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.


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.



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.




And The Band Played On

Summer used to be the closed season with no band jobs planned and only a fairly laid back session on a Wednesday evening for anyone who wanted to turn up.

Not so anymore – particularly this year. Serious rehearsals on a Wednesday to get ourselves up to scratch for the CD recording we have planned for the first weekend in October.

Ding Dong Merrily and Rockin around the Christmas tree have produced looks of amazement and head scratching as they have wafted out over Burnley Rd in August but after all we are nearer to next Christmas than last.

Small groups of players also performed at a school summer fete, an afternoon tea party to raise funds for the Hospice, a wedding and a funeral.

We also had a visit from the BBC. Radio 4’s “In Touch” programme is a 20-minute weekly programme for and about people with sight loss and they came to rehearsal one Wednesday to talk to band members and Graham about the issues involved in being in a band with a conductor who is blind.

The programme was broadcast two weeks later. Before we realised it was September and the traditional curtain raiser at the Bridgewater followed by Chorley in the evening.

The Best Second Hand Deal in History…

A combination of Black Dyke’s Besson quality and Band Supplies outstanding service has seen the triple champion’s instruments find new homes in record time…

“Without doubt the most successful second-hand deal in history.”

That’s the opinion of Band Supplies MD Ronnie Tennant, after the respected retailer sold its complete stock of Black Dyke pre-owned Besson instruments in record time.

Nothing quite like it

“We have experienced nothing quite like it in the 30 years,” Ronnie told 4BR. “As soon as the news went up on 4BR we were inundated with calls and e-mails from all over the banding world. Players and bands just wanted to get their hands on instruments played by Black Dyke.”

First to go were the quartet of Besson Sovereign tubas – to a new home at the 2nd Rosendale Scout Group Band – quickly followed by the sale of the horns, euphoniums, baritones and cornets to all parts of the globe.

‘We had a great deal – and we have four of the happiest tuba players you can imagine’~ MD, Graham Helm

Couldn’t believe luck

MD Graham Helm told 4BR he couldn’t believe his luck after being told that the instruments were available at the Band Supplies shop in Leeds.

“We had been hoping to get our hands on a complete tuba set for some time,” he said. “Out of the blue came this offer – and with the Black Dyke connection we knew they would be cracking instruments.

We were not disappointed at all. Band Supplies had given them a complete overhaul and so it was just a question of getting to Leeds to give them the once over.

We had a great deal – and we have four of the happiest tuba players you can imagine. All this and we didn’t have to pay an import tax to get them from Yorkshire to Lancashire, so our Treasurer is even happy!”

Fantastic opportunity

Band Supplies Manager Chris Tudball added: “This really has been a fantastic opportunity for players to get their hands on superb instruments – all with that added provenance of being played by the Triple champions.

It also shows that Black Dyke, Besson and Band Supplies is also a trio that cannot be beaten for quality either!”



Durham Delights

Second Saturday in July – must be Durham time again for the Durham Miners’ Gala. Once again we’re playing for Horden a former pit village on the coast.

Coal mining has substantially ended in Durham these days but the tradition of the Gala lives on with many pit villages processing through Durham accompanied by their banner and a band. This was our third year there and we never cease to be amazed at the size of the crowds, the community spirit of the villagers and the welcome we get from “our” village As ever the weather was great and the response of the crowds outside the County Hotel where we played our specially rehearsed piece was overwhelming.

Here is a review of events.

Well, Durham came and Durham went! As expected, it was a massive day, and is more than adequately depicted on YouTube, so I will not go on about it, except that is to thank everyone in and around the band for all the effort put into it.

Once again, the band has excelled itself, not just musically, but all that choreography in front of the County Hotel balcony was a wonder to behold. Band members must surely have been feeling the strain by now, especially those with lower and larger instruments, percussion too. Good to see an exultant Dan Povey back on the banger! He has been missed since his departure to the university at Exeter, but like several other old boys – and girls – of the band, they just keep finding their way back, so thank you all of you. The march up to the field went down well, then some needed respite for a couple of hours before the return. ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ as played in front of the balcony, then up to the steps and stones for a second mini con- cert to a cheering crowd. Retracing our steps to the starting, (and finishing point), we got back on the coach and off to our host village Horden, where a very emotional three verses of the miners’ hymn Gresford, was rendered, with not a few tears being shed in a small but appreciative crowd. I suppose it’s not easy for outsiders like ourselves to really know just how much the mines meant to these villages and towns, but there was much raw emotion bub- bling to the surface throughout.



Whit Friday 2015

On Friday 29th May the band once again took part in the annual Whit Friday march contests in Saddleworth. Congratulations to the Band for 7 excellent performances of our march ‘Montreal Citadel’ during the course of the evening, and thank you for the hard work everyone has put in over the last few weeks during rehearsals as it has most certainly paid off.

Results are as follows

Scouthead – 1st Youth Band Prize
Friezland – 1st Youth Band Prize
Diggle – 1st Youth Band Prize
Delph – 2nd Youth Band Prize
Lydgate – 2nd Youth Band Prize
Lees – 2nd Youth Band Prize
Dobcross – Best Youth Trombone Section



New Warrington venue a big hit

IN MAY we played a new venue and some new music at St Wilfrid’s Church, Grappenhall in Warrington.

This was a beautiful old church near the canal and two pubs, and I can’t think of a nicer venue.

The concert started with “When Thunder Calls”, with the band marching in to the church to the drumming, heavy end first. This was the audience’s first encounter with the band, and they were really impressed.


Next up came James Turner’s new cornet solo ‘Lazy Trumpeter’, so relaxed and laid back this piece, a complete contrast to the opener. They loved it.

We were then treated to ‘Water of Tyne’, a lovely slow melody this, and it includes some delicate ensemble work for the middle of the band, with some appropriately placed pedals from the basses along the way, suited as it was to the acoustic of the venue.

A contrast then, with the Bette Midler song ‘Wind Beneath My Wings’, from the film Beaches, arranged by Sandy Shore(?). Again some lovely playing and especially noteworthy was some good soprano playing by Jenni Davies, placing some really high notes and sounding great. Jenni has been with our band for several years now, and she is a real stalwart.

Our next soloist is Harry Fonseca, a real showman, who plays bass trombone, not only with us but the National Youth Brass Band and the Black Dyke trombone quartet, no less. His offering was ‘If I were a Rich Man’, from Fiddler on the Roof. This has been “given the treatment”, so to speak, to transform it into a showpiece, where he has both high and low notes, with a final cadenza that can only be described as subterranean! It is a pleasure to listen, and again, the audience were astounded by his talent.

To conclude the first half then, we had our own commissioned piece, ‘Flanders Field’ an evocative nod to the First World War.

During the interval I made it my goal to ask as many as I could about their thoughts on the band, and without embarking on a glorious invective, I can safely say that we will be going there again.

I have to mention here a special guest who was sitting next but one to me, Hilda, a widowed lady who has become a family friend of ours, and who is a regular visitor to my daughter Melanie, one of three I have in that locality.

Hilda has heard a lot about us and has become a Patron of the band. She used to be in films, you know, and has a lot of memories of famous thespians. Another person who deserves a mention is Sam Booth on third cornet, for whom this was his first proper concert, so well done Sam. His mother Tammy was there to see him, so it was Hilda, Tammy and Hilda. That’s enough of that anyway. The second half started with the whole cornet section lined up across the front of the band to play ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’, a nod to the 70 years since the end of the Second World War.

This went down really well, and was followed by contrast by the haunting ‘Schindler’s List’ If you’ve seen the film, you’ll know exactly what to expect, again some good ensemble playing, and a great double pedal A at the end.The bass section is really shaping up now, with the B flat bass partners sorted, all three of them, although we have yet to install an E flat partner for our principal E flat bass, Beth Woodcock. Beth is a great girl, and has really adopted the work ethic of the section, in order to provide a good foundation for the band, and this bodes well for the future. Thanks Beth.


Our next piece was nothing less than a real tour-de-force ‘Children of Sanchez’ featuring our flugel horn soloist Josh Brown.

Josh is another product of our band, and what a player he is. This piece starts very slow and quiet, but developed into a real white knuckle ride, with lots of florid musicality, and having listened to it from the front, for the first time, I was just blown away. He has such facility with what is a technically demanding piece, yet it appears so effortless, it really amazed the listeners. I’ve heard him play for years from the back of the band, but I’m hearing so much more now.

On top of all this is the example he sets for the young players, and he sits in good company with people like Oliver and Luke, both past principals and also George our Principal B flat bass player, and there are others too.


This solo was followed by an upbeat arrangement of the Meghan Trainor pop song ‘All about the Bass’. What can I say? It woke up the bass end and the audience, that’s for sure. I think the percussionists were put through their paces too. Ave Maria, our special arrangement was played next, and this always sounds good, it demands fine and controlled blowing to get the right ensemble effect, and it did go down very well as a tribute to a very special person, who we have talked about before.

Our last solo was ‘Bare Necessities’ from George, previously mentioned, but now sporting the E flat bass, it made him look twice as big. And it sounds great too. George plays any instrument from baritone down and both tenor and bass trombones, but his real niche is on B flat bass, he can really fill it, with a great upper register and pedalling ability too, but then he had a fair teacher!

His solo, from the ‘The Jungle Book’, requires a certain comedic element, and on this night, George excelled himself. He even made me laugh and that wants some doing. It’s true to say that I have not laughed out loud a lot since the time I ordered a DVD entitled ‘How to Handle Disappointment’, and when I got the package it was empty on opening.


Finally, in another nod to the British Spirit as displayed in the Second World War, we had a medley of wartime songs entitled ‘Keep Smiling through’, with only people of a certain age truly appreciating the content. After rapturous applause and shouts for more, more, more, the band duly obliged with an encore of ‘Hokey Cokey’, which we have previously described. The whole evening was a great success, not just musically, but with the way Graham handles the listeners, he really can work the crowd and it is only when you go to other bands’ concerts that you can see what a gem he is.

The way the band deports itself too, is very impressive, and a lot of this is down to Mike Warwick’s guidance and the players’ desire to please. Not a lot more to be said. A great night and enjoyed by all.



Walshy Says Farewell to Band

After many, many years sitting on the back row with his beloved Bass, Dave Walsh has finally called time on his playing career with the band.

The example he has set and the support he has provided for the band as a whole, and other younger bass players in particular, has been out- standing and the fact that we still have a full complement of players for the back row is in no small part down to Dave and the nurturing he has provided over the years.

Dave has penned his own thoughts about retiring from playing and they are as follows.


Dear Friends,

Well, that was the week that was – TW3! I completed over 14 years of service to the band on Christmas Day 2014 and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I have played alongside some of the most talented of people and I have benefited greatly from that. No names, no pack drill but it has been brilliant.

When I joined the band, we were playing fairly simple music, upgraded by some Rodney Newton works, which did set the standard that little bit higher and now we play some quite difficult music, which takes some getting into. This says a great deal about Graham our conductor, as well as the determination of the players. We played at Windsor Castle twice and I went on tour three times with numerous short trips to Bocholt in Germany. We have had a lot of highs in that time and sadly a few lows when we have lost people that we loved dearly and who were an integral part of the band, but as life goes on, these sad times will be overtaken. I have no doubt at all that the band is set to improve further.

We have an excellent musical director in Graham Helm and his back-up associate conductor Phil McAuley. We have a great band manager in Mike Warwick who deals with all non- musical matters and gets the band organised, getting up to all the concerts and other things we do and takes care of more stuff behind the scenes than we could ever know about. Our band is unique and self-sustaining drawing on local talent mainly, but with a few imports from neighbouring towns such as me from Burnley, with two family members. I am looking forward to seeing the band go from strength-to-strength with new look sections as people come through the ranks from the Training and Junior Bands. The work done by Steve Burgess, Josh Brown and Jenni Davies in these areas cannot be measured and all of them are committed heavily to Senior Band as well.

So thank you guys, I am more than confident in the future of this great and unique band. It has only one failure and that is we don’t shout loudly enough about what we accomplish here in Bacup. It was the right time for my to decide to retire as I have struggled to maintain my own playing standards, which has been absolutely vital for me to be able to bark at my fellow bass players. And I have barked, they will confirm that. I intend to be fully involved with the behind the scenes work and I will always encourage players to aspire to higher standards. They can do it if they try, and practice will make perfect. So thanks everyone and just keep going – onwards and upwards!