Brassed Off : Why Blackpool rocks

THE MONTH of March heralds the Spring – daffodils, lambs in the fields and Mother Nature’s awakening.

All very poetic I know, but what does March herald for our bands? Something far less poetic I’m afraid – Blackpool.

I closed my February article with a reference to the Area Contests and feel I should really explain this musical phenomenon to the un-initiated. So, here goes …

Nearly all our local bands will descend upon Blackpool’s Winter Gardens on Sunday, March 10. They will compete across four of the five sections.

Each section has its own set ‘test piece’ to ensure a level playing field, this will have been carefully selected to stretch the musicians at each level.

Order of play is drawn on the day, again promoting fair play. The debate over the influence of the draw on the result will always go on, but a later performance tends to be favoured by players and often by judges. Basically, you have to be amazing to win from No.1 or 2.

The bands gaining the top positions will go on to represent the North West at the National Finals later in the year.

Promotions and relegations are also factored into aggregate scores over two years, so a lot is at stake. After weeks of preparation, fifteen minutes on a Winter Gardens stage could make or break a band’s year.

Blackpool does see some ‘sights’ throughout its year, but on that Sunday in March it is great to see bandsmen of all ages, in uniform, lugging instruments along the backstreets and even the Prom near that famous old tower.

The Boarshurst and Dobcross Band Clubs will be hosting ‘Area Preview’ nights on the evenings of March 3 and 7  respectively, with performances of all the test pieces by some of our local bands.

One band not making the excursion to the coast, Diggle ‘B’Band has just returned from a trip to Belgium instead.

Amongst the highlights was a Gala Concert with friends from Saint-Cecilia Rotselaar, musicians that venture over to Saddleworth for Whit Friday.

Meanwhile, Diggle ‘A’ Band have announced the appointment of former Fairey Band and Grimethorpe cornet player Sean Conway as their new Musical Director. He will make his contesting debut with the band at Blackpool.

Saddleworth will be easily the best represented district at any of the area contests across the U.K. and I am sure we all want to bring back more than a stick of rock.

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