The Best of the Best of Evenings by Kevin Crockford

The 23rd of September 2017 will remain in my memory for a very long time as being one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling concerts I can remember. I still have to pinch myself to believe I was actually there.

Back in mid-June, Maxine Davison wrote to me asking if I would be interested in playing a couple of solos with the all - female “Boobs &  Brass, Yorkshire band” at a concert they were putting on in Doncaster. It was an easy `yes`  from me as I was aware that the band only did concerts to raise money for charities and most notably for Breast Cancer Research.

My partner of some 28 years now, Kerrie, was diagnosed with breast cancer last October and has since undergone the operation to have it all removed and the ensuing weeks of radiotherapy treatment until she was eventually discharged by Weston Park Cancer Hospital in August. So, to be asked to be involved in this event was close to my heart and more selfishly was something I really wanted to do.

Two days before the big day, Maxine messaged me that the rehearsal was to between 3 and 5 o` clock, not the best start as I had a workshop to deliver so knew I would be running late.
However, Kerrie and I arrived at the church with enough time to run the two solos I was playing.

The conductor for the evening was the young, talented music publisher, Gavin Somerset, who did a terrific job with all aspects of the event.

To walk into a hall with a band with ( I am told )  51 ladies in it, was quite honestly a somewhat daunting experience, but there was no need to feel anxious as everyone was so nice and welcoming.

So, rehearsal successfully done, time for a cup of tea, a butty and a chat with the ladies. There was a real feel of excitement back stage and it was clear this was a huge passion for everyone involved, the committment and attitude of all the players was really quite special.

I seemed to have lost my Kerrie and then discovered her working on the merchandise stand at Maggies request for some help. Kerrie was of course very happy to join in, so, we were all involved – perfect!

I soon learned that this was to be the final event of Boobs and Brass Yorkshire as the whole organization was being wound up and it was clear to feel and see the huge emotions with everyone, especially the bands wonderful matriarch, Maggie Betts.

The concert was simply superb, with the band playing popular, recognizable items which kept the audience highly entertained.

The highlights of the programme included, Breezing down Broadway, Candyman, I’ll walk with God, Hot stuff from the Full Monty ( that made me a bit nervous, being amongst 51 ladies, but thankfully, everyone kept their clothes on ! )

The second half kicked off with The Imperial March from Star Wars with guest appearances from four fully clad Imperial Stormtroopers  ( brilliant ) and with Gavin Somerset dressed as Darth Vader and conducting with an illuminated sword ( again brilliant ), Beyond the sea, YMCA ( with audience members on the floor dancing away ), American Trilogy, and What a Wonderful World.

I was asked to play a couple of solos and opted for Goff Richards `Demelza` in the first half and `Bring Him Home`  from Les Miserables, in the second half.

Maxine  asked if I would wear one of the famous Boobs and Brass Pink jackets but , sadly ( to my half relief ! ) there wasn’t one big enough to fit me!!!  However, in the second half, Karen Everitt, one of the band`s flugel players,  left her seat, walked towards me, took her pink jacket off and made me put it on whilst on stage. It was very kind of Karen to sacrifice her jacket ( !!! ) but in all seriousness, it actually was a privilege to wear it -  thank you Karen !!. ( I’ll get you back at playtime x )

The band concluded the concert with Gavin’s super arrangement of `In  Flanders Fields!  with light show and fanfare cornets at stage side with a film being screened of World War One events at the same time, absolutely stunning, moving and very entertaining.

The band raised over £1000 for the charities which was fantastic and I truly believe everyone, band and audience had the best of the best of evenings.

To say I feel privileged and honoured to have played a small part in this wonderful organization would be a total understatement, but,  I will say that in all the 40 years of my playing career, I honestly can’t remember being a part of such a fantastic concert and to play amongst the loveliest of good people. It was an immense evening and so enjoyable.

Finally, I’d just like to thank the bands two soprano players, Sammie Woodman and Sarah Jane Cook, who both played quite superbly and kindly looked after this old man too. Thanks ladies x

Thank you Maxine, Maggie and all the ladies of the band for the most memorable and fulfilling experience.

Love you all