Band People Past and Present
Geoff Webb Conductor
I started playing at the age of 11 with Holbrook Modern School (now High School) band, my then best friend persuaded me to go along. The brass teacher was a Mr Buckingham, he was the band master at the Royal Hospital School. He said smile, then he said you’re playing one of these and he gave me a battered Eb bass. At the age of 14 I joined Trianon music group as their tuba player. One night on my way to rehearsal 2 men came up to me and asked what the instrument was I told them and they suggested I go to the local Territorial Army Barracks on a Wednesday night and join the Suffolk Military Band (now Suffolk Concert Band). I was 16 at the time and leaving school. I met the band master Ranken Bushby and he persuaded me and my parents to apply at Ipswich Civic College to do A levels which I did.
After A levels I went to the North East Essex Technical College in Colchester for 3 years! Then onto teacher training and then Suffolk County Council as a peripatetic brass teacher! I kept in touch with Suffolk Concert Band and for the best part of 30 years I conducted the junior section as well as the main band on occasion!
Playing wise I play in or have played in all the local orchestras, Ipswich Town Band, Ipswich Coop Band and this band on EEb and BBb! I also play in Suffolk Brass and Seckford Brass Quintet. I have appeared on TV and played in a play about Gerrard Hoffnung for Radio 3!
Keith Nice – (Conductor retired)
Keith began playing cornet at the age of eight in the Chelmsford Salvation Army Junior band, graduating to the senior band when he was sixteen and eventually reaching the position of principle cornet. During this time Keith was in demand as a soloist and it enabled him to play in concert venues around the UK such as the Royal Albert Hall, Fairfield Halls Croydon and Snape Maltings. Latterly Keith has played cornet with Haverhill Silver Band and Hatfields of Colchester Band.
At the age of nineteen his conducting career began with Chelmsford Salvation Army Junior Band, then moving on to the Haverhill Youth Band. In 1992 Keith was appointed the Conductor of Thundersley Brass a 3rd section band, which had lost players and was in danger of extinction. With a great deal of hard work Keith set about rebuilding the fortunes of the band and after 10 years of dedication, and commitment and some contest success passed the band on with a full compliment of players who could take the band forward. He has undertaken the same roll with Suffolk Phoenix Brass and with the help of the committee is steadily rebuilding the band. Finally Keith has been privileged to be invited to adjudicate at local solo and quartet contests and has conducted a number of bands in East Anglia and the London Area.
In 2010 Charles Long sadly passed away. He had been instrumental in forming the original Fire Service Band in 1971 and had played an active part in the band until 2009.
Charles learnt to play in The Salvation Army and by the age of 9 was playing the Flugal Horn in the band at Ipswich. In 1940 he was called up to serve in the British Army and was posted to India where he was asked to play in a jazz band entertaining the troops. This was a radical departure from the music he had grown up with but he very quickly became proficient at playing without music both with the trumpet and the piano! After the war he played with Horsham Borough band. Eventually his work brought him back to Ipswich and he became involved with the newly formed Fire Service band, initially serving as Bandmaster and on one occasion taking the band to play in Wesel (West Germany). Charles played a number of instruments over the years, but his favourite was the euphonium on which he played many solos with the band periodically and it was agreed by everyone that heard him that he had a wonderful tone. He played until well into his 80’s when lack of “puff” made him stop. On retiring from a playing role within the band he was made Life President and attended band concerts to hear his son and daughter play.
He was very proud to have his family play in the band with him and on occasions participated in a family quartet. David plays trombone, Jean plays horn and son in law Bob plays cornet.
My interest in playing in a band started in 1965 at the age of 13. My father, an avid brass fanatic, decided that he would like to try to play an instrument. So I tagged along one evening to Colchester Silver Band’s rehearsal and came home with a cornet. Dad only lasted a few weeks with the tenor horn but I kept going, gleaning any information from the more experienced players and reading my A Tune a Day books. In those days there were no training bands or lessons, so I was told by Bert Richardson, the conductor, to sit on 3rd cornet and just play what I could. During the next 14 years I married, had two daughters and played my way up to repiano cornet. I had also joined the D.H. Big Band Sound on 4th trumpet, playing at dance venues in the area and local factory social clubs, being paid $pounds;5 for a four-hour gig. Colchester Band was now conducted by Steve Kenna, and was starting to contest. With work and a family I couldn’t spare the time, and so decided to have a break. This was to last 23 years.
In the summer of 1996 I received a phone call from ex-Colchester Band conductor and good friend Arthur Austin. He was conducting Ipswich Over-50s and asked me to help out at the local concert. I played on the odd occasion with the Over-50s and Orwell Band while he was in charge, but still nothing on a regular basis. But in 2002 Keith Peacock asked me to join Suffolk Phoenix Brass. This would turn out to be a new start and I’ve not looked back. I’m currently number two on the front row and Keith’s “bumper upper” I joined Boxted Methodist Silver Band in 2005 and am now their principle cornet player. In 2008 I started with the Ipswich Over-50s in an official capacity (being now well over 50!) and have been their flugel horn player for the last three years. On Tuesday afternoons I join a small group of mostly ex-Colchester Band players conducted by Arthur, this time on tenor horn. With four bands a week, practice, lessons and concerts I am kept very busy.
Ian Grimes – EE♭ Bass Tuba
Joined the Forces in 1973 trained as a Musician before being attached to the 1st Royal Anglian Regimental Band. In 1975 to 1976 attended the Royal Collage of Music Kneller Hall on tuba. Returned to the Regimental Band on top tuba playing solo with the Regimental Band playing all over the world. Including recordings with Brass Band, Orchestral and Military Band on EE♭ Bass Tuba. Left the Regimental Band in 1980. Spent some time teaching young people and in the last few years Adult brass and music in general. Conducted the Ipswich Citadel young peoples band and SA Senior Band for a few years. Spent a period of time in the SA Citadel Band on EE♭ and BB♭ tuba. Currently playing in the Salvation Army London Central Fellowship Band under the direction of David Daws playing concerts all over the UK. Played with the Dubai orchestral in Dubai earlier in 2010. Currently play Solo EE♭ Bass Tuba for the Phoenix Band and known for playing the Sousaphone and clowning about in the many solo’s I have been asked to play.
Keith started to learn music at the age of 11. He played 2nd or 3rd cornet and also had a spell on repiano and soprano cornet before playing tuti cornet with Soham Comrades Band with whom he played for 40 years. During 2 years National Service Keith kept up his playing with a number of bands. After leaving Soham Keith conducted Haddenham village band for 8 years.
Keith’s work was relocated to Ipswich, where after playing with Ipswich Co-Op for a spell he moved to Woodbridge Excelsior where he played for a number of years before conducting them for a year. After a short break from banding Keith joined the Suffolk Fire service band which changed it’s name and reformed as the Suffolk Phoenix Brass where he still plays as principle cornet. Keith was also a founder member of the Ipswich over 50’s band where he has played solo cornet for several years.