Colonial Club (Moss Side)

I used to have a regular gig at the Colonial Club in Moss Side. When it got to closing time, the doors would be locked and the music, drinking and arguing about cricket would carry on. 

One particular Saturday night after the doors had been locked the police arrived having been informed that there was after hours drinking going on, I doubt that this would have come as a surprise to them, but as a complaint had been made, they had to follow it up Unfortunately for the police, the powers at the Colonial Club wouldn't let them in. 

There was a discussion carried on with the police through the locked door and eventually the police went away and the Colonial went back to business as usual. 

It transpired that there was a shortage of punters at the Nile Club and so Sonny had rung the police to complain about the Colonial hoping that the displaced drinkers from the Colonial would make their way to the Nile. 

It was barefaced cheek on Sonny's part; even if Sonny had a licence, I don't ever remember the Nile closing its doors. 

Pete Crooks - 23/1/10

The full title of the Colonial Club was something like the 'Colonial Cricket and Social Club'. It was in fairly new premises on Moss Lane East and I think that Manchester Corporation had contributed to the building costs on the understanding that it would be used as a social centre and a day nursery. 

There was a licensed bar and on Saturdays there was live music plus serious discussion about the state of cricket in general and in particular, the state of cricket in the West Indies. The intensity of the discussion was in direct proportion to the amount of rum imbibed by the 'experts'. It was much more up market than the Nile or the Reno or the shebeens and wives and girl friends were very much in evidence.

I first played there in a trio consisting of Granville Edwards on tenor sax, Benny Dennis on drums and yours truly on guitar. It was an odd line up but, as Benny said, if you tapped your foot on the floor and it was in time, everybody would get up and dance. We were later joined by Holly Parris on bass - see my bit about the Crooks Brown Band. We were resident there but I can't remember for how long, after all, it was the sixties.

I went back again to the Colonial and this time Holly, Benny and I were led by Eric Dean on sax. Eric was quite a big name in Moss Side in the fifties but by the time that I played with him, he was past his prime. The story went that he had played in Cab Calloway's big band in the 1940's. Cab Calloway was a big name in the thirties and forties in the States and some of the top jazz people had played in his band. Cab was something of a 'novelty' act and you might remember him doing his 'Minnie the Moocher' in the Blues Brothers Film. We handed our notice in after a very short time.

A little later, Benny and I called in the Colonial for a drink and Eric was still there. His band consisted of two young guys, one on piano and one on drums. Eric had taught them all they knew, which sadly wasn't very much. It was a very basic performance but I suppose that they were cheap if not cheerful.

Pete Crooks - 24/1/10


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