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The Big Town Playboys (UK)
Roll The Dice

© MI5 Recordings 2004

An important part of the Playboy ethos is to be inspired by their influences rather than trapped by them. The new album of infectious 1950’s R & B music as well as jazz, blues, gospel and rockabilly, recently recorded at Sweet Georgia Brown’s in London, reflects this and there’s proof that the Big Town Playboys really are the ‘band’s band’ – Jools Holland, Robert Plant, Jeff Beck and Andy Fairwether-Low all asked to be allowed to record on the new album

First formed in 1984, bass player Ian Jennings is the sole surviving founder member of The Big Town Playboys: but those that play in the band look on it rather like a private club; people come in, stay for a bit, go and come back again. This obviously makes for an interesting line-up at any gig, whether in the UK or abroad.

Their songs of choice are derived from the black America of the 1950s. Rockabilly and swing music were influences, but nobody was experimenting with west coast rhythm and blues; Amos Milburn, Willie Littlefield, Willie Egans – and that's where the Big Town Playboys found their niche. Stylistically it’s a more saxophone and piano based feel with bigger line-ups and it is more dance oriented than Chicago blues. The contagious dance grooves, the boogie piano, the sax riffs, the overdriven guitar solos and the wailing blues of the vocalists are all part of the reason for this band’s obsession with the music known as Rhythm and Blues.

By the end of the 1990s the band had visited the USA three times, including a residency at Mick Fleetwood's club in Los Angeles, a tour of the West coast, a TV show and a trip to New York.

The current line-up comprises:
Chad Strentz – Vocals
• Dave Wilson – Guitar
• Ian Jennings – Double Bass, Bass Guitar
• Mike Morgan – Drums
• Jools Webster-Greaves– Tenor & Baritone Sax
• Matt Empson – Keyboards

• At a recent private party in the Midlands, one of the guests got up and sang several songs – in fact, they couldn’t get the mike away from him. It was Robert Plant. Songs performed included “Hello Josephine”, “Kansas City”, “Gloria”, “Stagger Lee”, “Baby please don't go” and “Fever”.

• At Tommy Hilfiger’s birthday party in St Tropez two years ago, the Big Town Playboys were to be found providing the music on board his private yacht.

• At the Battle Music Festival during the May 2002 bank holiday, the band headlined and an exhilarated-looking Jeff Beck stood in the audience playing air guitar in synchrony with Dave Wilson.

Eric Clapton invited them to support him on the whole of a European tour, including 21 nights at the Royal Albert Hall. The band played on the film score for “The Colour of Money”.

• The band recorded the ‘Crazy Legs’ album with Jeff Beck which is a tribute album to Cliff Gallup, the first guitarist with Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps – they subsequently supported him on his last European tour.


1. Sweet Lovin Mama
Starring special friends: Chad Strentz, Andy Fairweather-Low
2. Yield Not
Starring special friends: Chad Strentz
3. Hit, Git & Split
Starring special friends: Chad Strentz, Jools Holland
4. Down in the Hole
Starring special friends: Chad Strentz, Steve Weston
5. Merry Way
Starring special friends: Lisa Mills, Jools Holland
6. Look Out Mabel
Starring special friends: Robert Plant, Jeff Beck
7. Daddy Rollin Stone
Starring special friends: Steve Weston
8. Hot Dog
Starring special friends: Chad Strentz
9. Sweet Baby of Mine
Starring special friends: Lisa Mills
10. Not for Me
Starring special friends: Chad Strentz
11. Up the Line
Starring special friends: Steve Weston, Jools Holland
12. Come to Love
Starring special friends: Lisa Mills
13. One Monkey
Starring special friends: Steve Weston
14. Big Town
Starring special friends: Chad Strentz

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