Can I Do the Libertango? | A Week with the Rainford Band
Depping For Rainford Band at Their Summer Pops Concerts
I feel like I’ve not had a chance to come up for air since about May! With concerts, a couple of contests and a bit of marching, I’ve not really had time to sit and write, but I’ve managed to snag some time, whilst we’ve had a little break from normal rehearsals. So, what have I been doing whilst on break from my band? Depping for another local band of course - why, do you ask? Are there other things to do? I’ve heard of a thing called a ‘social life’, but I’m not really sure how you get one.
I shall open this tale of brass band adventures with this:
I see a little silhouetto of a band
Rainford Band, Rainford Band, can I do the Libertango?
Thunderbolts and Lightning, very, very frightening…
(just go with it, it’ll make sense eventually)
(Lightning) Strike Up the Band
My attempts at brass band and storm-related puns are not going to get better - just to set your expectations.
I spent last week rehearsing and performing with the Rainford Band at their Summer Pops concerts. These events are two very well-organised and well-attended evenings of music that take place in a kitted-out marquee (complete with bar) on the grounds of The Junction Pub in Rainford. It was an absolute pleasure spending the last week with the band, under the direction of their guest Musical Director, Adam Cooke.
Covering the Repiano seat, I had a blast getting to work on a range of music, including swing hits, brass band classics and well-known proms favourites. Everyone around the stand, wasn’t just welcoming, they were incredibly friendly and I felt like part of the band as soon as I walked through the door (fashionably late, due to rushing from work and getting lost, because my driving leaves a lot to be desired and it’s been a little while since I’ve been to that neck of the woods - despite it being 8 mins away from my hometown).
After getting my head around the fact that I would be doubling the 1st Solo Cornet part instead of the Rep part in Trumpet Blues and Cantabile, I was then notified that I will be doing the solo in Leigh Baker’s arrangement of Libertango. So the question was, “could I do the Libertango?”. I didn’t have long to think about it, so I put the fact that I’m not the best sightreader in the world to the back of my mind and ploughed into it. Apart from a few choice erm…shall we call them ‘additional lyrics’ that followed a couple of slipped or clipped notes, we managed to get through it and I didn’t have long to feel sorry for myself after I heard the solo the Soprano cornet player had to master in this arrangement. Mine was a walk in the park in comparison, so I had a quiet word with myself (something along the lines of - “don’t be so soft”) and got on with it.
Then the time came to travel to the marquee for our two evenings of music. Friday was enveloped in glorious sunshine. The birds were singing. The midges were biting - the risks of playing in a tent on grass. Honestly, I think one of the blood suckers took a sip and went and told his mates that there was a walking buffet nearby and they’re putting on a concert. Dinner and a show! A few insect bites was a small price to pay for what was a truly enjoyable couple of nights. Particular highlights where as follows:
A super cool, laid-back jazzy cornet solo, executed with flair by the band’s Principal Cornet, Adam Case. If I closed my eyes, I could almost imagine myself nursing an Old Fashioned (the cocktail, not an ailing OAP, just to be clear) in a smoke-filled, jazz bar. Until I opened my eyes and realised I was sat in the middle of a band concert and about four beats away from missing my entry. Jokes aside, it was a real classy performance with a lot of character!
A Time For a Peace
This is a stunning horn solo taken from Peter Graham’s “The Essence of TIme”. It was played beautifully by the band’s Solo Horn (who I’m lucky to call a friend), Danny Pye. In amongst the jazzing, tango-ing, bluesing and other strenuous musical activity, Danny’s solo offered exactly what it said on the tin - a time for peace, where we could all just have a little minute and enjoy his lovely sound filling the tent. Danny, my dear, as Gen Z are saying , you ‘ate and left no crumbs’ - simply beautiful.
This is a cracking piece of music, full of latin heat.On Friday, it was lovely playing a little duet with one of my best banding buddies, Matt. If you’ve got it in your band library, do get it out, it’s great fun. Just make sure you’ve warned your Sop player beforehand. Although, having said that, the solo sounded like it was no problem for the band’s Soprano Cornet, Darren Humphreys, who provided such a sassy performance, you’d be forgiven for thinking that Shakira had waltzed (or rather, shimmied) into the tent and started playing Sop.
Now, not only was this a highlight of my time with the Rainford band, because of the beautiful musical synergy created by the band’s Solo Euphonium, Leung Lok Wai (or Louis, as he is known in the band), and Flugelhorn, Rebecca (who had already treated us to a fantastic performance of The Children of Sanchez), but the weather during Saturday’s performance made for a very - shall we say, atmospheric, performance.
Benedictus is taken from Karl Jenkins’ work, The Armed Man and is a beautiful, emotive piece of music, by itself. However, those of us in the North West may recall the biblical deluge that ensued over the weekend. Well, as we were all enjoying the tranquil ambience, provided by Louis and Rebecca, the heavens decided to open and, what can only be described, as a monsoon hit the local area. Have you ever heard rain when you’re inside a tent? Times it by 20 and you may have an idea of how loud this downpour sounded from inside the marquee. Nevertheless, the band and our soloists soldiered on. The weather, not content with the disruption it had already caused, decided to let out an almighty clap of thunder (loud enough to make it feel like the stage was shaking), pretty much bang in time with the music! However, Louis and Rebecca’s performance was so lovely, we all forgot that we were inside a fabric building being held up by metal rods (not too dissimilar to a giant umbrella), during thunderbolts and lighting. Thankfully, it wasn’t as frightening as Freddie Mercury would have you believe and the only conductor in the room was Adam.*
*Look Rob, I made a physics joke!
Cheers to Good Company and Good Music
The biggest highlight of my week with the Rainford Band was spending time with the lovely people who make up the band, alongside some of my closest banding buddies. Especially the other two members of the Three Musketeers, Natalie and Matt (Daffodil), and our d’Artagnan, my other half, Rob. It was great to share the stage with both Matt and Natalie- almost like the good ‘ol days, which have been documented in detail in this blog!
By the way! Keep your eyes peeled for a review of the Foden’s concert I attended with Natalie and Rob on Sunday, which features Matt playing Principal trombone (yes, I’m friends with a banding celebrity, are you jealous?), another biblical rain storm and the moment we found Lola, the showgirl from Copacabana.
But for now, back to last week.
At the end of the first concert, we all kicked back, with a beer, taking in the last of the sunshine. I must say, there are no finer moments in life than standing, a pint of decent beer in your hand, in a circle of like-minded people, who treat you as if you are part of their team, sharing a laugh, in the middle of a field, as the sun sets, after an evening of entertaining an appreciative audience. If I had to bottle what brass banding is all about - that is it. Maybe give or take the standing in a field bit…
A big thanks to everyone in the Rainford Band and their guest conductor, Adam, for what was a brilliant week!