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                                    Here is the chronology of the San Jacinto Jazz Band's formative years 1957 - 1960

                                photographs from the Geoffrey Sanders collection and captioned by Ronald Blake 2008     

                                        
                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                    

          Spring 1957 saw the genesis of a Herne Bay Band that lasted for approximately five years. Starting as the ' Heebie
          Jeebie Four ' ( HJ4 ), the San Jacinto was the product of Herne Bay's C of E Youth Fellowship,three of whose members
          Ron Woodward, Pete Danby and Ronnie Blake were long - term St John's choristers and the fourth Geoffrey Sanders
          recently moved to Herne Bay from Rochester, Kent. 'Heebie Jebbie Four' rehearsals took place at the fellowship's
          North School Room in William Street with approval of the Church Elders. 'Affordable' instruments were initially used:
          Ron Woodward (kazoo), Pete Danby (penny whistle/recorder), Ronnie Blake (ukelele) and Geoff Sanders (spoons/
          chairs/ vicar's tom - tom). In September Pete bought his first clarinet, aspiring to a musical career in the Army ( in the
          footsteps of his Uncle Oliver). Simultaneously, Ronnie Blake bought a guitar ( partly to secure a place in the Simon
          Langton School Skiffle Group).

         The 'Heebie Jeebies' first public performance was at a Church charity concert in November 1957 (captured in a good
         photo) .There are few (or no) photographs of the group playing during 1958, but Ronnie Blakes's archives note that
         Vic Caira became associated  in March  (sitting in first on G-banjo) and by June Vic had joined on trumpet when Ron
         Woodward gave up blowing on doctor's orders and switched to bass. Mike Cole (trombone) joined in August, completing
         the embryonic 'trad' line-up. The San Jacinto Jazz Band was re-launched under that name on Christmas Eve 1958, just
         in time to perform in Theatrecraft's 'Cinderella' pantomime at the King's Hall (playing  'Theres a Tavern in the Town' and
         'Canal Street Blues' as a parade number.

         The San Jacinto Jazz Club (as distinct from the band itself) was established in February 1959, with Vic Caira as lead
         player/manager, it began Sunday night sessions at the premises of Muriel Hasland's Dancing School behind the Victoria
         Hotel on the corner of High Street and Beech Street. From that point forward there is a fairly good record of photographs,
         press cuttings, posters, etc, although for much of the band's history of exact  gig dates and changes of personnel are
         not known. However, from July 1959 to May 1960 Ronnie Blake did keep a detailed band diary (an initiative that
         unfortunately petered out as he prepared for university).

         To conclude, the abiding image of 1957 - 1960 is one of heroic enthusiasm in the face of communication difficulties
         typical of an era before widespread motor-car, telephone and gadget ownership. Committee members routinely
         delivered notes to musician's houses, or patiently met successive trains, never being quite sure whether band personnel
         had been told the venue of a rehearsal or a gig. The time, energy and resources devoted to acquiring the most basic 
         microphone and amplifier  seems scarcely believable fifty years on. In 1960 the bands highest gig fee was 2-17s-6d per
         head, the 'Two Ronnies' had to apply for special strings allowances  and the stylistic implications of replacing Pete Danby
         with 'Chico' Thompson (alto sax) and Ronnie Blake with Mart Gallagher (banjo) were hotly debated.

         The band's history after 'Jazz Saturday' (1960) is for others to tell.
                                                                                                                                                        Ronnie Blake 2008

 

                                       
                     
Pete Danby  Ron Woodward   Geoffrey Sanders Ronnie Blake                 

                      Founder members of the SJJB posing in the foyer of the                     The Heebie Jeebie Jazz Group at St. John's Church Hall, Sea                    
                      King's Hall, Herne Bay, Kent on Saturday 20th February 1960              Street, Herne Bay, Kent, Thursday 28th November 1957 (a fund-
                      (night of the Grand Jazz Band Ball in aid of the World                        raising event in aid of the C of E Children's Society)
                      Refugee Fund)                                                                                     Ronnie Blake (tea-chest bass), Ron Woodward (mute trumpet)
                 
 Footnotes:                                                                                                Pete Danby (clarinet), Geoff Sanders (drums, and a hint of the
                
 1, All the performing musicians received a gig fee of 1,                               Vicars tom-tom).  A fifth musician, Peter Matchett (accordion)
                  
  leaving 28 to donate to the WRF charity.
                                                also played.
                 
2, Ronnie Blake appears to be wearing his dark suit (recently                      Footnotes:
                  
   acquired for university entrance interviews)                                             1, The original Heebie Jeebie Four evolved within Herne Bay's
                                                                                                                                   C of E Youth Fellowship at the North School Room In William
                                                                                                                                   Street, three of whose members were also St. John's choristers.
                                                                                                                                2, The concert programme bills Ronnie Blake on guitar, so he
                                                                                                                                    either chickened out or was simply having a break on the bass
                                                                                                                                    when the photo was taken.

                         

                                                                    

                               Club Session on the East Cliff Slopes by the                                    Al Fresco Club Night on the slopes as notes
                               King's Hall, Herne Bay, Sunday 5th July 1959                                  on the left Sunday 5th July 1959. Geoff definitely
                               Backs of heads: Pete Danby clt, Jerry Rickwood                              has bongos, Ronnie Blake is on his dad's banjo                               
                              and Vic Caira (tpts) Mike 'Lofty' Cole (tbn), Geoff                              while the rhythm section is augmented by William
                              Sanders (drms, including bongos); rest of the                                   Arthur Cole on E-flat 'Melophone' ( one of the many
                              rhythm section off-picture, left. Dancers on                                      'alternative' instruments for which he became famous).
                              promenade are Mary Woodward and Sylvia Perrin.
                              Photographs taken by Miss Lyn(ne) Sykes.                                 
 footnotes:
                       Footnotes:                                                                                           1, The female right leg next to Ronnie Blake is probably that
                          1, The decision to hold a Club session Al Fresco was                              of Mary Woodward.
                              taken in the light of very hot weather (leading to a                             2, This session took place not long after Bill Cole joined the
                              downpour just after the session ended!)                                               SJJB fraternity, having been introduced by his namesake,
                          2, Band archives record that Lyn Cockett danced                                   Mike 'Lofty' Cole. The two (unrelated) Cole(s) were approximate 
                              in the sea.                                                                                       contemporaries at Faversham Grammar School and the
                                                                                                                                    shorter of the pair (William Arthur Cole) was known
                                                                                                                                    ironically as 'Tex' (for his love of guns Burtie Butler). It
                                                                                                                                    became an unspoken practice in the SJJB to always address
                                                                                                                                    and refer to W.A.C. as 'Bill' or 'William' (though the Kent fans
                                                                                                                                    doggedly clung on to his American nick-name until he joined
                                                                                                                                    the London jazz scene as a professional.
 
    
                             

                                                                

                                  Sunday Club night at the Victoria Hotel, probably early autumn 1959. Core rhythm section plus Vic Caira (obscure
                                  at rear on tpt), Mike Cole (tbn), Bill Cole (assisting on banjo) and Jerry Rickwood (smoking behind the piano). (Pete
                                  Danby was presumably present but off-picture right).      Photographer unknown.
                                 
                                 
 footnotes:
                                   the assumed dating is based on two observations:
                                   1, Bill is using Mr Blake senior's banjo ( abandoned by Ronnie Blake for guitar later in the year)
                                   2, Vic still appears to be the band's regular trumpeter.

                                   

                                                 
                                                                  

                                   The San Jacinto Jazz Band, Grand Jazz Band Ball, King's Hall, erne Bay, Saturday 20th February 1960. The classic
                                   seven-piece line-up, marking an important transitional stage in the group's evolution. Jerry Rickwood (tpt) was now
                                   musical leader but Mike Cole still incumbent on trombone. This is the only picture of Roy Gaston-Williams playing
                                   professionally with the SJJB. Soon both Mike and Roy were, for different reasons, to quit the band.
                                   Photographer unknown.

                                   footnotes:
                               1, Ronnie Blake's archives state that Mike left the band in January 1960, so this may have been his last gig with us. As Mike was
                                   due to take up a place at university later in the year, Sean Maple took over around this time.
                               2, Roy soon moved 'across'  to join the Tishomingo Jazz Band which played in the Dixieland / Mainstream style he preferred.

                                  

                             

                                    Sunday Club night at the Victoria Hotel, (Muriel Hasland School of Dancing), spring 1960, The classic six-piece San
                                    Jacinto Jazz Band line-up: (left to right) Ron Woodward (bass), Sean Maple (tmb), Jerry Rickwood (tpt), Pete Danby (clt),
                                    Geoff Sanders (drms) and Ronnie Blake (gtr).       Photographer unknown.
                    
                                   
footnotes:
                                    1, The date is almost certainly after
  February 1960 because Ronnie Blake is strumming into a makeshift microphone (supplied
                                        that month by Phil Bennett, a modern jazz pianist who Vic and Roy knew as rail commuters to London)
                                    2, The band appears to have moved its 'stand' from the gable (south) end of the room to the longer (west) side with windows.
                                    3, What has happened to Geoff's bongos which seem to have been deleted from his kit.
                                    4, Picture on the right is possibly taken later in the evening as the placard behind Jerry appears to have come away from its wall
                                        ficture.

                                            

                                                                       

                                         Prelude to Pete Danby's wedding at St John's C of E Church, Herne Bay, probably 29th September 1962
                                         left to right: Bill Cole, Ron Woodward, Pete Danby, Ronnie Blake (best man) and Geoff Sanders.
                                         photographer: probably Scrivens.

                                         footnote:
                                        The exact date is difficult to verify as invitations, the service sheet and related correspondence have been mislaid.
                                        Sadly Pete is no longer in touch with any band member and Janet (divorced from Pete) died several years ago. Both
                                        were only children and the whereabouts of their own offspring is also unknown.

 

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