Tuesday August 03, 2021

From Russia with Love

A friendly story from Terry Birkinhead


In July 1990, Reg Aveyard (the banjo player with the Savoy Jazzmen) and I, went to hear a touring Russian band at Telford’s Warehouse, Chester. The ‘Eight of the Neva’ from Leningrad (changed back to St. Petersburg in 1991) were a fine Dixieland band who had a great reception from a packed venue.

The drummer had a tee-shirt with “Life is Music” on the front, and “Jazz fran Sovjet pa turne” on the back.. At the interval I asked him if he would swap his tee-shirt for my “Hot Jazz”(with sousaphone motif) sweatshirt. He went beserk with delight ! Later on he wanted me to sit in on his drums – no way ! Chatting after the event , the trombonist nudged me, pointed at the tee-shirt and said ”No Russian – Swedish !” Cyrillic characters never occurred to us duffers. (And it was made in Brazil.) My wife thought I was mad – and still does – swapping my sweat shirt for a tee-shirt.

Later that year at Pete Allen’s Manx Jazz Festival, on the open-top bus into Douglas, wearing my ‘Russian’ tee-shirt, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and very slowly said “Are-you-enjoying-your-holiday-in -the-Isle-of-Man ?” My equally slow reply “Yes – thank-you, -can -you- understand-my-Lancashire-accent ?” Mirth all round on the bus.


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