Band of crooners, piano in pub. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham

Last of the Crooners at the Palm Tree pub [GALLERY]

posted in: Arts, Culture, Local | 0

Tom Oldham’s The Last of the Crooners photographic exhibition is a sensational look at the crooners of The Palm Tree public house in Bow.

Oldham feels a particular connection with the Last of the Crooners project, as the Palm Tree and the crooners are such a an important part of the local community and its heritage.

Tom Oldham, who lives just north of Victoria Park in Victoria Park Village, says ‘it was very close to home for me so I really felt the pressure to get it right. There are lots of people that really love this pub and value the feel of the place dearly. I deliberately tried to nail the lighting tone so we could replicate the look of the pub in the portraits, so onlookers would know it was the Palm Tree – it was key to the integrity of the work.’

When Oldham first clapped eyes on the crooners, he knew they would make an amazing series of photographs. ‘It’s such compelling subject matter. They’re 100% genuine showbiz and that’s just gold for me, talented singers that perform so gloriously and with such evident passion.’

Working with the crooners was a breeze as they they are all professional to the last.  ‘So easy – I mean it. They’re proper pros. Helen Keating may well be 81 but she’s still got it and has been in the Minder and The Sweeney. They know how a photo shoot work, that’s meat and potatoes to these guys’ explained Oldham.

As part of the Last of the Crooners launch, the singers are releasing a vinyl LP of live recordings from the pub, featuring some favourite vocalists crooning classics from the great american songbook.

Oldham has been part of this project every step of the way, including being present during the recording of the LP.

‘The recordings were made live in the pub with wild mics to record the room. We sat in the basement cellar and listened in or pressed record remotely so the artists didn’t feel the pressure of the red record light. It worked great and the LP is like a social document of a time in history. I’m so proud my name is on it, alongside the producer and my friend Andy Gangadeen’

The Last of the Crooners exhibition is launching on the 21st April with an evening of live music from the crooners themselves. On the night, a limited run of vinyls will be sold for £20. There are only 500 copies, which are bound to sell out, so best to get there sharpish.

Helen Keating singing at pub. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Helen Keating
Man in white blazer. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Charlie © Tom Oldham. Charlie has sung since WW2, when his career started down in the tube stations singing for the crowds sheltering from the bombing.
Old fashioned til. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
The original cash till from the 1950s © Tom Oldham
Sitting at bar with pint. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Jimmy © Tom Oldham. Jimmy Mahoney is super popular with everyone, and a regular at the pub who will often get up on a Sunday night and give the crowd a couple songs.
Female singer, dress, pub. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Sharon Scott © Tom Oldham. Sharon is a host singer and has sprinkled glamour at the Palm Tree in Bow for a few decades now. Her performances ooze class from head to painted toenail.
Old time band. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Harry Stratford © Tom Oldham. Harry is a fantastic singer of the old school, graces the stage with some cheeky humour and a fantastic vocal range. Everyone loves him and you’re on for an entertaining night when he’s on stage.
Electric guitar player. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Izzy © Tom Oldham. Izzy is the bass player of the Palm Tree Trio and knows all the standards from the great American songbook, which you have to be able to recall straightaway when the singer demands a track. It’s quite extensive a memory, his.
Man in jacket, pub table. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Colin Anthony © Tom Oldham. Photographed here in the back bar, Colin is maybe the classiest and smoothest of all the singers. Always dapper and very much of the Frank Sinatra vocal type, he has performed at the Palm Tree for several decades.
Hands at the piano. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Playing the old joanna © Tom Oldham. The hands of Jack Honeyborne, a professional player in big bands and small, since his time with Vera Lynn post-WW2.
Woman sitting in a pub. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Shireen © Tom Oldham. A fantastic professional singer of jazz, Shireen has a beautiful energy and dynamic that always wows even the most reluctant crowd. By the end of the second set, they’ll be dancing. Guaranteed.
Painted toe nails, sandals, pub floor. Image from Last of the Old Crooners, Palm Tree pub by Tom Oldham
Twinkle toes © Tom Oldham. The feet of singer Sharon Scott. See? Told you she did glamour well.

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