Wednesday October 13, 2021

The Red Rose New Orleans Brass Band
50 years of Marching

The Red Rose Brass Band and two guest musicians assembled for the final ‘blow’ on Sunday 22nd August 2021. On a warm sunny day the band played at Prestwich, Manchester. The annual visit to the Flower Park and the Church Inn since 2006.The band members had decided that after the break in 2020 due to the Pandemic and fifty years of parades, that ‘all good things must come to an end’. The youngest except one was now 78, mobility and health problems had made it difficult to have a regular full 8 piece line up.

The band was formed in 1969 by members of the Silver Bell Band which had been created by Keith Moore three years earlier. Joined by Frank Caunce, Arthur Stead , Peter Vickers, John Rothwell and Keith Staveley the Brass Band was soon playing at the many Galas and Carnivals in the area. Over a period of time bookings became more diverse, with the help of some Agents. One special occasion the chaps dressed smartly for a posh wedding and a complete contrast, playing at a Pagan wedding. Jazz Festival’s and even Grand Prix events added to the variety. Engagements for funerals with either the Silver Bell or Red Rose bands became quite regular. No doubt the James Bond film ‘Live and Let Die’ prompted thoughts for a good ‘send off’.

A Silver Bell gig at Accrington Stanley F.C. for a concert with the Barry Martyn Band and special guest Andrew Morgan gave the opportunity with Mr. Martyn’s encouragement to create a Parade Band line up for the second half, so the Red Rose Brass Band was born with hat bands too in March 1969.

Preston Guild, the historical event held every twenty years, saw the band playing in 1992 and 2012.

Preston Guild 2012

 The band have played at Longridge Carnival and Ribchester Field day for over thirty years and always greeted warmly by the crowds. One chap in his thirties told me a couple of years ago that he first remembered seeing the band when he was very young and hadn’t missed a year since! I was reminded of another story from Ribchester which was always very good at Fancy Dress, A group of lads from the local garage decided to dress up in Parade Marshal attire and follow the band. Quite a sight!  Charnock Richard Scarecrow Festival was another long standing parade. Churchtown and Garstang event organisers’ have always been keen for the band to play in their processions. Garstang also invited us to play for the Father Christmas event for a number of years, often having to cope with bad weather, either wet or very cold!  We also played in Manchester for Street events, one occasion we had to dress up in Father Christmas robes which was good for a laugh.

The summer months meant trips to the Lancashire coast, Southport, St. Anne’s, Blackpool, Cleveleys, Fleetwood and Morecambe. St. Anne’s was a very long route, luckily the weather was usually good and the response from the crowds kept us going! Poulton-le-Fylde, Wrea Green and other village carnivals were good local gigs in Lancashire. Parades in Wigan began in 1986 when we were invited to open the first Wigan Jazz Festival by playing around the town centre, advertising the festival and marching to the Mill at the Pier which was the popular venue for many years.

Regular visits to Haigh Hall Country Park in Wigan began in 1987.On one May Day Bank Holiday, the then Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, John Prescott appeared from the Hall while we were playing and with his glamorous wife joined the fun by dancing. A council Events Dept. member of staff was a fan of the band and ensured our bookings, until he retired many years later!

Trips down the M6 in 1987, ’88 and ’89 took us to Birmingham for the motor racing Grand Prix and to Donnington Park for the motor cycle Grand Prix. Difficult gigs, trying to play between races! From 1990 Birmingham became a very regular haunt for nearly ten years, at the Birmingham Jazz Festival. 1993 was an exceptional year when we were in residence at the festival for five days! Invitations to play at special events also came our way.

A memorable occasion in 2001 was when we played at the topping-out ceremony for the re-building of the Bullring Shopping Centre. We had to pose for a photo shoot and had good coverage in the Birmingham Mail.

Long distance gigs were also to the Potteries for a Canal Festival and to Nantwich which was an easy one playing in the Market Place entertaining the shoppers. We played at Crewe for shopping events, one day the local press turned up and we had a photo on the front page.


Crewe was also the destination for a very long carnival procession. The Red Rose and the Eclipse Band with Grand Marshal Jeff Roberts, were on parade. After the ‘long march’, we had a rare opportunity to meet up for a pint and a natter.

East Lancashire events often started the season with the May Day Parade in Burnley. Leading the procession from Burnley town centre to Towneley Hall where the band played to entertain the crowd. Also in Burnley, at Thompson Park we were invited to go for a ride on the miniature railway, sitting on the narrow trucks behind the steam locomotive. The fun was that we were expected to play while on the move, so playing wasn’t easy, the jerky movement causing some rather staccato notes!

An invitation to a Primary School celebration in Blackburn unexpectedly meant we were filmed for an international news report on Pakistan TV news. All the children were very interested in the band and our instruments.


The ‘Red Rose’ name did not stop us from being booked for parades in the White Rose county. Trips to Keighley Gala for ten years in the ‘90’s and more recently to North Yorkshire for an annual historic event in Ripon. Brighouse Gala was another regular event since 1983 for over 20 years. It was memorable not only for the length but often the bad weather! I think it was June 1996 when Glastonbury Festival hit the headlines for the quagmire.

We got muddy too, trying to access the stage to play, which was on the other side of a very boggy park! After a rainy parade then trying to play again, it was a tough one!
I had been a regular visitor to Marsden Jazz Festivals, so when Dave Brennan’s Brass Band who had played for many years resigned, I put in a request for the Red Rose to lead the parade. We did this for two years and arranged for the Silver Bell band to play a late afternoon session at the Cricket Club, high up on the moor. It was a nice local gig for three of us but a longer journey for the Lancashire contingent. Sadly, financial constraints then a new Festival Director led to policy changes and the ‘new’ Street Bands were booked.

For thirty years the band had been busy with 30-40 gigs a season, but when we hit the Millennium, all the celebrations meant we had a record number of bookings. The next decade our Band Manager Peter Vickers was still obtaining new engagements, but when we hit yet another ten years, band members agreed that we should drop some of the longer or hilly processions. So it was a sad day when it was decided to call it a day at Longridge after appearing at over 40 Field Days.

The variety of engagements over the years kept the days interesting. What with Brewery closure protests, Trade Union demonstrations, Store openings (when they used to happen), and Civic occasions and of course a big thank you to all our ‘fans’ who were so enthusiastic at all the Carnivals. The enthusiasm of band members, enjoying great company made the decision all the more difficult, but after playing less in 2019, then with the pandemic year off in 2020, it seemed to have come to a natural conclusion.

So many musicians have played with the band over the 50 years, I would like to acknowledge their contribution and thank them for their support. I would like to mention the regular players, deps and guests, but please excuse me if anyone isn’t mentioned.


Trumpet: Keith Moore, Roy Freeman, Martyn Sharpe, Arthur Stead, Richard Knock, Peter Boswell, Steve Lister, and those in our memory, Dave Copperwaite, John Pashley, Hughie Gerrard, Dwight Gidney.

Trombone: Alan Matthews, Jeff Milner, Derek Galloway, Chas Hudson, Jack Moore, Richard Slater, Martin Bennett, Dave Donohoe, Dave Park. In memory of Frank Caunce, Joe Sharples.

Tuba or Sousaphone: Peter Whitehead, Keith Taylor and the late Peter Vickers, Les Moore.

Reeds: Harold Salisbury, Peter Harratt, Barrie Marshall, Brian Legan, Joe Freeman, John Brunton, Hans Erwig, Nick Telfer. In memory of Dennis Browne, Gerry Owen, Derek Fleck, Rod Chambers, Gabe Essien, Stan Davis.

Drums: John Rothwell, Laurence Marshall, Graham Martindale, Mike Lunn, Bob Barton, Mike Randerson, Jean Hughes and the late Peter Vickers, Frank Caunce, Ian Rose, Louis Lince, Keith Staveley.

Grand Marshal: Dave Woonton, Jeff Roberts, Andrew Varley, Pete Vickers and the ladies team of Erica Marshall, Trish Galloway, Fiona Winstanley, Sheila McCauley. Ruth Gidney.

Photo by Barrie Marshall, who for obvious reasons is not in the picture

Thank you for band member’s contributions and to Musical Director Roy Freeman for taking on band management when serious illness meant Peter had to retire in 2018.

All the wonderful days out with the band would never have happened if Keith Moore and Peter Vickers hadn’t been so enthusiastic about New Orleans Brass Bands back in 1969.

Dave Woonton



Main Menu

Please visit my Home Page