Andrea "Andy" Mason
Photo to follow

 

I remember at a Vic Lewis one-night stand, I talked to Andy White the drummer, about my interest, but he, in no uncertain terms said it was no life for a girl and that I should forget about it! To be honest I can't remember how my audition with Ivy came about. It was late 1955 and my Dad took me to the Lyons Corner House in Marble Arch, London, and we had a delightful couple of hours with Ivy, where she hired me to start immediately. We played at that venue -The Quebec Cafe, the rest of that season.

Then we started the One-nighters, including the US Bases, Blackpool, Bridlington and Leeds, amongst others until it was time to go to the Isle of Man for the 1956 Summer Season. Unfortunately for me, whilst in Leeds, I became sick, so travelled back to London on the bus. Upon recovering, I took a job on the newspapers to give me an income, and when I received the letter from Ivy saying she had arranged for me to start back by playing in the lounge at the Villa Marina, I was committed to completing the job I had started, and for numerous other reasons, never rejoined the band. I've always regretted that decision.

I married an American, and we lived in three different states, and Canada, and had four children. Everywhere we went I would join a local band, some good, some great, and some phenomenal. My favourite musical time was actually in Stephenville, Newfoundland, where I played with the USAF Band, and we put on shows such as "Guys and Dolls" and "Finnians Rainbow". We also put together a musical variety show. It was all a fabulous experience.

I divorced my husband and returned to England in 1969, where I joined a drama society which mostley did musicals, so I was in my element. I acted, sang, did comedy sketches, played Guitar, Bongos and Trumpet. We always recieved excellent reviews. I also did some musical arrangements. My current husband was also a member and played trumpet (he had been with the Hanwell Silver Band) and acted. He and I also formed a trio with a friend who played drums, and we played a lot of Gigs all over Surrey. Occasionally we would add one or two musicians depending on the Gig. I will have to say, the biggest problem when playng at so many venues, is the state of the piano I was expected to play. Some even had keys completely missing!!! But the Show must go on! It was all very enlightening.

Unfortunately, since we emigrated to Canada, I have not played professionally.

Sadly almost all our belongings were stolen so everything I had pertaining to the days with the Band were lost, with the exception of one little bag label that was still attached to a small case which I had left at my parents house - it just says "Ivy Bensons Band" - with my name on it! But I still have my memories.


 

Andrea Mason
played Piano
1955 to 1956


I started playing piano when a family friend heard me copying her daughter, and taught me the basics. I then had a teacher who entered me into all of those horrible music festivals where one sat nervously awaiting one's turn to find out whether the adjudicator like you or not. Yuck!!

After a year of that my teacher decided I should try for a scholarship, which I won at age 10, to the Royal College of Music. As a Junior Exhibitioner, the scholarship was good through to age 16, but I just wasn't cut out for a lifetime of classical music, so I relinquished my place at age 14. I did the usual teenage stuff with the neighbourhood kids. We formed a skiffle band and played outside the tube stations, we jammed in each other,s homes until the parents kicked us out. We went to jazz concerts, and watched big-bands whenever we could.

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