Charlie Watts & friends


Stones drummer Charlie Watts on stage at the Tivoli Theatre, Wimborne, in  March 2011.                     Picture Hattie Miles

Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts is one of the biggest rock stars on the planet but away from the world of mega-stadiums, private jets and five star hotels he’s still essentially a musician’s musician.

Surrounded by a bunch of super-talented mates he looks happier playing the small but perfectly formed Tivoli Theatre in Wimborne than he ever does on stage with the Stones in London, Paris or New York. This is Charlie in his element wowing an audience that ranges in age from 18 to 80. 

The occasion is the return visit of the ABCD of Boogie-Woogie - the extraordinary vintage jazz and blues project run by Dorset-based piano hero Ben Waters.

Waters is the B of the title while brilliant German piano virtuoso Axel Zwingenberger is the A. Charlie is the C and his lifelong friend, leading jazz double-bassist Dave Green, is the D. Put them together and they make musical magic. Whether playing barnstorming boogie-woogie or slow-burning blues, this is one class band. Showcasing the lightning fingers of Zwingenberger and Waters and anchored by the rhythm section of Watts and Green, it’s a virtuoso performance. It’s also one that connects with jazz, blues and R&B aficionados. 

The quartet’s music may be derivative by definition but it is shot through with improvisational brilliance and extraordinary subtlety. Together with special guests, two home-grown Dorset talents - Swanage saxophonist Chris Rand and veteran Bridport vocalist Hamish Maxwell - they delivered a magnificent show. 

The material ranged from vintage pre-war boogie-woogie to inspired arrangements of Gershwin’s Lady Be Good and rock ‘n’ roll classic Shake, Rattle and Roll.  The set also included several numbers from the forthcoming CD Boogie for Stu, a tribute to the late Ian Stewart who was the original Rolling Stones keyboard player and later their road manager. Stu died of a heart attack in 1985. Proceeds from the soon-to-be-released new album go to the British Heart Foundation. 

*Note for collectors of Stones-related minutia: Hamish Maxwell was best man at Ian Stewart's wedding. 


© Jeremy Miles 2022