Discussion in 'Bandroom News - User Submitted' started by DocFox, Jul 17, 2016.

  1. nethers

    nethers Active Member

    If I can ever scrape together an airfare I'll take you up on that Jim!
  2. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Don't worry about bringing a horn. I play both trombone and baritone and I have plenty of extra horns you could use. Just bring a good mouthpiece - I would love some company!
  3. boylan

    boylan New Member

    The "Pikes Peak Brass Band" from Colorado Springs, CO. has been to NABBA twice (2015 & 2016) we compete in the First Section. The trip is a big deal for us but we truly look forward to the weekend and the band has experienced significant growth after each trip. Initially our board was apprehensive about the decision to take the idea to the band for fear of a NO vote. Surprisingly, the band was open to the idea so we made the commitment. When the subject of returning to NABBA came up for a vote the next year, hands were going up for yes before we finished the question and it was a unanimous yes.

    Based on our experience, I don't know that the US of A is ready for a regionals framework. I do like the idea of standardizing instruments, at least by key. My only concern is that this decision might force Championship Bands into what is an already overcrowded First Section (10 vs. 6 or 7 in other sections). If anything the NABBA Board might look at only putting bands in the first section after they have won the Second Section.

    I can say that for any Brass Band looking to go to the next level as an ensemble both musically and technically, NABBA is the cram class and well worth the price.
    DublinBass likes this.
  4. DocFox

    DocFox Retired


    NABBA has done such a great job of promoting brass banding in the US, and this year moving even a step higher with UK type judging. I know they would like to get some of the bands from the West Coast, Ottawa, Quebec and other bands located west of the Mississippi or north in Canada. I think in the long run they are going to have to go to regional contests. Most every band could afford to go to a regional contest. Then they could take the top one or two bands in each division and invite them to the NABBA Championship. I heard some pretty reliable rumors that next year for the first time in a long period it will be West of Indiana. Over the years has been in Indiana four times and just across the Ohio River in Louisville and once in South Carolina (that was from memory).

    I also heard that they're going to make the championship bands play standard brass band instruments. Championship bands will have to have an E-flat cornet, baritones and euphonium's, and E flat andBBb tubas. I know the River Band here; the director is making everybody play in treble clef. His thinking is quite correct in my opinion. If you're going to be a brass band, best learn how to play in treble clef.

    I have a question for you. When you guys come to Indiana to play in the championships, do you fly or do you charter a bus? I think your band is at the very edge of the bands that will come west of the Mississippi. I know airfares on frontier airlines are pretty cheap from Denver International to Indianapolis. But from Indianapolis you would still have to take a bus to get to the championships – it just would be a very long bus trip.

  5. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Jim, your comment sparks me to make a little tally of which states have been used over the years (ordered by first usage):

    North Carolina, USA; 4 (1983, 1989, 1994, 2010)
    Pennsylvania, USA; 2 (1984, 1990)
    Ontario, Canada; 2 (1985, 1995)
    Indiana, USA; 5 (1986, 2006, 2007, 2015, 2016)
    Ohio, USA; 7 (1987, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2002, 2012, 2013)
    New Jersey; 1 (1988)
    Iowa, USA; 1 (1991)
    Virginia, USA; 2 (1993, 2001)
    Minnesota, USA; 1 (1997)
    Kentucky, USA; 3 (1998, 2008, 2009)
    Illinois, USA; 2 (1999, 2005)
    Arkansas, USA; 1 (2003)
    West Virginia, USA; 1 (2004)
    Michigan, USA; 2 (2011, 2014)

    So Ohio is in the lead, with 7, followed by Indiana with 5 and North Carolina with 4. It's been 32 times in the USA and twice in Canada, though it hasn't strayed North of the border for many years (mind you, Michigan's not far off and has been used twice recently). It's been West of the Mississippi 3 times, spread from North to South with visits to Iowa in 1991 , Minnesota in 1997, and Arkansas in 2003 - but never to a state that doesn't have the river as an Eastern border. A return must be due in the nearish future. Perhaps surprisingly, it's never been nearer to New England than Pennsylvania, and that most recently in 1990.

    When I guested for Chicago at the 2008 contest I listened to almost all the other championship bands. Every band without exception was playing soprano cornets, baritones and euphoniums (and playing them very well). Has that changed? The tubas were more variable, featuring a lot of American bore type CC instruments on both parts - made for some massive-sounding bass foundations.
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2016
  6. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Early on they allow piccolo trumpets, all euphs, and all BBb tubas. The rules are getting more stringent all the time.

    Remember, NABBA in the early days PROMOTED brass banding. They are now large enough to take some bigger steps.
  7. boylan

    boylan New Member

    You are spot on with the Frontier Airfares. Most of the band flys into Chicago or Indianapolis. At that point, we pre-arrange rental car pools based on flight schedules. We do have a small group of crazies that drive the equipment trailer down. The timing on this is tough, especially for the members that need to rehearse with accompanists for the solo portion.

    I did hear an interesting stat from my cabbie last time I flew into Ft. Wayne. He explained the 25% of the US population is within a 4 hour drive of Ft. Wayne. Don't know if this is true or not but it would certainly explain the venue choice, oh and the hall is great.

    BTW we are working on a new recording.
  8. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Don't you owe me a recording?

    Indianapolis is considered the "The crossroads of America" as more interstate highways go through Indy than any other city. I couple years ago when they played in Louisville, I thought that hall was acoustically awful.
  9. jobriant

    jobriant Member


    Thank you for including the Pacific Brass Band! We're one of the US "West Coast" Bands, located in Salinas, CA [Google Map here: Google Maps ]; thus our name.

    I don't know how many non-contesting bands there are in the UK, but the Pacific Brass Band has no plans to enter competition.

    Geography is one reason, as is being discussed in this thread. For us to drive from Salinas to Indianapolis would be a journey of between 2,250 and 2,3 50 miles, depending on whether we take I-80 (Interstate Highway 80), I-70 or I-40 to cross the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the Rocky Mountains. That's about a 32-33 hour drive (according to Google Maps), and in a bus, with meal stops, overnight stops, etc., it would be a 5 - 7 day trip EACH DIRECTION.

    Our purpose, rather than amassing a cabinet full of trophies, is to play music that is challenging to us, to play it as well as we can, and present numerous concerts each season in a variety of venues in our area. We select our literature based on this, and based on our objective of entertaining our audiences; be believe that if someone attends a Pacific Brass BAnd concert for the first time and hears something they like, they'll be back, but if they hear nothing they like, we'll never see them again.

    And now, since our 2016-2017 season rehearsals begin on August 8, it's time for me to return to preparing music to go in the players/ folders .....

    Jim O'Briant, Gilroy, CA, USA
    Music Director / Staff Arranger, The Pacific Brass Band
    2nd tenor and MoominDave like this.
  10. DocFox

    DocFox Retired


    Would you change you mind about contesting if the contest was in Denver, or better yet, Las Vegas?
  11. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    The main sections of the NABBA Championships have always required standard brass band instrumentation (except tubas). It is the Open section that has (and still does) allow other instruments (e.g. french horns).

    At one point (when I was on the NABBA board), there was a desire to keep NABBA near Cincinnati (as 50% of the USA population was within 500 miles of Cincinnati). That is part of the reason it was in Louisville. While not all of them are contests, there are more regional festivals (Hannaford, Ontario; OBAF, Ohio; MABBF, New Jersey).
  12. 2nd tenor

    2nd tenor Well-Known Member

    IMHO the stated Pacific Brass purpose is one well worth aiming for and I wish that some good Bands in the UK would consider giving up contesting and focus on entertaining their audiences instead.

    Here in the UK, it seems to me, bands that don't contest do so because they can't play the test pieces well enough to warrant the time and expense associated with entering a competition. My best guess is that about 20 percent of Brass Bands in the UK are non-contesting and I've yet to hear a really good one.
  13. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    That part of is the purpose of contesting (or at least going to festivals). It makes people want to play better. They will spend a little time practicing and up the quality goes. Our community at a big town festival was asked to play. Booths were everywhere. We had 41 in the concert band. 8 in the audience. Outside of the festival we played in (and 4th of July which is a captured audience) the band usually triples or quadruples the audience. If you took away family members, we would be playing to the wind.
    More people come out in the snow when we play Christmas songs in the snow than our usual concerts.

    I know why this is, but I will not air dirty laundry in public.

    Without that one big festival which we do not want to be embarrassed in front of other bands, we would play 4th of July, one other concert, and Christmas. You could show up once every 5th rehearsal if you were any good.

    If you do not want to contest (Salvation Army Bands come to mind) you need to be good enough to draw an audience. Contesting for the most part brings up the quality in its own way.
  14. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    I think 2nd Tenor and Doc Fox bring up some great points.

    DSB's primary mission is is to engage the audience, but we realize good contest results bring good PR...which often leads to more funding.

    We've not had the best success at NABBA because we only look at the music six weeks before and only spend the last two weeks focusing on the 2-test pieces (St. Patrick's Day is often in that time frame which is another issue for us). Some bands rehearsing the music 4,5,6 months ahead of time.

    We are proud to have won Most Entertaining at the US Open 6 out of the 8 years we have competed, and have being attempting to take that same attitude towards our other concerts. Hopefully, we'll make a good showing at Brass in Concert this November!
  15. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Good point. Contesting is not the only way to drive improvement. Festivals like the US Open are also great. The problem with the US Open is that it is always in Chicago. That is still a lot of traveling for West Coast bands.

    We (whoever we are) should start a contest or a festival in California. It would be great fun. If Kanstal would open their purse strings (they won't) and sponsor such a thing, I would organize something and pick some people to help me.

    Something like a West Coast Open, or a West Coast Championship. Now that would be FUN.
  16. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

    There IS a Festival in Seattle (Bellevue), Washington every year...maybe some of the California bands can make it up there.
  17. DocFox

    DocFox Retired

    Where, what, who runs it? Seattle is STILL a long ways from San Diego! 21 hours of driving and 1254 miles. But it is a good step. It would be nice to have some more detailed information. I would plug it on my website.

    A Western Championship in San Francisco would be cool, or a Canadian Championship that could draw Canadian bands and northern US bands. I'm dreaming. Still on drugs from my back surgery ....
  18. DublinBass

    DublinBass Supporting Member

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