"Jingle Bells? You are joking!"
As is usual during the festive season, bands go out and raise funds by playing Christmas Carols at supermarkets and the like and hopefully spread a bit of festive cheer. This year is no different. The City of Bristol Brass Band's first Christmas gig was on Friday 31st August in the Valco supermarket! For those of you who don't have Sky, that is the supermarket featured in the British sit-com "Trollied" and last Friday they were filming their Christmas special.
It was a long day which got off to a bad (and very early!) start when some of the Band couldn't even find the location of the shoot. However, on their arrival their was an outside caterer who provided a cooked breakfast before the members were given a guided tour of the set.
The Assistant Director's breakfast was accompanied by the Band warming up with a couple of carols (apparantly the first time that has happened!). The Costume Department managed to hide the Band's logo behind carefully crafted Christmas flowers and everyone was impressed by how smart the Band looked.
On the stage, the Band had a quick soundcheck which rapidly developed in to "record two verses of 'God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen' and 'Once in Royal David's City' and that will be the sound stuff out of the way". There was also lots of discussion and much shuffling of positions but the Director wasn't interested in the authentic look and put the Band in a straight line so no-one could really see each other. Steve did an admirable job counting the group in and, as consummate amateurs in awe, the Band followed every instruction of the Director!
Rehearsals first then "Action!". This meant play a few notes and then mime. Who would have thought miming was so difficult! It's not just about holding the instrument, but moving the valves and breathing in the right place, too!
"Mime? I forgot – and only when seeing Hannah (next to me wiggling her fingers on the valves) I thought – "oops!". Next rehearsal I forgot to mime again! Worse, I then tried to work out where we were before coming back in – obviously a massive failure – duh!" (Robin)
Eventually the Band got the hang of it (even if they weren't breathing in the same places). It shows how important it is when even the extras are really pleased when they do their walking-in correctly!
There was a lot of hanging around, waiting (practising?!) but there was enough tea, coffee, biscuits and sausages to keep the Band amused and also plastic food which at times the Band couldn’t tell if it was real or not! Watching the cast and crew perform and do their behind-the-scenes stuff was very interesting.
Apart from various difficulties caused by giant foam snowflakes it all went well until the Director wanted Silent Night (even though it wasn't on the agreed list) and so the Band did a bit of that miming and then had to go and record the sound.
And suddenly that was it and no lunch in sight because it was only 11.30! Everyone involved was really appreciative and I guess we will see how much so when Sky1 air their Christmas special of "Trollied".
Well done to the Band.
Steve Ellis, Joe Hamlen, Hannah Baldwin & Nick Wilmott (Cornets)
Hazel Price (Tenor Horn)
Jim Mitchell (Euphonium)
Robin Smith (Tuba)