Regional Contest 2017

The band once again has performed at The North of England Regional Brass Band contest held at the Durham Gala Theatre for the third year, over the weekend 11-12th March, and it was another very successful and enjoyable event.

An overall great performance, and we were very happy with the placing, finishing a credible 7th out of 9 bands in the 3rd Section, allowing us to remain in the 3rd Section for another year.

The test piece for our section was Darkwood by Daniel Price. You can hear a recording of the band playing the piece in rehearsal a few days before the contest, on Soundcloud: Click here

 

A very busy Christmas

 

As usual we were in demand during December in the run up to Christmas. Starting with a busk playing carols at Chevy Chase, Eldon Square on Sat Dec 3rd, then our own Christmas Concert on Dec 10th (see previous post) followed by a return to the Church of the Holy Nativity at Chapel House for a Christmas Concert on Sunday Dec 11th, with solos from Phil Coleman (Frosty the Snowman) and others.

It was a great night, but sadly the last appearance from our flugelhorn player Chantal Noppen who is leaving as her job and marriage mean she no longer has time to attend rehearsals.

More busks playing carols at ASDA, Benton on Thursday 15th Dec and again at Eldon Square on Sat Dec 17th.

The Friday night (16th) found us with the training band at Earsdon playing carols outside the Cannon pub, followed by carols at Backworth Village Hall later the same evening. There was a special appearance from 3 girls from the Backworth Park Primary School brass group who very bravely played some simplified versions of Away in a Manger and Carol of the Drum.

On Sunday (18th) we were playing at the Hope City Church carol service and Monday (19th) we were playing carols in Pennywell at a community event raising funds for Macmillan Cancer Support. It was great to be invited back after we missed both events last year!

Finally on Tuesday (19th) we made our annual trip to Allendale for Carols in the Square.

Happy Christmas and all the best for 2017!

 

Geoff Grice celebrates 50 years in the band

Congratulations to Geoff Grice who has been a member of Backworth Colliery Band for over 50 years. Geoff joined the RAF as a teenager and after many years service including as a bandsman, left to become a teacher in Wallsend. When someone from the band came to the school in 1965 to recruit players, Geoff signed up!

Geoff loves jazz music and has played both trumpet and cornet to a very high standard. Geoff and his wife Cath were guests of honour at our Christmas concert at Backworth Club on Saturday Dec 10th.

We wish them all the very best in his retirement, although a return to the band is not ruled out!

Training Band Concert

Congratulations to our training members who put on an excellent show at Backworth Club on Nov 25th. It was especially impressive that the band managed to put on a full programme of music that included solos from Alison (“Ben”), Amy on trombone (“I don’t know how to love him”), Matthew on cornet (“Unchained melody”) and Hannah on baritone (“A whole new world”).

As Hannah posted on our Facebook page:
“Fantastic concert tonight. Well done everyone and thank you to all of the senior band who came to help out.
We raised over £40 for the band which is fantastic.
A massive well done to all our soloists and Catherine Mackenzie for all her amazing work keeping us together!
The next training band will be a week on Friday (9th Dec 6:30pm at Backworth Club). Come along if you have been inspired!”

October

October wouldn’t be October without a good old Oktoberfest! Backworth Club was transported to Bavaria for the night on Oct 8th when the band put on a very enjoyable concert of German and other great music, such as Radetsky March, Applepie Polka, Ein Prosit, Happy Wanderer, Tritsch Tratsch polka (made famous by James Last no less!), Edelweiss, etc. Ok, “Hey Baby” isn’t exactly traditional German music but apparently it’s one of the most popular songs in Munich beer halls at this time of year, and went down very well in Backworth as well!

Unfortunately the Stonehaugh Oktoberfest was cancelled this year, but we hope they are able to host another one next year, because the last 2 have been amazing raucous events and we were looking forward to it!

In total contrast, we finished October playing at the Remembrance Service and Concert at St Andrews Church in Newcastle. Always a great pleasure as well as a sombre occasion as we remember all those who have lost their lives or suffered as a result of conflicts around the world. After the Service of Remembrance the mood lifted as we celebrated their memory and our lives today with music and song. The girls of Newcastle High School and the Gosforth Community Choir also entertained the audience, and together we performed the traditional Evening Hymn and Sunset to close the event. A special mention to the organiser and MC Sydney Graham who’s wife very sadly passed away just days before the event. Our condolences to Sydney and all his family.

Footnote: just before October, we closed the bandstand in Northumberland Park, North Shields at the end of September, hopefully not for ever just for the summer season of music in the park!

Berwick Scouts and Belsay Hall

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We made the long trip to Berwick on Friday 16th Sept to play at North Northumberland Scout’s fund raising concert, and received a very warm welcome as the original band booked had pulled out and we stepped in at short notice.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly Benny’s solo of Georgia on My Mind. Benny is a very talented young musician with a bright future ahead of him.

Benny repeated his performance at Belsay Hall 2 days later on Sunday 18th Sept. In fact he played it twice, as his mother came to hear him play but got caught in traffic and missed it. No problem, flexible as ever, we simply asked Benny to play it again in the second set!

Other solo performances were given by Adrian on Euphonium with the Blaydon Races and Gavin on Bass Trombone with Wandering Star.

You can see many of the performances from Berwick on our You Tube channel.

Chantal and Tony’s wedding

Many of the band were privileged to witness our own Chantal’s wedding to Tony on 10th Sept and take part in service at St Margarets Church in Scotswood and the celebrations at Featherstone Castle near Haltwhistle, where a small band played some of Chantal and Tony’s favourites, including some solos for Chantal and accompanying Tony’s splendid singing of Love Changes Everything.

Sadly for the band, Chantal will be leaving us as her work with the Church means she is now too busy, but we hope she will still come and play with us when she can.

We wish Chantal and Tony every happiness for the future.

Burradon Banner unveiling

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A small band played at Burradon Community Primary School as part of the official unveiling of the restored Burradon and Weetslade Colliery banner, now hanging in the School Hall.

Kath Smith, from Remembering the Past, Resourcing the Future, led the proceedings both during the special school assembly in the morning and at the invitation only event in the evening. We heard from the current and previous headteachers about the School’s important role in saving the banner and Wansbeck MP and ex-miner Ian Lavery.

The children were very interested to hear about the history of their village. Year 4 children in particular had worked all last year on a banner history project, in which they’d been history detectives, and some of their work was on display in the evening, and over the weekend’s open day.

Burradon also now boasts a replica banner which had its first outing at the Durham Miners Gala in July, and hopefully will feature at many future events. The original has been carefully restored, but still has many holes, but it has been mounted on transparent netting and hung in front of a matching plain red banner, so that it looks complete. It hangs in a frame, behind glass for protection, and looks fantastic.

We were very proud to be part of the celebrations, and we hope to continue to develop a close relationship with Burradon. Some of the band are involved in the new after-school brass group at the school, so maybe one day the village could even have its own band to lead the banner once again!

A busy summer

As always the band kept busy over the summer. We have played at a 60th birthday party in Morpeth (Jul 30th), made our annual trip to the Dalston Festival in Cumbria (Aug 11th), played at Tanfield Railway as part of their Tanfield Live weekend (Aug 14th), Beamish Museum (Aug 27th) and the Blyth Tall Ships festival (Aug 28th).

The good weather meant there were lots of people out and about to hear us play at the public events. Another packed church in Dalston, lots of interest in the Tanfield Railway Marley Hill sheds, people picnicking around the bandstand in Redman Park at Beamish and crowds enjoying an afternoon in deckchairs around the bandstand on Blyth south beach.

Of course, our band members do sometimes go on holiday, so many thanks to all our friends who came to help us out.

Durham Miners Gala

Our annual outing to the Durham Miners Gala is one of the highlights of the year, if not the highlight! It’s such a marvellous celebration of the North East’s mining heritage with the banners and bands, speeches, fun fair, stalls from political, trade union, campaigning and community groups.

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This year we were looking forward to leading the brand new replica Burradon and Weetslade Colliery banner as well as fulfilling our regular engagement to lead the Eppleton banner. However, things didn’t go quite to plan (see below). The Burradon banner has been saved and is being restored to hang in Burradon Community Primary School from September. The unveiling event will be a culmination of a Heritage Lottery Fund project led by local charity “Remembering the Past, Resourcing the Future”. Eppleton banner group have been fantastic in welcoming Burradon to join them in Durham, and gave a lot of useful help and advice.

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Our involvement in the day started as we led the Eppleton banner around the streets early morning, before getting back onto the coach and heading into Durham City centre. Our route around Eppleton was a half mile shorter than previously and, as a result, we arrived in Durham Market Place at 8:30. Unfortunately the Burradon banner didn’t get to the Square until a bit later, by which time we had unexpectedly advanced at record speed onto Elvet Bridge! Unable to get through the crowds at the top of Saddler Street (the steps) the large Burradon banner contingent held back and eventually teamed up Easington Colliery Band and the Easington Colliery banner.

We continued to progress with the Eppleton banner group down Elvet Bridge, played “Hey Baby” outside the County Hotel to the assembled crowd and VIPs on the balcony (including Labour Party Leader Jeremy Corbyn) and marched on the field, arriving by 9:20am! The Burradon banner didn’t make it down until 1pm, by which time they were tired and wet, and decided not to march off again. This year, the Eppleton banner went to the Cathedral, so we were not needed by them either, and instead we made our way back to the coach for an earlier finish!

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This year’s Gala was widely reported as the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn was speaking on the platform. The recent turmoil in the Labour Party following the European Union Referendum meant that there was a lot of media interest, and a big crowd on the field listening to the speeches. However, we missed Jeremy Corbyn’s speech as we had to head back just as he started speaking.

A very sad postscript to the Gala was that Davey Hopper, General Secretary of Durham Miners Association, died a week later. He kept the Durham NUM and the Gala going after the miners strike and the closure of the pits in the 1980s and 1990s. He will be a hard act to follow, and a big loss to the Labour Movement in the North East. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.