A jazz band is preparing to celebrate a potentially record-breaking run of gigs, playing for 50 years at the same venue.
Doctor Jazz first started playing at the Duke of Wellington in Ryarsh in November 1973, launching a residency that will reach half a century tonight (Thursday).
Landlord Jon Sutton explained how the sessions began when banjo player Bill Stotesbury approached a previous landlord.
He said: “Bill went to Medway College of Design and became a graphic designer, but then to subsidise his income he set up a milk round.
“He was doing Ryarsh and was collecting the money from the landlord, which I think was Les Broughton, in 1973. He just said ‘me and my mates from college have set up a jazz band, do you fancy giving us a go’, and he said ‘yeah, have a go on Thursday.’ And that was it.”
The marathon stint at the Duke has been broken only on two occasions – when a former landlord closed the pub for three months due to financial issues, and during the Covid pandemic.
Originally a weekly event, the regular slots at the Duke became a monthly gig, but have continued to attract a strong following.
“It’s been a hell of a success ever since," added Jon. “We’ve moved it from the bar area to the restaurant and now we’re fully booked for the jazz nights for the next three months, so it has worked well.
“Somebody suggested it might be a record. I’ve been told it’s the longest-running gig with the same band playing in the same venue.
“They’re very good at what they do,” added Jon. “We’ve got a lot coming tonight. It’s full again, and lots of people will be coming to honour it.”