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Concert Review by Nick Morgan
The Half Moon, Putney, December 20th 2006
Bob Kerr and The Professor
Blimey Serge, I’ve been so busy preparing my Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s delicious Christmas canapés for all those hungry folk who might just possibly descend on La Maison du Rock over the next few days that I’d quite forgotten to write my review of Bob Kerr and his Whoopee Band. You know Bob, he’s the rotund fellow in the colourful checked suit who played trumpet (and the rest) for the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band this year. Bob was a member of the earliest Bonzo line-ups, but left in 1966 to join the New Vaudeville Band which in turn led to the formation of the Whoopee Band, which featured at one time or another fellow Bonzos Sam Spoons and Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell. Today it’s a five piece outfit, with Bob on cornet, trombone, saxophone, guitars and teapot, The Professor (“probably the funniest man in the world” it says on the website) playing clarinet, saxophone and saw, Malcolm Sked on sousaphone and bass, Bert Lamb on keyboards and Henri Harrison and drums.
It’s a nostalgia night – not really as “zany” as people might want to believe, but certainly charmingly eccentric, and very, very British in humour. The sort of thing you would hear on the Light Programme, if we still had such a thing. So despite a few quite noisy excursions into rhythm and blues towards the end (‘Lady Madonna’ and the Blues Brothers’ ‘Everybody wants somebody’) it’s mostly what goes under the name of ‘trad jazz’ with a lot of mostly childish jokes thrown in. There’s a touch of smut - ‘My baby took my cornet, now she can’t blow my horn’ (actually I just might have made that up) but nothing too shocking, and a predictable degree of 1950’s schoolboy xenophobia. A classical moment – the Toreador song from Carmen, brings the best joke of the night: Professor, pointing at score - “Bizet?, it says here Paganini” – Kerr - “No you fool, that’s page nine”. There are also a couple of very accomplished Spike Jones songs – like ‘Cocktail for two’. Kerr is a bit of a Jones scholar, and as I recall spoke eloquently about him on BBC radio programme earlier this year. And despite all the tomfoolery it should be noted that Kerr is no fool when it comes to playing.
Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell (at the right, with Kate The Photographer)

The show was stolen however by guest star, the elegant if cadaverous septuagenarian Vernon Dudley Bohay-Nowell, who sang his very camp ‘Falling in love again’, narrated an innuendo-laden Christmas immorality tale, ‘Cock Robin and the Christmas Pudding’, did something in a leopard skin Tarzan costume (everyone was laughing so much we didn’t notice what he was actually doing, but I do recall he had a whip) and dueted with the Professor on saw for ‘Somewhere over the rainbow’. As you can see the Photographer and Vernon took quite a shine to each other and I’m sure they’ll be exchanging seasonal greetings at some point over the next few days. Me? Well I’ve got the bloody canapés to finish off and one more review to write before I can relax. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate)

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