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King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys @ Birmingham Jam House

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by Andy Coleman (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer living in Birmingham. I like Classic Rock, 70s pop music, football and interviewing celebrities. Follow me on Twitter: @andycoleman9
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Jump Jive Outfit Back in Brum
They have played over 6000 gigs in more than 25 countries over the past 27 years but jump jive outfit King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys are back in their Birmingham hometown on April 17.

The popular band perform at The Jam House in St Paul's Square with a return engagement at the same venue later in the year on October 23.

king pleasure and the Biscuit Boys
Back in Brum: King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys

Group founder and frontman Mark Skirving (aka King Pleasure) reveals that his musical ambitions began at an early age.

''I was in a school production of Daniel in the Lions' Den. I was reprising my usual role of God, which just meant I'd got the loudest voice, even when I was seven. Two of the teachers played a boogie woogie piece and I absolutely loved it even though I didn't know what it was. For me, pianos and saxophones just took over, the sound of them together. I just became fanatical about the whole period; the music, the clothes, everything.''

king pleasure and the Biscuit Boys
Rock royalty: Mark Skirving aka King Pleasure

Mark first formed a band in secondary school then began busking with double bass player Bullmoose.

''I sang and played the sax,'' Mark recalls. ''We busked mainly on Park Street in Walsall but when other musicians joined we went over to Birmingham.

"When we first started we were Some Like It Hot because it was sax and a double bass just like the Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon film.

''In 1986 we entered and won the Birmingham Markets' Busking Competition. Big Bear Records boss Jim Simpson was a judge and he said he'd get us some gigs.''

king pleasure and the Biscuit Boys
World tours: King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys

That was the beginning of a long and fruitful partnership with Birmingham-based Big Bear. It was Jim Simpson who came up with the band's name, although 'King Pleasure' was the moniker of an American jazz bebop vocalist in the 1950s.

Mark explains: ''When we became a four piece band we were called The Satellites. Jim saw us do a Christmas Eve gig and said, 'How about calling yourself King Pleasure and the Biscuit Boys?'. We didn't know at the time that there had been a King Pleasure and we were nicking his name. We thought 'that sounds really daft, we'll go with that!' The first gig we did in London people turned up to see King Pleasure the Jazz Scat man. But it ended up as a great night and we got away with it.''

Since then King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys have toured the globe performing with the likes of BB King, Cab Calloway and Ray Charles. They hold the box office record at Birmingham's Ronnie Scott's club.

king pleasure and the Biscuit Boys
Parallel career: Mark Skirving with his artwork

''We still work a lot but less than when we were kids,'' admits 47-year-old Mark who now spends his days off working on a parallel career as an artist.

''Being older we can't do as much or we would burn ourselves out but doing a couple of shows a week is something to really look forward to. It's a bunch of guys that get on really well together so we're always looking forward to seeing each other. We're playing music so we're doing a job that we love and also gets recognition – people are cheering and slapping you on the back at the end of it and wanting to buy you a drink which doesn't happen in most lines of work. And we get the chance to travel abroad, play up and have fun. It's great. You don't have to grow up.''
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Why? Hometown gig for King Pleasure and The Biscuit Boys
When: April 17, 2014 and October 23, 2014
Phone: 0121 200 3030
Where: The Jam House, St Paul's Square, Birmingham
Cost: £5
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