If you are a regular listener to Radio 2 in the mornings and listen to Chris Evans, you can't have failed to notice that he is backing the Military Wives' single "Wherever You Are". He has also asked every choir to submit their own version to be aired on his show. "But CoBBB is not a choir!" I hear you say. That is correct; but Mark Bodenham, ex-player and website guy, works for RAC and they submitted a version. However, because it was going up against the RAC's arch rival The Yellow Peril AA, they wanted it to be special and knowing that Mark is in a brass band, they called upon him to help.
The challenge by Chris Evans was put down on his show at 9.15 on Wednesday 21st December, and it needed to be in for the next show! "Blimey" (or words to that effect) was muttered. Mark called upon his friends and colleagues to arrange a small but capable brass ensemble. Given that it was 12.30 when everything was confirmed by RAC and had been given the green light, Mark had not long to arrange this. At very short notice ten players from around Bristol gathered at the RAC Supercentre in Bradley Stoke to play their part in this exciting challenge.
The real star of this remarkable achievment was the one and only Stephen Rockey: arranger, composer, conductor, trombonist and teacher. Mark had only given him 5 hours' notice of the recording time and only 2 hours' notice of the final instrumentation!
Nethertheless Stephen did it and even brought along his own recording gear! Two run throughs and then it was down to recording it. Three takes later and it was in the can (I think they say that)! Two hours later it was being mixed by a professional mixer in Birmingham where the RAC choir had sang previously and handed their recording in. Four hours at the mixing desk and only coffee and cheescake to keep him going, Khuli, another colleague from Birmingham customer services, had a finished product.
Off it went to the Radio 2 producer for their own mixing. The result was they put the two choirs head to head or back to back for a special roadside breakdown challenge at 8.15am on Thursday 22nd December 2011. The AA went first with their version then the RAC was next. It was obvious that the RAC version had more class because it had brass! (just a tad biased).
It was not all City of Bristol Brass Band but it was the majority of the 10-piece put together by ex-player and website guy Mark Bodenham.
The players were -
Conductor - Stephen Rockey
Cornets - Doug White, Joe Hamlen, Margaret Exley (All CoBBB)
Flugal Horns - Pete Boyles (CoBBB), Chris Painter (Salvation Army)
Euphonium - Claire Ancell (CoBBB)
Baritone - Marion Dobbs (Portishead Town Band)
Trombone - Nathen James(Salvation Army)
Eb Bass - Sam Roberts (Salvation Army)
Bb Bass - Mark Bodenham (CoBBB)