When their local jazz night looked like coming to an end, two regulars stepped in.
But when pals Les Brown and Tim Mallinson started organising the Jazz at the Crown sessions, they never imagined they would end up running a nationally-renowned venture.
Now, 28 years after it first began in Boston Spa, the weekly gatherings attract a crowd of up to 150, plus world-class artists.
Retired recruitment consultant Les said: “We said, if we book some bands, in the short term, we can keep it going.”
But the determined duo did far more than that. Together with a small group of equally passionate music lovers they created a host of new jazz fans and a much-loved venue.
Attendance has doubled, with enthusiasts travelling from as far afield as Hull and Newcastle. And dad-of-two Les described them as “arguably, the most appreciative and supportive audience in the UK.”
Explaining his love of the genre he said: “It’s the camaraderie and the sheer joy of listening to it.”
Jazz at The Crown began in 1987, when the landlord of the Crown Hotel began regular Saturday sessions alternating two local traditional jazz bands.
Around 1996, after several landlord changes, Les and Tim took over. When renovations meant the club was forced to find an alternative venue, it moved to the village hall. And in 2005, with the help of local entrepreneur Ken Waller, they began converting a fairly basic amenity into to a welcoming “cabaret style” environment.
Tomorrow, Frank Brooker’s Happy Chappies will take to the stage, while firm favourites Jeff Barnhart and Stephanie Trick will return this summer.
Internationally renowned pianist Jeff Barnhart, who performs in the style of jazz legend Fats Waller, is said to “attract the largest crowds” Stephanie, from St Louis, “attracted a tremendous crowd last year”.
Go to www.jazzinthespa.co.uk for more details.