8:30 - 11:00 EVERY MONDAY
Leytonstone Ex-Servicemens Club, 2 Harvey Rd E11 3DB
Admission: £2 for jammers / £3 for audience
 Blues Jam Profiles
Ian Carvell
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Ian, Lord Carvell of 'Ackney
Are you local?


Where are you from, originally?

Are you kidding? (see above).

What's your tipple?

Real ale; anything brown with a head - not that Mary Queen of Scots beer.

What's your earliest memory?

Hmm... well from what I recall was having my Tonsils out when I was five. It was regarded as standard procedure in those days, though now it's very much frowned on. To aid the healing process they fed you lots of ice-cream: something of a treat for us kids in post-war London. In my case it was Chocolate ice cream, which I promptly threw up over the nurse. From that day onwards, needless to say, I have never eaten Chocolate ice cream!.

What was the first record you ever bought with your own money?

Lonnie Donegan - "The Battle of New Orleans" (About a British defeat in US War of Independence).
Pye label. Price: 1s 9d

...and do you still have it?

Probably. I'm a bit of a magpie. Got a shovel?

Any hobbies/interests?

Apart from music, I like old aeroplanes (especially WW2), cars, motorbikes. Used to be nice when you could tinker with things; cylinder heads in the oven; that sorta thing. You need a computer just to set things up these days. Man, I sound like an old fogey!

Other pleasures: apart from good beer, wine and food I think I'm a bit of a show-off at heart. Enjoy the company of like minded souls; if I can make em laugh so much the better. We're all getting a bit too serious these days.

Do you remember the very first gig you went to? What was it like?

Absolutely. It was Marty Wilde and the Wildcats, July 1958 at the Finsbury Park Empire, with my schoolmate Pete Lodge. We didn't have much pocket money so we were up in "the gods" looking down on this tall figure with a red Strat. We were hooked! Saw Marty a year or two back - still tall but a bit sad. The Empire... sadly long gone!

Worst job you've ever had?

Had a temporary job after leaving college in a factory making False Teeth. Had to measure out raw materials from huge storage jars, into a crucible, then melt down the contents to fuse together at 1200 degrees white heat and crystallise. Dirty and dangerous work. 'elf n safety? Forget it. Stuck it for a fortnight!.

What's your claim to fame (not necessarily musical)?

Met Chuck Berry once and managed to extract a conversation out of him. It was hard going - like pulling teeth! Think I agree with Keith Richards, that prison must have had an effect on him; he ended up trusting no one. Bit of a "Cash in Hand" man from all accounts, hence his tax troubles. Likes the ladies too, but....!

If you could invite 6 people (past, present or fictional) to dinner, Who would you choose?

Sounds a bit like "Come Dine With Me", which is a gas! Could have some fun matching Adolf Hitler and Jesse Owens; they could throw bread rolls at each other. Vlad the Impaler and Ghengis Khan; sword fight with celery. Mother Theresa and Mahatma Ghandi; they might calm things down a bit, arm-wrestling over the dessert; Eton Mess maybe.

Been playing/performing long?

Too Long! Started singing in Church Choir in St. Mary's Stoke Newington around 1955. Then went through the Skiffle thing with my Dad. Learned Banjo from him. Formed a trad jazz band at school with my mate Alan Ward (latterly of the Honeycombs) around '63. Then formed a Stones covers band at college in '65. Then the usual Work/Wife/Home/Kids intervened. Back in early 90's got back in, met some like-minded souls at Top House (Crouch End) and the Dublin Castle jams and realised we all liked Chuck Berry.

Been in any bands?

Well we all rehearsed together at Andy Dempster's house and got stuck into the "Chuck Berry Songbook", as well as other blues/R'n'B. We went out under a variety of totally off-the-wall names, such as "Madonna Kebab", "The Spectacle Cases" etc., doing the North and East London Pub Circuit. We finally settled on "Bluejuice" as a six piece for quite a while. Then, like all bands, it came to a natural conclusion after a few years. Been in other bands since, with other line ups, more for fun than ego. Just nice to get up once in a while and let rip!

What first got you interested in the Blues?

Dad used to drag me round Jazz clubs like the Manor House, the 100 Club and the Marquee (then in Wardour St.) from the age of 12. Learned to drink beer! and listen to some top jazzers of the period. Dad's favourite was Chris Barber who always brought along an American Blues artist as special guest: Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson II, Sonny Terry, Jack Dupree etc. It was awesome thinking back now, but it got me hooked!

What other types of music do you like to listen to/play?

Still like to listen to Chet Atkins on that beautiful Gretsch guitar; Dad had a lot of his stuff. Clapton of course, who has matured like a good wine with age. Good stuff to learn, too, as much of it goes way back. Walter Trout too has a great touch and is a very soulful performer. Still listen to a lot of jazz; Diana Krall; that kinda stuff. Like to play through jazz standards and work out the key/chord changes and subtleties.

Favourite Blues artists?

Well they've all got their characteristics. Muddy Waters, I guess - he was definitely not the "country hick" but a tall elegant sharp-suited gent, with a great stage presence. His career really took off when he went electric. Howlin Wolf had that incredible gravelly voice too. BB King too had a beautiful melodic tone to both his guitar "Lucille" and his voice; his timbre is perfect. Albert King too because he's a left hooker like me! Shame most of em have gone to that great gig in the sky. Of the Brits, it's Gotta be Mick Abrahams - he rocks!.

Favourite artists (any other genre) ?

Ray Charles, Joe Turner, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holliday; gotta be in anybody's list. Plenty of contemporaries; Norah Jones, Joe Cocker... Elton John, too: he started off in blues. His first band was Bluesology with Long John Baldry on vocals. There are some great modern vocalists coming along, too: Adele, Rumer etc.

Ever been lucky enough to meet or share a stage with one of your musical heroes?

Some. Met Mick Abrahams at the Dublin Castle in his Blodwyn Pig days several times. Ditto Walter Trout. Did get to sing for Chaka Khan once; she was the "Star Spot" at a venue in Chelsea; we were the warm up! Needless to say the place was packed out (not to see us!) but we got a great reception.

Favourite instruments and/or equipment?

Those Gretsch guitars always looked/sounded great on Chet Atkins and Brian Setzer, but you gotta have the natural ability to do them justice. So I guess I'm happy with the second-hand Mexican Strat I bought in Canterbury a year or two back. Also got a nice Ashbury electro-acoustic I use sometimes.

If you had to sum up your relationship with the Blues using just one word, what would it be?

"Love-hate" I guess. Love the music / hate the repetitive 1-4-5 12-bar format that pervades at some venues; gets very depressing after a bit. Have to write a song about that: "12 bar blues blues" !

Who would you pick (past or present) for your dream band?

Remember that Viv Stanshall/Bonzos record 'The Intro and the Outro', about forty years ago? Had Adolf Hitler on Triangle and General De Gaulle on Piano Accordion. Perhaps we could add Eric Morecambe on Banjo and André Preview on Piano!

Nah... Think these supergroups are often a let down. Bill Wyman got nearest with the Rhythm Kings for me.

Most embarrassing moment?

Well I guess we've all been there... Apart from the "multiple key" start on a number, the one I hate is when you roll into a song full blast, and then realise that, try as you might, you can't remember the words to the next verse. Saw Vera Lynn, Lulu and even Hendrix do that, when TV went out live. Solution: make it up!

Proudest moment!

Apart from the birth of my kids, I guess still knockin out a decent song at my age. Must be doing something right: can't slow down, thank God.

What do you most enjoy about the Blues Jam?

The End!   Only Kiddin. Like-minded souls.

If you could travel back in time to be present at one moment/event in musical history, what would it be?

To be present as Elvis recorded Arthur Crudup's "That's Alright, Mama" for Sam Phillips - his first ever single on SUN records. He couldn't have imagined the effect that was going to have on popular music, particularly in USA, where black music ("race records" they called 'em) was effectively barred from the Airwaves. That little disc created a social revolution.

Who would they cast to play you in the movie of your life?

Charles Hawtrey. "Carry On Jamming" !

Marmite: - Yes or No?

Definitely YES. In the unlikely event of a Nuclear War there'll be two things left: Cockroaches and Marmite in little brown jars somewhere. Spread a bit of that on 'em and pretend they're Twiglets; loverly grub; problem solved.

If you were invited on "Desert Island Discs", which 8 records would you choose?
  • 1. Cigareets, Whuskey and Wild, Wild Women! - Red Ingle and the Natural Seven
  • 2. How High The Moon? - Les Paul and Mary Ford
  • 3. Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley
  • 4. Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & The Comets
  • 5. Unchain My Heart - Ray Charles
  • 6. Great Balls Of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
  • 7. Brown sugar - The Rolling Stones
  • 8. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen

...all iconic tracks for me!

...and what would be your luxury item?

A Harrier jump-jet.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Don't plan things too much; go with the moment and be spontaneous - except when crossin the road: not advised!

Go on - tell us a secret!

Alright then; I hate blues!

Only kidding. I'm a total chocoholic - so there; you've outed me.