Myths & Legends
(City of Stoke Brass)
Every band has its stories, some based on the truth, some absolute bullshoot. Either way, over the years everyone who has passed it on will have garnished the story. Try to spot the truth in these beauties!
The band had been awarded a very prestigious concert in the early days, playing at the celebrations of 200 years of the Inland Revenue Service, in Britain. The climax of the performance was to be a specially commissioned piece, "Fanfares and Tango's". The rest of the program was filled with our general concert repertoire. We only realised on the coach home that playing "Born Free" might have been seen to be a touch sarcastic!
Picture this! During rehearsals for the above concert, we were practising the then conductor's arrangement of "Swinging Safari". As time was tight, Eric decided to take the tempo up a few notches, up to about 140ish. The horn section we about to "come in", and were looking up for the down beat, when Eric's top set of false teeth made an appearance! Without missing a single beat, Eric managed to suck the teeth back in from what seemed to be 6 inches from his lips. Needless to say the horn section were too busy laughing to play. Eric later said that it was a test to see which players watched him when playing!!!!!
This actually happened, I was one of the near victims! We were returning from Rhyl Festival of Brass, having won and having had a Shandy or two. As always the coach was without a toilet, and bladders were getting critical. Eventually the driver agreed to pull over to the side of the road (A55), to let us have a look in the field. In broad daylight (perhaps to get his own back) he managed to stop the coach in the flattest and hedgeless part of North Wales as is possible. Daz spotted some 40 yards into the field a large metal box, painted green. To save our blushes from the passing motorists we headed for it at Linford pace. The steam was already rising when someone noticed a commotion going on back in the coach. They were sort of making STOP motions and shouting rude words. There is no chance of stemming the tide of 10 pints of lager, so it wasn't until we had finished that we spotted the 440,000 Volts sign painted on the coach side of the Electricity sub station we were visiting!!!!!
History is studied so that we may learn from our mistakes. Case in point, dressing up for Entertainments competitions. Chris, one of our percussionists had been conned into dressing up in a Big Bird outfit (Big yellow feathered thing). The point of this was we were playing as part of the program, Howard Snell's "In the Woods". Chris was to wonder around the band in the suit, playing cookoo noises as specified on the score. Problem was the whistle, it blocked up, leaving Chris walking round doing absolutely nothing!!!!! We came last!
We were coming up to the end of "The Kingdom Triumphant" by Eric Ball, in a quite small concert venue. As is usual with brass bands, we were trying to cause structural damage to the building!!!!! The last chord hit, perfectly in tune, Bb bass player dropped down to the pedal note. The conductor, Paul Andrews, threw his arms up to raise the volume even more (he was getting carried away with it too), and suddenly without warning shouted (supported by the diaphragm), "Come on you f*!king bastards!!!!!". The confused, "Where did that come from" look on the front 3 rows of the audience still makes me laugh today.
In one of our very first concerts, we were lucky enough to be guest conducted for one piece (Swinging Safari again!) by the newly crowned Miss Stoke-on-Trent. The piece over she turned to take the applause of the audience, and took a bow. The Cornet, Horns and Euphonium/Baritone section couldn't help themselves, and all dropped their music to the floor. She then turns back to the band and thanks us, and looked confused when we informed her she should take another bow!!!!!!
Another toiletless bus problem. Our principal cornet, who shall remain nameless, couldn't hold on any longer! The coach was stuck in traffic on the Motorway and the Service station was some 8 miles further on! He had the bright idea to use, a plastic shopping bag. This provided the perfect solution, until it sprang a leak some 20 minutes later due to the pressure from the 8 pints of fluid it held. The results were not nice!!!!!
Winning a contest is always special. Particularly when its the bands first, and as can be expected we were jubilant. So much so, the announcer had to ask some 3 minutes after our results, "Could the winners of the Second Section take their celebrations to the bar, as we are trying to announce the First Section result!!!!
The band played in Tamworth at Christmas every year. One year, for some reason, we arrived late. Luckily the stage had a curtain, so the waiting audience couldn't see that we were still setting up at 7:25pm (7:30 start). The Xylophone had always been a bit 'wobbly', and was in desperate need of a service. The Brass players of the band we all ready to go on, as the poor percussion section were still desperately screwing together their kit. The curtains were about to open as Mr. Xylophone took a dive, sending wood and steel flying all over the stage. The audience may have been confused by the enormous crash that they heard, but must have been further puzzled by the trio of "Oh! For F*@ks sake!" from the percussion section.
The band had arrived at the venue for the Rhyl festival of Brass, and the Percussion equipment had been moved from the coach to the stage door. The famous collapsing Xylophone was in the process of being assembled, when it was noticed that wooden notes were missing. "No problem, they were rolled up and put in the luggage rack on the bus. Someone will have to go back and fetch them. We've plenty of time." This would have been true, except the driver had deceided to move the coach, but noone knew where. After a search of most of North Wales, and with moments before we went on stage, the notes were found. The band went on stage and came away with 1st place!!!
Money's too tight to mention, sang Mick Hucknell of Simply Red fame. This was very true when the band won through to the National Finals. The piece required a Tubular Bell part. The band didn't have any, and furthur more could not afford any. One of the players, no names(!) dissapeared and returned with a Scaffolding pole and metal saw from a building site. From that night until the Finals day the Percussion section spent hours chopping centimeters from the "Bell" to try to get it in tune!!!
They say that when in danger, the human body can summon up super-human strength. This is also the case when the band wins a contest. Again it was the Rhyl Festival of Brass, and the result had just been announced. The Chairman of the band at this time (Simon Welch) was chosen to collect the trophy, and in his delight, managed to step from the 3rd row of the audience, straight onto the stage. Even at 6ft 6 plus this is still a remarkable achievement, and we are still not sure how he managed it?!!??!
Bb Bass players are always regarded as being a bit thick. No disrepect Bb Bass Players ! ;-) But new studies have pointed towards the actual instrument rather than the player. During the Universities summer vacation we were visited by one of our ex-trombone players (no names). As there was already 3 trombones there and no Baritone instrument to fill the empty Baritone seat, John ... Sorry the player in question, picked up a Bb Bass. All was well until the second half of the rehearsal, 30 minutes into Colloden Moor (Gareth Wood), when the second page was reached. John, suddenly remarked that he did not have a Letter L and that his copy had reverted from Letter marks, to number ones. Some time passed before the Eb player pointed out that he has got the Second page of Plantagents open instead of Collodan Moor!!!!!