The Original Badgers are a select group of talented musicians who Mr & Mr Badger were privileged to work with. They will be a tough act to follow!
See the “Badger Alumni” page for “Ex-Badgers”
Simon Powell – “‘You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off“- Simon leads the Badgers trumpet section – a unique team that, having worked out how to get the coach back on the road, now look back fondly on their last trip to Italy.
Karl Steadman – “If you shoot him you’ll just make him mad” – Karl is a renowned trumpet player in the Midlands and has played with most of the Big Bands in the area, including The Steve King Big Band, his own Ground Zero Big Band and currently The Brian Newton Big Band along with the Badgers. He was an inspiration to many young musicians during his time working with The Sandwell Youth Jazz Orchestra.
Keith White – “Say hello to my little friend!” – Keith hails from Oop North, spending his formative years in the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra (bucking the ex-MYJO Badger trend!). If he took himself seriously he might describe himself as a multi-award winning trumpet player, picking up the Most Outstanding Instrumentalist Award at the NCB finals three years in a row (directing and performing with the University of Warwick Big Band alongside his fellow Badger trumpet Patrick). Luckily he doesn’t take himself too seriously and appreciates irony when he sees it, preferring to point at the badge he got when he played trumpet on Blue Peter instead. Anyway, having run the highly successful State 51 Swing Orchestra for the last 15 years, he knows how much work (and love!) Mr. & Mrs. Badger pour into this fabulous collection of musicians which he is very proud to be a part of.
Patrick Hogan – “Six by nine? Forty two? I always said there was something fundamentally wrong with the Universe” – Patrick has noodled around the Midlands music scene since moving from his home county of Devon in order to study at Warwick University in 1993. Prior to that he played with a number of orchestras and brass bands, discovering big band and jazz via the well-regarded Devon Youth Jazz Orchestra and Exeter College Big Band. Since then he has enjoyed a wide variety of jazz, big band, wind orchestra, brass band, orchestral, soul, blues, ska, folk and show-band outings on trumpet, bass guitar and trombone. His favourite habitats are jazz and big band ensembles, and he is proud to be a contributor to the Badgers experience.
John Bewick – “I love it when a plan comes together!” – John is an alto & tenor sax player who is well known for his jazz playing in small groups & big bands around the Midlands. His fondest memories include his time as lead alto with the Brian Newton Band in their heyday when they won the BBC Big Band competition, played a Stan Kenton evening at Ronnie Scott’s in London and were the support band at a Maynard Ferguson concert in Derby. He also enjoyed swapping choruses and 4’s with the late great Joe Harriot and more recently with Don Weller. He has played lead alto with numerous other big bands including State 51 Swing Band, Dave Speedy’s Jazz Orchestra and the John Ruddick Big Band. He is revelling in the experience of playing the excitingly different and challenging charts that form the core repertoire of The Badgers Big Band.
Craig Holmes – “If I’m not back in five minutes, just wait longer.” – Craig has performed with the Jersey Symphony Orchestra and rehearsed regularly with Le Rocquier Big Band and La Ronde Concert Band performing all over Jersey and France. Now back within the West Midlands performing with local chamber groups, playing for shows such as West Side Story and Les Miserables and most importantly, of course, The Badgers.
Bob Jones – “I guess some like it hot” – Bob remembers playing recorder at infant school and quickly progressed to clarinet. It was a short hop to playing all the saxophone instrument range. His first taste of stardom was as a winner of the Carroll Levis Discoveries competitions which brought broadcasting fame at the age of 16. This early success developed into freelance performing and running his own bands until just a few years ago including the acclaimed Blue21 Big Band. Bob currently plays with the Skyliners Big Band, The John Ruddick Big Band, The Jack Daniels Big Band and the Harmonie Concert Band each week so he is very busy, but still finds the time to dep with the Fat Chops Big Band. Bob is as enthusiastic as ever to push the boundaries in his music by embracing swing, jazz and classical performances as well as adding a flute to his instrument collection. He is so excited to join Badgers as he has just discovered the fingering for F# !
Helen Dean – “I’ll have what she’s having” – As a music graduate from The University of Leeds Helen toured the Scottish Highlands with the Leeds University Symphony Orchestra as a soloist. Having qualified as a secondary school music teacher at the University of Leeds in 1999 Helen returned to Solihull to teach music. As well as devoting her daytime to the next generation of saxophonists, Helen remains committed to her own musical development. As a member of the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain, Helen toured China giving a series of concerts.
Debs Hutt – “She’s a phony, but she’s a real phony” – With over twenty years playing experience under her belt, Debs was one of the founder members of the National Saxophone Choir of Great Britain. Performance highlights include the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the World Saxophone Congress and appearing on the BBC’s “Play it Again” series alongside Lord Robert Winston. You will often find her indulging her love of jazz round the West Midlands area with many big bands and the all-female 8-piece ‘Lady be Good’. She also plays baritone with the Equinox saxophone ensemble and soprano with the Giocoso saxophone quartet.
Clive Allsopp – “It’s funny because it’s true” – Clive is a professional musician who has performed in most genres which have included recording for the BBC and on Commercial Radio with Chico Arnez Impact of Brass and The Trevor Anthony Big Band to name just two. Clive has had many engagements in the theatre, including a season with the Welsh National Opera. He has also performed with a variety of Pop/Rock groups, however, his personal preference is playing Jazz with a variety of groups that he leads, and as a guest at Jazz venues around the country. Clive’s interest in writing music has included all the genres he has performed in: from arrangements for radio commercials, ballet, swing bands, Lyn Paul, Solomon King and wind ensembles. The suite, Three Autumn Stones, was commissioned for, and performed at, a British Association of Symphonic Bands and Wind Ensembles (BASBWE) conference at Warwick University. The Harmonie Band commissioned a piece for their Brass section called New York Suite, receiving its first performance at the Band’s summer concert in June 2008.
Greg Jones – “You ain’t seen me, right!” – Greg is Henley-in-Arden’s International Badger of Mystery who cast aside his undercover reputation to burrow out with a minor two-five-one and proudly join the Badger Bone Section. He started playing the trombone whilst at junior school with Mr Badger and subsequently benefited greatly from the early tutelage of Badger Bone Leader Clive the Slide. With his formative years in youth jazz orchestras Greg’s musical credentials include playing with BBC Big Band competition winners MYJO. Now developing a silver streak, he is a member of the Brian Newton Big Band and has appeared with many local big bands including the Cool Dudes Jazz Orchestra. Greg is just as comfortable in the small band line up and has been known to pop up at Abbey Road, gliss the local Dixieland circuit, and can also be seen playing with Jamie Knight’s Manuka Band.
Paul Draper – “The name’s Bond. James Bond” – Paul started playing whilst at school in big bands and classical orchestras. On top of these school and community groups he started playing gigs for a local rhythm and blues outfit, in the pit orchestras for local productions and a regular gig with a big band (where he was 50 years younger than anyone else in the band) and got a taste for more. Paul continued to play through university with the successful OUJO big band and university orchestras and has now come to ‘specialise’ in big bands. Paul has always had a penchant for funk and has found his spiritual home in the grooves of the Badgers Big Band.
Gur Rotkop – “Porridge today, Gromit. It’s Tuesday” – Gur studied the trombone with Zvi Ostrovsky and Stewart Taylor (Principal trombonists of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra) and conducting with Maestro Noam Shariff. He graduated with honors in both Trombone and Conducting at the Tel-Aviv University Rubin’s Music Academy and participated in master classes with trombonist Benny Sluchin from the Ensemble InterContemporain. A member of the Giv’ol multidisciplinary choir in Israel which explores the various uses of voice and sound in both classical and aleatoric music. He is a member of the Reflex ensemble since its foundation 1999. In addition to his multifarious activities in the classical arena, Mr. Rotkop also participated in various popular music projects and appeared on stage with Israeli rock band the Bilu’im.
Marcus Ingham – “This time next year, we’ll be millionaires!” – Marcus started playing drums at the age of four after being given one of his father’s old drum kits. Since then, he’s become one of the most versatile drummers in the UK. A keen interest in modern big band music has seen him perform with some of the best big bands in Britain, including Svengali, the Steve King Big Band and the award winning Midland Youth Jazz Orchestra. Freelance work has also lead to appearances with many top Jazz musicians including Guy Barker, Don Rendell, Nat Pierce and Stan Barker. His versatility in other musical avenues has also secured work with The Bachelors, Max Bygraves, The Overtures, The Unknownn, Tony Sheridan (of Beatles fame), and soul band The Official Receivers. He has performed in a wide variety of venues throughout the world including Ronnie Scotts, the Royal Festival Hall, the Cavern Club, The JZ Club in Shanghai and the world famous Beale Street in Memphis Tennessee. He also performed to 10,000 people at the Matthew Street Festival supporting McFly and Lemar. After a spell living and performing in China and Australia, Marcus has now returned to the UK music scene where he is involved with a wide variety of musical projects.
Andy Derrick – “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” – Andy is a multi-award winning trombonist who has worked alongside such great UK musicians as Dennis Rollins, Alan Barnes and Mark Nightingale. Andy’s long career so far has included backing many fine musicians including Joe Lovano, Toots Thielmans, Bob Florence, Bobby Shew and Georgie Fame. He studied at the Birmingham and Paris Conservatoires and is a former member of both MYJO and NYJO. He received the Don Lusher Best Trombonist award at the 2005 BBC Big Band Contest. Andy demonstrates his extensive musical experience and talent playing electric fretless bass with The Badgers. Find out even more about Andy and his music here.
Keyboards and Musical Director:
Richard Nield – “It’s 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it’s dark… and we’re wearing sunglasses” – Richard has been involved with Big Bands for all of his life, his earliest memory being travelling in the back of a transit van on the way to a gig being run by his father Alan. Over the years, Richard has played trombone and/or keyboards for groups including the Steve King Big Band, The Rat Pack, the Birmingham Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra da Camera, Gemini Brass, Brian Newton Big Band, Bryan Jones Big Band, and the Memphis Belle Orchestra. He has performed with Matt Ford, Mark Nightingale, Bobby Shew, Bruce Adams, Martin Williams, and many others. In addition to leading The Badgers, Richard currently plays Lead Trombone with the Fat Chops Big Band, and runs another purely rehearsal swing band. Richard’s longstanding ambition of leading a band of outstanding musicians playing fabulous music has come to fruition with the creation of The Badgers Big Band.
Michelle Nield – “In every generation there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.” – “Mrs Badger” is the brains and common sense behind the organisation of the band. She works tirelessly to ensure that everything behind the scenes runs smoothly and efficiently. Her skills include administration, marketing, finance and counselling!