North West Area 2018

Percussion can’t win you contests, but it can certainly lose them! – Taffy, Blackburn and Darwen Band

After a long week of rehearsals and last minute tweaks, it was a blessing to have been pre-drawn in the second half. We could all have a lie-in as we wouldn’t be playing until at least 1pm, meaning we had to get on the coach at around 10am instead of 7am!

We were treated to some high-quality coach entertainment in the form of our band sergeant, Neil Venables, who had devised a quiz on the band members and some brass band music. This kept everyone occupied until we got to Blackpool, helping to keep minds off the test piece and keep those pre-contest nerves at bay!

We arrived for rehearsal at the Conservative Club, who had been kind enough to open specially for us to rehearse! The band played through some hymns before MD James Holt made some final tweaks, and then we had a break to await the draw.

In brass banding, the draw dictates in what order you will play. Getting a good draw can be the key to success, and equally a bad draw has been the downfall of many a band. Most conductors will prefer a later draw, as statistically you are more likely to get a result, although most players want to play as early as possible so they can get off to the bar!

We were drawn to play 16th, so that meant we had a little bit more time for rehearsal. Then, we packed away and hopped back on the coach, which took us to the North West Area Regional Championships at Blackpool Winter Gardens.

Upon arrival, entry wristbands and registration cards were issued and we were ushered into the changing rooms. A handful of bands will enact full uniform changes in here, with their walking out dress and concert dress completely different colours, however we just had to button up our super suits and we were good to go!

Registration was the final step before we could enter the contest stage – as this contest is the single decider in promotion and relegation, it is key that all the players are registered to the band they are competing with, otherwise some bands could gain an unfair advantage.

We went onstage and all gave everything we had to give (not more). Whilst there were a couple of individual errors, these did not detract from the full band quality, and we were all pleased with our performance.

After a couple of hours exploring Blackpool, it was time for the results. Seeing members of each band in the section in the same room (as well as those still at the pub!) really goes to show just how big the banding movement is, as the results room was absolutely packed! The adjudicators announced the podium positions from 6th to 1st, and by 4th place there was still no mention of Besses Boys!

The adjudicators took a short break to talk about the section award for today. As the test piece heavily featured percussion, they were going to award a trophy to the band with the best percussion, which was the band drawn number… 16 – BESSES BOYS BAND!!!

They then continued on with the rest of the awards, including best trombones. Unfortunately, Besses Boys did not manage to place in the top 3, something which confused members from most bands within the room – how can you win best percussion and not place in the top 6, especially with a piece as reliant on percussion as this one?!

Needless to say, I am very proud of the team I have here at Besses. Well done to Toby Taylor and Sam Heath, my award-winning percussionists, and currently the best at their level in the North West!

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