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Take 5: Bands to watch out for in 2017

4BR picks five UK bands, each from a different section, to keep an eye out for in 2017

Take Five
  We pick five bands to watch out for in 2017 — and not just to stop the 4BR 'Kiss of Death'.

4BR picks five bands, each from a different section, to keep an eye out for in 2017 — and not just to overcome the curse of our traditional 'Kiss of Death' predictions to hear their names mentioned in the results come contest time.


All five go about their business in an admirable way — focusing on collective long term aims and objectives and not just on how to survive to the next contest stage appearance.

1. Championship Section: Fairey Band

There has been a quiet musical revolution going on in Stockport over the last few years — led by the 'Marple Maestro' Garry Cutt, ably assisted by Tom Davoren and a backroom team that have sought to make an increasingly successful mark on everything they undertake.

They are now a very serious contender at every major championship (and have already qualified for the 2018 Europeans) but they also actively seek out innovative, interesting projects to be part of as well. 2017 could be a very significant year indeed.

2. First Section: Eccles Borough Band

A famous old banding name (they won the British Open back in 1930), but one that has made long term incremental progress under the baton of Musical Director Mareika Gray since her appointment in 2010.

Then they were in the Third Section, but in 2017 they will compete in the First Section boosted by a remarkable 'double' at the Wychavon Contest in November that saw them become the first band to win both the First and Championship Sections on the same day. A band and MD that know exactly which musical direction they are heading.

3. Second Section: J36 Brass

Named rather unromantically by a group of friends after a spur on the M6 motorway in Cumbria near Kendal and Kirkby Lonsdale, J36 Brass was formed in January 2016 but has already made a huge impact on the banding scene in the north of England and beyond, with exciting plans for long term development already in the pipeline.

They have already won three of the four contests they have entered (and came second at the other at the National Finals) and employ a welcome form of democracy to their banding endeavors — with the players and conductor all paying subs each rehearsal and each having an equal vote on banding matters.

4. Third Section: Whitburn Heartlands Band

A fantastic blueprint (make that tartan) of how to set up a band within a larger musical organisation to ensure everyone benefits.

This is all about developing players and imbuing them with a sense of musical self achievement — the second step on a ladder of progression (the first is a super Beginner Group) that hopefully sees them become fully fledged members of the current Champion Band of Scotland (and a few have already done it) or go on and enjoy their playing at different levels with local bands in the Whitburn area and beyond. A band with its heart in the right place in more ways than one.

5. Fourth Section: Wantage Academy Brass

The Academy is part of an incredibly well run organisation (based near Newbury in Berkshire) that boats a high quality Championship Section outfit, B Band, Concert Brass Band, Trainer Band, Beginners Group and Big Band under the one musical umbrella.

It is also one that has admirably clear aims and objectives, is led by a great MD and simply enjoys making music together. The contest results are of secondary importance to getting youngsters involved and inspired — with a masterclass with Roger Webster already booked in for the New Year.

Friary Guildford

Result: 2018 London & Southern Counties Regional Championship: Championship Section

March 18 • Frairy Guildford make it four wins in a row as they retain their top-flight title and are joined at the Albert Hall by Thundersley.


Result: 2018 London & Southern Counties Regional Championship: Fourth Section

March 18 • Bradwell Silver strikes gold to take Fourth Section title and head to Cheltenham alongside Regent Community Brass and Great Yarmouth Brass.


Result: 2018 North of England Regional Championship: Championship Section

March 18 • NASUWT Riverside makes it a North of England Area double as they head back to the Albert Hall as champions again with Reg Vardy in tow.


Result: 2018 Welsh Regional Championship: Championship Section

March 18 • Cory delivers an emotional Odyssey that takes them to London and to Montreux in Swansea. Tredegar comes runner-up, with Tongwynlais and City of Cardiff (Melingriffith) also booking their places in Kensington.

Black Dyke Band - The Hawth, Crawley

Sunday 18 March • The Hawth, Hawth Ave, Crawley RH10 6YZ

Contest: Welsh Regional Championships

Sunday 18 March • Brangwyn Hall, The Guildhall, Swansea SA1 4PE

Contest: London & SC REgional Championships

Sunday 18 March • Stevenage Arts & Leisure Centre, Lytton Way, Stevenage SG1 1LZ

Contest: North of England Regional Championships

Sunday 18 March • The Gala Theatre, 1 Millennium Place, Durham DH1 1WA

Black Dyke Band - Mirfield Parish Church

Thursday 22 March • Mirfield Parish Church, 38 Church Lane, Mirfield WF14 9HX

Chinnor Silver

March 19 • We are sadly loosing one of our award winning bass team soon(best basses award at areas) so we are looking for a Bb BASS . Good book of contests and concerts planned including butlins . We rehearse on Wednesday in our own bandroom

St Albans City Band

March 19 • Time for a change after the Areas? Or do you just fancy another blow each week? We are a friendly community band looking for new players to join our group. All welcome but especially cornet, horn, Eb / Bb Bass and Percussion.

Friary Guildford Brass Band

March 19 • The L&SC Champions are looking for a committed Bb bass player to join our team.. . We have a busy, but sensible schedule of concerts and contests including the Grand Shield and National Finals.

Alwyn Green

Conductor, composer, arranger, adjudicator, teacher and soloist