The UK City of Culture year of 2013 signalled an unprecedented change in the perception of cultural expression and the engagement between local marching bands from the Londonderry Bands Forum and the All Ireland Fleadh was a clear indicator of this change in mindsets.
The Pride of Orange and Blue, Burntollet Sons of Ulster and Caw flute bands led a celebration of the fife, flute and drum in Ebrington Square on the gig rigs and the Churchill Flute Band, Irelands oldest marching band, performed in Victoria Market on the city side. Bands subsequently went on to take part in the Sligo Fleadh the following two years.
Jonathan Burgess’ intimate portrayal of Protestant band culture in his play ‘The Pride,’ received a standing ovation in Culturlann Uí Chanáin, in Great James Street.
Interviewed at the time, Kenny McFarland, chairman of the Londonderry Bands Forum said: “We worked with the organisers of the Fleadh behind the scenes for quite a while. and seized the opportunity to take part in the fleadh and do what we do best, which is play music.” He added: “This involvement allowed us to showcase our culture to a wider audience that wouldn’t necessarily see it depicted in this light.”
Next week’s City of Derry jazz Festival sees another involvement for the members of the Burntollet Sons of Ulster who will play debut gigs- at 3.30 pm on the Saturday 29th at Holywell DiverseCity Community Partnership and at 5pm in the Craft Village the following day, Sunday 30th. During both gigs the band will be accompanied by a quartet of jazz musicians led up by Birmingham based Bangor born Sid Peacock who has previously worked with the band in 2013 and more recently with members of the Londonderry Bands Forum during a joint music bursary scheme with An Culturlann.
Speaking about the performances Burntollet Band master Ryan Simpson said “Working with Sid and other musicians in 2013 was certainly one of the strangest but exciting projects the band had possibly taken part in. Who would ever have thought that a marching blood and thunder flute band could hook up with a jazz band and actually work. When Eamonn Baker contacted the band about possibly taking part in something similar for the Jazz Festival and working with Sid again we snapped at the chance. Another chance to showcase our music to a whole different audience again."
Derek Moore, coordinator of the LBF added “Our aim in the forum is to encourage local young, and not so young bandsmen, to show that musicians, regardless of the bands, groups or settings that they play in, are simply there to perform and entertain”