No Stranger to Potters Bar, Acker Bilk Packs Willyotts Theatre

Fans turned out in force at the Wyllyotts Centre to welcome Acker Bilk and his Paramount Jazz Band back to Potters Bar on Thursday, 31st May. The theatre was packed and the applause raised the roof.

Now an octogenarian, Acker is a living legend and a highly honoured legend at that, having received his MBE from the Queen back in 2001 and then on 24th May this year, the Special All Party Parliamentary Jazz Award for his services to music.

Acker played with Ken Coyer’s band at the height of the jazz era back in 1954 and by 1956 he had formed the Paramount Jazz Band. So soon we will be celebrating Acker’s very own Jubilee Year.

He lived in Potters Bar in those earlier years but originally hailed from Somerset and, living back in his home county now, he remains a Somerset lad at heart. Hence his nickname, because in the local dialect ‘Acker’ stands for ‘friend’ or ‘mate’.

And to this day, his staunch Potters Bar fans truly consider him to be their friend and mate.

Colin Wood

John Day










Richie Bryant










Ian Bateman

Mike Cotton












Acker in wry humour mode!



Thank you Acker, for allowing us to meet you. L to R, Bob Thomas of Bob Thomas & The Thomcats, Peter Butler of Jazz&Jazz, Acker and Brian Smith who runs The Peartree Monday Jazz Club in Welwyn Garden City.

 (Photos © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz)


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  1. Jo Anne says:

    Hi Peter, I have looked through all of your fine paintings and think they are wonderful. After reading the recent articles on Acker Bilk, I thought it would be nice if you could paint a likeness of him, my very favorite clarinetist. Being from New Orleans, I am a dedicated jazz fan especially Dixieland. I feel Mr Bilk has been a wonderful European ambassador of New Orleans style jazz and he is long overdue recognition from my fair city. I can not fail to mention our very own master of the clarinet Mr Pete Fountain who has blessed us for many years with his great talent. I’m sorry these guys never played a concert together. Maybe on canvas!

  2. Peter Butler says:

    Thank you, Jo Anne. I’ll be in touch.

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