The Rascals of Rhythm have a very distinctive sound and once heard become instantly recognisable. The band does not fall into any obvious catagory, which is one of it's great strengths, but it does provide a refreshing visit to an era of swinging, carefree jazz with a repertoire drawn from the classic Jelly Roll Morton & King Oliver through Fats Waller to Duke Ellington, Luis Russell and Benny Carter. It also includes much from the pens of those wonderful tunesmiths whose work makes up the Great American Songbook. The band is also happy to work with guest instrumentalist and vocalists without losing it's unique character - and indeed often does.

The Rascals of Rhythm are tuneful, swing like mad, exude energy and enthusiasm and are a well organised and distincitve unit.

The Rascals have recorded a number of CDs on the PEK label, two of which are still available. (“Boiled Owl and Other Delicacies” and “Clarinet Marmalade and other Sweet Treats’)


The Rascals are fronted by two wonderful musicians in Mike Wills and Tony Blincowe who between them play enough reed instruments to start a shop (or possibly a museum!). They carry on the great traditions of Jimmie Noone an dJoe Poston, Sidney Bechet and Mezz Mezzrow, Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern - even Wally Fawkes and Bruce Turner. The Rhythm section has always been drumless and is based on Dave Moorwood's acoustic guitar. The original piano and bass chairs were held by Perry Lock & Roger Davis and their strong tradition has been carried on by first Geoff Barwell and now Rod Kelly (piano) and Mike Bennett(bass) They "provide a springy as a trampoline and uncluttered as air" (to quote Digby Fairweather)

The Rascals are led by :–
Dave Moorwood a self taught musician who started in skiffle groups in the early 50s playing banjoy, guitar, mandolin and even clarinet. From about 1962 he worked in blues bands, dance bands and with anorgan trio, as well as several Oxfordshire jazz bands. In 1989 he formed the Big Bear Stompers, a now almost legendary "Frisco" style band which suvived till 1999, often playing host at their Lains Barn venue to top jazzmen as guests, including Ball, Bilk and Lyttelton. However in 1996 Dave was asked to join the Pete Allen Jazz Band and became a pivotal member of the rhythm section for the next 8 years when he finally resigned to concentrate on playing his favourite acoustic guitar, singing and arranging for the Rascals of Rhythm. He takes great delight in searching for gens amongst the myriad almost forgotten songs of the 20s and 30s, many of which you will hear at Rascals performances. He does also remain a first choice "dep" in several top bands.

Mike Wills – he of the vast collection of instruments – first came to prominence playing trombone in the Oxford area.  He plays fine piano too, but with the Rascals shows his mastery of the curly soprano sax as well as tenor sax and clarinet. A player with tremendous imagination, drive and swing.

Tony Blincowe – another multi-reedman who not only plays wonderful clarinet but also the straight soprano, alto and tenor saxes. He is comfortable in many styles from New Orleans through Big Bands to Modern jazz and is an ideal foil for Mike Wills with whom he has worked for many years. Tony joined the Rascals in 2005 on the retirement of Tony Isaacs.

Rod Kelly – yet another multi instrumentalist who we first met playing trumpet many years ago. He has recently taken over the Rascals piano chair as to the manor born, on the retirement of first Perry Lock and then Geoff Barwell.

Mike Bennett – double bass, took over the role from Roger Davis, who wished to do less travelling. We were lucky he decided to come on board as he is a player of wide experience with many bands. He provides exactly the solid base on which a drumless band like the Rascals depend on.


In recent years the list of top musicians making guest appearances with the Rascals at their home venue, the Lamb Inn in Mill Street, Wantage, has lengthened considerably. One of these is Lizzie Newbery. Besides being a charming vocalist with an engaging and lively personality, she is a Drama and Movement therapist, wife of trumpeter Ben Cummings and mother of Louis. Spare time is not a concept she is familiar with, but nonetheless her style shows careful listening to Sarah Vaughan (her style), Anita O’Day (her phrasing) and Betty Carter (her originality), plus of course the spellbinding Billie Holiday. (everything!)

We first heard Susanne Sheehy in November 2009, singing with the Oxfordshire Big Band “Cutting Edge” at one of their occasional concerts. After thinking it over for several seconds we asked her if she would like to sing with the Rascals. At her first appearance at the Lamb in Wantage she captivated our regular audience with her relaxed and tuneful style. She now has a considerable, and ever-expanding repertoire of songs with special Rascals arrangements. Susanne is a lecturer and clinical research fellow in Malarial medicine at St. Peter’s, Oxford, but jazz singing is clearly an important and joyful release for an extremely able and busy lady.

Kim Osmond has also begun to sing with the Rascals of Rhythm (2011). She “discovered” Ella Fitzgerald while still at school, and soon began listening to a wide variety of vocalists from the jazz past and is developing a wide repertoire. She has reintroduced some of the songs Lizzie May used to sing with the band and puts them, and all her songs, across with a joyful enthusiasm which our audiences find greatly to their liking. She has a busy home life, her husband being an art teacher and their three children sitll in education. We are delighted they can spare her periodically to express her musical talent with us.