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The Invergordon Archive

Manhattan Dance Band
The Invergordon Archive
Manhattan Dance Band

This picture was taken in the Joss Street Hall sometime in the early or mid sixties.
Line up is Back row (Left to Right): Jackie Mitchell on drums, Heckie Bell on double bass, Janet Nesbitt (later married to Heckie) on piano.
Front row (Left to Right): Bill Fraser (my father) on the box, Jimmy Patience on sax and clarinet and Willie Malcolm on sax.

(Ron has added a note of correction: "This was probably taken around the mid fifties and I was told it was in Invergordon...not certain if in Joss St hall ... not many grand pianos in Joss St." This would agree with Rod Bell's comment so the year has been amended - Site Admin.)
Picture added on 08 April 2007
Mid-fifties, I think, Ronald. I remember a later set of music stands hand-painted by Alex Urquhart in the late fifties.
Added by Rod Bell on 08 April 2007
Oh my goodness, Ron. This photo brings back many many happy memories. They were a terrific band to dance to. Could this have been taken in the Town Hall or maybe at Strathpeffer?
Added by Rosalie Graham now Samaroo on 10 April 2007
I don't recognise the venue; the stage appears to be on two levels so I don't think it's Joss St or the Town Hall, but could it be the YM?
The double bass used to stand in my bedroom, and the other instruments and equipment were under our stairs in Gordon Terrace.
I remember the band being very versatile, playing everything from "proper" dance music, Scottish eightsome reels and such with Willie Malcolm doubling on the fiddle to complement Bill's fine accordion playing, through to jive and rock'n'roll before they finished in about 1961.
Added by Rod Bell on 12 April 2007
Quite possibly Rosalie. Wherever it was taken, they were indeed a great band .. and also a great bunch of people. I knew them all when I was younger of course and have many happy social and musical memories of them 'round the house on many occasions.
Added by Ron Fraser on 12 April 2007
Hey Ron, saw this and my goodness isn't your brother Ian (Face as he was called at school) so like your Dad? Apart from having a crush on him I worked with him at the Dole office in the early 70s. And your Dad's band, the Bill Fraser Band, played at my first wedding in the Jackdaw hotel in 1974!!
Added by Jackie Geddes on 13 April 2007
Yes a great band - happy memories. I'm giving this photo to Jimmy Patience's widow - she is in her eighties and a very good friend.
Added by Gardie Munro on 11 May 2007
Gardie, I've probably got this all wrong but....are you Gardenia, who used to be a hairdresser with my sister Janette in Elma Leslie's?
Added by Rosalie Graham now Samaroo on 20 May 2007
Yes Rosalie, worked with Janette, still see her now and again. Elma Leslie died this year, miss her. Some of the old "girls" met up with her at least once a year. Drop me a e-mail some time.
Added by Gardie Munro on 21 May 2007
Glad to see photo of band dad (Willie Malcolm). Had some great times with them - I have dads sax and fiddle. It was great listening to them practice in our house in Dingwall.
Added by Bill Malcolm on 24 May 2007
There was an old “drill hall” in the old Academy grounds that burnt down some-time in the early fifties. It was just across the lane from the Chemistry Lab in the old school. In our days it was just a derelict site. My dad had a double-bass stored under the stage there that was lost in the fire. Maybe that's where the photo was taken.
Added by Doug Lennox on 30 June 2007
Janet has told me this photograph was taken at the Ben Wyvis Hotel, Strathpeffer.
Added by Rod Bell on 14 August 2007
Did Bill Fraser work in the cooper's yard in Invergordon Distillery in the mid 70s?
Added by Kmmc on 16 August 2007
Yes he did... After leaving Polnicol farm, he worked at the distillery until 1978 when we moved back to the Inverness area where he started working at the Ardersier fabrication yard. He remained there until his death in early 1990. We all still miss him very much of course and we have some old tapes recorded during one or two "large evenings" at the house. Music is a great catalyst for bringing people together and we always had a regular stream of friends (plus the odd total stranger) visiting and joining in.
Added by Ron Fraser on 17 August 2007
Just as a matter of interest: The double bass was an unusual three string model which I am sure that I last came across when I was in school. Bill Smith had it "in for repair" in the woodwork classroom sometime during 1970 - 72 ....can't remember exactly when of course. There was evidence of previous extensive repairs to the body - loads of cracks and breaks which were repaired with internal fillets and bracing. I mentioned this to my father and he recalled one night outside Munlochy Hall... They had finished playing at a dance and were loading up Heckies car with the gear. The said instrument was lying on the ground prior to being loaded onto the roof, when some "well oiled" reveller came staggering out of the hall and ended up knee deep in double bass. A very funny story which my father related with a lot of laughter, but at the time it was a serious problem because it had to be fixed before the next "gig".
The question is... Where is it now?? Does anyone know the whereabouts (or fate) of this fairly unusual three string instrument??
Added by Ron Fraser on 18 August 2007
Ron, I suppose you have checked the project storage room of the woodwork shop? Sometimes things just don't get done....or not picked up when done...
Added by Harry O'Neill on 19 August 2007
No Harry, I have to say that I haven't been near the place since I left school to join the Navy in 1972. If it is still sitting in the said store, then it must be covered in a fair coating of "stoor" by now. RIP!!
Added by Ron Fraser on 20 August 2007
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