top of page

DAVE O'HIGGINS celebrating 20 YEARS of Strictly Smokin' Big Band

Updated: Oct 30, 2022



This was, to quote from Larry Hart's lyric in Thou Swell, "a sweet lollapalooza" or as Cole Porter once wrote "What a swell party this is" - and it was!

A 20th birthday party to be precise. Yes its hard to believe that the SSBB has been going for twenty years. Apart from leader Lamb, I wonder if any of the current crop were part of the original line-up or have they gone on to greater or lesser things? On tonight's performance I would suggest the latter. Many past members were present in support.

To mark the auspicious occasion, ace tenor saxophonist Dave O'Higgins was the invited guest and he provided the icing on this cordon bleu cake.

With only a minimum of rehearsal he slotted into the band as if he had been a graduate of Whitley Bay High School where it all began. Modern, contemporary, with a nod to the great unknown, he was cool, he was hot, he was everything you look for in a jazzman and still maintained that sometimes derided quality - the ability to swing! Although with this band surrounding you it would be nigh on impossible not to as no doubt some of those shaking a leg or three would heartily agree.

Of course brilliant as he was, the band themselves are not without A-listers as was proven when O'Higgins and Summers went head to head on Stolen Moments - it ended up in a split decision either way depending on who you spoke to.

Keith Robinson, Jamie Toms, Sue Ferris, Pete Tanton, Michael Lamb and Graham Don - particularly Graham Don who is rarely sighted outside of the subterranean depths of the engine room - all had their chance to shine. Then there was Alice - the lady in red - (They're writing songs of love) But Not For Me. Who's she kidding? Every man in the room was, hypothetically, doing just that.

Special mention for the section work which was spot on. The saxes on Boogie Stop Shuffle, the 'bones on Road to Rack and Ruin, the trumpets on - you name it - and the rhythm section throughout.

This was truly a night to remember but, unlike the film of that name which was about The Titanic, this night didn't encounter any icebergs other than what was in the various cocktails although, during Autumn Leaves, they did come perilously close before Captain Lamb helped steer it to safety. Here's to the next 20 years or at least until Dec. 16/17 at Gosforth Civic Theatre for the band's Christmas show - Lance

Set 1: Georgia on my Mind; Calypso Collapso; I'm Old Fashioned; Stolen Moments; Probably.

Set 2: Chicago; Lost in the Memory; Boogie Stop Shuffle; Groovin' Hard; Walk Spirit, Talk Spirit.

Set 3: But Not For Me; Goodbye Pork Pie Hat; Estaté; Lonely Hours; Road to Rack and Ruin; Autumn Leaves.


bottom of page