2006 North American Brass Band Championships - Postcard from Louisville


4BR sampled the delights of the Louisville from the Bluegrass Brewery Company to the best of the bands at this year's NABBA Championships.

American banding continues to keep moving forward at a speedy pace.  Bands here are learning from their mistakes quickly and there are a good number of technical excellent players.  The over blowing some noticed at the U.S. Open has already been toned down.  It would be amazing to see how quick these bands could catch up to the UK, European and Down Under' bands if they were able to do more than two contests a year.

A bridge over troubled musical waters? Louisville's answer to the Forth Bridge. 

As for this past weekends' event, this was the only the second year that the NABBA Board hosted their Championships and not a host band.  For the most part the event was run quite well.  Schedules for rehearsal rooms/times the Friday night before were posted online ahead of the event.  The entire schedule from solo, ensemble and band warm-up rooms to performance times were also posted online (except for the band names to the confidentiality of the pre-draw).  There was an area to check your horns and coats in if you wanted to stay to hear other bands and there were about a dozen trade stands including a NABBA stand where bands have their own CD's sold.  In spite of the occasional glitch (e.g. the first shuttle buses from the hotel usually wasn't on time) things are on the up and up.

There are a few inconveniences that the NABBA board will have to deal with.  The hotel is about a 20-minute shuttle ride to the venue, so the importance of those shuttles to anybody that flies into Louisville is paramount.  Also, the performing venues are not ideal for bands (although believe me…I've played in many worse).  First of all, in Stem Hall, something will need to be done to deaden the stage.  It may be as simple as hanging curtains on the sides of the stage, but it is a bit too live for brass bands that can put out some sound and volume. 

Always a sign that 4BR feels at home...

Robinson Theatre on the other hand, doesn't have enough seats in front of the band.  After a total of four rows were blocked off for the adjudicators and to create a buffer from the audience, about 75% of the seats were to the side of the band.  However, for the solo and ensemble events the 3-main stages were more than adequate…pity they couldn't use one of the band rehearsal rooms as the fourth.  The trade stands had a nice location by the campus dining area that was close enough to the performance venues to create foot traffic; and the Galt House Hotel (in Downtown Louisville) where many bands stayed was equipped with several bars.

Downtown Louisville itself is home to the minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds (the Louisville Bats).  The 4th Street area is home to a lot of restaurants, bars and live music; including one the cities own beer manufacturers the Bluegrass Brewing Company (an Omen perhaps for the winning Championship Section band?)  The Louisville area is just far enough south that there is bound to continue to be fine weather for this event each year especially when it moves back two weeks to April 13-14th in 2007.

Pat Herak


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