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The Sage, Gateshead
The Sage, Gateshead

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for brass, initially just those times when it turned up in rock music, but over time I came to love the look and the sound (and the history) of a brass band, so the chance to spend the day listening to brass bands wasn’t one I was ready to turn down.

I made the mistake of thinking that a few years ago and went to the world championships at the Royal Albert Hall - but a day of brass bands playing the same short piece wasn’t really the sort of day out for a casual fan.

But Brass in Concert has each band doing their own themed programme and so was varied - from a band doing a 27 minute programme about Anne Frank, with a contemporary dancer representing her ghost, to bands playing the themes to Eastenders or Tetris!

The Cory Band
The Cory Band

Now my ears aren’t so good that I can tell a spectacular band from a good one, so my opinions are all about how entertained I was.

Eventual winners, The Cory Band, squeezed Treasure Island into their 27 minute programme, and it was a treat.

Eventual last place band, Redbridge Brass, did a thoroughly enjoyable tech themed set with a hilarious joke iBand piece - maybe it’s triviality counted against them but I (and seemingly most of the audience) appreciated it.

The Tredegar Band had clips from the Barrymore Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - so … a silent film with a brass band - that’s how to push my buttons!

The Tredegar Band
The Tredegar Band

All in all a lovely relaxing way to spend a day. This was also my first visit to the big hall in The Sage, and that was pretty special too.

OK - here’s some of my fave brass in rock music …

Possibly the finest moment in all rock music is when the French horn arrives in The Beatles For No One:

The Beatles - For No One

… or maybe when the trumpet arrives in Love’s Alone Again Or:

Love - Alone Again Or

… and here’s the (sadly no more) Hanwell Band playing with Robert Wyatt

Robert Wyatt - Now't Doin'

not a penny off the pay, not a second on the day

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Blue Plaque for Hilton Valentine
Blue Plaque for Hilton Valentine

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that The Animals were more than Eric Burdon’s voice or Alan Price’s organ ~ I have to admit that I sort of had. So when I heard that a blue plaques was being unveiled on Hilton Valentine’s childhood home I had to remind myself why I knew the name.

Now the first song most people hear by The Animals is The House of The Rising Sun which means the first thing they hear by The Animals isn’t Eric’s voice or Alan’s organ but Hilton’s arepggiated chords.

The Animals - The House of The Rising Sun

This morning I bunked off work for an hour and walked 20 minutes up the road to see a lovely little ceremony to unveil a plaque to Hilton Valentine, who died earlier this year at just 77.

Germaine Valentine speaking at the unveiling
Germaine Valentine speaking at the unveiling

It was a surprisingly emotional affair with Hilton’s widow giving a lovely and tearful tribute, and Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne reminiscing. Also one of Hiltons pre-Animals bandmates told a lovely story of them winning a basket of fruit in a battle of the bands competition and sitting on the stairs of 42 Coburg Street dividing the spoils.

Here’s a nice little report on the unveiling from ITV Tyne Tees.

Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne and Peter Elsdon of Hilton's first band The Heppers
Ray Laidlaw of Lindisfarne and Peter Elsdon of Hilton's first band The Heppers
unveiling ceremony
unveiling ceremony

Here’s a nice clip of Hilton for his last song River Tyne, with some nice shots of and on Tynemouth Pier.

Hilton Valentine - River Tyne
The Animals - We Gotta Get Out of This Place

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Andy and I visited the Discovery Museum which is housed in the former Co-operative Wholesale Society Headquarters for the Northern Region. It was a fascinating way to spend a couple of hours particularly in the galleries focusing on social history.

My favourite thing was the gigantic relief map (or model) made for the 1929 North East Coast Exhibition (described by Pathé as a miniature Wembley).

Five Minutes At The North East Coast Exhibition Newcastle (1929)

Here are a few sections running west to east.

City centre
City centre
Ouseburn
Ouseburn
Albert Edward Dock
Albert Edward Dock
North and South Shields
North and South Shields

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Before we moved to the North East we took a few trips up here and each time I’d post a pic of the beach at Cullercoats, and each time my pal Andrew would mention Winslow Homer, and each time I’d have to Google to find out who he was! I suggest you do the same because this is a quick filler post not me writing a biography!

I liked what I saw, I even tried (and failed) to copy some of his art (in my own scribbly ways) - but this isn’t about my half-baked attempts - this is about his lovely (and not half-baked) paintings.

You don’t see so many fisher folk on the beach there these days - mostly swimmers, paddleboarders and dog walkers.

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Wreckage of the SS Sjövik
Wreckage of the SS Sjövik

We’ve done a lot of walking along Longsands over the four months we’ve lived here, it was after all one of the things that suckered us into moving to the North East in the first place, and often when the tide is lower in amongst the rocks at the Cullercoats end you can often see something that is clearly man-made.

This week, because of the new moon, the tide has been especially low so I was able to walk out to get a closer look.

Wreckage of the SS Sjövik
Wreckage of the SS Sjövik

Not that actually getting any closer really helped me to figure out what this cylindrical, metal structure was. No, what helped was (as it so often does) was the Internet!

Turns out that this is the last remains of the SS Sjövik that was wrecked on the rocks 105 years ago.

Yorkshire Post - 20th October 1916
Yorkshire Post - 20th October 1916

SWEDISH STEAMER STRANDED

The Swedish steamer, Sjovik, went ashore on the north-east coast in foggy weather on Wednesday night. It is a somewhat serious casualty, as she was stranded amidships on the rocks, and her engine-room is full of water. The other holds are free. The Sjorvik is laden with a timber cargo, and was bound from Sweden to London. Operations have been commenced with a view to float her at the earliest possible moment. The deck cargo will have to be jettisoned to lighten her. Tugs are in attendance, and, the weather being fine, the safety of the crew is not endangered.

It appears that the “renewal of the south-easterly gale compelled the salvage contractors to suspend operations” and the remnants of the Sjövik’s boiler still visible just off Longsands suggests that all efforts to refloat her failed.

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