Comments ~ 2001: November


Comments from November 2001

Kylie - now that's entertainment:
I was a touch confused over your run up to the Spennymoor contest. It seemed that on the one hand you thought it was a great contest but on the other were a bit disappointed that some bands seemed hell bent on 'entertaining' the audience. Forgive me, as this is the first time I will have played at it, but ISN'T THAT THE POINT!!

It's not just about the playing! How many times have you come back from a rock/pop/Hear Say concert and said '...the band was great, I loved the way they sat in their chairs all the way through it and looked thoroughly fed up to be there'. More often than not the comments are something like '..what a great light show' or '...wasn't it great when Kylie danced about in that white thing that was sellotaped to her body and when she lent over you could see.....!!!!' (Sorry got carried away a bit there)

Let's face it chaps, an entertainment event is not about doing what we do week in week out, it's about entertaining the masses, and if we have to prance about and look like Douglas Badder trying to dance to Fat Boy Slim, then let's do it at least once a year, enjoy doing it, and not be slagged off for doing it. Yours respectfully Colin Gallagher Kirkie Band

4BR reply:
"Entertainment is a funny old business" to misquote Jimmy Greaves. We fully agree with you about Miss Minogue (the woman is just a foxy pixie chick of the highest order) and her brand of intellectual entertainment (plus ability to keep a dress on with sellotape) is something others can only aspire too.

hankfully the bands at Spennymoor didn't lose the plot when it came to entertaining this year (although one or two tried) and treated the audience with good quality music making that in itself is usually more than enough to stimulate the musical intellect. That's what we think makes good entertainment at these type of contests. So much better than looking like an arse just to get a few laughs - We'll leave that to the current Welsh rugby team.

1003 miles in 24 hours:
What a day out that turned out to be! I left Cornwall at 2am to arrive in Spennymoor at 9.30ish and heard the first 9 bands and was very impressed. Generally the results were spot on, with the possible exception of Richard Marshall as best soloist. He is probably the finest young Cornet player around, but to be honest I personally thought Helen Fox with Foden's played a more difficult, unfamiliar solo immaculately. One of the incongruities of contests I suppose. Perhaps she made it sound a bit too easy. Richard is a worthy winner though.

Overall a very good day, and the organisers didn't let the players or audience get cold either which was nice of them. It was also nice to hear so many new arrangements, especially Sandy Smith's superb Eleanor Rigby and Barbarian Hordes from Gladiator.

It was also pleasing to hear a low brass instrumentalist - Peter Smith of Todmorden Band - who has a lovely syrupy sound, and not the hard edged raspy tone that seems to been have adopted by euphonium players and Ebs Basses in recent times. John Fletcher would have approved of his playing I suspect.

Brass In Concert is a bit of a trip - 1003 miles in 24 hours - but I hope to make it an annual pilgrimage. Regrettably I had to leave before the results and the last two bands, but will not make the same mistake next year.

A facetitious idea perhaps, but Top Ten Band percussionists? I only say this because the Xylophone soloist was ubiquitious on Sunday and percussionists evidently want to be seen.

Simon Phillips, Cornwall

4BR reply:
Bleeding heck! We must congratulate you on your obvious enthusiasm but lack of travel arrangements. Spennymoor is a great contest and by all accounts not a bad place to stay if you are in a pickle. Glad to know you enjoyed it though. You must be knackered.

Trombone prize cleared up:
In reply to whoever wanted to know why Andrew King was not awarded Trombone Champion at Tameside

The awards for the best player on each instrument are awarded in the first round at the start of the competition. The top five from this round, regardless of instrument, then progress to the final to compete for the final placings.

As last year's champion, Andrew King got a bye to the final and so could not win the trombone prize. Stupid I know, but that's the way it works!

Ashton-under-Lyne are going to the Northern Open as well. We were not down to do it, but got asked to do it last week and decided to go. Doubt you will wish to change your dodgy predictions though!

Chris Doran

4BR reply:
It's an odd way to award something isn't it? Still well done to everyone who picked up a gong in what ever class. Is there a percussion champion we wonder?

Can you help?
I wonder if you, or anybody out there could help. I would like to find a piece of music called "I know why " it's a solo for flugel, with band accompaniment. I have searched high and low for it, there is a euph solo of the same name, but thats not it.

The last time I heard it, was in the early 80's being performed by the stanshaw band. Any ideas where I could find it, would be gratefully recieved, and can be put on the bands website which is please.

May I say thankyou to everyone who has sent messages to conwy band after our recent win at pontins (4th section ) as you can imagine the band are "over the moon!" And thankyou for the kind words in the pontins review.And you were right it was a test for band and conductor alike. keep up the great website.

Keith Jones M.D. Conwy town band.

4BR reply:
If anyone can help out there then please get in contact with Keith. We know nothing about it.

Thanks for the compliment!:
Nice to hear somebody compliment my playing on 4BarsRest at last.

The best I have ever managed on your site was "sop out of tune" (with Frickley at the Masters), "sop not on top of his game" (fair comment, British Open) and "sop does nothing for us" (at the Nationals, which I thought was unfair).

Anyway, seriously, keep up the good work.

A Bannister.

4BR reply:
I [Iwan] never get a bloody compliment either!

Well done though and keep up the good work on the sop.

Not helpful?...Us?
In you Spennymoor preview you have made a glaring mistake. In your section on Kirkintilloch you stated that they won the controversial Troon Contest. Firstly, they did not. The winners of that contest were Newtongrage Silver Band.

Secondly, to be calling it a contreversial contest when the matter is now resolved and closed is most unfair. I know Mr Crookston is a regular contributer to the site, but I feel that from day one his influence meant that there was a bias in the reporting of that contest. Surely it is tim to let the matter rest ? Comments like yours are not helpful to the Brass Band movement as a whole.

S.M.Nicoll, Edinburgh

4BR reply:
Many thanks Mr Nicholl for pointing out our genuine mistake. We have tried to give a full and comprehensive preview of this important contest - something that hasn't really been done before elsewhere and we do make mistakes. We tried to collate all the information to make the coverage more interesting and we apologise that we got that little bit wrong. We will of course try and amend the article as soon as possible. It was a genuine mistake.

What we won't accept though is the accusation that we are biased in any way. We believe we try to be fair to all bands and we think we covered the Troon story fairly without bias and with justification. If we were biased in any way wouldn't you have thought it would be more towards certain Welsh bands? We stand behind our contributors and our belief that we have done something with 4BR that has benefited rather than harmed the movement.

Auntie does it alone:
just a quick email to thank you for the article on Peter Roberts did you know that Radio 4 last Tuesday (today) and next Tuesday is doing a series on the history of Brass Bands - what I can't understand is why no publicity on it - not so much from 4BarsRest (I am not having a go at the site) but nothing in BBW - Bands have a tough job as it is, but someone in the BBC must have known that the series was being made (it is on 1.30-2.00pm) and has just featured Brit Open 2001, but why not publicise it.

Can I give you an idea for an article - I am still waiting for the band press to do a feature on compiling a concert programme - this would be a helpful guide from a top conductor (King, Cutt, Renton, Childs') on how to compile a programme for a concert which will keep the audience on its toes and entertained even if some serious stuff within it This philosophy doesn't just apply to Brass Band - Choirs for example. Thanks for the site - magnificent


4BR reply:
Nice to hear that the BBC have put something on about brass bands. Prime time radio 4 eh? Two half hour programmes to cover 150 years of history, achievement, enterprise, musical excellence and dodgy contest results. Seems to sum up how much the BBC really thinks of us doesn't it?

How to compile a concert programme would take an age! Check out our concert reviews of Leyland and Tredegar to see how they managed it on the last couple of weekends.

Lace my boots Johnny...
Very interested to read your article featuring Peter Roberts, a particular hero of mine. However, please reassure me that your description of his preferred mouthpiece as a Bach 17C was a Typo ?????!!!!!!!!

If he really does use such a thing (if indeed such a thing exists) then the rest of us poor struggling Sop players really should give up.

Gareth Green Egham, Surrey

4BR reply:
Join the club me old matey. How do you think the rest of us poor old sop players in the Championship Section have felt over the years. As we said - it's a bit like thinking Johnny Wilkinson is the best outside half ever in the world until you realise he's not fit to lace Barry John's boots. (Sorry - as Welshmen we had to have at least one little dig at the English!)

Refreshing change...
Having been a bandsman for a lot of years it is refreshing to read some banding journalism which is honest and devoid of political bias. Well Done.

I particularly enjoyed the article with Peter Roberts, he surely is one of the finest soprano players ever. Perhaps you could do a top ten soprano players listing. My list would include Brian Evans, Alan Wycherley, Kevin Crockford, David Carder, Derek Ruffells and Roy Roe. I am a bit out of touch with the names of some of the younger players but the soprano playing from Black Dyke and particularly Brighouse and Rastrick was superb at the Nationals.

Keep up the good work.

Albert Newman

4BR reply:
Thanks for the compliments Albert - and we certainly agree with you about Mr Roberts! We hope to cover the top 10 sop players a little later in the year, but we are sure that the ones you name will possibly be up there. As for the new players - the fine soprano player from Black Dyke is Michelle Ibbotson, who combines brilliant playing with being a full time mother of a new born baby as well! Brighouse we understand had Andy Bannister on sop in London - and a fine job he did too.

Mind-numbingly boring ... not us!
Congratulations on your superb coverage of the National Finals. I was away on business and couldn't attend this year, but was able to keep in touch through the website, which was of its usual high standard.

It is such a refreshing change to get away from the 'establishment' brass band media, who are so politically correct and staid that they have become mind-numbingly boring.

You guys say it as it is, reflecting most of the time, the accurate thoughts of players and listeners around the venues.

Personally, I don't want to be fed mumbo-jumbo banalities that the band press often serve up, which is why your service has plugged a gaping hole and why - to the probable horror of our movement's self-styled establishment - is so popular.

The banding media, generally, has not moved with the times. People want more than bland competition reports and concert reviews - they want incisive comment, worthwhile reaction and, dare I say it, a bit of controversy now and again.

As a journalist for the past 18 years, and former player for 20 years, I believe your coverage is spot-on.

By the way, well done BBC Radio 2 for allowing those of us not privileged to be at the Royal Albert Hall just six or seven minutes of Albion (Listen to the Band, October 26) rather than Dyke's complete performance.

But there again, I should have realised that a massed bands rendition of The Lost Chord would be far more important to the perceived average listeners.

Dyke were sensational in London - I know this, because my brother was there and rang me in Dublin on the Saturday night to tell me. Until broadcasters and media, in general - Radio 3 and being notable exceptions - stop pigeon-holing brass banding into that Sunday afternoon park concert and ham sandwiches slot, then the movement will never gain the wider audience it so richly deserves.

Keep up the good work guys, and keep leading the way.

Andrew Baldock, Rogerstone, Newport.

4BR reply:
Thanks Andrew.

(Must confess here to our readers that Andrew was Iwan's best man at his first (of many) wedding many years ago!)

Couldn't agree more. What a fine judge of character, good taste and journalistic integrity you are.

By the way - I've still got the wedding present you gave me - and it still works! Hope to see you soon and keep up the great work on the rugby writing.

Why why why?
Why is Christopher Gomersall of Newcastle brown Ale Band Trombone Champion? Surely Andrew King takes that awards as overall champ?

4BR reply:
We don't bleeding well know mate. Can anyone out there help? Well done to the lad though.

Simply mesmerising...
Writing as the parent of the `mesmerising` flugel player with Besses, could you let me know in which sense you meant mesmerising? I hope you meant her playing!

4BR reply:
By heck Mrs Carradus you've got one hell of a talented young daughter there! Mesmeric was the only term we could think of to describe her performance - that's it in a nutshell for us. Can't say anymore - we just thoroughly enjoyed everything about it.

Praise for Dennis:
I would just like to congratulate the St Dennis Junior Band on a wonderfull performance at torquay. They produce one of the finest sounds around. The band shocked me a great deal when they first played the hymm tune. The sound was far advanced for there age. Why is it that st dennis produces such quality players and with such a rich and full sound? I hope to see them do well in the future and if they stay together im sure they could be the best youth band around because everyone gets there turn.

P M Richards

4BR reply:
We have to agree with you Peter. There seems to a real upsurge in youth bands in Cornwall which can only be good for the future of the bands in the area. We remember St. Dennis having a Champion Junior band way back in the 1970's so it's great to hear that they have come back to the fore again. Lets hope they go on to make the senior bands in Cornwall a real force nationally.

Well done...
Well done to all of you at for your comments section. As with any type of media, you are in a position to choose the correspondance that you print. Indeed, you could follow some of the other banding "mags" and only print favourable comments. Yet, you don't. Collectively, you have responded to critism, praise and ridicule (from some members of the fraternity) with equal calm and dignity. Not easy, I am sure.

Further, you have offered an accurate (by and large - after all you are only human!) and speedy newservice, including your successfully, and highly informative, results text messaging service.

Good on You! Long may it continue, and good luck in the forthcoming adjudication debate - if you present your views as you do your website, I am sure you will win over some doubters!


4BR reply:
Thanks Kristyann, We'll print just about anything that comes to us as long as it's not libellous or downright offensive - and we don't mind taking the criticism as well. We make plenty of mistakes in our coverage - but we usually own up to them when prompted. Just keep them coming! As for the adjudication debate - watch this space!

We stand corrected:
Just a small correction! Elgar Howarth, not Howard Snell, arranged "Pictures" both for band and PJBE.

Andy Cattanach

4BR reply:
Well spotted son! Perhaps we were trying to be a bit too clever in our write up and we forgot it was Elgar Howarth not Howard Snell who did the arrangement of "Pictures at an Exhibition" - apologies to all for our faux pas!

Cymbal crash?
Hello there. Just wondering what the strange cymbal thingy [you commented on] was all about in Pontins.

BTM Band

4BR reply:
We've gone back over our cryptic notes and found that the strange cymbal noise came around rehearsal markings 4 and 5. We are sure it wasn't the fault of the player (hopefully not yourself) but it sounded like a dustbin lid being hit by an empty bottle of Guinness (if you've ever heard such a sound). Didn't detract from the overall performance, but it was just one of those things that stuck in the mind!

Welwyn there...
Pity you didn't mention us, Welwyn Garden City. We thought that 7th was a very good result, particularly when we were the only London and Home Counties entry in the 1st section, up against a lot of very good Midland and Northern bands. Incidentally, Goff Richards quote from the remarks " Best horn section today".

Chris Kirk

4BR reply:
Fine show and well done for coming 7th. You are quite right - we do tend to write off the chances of London bands without giving it much thought. We certainly won't underestimate you again! Nice to see you sticking two fingers up at us for our poor effort - and well done to the horn section - shows how much we know doesn't it?

Canadian opts for Freedom with Dyke:
I enjoy reading your online magazine, having recently found out about it. Your listing of the 10 best performances at the finals drew my interest and prompts me to send you my thoughts. I felt very reluctant to comment because, alas, I have not had the good fortune to hear any of the performances in your to 10. So how can I compare?

However I can comment on the contests I have been to and would say that for me, the performance I remember most is that of Black Dyke in 1967 with Journey Into Freedom. It stands out for me because to my much younger ears of almost 35 years, Dyke and to a lesser extent, CWS Manchester, made that test piece sound like a different piece. Also, for me this was vintage Eric Ball.

Having said that, My real reason for writing is to hear your comments regarding this performance, as I feel sure that you must have considered it in your selection. Perhaps your other readers may find your comments on that performance of interest.

James Horne
Saskatoon, Sask.

4BR reply:
We did consider the 1967 performance from Black Dyke, but we felt it wasn't quite up there with some of the others we had to put on the list such as their 1972 win, which was perhaps the last of the era.

Journey Into Freedom is a fine work, but one that has dated less well than other Eric Ball pieces for us, but it's nice to know it made such an impression on you at the time. Dyke were a great band then, and had to beat some pretty good outfits to win the top prize, such as CWS, under Alex Mortimer who were 2nd, Brighouse and Walter Hargreaves who were 3rd and Grimethorpe and George Thompson who were 4th - all great names and great conductors.

Our top 10 features are done to promote a bit of a debate and to see if others agree or disagree with us - it certainly brought back some memories for you and we are glad we were able to do that.

Preston and Pontins Praise:
Thank you for a great site. I have been very impressed in particular, by your detailed coverage of the finals RAH and Preston and of Pontins. Thanks again.

Colin Bugby
Towcester Studio Band (trombone)

4BR reply:
Many thanks for the vote of confidence on our coverage - we are trying to improve our coverage all the time so next year it should be even better.

Shopping stop
When will we see some activity in your shopping section. This section of your site seems to have been empty for some time?

David Kerten

4BR reply:
Have just a little more patience young master and your wish will soon come true. We hope to be up and running within the month - it's bloody hard graft setting it up! We know it's been a long time, but we hope to be able to do the shopping spot some justice when it's up and running.

Up your Jacksie!
Your comments regarding our performance in the Pontins Championship 1st section I feel are somewhat over critical. Indeed your article appears to suggest (to me at least) that Jackfield Elcock Reisen Band were lucky to have been placed 6th, as our performance appeared to be no better or worse than the bands one or two places below us.

Both Geoff Whitham and Goff Richards on the day stated that the top six were a class above the rest, a sentiment that you appear to echo in paragraph 2 your article. So which is it? Were we lucky or did we deserve the result?

Did we simply "catch the ears" of the adjudicators (as you put it) or did we put on a quality performance which for the most part was secure. The adjucators thought the latter (or at least their remarks appear to say so). Yes sometimes the tuning suffered, yes there were a couple of splits, but the performance as a whole was quality in the loud and quiet bits.

Jackfield travelled to Pontins to put on a good performance and obtain a decent placing. We didn't mind which placing providing that it was in that top half dozen and the performance justified it. As far as we are concerned we earned our 6th place, and luck had nothing to with it.

Gareth Cook
Publicity Officer
Jackfield Elcock Reisen Band

4BR reply
As you would expect, we stick by the comments and reflections we made about all the performances we heard at Pontins, regardless of what section they were in.

We commented that the top six or so performances would have held their own in the top section on the Sunday - and that included your band, and we reflected this in stating that your performance for us was no better or worse than a couple of those who came behind you in the prize list. We in no way implied or stated that you were lucky and ended our comments - Well Done - not something we would say if we felt a band had got into the prizes by luck rather than judgement. Many thanks for your comments though.

Forum please...
Any chance you might get a message board/forum started on this site? I'm sure there are many things we'd all like to discuss. Personally I'd like to thank the person in the audience who forgot to switch off his mobile phone in the middle of our performance at Pontins last weekend - they should know better!!! But at least it wasn't the conductor's phone as was the case with Parc & Dare

Lucy, SWT Woodfalls

4BR reply
Sorry to disappoint you Lucy, but we have no intention of getting into that minefield! As you know, there is a Brass Band Forum site on Delphi for people to air their opinions, but we feel that's an area we don't particularly want to go down. We enjoy looking at it though!

We welcome any comments or opinions directed to us for publication on our comments page, but we do insist that we know who has sent them and we do not publish any anonymous stuff.

About these comments

We will not print anonymous letters and we will not print your email address 4barsrest has a responsibility to inform our readers of our opinions concerning the many topics of the banding world we cover, and we are proud that we give the opportunity for people to comment with their thoughts about certain topics (including contest results). However, we are very clear that these comments are those of the individual who has written them, and in no way do they indicate that 4br agrees with the sentiments, observations or perceived injustices that are highlighted in them. We will continue to inform and report to our readers, and will give our own opinions and thoughts. We will also continue to give the opportunity to others to do the same, but by allowing people to air their opinions does not, and will not mean that they reflect in any way the responsible and informed opinion that we ourselves hold.

About these comments...

We will not print anonymous letters and ... Read more.