With Exeter University Big Band playing at Hit On All Six this Sunday, Razz writer and Big Band singer, Beth Evans, thought she’d let us know what we’ve got to look forward to…
Thursday the 11th of October was our first gig this year at Timepiece. Uni was just getting going and sixteen thousand students all arrived on campus to share the germs they had accumulated over the summer. If you made it through this term without sneezing, coughing or worse, you are superhuman. I did not. I couldn’t sing for any of the rehearsals leading up to the gig and spent the hours before it with my head over a bowl of steaming water and spooning a third of a honey jar into each drink. Singing with Exeter University Big Band, croaky throats and coughing just don’t go together.
But on the night, all that steam, honey and rest paid off. I was constantly worried that the band would start to play and no sound would come out of my mouth, but each time it did, and we swung through all my favourites. It was a great night, Eddie Henley and Jack Newton made their debuts with the band, friends had come to support various members (some even with signs spelling out their names) and the audience swayed and danced along. The whole gig had an amazing buzz and the atmosphere was really great fun!
Tired out and heels surreptitiously removed, we ended with ‘Feelin’ Good’. Despite having to be on tiptoe to reach the mic I never seem to tire of that song. There’s something very epic about it, and it’s so satisfying to feel the back and forth between you and the band, not to mention everyone in the audience singing along with you!
Big Band only became affiliated with the Guild in January so we really are relative newbies in the musical world of Exeter, but already we have been on tour to Spain and are sponsored by Timepiece who we play for regularly. Our first gig was for the Languages Ball at the Castle and since then we have played for Children in Need, the day the queen came to town and a beer festival, as well as gigs for societies and on campus.
With around fifty members and thirty or so playing at each gig, we are a large music ensemble made up of people of all abilities and experience. We try to be as welcoming as possible: anyone can come and play with us if they play a big band instrument (although we do have a cut off the number of members otherwise we couldn’t all get in a bar at once let alone with an audience!). We work hard to try out exciting new pieces and with lots of gigs this term we are incredibly busy preparing for each one and building up our repertoire.
On Sunday, at Hit On All Six, we are whipping out some swing, things that you can’t help get dancing to, some old classics and a couple of very exciting new ones… see you there!
Written for Razz by Beth Evans.