Love, spit and valve oil

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
First episode of this BBC Radio 4 programme went out on Thursday, repeated Monday 7th March at 4pm and available on the BBC website here: BBC Radio 4 - Banding: Love, Spit and Valve Oil, The mines are dead, but the music and the people are not.

An interesting perspective on banding by someone from outside the fraternity. A disinterested listener might have got the impression that brass bands were forged mostly or solely in the collieries of the UK, which of course is not the case. But there are two more episodes to come which might redress the balance a bit. There are snippets of the piece this chap (Martin Green) has written for brass and on first hearing sounds like it might be interesting.

Worth a listen, especially as so many people claim that bands get ignored by the BBC!
 
First episode of this BBC Radio 4 programme went out on Thursday, repeated Monday 7th March at 4pm and available on the BBC website here: BBC Radio 4 - Banding: Love, Spit and Valve Oil, The mines are dead, but the music and the people are not.

An interesting perspective on banding by someone from outside the fraternity. A disinterested listener might have got the impression that brass bands were forged mostly or solely in the collieries of the UK, which of course is not the case. But there are two more episodes to come which might redress the balance a bit. There are snippets of the piece this chap (Martin Green) has written for brass and on first hearing sounds like it might be interesting.

Worth a listen, especially as so many people claim that bands get ignored by the BBC!
Hi,

I was really excited when I heard they were going to do a series on banding, the first episode was interesting but these things take an episode to get going, but just listened to the second episode and your fears have come true. For a man immersed in banding for a year he has fallen into the standard trap. Bands only have a twenty year history from the 70s to the 80s and they only play at strikes and miners gala's. Slap my forehead in disbelief! I hope the next episode it better. I know this is a knee jerk reaction and I hope I'm proved wrong. But for the moment I can't help thinking this is another "outsider" commissioned to write a piece that has found a way of milking the bbc without doing much research, but I hope I'm proved wrong in the next episode.
 
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James Yelland

Well-Known Member
Yes, after episode one I found myself wondering what exactly was the focus of this series. Episode two went some way to answering the question. More about coal mining, more about trades unions and politics. It makes you realise just how influential Brassed Off was all those years ago.

The inclusion of an interview of a chap from Los Angeles talking about the Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HSBU) organisation in the USA and the brass players who backed Beyonce on her concert tour was all very well, but seemed to have been included only to tick the 'diversity' box required by the BBC on pretty much all of its output nowadays. It did make me laugh, though, when this bloke said that he saw this HSBU organisation as "a safe space for everyone to discuss themselves", with Mr Green suggesting that the British brass band served the same purpose. Well, absolutely! In my banding days, we talked about little else other than how the bandroom represented "a safe space for us all to discuss ourselves" - NOT! (the main topics were music, contests and beer as I remember it).

But I shall listen to the third episode anyway....
 
Yes, after episode one I found myself wondering what exactly was the focus of this series. Episode two went some way to answering the question. More about coal mining, more about trades unions and politics. It makes you realise just how influential Brassed Off was all those years ago.

The inclusion of an interview of a chap from Los Angeles talking about the Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HSBU) organisation in the USA and the brass players who backed Beyonce on her concert tour was all very well, but seemed to have been included only to tick the 'diversity' box required by the BBC on pretty much all of its output nowadays. It did make me laugh, though, when this bloke said that he saw this HSBU organisation as "a safe space for everyone to discuss themselves", with Mr Green suggesting that the British brass band served the same purpose. Well, absolutely! In my banding days, we talked about little else other than how the bandroom represented "a safe space for us all to discuss ourselves" - NOT! (the main topics were music, contests and beer as I remember it).

But I shall listen to the third episode anyway....
Hiya, Yes I'll give the third episode a go just to see what topics he manages to cover rather than actually talking about brass bands, he's done brassed off and Collieries to death so can't regurgitate that old chestnut again, can he? Obviously as a BBb bass player I always love to discuss my feelings, "do I feel like getting just the one or two pints from the bar to save time?" Maybe he'll interview someone who remembers once walking past a band somewhere in some park or a gruff old timer who's best friends brothers grandad once had a toot on a trombone. Pretty much as good as interviewing a miner who's only connection to banding was the colliery across the valley had one! But hey on a positive note at least he's reminding people in some way we're still here.
 

James Yelland

Well-Known Member
The last episode provided some much-needed grit to counter the rather dreamy view of brass bands so far put forward. I was pleased to hear a note of scepticism from Mr Green when confronted by the statement from Bob Childs, in defence of the contest culture, that "if it wasn't competitive it wouldn't drive the excellence". He and other interviewees from musical spheres outside of banding found it difficult to accept that there needed to be winners and losers in music. I particularly liked the juxtaposition of Steven Mead, outlining his criteria-based system for judging musical performance with Sheona White's rebuttals of the same.

Elsewhere, did I really hear someone refer to players preparing for a studio recording as being members of the Black Dyke Mills Band, nearly 25 years after that part of the band's name was dropped? And did I really hear Mr Green describe bands walking onto the stage of the Albert Hall last year to an 'absolutely full' hall? I haven't been to the Albert Hall for the contest for more than thirty years, and it wasn't full even then! And did I really hear someone called Lloyd Griffiths state that between 50% and 60% of bandsmen took beta-blockers to calm their nerves? I don't know where he got his stats from, but I'd be interested to find out!

Anyway, I suppose all publicity is good publicity and overall the series made for an interesting diversion for Thursday mornings. Let's have more, please, BBC!
 
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James Yelland

Well-Known Member
A recording of Martin Green's music, played by the National Youth Brass Band of Great Britain, is available here:

 

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