ONE of the most significant additions to the band scene in recent years has been the introduction of ‘Battle of the Bands’ competitions, with some bands using it as a replacement for hosting an annual procession.
Such competitions now attract anything from 10 to 20 bands from across the Province, with the usual format being several heats taking place, the winners and runners up of each progressing through to a grand final. Across the competitions the judging is approached slightly differently by organisers, but on the whole independent judges from across Ulster tend to be recruited to perform what is almost always a very difficult role. Several such competitions are now well established in the close band season calendar, including the Sons of Kai in Rathcoole and Shankill Star.
The first of the 2013 ‘Battles’ however, begins this weekend, the hosts being Dunmurry Protestant Boys Flute. Heat one of their 2013 competition will be held this Saturday night in the Dunmurry Inn, with the doors open at 7pm. A strong line-up of four bands includes the Shankill Road duo of Young Citizen Volunteers Flute and West Belfast Volunteers Flute; Loyal Sons of Benagh Flute Newry, and Steeple Defenders Flute Antrim. Also on Saturday night the Ballymore Inn will host a fundraising band night, with proceeds going to a local worthy cause. Several bands are scheduled to play, with an 8pm start.
Another noteworthy up coming event is the annual New Year concert held by Dunloy Accordion. Each year the evening attracts a quality line-up from across the marching band sector, always having a sell out crowd and great reception. Among this year’s line-up are Castlegore Flute, with the concert taking place next Friday night in the Braid Theatre Ballymena. Tickets are priced at £8 and can be purchased directly from the theatre on 028 25 635 900, or from any band member.
Drum Beat, in conjunction with the Ulster Bands forum, are currently putting together their annual Band Season Calendar.
This will be issued as a free supplement with the paper in early April, and promises to be even more comprehensive than ever before. To ensure your parade is included in the listing, please forward the details to Drum Beat. Organising band name, location of parade and planned starting time should be included, with any additional information very welcome and will be kept for future use. The details can simply be sent via text to 07835624221, through the Ulster Bands Forum (www.ulsterbandsforum.net) or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you would like to publicise fundraising, competition, cultural or indeed any events related to the large Ulster marching band fraternity, Drum Beat will endeavour to use all information supplied where possible. Drum Beat needs your contributions to continue to promote what is easily Northern Ireland’s largest voluntary arts grouping, and one of the most unique musical movements in the world. You can contact Drum Beat by ringing or texting 07835624221 or emailing email@example.com, with all contributions, opinions and news from the country’s thriving band movement very welcome. During the winter months Drumbeat welcomes the submission of band histories, old photographs and details of band practices for inclusion.