Kathleen Duffy

Kathleen Duffy and The Wool City Jazzmen

Kathleen Duffy and The Wool City Jazzmen

We heard recently from Kathleen Duffy in North London. She told us a bit about her time as a singer in a band and some of the clubs they visited.

This is what Kathleen had to say!

“Hello - I come from Leeds originally and when I was young in the very early sixties I used to sing with jazz bands. I would travel in an old car with one of our band members, across the Pennines to various working men's clubs.  The band I sang with was The Wool City Jazzmen (called Wool City because it was based in Bradford).  I still have my old diary with the gigs in from those days.

I cannot remember the specific WMCs because it all blurred into one - but I do remember being told that the audiences at WMCs were hard to please and if they didn't like you they just carried on drinking and talking. They worked hard and they expected the best...sometimes we went down well and sometimes not! 
Also we often played in the evenings during the week to men only audiences - if I remember rightly it was only on Sunday afternoons when women and children were allowed in.  I was only a young kid, 16 in 1961, and I remember on Sunday lunchtimes when we played in the pit villages that the miners' wives were so lovely to me and would call me in the interval to sit with them and have a drink. 
Many of these WMCs were quite well furbished with stages and good sound systems for those days. I may be wrong but I think it was Batley that went on to feature great singers like Shirley Bassey and Matt Monroe. 

Not wishing to bore anyone, but here is a list of some of the places I sang in, way back then taken from my diary:
Wibsey WMC, Sheepscar WMC, Batley WMC,
Brownroyd WMC, Co-op Bradford, Kippax WMC,
East Ward Labour Club, Milford WMC, Ossett Trades & Friendly, East Leeds WMC, Meanwood WMC, Thornhill Lees WMC, Micklefield Miners, Osmondthorpe WMC, Belle Isle WMC, Carlinghow WMC, Lindwood WMC,
Cudworth Village, Bingley Ex-Servicemen's Club,
East Leeds WMC, Carlinghow WMC.
Those days singing with the Wool City Jazzmen, although not long, were happy days for me.”

These are lovely memories and they show how singers like Kathleen certainly got around the clubs back in the day when audiences were large and expected varied, good entertainment each weekend.

Maybe some of you out there heard Kathleen sing with the Wool City Jazzmen? Do let us know! Maybe you used to use some of those clubs mentioned?

We would love to hear from you.

Ruth Cherrington
Feb. 2013


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