Another great night – with a bit of swing for good measure 

Mirth and music, of traditional and Scooby Doo varieties made for an exhilarating concert at the Boarshurst Band Club last night (Sunday, 3rd September). Stacksteads Band were back at The Mecca of Brass Banding with an appreciative audience. Though the warmth of summer gave way to the slight chill of autumn, there was a warm reception for all those present.

For the benefit of those missed the previous review, Stacksteads Band is based in the village of Stacksteads, between Bacup and Waterfoot. They were formed in 1872 as the Stacksteads Amateur Brass Band, and are the only local brass band in Rossendale to have celebrated their centenary. Their base is the former Tunstead Co-op store, unwittingly seen by many passengers on a Rosso 464 to Rochdale or Accrington.

Lately, Stacksteads Band have consolidated their stint in the Third Section, after 2014’s success at Cheltenham. With Alan Fernie’s Three Spanish Impressions, Stacksteads Band, they were promoted from the Fourth to the Third Section. They uphold local customs by leading the Britannia Coconutters’ parade on Easter Saturday.

As with the previous concert, Musical Director, Fred Bowker was hilarious as ever. In his words, he said he had to tone down the jokes. Still, Rochdale’s Man of the Year for 2002, and his merry band gave us a fantastic programme. With the emphasis on entertaining the Boarshurst faithful, they were suitably placed for the Bolsover Entertainment Contest on the 01 October.

Oh, and this ratbag was your Master of Ceremonies, for the second time with Stacksteads.

The Programme

First Half

  1. March: County Palatine (Maurice Johnstone)
  2. Original Piece: Trailblaze (Goff Richards)
  3. Principal Cornet Solo (performed by Dee Ashworth): Share My Yoke (Major Jo Webb, arr. Ivan Bosanko)
  4. Caribbean Music: Cornets a Go-Go (Derek Broadbent)
  5. Soprano Solo (performed by Charlie Codd): Demelza (Hugh Nash)
  6. Folk Song: Marching Thro’ Georgia (Henry Clay Work, arr. Goff Richards)
  7. French Folk Song: Shepherd’s Song (Traditional, arr. Goff Richards)
  8. Popular Music: American Trilogy (Mickey Newberry, arr. Goff Richards).

Second Half

  1. Opener: Sing Sing Sing (Louis Prima, arr. Dan Price)
  2. Total Swing: Birdland (Zawimul arr. Philip Sparke)
  3. Trombone Solo (performed by Simon Fitton): Stardust (Hoagy Carmichael arr. Neville Rogerson)
  4. Cornet Feature: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (Hughie Price/Don Raye)
  5. Trombone Showcase: Theme from New York, New York (Fred Ebb/John Kander, arr. Jim Parker)
  6. Popular Music: Reet Petite (Tyron Carlo/Berry Gordy, arr. Sandy Smith)

County Palatine of Dixieland, BB4

Last night’s concert was one of two halves, with a traditional brass concert programme in the first half. The second half, in the words of the esteemed Fred Bowker, comprised of “Scooby Doo” music. Swing and big band stuff in other words (not the dulcet tones of Shaggy, Daphne, Vilma, or Scooby).

We opened with County Palatine, an appropriate piece given the band’s location. Written by Maurice Johnstone in 1947, his other marches include Pennine Way and Watling Street. The composer was born in Manchester in 1900, and has also written pieces for orchestral settings. A good choice of opening piece, well played and, in the context of last night’s concert, a de facto signature tune.

The second piece was a neat original composition by Goff Richards. That of Trailblaze. There was a good all band effort, though this was surpassed by our third piece of the night. Also our first soloist of the night. Once more, with Dee Ashworth on Principal Cornet. Her performance of Georgia On My Mind was brilliant the previous year. This was bettered by this year’s performance of the Ivan Bosanko arrangement of Share My Yoke. The clarity of tone was superb, both from Ms. Ashworth, and the rest of the band.

The fourth piece gave us a change of tone, a real contrast to the damp Sunday night in Greenfield. Written by Derek Broadbent, Cornets a Go-Go gave us a summery diversion. A nice feel good piece in a Caribbean style. This was a confident performance that would have felt just at home in the second half of the programme as well as the first.

After Cornets a Go-Go made up the boiled ham of our soloist sandwich, we moved onto the bottom slice. With a slice of top class Soprano Cornet action from Charlie Codd. This time with the stunning Demelza. The much-loved piece’s enjoyment was enhanced by Codd’s performance.

This took us a trio of Goff Richards pieces. The first of three had American leanings: it was his arrangement of Henry Clay Work’s Marching Thro’ Georgia. Written as a Civil War song, it was a popular number with Union Army veterans. It has even been quoted in a Tom and Jerry cartoon story entitled Yankee Doodle Mouse.

From animated mice to sheep, came our second of three Goff Richards pieces in the trio. The Shepherd’s Song, unlike a similar piece by Sir Edward Elgar, is also known as Bailero. Its roots being Auvergne instead of Elgar’s beloved Malvern Hills. This was a nice relaxing piece which took us to the third Goff Richards arrangement. The contrast? Say no more.

As with last year’s concert, we closed the first half with The American Trilogy. What a performance that was too. Elvis would have been proud if he caught the bus to Stacksteads or (if he was alive and living in that desolate farmhouse in Diggle) parked his car on Greenbridge Lane. Most definitely a ‘keeper’ in the Stacksteads concert programme and one that the band enjoys playing.

Sing sing sing, like a vertically challenged Yorkshireman

If you wanted Scooby Doo music, you got it. Well performed and not a scrappy note whatsoever (oodles of parpy power, not puppy power). We resumed with Louis Prima’s Sing Sing Sing. The song was first performed in March 1936 with the New Orleans Gang. It has also been performed as an instrumental by Fletcher Henderson. Once again, as with last year, this number got us sing, sing, singing along till the next piece.

Our second piece was a jazz standard. That of the lively and slightly more complex Birdland. Written by Zawimul and arranged by Philip Sparke, it was a well performed piece, though the performance of Sing Sing Sing was slightly more accomplished. Birdland refers to a New York jazz club. It was composed by Zawimul from Weather Report whose members included Wayne Shorter and Chester Thompson. Chester Thompson also toured with Genesis as their drummer after Phil Collins took over lead vocalist duties from Peter Gabriel.

The third and final soloist of the night was Simon Fitton, who gave us a first rate slide show with Stardust. His trombone solo of Hoagy Carmichael’s piece was beautifully performed. The jazz standard was composed in 1927 with lyrics by Mitchell Parish added two years later. It is referred to as “a song about a song about love”.

This was followed by another light hearted piece, one which conjures up images of The Andrews Singers. The eminently whistleable Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy fitted the bill. It was written on the 02 January 1941, almost a year before the US joined the Second World War. It has also been covered by Bette Midler, in 1972. A vivacious and solid performance.

Following the raffle, we moved from the Second World War to The Big Apple (or any self-respecting wedding venue). This time with the eponymous theme from the film, New York, New York. Popularised by Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli and countless karaoke singers from Denton to Dalton-in-Furness, New York, New York, remains a popular standard to this day. Keeping up appearances, to the highest performance standards, was Stacksteads Band’s performance.

Theme from New York, New York first made the UK singles chart in 1980 but peaked at Number 59. Six years later, on the 15 March 1986, it peaked at Number Four. Towards the other end of 1986, another song which charted that year inspired the last piece of the night.

Reet Petite, alas, is not a folk song about Warwick Davis’ trip to the Bradford Alhambra theatre. It is one of the slowest UK Number One singles, first charting in 1957. On the 27 December 1986, it got to Number One and stayed there for four weeks. It was Jackie Wilson’s first solo hit on its original release. Stacksteads’ performance was another cracker which brought the concert to a lively finish.

Should you see a poster or any social media update advertising any of Stacksteads Band’s concerts, they are well worth seeing. As well as a neatly balanced programme, you will also warm to Fred Bowker’s unflappable style. Humorous and informative, like any good lecturer or public speaker.

*               *               *

Next on the agenda for Stacksteads Band is concert with the Rossendale Ladies’ Choir. This will be on Friday 22 September at St. Mary’s Chambers on Haslingden Road, Rawtenstall, starting at 7.30 pm. On the 01 October, they have the Bolsover Entertainment Contest, so we wish them the very best of luck in that event.

Next at the Boarshurst Band Club

With the Sections 1 to 4 National Finals looming on the 16 September (The Centaur Suite, Cheltenham Racecourse), next week will be a preview night featuring four brass bands. They are as follows:

  • Section Four: Huddersfield and Ripponden Band (Adam Bell);
  • Section Three: Trinity Girls Brass Band (Michael Watkins);
  • Section Two: Boarshurst Silver Band (James Garlick);
  • Section One: Marsden Silver Band (Alan Widdop).

Each band will play this year’s sectional test piece, followed by a hymn of their choice. The sectional test pieces for each band are as follows:

  • Huddersfield and Ripponden Band: Petite Suite de Ballet (Eric Ball);
  • Trinity Girls Brass Band: Hinemoa (Gareth Wood);
  • Boarshurst Silver Band: Music of a Legacy (Steven Ponsford);
  • Marsden Silver Band: Tournament For Brass (Eric Ball).

The adjudicator for next week’s Preview Night is Martin Heartfield.

Please note that doors will be open at 6.45 pm for a 7.30 pm start, so arrive in good time to get a seat.


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

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

Twitter details: @boarshurstband#SundayBrass.


S.V., 04 September 2017.

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