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Category is: Brass Band Drag Extravaganza

Freckleton Band’s ‘Kinky Toots’ Set to Light Up Blackpool Tower

As one of the selected participants of Brass Band England’s innovative ‘Elevate’ programme, the Freckleton Band will be presenting their show, ‘Kinky Toots’ at the iconic Blackpool Tower on Thursday 14th March 2024. The product of a collaboration between director, Jamie Sophia Fletcher and the Freckleton Band, under the baton of their MD, Adam Taylor, this show is a bold fusion of the brass band experience with the vibrant world of drag. 

As you know, I’m a passionate brass band geek, but I’m also an avid fan of the creative, dramatic and fun-filled world of drag, which was introduced to me through RuPaul’s drag race and exploring the drag shows of Liverpool, Manchester and Blackpool. So, this is an experience that I am really looking forward to seeing and it’s fantastic to see a brass band really push the boat out and collaborate with another art form. 

Elevating Experiences through Diverse Collaboration

The award-winning Elevate programme is an initiative created by Brass Bands England and supported by Arts Council England, which aims to foster collaboration between brass bands and artists to create an innovative project across a nine-month partnership. The programme was created with the objective to push the boundaries of traditional brass banding to explore new ideas that will introduce brass bands to a wider audience. 

‘Kinky Toots’ - the project created with the Freckleton Band and creative director, Jamie Sophia Fletcher - is the first project that has come to fruition as a result of Brass Band England’s Elevate Programme. 

The Window to a More Vibrant Future?

This collaboration between a traditional musical ensemble with such a creative and  conspicuous art form as drag has raised a few eyebrows. I love brass banding more than pretty much anything, but I do fear that sometimes anything that goes beyond the parameters of traditional brass banding can be (and has been) viewed with a certain reluctance. I do understand this resistance, as I do admire the tenacity in which we respect our traditions, but we also have to evolve to secure our future, as much as we honour our past. I think this bold venture could open the window to further opportunities to showcase the brass band sound in more adventurous settings. 

The great thing about the brass band sound is that it can lend itself to many different genres and performance opportunities. Who thought our musical medium would lend itself so well to house and techno music before The Fairey Band introduced their Acid Brass act? Who thought a band could go viral on social media until Chav Brass hit everybody’s news feeds, marching to brass arrangements of popular dance songs in tracksuits? The point is, if we don’t innovate we will stagnate and brave ventures, such as ‘Kinky Toots’ are key for our movement to keep going through capturing the hearts and minds of modern audiences. 

Music and Creative Direction

Adam Taylor | Musical Director 

The musical director of Freckleton Band, Adam Taylor is an insanely talented musician, composer and conductor - and I’m lucky enough to be able to call him a friend. An accomplished trombonist, Adam has performed with orchestras, such as the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Northern Ballet, English National Opera and Southbank Sinfonia, alongside many other chamber ensembles, brass bands, show bands and jazz ensembles. 

Alongside his performing experience, Adam is an award-winning composer and arranger, with his works gaining accolades, such as the ‘Best New Composition Award’ at the Brass in Concert Championships in 2012. In 2017, alongside business partner and friend, Mark Quinn, Adam launched the publishing company, ‘Cantatio Publishing’, where you can purchase his works. I would highly recommend - they’re fantastic!

His experience as a musical director includes leading Allerton Brass to two national finals and multiple podium finishes, gaining the position of Associate Conductor of the Wingates Band from 2018 to 2022, and now he has taken up the baton at Freckleton Band, whom he led to a 1st place position in the First Section at the Bolsover Entertainment Contest last year. 

With the wealth of knowledge, experience and musical prowess Adam possesses, as a composer, musician and a musical director, I am absolutely certain that this is going to be a show to remember. If anyone can harmonise the sound of a brass band with the extroverted characteristics of drag artistry, it’s Adam. 

Speaking on the event to It’s Not a Trumpet, Adam said:

"All of us at Freckleton have been working very hard to bring this project to life and are very excited to get on the stage at the tower with Donna and Len! Working with Jamie has been a wonderful experience - her expertise has given us food for thought that we will carry forward in all our future performances, and we hope to use this experience to innovate further and think outside of the box as a performers.
On a personal level, I believe that brass banding must look further afield to engage and retain audiences and keep our tradition alive and evolving. I believe we must demonstrate that our collective attitude as a movement looking forward, steeped in tradition both good and bad, is an attitude of openness, progression, and inclusivity.
Many bands around the country have started taking initiatives to engage with pride parades, pride concerts and many other LGBTQ+ events in recent years. I hope that our participation in this project is another demonstration that the banding community is a place of safety and happiness for the LGBTQ+ community, both of which I proudly count myself a part of."

Jamie Sophia Fletcher | Director

Jamie Sophia Fletcher is a director and musician, specialising in musical theatre, multi-disciplinary performance, comedy, adaptations and works with socio-political themes. Jamie is deeply passionate about directing collaboration and telling diverse stories on the stage and screen, as well as finding new creative ways to tell those stories. Her diverse career includes directing plays and musicals, such as The Wizard of Oz and the official music video for drag star and Brighouse-native, Divina De Campo, who made an appearance on RuPaul’s Drag Race in a costume inspired by the uniform of Brighouse and Rastrick Band. 

Jamie’s compositional credits include, The Snow Queen by Dan Brown and We Can Be Heroes by Dick Bonham. She has also collaborated with a range of artists as a musician, including working as a session musician on the hit television show, Stars in their Eyes. 

Speaking on her involvement within the project with It’s Not a Trumpet, Jamie said:

"Growing up in the 80s and 90s, there were two things that undoubtedly shaped who I am today. One is the amazing experiences as a young person playing in brass bands and being apart of that community and the other is the negative effect and legacy that section 28 had on me as an LGBTQ+ person.
So, when I saw the opportunity with Brass Bands England Elevate project to do something that could be a celebration of brass bands, drag cabaret and queer culture I jumped at the chance and pitched the idea right away. This, one-night-only spectacular in collaboration with Freckleton Band and starring drag king Len Blanco and drag queen Donna Trump is certainly one night you are not going to want to miss!”

Kinky Toots: About the Show

‘Kinky Toots’ (a play on the title of the acclaimed drag-themed film and musical Kinky Boots) will bring a colourful celebration of all things brass band, drag cabaret and queer culture to the Blackpool Tower. 

Hosting the show will be two leading UK drag artists, Len Blanco and Donna Trump. 

Introducing Len Blanco

Len Blanco is a drag king, musician, comedian and performance-maker from Cardiff. Len is probably best known for their satirical ‘ex-boyband’ character and is a lover of the unruly and improvised at the cabaret shows and immersive events they perform in. Alongside their work as a Drag King and performer, Len is also a teacher of drag and cabaret at Soho Theatre and Above Your Nerve Theatre Company.

Introducing Donna Trump

Donna Trump is a singer, lip-syncer and comedian who describes herself as ‘a child who has been let loose in the toy box’. Hailing from Birmingham, this Brummie beauty has a musical theatre degree and is influenced by theatre practitioners, such as Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud. Music is also a big inspiration for Donna with her citing it as the driving force behind the energy she brings to her routines and performances. For those of you who are RuPaul’s drag race fans, Donna is the ‘drag daughter’ of former contestant, Cheddar Gorgeous (who is one of my all time favourite drag artists. 

This double act will bring hilarity, charm, swagger and a dash of glitz and glamour to what is sure to be an unforgettable evening!

Show Details

Kinky Toots

Date: Thursday 14th March 2024

Time: Doors open @ 7:30pm - Show starts at 8pm

Venue: The Fifth Floor, Blackpool Tower, The Promenade, Blackpool, FY1 4BJ

Age guidance: All under 18s must be accompanied by an adult. Some language and subject matter will not be suitable for young children - for older children, the accompanying adult should make a decision on whether the event is suitable to attend. 

How to Buy Tickets 

You can by tickets by visiting the Kinky Toots ticket page on the Brass Bands England website (click here).

Ticket Prices

Over 18s: £18.00

Concessions (under 18s): £12.00

Table of 5 (over 18s): £90.00

Table of 10 (over 18s): £180.00

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