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Are we having a great....Party!

Mike Fleming

Double bass, backing vocals, International Man of Mystery

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Mike was born and brought up in the old bohemian jazz quarter of Timperley in the deep southern steaming mangrove swamps of Cheshire. He remembers with affection the colourful community that wrapped itself around him and his family of free-wheeling estate agents, hip young chartered accountants and pension planners with their devil may care, live for the moment attitudes to life. Times were tough and edgy in the 'hood'; he still has occasional flashbacks to the day - age seven - when he witnessed a drive-by shouting.

But there was the vibrant upside of street life as well. One hot summer afternoon his ears pricked up to the sounds of a Sally Army band and dashed down to the village to see a row of trombone horns glistening in the sun. It was a Road to Domestos moment; all those tubes. It was either that or a career in gynaecology.

And there it was in the school music cupboard- his first trombone. He worked hard over the years and eventually failed to get on the prestigious Leeds University music course. Instead they let him settle for the less prestigious Ripon College music course to specialize in composition, so long as he could secure 2 E's. (After an awkward misunderstanding the head of department later had to clarify this for him.)

After years of intensive practice came the gradual realisation that his 'sound' on the bone hadn't really progressed beyond fart in a colindar, but once more fate stepped in; standing in a corner of a practice room one day was an old double bass, and the new love affair began. Furthermore the college padre was forming a simultaneous folk and jazz quartet in downtown Ripon and just happened to need a young, self-taught man of severely limited talent to get on the old stand-up. The bass had to be smuggled past the porters' lodge on gig nights, then shoe-horned into the Rev's ancient Morris Marina with the neck angled out of the front passenger window with a red warning scarf round it for passing cyclists. The All-Stars would soon become firm favourites with the local chapter of Hells Angels, tending to come to the pub in their leathers having caught the bus to avoid breathalyser incidents.

Happy days. The rest is too much history to tell: eventually the legendary 'Dizzies' were born in the back room of Sheffield's Irish pub 'Fagan's', and here they still are today, keeping the faith with Northern Swing.

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