Shine on Silvershine

446px-Andy_HamiltonThere’s a little jazz club hidden away in the quiet Bearwood suburb of Birmingham  that is superb, writes Richard Lutz.

Anyone who knows modern jazz knows that you head out of the city centre, take a right turn off the Hagley Road in Birmingham and head down Bearwood High Street to catch good solid live music every Thursday night.

It’s not what you will expect if it’s your first time. But it is something you will always remember.

The Silvershine Club is in the upstairs function room above the Corks Social club and it is here, in this cavernous ex-ballroom, your see and, of course, hear the real sounds of ageless jazz from the musicians that have to work doubly hard to earn money from their music.

There are excellent performers throughout the year and for a modest £4 (a fiver if you need to join the club), you can sit, use the bar (at social club prices) and take in an evening that can range from Louis Armstrong to John Coltrane to a dreamy Jamaican crooner singing bluesy Sinatra numbers.

The club has its origins with the late Andy Hamilton (see above) , a sax player who emigrated to Birmingham in the late forties and played every kind of venue for six decades. He nurtured the Bearwood-based jazz scene not only as a lightning rod for musicians but also as a base for keeping the music alive for the next generation. He earned an MBE for his efforts.

After his death at the age of 94 in 2012, his family decided to keep his club going and re-named it Silvershine in tribute to Hamiton’s most successful album.

His daughter Kim Hamilton-Foad explains: “We’ve kept it alive not only in memory of Dad. But to give local musicians work and help out with gigging. Some of them still have to busk to make money.”

The club is actually a dance ballroom with a sprung floor. And, to be fair, I reckon there are nights, in deepest wettest winter, when it seems there are more folks on stage playing their guts out than in the audience grouped around little tables. A whipround raffle helps add cash to the pot.

Soweto Kinch, the Handsworth-based sax player, opened the re-branded Silvershine last year on its first night. And the Hamilton family and others have kept it active since then with jazz ranging  from hard bop, to Latino dance music to raucous big band stuff.

“I can’t understand,” adds Kim (who has three daughters who sing), “why people stay in the city centre to hear good music.

“After all, If you don’t want to use a car, Bearwood High Street has good transport on Hagley Road to get to the club.

“We’re staying here in Bearwood,” she says, “The people around here were good to dad when he was playing in places like Dirty Betts, The King’s Head and The Bear Tavern.  We’re loyal to Bearwood.”

To find out more about the Silvershine club, its location, its history and its listings, click:


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