salvation army bands, young men and alcohol

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by PHx, Dec 17, 2007.

  1. PHx

    PHx New Member

    While at the pub at the weekend with a number of chaps from my current band, including one also in the SA, the subject of alcohol came up. A number of us who have played alongside SA banders in 'outside' bands over the years commented that the teetoal rule seemed to be a bit open to interpretation by some, and none of us having been 'inside' wondered why this was. Our salvationist colleague said that yes, while the vast majority take the no-alcohol stance very seriously, there currently seemed to be a small hardcore of younger SA bandos who quite openly liked a drink. He mentioned some of the widely known bands where it was quite common and told some stories about his experiences. We asked if the leaders/BMs/ministers were aware of all this and he seemed to think that they must be, but that they probably just turned a blind eye, saying that generally they don't just boot out the 'offenders', as they'd prefer them to still be part of the SA rather than lose them to the pub, makes sense i suppose.

    So maybe some people with more 'inside' experience of the SA can explain what is it about young men in the SA, particularly it seems, those of higher musical ability and in the bigger bands, that means they have a predilection for booze?!

    I'm not looking to get anyone in trouble or anything, just genuinely curious! Of course this is probably just a small percentage of the good upstanding folk of the army, it just seems that it is the case for quite a few in the SA who I've come into contact with over my years in banding.
  2. Red Elvis

    Red Elvis Active Member

    Hi there PHx .

    I'm an ex SA bandsman nmyself , and indeed left the movement ( or more correctly was asked to leave !! ) largely over the issue of booze ( and women , and tabs !! ) .

    I'm not sure that the bandsmen you refer to have a greater predilection for booze than any other in the age group , and I'm not sure either that its just an issue with those in the bigger "name" bands . I played for a band that was relatively decent sized but some way off the Enfield / ISB level ( ps I'm not selecting those bands in terms of this debate but because of their musical ablilities!! ).

    All SA soldiers sign up to the "Articles of War" , wherein are found the injunctions against alchohol and "other enslaving substances" , and to me its really down to the individual and his relationship to God ( apologies if this is getting a bit religious but trying to explain this in context ) and to a degree , the Army how this is borne out . The main factor being , despite its small size , the SA is an extremely visible part of the church and as such perhaps the failings of individual members are a little more visible .

    I take no pride in the fact that I was leading something of a double life - down the pub with the lads during the wqeek and then in uniform on a Sunday , and in fairness to my band local officers at the time there was no hypocrisy on their part - as soon as they found out I was presented with a choice and made it .

    I must admit that , having heard a few tales from ex and current members of bigger bands about what some of them get up to , and indeed attending a large inner London corps some months ago on a Sunday morning and listening to a young bandsman loudly complaining to his mates that his playing was going to be suffering that day due to a hangover from a large session the night before ,I find it difficult to believe that local officers are not aware of what's going on .

    Essentially though I guess its a matter for individual conscience on the part of both the bandsman / woman and their commanding officers about what gets done about it , although Army Orders and Regulations are quite clear on the subject . I would imagine that the proportion of "naughty" SA banders is spread evenly throughout the ranks , not just those belonging to the larger bands .

    Must point out that I have no beef with the SA over my past , indeed was at the morning meeting at Colchester Citadel yesterday . I still have strong SA links and have a lot of affection for it.
  3. JimboFB

    JimboFB Active Member

    My my my, what a potential can of worms this could open. I'm sure there are lots of ex and current serving SA Bandsmen/women who have LOTS of stories regarding this whole issue. Trouble is...where do you start with the stories. From my own personal experiences, this is not something that should be pointed at solely "younger" bandspeople as it is something that has been going on for years and by people of all ages.

    What you also have to remember is that there is NO band that doesn't have an element of this in it. (whether they choose to believe/accept it is another thing altogether!)

    I would say the whole drinking issue isn't particularly related to whether people stay in the Army or not. I believe its more of a smokescreen which clouds over a lot of the real reasons people leave. Just think, if the Army changed its rules and allowed people to drink, would you get a sudden influx of ex members flooding back in? I tend to think not.

    I could have stayed in the Army like a lot of my Army friends have chosen to do and not changed a thing. The reasons i left were more to do with not being @rsed to get up on Sunday mornings, wanted to play in a better brass band, and especially around this time of year, not having to spend all day Saturday playing carols in the freezing cold!!!

    Believe me tho, there's an awful lot that goes on that is people enjoying themselves, nothing sinister like certain people would have you believe, and regardless of the Army rules, having a beer after band doesnt make you a bad person. Well, depending how many you have...
  4. jingleram

    jingleram Active Member

    Interesting thread this, not the first of it's kind!

    I would guess my initial reaction is that it appears to be more prevalent amongst younger, male bandsmen simply because they are more open and honest!!

    I think there is a growing trend amongst younger male Salvationists to refuse to lie or hide what they do, partly because they feel they are doing nothing wrong, and partly because they believe it worse to lie than to drink.

    That's no to say that this is true for everyone, there are many guys oiut there - myself included - who don't drink, and equally, there are many who chose to keep what they do hiddden!

    Ultimately, as Elvis says, I think it comes down to what you are personally accountable for, and if you feel what you do is right by God. I don't think it is a big enough issue on it's own to merit being asked to leave, or to create a huge fuss, because we all have issues, no-one is perfect. Yes, we have guidelines in place, and they are there for good reasons, reasons that I personally believe in, but I think it has to be accepted that not everyone feels the need to make that commitment.

    In fact, I was talking to a fairly well known Army figure (not a bander) who said that the rule of abstinence was never intended to become a theological standard of the Army, it was just a contemporary issue that William Booth wanted to combat!!

    Anyway, I'll just step down and pack my soap box away for another couple of months!!!
  5. craigster

    craigster Member

    This is an interesting thread and I do appreciate the honest responses. Only one thing caught my attention and I don't want to question motives but your avatar indicates that you just joined today and this is your first ever posting.
    Not even a "hi, my name is _____ and I play in so and so band" in the introduce yourself section.

    I always get suspicious when someone's first post to any forum (music, sports or otherwise) is to start a topic that could be considered controversial or is broadly stereotyping a certain group i.e. young SA bandsman.

    I have no issue discussing any SA items, including this one, but just want to make sure it is free of any malice.
  6. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    I met one of my students in the SU bar at the university, with a pint in both his hands. They were clearly not his first drinks of the evening and yet I knew that he was a devout member of the Salvation Army and a euph player at the local citadel.

    'Adam' quoth I, 'I cannot believe my eyes'.

    'It's OK', he said, 'God doesn't mind me drinking'.

    I didn't feel that I could argue with him.

  7. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    The SA has changed a lot since it's formation. Not that long ago when SA bandsmen were not allowed to play anywhere else, SA music was not available and you would never have seen joint concerts with Black Dyke and the ISB.
  8. a very flat b

    a very flat b Member

    ...........but , there are some standards.
    I'm not SA, I still like to think that their sharing of the worderful music they play does not indicate a failure in the SA religous belief.
  9. Jonesy

    Jonesy Member

    Don't really read much on here thesedays but feel like chipping in on this one. First off, yes there are lots of young fellas in the Army who like a drink. Equally there qre quite a few older ones who do too, but it's not far off the mark to suggest that there is a growing band of young Army folk who do like their beer. What is the problem with this, some might ask, well in my view it's perfectly plain:

    If you sign your name to something and are perfectly comfortable with not adhering to it, why should I lend any credibility to any of the words that come out of your mouth? If you owe me money, and write me out a cheque for said amount, knowing full well it's going to bounce, what does that say about the value of your signature? It tells me that your signature, as a statement of your intent, is absolutely worthless and not to be relied upon. I have been careful to word that example with the context of someone who is quite open about not abiding by the rules they have signed up to; there is a difference between being comfortable with it and having a genuine personal struggle to keep from doing something. In the latter case I have more symapthy. In the former situation it's a blatant case of saying one thing and happily doing the other.

    Take the example Straightmute gives of an Army 'God doesn't mind me drinking'; that misses the point completely; there is no compulsion to sign on the line and agree to abstinence!! If you don't want to abide by the rule, guess what, you don't have to! There are thousands of churches and thousands of Brass bands which don't have a 'no drinking' policy if you fancy a pint or three after band.... what is the problem?

    It really isn't difficult.

    In other words, the issue isn't one about theism/atheism/church (please let's not go down that route!), it's simply about choices, honesty, and practising (or not) the things which you have wilfully signed up to, regardless of context.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
  10. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    Yes, I agree. I didn't mean that to change the attitudes of the movement downgraded their beliefs, I just pointed out that the movement has changed.

    I think Jonesy has a very good point, which I had not considered; that about signing 'the pledge' and then ignoring it. Shows I'm not a SA player! Mind you, Jonesy, I'm sure that we have all at some point in our lives, made a promise and failed to keep it.:oops:
  11. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    May I suggest we don't use names here? It's up to individuals if they want to have a sneaky pint, but they might want to keep it sneaky!

    Sorry, I don't want to sound as if I'm ticking you off, but maybe none of us should use anybody's name in this discussion for that reason. Believe me, I know a lot of prominent SA players who might like to stay anonymous about a quick drinkie!

    The last thing we want is to start 'outing' people!
  12. Jonesy

    Jonesy Member

    You're certainly not wrong there. Hence why I was keen to make a distinction between blatantly flouting something you have agreed to abide by, as opposed to 'slipping up' and later regretting it, for example. There is a huge difference between 'I've said I'll do something but I'm perfectly happy to do the other' and 'I've said I'll do something, and I'm trying hard not to do the other, but find it very difficult to stop myself'. I guess that's what you're saying and I agree entirely.
  13. Straightmute

    Straightmute Active Member

    Worry not, names were changed to protect the innocent...

  14. JimboFB

    JimboFB Active Member

    I think its really funny about 'outing' people, it makes it sound like they're up to something really bad. After all, its not like they've broken the law or anything!

    From my own perspective and experiences, most people know who is generally involved and if names were mentioned on here, i dont think anyone would be suprised to see what those names were.

    As an overall thought, taking the SA as a 'club' such as a golf/football/squash/whatever club, they all have rules and if you dont obide by them you are generally asked to either conform or choose to join another 'club' that allows you to behave in the manner you choose. It quite often makes me wonder why certain SA Corps although knowing what the rules are, turn a blind eye here and there.
  15. Andy Cooper

    Andy Cooper Member

    Funny really the SA were one of the reasons i gave up playing in my yoof - I played euph in the school band and my best mate was on the front row - When we left school at that time the only outlet for our playing talents was in the local SA band, and we were both into the pop big style of a weekend. We were told under no uncertain terms it was strictly temperance, he joined i didnt as i knew there was no way i was going to keep to that rider and didnt fancy the Spanish inquisition when they came round my boozer selling War Cry to us under age drinkers!
  16. Jonesy

    Jonesy Member

    Jimbo - 'it's not as if they've broken the law'. Not as such, no, but they've broken something they signed their name to. If I signed up to a tenancy and then didn't pay my rent to the Landlord, and you were a letting agent looking to fill some of your properties, would you let me live in one of your places?

    The only distinction is that a tenancy is 'legally binding', but the principle is the same - I've put my name to something and I've been quite happy not to honour it. That is the bottom line. An agreement is an agreement, and personally I don't know anyone who has much respect for people who don't honour what they wilfully say they will, less still appear to be quite proud of it!

    How about this - your band asks me to dep and I pull out at the last minute because, well, I just don't fancy it. Do you book me again? Heck no, you tell the band what a little scumbag I am and that I don't do what I say I will!

    A lot of people don't seem to grasp the fact that the 'agreement' is not a condition of entering an Army hall or anything like that. On the contrary. You're more than welcome to go to an Army hall in ripped jeans and a baseball cap and have a pint afterwards. The thing you sign up to is absolutely your choice.

    I actually think, Jimbo, you've pretty much hit the nail on the head with your last comment - it's funny that the Army gets so much stick for having rules. Any club has rules, and if you don't like them, then rather than moaning about them - after all, no one's forcing you to join - find another one.
  17. Bungle

    Bungle Member

    I do not have any connection with th SA movement, but should the SA be questioning why it is still a requirement. Is it not a throw back to the time when prohibition was seen as the cure for all social problems? I don't believe the bible says not to drink. Temperance means moderation and I do believe SA members should set an example for how Christians should behave. Prohibition does not make you a 'good' movement, the Klu Klux Klan were in favour of prohibition.
  18. Jonesy

    Jonesy Member

    In truth that is a totally different question of course, which has been debated to death elsewhere. Asking whether people should stick to what they've agreed to is a different to the wider question which you pose. There are hundreds of threads on so many website regarding the question you ask, and of course it is an extremely divisive debate.

    The Klu Klux Klan comment is perhaps a little off the mark - the prohibition wasn't about making it a 'good' (whatever this means) movement, of course. It was, as you say, to address a social problem. It wasn't about the image of the organisation per se, it was part of a wider 'social policy'.
  19. brassneck

    brassneck Active Member

  20. bbg

    bbg Member

    Since starting to read tMP, I have to say that I've rather been waiting for thread on this topic - there may well have been some discussion in the past that I haven't seen. The link referred to by brassneck above makes the SA position clear as he (or she?) says - abstinence is a condition of full membership, known to each indivisual who "signs up". Anyone deliberately ignoring / flouting a basic tenet of their organisation must therefore expect to be challenged.
    I am one of many ex-SA bandsmen, brought up in a very "Army orientated" family, to the extent that my parents even now have few close friends outwith the movement. If anyone had said even 10 years ago that I would ever play in an "outside" band I would have dismissed the idea out of hand, even though I left the SA 17 years ago. The "split" was perfectly amicable, due to distance we had to travel with a young family (we lived then in a small town in the Borders and went "international" for practices and on Sundays - crossing the Border to attend the Army in Carlisle). Since then , we have moved back further north and are active in a Church of Scotland congregation. However, I am still teetotal - not only do I believe that what I signed up "for life" in 1974 still applies to me, but from a completely non-theological viewpoint, I survived without alcohol until I was in my 30s, so felt no compulsion to start drinking "just because I could"!
    My (banding) son and his sister enjoy a drink - there is no abstinence requirement in the Church - as others have said, that doesn't make them bad people but had they been SA soldiers - by choice - I would have expected them to conform.

Share This Page