An entertaining programme, and an equally entertaining musical director 

Lovers of parrot jokes and fine music had a fantastic night at the last Boarshurst Band Club concert of October 2016 (Sunday, 30th). Stacksteads Band treated the audience to a joyous combination of mirth, popular music, and concert classics. In the first XXXIII, we had two guest soloists; one who was present at last week’s concert, and an ever-present at most Sunday Brass concerts. They were the second of two Lancastrian bands that Sunday (Littleborough Training Band performed the third of Boarshurst Band Club’s lunchtime concerts).

Stacksteads Band is based in the village of Stacksteads, between Bacup and Waterfoot. It is just off the A681 to Rawtenstall (or Rosso’s 464 bus from Rochdale and Accrington). Stacksteads Band was formed in 1872 as the Stacksteads Amateur Brass Band. They are the only local brass band in Rossendale to have celebrated their centenary.

In 2014, they gained promotion from the Fourth Section to the Third Section, following their success at the National Championships of Great Britain in Cheltenham – their first in history. The test piece was Alan Fernie’s Three Spanish Impressions. Stacksteads Band uphold local customs by leading the Britannia Coconutters’ parade on Easter Saturday. Their rehearsals take place in the former Tunstead Co-op building

The Musical Director, Fred Bowker, completed the Band Musicianship Course at Salford College, taught by brass banding legend, Roy Newsome. He continued his education at De La Salle College, Middleton, where he was awarded a Batchelor of Education Degree (with Distinction).

Whilst at Middleton, he guided the then Third Section Middleton Band to National Championship of Great Britain honours at the Royal Albert Hall. He remains the only Musical Director of a Third Section band to have attained this feat. He has been Musical Director for Stacksteads since 2012.

Overall, it was a fantastic programme with a healthy dose of jokes and anecdotes between each piece. Also a great night if you love your brass band pieces arranged by Goff Richards. With the usual Master of Ceremonies otherwise engaged (more on this story later), yours truly, the author of this piece stood in again.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: Ravenswood (William Rimmer);
  2. Original Piece: The Golden Lady (Goff Richards);
  3. Principal Cornet solo (performed by Dee Ashworth): Georgia On My Mind (Hoagy Carmichael/Stuart Gorrell);
  4. Film Music: Amadeus (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, arr. Alan Fernie);
  5. Light Concert Music: Sing Sing Sing (Louis Prima, arr. Dan Price);
  6. Tenor Horn solo (performed by David Armitage, Elland Silver Band/Phoenix Brass): Somewhere Over The Rainbow (Harold Arlen, arr. Goff Richards);
  7. Popular Music: Hey Jude (Lennon/McCartney, arr. Derek Broadbent);
  8. Popular Music: American Trilogy (Mickey Newberry, arr. Goff Richards).

Second Half

  1. Overture: Fanfare and Soliloquy (Keith Terrett);
  2. Musical Piece: Mack and Mabel (Jerry Herman);
  3. Flugelhorn Solo (performed by John Whittle, Uppermill Band): Under the Boardwalk (Kenny Young/Arthur Resnick);
  4. Trombone Showcase: Theme from New York, New York (Fred Ebb/John Kander, arr. Jim Parker);
  5. Musical Piece: Singin’ in the Rain (Arthur Freed/Nacio Herb Brown, arr. Alan Fernie);
  6. Classical: Ballet Music (finale from Faust) (Charles Gounod).

Ravenswood me, Amadeus

Earlier on in this piece (and also as stated by yours truly prior to their first note), Stacksteads Band are a brass band that are proud of upholding traditions. Starting off with a march is one example, especially Ravenswood. William Rimmer’s march needed little introduction, owing to its popularity on Whit Friday, and at countless Hymn and March contests from Wick to Penzance.

Our second piece was written by Goff Richards, the first of many of the legendary composer’s pieces of the programme. This time, The Golden Lady, which was played by the band in the Bolsover entertainment contest on the 02 October. The piece was written about the Golden Lady statue, seen in the city of Luxembourg. It is the Monument of Remembrance, also known as the Gëlle Fra.

The first soloist of the night was Dee Ashworth on Principal Cornet. She played the Hoagy Carmichael and Stuart Gorrell standard, Georgia On My Mind. Written in 1930, their original version has been overtaken in popularity by Ray Charles’ cover. It has also been covered by Annie Lennox and Michael Bublé. I was more than happy with Dee’s rendition, a solid performance.

Back when Annie Lennox was a chart topper with Eurythmics’ There Must Be An Angel (Playing With My Heart), one of the must-watch films that year was Amadeus. As well as spawning Falco’s Rock Me Amadeus (a UK Number One single in May 1986), there was also the theme from Amadeus. Arranged by Alan Fernie, it was a fantastic overall performance from the band.

Lightening the mood a little for our fifth piece was Louis Prima’s Sing Sing Sing. Mr. Prima was known as The King of Swing. In March 1936, he recorded the song with the New Orleans Gang. It has been performed as an instrumental by Fletcher Henderson and, most famously, by Benny Goodman. Last night’s rendition was immaculately performed and well received by the audience.

The sixth piece was our second soloist of the night. Also the first of two guest soloists. On Tenor Horn, from Elland Silver and Phoenix Brass bands was David Armitage. He played the evergreen favourite, Somewhere Over The Rainbow. With his mastery on tenor horn, it was a real joy to listen to. Composed by Harold Arlen, this piece was our second Goff Richards arrangement of the night.

From one highly esteemed arranger to another, our seventh was arranged by Derek Broadbent. Before you think ‘no, not The Floral Dance‘, we were treated his arrangement of The Beatles’ Hey Jude. A well balanced sound.

This was also true with the final piece of the first half. Two tracks later, we moved from The King of Swing to The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll. Who else but Elvis Aaron Presley? Taking our first half to a glowing finish was The American Trilogy. If he was born and raised in Meltham instead of Memphis (sorry, you can’t get a FirstDay ticket to Tennessee), American Trilogy would have sounded like Stacksteads Band’s treatment. The original piece was written by Mickey Newberry, a Country and Western singer-songwriter. Our arrangement, by Goff Richards, was a seamless conversion, retaining the bombast of Elvis’ version.

“What do you call a documentary about trombone players? A slide show.”

The second half opened in glorious fashion with Keith Terrett’s Fanfare and Soliloquy. The composer was born in London and is a well travelled arranger, composer, and a band trainer. The opening piece of this half was written for bass clarinet as well as soprano saxophone. This made for a good workout for the whole band.

Our second piece for this half was a joyous concert standard, that of the theme from Mack and Mabel. Written by Jerry Herman, the musical opened on Broadway in 1974 and focuses on the romance with Hollywood director Mack Sennett and Mabel Normand. The musical gained greater success in the West End, commencing its first run in 1995. It was revived in 2006. Over at Boarshurst Band Club, Stacksteads’ rendition of the theme music was well received.

For the third and final soloist of the night was a familiar face. Well, very familiar to the regulars of The Mecca of Brass Banding. On flugelhorn solo (hence yours truly being the Master of Ceremonies), was John Whittle. This time with the Kenny Young and Arthur Resnick penned Under the Boardwalk. Continuing the rock ‘n’ roll thread spun by Elvis, the best known version was by The Drifters, released in 1964. It was later covered by Bruce Willis (a UK Number Two single in 1987), Bette Midler, and The Tom Tom Club.

After John Whittle’s sterling performance on the flugelhorn, we went to another song that was revived in the 1980s. In March 1986, Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York hit the UK singles chart. Properly known as Theme from New York, New York, it was originally released on 1977 for the Martin Scorsese film, New York, New York. The tune was a slow burner till Mr Frank added it to his concerts. It has also been performed as a duet with him and Liza Minnelli, or Tony Bennett. Stacksteads’ three trombones made light work of the popular piece.

The fifth piece was another concert favourite – Alan Fernie’s arrangement of Singin’ in the Rain. The song by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed has been a popular piece at the Boarshurst Sunday Brass concerts. Many people may remember the version featuring George Sampson from 2008. Or the memorable Morecambe and Wise sketch. For Stacksteads Band, another fantastic all-round effort.

We finished proceedings with the excellent finale from Ballet Music from Faust by Charles Gounod. Another popular piece at brass band concerts, this was a showcase for Stacksteads’ technical prowess. A rousing finish of the highest order. One which also wowed the crowds at the Bolsover Entertainment Contest.

Stacksteads Band put in a good shift, with the guest soloists offering an extra dimension to their sound. Fred Bowker wasn’t just a knowledgeable musical director. He was also the resident funny man with jokes between pieces. Especially on parrots (which demanded audience participation), soon-to-be clergymen with oaths of celibacy, and the joke which forms the title of our critique of second half pieces.

*               *               *

Next on the agenda for Stacksteads Band is a Remembrance concert on the 11 November (Friday, Armistice Day) at Little Harwood. Then, on the 03 December, they shall be in concert at St. Veronica’s Hospice (7.30pm). This is followed by their Christmas programme, which commences at Bacup Market on the 07 December (4.30pm). Their next stop will be Burnley Market on the 10 December (10.00am).

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

Our friends at Diggle Band shall be making the short journey down to Boarshurst Band Club. Their last visit was on the 19 June, immediately after the Hebden Bridge Hymn and March Contest. Phil Goodwin stood in for the usual Musical Director, Alan Wycherley. For a time, there was a Diggle Band Club, though no band. Today’s Diggle Band also have a ‘B’ band, and the senior band are a force to be reckoned with.

Alongside Boarshurst Silver Band, they also performed in this year’s production of Brassed Off at the Oldham Coliseum. With excellent local support, this is likely to be a popular concert. Arrive as soon as possible if you can.

The review of Littleborough Training Band’s lunchtime concert will be seen on East of the M60 by the end of the week. Check the East of the M60 Facebook page for regular updates.


  • 180: Greenfield [Clarence Hotel] – Lees – Oldham – Hollinwood – Manchester [Oldham Street];
  • 350: Ashton-under-Lyne – Mossley – Greenfield – Uppermill – Dobcross – Delph – Waterhead – Oldham.

Alight at Greenfield Conservative Club. Both services operated by First Greater Manchester.

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.


S.V., 31 October 2016.

2 thoughts on “Stacksteads Band: Sunday Brass at the Boarshurst Band Club

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