The King of 
Swing is back

Band leader Andy Prior
Band leader Andy Prior
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Swing king Andy Prior has landed a peak season series of gigs at his famous old stamping-ground.

For years, the jazz maestro and his big band - then called The Night Owls - were resident at Blackpool Tower Ballroom.

Now the 50 year old and his orchestra have been invited back for a series of summer concerts.

If the five consecutive Wednesday night shows do well, they will get an extension until the end of the Illuminations in November, and a possible invite back for future seasons.

Andy, a former New Faces winner who sold out the London Palladium, says he is delighted at the chance to play at such a prestigious venue once again - especially after a particularly difficult 2013.

That was when he was to have compered a huge live variety show in Blackpool starring Susan Boyle only for the gig to collapse at the 11th hour through neither artist’s fault.

The singer, conductor and trombonist says that one of his aims will be to get folk up and dancing with his Big Swing concerts, the first of which is on Wednesday July 30.

He said: “This might be controversial but I think the Strictly Come Dancing craze has scared a lot of people off the dance floor. Folk used to get up and have a go whatever their level of ability and I would love for those times to return.

“When we were resident we were a little restricted in what we could play and it was in a strict tempo. But now I want something that everyone can dance to - let’s have the whole family involved! All the old favourites like Come Fly With Me and In The Mood will be there.

“The Tower Ballroom is a great venue full of happy memories. It is the place where I put the band together for real. I am delighted and very excited to be playing there again. We’re going to have some fun.”

Andy, from Leigh, first played at the Tower back in 1986 with Eric Delaney’s band, while The Night Owls’ residency was in the early 1990s. There have been one-offs, guest spots and playing in other bands since but it is now 21 years since Andy and his own band had a regular spot at the iconic venue.

One of the Tower organists, Chris Hopkins, will be playing with them and it was in fact a conversation with him and one of the management that brought Andy back to Blackpool.

Tickets for the shows, starting on July 30, are £18 while children under 12 go free. Book online at theblackpooltower.com, pay on the door or ring 0871 222 9929.

The name, Talking of The Night Owls - some of whose members are the same as the Andy Prior Orchestra - will appear one more time before it is consigned to the history books for their annual concert at Gawsworth Hall near Macclesfield on July 10.