a constructive comment), I'd love it if anyone else can recall.

Jon White


Jon White's note brought back more memories of The Strawbury (that's the spelling) Duck in Entwistle which is located in the frozen wilds of north Bolton. I used to drive to The Duck via the single lane bridge across the Wayoh reservoir.  At that time Entwistle comprised, and probably still does, a real ale pub (now hotel & restaurant with bar with a rather mixed reputation I'm told), half a dozen houses and, bizarrely, a railway station. 

There was, as I said in my previous note, a weekly jazz night in the mid 1980's alternating between The French Quarter Band and The Magnolia.  However, Thursday night at the Duck was given over to the M6 Breakdown Band, a hard-to-describe Quartet comprising Jim Lias on vocals, banjo, harmonica, kazoo & high-hat cymbal, Dave (can't remember his surname, sorry Dave) on guitar, Colin Turner on brass bass and PaulineTurner on vocals, bells, squeezy duck etc.. 
Jim, of course, was banjo player with Mick Burns Rhythm Kings many moons ago, as was Colin.  Around this time I also used to listen to Colin playing some lovely music with Gabe, Warren Latham and Chris Howse as The Harmony Hounds.
I often used to take my washboard along to the M6 sessions. It wasn't jazz per se but great music and a highly entertaining evening.  Jim used to find, and interpret in his own inimitable way, all sorts of stuff I'd never come across before.  This was when I first came across the music of Leon Redbone.  Thanks Jim.
The evenings were made even better by the hours spent after the gig at Jim and Audrey's house listening to music and drinking a great deal of Jim's delicious but somewhat lethal home brew.  I think it was Jim who taught my son to appreciate beer during these happy times.
In Jim's absence one Thursday, I organised a rather unsuccessful trio gig with Gerry Owen, Tom Colbert and myself. We were no substitute for the raucous evening's entertainment which Jim conjured up and we went down like a lead balloon. 

In the mid 1980's when all this was going on in the hills, Bolton had jazz bands on a Monday at The Castle (the first time I heard the Dave Donohoe Band) and every Sunday lunchtime at the Octagon Theatre where many different bands from all over the north were booked.  I first played with The Riverside Jazzmen and New Orleans Express here.

Lovely memories.
Graham Martindale

22/07/18 -

Bonjour Fred. I had forgotten all about my memoirs of The Strawbury Duck. I have a few recordings I made on my little cheap cassette recorder (quality varies) and here are two by The French Quarter Band from 1985 and one by The Magnolia Band, probably the same year. As I wrote in my earlier dissertation The M6 Breakdown Band was the regular Thursday night entertainment. And, as you can hear from the attached recording, entertainment is certainly was.

The M6 Breakdown Band - That Certain Party

The Magnolia Jazz Band - Shake it and Break it

The French Quarter Band - Fidgety Feet

The French Quarter Band - Rose Room

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