As many followers of the bands will be aware, Grace Pratt passed away earleier this year.
Grace is Mikes mother and banding was in her blood from an early age. Grace was a very talented cornet player herself and after marrying Ted Pratt her family could not fail to become brass players themselves.
The whole Shepherd Group Brass Band organisation wanted to pay their own tribute to Grace, someone who supported us through the years and who was a face we all looked out for in our concerts. The best tribute we can think of is to play the music she loved while raising fund for York Against Cancer, her chosen charity.
The concert will take place at 7:30 pm on September 29th 2023 at York Salvation Army Citadel and will feature the Shepherd Group Concert Band conducted of course by her son Mike and the Shepherd Group Senior Band. The music will be a celebration of Grace’s life and a reflection on the lives of those we have lost in recent years.
Tickets for this concert are avaialble via our Eventbrite page.
The weekend of the 1st and 2nd of July saw the concert band heading back down to London where they played on the bandstand in Regents Park. It turned out to be quite the weekend! As usual we had Erwin as our driver in a brand new coach, well 3 weeks old anyway, and he really was magnificent. Totally safe driving and giving us a verbal guided tour as we travelled through the capital and we saw just about every spectator entering Lords for the second test as we drove past the ground.
However the day before we got to our first job at Milton Keynes. It was supposed to be a birthday celebration for the museum and that is what they had originally booked us for but they moved it forward a week or so which meant that it was just an ordinary day there. Anyway although the “crowds” were just about in double figures we played our set and were truly appreciated by those there. Possibly 15 to 20 spectators but we raised £137. The Art of Rough Banding again came to the fore as the Bandstand wasn’t big enough and we therefore played in a slightly larger tent/marquee. Refreshment was provided at half time and the Band really started to become a family. A great start to our mini-tour.
The Museum is now home to the famous Concrete Cows and of course there were the obligatory poses posted on social media.
The next stage of the journey was on to our hotel in Watford. Everyone arrived safely but the computer at the Premiere Inn was misbehaving and our key cards were unable to be issued immediately. While waiting for the computer to be fixed, the band headed to the bar for a drink before sitting outside in the sunshine. Everything was relaxed until Mike said “is that a fire over the road?” We watched it for a short time and then when it started to get a little bit more serious Mike went into the hotel and told the staff about it who rang 999 and called the Fire Brigade. The band had a grandstand view of the fire service putting out the fire until the keycards were ready and the fire was well down. Once everyone was settled in, some of the band went into Watford for a meal and drinks. This was an excellent bonding evening for those who went and everyone eventually ended up back at the hotel bar for a couple of nightcaps only to see that the Fire Brigade had returned as the fire had broken out again.
Next morning everyone was up and after breakfast headed off to Regent’s Park. We set up on the lovely bandstand with the weather warm but a little windy and prepared to play. This bandstand is of course sadly the site of an IRA bombing back in July 1982, where a bomb was planted under the bandstand killing 7 musicians of the Royal Green Jackets.
We were joined by 4 other players for the day; Kate Lock, who had travelled down from Oxford that morning, Janey who had been part of The Youth Band triumph the day previously, a lady called Annie who knew Audrey and had played with us at the same concert in 2022. We were also joined by an old friend of Ken Stamp who had played with Rowntrees Band a long time ago and now lived in London. It’s nice to see the Shepherd Group Family still holds former players under its wings.
The concert was 2 great halves of typical Concert Band Music. The crowd was bigger that last year although the weather wasn’t as nice. The support and repose from the audience was exceptional. Applause, singing and dancing along to many pieces and at the very end a huge round of loud applause and cheering. A really positive response which was really well appreciated by the players on the stand. Mike has now been given a new nickname by the concert organiser, he’s Yorkshire’s Freddie Mercury. You have to wonder whether telling him this was a good idea; what could he possibly end up wearing at the JoRo concert this Christmas?
The Chairman of The Music Festival, Mark Elliot, spoke with David Gregg both at the end of the concert and in a ‘phone conversation this morning and both times he said he would like us back next year as well. To paraphrase his words “ your music is great, it’s just what our audience wants and our band is quite unique in its presentation of it”. Let’s hope he keeps his word.
This was the first Xmas outing for the Concert Band but unfortunately without Mike Pratt conducting due to a medical problem. However our Soprano player, James McFadden, very ably took the stick at the front and did an excellent job leading the CB through 2 hours of festive music in front of a packed Market audience. The local temperature of 5 deg didn’t help greatly though.
The first half was predominantly carols with the audience being asked for their requests. Mass singing by our listeners was hugely appreciated and really set the tone for the second half after a welcome break for the players to get their breath back.
The second half was mainly Xmas music that has been in the charts and has proven very popular. This included Let It Snow, Rocking around the Christmas Tree, Last Christmas etc mixed with the odd carol or two. Jingle Bells, as always, proved very popular with our audience. 500 Miles was somehow worked into the programme, complete with audience antiphonal singing. Great! The final number was announced as a slow middle ages Christmas tune that needed to be played with due care and solemnity. That’s when the Band wholeheartedly launched into Mr Holder and Mr Lea’s Merry ChristmasEverybody with wholehearted and lung busting effort.
A cold but great Christmas Concert. Organisers pleased. Audience pleased. A good collection. What could be better? Before we left we were asked to do the same job next year.
Many thanks to our senior band Baritone Player Jen for the photos.
The Concert Band will be performing at Huntington Working Mens Club on Saturday 29th October at 7:30 pm. Tickets for this are available behind the bar at the club or can be obtained from Tommy Aylett by calling 07507058371
Wow, what a fantastic weekend for the Shepherd Group Concert Brass Band!
After an early Saturday morning start the band travelled down to Hemel Hempstead for their first concert of the weekend. The band performed on the Rainbow stage, a purpose built performance area in the middle of Hemel Town centre.
Day two, we set off for Regent’s Park for the main event, our Concert in the Royal Park. With the sun shining and already a large crowd gathering, possibly in anticipation of a Yorkshire brass band.
I think it’s only fair to say that the Concert that the band gave that afternoon was one that will live in the memory of the players for a long, long time. The playing was superb, the atmosphere within the band was unbelievable and the crowd reaction was described, by a park employee, as “quite incredible, never seen a reaction to a brass band like this one”. So, after the final notes of Sweet Caroline had drifted over the nearby lake, the band headed back to York. They showed just what the Shepherd Group of bands are all about and I’m sure, made many friends in both Hemel and Regents Park. A stellar weekend.
The Concert Band ran a recent quiz in order to raise funds to help out with the costs for the upcoming appearance of the band in Regents Park. The quiz inquisitor was of course Mike Pratt and those of us familiar with his efforts on the coach to Durham and Blackpool will not be surprised tat there were football questions in there.
The answer sheets have all been submitted, marked and scrutinised and the winner with a superb score of 46 correct answers out of 50 is Jayne Janes. We will be contacting Jayne directly with the deatils of her prize. For those who were not quite as accurate, the correct answers are all listed here. Thanks very much to all those who took part, every little helps.
On 6th March our Concert Band had the great privilege of playing at the York Barbican in a special gala concert to help raise money for flood victims. The concert, which was named “Hold Back the River” featured artists from all over York and all proceeds went directly to those affected by the terrible floods over Christmas.
Concert Band MD Michael Pratt said:
“The Band felt so honoured to be asked to play tonight, the atmosphere has been amazing the whole band played brilliantly, I’m so proud!”
So far the York Disaster Fund has raised over £1,300,000 for flood victims and concerts such as this one are vital to keep the momentum on the appeal going so here at Shepherds we are delighted to have been able to help out.