Our Upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s Debut!

Hold on to your hats, Londoners – we will be making our debut appearance at Upstairs at Ronnie Scott’s on Sunday the 24th March, 2019!

We can’t wait to take to one of the world’s most prestigious stages for the first time to share the spirit of New Orleans with our fellow Blighty dwellers. Don’t miss the part of the year!

>>CLICK HERE TO BOOK<<
(Or click the logo below for more information)upstairs-at-ronnies

It would make our year to see all of you wonderful people there – tickets are only £8 in advance, so grab yours on WeGotTickets today!

See you there!

The Old Jelly Rollers xx

Traditional King Cake – History & Recipe

Who doesn’t like a cinnamony, sugary, squidgy, brightly coloured party in your mouth? We are, of course, referring to King Cake!

Martin had his cake and ate it…

The King Cake tradition is thought to have been brought to New Orleans in around 1870 from France. We’re guessing they didn’t use the same colourings back then(!), but this carnival treat is traditionally a cross between a coffee cake and a French pastry, shaped in an oval, like a massive donut. But better.

There is a twist, though – one lucky cake muncher will find a little plastic baby in their slice! This baby-in-a-cake represents

the day Jesus first showed himself to the three wise men. “Epiphany” comes from the Greek word for “to show”, so in essence, King Cakes are a condensed image of Jesus in a manger with the three Wise Men at his side. Cakes taste better than mangers, we suppose.

Nowadays, whoever find the baby in their slice of cake is named King for a day and must provide the next King Cake and host the next party!

We’ve been hunting for the best King Cake recipe and, courtesy of Southern Living, our prayers have been answered! Now you can all replace your not so traditional/exciting pancake day rituals with the baking of a colourful beacon of NOLA joy.

We’ve handily converted all of the measurement to metric for you – You’re welcome! 😉

Traditional King Cake Recipe

Prep Time – 30 Mins
Cook Time – 10 Mins
Stand Time – 5 Mins
Rise Time – 1 Hour 30 Mins
Bake Time – 16 Mins
Yield – Makes 2 cakes (about 18 servings each – half ingredients for one cake!)
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Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 450g sour cream
  • 50g sugar
  • 40g butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 x 7g sachets active dry yeast
  • 120ml warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (to activate yeast)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 900g bread flour

For the centre:

  • 50g butter, softened
  • 75g sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

For the glaze / topping:

  • 450g powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk
  • Purple, green, and gold tinted sparkling sugar sprinkles!

Method

Step 1 – Cook first 4 ingredients (sour cream, sugar, butter and salt) in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts. Set aside, and cool mixture to approximately 38°C (still warm, but not hot!).
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Step 2 – Stir together yeast, 120ml warm water, and 1 tablespoon sugar in a small bowl and let stand 5 minutes.
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Step 3 – Beat sour cream mixture, yeast mixture, eggs, and a third of the flour at medium speed with a heavy-duty electric stand mixer until smooth. Reduce speed to low, and gradually add enough of the remaining flour until a soft dough forms.
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Step 4 – Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic (about 10 minutes). Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top.
Step 5 – Cover and let rise in a warm place (approx 30°C), free from drafts, 1 hour or until dough is doubled in bulk.
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Step 6 – Punch down dough, and divide in half. Roll each portion into a 22 x 12 inch rectangle. Spread the 50g softened butter evenly over both rectangles, leaving a 1-inch border. Stir together 75g sugar and the cinnamon, and sprinkle evenly over butter on each rectangle. If you’re keeping it traditional, place you plastic baby in your chosen lucky place now, ready to be rolled in!
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Step 7 – Roll up each dough rectangle, jelly-roll fashion, starting at 1 long side. Place one dough roll seam side down on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bring ends of roll together to form an oval ring, moistening and pinching edges together to seal. Repeat with second dough roll.
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Step 8 – Cover and let rise in a warm place (30°C), free from drafts, 20 to 30 minutes or until doubled in bulk.
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Step 9 – Bake at 190°C for 14 to 16 minutes or until golden. While the cakes are cooking, prepare the creamy glaze – recipe below! Slightly cool cakes on pans on wire racks (about 10 minutes).
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Creamy Glaze
Stir together the powdered sugar, melted butter, fresh lemon juice and vanilla extract. Stir in 2 tablespoons milk, adding additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until spreading consistency.
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Step 10 – Drizzle Creamy Glaze evenly over warm cakes; sprinkle with coloured sugars, alternating colours and forming bands. Let cool completely.
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Chef’s Tip: This recipe uses bread flour, which makes for a light, airy cake. You still get tasty results with all-purpose flour–the cake will just be more dense.

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Enjoy!

Big love,

The Old Jelly Rollers xx

Return to New Orleans

Exciting news!

Our singer and founder, Louise Balkwill, will be returning to New Orleans in February 2018 and is currently working on an interview itinerary.

She intends to return to The Preservation Hall, along with other favourite NOLA venues, to talk with more musicians about life in the Crescent City and the future of music education on both sides of the Atlantic.

Who would you like to hear from? Contact us at theoldjellyrollers@gmail.com with your recommendations and requests!

The NOLA Diaries – Day 2

(Missed Day 1? Click here to read it)

After a good night’s sleep and surprisingly un-jetlagged, we rose with the glorious southern sun to our first full day in the city of dreams. By daylight, we could truly appreciate how lucky we were to have landed such a stunning hotel with pool-side rooms and a waffle machine to boot, and couldn’t resist having a little warm up (and a massive breakfast) before hitting the town.

Stuffed full of waffles and at risk of losing Tom to the streets in his excited state of urgency, we made our first day-lit steps towards the French Quarter in search of The Preservation Hall, where we would later be interviewing four of the most celebrated jazz musicians in New Orleans.

To the French Quarter!

The streets were even more beautiful than we had imagined; marvelous French architecture beaming with colour and life, bars pouring out music on every corner, mule-drawn carriages and more Mardi Gras beads than you could imagine in green, purple and gold hanging from every balcony.

Luckily, The Preservation Hall was only a short walk from our hotel, so we had ample time to bide. In the distance we could hear the faint sounds of a brass band, so took a stroll down the street towards it.

The music just so happened to be coming from Jackson Square, just outside St Louis Cathedral, where we sat for our first glimpse of NOLA street music. They called themselves The Jackson Square Jazz Band, and were playing all of the New Orleans traditionals that we had been learning prior to our trip such as ‘Lil’ Liza Jane’, ‘Oh When The Saints’ and ‘Bourbon Street Parade’.

This first taste of the music-and-culture-rich NOLA that we had been dreaming about was the perfect aperitif to whet our appetites in anticipation for what the week before us was to hold; The sun was shining, the music was swinging and everybody was smiling.

After singing along with “Oh When The Saints Go Marching In” at the top of our lungs, we headed over to The Preservation Hall to begin our interviews with jazz legends Leroy Jones, Freddie Lonzo, Joe Lastie and Louis Ford.

The Preservation Hall Interviews

As we entered The Preservation Hall, we were overcome with excitement – our first engagement in New Orleans, and it just so happened to involve interviewing some of our heroes! This was also a little nerve wracking at first, however; what should we expect? We stepped in awe into the room where those at the centre of traditional jazz revival inspire hundreds of people every day – Leroy, Freddie, Joe and Louis greeted us with enthusiasm and warmth. We had attempted to prepare by forming a list of questions which provided comfort at first, but as we got into the interviews the conversation flowed from one topic into the next and we all felt at ease. More than anything, we were delighted and relieved to discover that despite being greatly celebrated musicians, they were humble and honest people too.

Click here to read the interviews

Out on swing-patrol

After the interviews, and with a 5pm Preservation Hall Band show penned into our diaries, we headed out onto the street where were lucky enough to be greeted by our first glimpse of Second Line Parade;

After being handed our first Mardi Gras beads by a group of kids who were following the parade, we decided to walk down to the river to soak in the views of the Mississippi before hunting down more musicians. Most probably in typical British tourist fashion, we burst into a gleeful chorus of “Down By The Riverside”. It had only just turned midday on our first day in the Crescent City and we had already seen and done so much.

We headed back over to Jackson Square in search of some NOLA local cuisine only to find the Jackson Square Band still playing in front of St Louis Cathedral. This time, we were invited to play with them! We had not yet sussed out whether or not rocking up and joining in with the local musicians was the done thing, but it soon became apparent that the street musicians all over NOLA were more than happy to collaborate with us – a bigger band draws a bigger audience, after all!

To Tremé

After an hour or so of jamming our favourite tunes, we squeezed into a taxi and headed over to Tremé in search of The Mother In Law Lounge, where we hoped to meet Kermit Ruffins for another interview. Unfortunately, we were informed by the bartender that Kermit was playing at The Blue Note in New York and must have made a mistake with his diary – we did, however, get to have a brief glimpse of another part of town and unmanageable quantities of some much deserved food!

 

Evening antics

With our bellies full of seafood and buffalo wings, we headed back to the hotel to take a breather before heading over to The Preservation Hall once more for their 5pm show. The band play several shows every day, all of which are open to people of all ages. When we got there, we were invited to sit on a row of cushions right at the front – they had been incredibly generous and had put us on the guest list!

We sat in anticipation as the band entered, and were delighted to see that Freddie Lonzo, Joe Lastie and Louis Ford would indeed be playing, joined by Gregg Stafford on trumpet and Steve Pistorious on piano. The gig was a fully immersive experience that got everyone clapping, singing, laughing and literally following Freddie in and out of the room in a conga-line like fashion!

After the show, alive with inspiration, we decided to brave the streets for the first time by ourselves as a group of street musicians. We found the perfect spot on the corner where Toulouse Street met Royal Street and began to play. We quickly gathered an enthusiastic crowd, and the joy of playing jazz at the top of our lungs at 7pm on a residential street and being congratulated for it was one of the most warm and welcoming feelings that we could imagine; It was a far cry from being moved on from a public walkway in Greenwich for busking in the middle of the day because street music ’causes an annoyance’. Freddie Lonzo himself even passed by and stopped to listen for a while! We knew that New Orleans had a rich musical culture, but were not expecting to be so readily and immediately accepted as musicians there ourselves.

Our busking session was promptly followed with our first daiquiris (frozen cocktail slushies!) and the rest of the evening was spent jamming with the house band in Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub.

Who knew that so much fun could be had in one day? Keep your eyes peeled for our next diary post to find out what we got up to on our third day in New Orleans.

The Preservation Hall Interviews – Part 1

The first section of our interview on the 23rd February 2017 with Leroy Jones, Freddie Lonzo, Joe Lastie and Louis Ford at The Preservation Hall, New Orleans.

Tom: Thanks so much for agreeing to do this, I’ve wanted to come here and see you guys and listen to you all for a long long time, so thanks so much! The first thing I’d like to ask is when are your gigs between now and the 1st of March when we have to leave, have you got anything that we could come and see?

Freddie: Well, I’m here today from 5 ‘til 7 at The Preservation Hall, and then I’m down at the Maison on Bourbon. And then tomorrow I come back here again at five. Then on Sunday I’m at The Jazz Playhouse.

Tom: Is that with Shannon Powell?

Freddie: No, Tim Laughlin.

Tom: Have you (Leroy) got any gigs over the next couple of days?

Leroy: Tomorrow there’s an annual greasing of the poles over in front of the Royal Sonester Hotel which is where the Jazz Playhouse is – inside there. And between 10 and 11am tomorrow they do what they call the greasing of the poles, where they have some celebrity guests on the front poles of the hotel putting lard on the poles, and you know, on Mardi Gras day some crazy people like to climb up to get to the balcony, so if all that grease is on there then they can’t climb up! So we play this brass band thing, bring ‘em out, it’s very brief. And there’s the football team, the New Orleans Saints cheerleaders all there – some of the members of the Zulu Krewe are there and maybe a couple of other guests, local and celebrity guests. So that’s happening tomorrow.

Tom: At 10am?

Leroy: Yes, 10 until 11. And then I’m playing Saturday night at The Bombay Club from 8:30 until 11:30pm and that’s on Conti, up this way between Bourbon and Dauphine, and it’s in the Prince Conti Hotel. But if you google The Bombay Club, it’s like a British pub actually! *laughter* That’s all until after Mardi Gras, so…because this is the big weekend coming up!

Louise: We’re all stupidly excited, this is our first day!

Leroy: And the weather’s great, too!

Louise: Well, Hurricane Doris has just hit England, it’s like 11 degrees there.

Laura: Yeah, we’re lucky to be here in the sun!

Louise: So, we wondered about all of your early influences and what led you to where you are today?

Joe: Well, I’ve got a question for y’all.

Louise: Absolutely!

Joe: You said something at the top of the conversation about in London, trying to learn jazz, and my question is, which jazz?

Louise: Well, I suppose in London, the route if you want to be a musician is to study, do your grades maybe and then go to conservatoire where you’re basically told what you’ve got to learn to pass your course. At the beginning, certainly for me, when I went I was excited to learn and to play and to sing but you kind of come out having been a little bit squeezed into a mould.

Joe: Well, what kind of genre?

Adam: It’s mainly focussed on Bebop.

Tom: Yeah, it’s very harmony orientated at the conservatoires. But there are a lot of great musicians that have stayed clear of the conservatoires and just been really good and been on the scene and worked their way up. But the nice thing is that it does just give you a community where you can form bands like this.

Joe: What kind of songs do you learn?

Louise: Great American Songbook mostly; Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael…

Freddie: So basically it’s very academic, not as…not sure if that’s quite the right word.

Louise: Yeah.

Leroy: Well it’s the same with the university curriculum here, if you want to be a music major, you know you’re going to have to have theory and you’re going to have to study a certain way jazz was at a certain point in time, which excludes before Coltrane and before even, sometimes, before Charlie Parker. But Bebop is traditional now, because it’s over 60 years old. So I’m saying that’s not what you would call modern jazz but at one time, that’s what you’d say that’s modern jazz. But what they don’t teach, I’m sure in London like here for example – well, in New Orleans, we have some of our institutions like the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts, I think the kids there are getting a little bit of everything, am I right? Because the musicians who are professional performing artists there are also showing them the New Orleans tradition, which you are definitely not going to get in any university! And so they are being exposed to that, as well as getting the necessary things to obtain a degree in whatever, in theory or harmony or whatever – or performing art, and of course, the classical aspect is there as well, if you care to venture in that direction, but it’s the same. It’s the same here. But I think in New Orleans it’s better in that if you might be going to uni and studying there to get a degree at Loyola, they have a conservatory at Loyola university, but also you have these opportunities to come and learn like this, like we do, you know. Many of us have various levels of musical education but great degrees of musical education when it comes to growing up in this city and listening to the musicians who were our mentors – and many of them have passed on but you can kind of feel on one hand that they’re still around, they have inspired us and taught us.

Freddie: To elaborate on what Leroy was saying, being fortunate that we’re from New Orleans the music here is ancestral – it’s been passed on from generation to generation. Just recently we had what, about 25 Japanese students, actually they left today, that came in town. And their sole purpose was to come in and listen, study and play along with us and the unfortunate thing is that they’re not accustomed to that in their own demographics. Here, we’re surrounded by that and we grew up with that, you know, so it’s in our genes.

Louise: I mean, to wake up, walk out the hotel and to hear an absolutely swinging band playing down in Jackson Square was just, you know, a dream come true! If only we could step out our front door in London and hear that

Laura: What you’re describing is like, essentially growing up in a context cultivates a certain attitude that you know, you’re not necessarily going to acquire in a conservatoire where you’re learning formally, because music is experiential and if you’re embedded in the culture from square one and are exposed to your mentors then you’re going to have a different attitude.

Louis: I wouldn’t say it’s easier for us – yes, it’s somewhat, but we do have to work at it, but those that are not from here really have to work hard at it.

Laura: Well, it’s more natural if you’re conditioned from square one.

Louise: I suppose it’s like if your family always listens to classical music and then you learn the violin, you’re going to be much better at it than if hadn’t.

Joe: I wanna answer that again and think about it, you know; You said it, I grew up playing in church – the same songs we play in church, we play in traditional jazz, so I come up playing and having that feeling, watching my elders and in fact both my grandfathers played drums in church, with my cousin, so I was born into it at a very young age in church. I’m sure some of these guys grew up playing in church too.

Louise: We’re really interested in having a listen to the music in church and going to church to listen to it but do you think we’ll be out of place if we just rocked up at a church?

Joe: No, I don’t think, to answer your question, we’re really not that.

Freddie: Well here’s another thing too, I mean everybody’s pretty much said the same thing you know, for example there’s Thursday… Thursday, Monday, Tuesday, you know, there’s always music somewhere in the city someplace, pretty much you know like you said, you step out of the hotel. I mean, this is the neighbourhood outside of the quarter where a lot of people wanna go – almost any day at any time, you might see some musicians. You know, sometimes you walk downstairs and you see them all alone, you know, they’ve got trumpet or tuba, trombone – I’ve been sitting at the station, bus stop, waiting to catch a bus I see students just hanging on the corner. So this is a kind of crazy city – not crazy – a little different. I mean it’s…I guess people are not shocked when they see one or two guys standing on the corner playing, you know, ‘cause that’s how it’s always been here, as far as I’ve been here, you know.

Click here for part 2

The NOLA Diaries: Day 1

If you’ve been following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, you’ve probably seen the photos of our big trip. Now we’re back, we’d like to share our memories and the valuable lessons that we learned in NOLA, right from day one. So, here it is! The NOLA Diaries. Enjoy!

After a 6am wake-up call and a hearty breakfast (not to mention the 5 months of pre-planning…) we finally took our first steps on our big adventure to the Crescent City. Despite the big build up, the reality of our venture had still not quite settled in until we arrived at Heathrow airport.

After a 9 hour flight, countless films and ample plane food (and wine!), we arrived in Atlanta, ready to make our final transfer to New Orleans.

 

Finally, at around 9pm local time, we arrived in New Orleans – with no real idea of how to get from the airport to our hotel!

Luckily, the locals were very helpful and helped to guide our sleepy heads over to the French Quarter, where we caught the first glimpses of our rather splendid hotel, The New Orleans Courtyard Hotel on North Rampart Street…

But we couldn’t hit the hay until we had ventured into the French Quarter to get our first taste of the local cuisine. Just a few minutes down the road from the hotel, we found Buffa’s, where we first encountered the glorious flavours of New Orleans with Shrimp Creole, Gumbo and red beans and rice.

Finally, bellies full (and at serious risk of losing Hannah to sleep deprivation), it was time to get some sleep, excited to see what adventures tomorrow would hold. Nighty night, Old Jelly Rollers!

Mentoring with Malcolm Earle-Smith

In the two days prior to our departure, we had the pleasure of working with Malcolm Earle-Smith in two group mentoring sessions. Malcolm is a multi-faceted musician with ample experience and expertise in playing (and singing) traditional jazz, among other disciplines.

We began the mentoring session by playing some of our best known songs, looking to Malcolm for advice and inspiration. He gave us the following tips to pursue a more authentic sound:

  1. Don’t get too attached to the melody – Malcolm pointed out that once the instrumental head has been played, the singer does not necessarily have to adhere to the exact melody of the song, even in their first chorus. The role of a singer in a traditional jazz ensemble is quite different to that of a contemporary jazz singer, and the voice should be viewed more along the lines of a horn. You need to project to be heard unamplified over a large ensemble so must be economical with note choices and focus on rhythm and energy.
  2. Slow down – Many of the tempos that we are comfortable with as contemporary jazz musicians would be considered unnecessarily fast in traditional or second line jazz. Does it swing better 20bpm slower? Probably!
  3. Play more collectively – After four years of essentially studying Bebop and post-bop, we have become acclimatised to the idea of soloing and queuing up for solos; in traditional jazz, the music is largely about the more collective aspect. Riffing and interacting as an ensemble throughout a song is key.
  4. Include other influences – No matter how hard we try to create an authentic sound, we have all grown up in 21st century Great Britain. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – it just means that we will all inevitably have had other influences throughout our musical (and non-musical) lives. Malcolm suggested not to shy away from these and to try to be open to include other influences in our music.
  5. Just let go! – Traditional jazz and second line music is all about the feeling and the joy of playing music with your friends, peers and contemporaries, so don’t be afraid to mess it up. Just let loose and play!

Our mentoring left us feeling much more comfortable in the genre and excited to have the opportunity to submerge ourselves in the real thing down in the Crescent City – Thank you, Malcolm!

Have a listen to our final moments of mentoring below.