281/365 Horn

281/365 Horn
281/365 Horn by rutty is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

I’ve been playing at Newark Wedding Fair at the exhibition centre. Carlton Brass are angling for more bookings so we have formed a quintet too. I’ve been playing the cornet part, my first time doing so in a quintet.

My lip knows it’s had a good blow, but it was very rewarding.

We also played two further sessions with the full band. I am absolutely knadgered after that!

268/365 Rehearsal

268/365 Rehearsal
268/365 Rehearsal by rutty is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Hello pop pickers, it’s that time of night for our band rehearsal.

You can possibly tell from my music what we are playing: At the Sign of the Swinging Cymbal – the theme tune to Alan ‘Fluff’ Freeman’s radio show back in the day. It’s a specially arranged version done for our appearance at the Bolster Festival of Brass in October.

Looking forward to it!

176/365 Contest Day

“176/365 Contest Day” by rutty is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

I love brass band contest days.

My band Carlton Brass are playing at the Brass on the Grass contest at Denby Potteries today. This is an entertainments contest, where each band has to play a programme of 25 minutes of (hopefully) entertaining brass band music.

We played a really good selection of music, including a sung vocal solo by our outstandingly talented Charlotte. Her Don’t Rain on My Parade went down really well.

We came second. Pretty pleased with that!

159/365 Champs

“159/365 Champs” by rutty is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

Our brass band organisation has had a lot of success over the years. Not as much as some of the top bands in the country, but we’ve won some national competitions here and there; most recently the 2015 Midlands Section Section Regional Championships. We subsequently came an excellent 4th at the National contest too.

You always win a nice banner after a victory, and this top one was for one of the now defunct bands in our organisation (NCT), who won the old Championship Section Regional Contest.

It may seem strange having a competitive element to brass banding, but it’s a core element of our culture. Some don’t like it, but it’s something I really enjoy.

70/365 Contest Day

70/365 Contest Day

It’s that time of year, once more, where dozens of brass bands descend on Bedworth to participate in the annual Midlands Regional Brass Band Championships.

My band, Carlton Brass, were competing in the First Section; hoping to improve on a disappointing 14th place last year. We were playing Land of the Long White Cloud by Philip Sparke, drawn number 11 of 16.

We played really, really well, and came off stage happy with our efforts. The result, 7th, was a little disappointing considering how well it went, but we can’t really argue with the remarks from the adjudicators; some really nice playing but a few too many errors here and there to come much higher.

We had some lovely comments from others in the hall, so perhaps we could have come higher, but we are still happy to play as well as we did.

We obviously celebrated out achievement by having a few drinks, as is tradition.

Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band

Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band by rutty
Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band, a photo by rutty on Flickr.

This weekend saw me spend 48 hours or so in the most bracing part of England – Skegness for my favourite brass band event of the year, the Butlin’s Mineworkers Championships. Thousands of brass banders managed to get there despite the atrocious weather conditions. Music was played, beer was drunk and (in our case) disappointment in the eventual results was drowned in copious amount of alcohol.

I love this weekend. Love it.

One of the highlights was seeing the Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band in Reds on Saturday evening. They had the well-known trumpet screamer Chad Shoopman with them, and they were absolutely brilliant. I have no idea how the guy can reach some of those notes – it’s totally not natural.

Bring on 2014 (and a better result next time)

Whit Friday Marches 2008

I spent the best part of last Friday in the lovely Lancashire area of Tameside, where our band were taking part in the traditional Whit Friday Marches contest. For the uninitiated this happens every year (on Whit Friday, natch) and involves many dozens of Britain’s brass bands descending on Tameside and Saddleworth. Each band is required to march down to a contest stage playing one march before playing a contest march to an adjudicator.

Concentrating (by rutty)This might sound really old fashioned, and it is, but it’s still very well attended. Many, many bands attend every year and all of the villages that host a contest have to put up with hundreds of hungry, thirsty bandsmen and their supporters. It’s a great event.

We started at about 4:30 at the Stalybridge Celtic football ground before ending up in the village of Denton at about 10:30. We’d played at 8 different contests during the day and we only got rained on during the last two!

If you’re ever in the area during Whit Friday then you really should check it out. You won’t find anything quite like this anywhere else.

We played the contest march Mephistopheles (by Shipley Douglas). Here’s a video of the (sadly now defunct) Rochdale Band playing the same march back in 1986:

Band website

A few months ago I took over the job of Public Relations from my old mate Ray at band. I took the decision to take the opportunity to update the band website and I’m close to getting the site how I’d want it.

It’s temporarily on a new domain while we get the old one transfered over to my 123-reg account, but you can see it at carltonbrass.co.uk.

I’m using a great magazine-like WordPress template called The Morning After. It has loads of good features that you’d normally associate with a paid-for premium theme – all provided free of charge. I shall be tipping them once I’ve finished faffing about with the design. So far I’m very impressed.

I’m still tinkering with the design but if you have any comments about it then please leave them here rather than over there.

Updating the band site

It seems that I’m in the process of combining two of my favourite activities: brass banding and farting about on the internet.

After some sterling work over the years by our old PR man Ray, it is now my responsibility to maintain the Carlton Brass website. Since its inception the website has been lovingly hand-crafted and uploaded onto some free hosting. However, I’m a lot more lazy than Ray and so I’ve decided that I may as well take the opportunity to move the site onto some proper paid-for hosting while updating the website to make it a little more modern-looking and easier to maintain.

I’ve been using WordPress for a few months now and I’ve come around to the idea that it’d be a pretty good platform to use for a small site like ours. I can create my own pages and update it much easier than having to make each page myself. The new version also has some built-in gallery features (which I haven’t actually tried yet) so future events will be much easier to document.

I’ve bought the hosting from SiteHQ (my host here too) because they’re really nice people and they’re good value. Both of those things appeal to my Yorkshire sensibilities! I’m almost sold on the idea of using PressBox as the theme – it’s a lovely, simple design and works excellently. I’m still playing around with modifying parts of the design to better suit our needs but I much prefer this layout to most other themes I’ve seen.

It’s going to be a huge change from the old style! It’s looking a bit dated now but the old website has done wonders for our band and Ray has worked really hard on it over the years. Hopefully the new website will allow much easier updating and will allow multiple authors, so it’ll be quicker and more convenient for everyone.

I expect to attempt to transfer the domain over next week. Let’s hope that everyone likes the new design!