Drumbeat to continue through the winter

Left to right: George Davidson, Michael Buick, Sammy McGeutre and Geordie Spence from Pride of the Raven pictured at Festival of Marching Bands this month
Left to right: George Davidson, Michael Buick, Sammy McGeutre and Geordie Spence from Pride of the Raven pictured at Festival of Marching Bands this month

THE most visible part of the marching band year, the ‘on the road’ element or band season, is well and truly over, however as most now realise, bands never truly stop and the winter and spring months are incredibly important.

Practises never cease, but also work on new repertoire, the arranging of new instruments and regalia; and of course the tuition of new members, all now is at the forefront of band minds. Fundraising is vitally important, and the winter months also see a large number of indoor concerts and functions. With this in mind Drumbeat will be continuing right through the coming months. The popular series of band histories will be resuming, while usual reports of events will continue. Details of band practises across the Province, along with the upcoming plans of many in our massive band movement, will also be included. If you would like your band history covered or indeed practises or anything else related to your band featured, contact Drumbeat using the details below and your information will be featured.

This weekend will see the last major parade of the year, with the annual ‘Closing of the Gates’ commemoration procession organised by the Apprentice Boys of Derry taking place in Londonderry. Almost 30 bands from right across Northern Ireland will accompany several thousand Apprentice Boys as the historical and hugely significant event is remembered. Proceedings begin adjacent to the train station at 11.45am, followed by the traditional several short events including the Cathedral Service, before the burning of Lundy and the closing parade across Craigavon Bridge.

Also on Saturday night the Cloughmills Crown Defenders Flute hosts their annual concert and disco in the Clough Rangers Supporters Club. Bands on this year’s line-up include Finaghy True Blues, Ballykeel Loyal Sons of Ulster, Staffordstown Accordion and Stranocum Flute. Doors open at 8.30pm.

This week has seen an Ulster-Scots Festival take place organised by the Cranny Cultural and Community Group. Tuesday had a historical talk and display, as did Wednesday, while tonight brings some more practical entertainment. A workshop on traditional Ulster Scots music is scheduled in Desertmartin Parish Church Hall beginning at 7.30pm. The finale to the festival takes place tomorrow night in the Royal Hotel Cookstown, with a concert celebrating many facets of Ulster Scots tradition and Culture. Artists appearing will included Cranny Pipe, Highland dancers and folk group Rising Stour. Tickers are priced at £10 and are available at The Bridewell Tourist Information Centre, Church Street, Magherafelt, from group members, or alternatively contact the group secretary, Gareth Campbell on 07740175745 or via email crannyulsterscots@hotmail.co.uk.

Rathcoole’s Sons of Kai Flute are currently organising a ‘Battle of the Bands’ series events to take place in the New Year. The five-night event will be occurring in Nortel Social Club Newtownabbey, with a trophy and £1000 prize money for the winners. The four heats are on February 1 and 15, and March 1 and 22nd; with the final taking place on April 5. Any band interested in taking part in the event can get details by emailing john.sokfb@hotmail.com.

If you would like to publicise fundraising, competition, cultural or indeed any events related to the large Ulster marching band community, you can contact Drum Beat by ringing or texting Quincey on 07835624221 or emailing quincey@ulsterbandsforum.net. All contributions, opinions and news from the country’s thriving band movement are very welcome.