Ned Kelly's band mark milestone and have a blast for charity

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 23 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 23 December, 2007, 12:00am

Australian bush ranger and folk hero Ned Kelly still has a gang to keep the Kelly spirit alive 127 years after his death, but without the arms and violence.

A pub on Tsim Sha Tsui's Ashley Road, Ned Kelly's Last Stand is renowned as one of the oldest jazz bars in Asia, and celebrated its 35th birthday on Tuesday.

This time, however, Ned's fans were there to support not only the spirit of the Outback outlaw and the band, but also Operation Santa Claus. Donation boxes were placed on tables and a charitable auction was held, while the pub itself also donated 30 per cent of its takings.

Ned's manager Mike Brown said it was 'absolutely wonderful' to celebrate the pub's 35th anniversary while supporting charity. This is the first year Ned Kelly's has taken part in Operation Santa Claus.

'With all of us in the food and beverage business or hospitality business, it's always take, take, take from people, but it's so nice to give,' Mr Brown said.

Colin Aitchison, frontman of resident band the China Coast Jazzmen, agreed. 'I feel proud. If we can do something to raise money for charities especially at this time of year ... it's a good thing to be involved in.'

Aitchison believed the music could help raise more funds.

On the stage, the members had the chance to show off their skills as the band performed their trademark mix of jazz and ribald comedy.

Among them was 80-year-old trumpeter Silverio Yaneza, who has been playing music since the age of eight. Yaneza was eager to use his talent to help people in need. 'Since 1949, people always ask me to do some charity concert. I feel, 'Why not', I always do that,' he said.

Although the pub could hold only about 50 people, many others joined in by tuning in to RTHK Radio 3, which put the evening's musical offerings on air in a live broadcast. The recording is now available on the channel's website.

'It's a great little pub and perfect for a live radio broadcast where you embrace audience participation,' said Bryan Curtis, RTHK's head of English programming.

Dinner vouchers were auctioned off and waiters and waitresses, impressed by the guests' generosity, did their bit by donating all their tips to Operation Santa. 'In the end, we raised HK$13,122.40 plus some Aussie coins chipped in by tourists,' Mr Curtis said.

But the surprises did not stop there. 'A waitress who was off Tuesday night when we did the show donated her tips from Wednesday,' he said.


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