One of the best-kept secrets on the local gig circuit has to be Sunday afternoon at the Actress & Bishop.
It all started a few years ago when Dean Beresford, Danny McCormack and Al Gere, best known as the rhythm section of the classic King Pleasure & the Biscuit Boys line-up, began staging jam sessions for themselves and friends.
From these low-key, often quiet, afternoons grew a veritable co-operative of the Midlands music scene, with some of its biggest names playing together in front of a packed and appreciative audience.
Line-ups depend on other commitments – sometimes it’s a ‘proper’ band, other times Dean, Al and whoever can be persuaded to get up and perform. If it’s jazz, blues, rock’n’roll, the sort of music that defies all labels except ‘quality,’ this is where to round off your weekend.
Last time I was there the place was packed, not so much standing room only as if you were lucky you could just about get through the door.
Imelda May, one of the country’s most promising jazz singers, was on stage while Steve Gibbons lurked in the shadows, ready to put his own stamp on proceedings.
This Sunday 12th December promises another treat, with John Spinetto, a doyen of such names as the Big Town Playboys and various incarnations of Ricky Cool’s backing band, celebrating his 60th birthday. There’ll be special guests, and for the first time in over thirty years, Birmingham legends Ricky Cool & the Icebergs will be reforming.
It all kicks off at 3pm at the Actress & Bishop, 35 Ludgate Hill, off St Paul’s Square.
Free admission, a few minutes’ walk from Birmingham city centre and there’s usually plenty of car parking in the surrounding streets.