Bands oompah in the park, London

Bands oompah in the park, London
“ Dig out the picnic rugs from under the staircase,” said my son,” and lets go to the park, for an al fresco brass band performance.” So we piled into the car with packs of crisps and chilled coke zero besides a ton of fruit and were off. Nat took her cycle which she was going to show us her prowess with, once the band left.

It’s a quintessentially English summer afternoon’s entertainment, in a beautiful park with fun for all the family. We could see lots of families bring a picnic, while the kids ran amok on the lawns. The band plays between 2:30pm and 4:30pm.

Bands performing in the park is such a British cultural treat and it was brought to India by them as well. We always had a band performing in the Cubbon Park Band Stand as kids, in Bangalore and our parents took us to listen to them. Free entertainment when the TV did not rule our lives.

Apparently over the summer months several parks in London were bringing open air band performances to local parks. Most of the visitors like us, get themselves huge ice cream cones with extra sauce and sprinkles. They then pull out a foldable deckchair, which they have brought and sit back, to put some brass band oompah into their weekend.

The band we had gone to listen to was comprised of young people and lots of older musicians too. While walking up one of the saxophonists told us that the band plays around 30 concerts a year, both within the district and beyond and enjoys a high reputation, particularly among other musicians. Their repertoire covered a wide variety of musical styles, from traditional brass band pieces to TV and film themes and arrangements of popular tunes.

We sat back and listened to fantastic pieces from the movies, all the old and much loved ones and every piece got a loud and long round of applause from us all.

“ We were founded in 1960 and, as a small group of volunteers, and it’s hard work to maintain the tradition of “Brass Bands in the Park” for your entertainment and enjoyment and to provide a venue for brass bands to proclaim their talents,” said the saxophonist as he wiped down his instrument after the show.

The summer programmes of Brass Band Concerts in the park take place on Sunday afternoons running from the Spring (May) Bank Holiday to the Autumn (August) Bank Holiday. They are popular because they perform music spanning many generations, so there’s something for everyone.

To one side we could see one family watching their daughter do somersaults. On the other side an overweight man with nothing but his briefs lay sunning his corpulent self in the hot sunshine. Without batting an eyelid he walked across the lawns and bought himself an icecream from the icecream van and sauntered back across, much to everyone’s amusement. The song by Noel Coward -- mad dogs and Englishmen like to go out in the noonday sun came to mind.

Little girls were trying the hula hoop, while a family tried a bit of cricket to the side with their doggie running and catching the ball quite expertly. A single woman deliberately lathered herself with sun block from head to toe, which would have made my doctor son nod in appreciation.

While Nat went off to try her skills on the bike, I enjoyed baby Arthur crawling around quite happily watching the antics of the older kids, while the band entertained us.Ofcourse he wanted a lick of everyone’s ice-cream while my son sweetly produced some peaches & cherries instead from the bag, for diabetic me.






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