Thu, 28 Jan 2021
JAZZMAN George Wicks has been in touch to remind us that Newbury’s Apollo Big Band has just had a big birthday.
“It’s hard to believe, but 20 years ago on January 18, 2001, I called the first rehearsal of the Apollo Big Band and had no idea that the band could survive for so long and be so successful.
“There have been many changes over the years with people moving away or moving on.
“No thanks to Covid, we have missed many months of rehearsals but we remain positive and are looking forward to rehearsals and shows in 2021.
“I am the remaining original member of the band which accounts for the grey beard. Next in line is Andy Richardson, who joined some months later.
“I’ll take this opportunity to say a few thank-yous – first to Ken Jady who gave me the original music pad on condition that I made good use of it.
“Nigel Reveler, the first drummer in Apollo, encouraged and supported me in calling together musos and a musical director for the first rehearsal.
“The first MD, Mike Smetherst Evans, was the catalyst without whom the first few rehearsals and Apollo would not have happened.
“Later in November 2001 Andy Lowe turned up and was MD for three years.
“Ever the showman, Andy encouraged me to book Newbury Corn Exchange on April 10, 2003, where we had singers and dancers.
“Mike Lock picked up the baton and took the band forward until his death in 2012.
“Since then Les Bruce has filled the roll of MD and improved the fine detail of the band’s performance and also proposed the monthly @Stockcross concerts which have been a great success.
“Thanks are due to all these MDs and also to the many musicians and singers who have either been members of Apollo or deputised when we were short-handed.
“And of course a big thank you to you and all the members of the audience who have supported the Apollo Big Band over 20 years.
“The past year has been frustrating for the band.
“The first Covid-19 lockdown meant that rehearsals ceased in March 2020 and were not able to resume until September, but then another lockdown brought rehearsals to a halt in October.
“We are champing at the bit to get back to rehearsals and gigs.
“You may be aware that, thanks to Simon Ridge (string bass), we were able to produce a socially- distanced musical Christmas card which can be found on Apollo’s website.
“We also have a number of videos which were recorded at our gigs and which you may like to check out.
“Once again thank you to so many people who encouraged me and supported the band over its first 20 years.”