Bill Roberts is a pianist, singer, and music workshop leader based in the North West of England. His work is mainly divided between doing gigs as a solo piano player or with bands, and delivering music workshop sessions for More Music. Bill’s piano playing career is rooted in jazz and blues, and his nickname ‘Boogie Bill’ is a direct reference to his penchant for Boogie Woogie piano playing. These styles remain Bill’s passion musically, though he regularly performs in many styles including classic pop as part of his ‘Piano Bar’ show, in which he also sings, and as part of small function bands.
As well as the acts featured on this site, Bill has other bands he calls upon for specific events – for example “Boogie Bill’s Big Three”, a trio in which Bill plays and sings, typically with sax and drums making up the band. Bill also has a small scale function band, for things like steam boat cruises in the Lakes and house parties, with a singer and another instrumentalist – doing material from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Bruno Mars, Amy Winehouse.
A Brief History of Boogie Bill
Bill has been playing blues piano in the North West and beyond since 1988. Below are some of the highlights of this career.
His formative live playing years were served with excellent blues band “The Hustle”, who performed at many prestigious festival gigs and went on to record a CD in 1995. This received excellent reviews (Paul Jones loved it!), sold-out its 1000 copies and enjoyed airplay on Radio2, Radio Lancs and Radio Cumbria.
During this period Bill also formed the still-talked-about “Betty’s Blues”, a jazz boogie and swing duo with the inimitable diamante diva Liz Jackson. Their unique blend of boogie and banter earned them a strong following, and the Dynamic Duo’s achievements include:
- Headline spot at 2005 Lancaster Jazz Festival, as a double Bill with Snakebite Burnett.
- Played at London’s 100 Club in 2001 with a full band for a classic one-off show.
- Supported Jools Holland’s big band, culminating in a duelling piano session with Bill and Jools at the piano at the aftershow party.
- Recorded a CD “Paying Homage” in 2003 to commemorate their 10th anniversary.
Bill lived in London from 2000 to 2004, during which time he became piano man with London’s classiest jump-jive group “The Jive Cats”, with whom he enjoyed appearances at the 100 Club, the Royal Festival Hall, and many swing dance festivals around the country.
During the summers of 2000 and 2001, Bill was involved in the first of many musical exchange trips to Chicago, organised between he and Ben Ruth of cmeas.com. During both trips many dreams were realised as he got to sit in with some legendary players in the city’s most famous blues clubs e.g. Buddy Guy’s Legends, B.L.U.E.S. on Halstead – and some of the less salubrious but utterly authentic South Side bars such as Lee’s Unleaded – what a place! Bill spent a year in 2005 working with award winning blues guitarist and festival favourite “Otis Grand” and his Big Blues Band. Having now gone fully pro as a musician, Bill toured the country with Otis and got a real taste of life on the road. During this year Bill also toured with visiting American bluesmen “Studebaker John” and “Lazy Lester” for a whistlestop UK tour. Since leaving OG’s band, Bill has been very busy with various band projects, session work and building upon his career as a solo artist. He also has a full daytime diary as music workshop leader for community music and education charity “More Music”, specialising in SEND and Early Years education.