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!




Patrons’ Concert is Huge Success

A NEW venue this year with us going to St Mary’s Church in Rawtenstall but it didn’t affect the attendance – another full house for our Thank You concert for patrons who have supported us over the year.
This year we were delighted to welcome guest soloist, violinist Tom Bangbala from the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra who was accompanied by his pianist wife Alison.

We now have over 200 patrons and this year your annual membership subs and donations have provided us with well over £3000. A really big thank you for that. As for the concert – well Hilda was there assiduously taking notes and here is the verdict.

This was a departure from the norm of brass band concerts and certainly, for me, a first! After the obligatory housekeeping announcements, the band started up with ‘When Thunder Calls’ – always an impressive opener, where the band walks on, section by section, to a drum beating. This lends itself to the acoustics presented in that venue. Next we had the band’s principal cornetist, James Turner, to play ‘Buster Strikes Back’. James has taken on this heavy mantle of leading the band in a great way, he is very talented and becoming a fine player with a beautiful cornet tone, a real credit to the band, his family and himself!

Next up were our our two euphonium players, Tom Kershaw and Ryan Bolton, to play ‘Softly As I Leave You’, an old Matt Monro favourite. This was made famous in the brass band world by the Childs brothers Bob and Nick, whose names are synonymous with musical excellence! Next, the band played ‘Ave Maria’, and that was very moving, for the reasons given in my last blog.

Now we have our excursion into the unknown for our band, a soloist on violin! Tom Bangbala is very well known in the orchestral world, and I’m going to leave it at that. He played music by Bach and Kreustler, hope that is spelt right? He was accompanied by his wife on piano, she also is an accomplished musician, a double blessing for us? Yes. The first half was then rounded off by the emotive ‘Flanders Fields’, a commission by our band to celebrate the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. This piece has narrative and graphic visual accompaniment and is massively evocative!

The second half started with Steve Burgess and the Junior band, playing three short pieces, ‘Cat Came Back’, ‘Clementi Sonata’ and ‘Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho’. Steve B. is not one to hog the limelight, but what he has done with this band, and what he continues to do with this band is remarkable! So I did remark on it! The unseen benefits of his labour are a ready source of new talent to feed upwards into the senior band, and the opening up of places for those in the training band to move on up, a veritable conveyor belt of talent! Thanks Steve for all your hard work. Then came our guest soloist, this time with music from Bach and Manuel De Falla, respectively, ‘a Partita’ and then ‘Andalucía’. Tom is not only a great musician, but a staunch advocate of classical music, especially Bach’s, which he claims cannot be surpassed. No argument there, then. His son Joseph plays trombone in both senior and junior bands, so that speaks for itself, res ipsa loquitur. Tom’s final offering was the ‘Theme from Schindler’s List’, an allusion to WW2. This is a very haunting melody, and is such that some people, including me, wondered how it would meld with the brass band sound. As it happens, the brass accompaniment was very sympathetic to the strings of his violin, over 300 years old his instrument on the night, you don’t get many of those!

The band then played ‘Keep Smiling’ Through, a medley of second world wars tunes, and this had the audience tapping and clapping along to the beat. A word to describe the audience? Captivated, well, they were nearly all patrons so they would be yes? The encore was the ‘Hokey Cokey’, starting off with a few bars of Rossini’s ‘William Tell’, then doing a musical shape shift, with different sections of the band featured, again starting with the heavy end and working upwards to finish on the cornets and soprano. They loved it! This piece, though, is best played out in an arena of some sort, where the sections move one by one into the middle to perform. Who can ever forget those magnificent trombone shenanigans, glad-handing and high fiving on their part? What a performance! Again, a fabulous concert, with a lot of feedback from the audience. Hilda’s Highlights? I liked all the music, and in a venue like this, it came over very well. Again, long may it continue.

Hilda V Dawes