Big Band Scene (Nov. 2019)

I had the good fortune to see Terry Pack’s Trees again last month as part of the regular Big Band @ Brunswick Sunday evening programme. As before, it was a slimmed down version, with just four brass, eight reeds and woodwind, a single voice, keyboard, bass and drums. There was some new material as well as the more familiar charts with writing credits across the band.

This month, the One World Orchestra is scheduled to play, with the relevant title “Get Real, a special prorogueram for the unimpressed.” Their spelling, not mine. For more information, please visit the website www.oneworldorchestra.co.uk 

Next month, it is the turn of the Brighton Big Band to round off the 2019 schedule.

There are no details as yet for 2020.  It is to be hoped that these big band sessions are to continue. But they do need to attract audiences. When I arrived at the Trees gig mentioned above, the band had just started playing. I was the sixth member of the audience. The numbers improved as the evening progressed so that eventually the band was outnumbered, but the auditorium was still far from full. I heard that the turnout for a handful of other gigs in the series was also disappointing.

I suspect that this may be due to lack of effective publicity and marketing. Especially on the internet. I regularly visit big band websites in search of material for this column. Some are exemplary, with up to date information promoting forthcoming gigs. There are others that appear not to have been updated since 2012. Similarly, some Facebook pages seem to contain little more than gossip. Others dwell on past events, including videos of previous gigs. The best look forward as well, giving all the essential information such as date, time and venue of future gigs, together with admission prices.  Posting in the Big Bands of Brighton also gets the information out. And building up an email list is a useful way of establishing a fan base and keeping it informed.

     So far, this is, in effect, merely preaching to the converted; those who are already looking out for big bands. The next step is to reach the attention of the wider public. Sticking with the web, there are sites on which can be posted, free of charge, details of events. Although for a small fee, the publicity can be boosted. Two, in particular are very useful, because details of the gig appear in print.

The first is www.theargus.co.uk, the local newspaper serving Brighton & Hove and various districts in Sussex.  The What’s On tab gives the facility to add an event. It is straightforward to enter the gig details on the form provided. A disadvantage is when choosing the locality, the on-line publicity is limited. A Brunswick event appears in the Hove selection, but not in Brighton. But, of course, the paper containing the gig details can be found in any newsagent across the city.

     The second is listings@whatsonguide.co.uk. Details have to be submitted by email before the 15th of the month previous to the planned gig. The format of the required information is:- town, date, name of event, venue address, start time with admission price. The printed guide is distributed to a variety of establishments open to the general public. However, in my experience, it is best not to post too far ahead.  When I have submitted three months’ worth of gigs, not all have appeared.

    There are a couple of websites which publish only on the internet:- wherecanwego.com, where details can be posted up to twelve months in advance, and allevents.in. If you know of others, please let me know, and I will include the details in a future column.

     There are other newspapers published in Sussex, I have checked a sample, but, other than buying a copy of the paper, I have been unable to find any way of adding an event. Any specific information would be gratefully received. The Brighton Independent seems reluctant to publish jazz gigs in their weekly guide. 

Next month: Hopefully another band profile, and more news about big bands based in, or appearing in, the county. If you would like your band featured, and I have not already contacted you, please get in touch. Anything else, such as gig news, or feedback on this column, that you would like me to include in December’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Tuesday 12th November. My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk.

(photo of Terry Pack’s Trees by Patrick Billingham)