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Spennymoor Awaits the 2002 Entertainers

The Spennymoor Leisure Centre on Sunday 17th November sees the last major contest of the year, when 11 top bands take part in the UK’s premier Entertainment Contest – The Brass in Concert Championships.

Although not all the top bands in the country are in attendance (there are no ticks in the register this year for 7 of the 4BR top 10 ranked bands - BAYV Cory, Williams Fairey, YBS, Brighouse and Rastrick, Tredegar and Whitburn, plus those perennial absentees, Black Dyke), there is still enough quality on stage to make ensure the contest’s status as the top entertainment show in the country. Started in 1977 it is now in it’s 26th year – testament to the enduring quality of the organisation and hard work of by the likes of Jacqueline and Paul Beere who have put body and soul into making sure that the contest is once again a sell out.

This year sees a line up of (in playing order) of Fodens Richardson, Leyland, Sellers International, Ever Ready, Yorkshire Imperial David Urquhart Band, Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal, Carlton Main Frickley Colliery, The Ransome Band, JAG Mount Charles, Kirkintilloch and Besses O’ th’ Barn. Pretty good value in anyone’s book and bands that all can show off in all sorts of ways to try and catch the ears of the adjudicators Nigel Boddice and Wing Commander Rob Wiffen, whilst the soloists will have to try and impress Roy Roe. The entertainment factor – worth 60 points to add to the possible 200 for performance – and one that can effect the result will this year be judged by Roy Sparkes and Barry Thompson.

Plenty of prizes on offer, from a trophy for the youngest player on the day to one for the best new arrangement or composition to one for the neatest package of musical scores and notes. That’s entertainment folks!

The usual points will be up for grabs with 200 points on offer for the music itself and 60 for entertainment and presentation to give a wining score out of 260. As usual there will be plenty of debate about the latter as in 2000 Grimethorpe won the music section by 2 clear points from eventual winners Fodens and by 4 from second placed Leyland and still came 3rd, whilst last year they scored a perfect 60 out of 60 for entertainment (something even the latest Harry Potter film would struggle to achieve) It’s all about what makes the judges happy though – and that’s the essence of any great brass band contest.

The last couple of years have seen a return to entertainment programmes that rely more on musical good taste rather than the type of showing off you can see on a Saturday night on the BBC’s “Fame Academy” and that has been a move in the right direction. There was a distinct possibility that strippers or the inappropriate use of dumb animals (much the same thing really) was on the cards. Thankfully, a quiet word in the shell like of the bands from Roy Newsome put a stop to that (a shame we can hear some people in dirty macs say), so nowadays the best band will usually be the one that plays the best.

That being said, we did have the brilliant Laurel and Hardy routine from Grimethorpe last year, so look out for some clever thinking from the bands.

The quality of the soloists on offer will be an undoubted highlight, whilst the number of new arrangements of fairly obscure orchestral pieces will again show the poverty of our own brass band repertoire. Spennymoor awaits the entertainers – lets hope none get paid off.

The contest starts at 9.30am prompt with a 10-minute rule for the competing bands to adhere to when setting up on stage. It should end about 6.30pm.

Lots of great prizes up for grabs as well, with a top prize of £2000, followed by £1500, £1000 £500 and £250. Th top soloist gets £100 whilst the “Quality Performance Award” gets £600. The best bit of new music will get £500 and youngest player on the day will get a boost to the pocket money to buy the latest CD’s of £200.

The Competing Bands:

Yorkshire Imperial David Urquhart Band
4BR Ranking: 16
Conductor: David Evans

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 18
Debut: 1981
Best Result: Winners: 1995.
Second place: 1981, 1985.
Third place: 1984, 1986.
Fourth place: 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992.
Fifth place: 1987, 1990, 1997.
Sixth place: 1994.
Unplaced: 1993 – 7th, 1996 – 8th, 1998 – 9th, 1999 – 12th, 2001 – 9th.
Worst Result: 12th place 1999.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 9th: 2000 – DNE: 1999 – 12th: 1998 – 9th: 1997 – 5th: 1996 – 8th.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 8th: Masters – 15th: Open – 7th: Nationals - DNQ.

David Evans continues to do good work with Imps and the 7th place at the Open confirmed that they are moving in the right direction. Didn’t qualify for London, although they did field nearly half a new band at the Area and they were solid enough at the Masters. Lots of quality players around the stand – especially on solo cornet and this should see them put in a good show.

A fine record here in their 18 appearances, with a memorable win under Alan Exely in 1995 the highlight. Up to 1996 they were only ever out of the top six twice, but they have suffered a little since. 9th last year should be the spur to see them perform better, although we hope they don’t go for the Jungle Book stuff of last year to catch the judges eye’s – it didn’t work.

Last Year’s Programme:
Apres un Reve
Galop – Shostokovitch
Washington Grays
I Want to be Like You
Gael Force

4BR Ranking: 13
Conductor: Allan Ramsey

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 1
Debut: 2001
Best Result: 5th - 2001
Worst Result: 5th - 2001
Last 6 years: 2001 – 5th
2002 Form Guide: Area – 1st: Open – 12th: National – 14th: Dunfermline – 1st: Whitburn – 3rd.

Kirkintilloch continue to lead the way in Scotland and 2002 has once more seen them play with solidity and a fair amount of flair. A fine win at the Areas was followed up by 12th at the Open and 14th at the Nationals – both fair results, whilst they also won at Dunfermline and came third at the Whitburn contest.

Last year they made their debut here and out on a real fine show to come 5th. They used material from their well-received CD, “Summon the Heroes” and deserved their high placing. Rumours are they have been well prepared once more under the baton of Allan Ramsey, so they could be a band to watch out for.

Last Year’s Programme:
Hallelujah Parade
Hymn to the Fallen
Backseat Driver
Summon the Heroes

4BR Ranking: 9
Conductor: Chris Davis

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 18
Debut: 1982
Best Result: Winners – 1989, 1991, 1992, 1997.
Second place: 1984, 1993, 1998, 2000.
Third place: 1982, 1983, 1988, 1994, 1999.
Fourth place: 1985, 1987, 1995, 2001.
Fifth place: 1986.
Worst Result: 5th place 1986.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 4th: 2000 – 2nd: 1999 – 3rd: 1998 – 2nd: 1997 – 1st: 1996 – DNE.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 3rd: Masters – 7th: Open – 11th: National – 15th.

Leyland are continuing to show signs of good strong health, and have benefited from the work of Garry Cutt and the freelance euph work of Riki MacDonnell in 2002. They played well at the Areas and followed up with solid if rather unspectacular shows in the majors. It could have been better, but overall it was a fair return for them.

A brilliant record here, what with four wins under Richard Evans and a worse result of only 5th place in 18 outings – some record. They have opted for the rather unknown talents of Chris Davis from the Army this year, so look out for plenty of disciplined playing, whilst they will want to at least repeat last years result. Plenty of classy players and each year they do come up with one or two hidden gems from their talented arrangers. Could well feature highly again.

Last Year’s Programme:
Under the White Ensign
Bluebells of Scotland
The Catskills
Helter Skelter
Finale – Symphony No1 - Mahler

The Ransome Band
4BR Ranking: 15
Conductor: Peter Parkes

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 7
Debut: 1977
Best Result: 5th place – 2000.
Fifth place: 2000
Sixth place: 1998, 1999.
Unplaced: 1977 – 8th, 1978 – 9th, 1979 – 10th, 2001 – 7th.
Worst Result: 10th place 1979.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 7th: 2000 – 5th: 1999 – 6th: 1998 – 6th: 1997 – DNE: 1996 – DNE.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 5th: Masters – 10th: Open – DNQ: National – DNQ: Grand Shield – 5th.

A disappointing year so far for the band that promised so much in 2001. Things didn’t get off to a good start at the Areas, although they pout in a decent show at the Masters to come 10th. The main aim was surely to get back to the Open, but they were denied at the Grand Shield and came 5th – which meant no trip to either Birmingham or London. They have had time therefore to prepare for this one and with talent around the stands, especially on horn and trom they could do well.

Peter Parkes takes the reins and conducts here for the first time since 1987 (although in the early 1980’s he used to take two bands at a time here). Ransomes make their 8th appearance this year with only a best of 5th in 2000 to show for their effort so far. It may be a touch beyond them this year to repeat that again.

Last Year’s Programme:
Carmina Burana
Mumbo Jumbo
The Elephant
Concert Etude
Symphony No 3 - Khachaturian

Ever Ready
4BR Ranking: 18
Conductor: Ray Farr

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 25
Debut: 1977
Best Result: 4th place – 1977.
Fourth Place: 1977
Fifth place: 1978, 1983.
Sixth place: 1984.
Unplaced: 1979 – 9th, 1980 – 8th, 1981 – equal 7th, 1982 – 10th, 1985 – 8th, 1986 – 7th, 1987 – 7th, 1988 – 9th, 1989 – 9th, 1990 – 9th, 1991 – 9th, 1992 – 12th, 1993 – 11th, 1994 – 7th, 1995 – 7th, 1996 – 10th, 1997 – 11th, 1998 – 7th, 1999 – 11th, 2000 – 7th, 2001 –10th.
Worst Result: 12th place 1992.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 10th: 2000 – 7th: 1999 – 11th: 1998 – 7th: 1997 – 11th: 1996 – 10th.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 1st: Masters – 13th: Open – 15th: National – 9th: Durham County – 1st.

A good solid year for Ever Ready – or Ever Present as they could be called for this contest. Never missed a Brass in Concert since the very start in 1977, but in 25 attempts they only have a best of 4th in the inaugural contest (under one Walter Hargreaves) to show as their best.

The year started well with a win at the Area for the umpteenth time before solid shows at the Masters, Open and then a classy outing at the Nationals under Ray Farr. This could well be the trump card for the band this year as it has been a good relationship and Mr Farr certainly knows what it takes to win here (he has done it 5 times, including 2000). A few surprises may be on offer then?

Last Year’s Programme:
Olympic Fanfare
Carnival of Venice
Nobles of the Mystic Shrine
My Funny Valentine
On the Track
American Carnival

Fodens Richardson
4BR Ranking: 2
Conductor: Russell Gray

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 13
Debut: 1983
Best Result: Winners: 1987, 1988, 1990, 1998, 2000.
Second place: 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001.
Third place: 1991.
Fourth place: 1983, 1984.
Sixth place: 1986.
Worst Result: 6th place 1986.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 2nd: 2000 – 1st: 1999 – 2nd: 1998 – 1st: 1997 – 2nd: 1996 – 2nd.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 1st: Masters – 1st: Open – 2nd: National – 4th:

Could Spennymoor crown the year with another win for Fodens under Russell Gray – it seems to be a wonderful partnership at the moment and they do have a 100% record of success so far. It would also make up for the undoubted disappointment of not winning either the Open or Nationals – but that’s contesting for you. All the talent you could possibly hope for is around the stand – it will be a question possibly how they best use it.

A superb record here, from the days of Howard Snell, through Nick Childs, Ray Farr and now Russell Gray. They will surely be a band to beat here as they have either won or come second on their last six outings. It could be something special indeed.

Last Year’s Programme:
Alabamy Bound
The Children of Sanchez
The Cup of Life

Sellers International
4BR Ranking: 19
Conductor: Philip McCann

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 9
Debut: 1991
Best Result: Third place: 1992, 2001
Fifth place: 1993, 1999.
Sixth place: 2000.
Unplaced: 1991 – 8th, 1996 – 9th, 1997 – 7th, 1998 – 8th.
Worst Result: 9th place – 1996.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 3rd: 2000 – 6th: 1999 – 5th: 1998 – 8th: 1997 – 7th: 1996 – 9th.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 6th: Masters – 4th: Open – DNQ: National – DNQ: Grand Shield – 7th.

2002 has seen Sellers back on track to becoming a force in the contesting world once more – a well overdue return and one that has been spearheaded by Philip McCann - incidentally starting here last year when they came 3rd. A good show at the Area was followed by an excellent outing at the Masters. The aim to get to the Open failed with a disappointing Grand Shield, so there was no Open or Nationals to look forward to. This has left plenty of rehearsal time for this one then.

A solid record here in their 9 appearances so far, with two thirds to show for as their best – both under Mr McCann. Lots of quality soloists – especially on euph will put them in with a fair chance of repeating last year’s result.

Last Year’s Programme:
Overture to Lawrence Of Arabia
In Trutina
I Love a Parade
In the Wee Small Hours
Hornpipe Humoresque
Reunion and Finale from Gettysburg

Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal
4BR Ranking: 7
Conductor: Garry Cutt

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 22
Debut: 1977
Best Result: Winners: 1977, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1983, 1986, 1993, 1994, 1999, 2001.
Second place: 1978, 1982, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1995.
Third place: 1985, 1987, 1990, 2000.
Fourth place: 1996.
Worst Result: 4th place 1996.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 1st: 2000 – 3rd: 1999 – 1st: 1998 – DNE: 1997 – DNE: 1996 – 4th.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 2nd: Open – 14th: National – 7th.

How Grimey could wish to repeat their form here every year on all the other contest stages they play on. 2002 has been a massive disappointment at the Majors for the lads, although it must be said they never looked like winning anything under Mr Goulays baton – it never seemed to be a combination that gelled.

Spennymoor however is a happy hunting ground for the band – right from the days of Fred Partlett who took the band to success in 1977 through Ray Farr, David James and Garry Cutt. They almost seem unbeatable here and have brought more original works of music and slap stick than anyone can care to remember. On their day they are as close to a professional entertainment outfit as you could ever wish to see or hear. Garry Cutt returns (a wise move we think) and this could just prove to be the catalyst for yet another triumph.

Last Year’s Programme:
The Agincourt Song
Mambo Calienet
Eleanor Rigby
Another Fine Mess
Barbarian Horde from The Gladiator

Besses O’ th’ Barn
4BR Ranking: 20
Conductor: Lynda Nicholson

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 21
Debut: 1977
Best Result: 4th place 1993:
Fifth place: 1984, 1985.
Sixth place: 1977, 1982.
Unplaced: 1979 – 8th, 1980 – 7th, 1981 – 9th, 1983 – 9th, 1986 – 8th, 1987 – 9th, 1988 – 7th, 1989 – 10th, 1990 – 7th, 1991 – 11th, 1992 – 8th, 1994 – 11th, 1995 – 9th, 1999 – 9th, 2000 – 10th, 2001 – 11th.
Worst Result: 11th in 1991, 1994, 2001.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 11th: 2000 – 10th: 1999 – 9th: 1998 – DNE: 1997 – DNE: 1996- DNE.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 4th: Masters – 11th: Open – 13th: National – 13th:

Besses are making the right progress under Lynda Nicholson for sure – right from winning a place back at the Nationals by coming 4th at the Areas to solid performances at the Masters, Open and London. Perhaps the youngest band on show here, they will be full of energy and talent for sure. It may be beyond them to come in the prizes this time, but they will surely be confident of improving on last year’s last place.

Another band that has been year just about every year – including appearances under the likes of Ifor James, Alec Evans, Sandy Blair and Paul Hindmarsh. 4th place under Alec Evans in 1993 has been their best in 21 outings and although we can’’t see that being the case this time, they should take a few scalps.

Last Year’s Programme:
Sempre Fidelis
Here’s that Rainy Day
The Ride to Ashkelon
Witches Sabbath

Carlton Main Frickley
4BR Ranking: 22
Conductor: William Rushworth

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: 9
Debut: 1977
Best Result: 4th place – 1979, 1982:
Unplaced: 1977 – 7th, 1978 – 10th, 1980 – 10th, 1981 – equal 7th, 1983 – 8th, 1984 – 8th, 2001 - 6th.
Worst Result: 10th place 1978 and 1980.
Last 6 years: 2001 – 6th.
2002 Form Guide: Area – 9th: Masters – DNC: Open – 19th: National – DNQ: SCABA – 1st.

A band that very nearly went under in 2002, Carlton Main are starting to make the right progress under William Rushworth – one time tenor horn impresario and a man who won the soloist prize here in 1995 and 1997.

The year started badly when they came way down in the Areas and they dropped out of the Masters. The Open came a bit too soon for a revival, but they impressed nonetheless and they travelled far from home recently to get that winning feeling back in the bones. Plenty of class from the soloists – especially on solo cornet should see them consolidate further here, although a repeat of their 4th places of 1979 under David James or 1982 under Denzil Stephens may be a bit much to ask. If they get close to last year’s 6th place though they will surely be very happy indeed.

Last Year’s Programme:
Peter Gunn
A Shot in the Dark
Girl Talk

JAG Mount Charles
4BR Ranking: 32
Conductor: Bryan Hurdley

Spennymoor Record Overall:
Appearances: Debut
2002 Form Guide: Area – 4th: Grand Shield – 9th: Masters – 14th: Pontins – 5th: Nationals – DNQ: Yeovil - 1st: Cornish Champs – 1st: Torquay – 1st.

The debutantes this year – JAG Mount Charles are on their day a very fine band indeed and one with talented players all through their ranks. However, come the big tests they have an uneasy habit of under performing and 2002 has been one of those years. A fine win at Yeovil should have set them up nicely, but they failed to get to London and fell away badly at the Grand Shield. The Masters saw them perform well enough, but they failed to hold onto their crown at Pontins recently. It has been the story of 2002 in a nutshell.

They do the entertainment stuff well though – and can be relied upon to bring out a few little gems of numbers to impress the judges. When they won Yeovil they did it with a swagger and style that would go down well here – if they can hold their nerves together. Don’t be surprised to be impressed.

4BR Prediction:

Entertainment Contests are notoriously hard to predict accuratley as on their day any of the bands could literally draw a white rabbit out of the hat and give the audience and judges alike a feast of entertainment last bettered only on “Opportunity Knocks” when the Great Osvaldo performed with his amazing frog xylophone.

What we will get is hard to say as the novelty items have been toned down somewhat, but the quality of the playing has greatly improved over the years. There will be the usual liberal sprinkling of new arrangements, which although welcome, highlight the paucity of original brass bands entertainment works. What we would give for a few of Howard Snell’s efforts eh? Playing the theme tunes to the latest Hollywood blockbusters is nice enough, but to be fair they are usually sound second rate in comparison to the originals and not many become standard fare afterwards do they? Still, the bands work their socks off for this one and the audience is usually rewarded by intelligent performances from nearly all the bands.

It is always best to remember - The best bands always sound the best bands whatever they play. It’s in the quality of the sound, the production, the musicianship – not in the tutu’s and red noses.

There will be some brilliant solo playing that will entertain the audience royally and some arrangements and compositions that will do the same, whilst the amateur dramatics will be either brilliant or faintly embarrassing.

Should be a great day out and the winners will certainly have deserved it. Who will it be then?

It’s Grimey for us again, followed very, very closely by Fodens Richardson with a clutch of bands close behind in the form of Sellers International, Leyland, Kirkintilloch and Ever Ready. The dark horses could well be JAG Mount Charles.

4BR Prediction:

1. Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal
2. Fodens
3. Sellers International
4. Leyland
5. Kirkintilloch
6. Ever Ready

Dark Horses: JAG Mount Charles

2001 Result:

1. Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal
2. Fodens
3. Sellers International
4. Leyland
5. Kirkintilloch
6. Carlton Main Frickley
7. Ransome
8. Todmorden Old
9. David Urquhart Yorkshire Imperial Rothwell
10. Ever Ready
11. Besses O’ th’ Barn

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