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Musician and chairman of Newark’s Dementia Carers Group, Ken Daubney recalls 70 years of performing, including at RAF Scampton alongside jazz icon Count Bassie

One of Newark’s oldest musicians is still hitting the right notes after 70 years of performing.

Ken Daubney, of Valley Prospect, has been playing music and performing in several bands for nearly 70 years after he left the air force in 1955.

STILL playing after 70 years: Musician Ken Daubney.
STILL playing after 70 years: Musician Ken Daubney.

Sixty years ago, Mr Daubney, who is 90 on Saturday, was on the same bill as one of the biggest names in jazz played at Scampton Aerodrome.

Count Basie and his orchestra, featuring Jimmy Rushing, performedat the venue on September 12, 1963.

Ken was part of Johnny Johnston and His Ambassadors Dance Orchestra, who also performed at the RAF base that evening.

“It was a privilege to play in the band when they came from America,” said Ken.

A young Ken Daubney and his band.Dave Dawson
A young Ken Daubney and his band.Dave Dawson

“I feel lucky I’m still alive to be able to report on that and it is the privilege of actually playing at the same time as who was considered an icon of music.”

The musician played the piano at the iconic evening, however, he also plays alt saxophone and clarinet.

In 1957, Mr Daubney led The Ken Daubney Band to perform at Newark’s former Savoy cinema.

90 year old musician Ken Daubney
90 year old musician Ken Daubney

During intervals, the band would attract audiences of up to 1,100 people.

After being in Johnny Johnson’s band for six years, Mr Daubney went to Tuxford where he had a small band for ten years.

Continuing his musical career, he joined the Monsignor’s Big Band in Lincoln in 1982, in which he continues to play and is a musical director.

“I have had a colourful period of life playing music. I started off playing in pubs in Newark for people who didn’t know what you were doing.

Ken Daubney's band playing a gig.
Ken Daubney's band playing a gig.

“I was fortunate to have a good grounding from people who knew what they were doing, I had good teachers who helped me become the musician I am today.”

Over the years, Ken has travelled thousands of miles to get to rehearsals and performances but his passion always revolved around dance music.

He said: “If you play music to dance and the floor is full of people, you know you’re doing the right thing. But if they are not getting up and look fed up, then you are not playing the right thing.

“That’s one thing about dance music, you can create an atmosphere and it throws back at you — if they are enjoying themselves, so are you.”

A young Ken Daubney performing
A young Ken Daubney performing

For the past few months, Mr Daubney has been unable to perform due to a back problem but he continues to play the piano.

“I don’t think there is a club in Newark that I have never played in and the same in Lincoln,” he said.

“It is a multitude of musicians that I have been involved with and some of them are no longer alive, but there are a lot of people who will still remember them and the performances.

“I feel privileged that I have been able to do it and meet these people and give them some sort of happiness when they have gone out at night in all the bands that I have played.”

Ken, who is the chairman of Newark Dementia Carers Group, will celebrate his birthday on Saturday at Balderton Village Hall with family, friends and his band.

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