A Junior Member’s Perspective – by Noah Wild

‘What happens on tour stays on tour’, that’s what I was told before Hook Norton Brass Band’s tour to North Wales. I was expecting periods of focused band playing followed by evenings of partying from several groups in the band. I was expecting some to wake up the next morning feeling slightly unfit to go out and play their instrument. None of my expectations actually happened, I found that when a few glasses had been drank it only allowed the drinkers to loosen up to then sing songs by a piano (which I was playing), at a loud volume.

From the word ‘tour’ you may think of rock bands touring around the country playing to their devoted fans, with flashing lights of various colours. I’m not so certain that Hook Norton Brass Band has many devoted fans (you could count the ‘fan club’ that followed the band to every performance, and including impromptu piano singing, but then they were tied to the band by family relationships) or flashing lights to shine out at any passersby. What we did have was the public and to me no piece that we play is ever quite the same; people watching always receive them differently. By the end of our time in Betws-y-Coed a crowd had gathered and grown despite rain downpours (we were playing right by a group of trees though), what must be a whole years worth of CD sales had been sold and a request for a return visit in December. In that example HNBB found a devoted fan club at least for the duration that we played for.

To Llangollen HNBB came on Friday the 22nd of June, prepared with music and a steady supply of pegs (the one thing that every musician needs when playing outside). Announced through loudspeakers we played on a steam train platform whilst trains pulled in and out of the platform. Afterwards we caught a trip on the steam train, armed with a ticket to ride, and were taken down the line. Then arriving in Llandudno to unpack and settle into The Evans hotel.

To me hydroelectric power stations aren’t particularly in my interest, but the trip to Electric Mountain did extend my interest (the Mountain I would say looked a bit more like a hill; electric hill doesn’t sound as catchy). The afternoon was spent at Llandudno band stand (from this the band CD was played on the local radio station the following week). In the evening after walking to a restaurant and returning to the hotel a piano was moved into the bar for the ‘singers’ in the band to entertain the remaining band members. I have to say that Barry Manilows’ One Voice is better sung accompanied by a piano in a hotel and not as a sole tune on a train, the song is now a firm favourite of the band. Sunday was focused in Betws-y-Coed and then on returning to Oxfordshire by coach (with a hum-along viewing of Brassed Off).

To me this tour was a highly enjoyable weekend with what are a group of wonderful people and payers.

A Parent’s Perspective – by Neil Wild

So the band supporter perspective on the tour, aka the parent. In all reality Noah didn’t need a responsible adult present on the weekend. (Don’t change the rules though as us parents want to keep coming). Responsible adults on a band tour does raise an eyebrow or two of course! Not that any adult wasn’t responsible and well behaved. The band seemed to take those under 18s present under their wing, Shaun even dutifully clearing up sick (induced by repeat showings of Brassed Off).

For us adult ‘supporters’ the weekend was well organised. Notably Bram skilfully weaving a real ale bar into the first performance and Liz’s choice of eateries was brilliant – we certainly never went to bed hungry.

I had no doubts about the quality of the brass playing but I hadn’t anticipated the tuneful singing of the self arranged singalong on Saturday evening. I haven’t heard whether the band has received a repeat booking for the entertainment they provided at the Evans’ Hotel but I’d be tempted to suggest to the band committee that a piano and microphone are made available as an encore at the next concert!

The group spirit was a very noticeable feature of the weekend. Lots of encouragement provided to everyone. Martins train driving skills were especially cheered most of the way along the line!

Noteworthy is the slick set up and adaptability of the band to the differing venues. From settings close to platform edges and beside noisy steam trains, to open roofed band stands on the sea front, possibly without seats, and to the prospect of playing opposite public toilets in the rain, the band play brilliantly.

One of my brief parts was to sell a few CDs (a bargain tour price) which meant I was able to hear how well the public appreciated the music. None of the events seem to have been pre publicised so no doubt for many passing by the opportunity to listen and enjoy would have been a lovely surprise. The pieces do certainly stir the emotions. For me the highlight being the orange juice number featured in Brassed Off – well played band and an excellent solo from Dawn. (and other excellent solos from Nigel and Julie over the weekend)

The band always play well engendering much public appreciation. The band can be assured that their ability to warm a community with their musical performance is well worth every penny donated (and much more)!

To the next tour…

Band Tour to Llandudno 2016