Bobby will be playing with Don Weller as part of the festival. Here’s a short interview with Bobby on his years playing at the club.
You play regularly at the 606 Club, when did you first get to know the club’s owner, Steve Rubie?
Steve and I go back many years but it was his brother, Peter, I knew first. I met Peter in the seventies and we did some gigs together with Peter on guitar, we just did little pubs here and there. Then, Steve came around, he played both saxophone and flute, so we all played together and became friends.
Did you play at the old club on Kings Road?
I did, I started going down the old club in the eighties, which was at number 606 on the Kings Road, of course. So I had a play down there and got to know Steve very well and occasionally used to flop at his flat round the corner. Steve became a very good friend and I have to say he gave me some very sound at advice at that time which I won’t forget… but that’s another story! He moved to Lots Road so I started doing gigs there. I play one Saturday per month with the quartet: Liam Noble on piano, Dave Wickins on drums and Dave Whitford on base. Saturday nights are usually heaving and can get pretty lively.
What do you think makes the 606 a great jazz club?
Well, first of all Steve has put a hell of a lot of work into building up the club over the years and we all know that jazz is a difficult business. So, well done Steve.
People like “the six” [so called by the regulars] because it’s relaxed and intimate and it attracts a good mixture of people, so it’s always interesting for the customers as much as it is for the players to see music lovers of all ages, nationalities and so on coming down to eat and enjoy the music. Various family and friends have come to gigs over the years and they love it down there. It has become a bit of a home from home for the Wellins’!
Of course, there’s no wine being served out of teapots and tea cups and saucers like at the old club, it’s all legitimate now!
You do get a few famous characters down the club from time to time. I remember one night John Le Mesurier came down with a lady friend, we had just finished playing What’s New and he came up to me and said “ Excuse me Bobby, do you think you could play What’s New?” and I said, “oh John, we’ve just played it” and then he looked at me with that wonderful look he used to have in Dad’s Army and said “I suppose you have really”.
The other thing to point out is that it’s one of the few clubs in London which employs jazz musicians who play jazz. We all have to be grateful to Steve for keeping us in employment.
And we mustn’t forget that aside from the music, they do great food, the staff look after everyone and James, the manager, really takes care of everything and keeps it all running smoothly.
I’m really looking forward to playing with Don [Weller] as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations. It’s going to be a cracking night and a super festival.
Here’s to the next 25 years!
Bobby Wellins and Don Weller – Saturday 1st June.