FEATURE: BRASS Festival | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Fat Freddy’s Drop by DUNCOGRAPHIC

Durham BRASS Festival returns in July, promising a week of spectacular performances, new commissions, free concerts, community activities and lively street bands for all the family.

Among the highlights of the festivities this year will be a performance from Fat Freddy’s Drop, a New Zealand-based band inspired by reggae, soul, disco and house, who will be playing at Gala Durham on Monday 10th, after a string of headline festival shows throughout Europe last year, including a sold-out performance at Alexandra Palace in London.

The rest of the programme includes a special performance from one of the most prestigious brass bands to come out of County Durham, The Reg Vardy Band will present For Your Eyes Only: 70 Years of Bond at the Fire Station in Sunderland, the first ever fringe event to be incorporated into the Durham BRASS programme (Sunday 9th). Back at Gala Durham, Michael Lamb’s Strictly Smokin’ Big Band will perform two nights of Big Band on Broadway (Thursday 13th-Friday 14th); Consett Empire Theatre will welcome The Fairey Band for an evening of traditional brass followed by some of the most iconic scores from stage and screen (Saturday 15th). This, in turn, will follow a performance at Gala Durham where the band will perform the score to a showing of Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers, teaming up with animators Aardman for a unique visual experience. A co-commission from No Dots and Durham BRASS, the Brighouse & Rastrick Brass Band will perform Echoes of the North, a new silent film where audiences can take a journey through all aspects of northern life. The 60-minute film is accompanied by a score written by acclaimed composer and broadcaster Neil Brand and is the first ever all-brass soundtrack for a silent film (Sunday 16th).

The perennial highlight of the festival comes on Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th when a host of multicultural musicians take to the city’s streets in Streets of Brass. Performers will include Spain’s Artistas del Gremio; the New Orleans-inspired eight-piece from Yorkshire, Back Chat Brass; all-female Italian street band Girlesque, whose electrifying combination of sounds give a nod to burlesque culture; Badcore Horns, a futuristic trio who have created their own ‘drum and brass’ sound through ‘cyber’ saxophones and ‘techno’ trumpets; London-based DAT Brass, whose sound combines bass energy, turntables and a detailed horn section; and the genre-bashing New Orleans meets 90s club anthems, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners among many more.

Durham BRASS Festival returns in July, promising a week of spectacular performances, new commissions, free concerts, community activities and lively street bands for all the family

Also of interest to fans of alternative sounds, in partnership with us here at NARC. Magazine, and taking place at Durham Town Hall on Friday 14th July, Brassed On! provides a unique showcase event which will see two of the region’s most exciting up and coming artists, Darlington’s Luke Royalty and Teesside’s Sisi, partnering with professional brass players to give their music a whole new dimension.

Alt. rapper Luke is continuing his journey still fresh from a national tour with Jake Bugg at the end of 2022 after selling out his first headline gigs in Leeds and Darlington, and has been championed by BBC Radio 1 and 6Music, as well as being featured in NME and Clash Magazine. Luke will be performing his set with accompaniment from Loud Noises, a high-energy brass band from Leeds, whose music combines contemporary brass with dance.

Middlesbrough singer-songwriter Sisi, whose versatile musical style covers genres from Afropop to garage, has also received airplay on BBC Radio 1 while she also made the cut for Reading and Leeds Festival in 2022. Sisi’s set will be accompanied by The Original Pinettes, an all-female-led brass band from New Orleans.

Brassed On! will conclude with a set from female vinyl DJ duo Noble & Heath, committed vinyl collectors who have played all over London and bring a fresh energy to the dancefloor, spinning the very best in soul and disco, no doubt with a brassy theme.

BRASS Festival takes place in various locations in Durham from Sunday 9th–Sunday 16th July.


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