Sax Pilgrimage to Belgium for Mr Sax 200th birthday by Kevin Harrison ‘The farmer with The Horn’

Written by  on November 17, 2014

Whilst visiting Blowout Sax one day I noticed Mark Archers book on Adolphe Sax located under the alto saxophones on the bookshelf.
It was a fascinating read with some great illustrations, a great story about a man who invented- in my opinion- one of the most beautiful musical instruments ever. It details his struggles in life and his achievements on what was a long and winding road. Definitely worth a read.
On another trip to the Palace of Pleasure otherwise known as Blowout Sax Mark drew my attention to a newspaper clipping about an exhibition in Brussels celebrating 200 years of Adolphe Sax. It must have been a good read because I kept struggling to read it even having forgotten my glasses.
What a great exhibition I thought such a shame it is in Belgium. When would I ever go to Belgium? Then another leaflet appeared about Dinant in Belgium birthplace of Adolphe Sax.
Now I’m a farmer and farmers don’t get many holidays but this seemed like a good excuse to get away with the family including Will my son who also plays sax.

So we were off on our Saxo pilgrimage. With a quick stop off at Bruges on route to get into the mood and get the feel of Belgium, reached Brussels in no time, home of the Musical Instrument Museum.
After a night in Hotel Bloom we headed off to the museum full of anticipation and excitement.
The museum did not disappoint the whole fourth floor is taken up by the exhibition Sax 200. Just to be in the presence of some of the great man’s musical inventions was incredible.


There was an air of calm in the museum giving you time to take in the instruments on display and to feel the genius of Adolphe Sax.
The instruments are displayed in huge glass cabinets.

I love playing vintage horns I love the sound of them and some of the unknown history behind them so it was very frustrating to have to stand -looking like a kid outside a toy shop- staring through a glass panel. What would they be like to play, to touch, to listen to? You can only imagine.

I spent quite some time imagining as well.
A look around the rest of the museum made you realise just how important music has been to the human race for centuries.














We left the museum and I was on this wonderful saxophone cloud and we went down to the Grand Market Square where we bumped into singer Imelda May.

A lady who-to pinch Meat Loaf’s lyrics-has a voice like a horny angel. We play some of Imelda’s songs in our band and I have also been to see her live, she also used to sing in the great swing band Blue Harlem. By this time I was an emotional wreck having been in the presence of Adolphe Sax and Imelda May in one day. Time for a lie down!


The next day our musical pilgrimage continued to Dinant birthplace of Adolphe. Just over an hours drive through the beautiful countryside of Belgium.

As far as the saxophone goes Dinant has more of a novelty feel to it, more of a celebration than an exhibition. Giant saxophones on the bridge over the River Muese painted by different nations, a crystal sax, a bench outside the house Adolphe was born in and an even bigger saxophone by a water fall. There was also an interesting piece of art showing women giving birth to saxophones.

There was also a sad side to Dinant with the outbreak of world War one 100 years ago it was the scene of huge destruction and death. It was during the war when the Afro Americans came over to fight taking horns back with them to the areas like New Orleans to use in their music that would become jazz.

It was in Dinant where we managed to catch up with Thierry Spierkel- designer and maker of the giant chocolate saxophone that Mark Archer played around in Olympia. He gave us a great insight into the history of Adolphe Sax and Dinant.

We continued our journey to Paris and then back home.

If you are a saxophone fan I would highly recommend a trip to both the Musical Instrument Museum and Dinant just to get a feel for the birth of the instrument.

The saddest thing of all is the man that designed the world’s most iconic beautiful sounding instruments died a sad and poor man never aware of the impact his invention would have on the world.

Thank you Adolphe Sax for a wonderful instrument.

Sax Gigs from 15 November 2014

Written by  on November 17, 2014

Sax Gigs from 15 November 2014


15 November  Jan Garbarek Temple  Church, London EC4

Conjunto Gringo Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol

Soul Ingredients Harbourside No.1, Canons Road, Bristol


21 November The Beat Komedia, Westgate Street, Bath

Nuttyness The Tunnels, Temple Meads, Bristol

Nick Dover The Bear, Hotwells, Bristol

Brass Junkies Harbourside No.1, Canons Road, Bristol


22 November James Morton Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol







Antelope Harbourside No.1, Canons Road, Bristol

23 November Joe Lovano Barbican Centre, London


26 November Iain Ballamy Old Bath Arms, Frome


27 November Skatelites Venue 229, Great Portland St, London

Paul Dunmall Fringe Jazz, The Mall, Clifton, Bristol

                      Sefrial Future Inns, Cabot Circus, Bristol


28 November Alan Barnes the Meeting House, Ilminster

King Porter Stomp Canteen, Stokes Croft, Bristol

Martin Genge The Bear, Hotwells, Bristol

SAMS Band Eastfield Inn, Henleaze, Bristol


3 December Zen Hussies The Bell, Walcott Street, Bath


4 December Simon Spillett St James Wine Vaults, Bath

Old Hat Future Inns, Cabot Circus, Bristol


5 December The Beat Guildhall, Eastgate Street, Gloucester

Madness Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Benn Clatworthy The Bear, Hotwells, Bristol

Cantina Collective Eastfield Inn, Henleaze, Bristol


6 December Emperials The Tunnels, Temple Meads, Bristol


10 December Craig Crofton Old Bath Arms, Frome


11 December Zen Hussies Old Duke, King Street, Bristol


12 December 2Rude The Tunnels, Temple Meads, Bristol


17 December Monkey Chuckle Old Duke, King Street, Bristol

18 December Blockheads Cheese & Grain, Frome


19 December Ben Waghorn/Kevin Figes The Bear, Hotwells, Bristol

Monkey Chuckle Eastfield Inn, Henleaze, Bristol


20 December  The Regz Thunderbolt, Bath Road, Bristol

Moonshot Harbourside No.1, Canons Road, Bristol


21 December Bad Manners The Fleece, Bristol


28 December Pee Wee Ellis/James Morton The Fleece, Bristol


25 January Andy Sheppard Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol


13 February Conjunto Gringo The Meeting House, Ilminster


16 February Chris Potter Ronnie Scott’s, Soho, London

17 February


27 February Simon Spillett The Meeting House, Ilminster


1 March Gilad Atzmon Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol


12 April Julian Siegal Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol


14 April UB40 Colston Hall, Bristol

 (Ali Campbell’s UB40, a different band from the one playing on 10 May, which is fronted by Ali’s brother, Duncan!)


24 April Snake Davis Chapel Arts Centre, Bath









10 May UB40 Gloucester Leisure Centre, GL1

(Duncan Campbell’s UB40)


17 May Perico Sambeat Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol


A few of the comments from the Christmas Blowout SaxGig 2014

Written by  on November 17, 2014

Brilliant gig mate, really got me chomping at the bit now
Andy C

Good vibe again at the gig last night. Thanks for organising – we all appreciate it.

Dr Dave Dymock

On Pick Up The Pieces
The tempo made all the difference. Have to say your vocal is excellent on it too, really adds confidence to the performance. My aims post session with Craig were alternate major with minor blues key, time and agriculture it right to hit the key change, use bis key, hit altissimo note. Great fun.
William Heath


Great night Mark and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part of it. Big thanks to a great backing band who guided us through our music. Thanks for all your hard work and making our dreams come true

Don King

A huge thank you Sir.
Dave Inman

Hi Mark thank you for a great gig last night Celia and I really enjoyed it.