2006 US Open Championships - Postcard


It seems the growth and improvement in the standard of banding at the US Open has been something to savour - a bit like the pizzas by all accounts.

What a difference a year can make.  Last November Chicago was celebrating the "World" championships of their baseball team.  This year the White Sox are off the radar and the Bears (the Chicago American Football club) dominate the town. 

There's no business like Dome business - Chicago offers all sorts of sights

Likewise, the U.S. Open has had a musical facelift.  The best example is the relative finish of bands this year as compared to the Motor City Brass Band.  The Motor City Band came 2nd last year, played very well again this year, had an entertaining theme to their performance and found themselves in 6th place.

The reason for this drop was not because they performed any worse, but all the other bands improved so much more.  Central Florida's performance was almost flawless this year (as compared to quite a few blips last year),  Fountain City improved their playing an incredible amount adding control to their already brilliant technique and let's not forget the welcome addition of Jaguar (Coventry), which was clearly the audience favourite.

Smile please: Jaguar enjoy their US Open experience

It seems every year the U.S. Open has added a tweak to improve the weekend.  One year was the Busker's Preview, last year was the adjudicators meeting the day after the contest.  Nothing was announced and we were left wondering how this year's event would improve.  Clearly the main improvement was in the bands performances, partly due to the aforementioned addition of the Jaguar Band.

Additionally, finishing ahead of Motor City were both Eastern Iowa and Prairie Brass Band, both bands having found a new fuller British-style sound.  During the Awards Banquet, the adjudicators were quick to point out the incredible improvement of all the bands, but especially those finishing in the middle and lower end of the results.
The one thing that may not have improved since last year is the famous Chicago-Style pizza, as how can one truly improve on perfection.

Before and after: Please note that the beer has been drunk as well!

Even the social aspect of the contest improved quite a bit.  Last year there was an obvious comradery between bands.  With all of last year's bands returning that grew even more.  Add the wonderful people of the Jaguar band and it was quite a fantastic environment.

The inter-band relationships that have developed as the result of events like the U.S. Open (NABBA Championships and other Festivals) is vital for the growth of American banding.  It had become obvious that the more bands get to hear each other play and try to perform their best in front of others, the more they can reach their potential.

The U.S. Open not only pushes the threshold of musicianship like a traditional contest, but also pushes the boundaries of concert performance and most importantly pleasing the audience.

Furthermore, Prairie Brass Band's decision to take charge of such an event has provided inspiration for other groups to do the same.  There are rumours of the beginnings of a youth band festival in the States.  Also, inspired by Prairie, the Central Ohio Brass Band will be hosting their first festival this coming spring.  Certainly, banding in the States is continuing to grow.

We'd like to thank all of the bands for their friendliness over the weekend.  We would also especially like to thank the Prairie Brass Band (the contest hosts) for going out of their way to help us with our coverage and give us the resources to do live coverage of this year's event.

Pat Herak and Rob Richardson


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