The Washboard Resonators • Streamlined Rag

Recently I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a British jazz fan. I’d heard a lot about the drive for authenticity, which seems to mean playing the music with a certain purity of technique and/or spirit while explicitly acknowledging its roots in New Orleans, the blues, and ultimately slavery. As a white, middle-class, British jazz fan, this left me feeling a little marginalized—and yes, I do appreciate the irony of that statement. Was I guilty of cultural appropriation? Do people like me contribute anything to the idiom? (That’s a topic for a whole essay, I’ve decided, coming soon to a Syncopated Times near you.) But then I heard the latest record from The Washboard Resonators. And believe you me, I’m not about to argue that jazz is not the quintessential African-American art form—but is anyone else out there doing exactly what these guys are doing? The two-man Anglo-Welsh outfit isn’t the first to take jazz and give it a British twist—my Kenny Ball LPs are some of my favorite old records. But British trad revivalists of the 1960s like Ball, Humphrey Lyttleton, and Chris Barber all had huge bands: Jack Amblin and Martyn Roper are their own band. As their tongue-in-cheek name implies, Amblin and Roper play washboard and resonator guitar respectively. But the former is also a formidable jazz drummer (who recently toured with Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Juke
You've read three articles this month! That makes you one of a rare breed, the true jazz fan!

The Syncopated Times is a monthly publication covering traditional jazz, ragtime and swing. Our writers are paid to bring you the best coverage of the scene possible. Advertising will never be enough to keep these stories coming, we need your SUBSCRIPTION. Get unlimited access for as little as $3 a month or $30 a year.

Not ready yet? Register a Free Account to view five articles a month without nags or pop ups.

Already Registered? Log In

If you shouldn't be seeing this because you already logged in try refreshing the page.

Dave Doyle is a swing dancer, dance teacher, and journalist based in Gloucestershire, England. Write him at [email protected]. Find him on Twitter @DaveDoyleComms.

Or look at our Subscription Options.