From vuvuzelas to Reggae Orchestra – a whacky week: Gareth Roberts, Bristol Reggae Orchestra, Thursday 28th, Sunday 31st October

This week’s live music has been local, very alive and joyful. And a bit mad.

On thursday we arrived at St. James Wine Vaults in time for a second set by Welsh Trombonist Gareth Roberts. The Jazzhouse trio were in attendance as ever and led  a zany dance by Mr. Roberts. Blue Monk appeared at both ends of the set accompanied by theatrics the first on trombone and the finale on vuvuzela – it IS possible to get more than one note out of the beast! In between time we saw Gareth’s tender side on a lovely understated Bye Bye Blackbird in which he played a muted flugel horn and plenty of evidence of his capacity for swinging and bop chops.

This evening saw us at St. George’s Bristol for the Reggae Orchestra formerly known as St. Pauls (now Bristol Reggae Orchestra) and as I looked round at the large portion of the audience either dancing in the aisles or singing along to ‘Three little Birds’ (or both) I had to marvel at the feat that had been pulled of. Here was a group of 40 odd people, all from the central area of Bristol, who were in the band because they turned up and joined (from experienced musicians to novices). Musical Director Norma Daykin has excelled in writing parts that enables them all to contribute to the lush sound and to groove along, whether they were still wrestling with their instrument or confident soloists. This community project has, I’m sure, transformed a few lives, brought a lot of people together and given me for one, an evening of first class, foot tapping, board stamping entertainment. Highlights? The squeals of delight and moderate ribaldry that greeted singer Richard Williams’ return to the microphone with a purred ‘.. here we are again’; that sing-a-long Three little birds and the roof raising encore with a dance  ‘cutting’ contest in the front row. St. George’s has never seen the like! Check out the photos by duchess photographic

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