The story behind this band...
Tom Warder (Electrified Acoustic Mandolin), Marie Warder (Piano and claviolin), Selby Warder (Guitar) and Vic Townsend (Drums and Sax.)
Note: Thumbnail pictures will change with each new track. They include: Tom Warder - musician and band leader - Leicester Warder (Tom's father), Selby Warder, one of Tom and Marie taken at a "Gatsby" party for which they played in Kempton Park, near Johannesburg, in 1974, and the covers of two books written by Marie ... "WITH NO REMORSE..." a suspense novel set in Malta during WW2, into which she has woven true facts about THE VENTURIANS, and "THE BRONZE KILLER" in which she writes about Tom and his battle with Hemochromatosis, the relentless disease which crippled his hands and ended his life and that of his brother.
The Warder parents were said to have been able to "bring tears to one’s eyes" as a classical string duo, but once their sons came along, they preferred to play dance music with them. Leicester (Pop) Warder was an incredible swing, boogie and ragtime player (Marie, confesses that she could never master the ' boogie' bass of 'Alligator Crawl' the way he could) and Rae, his wife, could easily have been mistaken for Stéphane Grappelli, the French jazz violinist who, with guitarist Django Reinhardt, founded the Quintette du Hot Club de France.
The fact that the Warders could create a sound resembling that, especially in an era when the Hot Club of France (probably the most famous of all string jazz bands) was in its heyday, was the secret of their enormous popularity, and Tom - young as he was - had already, fortuitously, begun to take his father's place as the leader before, lying about his age, he enlisted in the SAAF. It was a foregone conclusion and he was prepared for this upon his return home, but not for the manner in which it came about.
He and his brother, Selby, had no sooner returned to civilian life, when this very close family was shaken by an indescribable disaster, and for Marie to have to step into the breach and take Leicester Warder’s place at the piano – only three weeks after his sudden death, only three weeks after she and Tom, then only 21, had become engaged – was a daunting experience for his 18-year-old daughter in-law to be. She rose to the challenge, however, and ended up playing with Tom and his band for 35 years!
"Thank goodness the the Glenn Miller and Vera Lynn era had dawned!" she says now. "Fortunately, like the two boys, I played by ear, and thanks to what they had learned from their parents and I was later blessed to play with them, my repertoire now ranges from 1920 to the music of the present day."
OTHER NOTES THAT MIGHT BE OF INTEREST: A "claviolin," which Marie descibes as a "truly ill-sounding instrument," was the fore-runner of today's keyboards. About 24 inches long, it would be screwed in under the keyboard of the piano and she would have to play the melody on that with her right hand, while playing the bass on the piano with the other.
It can be heard in the two tracks before the end; in the second of them, as a substitute for the traditional "penny whistle" heard in South African 'kwela" tunes. This one - Meadowlands - is also often referred to as the "Gumboot dance" because it is so well-suited to the dance performed by African miners in their "gumboots".
Members of the band would never fail to be be amazed at the effect this music would have, even on "staid dowagers and matrons" who would jump about like "spring lambs." In this cut, Marie can be heard clearly calling out to someone, "See how they're jumping!
RECORDING: The music was "taped" on one of the very early types of recorder, which was kept on the floor beside the drummer, relying on him to turn it on in time to start playing, himself. As mentioned in the VENTURIANS video, other players would, in time, be added to the band, but featured here are Tom Warder, Marie Warder, Selby Warder and Vic Townsend, who, when he was playing the saxophone, managed admirably to keep the beat going with his foot on the bass-drum!
None of these musicians could read a note of music, but listen to the unique harmony ... mandolin and saxophone, created by Tom and Vic; old friends who had "jammed" together since their early teens.