Archie Taylor

WE ARE very sad to report the following news about our good friend Archie Taylor who played his saxophone solos with the band for over 10 years and featured in all our recent concerts this year.

Archie was a keen sailor and kept his dinghy at Gwbert boat club in west Wales.

He took his boat out on Easter Saturday morning for a day’s sailing but when he had not returned by 5.30pm the alarm was raised and a full air and sea search was put into operation using helicopters and lifeboats.

His empty boat was found but Archie was missing. The search continued on the Sunday but there was no sign of Archie and by evening the search was scaled down as it was felt that there was no longer any chance of finding him alive.

Since then the police and coastguard have done coastline searches at low tide, but Archie is still missing. Understandably everyone in the band is shocked and stunned by this as I’m sure are all those who have heard him play with us at the various concert venues. He had become part of our wider band family.

After a number of weeks Archie’s body was washed ashore further north along the coast. His funeral service was held at Accrington Crematorium on Friday June 16.

An ensemble of past and present band members took part in this service and this contribution included ‘Autumn Leaves’ which Archie had regularly played on his more recent concert appearances.

A sad time for all having to say goodbye to such a talented musician, great friend of the band and an altogether really nice guy.

Saddleworth Memories

Over the 15 years there’s been lots of incidents that stay in the memory. Too many to record them all but here’s a few for your interest.

One year, not being aware of the usual lengthy queues that are always associated with Delph, we showed up really late in the evening and only just squeezed onto the booking in list before it closed for the night. The result was that way after midnight we were the the last band to play and that band always has the honour of playing the National Anthem to end the proceedings. Of course we didn’t have the music with us – hence a panic dash down to the Delph band club to borrow theirs. The score was slightly different to what we usually played but we managed it and got a great reception from the crowd.

Again at Delph some years later, unbeknown to us the rules had been changed and youth bands could only play if they signed in before 9 o’clock. We turned up much later and permission to play was refused despite our agreement that we would not be assessed and given a score. A heated stand off ensued. Tried to register as a non section adult band but this was refused as well. Determined to have our day in the sun we decided that if we were not allowed to play we would still march down to the contest arena without playing. Hence when the time came at which we should be playing we left all the instruments on the road and marched down the hill in silence. Incredulity on the faces of the large crowd lining the street, consternation on the part of the officials. A major enquiry ensued. The outcome? Banned from further entry to the Delph contests; happily subsequently rescinded a few years later. The incident produced lots of comment and discussion in the banding press, both for and against what we’d done. All friends again now.

Uppermill produced two memorable incidents, one of which saw a pint of beer being poured over one of our players as we made our way back to the coach after playing. The culprit made off but our ‘own in house’ travelling security went after him and restrained him till the police arrived and took him away for a night in the cells.

The second incident nearly caused a riot. The coaches park on the nearby car park in order and then move off to follow their band down the street ready to pick them up at the end. As you can imagine this car park gets pretty full and the coaches were nose to tail with limited manoeuvrability till the one in front moves. Whilst still somewhere in the middle our driver announced that his driving hours were up and he couldn’t move again till he’d had his mandatory break – not even a few yards to get off the car park and out of the way. Deadlock all round, tempers fraying…. let’s just leave it there. Suffice to say he was ‘persuaded’ to move. He’d never done the Saddleworth run before. Probably never done it again. We certainly haven’t used him.

On a lighter note, but still on the subject of buses, we had an almost brand new bus one year but it broke down at Lydgate. Other drivers turned up to offer advice but no joy. We went off to do the contest and came back just in time to see the driver giving the engine a series of hearty thumps with a hammer. That did the trick and off we went. Sadly after the evening’s last contest the problem returned. Same remedy applied but no success. So what do you do at that time of night with a band and instruments with all the other possible replacement coaches for miles around all ferrying their bands back home? Fortunately someone remembered seeing our good friends from Water Band out and about earlier in the evening and we eventually tracked them down before they had started back for home. Somewhat bizarrely for quite a small band they had a doubledecker coach as well. You just couldn’t make it up could you. They did a bit of a detour and picked us up. Home by midnight. Which is more than can be said for our poor coach driver.

And what about that incident at Greenfield when we started playing before the judge indicated that he was ready? At all the venues the judge is secreted away so as not to be able to see which band is playing to avoid any unconscious prejudice in the marking. They indicate when they’re ready for the incoming band to play by blowing a whistle or some other sign. Well, for some reason we started playing before the sign. Several bars into the piece and out comes an agitated red faced judge shouting, ‘ You’ve not been given permission to start’. The band, concentrating on the music, don’t hear him and carry on playing. The audience highly amused. The judge not so. He retreats to his caravan. By now of course he knew which band we were. General consensus was that we’d blown it – probably wouldn’t even be given a score. The outcome? We won first prize at Greenfield.

Finally one that everyone remembers and lives forever in the band’s folklore. The late Brian Chestney and his bag of chips. Brian was one of our more senior members and played bass. He played for the march to the arena but not for the contest piece itself as there are strict age rules re who can and cannot play in the youth section. So whilst the band was doing the contest piece Brian and his wife Doreen joined the queue at the Delph chippy round the corner. Very partial to a bag of chips was Brian. Trouble was, it was a very long queue and Brian was still waiting his turn when the band had played, packed up and were on the bus ready for off. Back went the message, ‘10 more minutes Brian and then we’re off’. 10 minutes later – no Brian or Doreen. So off to the next venue we went. Will we see them again tonight? How will they get home? Shall we go back for them? All solved after we returned to the coach after playing. There sat Brian and Doreen in stony silence munching their way through two large bags of chips. He’d used his wide knowledge of other bands and players to negotiate a lift on another coach and followed us. Nothing was ever said. No-one asked for a chip. None were offered. Never happened again.

 

Wonderful Windsor Weekend

Friday: We’re off

The day had finally come! Bags packed – check, instrument – check, music – check and so off to the Scout Hut where the coach awaited.

Many an hour beforehand rehearing in the coldest most exposed areas in Lancashire had lead up to this moment. We hopped on the coach, after a team effort on the loading front, and we were off.

Once on board many entertainment that Steve usually provides, often Cool Runnings, whilst others sat back and relaxed for the busy weekend to come.

A quick pit stop at, ironically, Warwick Services where we filled our boots with a variety of fast food they had to offer, then back on the coach and we were off, Windsor bound.

We arrived and as soon as we walked into the hotel there was a roar of ‘Ooo this is fancy’, that is usually a good sign.

We checked in then made our way to the rooms. After a short while it was a quick run back down the stairs, back on the bus where we travelled to the local Salvation Army HQ where we brushed up on preparation for the following evening’s concert.

When we arrived back at the hotel, we quickly showered and smartened up and made our way the function room where food awaited.

This was lovely, an indoor barbecue. What could be better before a couple of days hard work? Then came the quiz. The teams assembled and the quiz began, the highlight round being “sing when your winning” where the teams had to name as many songs mentioning the word music in the title, or in a lyric. Bonus points if you could perform it with your group.

Saturday Daytime: Final preparations

As the sun rose over the, not yet fully constructed, town of Bracknell, the many tourists awoke from their peaceful slumber with eager anticipation for their day ahead at Legoland.

Well I say peaceful … it would have been had the band not already formed up in their marching lines on the rooftop of a multi-storey car park nearby.

What could make a better accompaniment to your eggs and bacon than a rousing rendition of good ol’ ‘Slaidburn’?

Noisy as it might have been, it was the last opportunity for a quick run through of the programme for tomorrow’s big event, so heads were definitely switched on.

A few laps of the car park,not forgetting the occasional emergency stop and three-point turn, got the band warmed up and it was on with the pieces that the band had lined up to entertain the crowds.

Never before had the people of Bracknell been treated to ‘Toccata in D Minor’ whilst nipping to M&S on their Saturday morning shopping spree.

But, as an avid member of the band’s cornet section, I must mention our Strictly Come Dancing audition.

Standing seven storeys above the bustling Saturday morning shoppers, cornets in hand, we unleashed our inner ‘Andrews Sisters’ as we performed our choreographed routine to ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’.

What a sight for those poor awakened tourists. With a few closing laps of honour, it was instruments away and onto the bus for the band.

A short drive into Windsor, with the coach swerving in and out of the Heathrow bound jets, we arrived at the foot of Windsor Castle.

For those of you who have never visited, Windsor is a bustling town filled with quaint little tearooms and boutique shops.

But the band’s choice of afternoon entertainment … Crazy Golf! Sporting their finest ‘deckchair’ inspired trousers, each player teed off with aspirations of the Ryder Cup at the forefront of their minds.

It is safe to say that the band were less Tiger Woods and little more Happy Gilmore, but all managed to avoid the water feature.

Let’s hope the band is on par tomorrow for Her Majesty.

Saturday Evening: Concert at Holy Trinity Garrison Church in Windsor

What can you do but have great expectations of our band when you know how much practise they have done and you know just how entertaining they can be?

We walked into Holy Trinity Garrison Church with the sun streaming in behind us, and were greeted by an amazingly decorated church with flags hanging from the balcony; an intricate painted pattern on the ceiling; and plaques on all the walls detailing fallen soldiers across many historic battles. The church was full.

A concert like this could only begin with ‘Conquest’. The whole piece is such a strong statement of a confident band that can stand as individuals or as sections and play.

It’s great to see the audi- ence anticipation as they look around and wonder who will be walking to the front next.

Graham didn’t use the microphone because it was crackly and about to give up, but obviously he was still able to maintain his rapid flow of humour even without the microphone.

We enjoyed five solo pieces – Oliver Sikora with ‘Georgia on my Mind’; a welcome back to Luke Dempsey who played ‘Over the Rainbow’; Ryan Bolton with ‘Blaydon Races’; Josh Brown performed ‘Children of Sanchez’; and George Hanson playing ‘The Bare Necessities’.

They played such a wide variety of tunes, but they all looked very comfortable and bold performers. We were so proud.

My favourite piece was ‘You are the sunshine of my life’. A small group was standing at the back of the church and played with the whole band. I felt as though I was listening to surround sound.

I could pick out some of the musical parts which I can’t usually do. The band completely filled the whole church with sound. Many of the audience were jogging their shoulders and tapping their feet.

And how can you finish such a fantastic concert? With Toccata and Fugue in D Minor. The standing ovation and long applause at the end said everything – a wonderful end to a wonderful evening.

So many people from the Windsor area commented on how much they had enjoyed the concert. We all thought that the band had played their best ever.

Sunday: Windsor Castle

The day kick started with a full four star hotel breakfast. No time to dwell on what the day would hold as we were whisked back up the five flights of stairs to the top of Bracknell’s multi story for a brisk 9am rehearsal.

A buzz of excitement rose when we were sent to change into our brand new scout uniforms and gather our belongings as we would not be returning. This was it.

As we approached the grandeur of the castle itself, the coach ground to a halt. We continued our short journey on foot the reason for the emer- gency stop came more apparent. Parading towards us came the Scots Guards, their striking red jackets marching towards us. Each step in unison.

The enormity and expectation of the day had finally hit us.

We presented our special red cards that allowed us admittance to the event and set up base in the ground’s vacated stables.

As more and more Scout leaders and offi- cials crowded the courtyard, we got a sudden shout to clear the way. We made a dash to get out of the path.

We couldn’t believe what happened next. Who came past? None other than the Duke of Edinburgh driving his horse and cart. We felt so lucky, but only minutes later he came past again in his fancy BMW.

The band was called to form up as the clocks neared 1. All those hours of preparation came down to this.

Michael brought us to attention. “By the centre quick march” We were off.

Everything was going brilliantly. We had reached the narrow archway where we all squeezed through,

just about, and entered the splendour of the quadrangle of Windsor Castle. What a sight to behold.

No time to gander or gawp, as we were paraded straight onto the luscious, harlequin grass.

It was like standing on a cloud, almost soft enough for you to stop in your tracks just to enjoy the luxury. But the band marched on. ‘Montreal Citadel’, ‘Water of Tyne’, ‘Joy’, ‘Peace and Happiness’. Far too quickly we were marching back through the narrow archway back towards the sta- bles.

Just before the clock struck 2, Michael paraded us back into the quadrangle but this time accompanied by the Scots Guards. On the strike of 2, the National Anthem was played – by the Guards’ band – and out came Prince Michael of Kent with Bear Grylls to speak to all the Queen’s Scouts.

While this was taking place, ourselves and the Scots Guards played alternately. ‘Toccata’, ‘All Night Long’ and a John Williams’ medley fea- tured in the short set.

The whole parade, lead by us, made its way down to St George’s Chapel in the grounds, where we took our seats in the Knights of the Garter.

We all sat there in awe, admiring the magnificent gothic architecture as the service commenced.

A sudden hum of excitement washed through the band as only a few metres away stood Bear and the Prince with their entourage of officials. The Prince kept very official whereas Bear gave us a cheeky thumbs up.

As the final hymn was sung, we reformed outside the impressive chapel.

After a short speech from Mr Grylls, we led the parade back to the stables and it was all over.

Months, weeks, hours of hard work had paid off and we’d done ourselves mighty proud. As we boarded the coach for the final time, everyone agreed on what an amazing weekend that was had and how proud we were to be the 2nd Rossendale Scout Group Band.

Band plays at Durham Miners’ Gala

THIS has become another firm fixture in the band’s end of season programme. No major mining done in Durham these days but the former pit villages continue to keep alive the tradition of marching with their banners that were established in the days that ‘Coal was King’.

Same format every year. Each village with its banner and brass band converges on Durham and they form themselves into a long procession that slowly winds it’s way through the streets until the County Hotel is reached. Here, on the front balcony stand the invited guests from the Trade Unions and Labour party. All the bands then play their own selected party piece before moving on, eventually to congregate on a local field where the options seem to be listening to speeches, going for a drink or finding somewhere quiet for a bit of lunch.

There can be anything up to 100,000 people in Durham on the day and things can get pretty raucous as the day goes on. Eventually the bands process back through Durham and return to their villages with all their supporters. ‘Our’ village is Horden a former mining community on the coast and we’ve played for them for a number of years now. We returned to Horden after playing in Durham and ended by playing the miner’s hymn tune Gresford in the middle of the village. Gresford was written by a miner from Hebburn in South Tyneside and commemorates the pit disaster at Gresford near Wrexham in 1934 when 266 men and boys lost their lives in a pit explosion.

Only 11 bodies were recovered. The bands from former pit villages always play it at the Miners Gala. After this it was back on the coach for home.

A long day starting at 6.00am and ending back home at 9.00pm. We’ll be up there again next year. No doubt about that.

Congratulations to all our Award Winners

This year our annual band awards were presented at the patron’s concert and the winners were as follows:

1. Junior Bandsperson of the year. Leo Stemp. This was especially good as Leo, not for the first time either, had, in the morning, played a solo in the Junior Band’s monthly Concert at Central Methodist Church. What a great tone he has, too.

2. Senior Bandsperson of the year. Max Bridge. Max is a quiet lad, very understated in character, yet a great char- acter within the band, and he’s not a bad tenor horn player, either, sitting there week by week, just putting in the right notes.

3. The Low Brass Award. Ryan Bolton. Fast becoming a pillar of the band.

4. The Sheila Wright Trophy for a person who has stood out in their endeavour to serve the band. Alfie Ryder. A word about Alfie. Just over two years ago, he was playing second cornet. He was asked to move onto another instrument, as it suited the needs of the band, so he did move. not one up, or one below, but right down into the basement, and onto the biggest instrument in the band, the B flat bass! Now this is a massive leap, and if you don’t understand this, then try it for yourself. Having a good tone is the target for all musical instrument playing, especially in brass playing where more than one factor influences the tone, and this move of Alfie’s required a whole new approach. There is a lot of resistance when you blow into a cornet, so your breaths last longer.

When you move to a larger instrument, that resistance lessens, and so you have to draw more breath. Also, because of the size of a B flat bass, the matter of pitching the note becomes a bigger issue, because the breath has to be controlled carefully, with no resistance to it, and if not done correctly, the note will be out of tune, and that matters just as much in the basement as it does at the top of the band. So how has Alfie done? I’ll tell you how he’s done. Very well. For a start, he’s still there so what does that tell you without words? He has fit into the bass section well, as part of the team, and down there it’s all teamwork, especially with breathing. He backs up the other two B flat basses. George Hanson and Chris Carter, and those two are a real pairing. Also supporting the E flat basses too, ie Beth and Sam, so all in all, and without many words, he’s just got stuck into it. Thanks Alfie, and it’s not often I compliment another bass player, but I have to take off my hat to him.

D.Walsh

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Hearts and Voices for Rossendale Hospice

A WEEK after the Weavers concert we were in Blackburn at the beautifully restored Cathedral for another joint concert in aid of a very deserving cause – Rossendale Hospice. This concert was organised by Bacup born tenor Sean Ruane and his Chant productions team.
As well as being an internationally acclaimed star in his own right Sean specialises in working with local school and youth choirs. The culmination of this is a public concert. This particular event featured lots of school choirs from the Rossendale Valley together with Sean and our band. A large and magnificent venue for a concert of this kind and when it is full, as it was for this concert, the atmosphere is magical. A really good experience for the choirs, most of whom would never have performed before in such a setting and in front of such a large audience. It was the second year that we have been involved in this Hearts and Voices event and again it was a win-win situation for everyone involved, with the Hospice benefiting from the large four figure sum raised. Another one in 2017?
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Silver Stars

Our Silver Band started off a few years ago and is going from strength to strength. It began with a few parents and grandparents, some of whom had musical knowledge and some who didn’t but wanted to learn and have a go.

Now it is over 30 strong. They meet on a Monday evening to rehearse, have a brew and socialise a bit and their playing has come on in leaps and bounds.

Their first ‘public’ appearance was some 2 years ago at an ‘in house’ presentation of awards evening, but in November they provided the entertainment at a Sunday lunchtime event that the Scout section of the Group had arranged. This took the form of a 3 course ‘wartime inspired’ lunch for an invited group of local pensioners. An excellent meal presented in an efficient and courteous manner by the Scouts was greatly appreciated by all the guests. This was followed by eight pieces from the Silver Band to round it all off.

We’re told that a similar event featuring ‘Afternoon Tea’ will be held in the spring. Can’t wait.

Congratulations all round.

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Band Over the Airwaves

Once again the band have featured prominently on local radio over the festive season. BBC Radio Lancashire’s ‘Intimate Christmas’ concert again featured a live concert which was recorded and edited and broadcast on Christmas Day. The live show this year was in the Guild Hall in Preston, so no pressure on tickets then as it seats more than 2,000 people.

As well as the band, for whom this has become something of an annual feature, there were several other interesting groups performing. These included a local rock group The Paul Hayes Collection, Anchorsholme Primary Academy choir from near Blackpool, Sean Ruane, the Bacup tenor who has performed at national and international venues and sporting occasions and who now via his Chant Productions company works with many embryonic school and works choirs, and finally the BAE Aerospace Systems’ choir from nearby Warton and Samlesbury with whom Sean is also involved.

A very large audience, which included lots of patrons, enjoyed a great afternoon’s entertainment, which included most of the traditional Christmas favourites. Outside, the torrential downpour, which had started at lunchtime, continued unabated all through the afternoon. The two-hour show was edited down for a one hour slot on the radio and some of you hopefully heard it.

No recorded highlights on Christmas Eve though, as some of the band went over to the studios in Blackburn to appear live on their popular ‘Dial a Carol’ show in the afternoon. People rang in with a request and a dedication and the band duly obliged live on air. After finishing there at 4pm, they then went on to the East Lancs Hospice in Blackburn to play carols and requests for the patients and their families.

This was the second year the band has done this and it was really appreciated by everyone there.

And finally… we weren’t completely finished with Radio Lancashire as they showed up at the Scout HQ on New Year’s Eve.

Their live ‘12 Days of Christmas’ programme needed 12 drummers drumming and who better to do this than our own percussion section. Thanks for the opportunities Radio Lancashire and we’ll meet up again with you at Windsor in the Spring.

Intimate Xmas 2015

On Song at Salesbury

After all the CD rehearsing and recording, it was good to get back to the normal run of the mill music at the concert at Salisbury. It was our second time playing there and it came with two added bonuses.

Firstly there was the addition of the Salesbury junior school choir. There’s nothing quite like a lot of young children singing their hearts out and they got a tremendous ovation from the full church.

Secondly, and this was the real highlight of the evening for me, was the soprano singer Victoria Chesterton with her rendition of ‘I dreamed a Dream’ from Les Miserables. It was fantastic. She expressed an interest in singing with the band again, so there’s an offer we can’t refuse. All in all a great night with the band getting stronger and stronger.

Although we had one or two people missing on the night we were fortunate to be able to call on quality replacements. The band’s associate conductor Phil McAuley played on the front row – he’s a former championship section player and how it shows. We also had the Principal euphonium player from Brighouse & Rastrick and what a tone he has, and fin- ally Gareth Henderson on B flat bass. This can only fire up our own players to get better and better.

Walshy

 

Lest We Forget

For several years now Remembrance Weekend has always been a double header with us going to play for our good friends at Worsley URC on the Saturday evening and then playing for the parade and service on Remembrance day in Rawtenstall.

Same again this year but following on from last year’s attempt to get a quart into a pint pot there was an entrance by ticket only policy at Worsley.

It was a complete sell out – not a seat to be had. Same culinary offerings in evidence though with pies, crisps, vol-au-vents, chicken wings, Danish pastries and cream cakes and more all adding to the night’s enjoyment. It’s a firm favourite with the band and long may it continue. The following day found us in Rawtenstall where unusually, due to the inclement weather (it was pouring down), the parade through the town was cancelled with the whole proceedings taking place inside St Mary’s Church rather than outside round the cenotaph.

The acoustics in the church are very conducive to the brass band sound and several hymns were played as the pews were filling up thus giving the band the chance to warm up and also to add to the solemn but positive nature of the occasion.

 

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