Big Band Scene (Aug. 2016)

    Saxophonist Patrick Billingham has another look at big band finances and profiles The Swingin’ Saxophone Big Band.

 

    First of all an apology.  I made a typing error in last month’s column. Paul Busby’s website from which you can download his excellent big band charts is www.scoredchanges.com.  

    In SJM52 (May), I raised the matter of band finances and looked at some of the expenses involved in running a big band. This month I am discussing some sources of income.  Assuming you are not following the precedent of Charlie Barnet.

    The Musicians’ Union minimum hourly rate for a gig, including setting-up time, is £38 for up to three hours.  For a 17 piece band playing two sets over the space of two hours, with an hour to set up and clear away, this would cost the client almost £2000.  £10 a head for an audience of 200.   Fine, if you can achieve this with regular local gigs.  Bearing in mind that the cost of hiring the venue may have to be added on.   Nevertheless, with careful planning, it can be done.  In the 1990s, Les Paul hired the King Alfred Centre in Hove and put on five or so ballroom dances every year. These were always sold out.

    Generally speaking, our local bands settle for less.  Many venues offer around £200 for a two hour gig.  Some, like Eastbourne Bandstand, offer £300 for 90 minutes.  In these times of local authority austerity the band must bear the cost of the obligatory third party liability insurance.  Typically £200 per year.  For community events, where the band has a shorter spot, the fee may be £100 or less.  And there are the unpaid gigs.  The main purpose of which, is for the band to show off their skills, and, of course, to present the music to the public at large.

    One way of raising money to cover running expenses is to charge band members a regular subscription.  This can be paid each time the band rehearses, monthly, or even less frequently.  Each scheme has its advantages and disadvantages.  Less frequent collection, with the money paid up front at the first rehearsal, should mean greater commitment to rehearsals.  A disadvantage can be the relatively large lump sum. And members not having enough cash on them at the time and postponing paying.  In some cases indefinitely.  One way of reducing the subs is to put gig income into band funds rather than sharing it out among members.

    Sponsorship can be another source of income.  But this can bring problems.  The sponsor may require the band to have a bank account.  This is usually free as the band is regarded as a charity or a community organisation.  But if the band starts earning substantial sums, the bank may treat it as a business, and change the account to a business one, with charges.  

    There are other problems with sponsorship. First of all, it may be withdrawn at short notice. Which can result in the band being unable to pay its bills. Secondly, if the sponsor is a public body, recent legislation makes it illegal for such a sponsored organisation to campaign on issues that may affect the result of an election.  So for instance, if a candidate, running on an anti-noise ticket, proposes that the ambient sound level on the street outside a music venue should not exceed 40dB, about as loud as a domestic fridge, it would be illegal for such a sponsored band to mount any public opposition.

    Producing a CD for sale at gigs is a useful source of income.  Although this may involve an initial expense. However, these days, readily available software means that the editing can be done by an enthusiastic band member, keeping this cost down.

    And if all else fails, on an unpaid gig, there is always the bucket for cash donations.

 

 

 

 

 

This month we feature The Swingin’ Saxophone Big Band

This band was set up in Eastbourne in September 2015, following the popularity of a similar band based in Tunbridge Wells.  As you may guess from the name, there is no brass, currently just 22 saxes, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, plus a rhythm section.

Like some of the other sax only big bands, the band members have a wide range of experience and ability.  Apart from keenness and enthusiasm, the only conditions of membership are the ability to read music and to be over 16 years of age.

The repertoire is varied. Soul, funk, blues, swing, jazz – all adapted Big Band scores. The varied difficulty levels allow the more able still to be challenged and the less able to improve their skills with confidence. 

An important aim of the band is to give everyone the experience of performing in front an audience. And their first gig on July 31st this year, at Arlington Village Hall showed how far they have come in under 12 months.

If you are interested in joining the band, there is room for new members, especially on tenor and soprano. Although members of the E flat tendency are also welcome.  They rehearse twice a month, on Wednesday evenings, at Willingdon Community School, Broad Road, Lower Willingdon, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN20 9QX (01323 485254).  

For more information, or to book the band, contact their founder, Karen Wardrop, karen.wardrop@btopenworld.com.

The band has a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/theswinginsaxophonebigband, where you can keep up to date with their activities.

Next month:  Another band profile plus news and views.  If you would like your band featured, and I have not already contacted you, please get in touch.  Or if there is anything else, such as gig news, or feedback on this column, that you would like me to include in September’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Thursday August 25th. My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This month we feature The Swingin’ Saxophone Big Band.

    This band was set up in Eastbourne in September 2015, following the popularity of a similar band based in Tunbridge Wells.  As you may guess from the name, there is no brass, currently just 22 saxes, soprano, alto, tenor and baritone, plus a rhythm section.

    Like some of the other sax only big bands, the band members have a wide range of experience and ability.  Apart from keenness and enthusiasm, the only conditions of membership are the ability to read music and to be over 16 years of age.

    The repertoire is varied. Soul, funk, blues, swing, jazz – all adapted Big Band scores. The varied difficulty levels allow the more able still to be challenged and the less able to improve their skills with confidence. 

    An important aim of the band is to give everyone the experience of performing in front an audience. And their first gig on July 31st this year, at Arlington Village Hall showed how far they have come in under 12 months.

    If you are interested in joining the band, there is room for new members, especially on tenor and soprano. Although members of the E flat tendency are also welcome.  They rehearse twice a month, on Wednesday evenings, at Willingdon Community School, Broad Road, Lower Willingdon, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN20 9QX (01323 485254).  

    For more information, or to book the band, contact their founder, Karen Wardrop, karen.wardrop@btopenworld.com.

    The band has a Facebook page, www.facebook.com/theswinginsaxophonebigband, where you can keep up to date with their activities.

 

 

Next month:  Another band profile plus news and views.  If you would like your band featured, and I have not already contacted you, please get in touch.  Or if there is anything else, such as gig news, or feedback on this column, that you would like me to include in September’s Big Band Scene, please send it to me by Thursday August 25th. My email address is g8aac@yahoo.co.uk.

 

Big Band Gigs for August – Early September

† means a regular monthly gig

bold italic type indicates part of a regular series

 

Wednesday August 3rd.

†8:30 pm, The Fred Woods Big Band at the Horsham Sports Club, Cricketfield Road, Horsham RH12 1TE (01403 254628).  £2 (Club members free.)

 

Thursday August 4th.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 05: The Central Band of The Royal British Legion on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD.  Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.

 

Sunday August 7th

†12:45 – 3:00 pm, Sounds of Swing Big Band at The Horseshoe Inn Hotel, Posey Green, Windmill Hill, Herstmonceux, East Sussex BN27 4RU (02035 645225).   Free entry.

3:00 – 4.30 pm, The Brighton Big Band, with Dave Williams and Jackie Sampson, on the seafront terraces, Rottingdean, East Sussex BN2. Free admission.

7:30 – 10:00  pm, Big Band @Brunswick: Terry Pack’s Trees at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  Free entry with collection.

 

Tuesday August 9th.

†8:00 – 10:30 pm, The Ronnie Smith Big Band at The Humming Bird Restaurant, Main Terminal Building, Shoreham Airport, West Sussex,  BN43 5FF (01903 783053).  Free entry with collection.

 

Thursday August 11th.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 06: The Yorkshire Band of The Royal British Legion on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD.  Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.

 

Sunday August 14th

†12:30 – 3:00 pm, Graham Mintram's Groovin' High Big Band at the Ravenswood Hotel, Horsted Lane, Sharpthorne, East Sussex RH19 4HY (01342 810216).   Free entry.

 

Thursday August 18th.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 07: The Swingshift Big Band on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD.  Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.

 

Sunday August 21st.

2:00 – 5:00 pm, The J-L Dance & Swing Band at The Lido, Marine Parade, Worthing, West Sussex, BN11 3PX (01903 706773). Free entry.

 

Thursday August 25th.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 08: The Brighton Big Band with Jackie Sampson, on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD.  Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.

 

Friday August 26th.

†8:30 – 11:00 pm, The Les Paul Big Band (Family & Friends evening) in Patcham, BN1, £5.  For further details contact Les (01273 558009) les@lespaulbigband.co.uk  (Bring your own refreshments.)

 

Sunday August 28th.

†12:30 – 3:00 pm, The South Coast Big Band at The Junction Tavern, 99, Station Road, Polegate, East Sussex BN24 6EB (01323 482010).   Free entry.

 

Thursday September 1st.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 09: The Johnny Spice Swing Orchestra on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD.  Advance bookings (01323 410611).  £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.

 

Saturday September 3rd.

10:15 am, The Wacky Band at St Michael's Hospice, 25, Upper Maze Hill, St Leonards on Sea East Sussex TN38 0LB.  (01424 445177). Free entry.

 

Sunday September 4th

†12:45 – 3:00 pm, Sounds of Swing Big Band at The Horseshoe Inn Hotel, Posey Green, Windmill Hill, Herstmonceux, East Sussex BN27 4RU (02035 645225).   Free entry.

7:30 – 10:00  pm, Big Band @Brunswick: Chris Coull Biggish Band at The Brunswick, 3, Holland Road, Hove BN3 1JF (01273 733984).  Free entry with collection.

 

Wednesday September 7th.

†8:30 pm, The Fred Woods Big Band at the Horsham Sports Club, Cricketfield Road, Horsham RH12 1TE (01403 254628).  £2 (Club members free.)

 

Thursday September 8th.

8:00 – 9:30 pm, Big Band Sound 10: The Swingshift Big Band on Eastbourne Bandstand, Grand Parade, Eastbourne, East Sussex BN21 3AD.  Advance bookings (01323 410611) £5/£2.50, or on the night £7/£3.50.