Why Overseas Bands Aren’t Touring the UK – “Penny pinching attitude is not going to rejuvenate the beleaguered situation” (Just Jazz)


Hot off the press in Just Jazz magazine’s August editorial came this statement:

“As a follow up to our Editorial in July we would like to publish a notification from a band that was due to play in the UK this month:

“Unfortunately, two days ago, it turned out that the festival was not able to pay us properly and of all the gigs we were depending on we needed at least one well paid gig. That’s why we decided not to come to the UK in August. Playing underpaid gigs here and there is fine and certainly necessary to establish the band in new countries, but not a whole tour, where also no one provides proper accommodation … It’s too risky and we might even end up being out of pocket. I’m sorry – we really wanted to come too … I hope that we’ll have the opportunity to come to the UK in the future.”

“How much longer do we on the jazz scene have to continue bemoaning the fact that if you want something you are not going to get it for nothing? The penny pinching attitude is not going to rejuvenate the beleaguered situation. For new faces, new audiences and new bands, especially the younger bands, we have to put our hands in our pockets. The notification from this particular group just about sums up the response that bands get from a lot of jazz promoters in this country.

Just Jazz is very disappointed to hear that a touring band has had to cry off – maybe a few more folk will now understand why Tuba Skinny didn’t accept an offer to tour the UK in 2015.”

Jazz&Jazz Involvement
The band in question approached me via Jazz&Jazz / Jazzers regarding their intended UK tour asking if I could possibly help arrange gigs for them. And I did – two, plus offers of accommodation. But sadly due to their let down with the festival my efforts and the genuine offers received were to no avail. I met the band at Fest Jazz just a week ago and the band leader thanked me for my efforts. We will definitely stay in touch.

Tuba Skinny at Fest Jazz, Brittany in 2014. Why not yet in the UK?

Tuba Skinny at Fest Jazz, Brittany in 2014. Why not yet in the UK?

Two years ago I met Erica Lewis and Robin Rapuzzi – also at Fest Jazz – along with two UK promoters – to discuss a potential Tuba Skinny UK tour. (I feature several of my YouTubes of their Fest Jazz performances on this site). Again “negotiations” drew a blank, for the very reasons stated in the Just Jazz editorial. I myself do not organise jazz events or book bands but, along with Pete Lay, I did strive to make further approaches to Tuba Skinny, but I fear the damage was done, the die was cast!

As the Just Jazz editorial states: “We have to put our hands in our pockets. The notification from this particular group just about sums up the response that bands get from a lot of jazz promoters in this country.”

Facing an Increasing Workload
Come to that, its time for me to be very frank. I launched Jazz&Jazz back in 2010 with the aim of doing what little I could to give something back by helping promote jazz and give it a boost. Since then this site along with my associated Facebook Jazzers Group and YouTubes has burgeoned with more friends and followers joining by the day. But now such is the increasing work load due to requests for promotions and coverage of events from all quarters that I’m finding it costly and difficult time wise and to keep up with it all.

Here are a few pointers to my achievements to date:

Jazz&Jazz Website Stats just for July this year:


That’s Unique Visitors: 5,514; Number of Visits: 10,728; Pages Visited: 25,580; Hits: 156,609

Peter Mark Butler Personal Page: To date 1,130 friends
Jazzers Group: To date 1,009 friends
YouTubes: To date 476 YouTubes; 262 Subscribers; 180,400 Views
Twitter: 1,286 Tweets; 258 Followers
LinkedIn: 310 Published Jazz Articles; 155 Followers
(Due to time constraints I place less emphasis on Twitter and Linkedin)

I also run Facebook Pages for Lemsford Jazz Club and Ramsgate Seaside Shuffle / Peter Mark Butler RSS Shuffle, both of which I have been heavily associated and involved with over the past six years.

Quite frankly, at this pace I will very soon have to consider curtailing or rationing my efforts unless I can obtain financial support to cover costs and enlist some form of help to avoid burn out.


Martin Bennett with John Finch

Moral and Financial Support on Behalf of Jazz
I am currently discussing this situation with several jazz friends who are giving me much needed moral support and encouragement – in fact just this weekend Martin Bennett urged me to mention that he had offered financial support on a regular basis but that I wasn’t prepared to accept it until others too came on board. I also want to thank those who have already helped with the occasional donation.

Please donate as much as you can via the PayPal button to the right of this post or contact me on [email protected] if you would prefer to donate by other means. Such is the magnitude of the task to support jazz that others including Martin have also suggested exploring other ways to raise funds in support of Jazz&Jazz which are entirely transparent and honest.

Who knows, it might even become possible to raise sufficient funds to help sponsor events and even visiting bands.

Fest Jazz YouTubes
I am currently producing a quantity of YouTubes from movies taken at Fest Jazz the last weekend in July. It’s a fantastic festival as I understand are others in European countries. The YouTubes will be posted on Jazz&Jazz and the related sites as soon as possible and I expect that to boost my ratings considerably.

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

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  1. Norm888 says:

    As one of the promoters who met Erica and Robin with you at FestJazz in 2014, I do not mind making it known that my bid for Tuba Skinny was £1500 + accommodation and drinks. I know this was far and away above most of the measly offers by other jazz clubs. In 12 years I have been lucky, in that I have had a great bunch of jazzers who do not mind a few extra pounds for a really good jazz evening. .After my heart attack end of Oct. last year I have had to take things a bit easier, but my plans are formulating for a restart in October. I will let you know details as soon as I can, but a clue is ‘I’m influenced by the stent effect ! ‘ Norm888

  2. Peter Butler says:

    Good to have your response so quickly Norman so that I can assure you I wasn’t getting at you. You made a good offer. Trouble was it could’t be linked to others and I fear the third party involved appeared to want it all for himself if you get my gist. I think Tuba Skinny were already frustrated by the lack of results from their agent. I know Pete Lay tried hard later but the dice was thrown so to speak. Its history now, but the opportunity may yet come around again.

    Ah! The Stent effect! Can you guess at the band which is the subject of this post?

  3. Jim McIntosh says:

    Getting away from all these costs, bands, clubs, festivals, etc, etc…Trevor Stent is a good bloke. I first met him eons ago in Cambridge. He was in a real good band, the Idle Hour Jazz Band, I was playing trombone in Ted Vousden’s Riverside Jazz Band. Good days. I joined Max Collie, he ran the Blue Mags, and eventually moved to Brittany, where he since has created a great festival, not to mention his own band, Good Time Jazz! The last time we met was at Abersoch Jazz Festival, about 5/6 years ago. Where? In the Indian restaurant of course! Great man, great player and he likes a good curry too! Hats off to Stent.

  4. Jim McIntosh says:

    And hats off to you Peter!

  5. Peter Butler says:

    Thanks for these comments, Jim. I always value your input. I’ll make sure Trevor sees your comments. Without his energy and drive Fest Jazz wouldn’t be possible and he is so well accepted in Chateau-neuf. Watch out for the YouTubes I will shortly be releasing.

  6. Norm888 says:

    Tuba Skinny’s agent is, or was, in Australia and took on board a plonker agent in UK. He hadn’t a clue, so that certainly didn’t help. Take it for sure that I didn’t for a moment think you were ‘getting at me’. I know you better than that ! One or two things in these responses you may need to discuss with me directly, ie ‘get my gist’ ! I would, of course, like to know who the band was that abandoned their UK tour ? Surely it is not a secret ! Norm888

  7. Peter Butler says:

    Just Jazz didn’t name the band, Norman, so I prefer not to.

    Re “get my gist”, I think there were “mixed strands” and some cross purposes in our discussions with Tuba Skinny and quite frankly at the time I didn’t think I was in a position to add anything to possibilities of booking them. But I did follow up on my offer to approach Jools Holland via a close jazz friend of his re BBC’s “Later With Jools” programme but the BBC embargos all such approaches. Since then I have posted quite a number of the YouTubes I filmed of Tuba Skinny on this site.

  8. Peter Lay says:

    Hi Norman,
    That was my offer as well. I don’t think the fees were the main problem. Tuba Skinny wanted their air fares upfront, quite wisely in light of ever changing air fares, but no one was prepared to cover that cost.

  9. If all the promoters who wanted to book Tuba Skinny put together a joint application to the Arts Council’s Grants for the Arts. You may well get the funding. Bremen united you stand and divided you fall. If their were 10 promoters the box office would cover the matching funding. However the venue would need to hold enough people to make it a possible viable proposition. If it is in the back room of a grotty pub then little point. The opportunity is there.

  10. Peter Butler says:

    So, a concerted effort may yet bear fruit! Any further thoughts on this?

  11. Jim McIntosh says:

    I am not an expert on such matters; but if there was help from the Arts Council to fund a Traditional jazz band from the USA, would this be reciprocated for any of our bands? If help were given to Tuba Skinny, might other American bands (excuse the pun) jump on the bandwagon?

  12. Sean Moyses says:

    Tuba Skinny play for tips on the streets in N.O. They want money up front as they are financially skint. Also the scene in the US is really, really bad – hence playing on the street for pennies. I love Tuba Skinny, really do, but maybe that YouTube image of busking has had a negative effect when it comes to selling the project as a professional stage act? Why do they want to come to the UK to play for an elderly crowd for awful money, no hotel, no meal and more often than not, not even a free drink?? Lets face it, the Jazz scene does not afford an income for a “professional Jazzer” who does not have another income, it’s a case of “times past”. Acker, Kenny, Chris and a small handful were the only ones to make a living. Acker and Kenny died a while back – and so did the scene they were successful in.

  13. Adrian Watkins says:

    Having visited Fest Jazz this year for the first time, I was blown away by the standard of the young bands at the festival. (Thanks to the heads up and info from this site) French Rag and Dizzy birds were just brilliant. Louis Prima Forever got every one jumping, what a show. But for me, if someone could get Sant Andreu Jazz Band on Main line TV in this country then surely that would jump start interest from our youngsters. What a great teacher Joan Chamorro is. So approachable, his English is not the best but he was willing to chat to me and my wife and friends, nice bloke. I paid to see them in Barcelona last year, at a packed Palais de Musica so I know people will pay to see them. Also there is the human interest element, how do those young kids play that well? Tuba skinny are good, but who are Tuba Skinny? Every video on you tube shows a different line up.

    In my opinion, we need to somehow build interest from a younger audience. If we had that, bands would want to come here. We’ve got the NYJO, but contrast that with the relaxed fun approach of Sant Andreu. Surely the way to go.

  14. Pamela Bosch says:

    Having visited various festivals and jazz venues in the UK we have always wondered how jazz clubs could survive on an entrance fee of £2 or £3. In Holland and in Germany and Belgium it is quite normal to pay €10- €15 for a jazz concert and even more at festivals. So it is about time that you brought the subject to the attention of all British jazz fans. Good luck from us in Holland

  15. Peter Butler says:

    Thanks for these comments, Adrian, and especially for your contribution to help Jazz&Jazz going and hence keep jazz going. Contributions from others would also be gratefully received on behalf of live jazz. I will shortly be posting YouTubes of Fest Jazz on this site – a good many of the bands and also Joan’s youngsters.

    Thanks again, Adrian.

  16. Peter Butler says:

    It would be great if someone could take on board looking into Arts Council funding. I’m hard pressed for time right now.

  17. Peter Butler says:

    Well said, Pamela. But £2/£3 is a little low. Even so £8/£10 is still small/mean beer.

  18. Peter Butler says:

    But others are touring the UK, Sean. For instance The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys who I met and filmed in Whitstable just last month: https://www.jazzandjazz.com/2016/07/the-duke-and-the-swamp-donkeys/

    I strive to keep up with and introduce as many younger bands as possible, whether from the UK, Europe or the USA etc. Search this website to find them.

  19. Peter Butler says:

    It would be great if someone could take on board looking into Arts Council funding. I’m hard pressed for time right now.

  20. Jim McIntosh says:

    Another fly in the ointment for foreign bands (from anywhere) playing in our country (which Mr. Farage kindly reminded us that we now have back) is the plunging Pound against the Dollar and the Euro. Any pre-Brexit fees would now have to be upped by at least 20%, probably more. That, according to my reckoning, would entail, say, an extra £300 (minimum) on Tuba Skinny’s fee, not to mention a possible hike in air fairs.

  21. Norm888 says:

    Tuba Skinny playing on the street ‘for pennies’ ( to quote Sean ) is way off the mark. This came up in discussion somewhere before, and someone, who knows about busking on Royal in NO, was confident they can pull in up to as much as two hundred dollars each on a good day. Just look at some of those videos and see the notes going in the jar, and the CD’s being bought ! Personally. I spent enough time with e-mails to Erica and the daft UK agent. It should be a mile easier to import some of the amazing young French bands who can easily give Tuba Skinny a run for it. If a USA band is considered a must then try The Shot Gun Jazz Band, or, better still, Hot Sardines from New York But hey, do not forget there are some younger UK bands moving up – Peter, you have already featured some. Norm888

  22. Peter Butler says:

    Search for Hot Sardines and you’ll find I’ve featured them. Also just recently The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys.

    Also take a look at: https://www.jazzandjazz.com/2015/11/jazz-can-be-a-popular-music-all-over-again/ – it’s relevant.

    And yes, I’m featuring young UK bands at every opportunity. Breeze through the site to find them.

    Mind you, I’m finding it difficult keeping up with it all – seeking them out, filming them etc etc. Incurs costs out of my own pocket because I want to do my best for jazz, but I can’t keep that up. Hence my appeal fro support!

  23. Peter Lay says:

    I have to agree with Adrian. The times I’ve seen them in New Orleans the personnel is different to that which tours in Europe. As I have said before these musicians do okay financially working in N.O. Their ‘busking’ efforts pays them better than most of the clubs, so why hump your arse all over Europe for less. That’s why any fee put up for a tour has to be substantial.

  24. Peter Lay says:

    Hi Norman,
    Thanks for correcting Sean over the concept that Tuba Skinny play for pennies by working the streets of New Orleans. I agree also that the Shotgun Jazz Band deserve the effort to have them tour. But again, we would be banging our heads against the wall in persuading other venues that they would have to ‘PAY’ good money to have them.

  25. Peter Butler says:

    Pete – I’ve almost 40 YouTubes from footage I took for Trevor Stent at Fest Jazz. I’m preparing to post them now with a feature on the success of the Festival. Perhaps a lot of our old timers wouldn’t be in favour of the overall content of the festival but it sure attracted a good number of youngsters. I recommended Dorine and Ben Holder to Trevor – they were both brilliant. We’ve got the UK talent to put that kind of festival on here – it’s a matter of convincing the older traddies who I suppose are still our core support. Start with our own home based talented youngsters and then strive to move in on the likes of Tuba, Shotgun etc. Does this make any sense at all? The New Orleans Swamp Donkeys packed Whitstable’s Duke of Cumberland in July – dancing between the tables. I filmed them there (see above) and am in touch.

  26. Norm888 says:

    Just going back to ‘playing for pennies’ for a moment. For curiosity I’ve just had a look at Doreen Ketchens’ ( you know Doreen ‘Queen Clarinet’ who can play that thing darned near vertical ) website to see what she is doing. Through to Sept. 3rd., other than the Chicago jazz Festival and the Iowa State Fair everything else is daily playing on Royal Street New Orleans ! Man, that show gal fo’ sure no way plays for no pennies Amen ! Norm888

  27. Peter Butler says:
  28. Peter Butler says:


    Formed in in 2009, Tuba Skinny has steadily evolved from a loose collection of street musicians into a solid ensemble dedicated to bringing the traditional New Orleans sound to audiences around the world. Drawing on a wide range of musical influences—from spirituals to Depression-era blues, from ragtime to traditional jazz—their sound evokes the rich musical heritage of their New Orleans home. The band has gained a loyal following through their distinctive sound, their commitment to reviving long-lost songs, and their barnstorming live performances.

  29. John Dixon says:

    The scene in the US is not really really bad, and that has nothing at all to do with Tuba Skinny being primarily a busking band.

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