FREE event in the Zodiac Lounge at Portsmouth Guildhall.
No need to book.

Come and meet local music historian, Dave Allen, as he launches his new book;

Jazz & Blues, Soul & Ska in Post-War Portsmouth

In this his latest book about post-war popular music in Portsmouth, local music historian Dave Allen explores the remarkable 25-year history from the British Jazz Revival of 1945 to 1970, when Prince Buster and Jimi Hendrix had recently appeared in the city.

In May 1939, one of the biggest names in black American jazz ‘Fats’ Waller appeared for a week in a variety show at Portsmouth’s Hippodrome Theatre just south of the Guildhall. Within two years the theatre was demolished in a bombing raid and the Guildhall badly damaged.

When the war ended, the city and its live entertainment scene came slowly back to life. There were dance bands at the Savoy Ballroom and South Parade Pier opposite and then came the British jazz revival, looking back to New Orleans – followed by the modern jazz of bebop and beyond. Through the 1950s, jazz and dance bands led by all the big British names, Chris Barber, Ted Heath, Ronnie Scott, Humphrey Lyttleton and many others played in the city, mostly at the two major seafront venues, the Savoy Ballroom and the South Parade Pier just across the road.

Perhaps the most important local event was the re-opening of the Guildhall in June 1959 which brought to the city top national and international acts in concert – including some of the biggest names in black American jazz, blues and popular music, including Miles Davis and Sarah Vaughan, Duke Ellington and Ella Fitzgerald, Louis Armstrong and the MJQ, Muddy Waters and BB King, Nina Simone and Ray Charles. In the mid-1960s, the Tamla Motown revue appeared there, by which time the local clubs and ballrooms such as the Rendezvous, the Birdcage and Kimbells were playing their part with visits from Little Richard, bluesmen John Lee Hooker, Little Walter, Jimmy Reed, soul stars like Wilson Pickett, Ben E King and Ike & Tina Turner plus Jamaican ska singer Prince Buster.

Dave Allen’s book places those visiting black American and Caribbean stars in a broader historical context and reveals how they were received by the city and how their music, ranging through a variety of styles and genres influenced British musicians, from the bigger national names to the many local acts playing in the clubs, pubs and ballrooms on Portsea Island.

Event details

Festivals & Events

Age: 14's and under to be accompanied by an 18+ adult

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