Editorial ~ 2010: February


This month we give our opinions on, Moving forward together, Image rights and wrongs and praise the girls of Boobs & Brass.

Moving forward together

After just a few weeks into his new job as Chairman of the Association of Brass Band Adjudicators, Stan Lippeatt is already showing a welcome desire to address some thorny old issues and open them back up for fresh debate.

In what he hopes will be a regular ‘Chairman’s Page’ on the ABBA website, he has penned the contents of a series of initial ideas and opinions.
Go to: www.abbadjudicators.org.uk/

Not surprisingly given his reputation, they are forthright and open.

When 4BR spoke to him soon after his election as the new ABBA Chairman, he said that he wanted more than anything to ‘…move forward on all fronts’.

He is certainly doing that.

Whether you agree or disagree with his views, you can’t say he hasn’t lived up to his word.

There is a desire to revisit the question of open or closed adjudication, the use of musicians from outside the brass band field to adjudicate at contests, self-categorisation, a brass band council and more.

He has asked for debate and communication.  

Now is the chance to support him.

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Image rights and wrongs

In terms of creating a public relations image that accurately reflects the truth about 21st century brass banding in the UK, the banding movement has as much chance of success as John Terry making a guest appearance on ‘Family Fortunes’.

The heart sinks when the latest brass band appearance on television saw Grimethorpe Band on the Alan Titchmarsh show subject to yet another patronising piece of ‘Brassed Off’ stereotype casting – this time for a CD entitled ‘The Music Lives On: Now the Mines Have Gone.’

This is in no way Grimethorpe’s fault, but it does illustrate once again just how the media pigeon holes (or in their opinion, pigeon, whippet, flat caps, rugby league and beer holes) brass bands.

To get on the television, Grimethorpe had to play the part of the brave, once proud northern miners, hearts of gold, music in the veins, begging bowl at the ready…

The reality of course was that on closer inspection, due to work commitments etc, the band was made up of a combination of white-collar workers who could take time from their jobs and London based deps more than happy to help out.  

Who wants to know that though when even the website set up to sell the CD advertises it as being ‘…created to commemorate the music of the mines’….?

And what music was that then? ‘He ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother’, ‘New World Symphony (the Hovis bit) and ‘William Tell’ – that’s what…

Heaven help us (or even Max Clifford).

If banding ever wants to be taken seriously (and remember the stereotyped idea that was a ‘Band for Britain’ with comedian Sue Perkins?), then it is about time we insisted on a PR image that accurately reflects banding in the second decade of the new millennium.

If we don’t there really is no hope at all…

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In praise of Boobs & Brass

You have to hand it to the girls.

They have now raised well over £50,000 for Breast Cancer Research and other charitable organisations since their formation a few years ago – and they are not even thinking about resting on their laurels just yet.

To see the enthusiasm and commitment to their cause was incredible at the recent Butlins Mineworker’s Championship, where founder Maggie Betts presented a cheque for £15,530 as the latest instalment to the ongoing work of the Breast Cancer Campaign.

And the inspiring thing about it all is that they work damn hard for that cash too.

It would be easy to just shake a tin under the noses of people and hope their conscious sees them part with a few quid now and again - but not Boobs & Brass.

Concerts, raffles, CDs, DVDs, pin badges, hoodies, balloons – you name it they try it – all with a smile.

Over 370 volunteers gave up their time to take part in the ‘Boob Blow’ and flugel star Mark Walters even donned his best dress and make up to show his commitment to the cause.

Their work has brought plaudits as well as cash, and recently the girls were presented with an ‘Outstanding Achievement Award’ by Breast Cancer Research at the House of Lords to show just how much it means to an organisation that continues to fund ground breaking work in search of cures for a disease that affects 1 in 3 families.

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