Campbeltown Brass is one of the furthest travelled bands, being situated on the picturesque Mull of Kintyre, on the West coast of Scotland. There is only one road in and one road out of Campbeltown. Contest journeys are normally between 3 - 6 hours (one way), often with an overnight stay and if there are road closures, the detour could put a few more hours to the journey time. Yet, despite all these challenges, we continue to produce exceptional players and win major competitions. This is all down to commitment and hard work from players to volunteers, from parents to supporters. We would not be able to compete and represent Campbeltown in any of these contests without the ongoing support of the local community.
Over the years the Band has grown and developed into a three-tier organisation with a beginner, a junior and a senior band. This has set a trend which bands around the country are now following as the movement enters an exciting period and looks to youth for its survival and hopefully, prosperity. The current generation of players at Campbeltown Brass have matured as both musicians and people over the past few years. At the same time, the Beginners and Junior Bands are continuing to bring in and nurture young new talents.
2015 saw the return of Gordon Evans to Campbeltown, whereupon the band won the Best Third Section band at both the Scottish Challenge Cup and Fife Charities. In 2016, the band won the Scottish Championships in Perth, and in early 2017, Best Second Section at the Fife Brass Band Festival. Gordon left Campbeltown in 2017 for the last time, he can be proud of what he has started all those years ago and be assured that this rich legacy of music-making will continue to inspire many generations to come. Paul Kiernan conducted the band to Best Third Section at the Fife Charities contest in 2017 and in 2018 directed the band to victory winning the Scottish Championships Second Section.
Campbeltown Brass is more than just a competing band: it is a band for the community. Throughout the years, the band has performed and entertained the local community in abundance. From regular concerts, Remembrance Day parades, carol services, church services and music festivals, to supporting many local events and activities. To the members, both past and present, it’s a social activity, a way of life and being part of something special.
Formed in 1983, the Band has experienced more than its fair share of highs, with the occasional lows along the way. From the outset, it was conducted by Gordon Evans, who was the first full-time instrumental instructor to be appointed in the area. He worked to establish a band with a wonderful reputation for producing and developing young talent, talent which would habitually leave Campbeltown in search of further education or employment.
This would open the door to another batch of youngsters, and so the “conveyer belt” continued. In April 2003, however, Gordon left Campbeltown and there was some concern as to how the band, and indeed the young musicians, would fare.
For a short period, Rob Farmer (formerly flugel player of Wingates Band) took over the reigns as instructor and conductor. Then in 2004, a brass quintet from the RSNO came to Campbeltown to work with the band, which led to a new chapter in its history. One of the musicians of the ensemble was tuba player and conductor, Craig Anderson. He quickly developed a rapport with Campbeltown Brass, and was subsequently appointed Musical Director. Under Craig’s leadership, the band has enjoyed undoubtedly the most successful period in its existence. His enthusiasm, energy and ambition have raised the bar with regards to the band’s playing; this has since been reflected in contest results over the past few years. In addition to success at solo and quintet level, Campbeltown Brass has enjoyed numerous victories in band competitions around the country. The culmination of this form is surely the consecutive victories at the Scottish Regional Championships in the 3rd and 2nd sections (2007 and 2008 respectively), as well as winning the Scottish Challenge Cup.
To assist Craig, there are other individuals who have put in countless hours preparing the band with the week-in, week-out rehearsals it has needed to prosper. Long-serving player Katrina Barr is one such person, whether standing in front of the band, playing or dealing with some of its much-needed background organisation. Another is a founding member of Campbeltown Brass all those years ago, Jamie McVicar. Jamie was the Musical Director until the end of 2012 and led the band to many successes.