I have always loved the sound of brass bands. Nothing beats hearing the intertwined harmonies of trombones, saxophones, trumpets and sousaphones. I admire the skill it takes to move while playing and performing complex routines. The rhythmic, almost hypnotic, drum patterns, the horns serenading you one moment and screaming for your attention the other. Let’s not forget their uniforms always adding pizazz and colour.
Think brass bands and you will probably picture New Orleans for its rich history and numerous bands, but in the UK in the 1900s, the sounds of brass bands were the norm with coal mines and collieries. It was subsidised by their unions and as the coal mines closed during the Thatcher era, the brass bands disappeared.
Now brass bands are back all around the world and here to stay, from festival stages to TV series Treme, weddings and more, we are all falling in love with them all over again.
Don’t believe me? Ask Beyoncé, whose 2018 Coachella headline shows (as featured on the Netflix documentary Homecoming) were full of the NOLA brass band sound and George Ezra, who featured the Hot 8 Brass Band as part of his band for his recent tour.
Here are some of my top bands.
Mr Wilson’s Second Liners
I first came across Mr Wilson’s Second Liners [pictured top] at the Hull Freedom Festival. Before I heard them, I felt their energy, costumes gleaming in the sunlight and anticipation from the crowd. They blew us all away. Their sound is New Orleans meets Britain. Second Lining is a quintessential New Orleans art form, the band are the pied pipers and we the audience are a part of the procession. We march, sing, dance and wave anything we can find and we become part of the second line. Mr Wilson’s Second Liners are party starters for sure, and they are guests on series two of my CBeebies show YolanDa’s Band Jam, scheduled to transmit early next year.