Xmas Chat Brass At ‘The White Lion’!

About four times a year there seems to be a quickening in the air around the Wigan area and people of all ages, size, shape and diverse backgrounds appear to gather for a cleansing ritual which is spoken about in reverential tones…

1655592_870017503042440_4246328743727335236_oIt had come to that time of year again. The annual Xmas concert for the ‘Chat Brass’ Band. This august ensemble meets three or four times each year and is the brain child of Maestro Phil Boardman and trombonist extraordinaire Simon Cowen. Chat Brass is an ad hoc ensemble of which members converge from the worlds of brass bands, classical symphony orchestras and jazz. Last year, John Suchet, that most mellifluous of radio announcers brought his mellifluous trombone to join Chat Brass. Three members of the RLPO, Chris Morley, Si Cowen and myself took time off the orchestra to participate. John Suchet is ‘gutted’ he couldn’t make it this year. He is presenting the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in their ‘Spirit of Christmas’ concert series. Next year John…


The HEAVY Brass talking tactics…

 It is always so much fun with friends and acquaintances getting together for a good time and a few beers with one distinct mission in mind.


I’ll tell you what – stellar back row this one!

To make great music!


Maestro Phil (You’re wasting your own time) Boardman, who kindly stepped into the breach when Richard Evans became indisposed.

It is becoming something of a tradition to have our Xmas do in the White Lion Hotel in Leigh. Word gets around and the place is always absolutely packed for a noisy night of brass band favourites and Xmas music. You can see below, that the blinds had to be opened so that the people who spilled outside the pub could see!


Contributors on this evening included: Stuart Peacock, Ian Twiss, Michael Johnson, Grenville Moore, Richard Cowen, Chris Morley, Wizz Bateman, Toby Bannan, Adrian Morris, Tony Hodgetts, Simon Cowen, Tilly Tompkins, Brendan Ball, Craig Kilgour, Jane Moore, Emma Crossley, Harry McPike, stellar trumpet soloist Hannah Mackenzie, Alice Ball, Adrian Morris, Satoko Tanigawa Ball, Philip Boardman, Andy MacDonald, Mark Harrison, Carol Morris, and Sid from Greenhalls, amongst others.


That laughter is infectious!

Many other enthusiasts attended just to listen, including such luminaries as the living legend Jimmy Ball (Trustee of the National Brass Band Archive) and conductor Paul Andrews. This was a discerning audience of national importance!


Chris Morley as ‘happy as Larry’. I don’t know what the darts team thought!

Chat Brass is so named because the first performance was in the village of Chat Moss at the Chat Moss Hotel. Chat Moss has a particular significance for me as, until recently, I resided in Husskisson Street in the Georgian Quarter, Liverpool. In a house which many believed to be Husskisson’s own. We managed to find out otherwise! This house was very close to Edge Hill Station where the world’s very first train journey took place, with the public launch of Stephenson’s Rocket. The journey was to be from Liverpool to Manchester and was known as the Rainhill trials.


Our Frosty Benny, The Snowman!

William Husskisson was the local MP and decided to depart his carriage at Parkside, by Chat Moss, to walk ahead and shake The Duke of Wellington’s hand. Sadly, ‘The Rocket’ ran him down making him the world’s first railway victim! Apparently, his last words were, “… Oh no! I am undone!” I don’t suppose those words would be uttered by myself in the same situation…


Pub Manager Harry McPike gives conductor Phil Boardman a well earned break to conduct Jingle Bells.

Read about it here, fact is stranger than fiction!


The soloist (Me having a go at ‘Cherry Pink, Apple Blossom White) can’t even fit in the concert room!

If this post includes a lot of photos of ‘Our Benny’ (Adrian Morris, Principal Bass Trombone Halle Orchestra), that is because he was sat right opposite me, in the thick of the action. Plus, it has to be agreed that he is always very photogenic and looked a picture in his party clothes. The Xmas sweater Beeny was sporting had the timeless motto ‘Sex, Drugs and Sausage Rolls’ emblazened across the front. I have to say that Benny’s reading of that perennial Christmas favourite anthem, Frosty The Snowman’ has no equal. The dark velvety tone and delicate nuance of attack he demonstrates really displays his solo wares to maximum, special effect. Benny has been a bit under the weather just recently so it is just fantastic to see him doing what he does best.

Well done my old pal!


In fact, many of us took solo turns. I was down to do Zelda but picked Cherry Pink Apple Blossom White instead. Mark Harrison played a fine arrangement of Away In A Manger on the Flugelhorn  and Simon Cowen and I performed a fun version of The Pogues’ (with Kirsty McColl) ‘Fairy Tale Of New York’ by. The Xmas favourites were well balanced with brass band classics such as The Wellington march, Cornet Carillon, Valdres March, Let it go, Hootenanny, Anything Goes  and The Poet and Peasant overture. Just in case anyone thinks I was Principal Cornet or anything, that accolade goes to Craig Kilgour. He just quietly takes all the strain and sets the standard whilst the rest of us take it easy so we can show off! Great player and very modest too…

10620278_870022383041952_2736215672108809756_oA very Merry Xmas and a fabulous New Year to one and all from Chat Brass!

The ‘Siren Whistle’ is played by the Larry Adler of that wind instrument, Stuart Peacock.

Since 2011, The White Lion in Leigh, opposite the historic Parish Church, has been owned by Allgates Brewery. Harry and Julie McPike(now regular attendees at RLPO concerts) have run this establishment since then. The pub proudly presents about twelve hand pulls of the finest real ale, retailing at a surprisingly modest £2.20 per pint.

The White Lion

Chat Brass would like to thank Allgates Brewery, and Harry and Julie of The White Lion Hotel, for their encouragement and for supplying Chat Brass with over 300 pints of beer…


About brendanball

Professional Trumpeter: Soloist, Orchestra Player, Chamber Music, Contemporary Music & Education.
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4 Responses to Xmas Chat Brass At ‘The White Lion’!

  1. Bryan Walker says:

    So NOW I know all about Chat Brass! Thanks for all the posts throughout the year. I look forward to many more in 2015.

    Merry Christmas!🎄

  2. Michael Johnson says:

    Heavy Brass!
    I don’t know were you get that!

  3. Pingback: Chat Brass – We’ve Been At It Again! | Brendan Ball's Blog

  4. Pingback: The next Chat Brass Concert… | Brendan Ball's Blog

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