All roads lead to Barry – although Butlins hasn’t reopened it’s old holiday camp on the South Wales coast so beloved of colliers, coach trips and fans of Gavin & Stacey.
No. It’s Darrol Barry who provides the musical destination for the 75 adult (and 12 youth bands) that make the trip east to Skegness for the annual January jamboree at the Skyline Resort:
All the test pieces come from the pen of the popular Salford born Oman based ex pat.
The Mineworker’s Festival has quickly established itself as the season ‘opener’, and despite the freezing weather over the last few weeks that has disrupted rehearsal schedules up and down the country, there is sure to be a warm welcome on offer – and plenty of fun and games to keep everyone happy.
The essence of the Butlins recipe for success has been the combination of big prizes and bold entertainment – a recipe that is as tasty as the £7,000 top prize up for grabs in the top section on the weekend.
Following the demise of Pontins, the prize pot of over £33,000 is the biggest on offer in the banding world – and should come in handy for those who got their fingers burnt after the Prestatyn fiasco.
There should be plenty to enjoy away from the contest stages too – with the expected 4,000 plus customers enjoying concerts from American visitors Central Ohio Brass Band, National Champion Brighouse & Rastrick and defending champion, Desford Colliery.
The Blues Brothers are back in town, Stan Lippeatt is hosting his popular pre contest chat show, and the BBC Philharmonic Big Band is on parade as well as the colourful Bad Ass Brass Band (below).
60s singer Billie Monro should croon is way into a few older hearts and the pop groups ‘Impulse’ and ‘One Night Only’ should keep the blood flowing in the younger veins.
Frank Renton will be his usual sharp-witted self as master of ceremonies and all round Wikipedia expert on the Sunday (although not as sharp tongued as Ricky Gervais at the Golden Globes one hopes) when the top section bands go all X Factor.
The contests hold the promise of fine entertainment at the various ‘in house’ venues, with Brian Eggleshaw and his hard working team ensuring that each event runs smoothly.
The Bad Ass Brass Band
Desford returns to try and extend its Butlins hegemony, whilst one of the lower section bands of 2010, Jackfield Elcock Reisen, looks to add yet another seaside title to its CV in the First Section.
With last year’s Second and Third Section winners East London Brass and Delph promoted, both will hope to make a mark at a higher level this time around, whilst Dronfield Colliery will be looking to make it a Butlins ‘double’ in the Fourth Section after last season’s success.
Butlins innovative policy of encouraging the next generation of brass band performers is seen with the introduction of the Junior Ensemble event at the Reds venue, where five talented ensembles are sure to provide brilliant entertainment on Sunday morning.
That's tidy that is...
Following on from that, Youth Brass 2000 will defend its title in what promises to be a cracking Youth Section event.
It all amounts to something to look forward to then.
To borrow a Gavin & Stacey phrase by big brassy Nessa - ’That’s tidy that is’.