Live ensemble, The London Gay Big Band return, this Sunday, to their spiritual home, The Two Brewers, for a spectacular Christmas Gala. Hosted by CK and starring this year’s Drag Idol winner La Voix, plus a selection of multi-talented vocalists, Jason Reid found out more about the band, from their founder Stefan Doering, and caught up with the gurls involved, too…
When and how was the London Gay Big Band conceived, Stefan?
We formed in August 2011. I had the idea of putting the band together as I absolutely love jazz and swing music. For me there’s nothing better than the iconic Big Band sound. And I had a feeling that we could bring something fresh and different into the London LGBT community.
Tell us about the make up of the band.
The London Gay Big Band is a full sized, 18-piece jazz band, specialising in both classic and modern jazz. We are led by our very talented Musical Director, Peter Jay, and we have collaborated with some of the biggest names in cabaret.
Which cabaret artists have you teamed up with so far?
Well, through our relationship with the Brewers we’ve had the opportunity to work with some incredible cabaret performers such as Miss Jason, Maisie Trollette, La Voix and CK
You’ve performed at the Two Brewers a few times now. How did you get involved there?
We met Jimmy Smith [Two Brewers manager] and his team, to talk about the idea of putting on a Big Band show there ,and I think they just took a chance on us. Nothing like this had ever been done on the scene before. We were absolutely thrilled to get involved with them early on, and we had our debut performance there in February 2012. That first performance at the Brewers gave us the platform to launch the band.
Yes, it has. It’s just a fantastic collaboration of how a business can support a community group. And we really feel like the Two Brewers is our home.
Are there any more shows in the pipeline there?
We’re in the middle of planning our schedule for next year, and there will definitely be some more performances there. We’re are constantly thinking about how to keep challenging ourselves and bringing fresh, exciting material to audiences.
Where else have you played since starting up there?
Since starting at the Brewers we’ve had some incredible highlights. This year we’ve performed at the London 2012 Festival in Victoria Park, Pride Main Stage, the Clapham Street Party, Hackney Empire, HMS Belfast and many more major venues throughout the capital.
It’s a very new phenomenon, having a full live band performing on the scene. How have the shows been received in general?
Absolutely! I think this is a major reason why the band has been so well received, simply because it’s so unique on the scene. We tend to get all kinds of audiences attending our gigs, from jazz lovers to cabaret fans, performers, musicians and producers in the industry, and just people who love a great night out. The great thing about Big Band music is that there’s something for everybody from the classic jazz standards to the lush ballads, right up to modern funk, and that’s why so many people love it.
So what’s up your sleeve for the Christmas Show on Sunday?
The Christmas show is going to be absolutely fabulous! The evening will be showcasing some top talent. You can expect it to be very loud, very camp and awesome fun. And there’ll be quite a few of everybody’s favourite songs…
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE CHRISTMAS SONG?
I absolutely adore ‘Santa Baby’. It’s a cheeky, flirty song and when sung well it sounds so glamorous. It’s like a rich hookers anthem!
My favourite Christmas song is: ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’ by Andy Williams and I have the honour of performing it with the band on Sunday. It makes me feel Christmassy all over. Listening to that and drinking a snowball is my Christmas heaven!
‘White Christmas’ sung originally by Bing Crosby is my number one. There are so many great memories attached to that song that I hold dear to my heart.
• Don’t miss the London Gay Big Band Xmas Gala on Sunday 16th December at 7.30pm.
• Two Brewers, 114 Clapham High Street, SW4.