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Fri 05 Aug

The Barrelhouse Blues Orchestra

The Barrelhouse Blues Orchestra

Put together by the late Paul Hart in January 2003, the BBO has grown into a 19 piece band with an exciting pedigree and the musicians have played or written for many star acts including Wings, Cream, Deacon Jones, Vandergraf Generator, Sphere/ Andy Sheppard, Lion (Be Bop Delux), The Who, 200 fingers, Robbie MacIntosh, Kenny Jones Band, Roger Chapman, Clarence “Big” Miller, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and James Last to name but a few! Original members included singer Johnny Mars (from South Carolina), saxophonist Howie Casey, drummer Alan Edwards and keyboardist Steve Smith.

The band released the album “On My Mind” in 2003 with Johnny Mars, mainly recorded at Pebble Mill with the BBC, to coincide with a double feature on the Paul Jones Show for Radio 2.

Guest musicians have always been welcomed to the BBO. Some great names who have appeared with them include guitarists Bernie Marsden (Babe Ruth and Whitesnake), John Etheridge (Soft Machine and Stephan Grappeli), Mick Taylor (Rolling Stones), James Litherland (Colliseum), saxophonists Andy Sheppard, Art Theman, singers Chris Jagger, Damian Wilson, Kyla and Victor Brox, pianist Ben Waters, Pete Brown (Cream lyricist).

Todays line up is made up of:

Vocals: Jon Kenzie, Helen Hardy, Rebecca Chambers, Ingrid Chalcraft
Guitar: Bob Shearn
Piano: Gren Fraser
Organ: Mark Skerrett
Bass: Jack Shaugnhessy
Drums: Adrian Milward
Saxes: Clive Ashley, Dave Burgess, Pete Bettle
Trumpets: Andy Urquart, Luke Thorne
Trombone; Ian Wilson
String quartet: Chas Dickie, Lucy-Ann Allen, Dan Baker, Aidan Fisher.


Following Paul’s sad and premature death aged 57 on 10th May 2008, a number of us decided to set up a foundation in his memory. Our aim was to try to carry on Paul’s dream with regards to the Barrelhouse Orchestra. It was then that we discovered just how many things Paul did and why he was so often late and why everything was so “last minute”. He was a person of amazing vision. To most of us he dreamed up schemes which were “crazy” or “impossible” but to him they were achievable.

Apart from being a great blues guitarist, heavily influenced by BB King and Peter Green, Paul was the founder of the Dorset Doddlers running club. He ran art classes in the Exchange on a Saturday morning, he started and ran the Barrelhouse Blues club and the Barrelhouse Blues Orchestra, all while he worked full-time as a teacher of art and design at Bryanston. For a bit of light relief he ran other events and played gigs with the Barrelhouse Blues Band. He was a skilled artist and one of his loves was painting guitars, two of which were painted for Jack Bruce and James Blunt and auctioned for charity. He was an expert in, and collected Gibson guitars, especially Les Pauls.

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