2011: July

This month we give our opinion on the need for a new UKBBA approach, the real Whit Friday identity and write in praise of Allan Withington...

UKBBA - Time to rethink a new approach

Recriminations and accusations, broken promises and misunderstandings: The proposed setting up of a United Kingdom Brass Band Alliance has rather predictably ground to a halt in a disgruntled siding.

The initial sense of optimism and well meaning ambition has been replaced by a rather spiteful public spat ever since 4BR revealed that neither Kapitol Promotions or Butlins was able to commit themselves at present, to make it a requirement for competing bands at their competitions to be members of a national body.

Now we have reached a stalemate that requires a complete rethink of the mechanics of the UKBBA engine for change.

The current proposal to include contest promoters in the over elaborate schematic set up does not work.

It has become apparent that they could not, or would not, secede their right to make commercially independent decisions to meet a form of UKBBA collective responsibility – an issue never really fully addressed from the word go.

Hope however, has not been extinguished.

Read between the lines of the statements from both Kapitol and Butlins (and one suspects other private organisations if they were ever to publish them) and the desire to be a part of democratic change remains – although one that encompasses debate and dialogue, not imposition and constraint.

With a revitalised British Federation of Brass Bands now attracting growing membership, Wales starting to put in place the building blocks for a national representative forum, and Northern Ireland and Scotland already in a position to provide democratic representation, why not propose a new blueprint for a United Kingdom Brass Band Alliance that is made up of these bodies, plus an independent chairman to represent banding interests to the commercial world?

It will be easier to set up, can be financed through the subscriptions of their member bands, and in a form of entente cordial, the role of chairman can be financed though donations from those private bodies who wish to enter into dialogue for the future benefit of brass banding in the UK.

Everyone would come out of the current morass saving face, UKBBA can be up and running in a much more feasible time frame, whilst detailed reports can be commissioned for discussion and debate  - and even possible implementation with contest promoters, who have shown their desire to work in partnership for the good of banding in the 21st century.

What do you think?
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Whit Friday identity

Talking of commercialism – what really are the Whit Friday contests all about anymore?

The tradition of procession of witness has increasingly, if rather sadly, become more and more of an irrelevance. Churches even advertise through 4BR for bands to lead their morning march.

Whit Friday is marketed as a brass band tradition – but it is nothing of the sort.  

It is now a construct fuelled by commercial business considerations in small towns and villages hoping to cash in on all day opening hours using bands as a bit of public entertainment.

The hard working members of organising committees now battle not just with an ever increasing number of cash hungry bands in search of prize money, but with health & safety requirements, pretty anti social behaviour, decreasing sponsorship and the growing trend for scratch ensembles to simply enjoy themselves, much to the consternation of grumbling traditionalists.

It all of course makes for a brilliant day (if the weather is good) – but one that is as far removed from anything to do with Whit Friday as a band made up of Hawaiian hula girls or cartoon characters can be.

That may well be a great pity – but you will never hear too many people complain over the sound of ringing cash tills.

What do you think?
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In praise of Allan Withington

Spend some time in the company of Allan Withington and you spend time with an engagaing multi faceted individual.

He is hewn from the highest quality musical strata; devoid of the petty insecurities and damaging self obsessed egos that limit many of his contemporaries in the banding world.

His attitude to music making – in either contest or concert form – is refreshing, inventive but grounded in realism.

The desire to bring a vibrant sense of innovation to his life will see him up sticks later this year and move to a beautiful French village with his wonderful wife Kirsten and their family

It will open the latest chapter on his personal and professional life at a time when others would be deterred to let go of the safety blanket of secure employment.

He is not afraid to takes risks, or even to fail – something you sense permeates his approach to music.  

He relies on his talent.

In that case, you can be sure whatever he chooses to do; he will be a complete and utter success.

What do you think?
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The Marple Band - Marple Band Family Christmas Concert

Friday 18 December • Marple Conservative Club, church Lane, Marple, SK6 6AY

Black Dyke Band - Brighouse & Rastrick, Huddersfield Town Hall

Saturday 27 March • Corporation St, Huddersfield HD1 2TA

Contest: 100thSpring Festival

Saturday 8 May • 97 Church St, Blackpool, FY1 1HL

Contest: Whit Friday March Contests

Friday 28 May • Saddleworth & Tameside OL3

Contest: 168th British Open

Saturday 11 September • Symphony Hall, Broad Street, Birmingham. B1 2EA

Chadderton Band

November 17 • Chadderton Band is a non-contesting band playing at various events throughout the year. We are a friendly band looking for players of all ages and abilities on all sections + EUPH and percussion. Most welcome to come along and have a blow give us a try.

Crewe Brass

November 12 • Crewe Brass require an Eb or Bb Bass to complete the "engine room" line up. We are also seeking a Tuned Percussionist to complete our section.

Mike Sheppard

B.A. (Hons) Music
Composer, conductor, teacher, author


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