The Wokingham Paper

Ma to mark a century of prohibition … with a party

Ma Bessie
Ma Bessie Quartet - Julia, Andy, Chuck & Matt Picture: Martin Wackenier

AS IDEAS go, it was not a particularly good one.

A hundred years ago, the United States got cold feet about alcohol, leading to the rise of a speakeasy and contraband booze.

Prohibition was a milestone moment in the country’s history and to mark it a special concert will take place in a Reading casino later this month.

It kept American bars dry for 13 years – and had the opposite effect on society than was intended. It led to crime rackets, corruption and a disrepect for the law.

Local blues/jazz singer Julia Titus is hosting the Prohibition-style party at The Grosvenor Casino in Reading’s Rose Kiln Lane on Friday, January 17.

While the clientele do their best to eliminate as much intoxicating contraband as possible, Julia, (aka Ma Bessie) and her Pigfoot Band will be kicking up a storm with classics from the prohibition era through to swingtime.

And there’s another reason for the party: it’s Julia’s birthday.

She says she has arranged the Party to celebrate the music and singers who emerged in this era, including of course her hero Bessie Smith, Empress of the Blues.

The show will include two live sets from Ma Bessie and her Pigfoot band with support from modern vintage DJ, Professor Gramophone.

The Professor’s dance sets take the best of traditional swing, jive and vintage remixes for an experience that is irresistible.

Playing both a traditional and a non-traditional set, his music is both cutting edge and retro.

“I’ve been touring both the Prohibition Party show and The Bessie Smith Story since 2016,” said Julia. “We’re always surprised by the amazing reaction we get from our audiences, especially the younger members. Just recently, we’ve also collected a group of talented dancers who often join us at gigs to augment the show and add to the spectacle.”

The Prohibition Party will take place in the Show Bar at The Grosvenor Casino Reading South

Early bird tickets are available for just £15 per person, and standard tickets are £20.

There are also three exclusive VIP tables that come with a complimentary bottle of Prosecco and some other special gifts, these seat five and cost £125 each.

For more information on the event, including how to book tickets, visit:, or call 0118 402 7800.

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