"The Lowdown 2" - A closer look at the Scottish Regional Championships
this weekend in Falkirk.
by Kenny Crookston
The Scottish Championships returns to Falkirk this weekend for
the first time since 1998. Defending champions and perennial favourites
C.W.S (Glasgow) will naturally approach the contest with confidence.
Their terrific consistency of the 90's has taken a bit of a dip
lately and they are entering a new era following the departure of
messrs Mead and Webster.
They have, however, made some high profile appointments lately
and Nick Childs will be doing his utmost to inspire them to the
heights of their illustrious predecessors. David Childs needs no
introduction to the brass band public and his performance in the
band's 6th placed performance at the RAH can only have boosted his
already phenomenal reputation. Hedley Benson, on Solo Cornet, has
a terrific record in the Scottish - played 1, won 1. This was with
Whitburn in 1999 when he also picked up the medal for best cornetist,
ironically depriving Roger Webster of his 6th successive such accolade
in the process. A number of other personnel changes around the band
mean that C.W.S are in slightly uncharted waters but they are always
a terrifically strong band, especially in the basses and trombones,
and they will be difficult to depose.
Last year's runners-up, UNISON Kinneil have also seen a number
of changes since their slightly disappointing performance in London.
They will be conducted for the first time by John Hinckley and have
the highly experienced Hugh Foster on top man. His lyrical style
should be ideally suited to the Eddie Calvert solo and the band's
mixture of youth and experience throughout will again put them amongst
the likely contenders.
Whitburn have a lot of recovering to do following a disappointing
end to 2000. Their European performance last year was outstanding
but 17th place at the British Open and a below par performance at
Spennymoor has led to a number of changes within the organisation
and personnel of the band. Rhodri Thomas makes his debut on Principal
Cornet and 17 year old Kay McKenzie is now taking charge of the
Soprano seat. There is still tremendous experience around the band
and Phillip McCann will be calling upon 60 combined years of service
from Chris Bradley (Flugel and Resident Conductor), Iain Fleming
(Horn), Evelyn Bradley (Euphonium), Anne Crookston (Baritone) and
Mark Boyd (Trombone) to deal with the difficult solo work in Jazz.
Whitburn's record in the Scottish over the last 33 years is quite
amazing. They have finished 5th twice and have been in the frame
on every other occasion, winning 14 times and any deviation from
this kind of form would be a major surprise.
Kirkintilloch have been close on a number of occasions since they
last won in 1990 and their 4th prize in 2000 was a major shock as
many in the audience had them as likely winners on the day. They
have made good progress under Resident Conductor Alan Ramsay but
Frank Renton will again be at the helm and he will be brimming with
confidence after winning the Midlands region with Travelsphere.
Richard Bromley is a highly talented cornet player who has now amassed
a hatful of solo prizes amongst his many contest wins with Kirky
and he will be one of the favourites to win the highly coveted Terris
Medal. Alan Wardrope is one of the country's finest horn players,
he was in fact the Scottish Solo Champion in 1999, and he will be
one of the few who will handle the fiendishly difficult horn part
It is likely that the qualifiers will come from the above four
bands but Richard Evans (Dalmellington), Ray Farr (Newtongrange)
and Thomas Wyss (Kingdom Brass) are all highly capable of leading
their bands into the frame. Kingdom Brass have progressed well since
their formation from the amalgamation of Cowdenbeath and Kelty &
Blairadam Bands. The new Scottish Solo Champion, Lee Bathgate, will
again be on top cornet there and he is renowned for his stylish
melodic playing. Another strong contender for the cornet medal.
Colin Hardy has been given the difficult job of sorting this lot
out. An extremely close contest at the top is most likely with the
two qualifiers probably coming from the usual three - CWS, Kirkintilloch
and Whitburn - in alphabetical order !
In Section 1, Bo'ness and Carriden are favourites to make a swift
return to the Championship Section. They have worked hard to overcome
the disappointment of relegation last year and Tony Swainson has
more than enough experience to lead them back to their rightful
place among Scotland's finest. Johnstone Silver (Raymond Tennant)
have enjoyed good form lately and must stand a fair chance of qualifying
for the finals again. An name of note on the conductors list in
this section is David James (UDI Aberdeen City) who will be doing
his best to get one over his old BBC colleague Tony Swainson. Annan
Town (David Shanks) have made rapid progress through the sections
and they may be a good outside bet. Ian Craddock will adjudicate.
The 2nd Section has one of the most fascinating line-ups of them
all. Kirkintilloch Kelvin and Livingston Brass totally dominated
last year's 3rd Section finals in the RAH, indeed they provided
Scotland's first ever 1-2. They are head-to-head again this week
and along with Kilmarnock Concert and Irvine & Dreghorn will be
likely be amongst those fighting it out for the qualifying positions.
The adjudicator is John Maines.
The 3rd Section could be a tough test for adjudicator Ian Craddock.
Clydebank are fresh from 4th Section success last year and along
with North Ayrshire Brass, Tullis Russell and the highly progressive
St. Ronan's from the Borders may be the main names in the melting
The 4th Section in Scotland is traditionally a place of quick escape
for progressive young bands. Bon Accord 'B' and Drumblade both come
into that category and could be expected to succeed. Jedforrest
have Alan Fernie conducting and he is no stranger to success, especially
in the lower sections. Colin Hardy adjudicates.