0121 454 7020 admin@bigbearmusic.com

Don’t Worry ‘Bout The Bear

Jim and Ron Simpson's account of the first 50 years of Big Bear Records is due to be published by Brewin Books on 21st June. The book features Jim's reminiscences of some of the many memorable incidents that form part of the Jazz Festival's 35 year history. Not to...

Abi & The Swing Pigs

Abi K has been present on the Birmingham Music scene since 2016. Her repertoire, both covers and originals, encompasses genres such as jazz, blues and soul. Her present band is described graphically as ‘a bunch of mischievous ragamuffins who love messing around with...

Alex Clarke

Currently studying at Birmingham Conservatoire, Alex Clarke has already had a busy and varied jazz career, mainly in the Midlands and North West. As a tenor saxist, she acknowledges the influence of Ben Webster and Lester Young, but she is as much at home on flute and...

Almaz

The Runcorn-based duo Almaz are Joanne and Barny, both full time musicians who write, perform, busk and broadcast their style of jazz and blues to as wide an audience as they can find. They perform songs from the turn of the century but also modern classics in their...

The Anvil Chorus

For the last two festivals the Anvil Chorus has introduced jazz audiences to the delights of barbershop singing. The Anvil Chorus is the performance name of the West Midlands Barbershop Harmony Club, founded in 1978. The chorus consists of approximately 35 men of all...

Apex Jazz and Swing Band

Robin Mason’s Apex Jazz and Swing Band was formed over 20 years ago from members of the Hazel Slade Big Band and this six-piece retains the feel of a little big band, with a repertoire that draws widely on the Basie and Ellington bandbooks as well as traditional jazz...

Art Themen

  How many top British jazzmen spent their working lives as consultant orthopaedic surgeons and also played saxophone on Joe Cocker’s hit With a Little Help from my Friends? It’s surprising that the answer is as many as one, but Art Themen fills the bill! Art’s...

Ashley Allen

Talented pianist and lecturer Ashley Allen has had the pleasure of working, recording and playing with many notable musical industry figures such as Gregory Porter, Aynsley Lister, Julie Dexter and Omar. Ashley will be performing some classic jazz and soul standards,...

Bill Coleman

In recent years Bill Coleman’s most high profile work was with the Kenny Ball Band, but Birmingham jazz audiences are well aware of his versatility and musicianship in support of many top soloists in many different styles. Over the years his accomplished bass playing...

Birmingham Big Band with Paul Sawtell

Under the direction of John Ruddick the Birmingham Big Band is made up of top local professional and semi-professional musicians whose combined CVs include working with many of the top names in show business. The band plays the arrangements and compositions of the...

Blue Silk

As well as being a regular and very popular performer at the Birmingham festival, singer Judy Blu has performed at festivals and clubs throughout the Midlands: Nantwich, Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyme In Blue Silk she combines with exciting young guitarist Ian Silk,...

Bob Wilson and Honeyboy Hickling

Returning to the Birmingham festival, Bob Wilson, guitarist with the Idle Race, Steve Gibbons, Ruby Turner and many top Birmingham blues and rock groups over the past decades, teams up with singer/harmonica player Simon ‘Honeyboy’ Hickling whose CV includes working...

Bobby Woods

Bobby Woods was born in Chicago and grew up surrounded by the sounds of jazz, blues, gospel and soul, with early influences including Ray Charles, Otis Redding and Marvin Gaye. In 1987 and 1988 he received the award of Best Male Soul Singer at the Hummingbird Black...

Bon Accord

  Bon Accord is a quartet playing gypsy jazz, but with a slightly unusual line-up, though clarinettist Harry Christian, a long-time admirer of Django’s work, points out that he frequently used the instrument. Richard Adey plays accordion, an instrument with the...

Boperator Boogie band

 Bon Accord is a quartet playing gypsy jazz, but with a slightly unusual line-up, though clarinettist Harry Christian, a long-time admirer of Django’s work, points out that he frequently used the instrument. Richard Adey plays accordion, an instrument with the...

Brian Dee

It’s difficult to do justice to the career of pianist Brian Dee whose talents came to the fore in such bands as the Ted Heath Orchestra and playing opposite the legendary Dudley Moore at the Establishment Club. Singers he has worked with on stage or in the recording...

Bruce Adams

Bruce Adams’ earlier musical career was highly varied, from appearing on Opportunity Knocks to entertaining on cruise ships, from playing in the BBC Scottish Radio Orchestra to working in pit bands for such shows as Show Baat, but for many a year he has concentrated...

The Catfish Kings

If you long to hear full-on versions of Long Tall Sally, Shake Rattle and Roll, or Little Queenie, this is the band for you. The Catfish Kings have graced the stage of many of the UK’s top events, including The Twinwood Festival, Birmingham Jazz Festival (four years...

Chase Jazzmen

This talented Shropshire-based band is made up of musicians with long-standing experience in popular traditional jazz. The Chase Jazzmen with more music from the period between 1900 and 1950, all dispensed with a touch of humour. The band’s main repertoire is...

Chickenbone John

'The Godfather of Cigar Box Guitar' has been making, playing and selling guitars made from cigar boxes for 10 years. Recently he revived the Boxstock Festival after a three year gap. The festival, held in Wolverhampton's Slade Rooms, was a great success, with a Make...

Chris Bowden

  Saxist Chris Bowden first came to notice with his highly original 1996 album, Time Capsule, featuring his arrangements for 12-piece band. Since then he had worked widely as an arranger with his own highly individual style and proved equally popular on the...

C Jam

C Jam’s repertoire ranges from cool jazz sounds to stomping rhythm and blues and soul favourites. Ex-Steve Gibbons Band members – Brian Badhams (keyboard/vocals), Bob Wilson (lead guitar/vocals) – are joined by bassist Frank Walker and drummer Roy Adams. Catch them at...

Dave Moorwood and The Rascals Of Rhythm

Since guitarist and banjo player Dave Moorwood left Pete Allen’s Band in 2004, he has concentrated on his two bands, the Rascals of Rhythm and the Big Bear Stompers. Perennial festival favourites and with six CDs to their credit, the Rascals revive the music of the...

Dave Newton

Dave Newton is one of the UK’s most individual, versatile and technically assured pianists, always at ease in solo and duo situations – last year’s sessions with Julian Marc Stringle were especially memorable -, but a perfect fit for one of those little big bands Alan...

Dave Storer

Bassist/bass guitarist Dave Storer is a graduate of the Birmingham Conservatoire and vastly experienced in a wide range of musical styles, from accompanying Katherine Jenkins to playing in bands at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, taking in jazz and rock music en route.

David Moore Blues Band

  David graduated from the Birmingham Conservatoire in 1999, then in 2010 moved to New York where he worked in a number of styles of music. Initially inspired by such top local musicians as the late Roger Hill and now back in Birmingham, he takes a fresh and...

Deborah Rose

Welsh-born, but based in Worcestershire, singer/songwriter/guitarist Deborah Rose lends her stunningly pure voice to interpretations of folk, jazz and Americana, often in partnership with such jazz musicians as guitarist Remi Harris. Her current single is Wrestling...

Del Camino

Inspired by the explosion of the UK Latin scene in the mid 1990s, Del Camino soon established itself as one of the most respected salsa bands in the UK, performing at a host of well-known venues including Ronnie Scott’s, Symphony Hall, the Lowry in Salford and the...

Digby Fairweather

Digby Fairweather has been a great influence for good on the British jazz scene, not just for his distinctively melodic trumpet style. The Jazz Centre UK which he established at Southend is going from strength to strength, with enlarged premises, daily opening, an...

Dino Baptiste Trio

Talented and energetic pianist Dino Baptiste has strong links to blues, boogie and rock and roll. Originally from London and now relocated to Birmingham, he has had a busy musical career for over a quarter of a century. Something of the entertainment level of his...

Dirk Diggler’s Blues Revue

  Promising ‘high octane boogie woogie’, Dirk Diggler’s Blues Revue follows in the tradition of such blues and rock stars as ZZ Top, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Dr. Feelgood. The four-piece band has completed 10 successful years on the blues circuit and in 2017...

The Dirty Ragtimers

  When violinist/singer Heather Stewart relocated to Paris from Australia, she teamed up with guitarist Lucas Montagnier who has been described as ‘Paris’ premier authority on the folkloric roots of jazz.’ Together they are the Dirty Ragtimers, playing a weekly...

Enrico Tomasso

Enrico Tomasso is part of a long family tradition of musicians, most importantly the two brothers Ernie, Rico’s clarinettist father, and his uncle Freddy, like Rico a trumpeter. Rico’s own career has brought him four British Jazz Awards, including the 2018 poll, and a...

Eureka Jazz Band

  Birmingham-based, the Eureka Jazz Band offers a flexible approach – in terms of numbers and presentation style – to traditional Dixieland jazz. What remains constant, apart from the entertainment value, is the band’s devotion to the great popular songs of the...

The Fat Chops Big Band with Jeff Hooper

Formed in the mid-1990s, the Fat Chops Big Band is a highly accomplished line-up playing the modern big band repertoire. Guests with Fat Chops in concerts or on recordings have included the cream of British jazz musicians – Mark Nightingale, Alan Barnes, Peter King,...

Florence Joelle

It is not easy to characterise the music of singer/songwriter Florence Joelle who cites such different singers as Eartha Kitt and Billie Holiday as influences. Aided by jazz organist Pete Whittaker and bassist/flautist Ian Marcus, Joelle’s authentic organic sound,...

Foregate Street Blues Band

  The ‘Foregate Street’ in the name of the Worcester-based blues trio derives from the street where David, Darren and Andy met several years ago and decided to pool their styles and play some real blues. Now, two albums later, the Foregate Street Blues Band’s...

Garry Allcock

Garry Allcock is a highly experienced and respected drummer well known as the leader of his All Stars Big Band. During the festival he can be found in accompanying trios and also leading a fine quartet with Paul Sawtell on vibes, Edgar Macias on keyboards and bassist...

The Great Birmingham Trombone Company

The group is modelled after Bobby Knight’s Great American Trombone Company, a pioneering ensemble of five trombones and rhythm section playing hard swinging jazz charts and sounding like a miniature big band Catch them at the following times and places: Sun 21st ...

Grey Goose Blues Band

Blues Matters magazine described the Grey Goose Blues Band as ‘one of the best newcomers to the blues scene in 2011.’ They have been thrilling audiences for a few years longer than that, but the dates don’t matter. Singer/guitarist/songwriter Frankie Williams fronts a...

The Hot Club

Evoking the sound of 1930s Paris, The Hot Club brings you sizzling gypsy jazz tunes from the golden era of swing. Rooted in the style of Django Reinhardt, this band of musicians will get your feet tapping! Catch them at the following times and places:   Fri 26th ...

Ian Bateman

  Ian Bateman is one of Britain’s most in-demand trombonists, with long spells in the bands of Terry Lightfoot and Acker Bilk, plus many of the country’s best big bands such as Echoes of Ellington and Back to Basie. The many bands he leads or co-leads show his...

Jake Leg Jug Band

The Jake Leg Jug Band brings you the authentic sounds of 1920s and 1930s America – jazz, blues, gospel, ragtime – songs of murder, betrayal, gambling, liquor and redemption. The band has recorded four albums for the Lake label, all of them enthusiastically received....

James Sayer and his Band

James Sayer is a pianist, singer/songwriter, saxophonist/guitarist, demonstrating musical passion at its finest, with the tones of Van Morrison and energy of Jerry Lee Lewis. With heavy support from BBC Radio and various European radio stations, James is currently...

The Jim Dandies

Traditional jazz, pre-war blues, hokum songs, barrelhouse, Western Swing, stride, boogie woogie – all musical styles which strongly characterize the Jim Dandies’ sound, a dirty and rough sound, the sound of barrelhouses, brothels and juke joints during the 20s and...

Jitterbug: What The Doctor Ordered

The regular festival appearances of Strictly Jitterbug’s dance classes are always a very popular feature. Strictly Jitterbug has been teaching a mixture of East Coast Swing and Charleston for over 10 years, including two years as a resident dance teachers at...

John Hemming and The Jazz Lobbyists

 Once again the Birmingham Jazz Festival presents the acceptable face of politics. Away from political campaigning, former MP John Hemming is a polished jazz pianist who can be relied on to bring a first-class band to the festival. The always popular Jazz Lobbyists...

John Patrick

A true legend of the local jazz scene, John Patrick was for many years Head of Music at ATV/Central Television, and is highly respected as a pianist/bandleader in his own right who has worked with such jazz greats as Art Farmer and Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison. A member of...

Keith Bill

Taking the piano chairs in several of the accompanying trios, as he has for many festivals, will be Keith Bill, always the ideal accompanist for visiting soloists.

King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys

With over 30 years on the road, King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys are the archetypal festival favourites, most definitely at Birmingham, but also throughout the UK and whole swathes of Northern and Western Europe. This year’s Birmingham appearance follows hard on the...

Leila Duclos et Didier Conchon

  Leila Duclos appeared at the 2017 Birmingham festival in a two-guitars format with her father Cyril, playing music essentially derived from the Hot Club style, but with the addition of her vocals. She is a busy performer on the thriving Paris jazz scene,...

Len Skeat

It’s impossible to do justice in a brief note to the career of bassist Len Skeat, The Time Lord. Early in his career he was a key member of the great Ted Heath Orchestra and Stephane Grappelli’s group; he has toured and recorded with many of the top Americans,...

Les Zauto Stompers de Paris

The ever-popular quartet from Paris claim, with justice, that they play jazz classics and 1920s/1930s songs by the likes of Hoagy Carmichael and Walter Donaldson with plenty of swing, but also a touch of Gallic flair which extends far beyond the tricolour in the...

Lisa Carter

Stourbridge-based singer Lisa Carter has been a professional singer for over 30 years, with her own recording studio, but a passion above all for live performance. Fronting a jazz trio or switching to soul, her talent and willingness to take on new projects are...

The Lost Notes

  ‘Sublime…fearless and entertaining. Extremely clever song-writing and wonderful guitar playing.’ – Maverick Country Music Magazine The Lost Notes are a five-piece acoustic roots band specialising in their own original material, with songs on everything from the...

Malcom Garrett

Malcolm Garrett’s reputation rests on many bases: far famed as a drum tutor, he also filled the drum chair in the pit band for Ken Dodd until death of the great comedian. So far as the jazz festival is concerned, he is known as a tower of strength in many an...

Martin Bennett’s Old Green River Band

Martin Bennett’s long career in jazz has taken him all over the world, notably to New Orleans where he made friends with top musicians of several generations, from the veterans George Lewis, Jim Robinson, the Humphrey Brothers and the rest to the then up-and-coming...

Martyn Nelson and The Rhythm Remedies

Martyn Nelson is a musician and dancer who is behind this Birmingham-based swing band. Once Martyn discovered Lindy hop dancing he couldn’t wait to play swing music and searched out top jazz musicians to form this band. In Birmingham Martyn runs The Swing Era, a swing...

Miles Levin

The son of the outstanding drummer, the last Tony Levin, Miles has worked with many of the best Birmingham jazz musicians and leading his own groups. Having been part of a quintet led by saxophonist Paul Dunmall, a long-time associate of his father, he has recently...

The Nitecrawlers

The Nitecrawlers aim is to recreate the sheer enjoyment of the original R&B clubs of the 60’s – and they can do this because they were there at the time. With a lifetime of experience between them they have appeared alongside some of the biggest names in the music...

Potato Head Jazz Band

Formed in 2003 in Granada, Spain, the Potato Head Jazz Band is a six-piece group, specialising in a skilled and enterprising brand of hot jazz, swing and Dixieland. Birmingham festival-goers will remember the high energy and entertainment levels of their performances...

The Quiet Men

Expect a classy set of covers and original material from the top-class trio of Colin Browne, Dan Machin and Roy Adams.Catch them at the following times and places:   Wed 24th  18:30 The Canal House  Fri 26th  21:00 Hopwood House  Sun 28th  18:30 Velvet Music...

Ready For Freddie Quartet

A highly skilled and interactive quartet brings the music of Freddie Hubbard to life in a series of colourful interpretations of some of the trumpeter’s most enduring compositions.Featuring renowned trumpet & flugelhornist Bryan Corbett, currently with The Brand...

Ricky Cool & The In Crowd

  One of the most entertaining front men in the business, Ricky Cool has toured with the likes of Billy Connolly and shared a stage with George Harrison. His current dynamic group, the In Crowd, with a mix of rhythm and blues, ska, bluebeat and soul, features top...

The Rip Roaring Success

The Rip Roaring Success lived up to their name at last year’s festival, offering hot jazz mixed with old-time country and a wry smile. The trio of fiddle, guitar and bass serves up a lively and entertaining brand of Western Swing.Catch them at the following times and...

Roy Forbes

Roy Forbes’ vocal style is, as Jazz UK expressed it, ‘infused with the warmth of his own personality.’ His dynamic and soulful treatments of the Great American Songbook have brought him acclaim at international festivals as far afield as Milan and St. Lucia, as well...

Sauce City Jazz

Formed in 1992, the Worcestershire-based six piece is making its fourth appearance at the Festival. Sauce City’s brand of traditional Dixieland has long proved popular throughout the Midlands.Catch them at the following times and places:   Thu 25th  12:30 Church...

The Schwings with Milda Stasaityte

The Schwings are a vintage swing and New Orleans style jazz band hailing from the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius. Founded in 2011 by legendary jazz musician and multi-instrumentalist Remis Rančys, The Schwings rapidly rose to popularity in Lithuanian jazz festivals,...

Sheila Waterfield

  Sheila’s sound is a unique blend of jazz, folk, soul, Latin and blues. She is one of those impressive singers who can instil a beautiful warm delicacy into ballads and a lively energy into the blues. She received rave reviews for her performances at the...

The Shufflepack

The Shufflepack, with singer/harmonica player/blues authority Stuart Son Maxwell, plays groovy shuffling blues in the classic style, from Chicago to the West Coast. The music of Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Wynonie Harris and the three Kings, with some original...

Simon Spillett

Simon Spillett is a man of many talents: his 2015 biography of Tubby Hayes was widely praised, he played a key role in the film Tubby Hayes – A Man in a Hurry, as a writer of monumentally detailed liner notes he is in a class of his own, he writes columns and reviews...

Steve Gibbons Band

  One of the legends of the Birmingham rock scene, Steve Gibbons has been a force to be reckoned with since his time with the Ugly’s in the 1960s. Over the years he has been a member of short-lived supergroup Balls, formed The Idle Race which metamorphosed into the...

Swing Cafe

Swing Café is a stylish swing band playing well known tunes from the 1920s to the 1950s. Led by popular Midlands vocalist Billie Baker, the band is made up of super talented musicians with an impressive collective CV. Together they have played at numerous venues...

Swing From Paris

Based in the West Country, Swing from Paris brings the sounds of chic French cafes, focussing particularly on the music of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappell, but covering a range from Piaf to Parker. The band’s debut at the Birmingham festival comes shortly after...

Tenement Jazz Band

Since the band’s formation in Edinburgh in January 2018 the Tenement Jazz Band has built an instant reputation for old-style New Orleans jazz played with youthful verve. Initially a six-piece, the band has now settled down to a five-piece, with the band’s founder,...

Tipitina

Last seen in Birmingham wowing the audience at the newly revived Henry’s Blueshouse at the Bull’s Head, Tipitina has long been a favourite at the festival. The band’s unique take on the blues, barrelhouse, boogie and gospel of New Orleans owes much to the music of...

Tom Hill

Californian Tom Hill, long domiciled in Birmingham, bassist, actor and wordsmith, has made his mark at the festival in many different guises. Whether leading his 70s Jazz Funk Machine, narrating a children’s jazz story, anchoring an all-star band or playing a key role...

Tony Billingham’s All Star Band

Tony Billingham’s All Star Band consists of top musicians from around the country.Joining Tony, leader of the Europa Jazz Band for many years, in the front line are two former members of the Acker Bilk Band: award-winning trumpeter Enrico Tomasso and trombonist Ian...

Val Wiseman

The achievements of the West Bromwich-born singer were recognised in last year’s festival at a performance of Lady Sings the Blues at the West Bromwich Central Library when an award was made to Val by Sandwell Council for her contributions to music over many years....

The Water Gypsies

The Water Gypsies is the perfect name for a group who combine playing gypsy jazz with life afloat in a narrow boat on the Kennet and Avon Canal. The group was born out of a chance meeting at a gypsy jazz jam in Bradford-on- Avon and the four piece (violin, lead and...

The Whiskey Brothers

Fast becoming festival favourites at Birmingham, Big Bear recording artists the Whiskey Brothers are Richard Heath on vocals and mandolin and Gerry Smith on piano. In the mid-1990s they formed the Splinter Blues Band, but since 2012 they have worked as a duo, playing...

Women of Jazz

Women of Jazz celebrate the influence of Jazz in women through the ages. They recall the classic jazz standard sounds of Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone, on to the sultry tones of Diana Krall and Norah Jones. By creating a relaxed atmosphere that incorporates...

You’re Never Alone With A Uke

Returning for his fifth year, Jules Cockshott from Ukulele Rocks! is looking forward to welcoming all ages to his ‘Absolute Beginners to 12-Bar Blues’ workshops. No experience or instrument required. Come along and have some fun making music!Join the fun at the...