The IMMposters

The IMMposters: a brief history

The IMMposters were first thrown together for what might have been a one-off performance at Oxford's Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine on 7 February 2001, to mark the end of the Institute's annual day of research seminars and poster presentations (IMM posters, in fact). A couple of weeks earlier, the realisation of how much a professional jazz combo would charge to play at the party had led, via a flurry of emails, to the discovery that the Institute itself already had an impressive (or at least willing) array of musicians.

The line-up that night:
Torben Andersen - guitar (a vintage 1960s Stratocaster, no less)
Paul Bowness - bass
Rod Dunbar - keyboards and musical direction
Doug Higgs - drums
Sarah Hutchinson - trombone
Paul Klenerman - alto sax
Chris Norbury - vocals
Amanda Salisbury - vocals
Althea Thomas (Alfy) - vocals

The line up was drawn from all corners of the Institute, a factor that, along with the free bar, no doubt contributed to the warm reception they received.

It was great fun, and further bookings followed, initially back at the IMM, but eventually further afield. At the time of writing, the IMMposters in one form or another have played live around 60 times. Some of the more memorable engagements include the paediatric rheumatologists' dinner at the Oxford Hotel, the British Society for Immunology meeting in Harrogate and a wedding in a thatched barn with a decibel limiter that constantly threatened to cut the mains supply. Twice they have played in rain outside in the dark, one of those being on a cruise boat on the Thames.

The band's line-up has been shaped mostly by migration (of Rod back to his native New Zealand, Torben back to Denmark and, soon, Alfy to Australia), has accommodated numerous visitors (notably Kate Rumbold, Simon Skrzypczak, Nick Winstone, Tim Humphrey, Mark Kiff, Caroline Jenkins and Sarah Hutchinson) and is currently:

Ant Black - tenor sax
Paul Bowness - bass
Doug Higgs - drums
Duncan Howie - alto sax
Steve Kelly - guitar
Paul Klenerman - alto sax
Chris Norbury - vocals and congas
kate Ridout - vocals
Jon Silk - trumpet and vocals
Alex Sternberg - keyboards
Richard Wheeler - trumpet
Nalin Wuttipong - vocals

The IMMposters may not be unique in raising arcane matters of biomedical science between songs at practice sessions, but might just be the only band in the world to have a Fellow of the Royal Society on drums.

The band's repertoire now extends to 78 songs, mostly covers but including two penned by Alex. One of these, 'Everybody be there', was recorded by Dave Porter in his Faringdon studio for broadcast on BBC Radio 4's 'Desert Island Discs' in February 2009, having been selected by Prof. Dame Kay Davies as one of her favourite songs of all time (OK, maybe Doug twisted her arm).

As for the band name, pedants might prefer the spelling 'IMMpostors'; some initially thought 'Loose Covers' a good alternative, being both descriptive of the material and allusive to suburbia. But it's been 'IMMposters' for eight years now, so that's probably the way it will stay!