"The Lowdown" - all you needed to know about the top contenders
at the North of England Area. Can Ever Ready and their line up secure
another North East win.
Also - a closer look at the reigning champions - Ever
Les Palmer casts his eye over the
contenders to his bands crown. - ref art007
17th March 2001
1st Section 12.00 (11 entries)
4th Section 16.00 (15 entries)
18th March 2001
3rd Section 10.00 (10 entries)
2nd Section 13.00 (10 entries)
Championship Section 16.15 (8 entries)
Venue: The Dolphin Centre, Darlington.
The North of England Bands gather at Darlington for the 18th time
to decide which Bands will be contesting the National Finals in
September and October.
An excellent entry of bands in this section should see a keenly
fought contest. Last years 2 qualifiers were both promoted so leaving
the way clear for some new contenders at the finals. Bearpark &
Esh along with Dearham and Stape Silver should be the main contenders
although we have an unknown in debutantes Burneside Brass. Sacriston
have been making good progress recently and Fiver Rivers Brass (formerley
Backworth) will no doubt be keen to impress their new sponsors with
Without doubt the Band to beat in this section will be Langbaurgh.
Strengthened by signings from British Steel Teesside they recently
won Section B of the Durham County Brass Band Association Contest
and are probably too good for the other contenders. Newly promoted
Ferryhill (DCBBA Section D winners) and Lanchester have been making
good progress under their young conductors and Ovington Tynedale
are also going well. Houghton Brass will be pulling out all the
stops after finishing last in their previous 2 outings.
Another Band to have been boosted by signings from British Steel
Teesside will be among the top contenders in this section. Pride
Valley Brass recently won the DCBBA Section C contest and will be
hoping to go 1 (or 2) better than last years 3rd place. Newly promoted
Westoe (STCHT) and Felling are both on the up and Cockerton will
be hoping to be amongst the prizes. They too have had some dissapointing
results recently and have had 2 or 3 rehearsals with Richard Evans
to assist with this years bid to qualify.
This section will probably be the most difficult one to call as
the standard of most of the entrants is very similar. Newly promoted
Harrogate and GT Group Peterlee will be hoping to add to their sucesses
of 2000 whilst the demoted bands Aunt Bessies East Yorkshire Brass
and BAE Systems Marine (formerley Vickers Barrow) will be hoping
for a return to the top flight. Broughtons Brass have been playing
well (under Chris Bentham), as have Boldon and Kirkbymoorside. Nestle
Rowntree (who currently top the 1st section grading register) appear
for the first time in competition under the baton of Billy Rushworth
the ex Black Dyke & YBS horn star whilst Spennymoor Town have opted
for Mark Condron, one time Bass Trombonist with the now defunct
Kennedys Swinton Concert Brass.
Jazz is without doubt one of the most difficult pieces that has
been selected for the Area contest and will give most of the Bands
in the Championship section problems. British Steel Teesside and
Flookburgh Bands have not entered this year and Skipton have also
now withdrawn to leave seven Bands to battle it out on March 18th.
EYMS have engaged the services of Alan Morrison this year and will
be hoping to better last years 3rd place whilst Fishburn will be
looking to better last years 2nd place. Tony Swainson returns to
the Area to conduct Newcastle Brown Ale Band, whilst reigning champions
Ever Ready appear under the baton of Brian Grant with whom they
recently won the DCBBA Section A Contest. Newly promoted Cottingham
will be a Band to watch whilst Northumbria Police and Greggs Bakery
Bands complete the line-up with 2 well known conductors, Graham
O'connor and Roy Curran respectively.
All in all it should be an excellent weekend of Brass Band music
making in the friendly North East. If you are looking for something
to do on the 17th or 18th March, then look no further than the Dolphin
Centre at Darlington.
A closer look at the reigning champions - Ever
Formed in 1910, the Band progressed rapidly and by 1924 had become
North of England Champions for the first time. After the war, the
Band began rebuilding in the 2nd section and after several National
Finals appearances in Section 2, they were promoted to the Championship
Section with effect from January 1st 1959, a status that has been
maintained ever since.
In 1963 the Band qualified for its first appearance in the Championship
Section Finals and since then has qualified a total of 34 times
(in 38 attempts). In 1968 the Band received it's first (of 24) post
war Area titles and will be taking part in the North of England
Regional Championships as reigning Champions.
The Band will be conducted on the day by Brian Grant, now working
as a freelance professional conductor but recently associated with
the Williams Fairey Band, and before that with the Ransome Band.
Brian has been involved with Ever Ready Band since November 1997
when he conducted the Band to 2nd place at the CISWO finals, and
has worked with the Band quite frequently since then, most recently
in February this year when together they regained the Durham Association
Over the years the Band was fortunate to be supported firstly by
Craghead Colliery (1910-1968) and then Ever Ready (1968-1992) who
employed many former workers from Craghead Colliery in their factory
in Stanley. Since 1992 however, the Band has been self supporting,
obtaining a National Lottery award for instruments in 1996 and more
recently purchasing their own Bandroom, a former Salvation Army
Band Hall, to give the Band a permanent home.
The members of the Band travel from many parts of the North East
to perform together and as you would expect, we have one or two
Resident Conductor Stephen Malcolm
Joined the Band in January 1984, after 12 years as a member of the
Bass Section Steve left the Band to take up conducting, 18 months
later he returned to the Band as resident Conductor.
Principal Cornet Bryan Tait
Joined the Band in October 1977 and became Principal Cornet in August
1980, a position he holds to this day probably making him one of
the longest serving Principal Cornets in the country.
Solo Cornet Andy Holmes
Andy joined the Band in September 2000 after completing a course
at Huddersfield. A man with more skeletons in his cupboard than
a your average graveyard.
Solo Cornet Gordon McGeorge
Joined the Band in January 1983, Gordon is renowned for his sense
of humour and also his talent on the Kareoke machine.
Solo Cornet James Chisholm
James joined the Band in April 1999 and is best known for a bizarre
incident at Pontins which we won't go into now.
Soprano Cornet Les Palmer
Les joined the Band in March 1990, and then demonstrated another
streak of lunacy by becoming Band Manager in November 1993.
Repiano Cornet Alan Catherall
A member of the Band since February 1985, Alan's arranging talents
need no explanation here.
2nd Cornet Steve Tallentire
Since joining the Band in April 1994, Steve has been responsible
for our links with the Krohnengen Band from Norway.
2nd Cornet Steve King
Joined the Band in January 1998, rooms with Dave McKay when we are
2nd Cornet Stuart Jackson
Stuart is one of our latest signings joining in January 2001 after
moving to the North East from his native Liverpool (via Warwick
3rd Cornet Corinne Ellis
Since joining the Band in April 1995, Corinne has certainly improved
the appearance of the back row. She also likes holding the trophies.
3rd Cornet Bob Temple
Bob joined the Band in September 1996, and has now risen to the
dizzy heights of Band Chairman.
Nicola Williamson Nicola joined the Band in June 1989 on Cornet
and moved to Flugel in 1996.
Solo Horn Andrew Hall
Joined the Band in November 1988. Andrew is best known for his much
better looking Fiancée, Ann.
1st Horn Linda Cook
One of the first ladies to play in top bands, Linda played Cornet
& Flugel before retiring to start a family. She returned to the
Band in December 1988. Oldest son Joseph, plays Eb Bass with Black
2nd Horn Michael Burr
Michael joined the Band in January 2000. Brian Grant seems to think
he looks like Ned Flanders.
1st Baritone Jim Thompson
Originally joined the Band in November 1964, Jim retired in June
1993. After his son started playing Cornet and joined Ferryhill
Town Band, Jim found the urge hard to resist, and returned to the
Band in January 1999. Jim has played in 23 of the Bands 24 Area
2nd Baritone Colin Dye
Another long serving member, Colin joined the Band in September
1973. He took over as secretary in the summer of 1990 but somehow
managed to relinquish the post.
Solo Euphonium Paul Robinson
One of the Bands latest recruits, joining in January 2001. Paul
joins the Band after giving many years service to British Steel
2nd Euphonium Steve Clinton
Now in his 3rd spell with the Band. Steve is one of the best technicians
in the Band.
Solo Trombone Chris Bentham
Joined in Aug 1987, in his first contest the Band came 4th at the
British Open. Chris has developed his conducting talents over the
last 3 years but prefers in the main to play.
2nd Trombone Garry Reed
Garry came to the Band in April 1998. In October that year he (and
Dave McKay) had their hair peroxided for the Nationals.
Solo Eb Bass Dave McKay
Joined the Band in March 1991. He is without doubt one of the characters
of the Band and has a penchant for extremely hot (of the Phall variety)
2nd Eb Bass Ian Gibson
Returned to the Band in September 2000, always seems to have a girl
on his arm.
Solo BBb Bass Lawrence Eccleston
Lawrence joined the Band in November 1999 after moving to the North
East. A former Nationals winner with Desford, he has been known
to dress in womens clothing in the name of entertainment.
2nd BBb Bass Keith Gilfillan
Joined the Band in October 1996, Keith is a bit paranoid (to say
the least) and is also the Band Sergeant (would you argue with him?).
Percussion Anne Armstrong
The bands youngest player, Anne joined in April 1999 and has certainly
enhanced the percussion section with her Xylophone playing (as well
as lowering the average age).
Percussion Bob Stephenson
Bob (or Burb as he is known to most) joined the Band in August 1991
and is another who has been known to cross dress (mainly in Pantomimes).
He is also responsible for teaching Brian Grant to speak several
words of broad Northumbrian.
Timpani Colin Johnson
Colin arrived at Ever Ready in April 1998 and is another member
who has been seen in womens clothing (this is disturbing). Has been
known to overdose on the falling down water (that's G' n T) on rare
Back room staff Dave Carr
Dave has been a member of the Band since 1969, playing Horn and
then Eb Bass with great distinction. He remains committed to the
Band attending most practices and engagements.
There you have it, the Ever Ready Band in a nutshell. We are quite
a friendly bunch of people so if you happen to be at Darlington
on Sunday 18th March, seek us out and say hello.