Notts About Jazz & Blues
Hand in Heart goes hand in hand with Jazz.

This week we continue our series of blogs dedicated to finding the perfect spots in and around Notts to relax and soak up the festive atmosphere with a wonderful Jazz backdrop to drown out any stresses you may be feeling in preparation for Christmas day. In last weeks blog we gave a review of the Manvers Arms in Radcliffe on Trent. They’ve now finalised their December gig listings and we were thrilled to see that Djongology are on the bill again. To see what else they’ve got coming up have a look at their Notts About Music profile.

This week we thought we’d move a bit closer to the city centre to focus on one of our favourite Nottingham city centre venues, The Hand and Heart on Derby Road.

There are so many reasons we love this venue. The food, the drink, the friendly staff, the vibrant mix of clientele from all ages and walks of life, the link to Nottingham’s heritage brought by the venue’s situation in the caves, the inspired decor that has a special yet homely feel and provides something interesting for the eye to rest on in every corner. Yes, there are a lot of reasons we love this venue and top of this list is the live music. 

The caves offer a great setting for live music as their rounded shape create a bowl like effect providing amplification without any harsh echos. To top that the management have great taste in music, and not just that, its all local music too. Most of the acts that perform here are Jazz acts or have a Jazz or blues influence to their music of some kind mixed with sounds from all around the globe. This month their line up includes folky roots band Balkan Express, Jazz quartet Deli, masters of Jazz and Latino fusion Take the A-tram, the Godfather of Blues Colin Staples who will be teaming up with one of the busiest blues musicians in Notts Iain ‘Doc’ Shellard and experimental folk band Aistaguca, not to mention Nottingham legend, Jazz Pianist, Pete the Feet who plays each sunday afternoon, the perfect accompaniment to any Sunday meal.

At the time of publication Balkan express have already performed, a review of which will be featured in next weeks world and folk blog which you can find here. Coming up next Tuesday are Nottingham based Jazz quartet Deli. We are excited to see the are performing here again as we have seen them play here once before. Deli are a collection of very talented musicians made up of Sax, Double Bass, Keys and front woman Deb who plays a selection of various instruments. Their repertoire is wonderful and their selected programmes move from relaxed and mellow to lively and energetic seamlessly in a way that keeps the audience drawn in and in great spirits. Another great attribute to seeing them perform live is the suspense to see what will be the next item Deb fetches out of what I can only describe as a treasure trove of percussion. Deli are definitely ones not to be missed and the Hand and Heart, the perfect port in any storm, is a great place to see them live this winter.

Jazz and Blues Blog: The Spirit of Christmas Jazz

With winter now fully upon us,  the enjoyment of live music outdoors in beer gardens and weekend long summer jazz festivals are gone until next year. However, we now have something equally as fun to look forward to. What better way to get into the festive spirit than to enjoy all the things we look forward about this season all year round; Fantastic food & drinks, time with loved ones, good cheer shared with strangers and, of course, spirit lifting music. This month our Jazz blogs will be dedicated reviewing the best places in and around the city to find the magical combination that makes for a truly enjoyable Christmas period.

The Manvers Arms

The first stop on our list is The Manvers Arms  in Radcliffe on Trent.

Getting there

This venue is situated outside of the convenience of the city centre but it’s well worth making the journey to. There is plenty of on site parking should you or someone you know be happy to be a designated driver for the evening and if not, Trent Barton run the Radcliffe line from the city centre providing convenient public transport to a stop a minuets walk from the public house.

The Venue

The Manvers Arms is a very warm place where the choice of décor and furnishings create a very homely atmosphere, which is made even more welcoming by the friendly attitudes of both the staff and other customers alike. Within moments of walking in, it’s impossible not to feel right at home, a relaxing feeling that does not waver the entire evening. To say that the Manvers Arms has a good selection of food and drinks does not give their menu anywhere near close to enough credit. I’m no food critic but I have to say that although there are many fantastic places offering quality food around Nottinghamshire, after one meal, The Manvers Arms is in my my top 3. Not only was the food incredible but also great value for money at 2 courses for only £11. 

The Music

There are regular Jazz nights every Thursday at this venue which are clearly a hit with the locals and rightly so. It’s a great setting for Jazz, warm, welcoming and relaxed in every aspect. If you are thinking of going down to enjoy both a meal and the music then I would suggest getting there early for a good spot as the seats with the best view fill up fast! The night I visited the performace was from Djongology. A very impressive Gypsy- Jazz 4 piece made up of John and Richard Smith, Steve Peters and their fiddle player and front man Ben Holder. The talent within this ensemble is incredible as they play such technically advanced  arrangements with astounding results and make it look all too easy as if they were just four friends jamming together and playing whatever came naturally. This alone brings a wonderful energy to the ensemble but it can not be overlooked that their violinist Ben, who looks to be no older than his early to mid twenties, is not only an incredibly talented player but also confident and passionate about the music he plays to equal measures. As the group performed what was a perfect mix of both uplifting and soothing tunes including the likes of ‘Topsy’, ‘China Boy’ and ‘What is This Thing Called Love?’, Bens love for what he does was clear, as he bopped  around whilst still managing to play his parts perfectly infecting the entire atmosphere including even most of the mature members of the audience with an unquestionably youthful energy and liveliness.

This was a truly enjoyable night and definitley one I look forward to repeating sometime soon.

To see what events are coming up at the manvers arms please see their forthcoming events page.

Jazz and Blues Blog: week 5 9-15th September

I’m writing this weeks blog with great excitement for the month ahead. It’s going to get off to a great start with the Newark Blues festival this weekend. To find out more about that take a look our blog from a few weeks back that looks at the artists and events that will transpire in Newark this weekend. The second reason for my excitement is that the September event listings went up last week and there is lots to look forward to. 

One Jazz act working hard this month are local legends Deli. If you’ve not seen them play live before then we definitely recommend you take your next opportunity to do so. Their repertoire mainly consists of original works influenced by the styles of Jazz legends such as Duke Ellington and Charles Mingus.  Their performances lift the audiences’ spirits as their music expresses emotions from melancholy to pure joy making for not only an entertaining performance but one that you’ll leave feeling uplifted.

Another act we are thrilled to have the opportunity to see this month is Neil C Young. Neil is a gifted guitarist whose style has various influences from Be-bop to bossa. His music is founded on a combination of expression, talent, technique and inspiration of his guitar heroes Pat Metheny and Wes Montgomery. It will be such as pleasure to see Neil perform at Stay’s Jazz bar in Newark as his music and the venue will compliment each other perfectly making this not only a beautiful music event but also a wonderful experience.

Looking now more to the blues side of things if you simply haven’t got the time to spend a whole day at a blues festival fear not as there is no need to miss out. This Sunday evening the Guitar bar are presenting Ian Siegal and Aynsley Lister as well a host of other Blues artists in a charity events “A gig for Rod” which will be held at Nottingham Irish centre. Ian Siegal, who is also playing the blues festival the prior evening, Having lived in Nottingham for 5 years, Siegal is no stranger to the area. MOJO magazine rate Siegal as “ the cleverest writer and most magnetic performer of Blues in the UK” making it a delight to have him home for the weekend. Also playing that evening is Aynsley Lister. Having been reviewed as superb by the times we are really looking forward to seeing Lister play his unique fusion of 60’s RnB and more current and melodic lyrical approach.

To find out when these acts are performing head over to our gig listing where you can find all the information that you will need to get you all set for these performances and many more over the coming month.

Jazz and Blues Blog Week 3

Welcome to our third Local Jazz and Blues blog. We apologize for our lateness this week. Notts About Music is only a small outfit and due to some unforeseen circumstances and commitments over the Bank holiday weekend we were unable to get this up on friday afternoon as usual. However, we are here now, better late than never!

In a couple of weekend’s time one of the biggest event’s of both Newark’s and Blues fans’ of the East Midlands yearly calendar will be taking place across 5 venues and the beautiful castle grounds. That’s right it’s Newark Blues festival which will once again play host to the Britsh blues awards.

Starting on the eve of Friday 9th September, an acoustic blues jam at The castle pub will be kicking off the festival at 4pm to get everyone in the mood for events to come over the weekend. Once the combination of Friday night joy and festival spirit begin to fill the air, James Manners, front man of the James Manners trio who are currently recording the their debut LP “Live from the studio” will be taking to the stage of The Navigation Waterfront at 7pm. You can expect a fusion of Blues, Jazz and rock drawing influences from the likes of Billy Joel, Bob Dylan and Eric Clapton to name but a few.

At 9pm the festival will really get going as The Mayze and The Fox and Crown also open their stages. In the Navigation The Fat Chicken band will be playing their own brand of classic blues covers in preparation for their performance on Saturday night at one of the festivals main events “Blues at the castle”. Back to Friday night, other performers that night are Groove merchants at The Mayze, Andrew Hall at The castle pub and Blues train at The fox and crown.

Saturday morning will bring a whole new life to the festival as local youths will have the opportunity to take part in a Blues workshop being held at the Castle grounds. The workshop will run from 9-11.30 am. Following this, at 12pm, the days performances will get of to an exciting start as Blues the Next generation makes for the first of Saturdays main events on the Castle grounds featuring only artists of 18 years and younger. Performers include Blues rock band The Mentulls, The NBF Blues band and alternative funk rockers The Age of Stella.

At 1pm the festival will to get into full swing as The Mayze and Castle pub present their first performers of the day. At The Mayze, James Manners will be playing his second set of the Festival and Man gone Missing, An acoustic blues act with haunting melodies and complex guitar skills, open the stage at the Castle Pub. 

Roll on 2pm when the next event on the Castle grounds, Acoustic and traditional blues, will begin. This event features two acts. First, Booba Dust, An R&B band made up of Dick Daniel aka ‘Lightnin’ Dan’, Rich Warren and Pete Tattersall aka ‘George Thunderbird’. Daniel has a strong Jazz and Soul background, his influences including Charles Mingus, James Jamerson and the great Willie Dixon. Pete has a more rootsy down-home feel, think Elmore James and Slim Harpo. Booba Dust will be followed by My Name is Earl, A duo from the south west who play a mixture of original songs and covers played on acoustic and slide guitar.

At 4pm The Navigation and The Prince Rupert will join the festivities with sets from Pete Elkington and Jim widdup and Simon ark respectively. The performances will provide a nice interlude for ticket holders while they wait for the gates at the Catsle grounds to open at 5pm for the final event of the day, Blues at the Castle.

This event will feature the final performance of the weekend for Fat Chicken. The Jon Amor Blues group will also play featuring former members of award winning The Hoax, guitarist Jon Amor and Drummer Mark Barrett. The group mix influences of blues greats such as Muddy waters and Howlin’ wolf with a more contemporary sound of bands such as The Black keys. Next up are five piece roots band from Colchester, Hokie Joint who have played sets with legendary artists including Steve Winwood, Booker T and the late great Solomon Burke. As they say themselves on their website, this band “sidesteps the “virtuoso” blues/rock idiom, and concentrate more on what matters to the both the band and the listener – the song.” The final performance of this event will come from last years British Blues Award winners The Ian Siegal band. Having lived in Nottingham for 5 years, Siegal is no stranger to the area. However, it was while he was embarking on a change of scenery in a move down to London that his band came together. With MOJO magazine rating Siegal as “ the cleverest writer and most magnetic performer of Blues in the UK” this performance is one not to be missed.

Rounding up the second day of the festival there will be performances at participating venues from 9pm. Quickly gaining a reputation as first class exponents of modern day blues, The revenues will be performing at The Navigation while Kent DuChaine, a well traveled and experienced blues performer will play his own ferocious wild style of Blues at The Castle pub, and Booba Dust will take to the stage once again, this time in The fox and crown.

Sunday will start with another Blues workshop. At mid-day participants will perform on the Castle Grounds showcasing the new skills and songs they’ve learned, after which it is time for the festival’s biggest, and did we mention free, event; The British blues awards 2011.

The awards will play host to four bands. First up will be The Cliff Brown Band whose style is a fusion of swinging Blues, rock and Jazz funk. The second act to take the stage will be Chesterfield’s four piece blues rock band, The Idle Hands, for whom this performance will double as the official release of their album, Ready for Business. Previous press coverage has likened their performances to those of Led Zepplin, Hendrix, Beck and BB King making us here in the Notts About Music office very excited to see them perform! Next to play will be rock blues and soul outfit, Hoonson from the Northwest. Between the band’s four members they have forty years experience of playing professionally throughout the UK and Europe. Singer Jenna Hoonson vocal stylings have been refered to as “like a cross between Aretha Franklin and Robert Plant”.  Headlining the awards is Tim Aves and WOLFPACK. As the name suggests they are strongly influenced by Howlin’ wolf but do not expect a tribute act as the band’s repertoire covers a wide range of artists including Hound Dog Taylor and Muddy Waters to The Red Devils, ZZ Top and the ARC Angels to which they add a “large dollop of 21st-century Essex attitude”. This event will conclude at approximately 6pm.

Aside from the weekends main event there will also be a number of performances around Newark in the participating venues across the afternoon. At 1pm James manners will be playing his last set of the weekend at The Navigation, 16 year old Jack Blackman who has been recognized by 6 music’s introducing will grace the stage at the Mayze and Short notice will play in The Castle pub. At 4pm, Newark’s own, August James will perform in The Navigation. This should be a special performance for the duo as they met in 2008 at a similar event, the Newark live and local festival. Sunday afternoon will also see second gigs from Pete Elkington and My name is Earl in the Price Rupert.

At 7 pm, with the main event over, the festival will go on to play host to some more great artists. The Mustangs, who have a hard earned and formidable reputation as one of the hardest-working and most charismatic bands in British blues will play in The Mayze. From 9pm the last of the festivities will begin as local boys The Unusual suspects perform at the Navigation (£3 entry for this event), the Blues Boy Kings, who have a highly respectable following of 1,540 fans on reverbnation, play in The Castle and Nottinghamshire’s own Pete Donaldson Blues band rounds up the festivals events in The Fox and Crown.

As you can see there is so much going on at the Newark Blues Festival, from workshops to performances from young local artists to some of the most respected performers on the UK blues circuit, there is going to be something for everyone. If you are a local Blues fan it’s definitely worth poping along for at least one of the days. If you are not local to Newark the rail link from Nottingham provides a good mode of transport dropping you a 2 minute walk from the castle grounds. For more info and tickets please visit the Newark Blues festival website. See you there! 

Jazz and Blues Blog 19th-25th Augst.

Finally it’s Friday and time for the Notts About Music weekly Jazz and Blues blog. Although the weekend is upon us I feel that last weeks blog will have given you more than enough ideas on how to get your weekend Jazz fix with our piece on Sunday lunchtime events around the city. This week instead we are going to focus on how to banish those mid-week blues with some lively Jazz and soulful blues during the week.


The main nights for Jazz during the week are Monday, Tuesday and Thursday with a handful of venues holding regular nights. First off there is the The Bell Inn, based right in the heart of Nottingham just off the market square, who as well as hosting live Jazz performances on a Sunday afternoon also do the same every Monday evening. Next up we have the Hand and heart who host live music every Tuesday and Thursday evenings, mostly of the Jazz persuasion. This coming Tuesday we recommend you pop down to see the wonderful Me and Mr Jones.


“Me and Mr. Jones are Voice – Rachel Foster / Piano – Paul Deats, accompanied by an awesomely talented rhythm section; Martin Bentley – Double Bass and Steve Smith – Drums.

Beautiful original Songs, made with love. Nostalgic for another time but very much for today.


Rachel Foster; Jazz and pop chanteuse, once likened to Tracy Thorn and Sade (only phatter!) ‘A voice like Baileys with chocolate!’ Toured US with Weekend Players earning Billboard Chart success at no.3 and reaching no.1 in the Dance Chart respectively. Rachel also collaborated with local hero’s Bent, Shod and Crazy P to name but a few. A voice mature enough to command demanding music.


Paul Deats; Jazz, Funk, Blues pianist. ‘A powerful and intense player, ..lyrical and thoughtful’. Paul aka Paulus has toured Europe and the UK extensively. He is a constantly inventive arranger and composer making him a much sought after player, performer and collaborator..”


If blues is more your thing then the next time you have a free Tuesday evening to spare we would suggest a tram ride down to the Lion Inn in New Basford to show your support to The Old Nick trading company who have their own unique fusion of Blues, Americana and Folk and play at the Lion Inn most Tuesdays. It’s definitely worth book-marking this venue’s what’s on page as they always have a wide range of events going on, the owners are clearly very passionate about the local music scene. Tonight for example they are playing host to Buzzard a Rock and Blues band from the Nottingham/ Derby area.


Other venues to keep your eyes on include Stray’s Jazz bar in Newark, although the majority of their events fall on a Friday and Saturday night. However, if you’re out near Radcliffe on Trent then keep your eyes peeled for events at the The Manvers Arms. Next Thursday night they are presenting the Joanna Hudson and Bob Hudson trio. Joanna is quickly gaining popularity in the Nottingham area for her passionate and dynamic vocals. And of course lets not forget the Jam Café in Hockley where later this month there will be a Jazz and Blues improv evening.


As you can clearly see from today’s piece there is a vast amount of Jazz events going on in the Nottingham area. If you’re finding it hard to keep you’re eyes on all these venues then don’t forget to take a look at the gig listings section of our site where all the Jazz and Blues events we know about will be listed in purple. September’s listings will be coming shortly.

Finally, we want to close with one last event tip for this weekend. As many of you will be aware Newark Blues festival is coming on the 10th and 11th of September. This Saturday the NBF Jam  Band are promoting at
RST Music Services and Sunday on the main stage at the Food and Drink Fayre in Newark Market Place!!


If you know of any other local Jazz musicians or venues that you feel would make a good feature in our blog then please get in touch at


We hope you have a great week and we will see you again next Friday.  

Jazz and Blues Blog 11th-17th Augst.

Welcome to the first of many blogs dedicated purely to the Jazz and Blues scene across Nottinghamshire. There are so many exciting events going on over the next few months including concerts, fairs, festivals and workshops I barely even know where to start. So I’ll begin with a look at the events that run all year round and form the framework that the rest of the city’s jazz and blues scene rests upon.

Week in, week out us lucky Jazz fans of Nottingham are spoilt for choice when it comes to how to spend our Sunday afternoon. We have so many local pubs hosting not only lovely food and a friendly atmosphere but also a fair few showcasing some of the city’s finest Jazz musicians. To name a few there is the famous The Bell Inn right in the heart of the city, The Hand and Heart on the Derby Road who every Sunday play host to local Jazz legend, pianist Pete the feet, so named for his ability to play not only with his fingers but also with his toes. Not to mention venues outside the centre, such as the Lion in New Basford, who like to spice things up with different musicians each weekend. Also, just incase an afternoon of jazz and fine food isn’t enough to please, every Sunday night the Acme Jazz band play at the vibrant Guitar bar. Just a ten minute walk from the city centre in Sherwood rise this laidback atmosphere will round off your weekend nicely.

As well as bringing you fine entertainment every Sunday it’s definitely worth having a look at the weekly gig listings for those venues named above. This week, tonight in fact, Organik Trio will be playing at The Hand and Heart. Well known for it’s beautiful setting in the city caves and putting on brilliant live performances every Tuesday and Thursday nights, and this week is no exception. The Organik Trio is made up of members of the Wendy Kirkland Duo, Wendy herself and Pat Sparkes. Wendy is a jazz pianist, Hammond organ player and singer who has been a regular on the UK jazz scene for more than 10 years. Her influences include Shirley Horn, Diana Krall, Carol Welsman, Blossom Dearie and Nat King Cole. Pat Sparkes is a guitarist and double bass player who has worked with the likes of Darius brubeck, pat McCarthy and Tony Kofi. To make up the Trio tonight they will be accompanied by drummer John Richmond creating a more up-tempo and funky sound. Tonight’s gig is free for paying customers and due to kick off and 8.30pm.

Weekly musician Tip:
Having talked about her in some detail already this week’s musician tip is Wendy Kirkland. If you aren’t able to make the Organic Trio performance tonight then never fear, the Duo will be performing every month from now till Novemeber at Stray’s Jazz bar in Newark.

Weekly event Tip:
A new monthly Jazz night is starting at the end of this month at the JamCafe in Hockley. The night is to be a blues/rock/jazz improv night. Anyone will be welcome to join in so long as they give advance notice to the organizers who can be contacted via their facebook page.