Above: Alan wearing Rayleigh uniform with Eb Bass
Above: Alan with a new 4 valve BBb Bass, presented by the St Johns Band Womens Auxiliary in 1984
Above: Canvey Island Brass Band 1967. Alan Butters front row far left
Above: St Johns Band, Alan is 2nd from the right , seated between Ron Arthur and Erold Schulzt
Above: State Concert Band 1989. Alan is on the far left in the 3rd row
“The most important thing is that we stick together”.
This statement by Alan Butters has stuck with me, its importance as one of those basic rules of existence that guide our actions and interactions with others has been invaluable. As community brass bands face an increasingly uncertain future, sticking together will become even more important.
Alan has been reliable, enduring, conscientious and eclectic in his tastes. He is always the first one at band practice, he doesn’t give up when things get difficult or he doesn’t agree with what is occurring. He once completed a street march, carrying a BBb Bass, after the strap had broken in the first few paces!
I know that he didn’t always agree with my approach to conducting, but always did his best, something that I was very grateful for at the time. Alan listens to and watches a wide, wide range of performing artists from Laurel and Hardy to Brighouse and Rastrick with the added bonus of being a Central Districts supporter!
Alan is strongly committed to his family, his Dad was a great bloke, his Mum has always been as supportive as any Mum can be. His niece Lynne plays in the band these days, the connection between them is clearly strong, mutually affectionate and respectful.
Alan Butters is a quality musician and the type of person who makes brass bands a great institution and worth keeping, and keep them we will, if we all stick together.
Here’s to you Alan,
Geoff Meikle, 2019
NAME: Alan Butters
BORN: 8th July 1953, North London, United Kingdom
PARENTS: John and Alice Butters
My main instrument in brass bands is the tuba, both EEb and BBb but I have tried other instruments at times, eg. clarinet, guitar, accordion, ukulele and organ, as well as other brass instruments.
My first influences came from my father who worked in the local vaudeville theatre as assistant stage manager, and from my family. My grandma played the piano, my grandpa played the banjo and my aunt sang, so I came from a very musical family. It was the theatre that inspired me, with it’s live orchestra. Being the son of the assistant stage manager, I was allowed to watch them rehearse. I attained the position of tea boy, getting the stage crew their lunches from the local café. My reward was free run of the theatre.
Dad also played the accordion in his own group known as the K BAR HILLBILLYS, playing to the public during WW2.
I have only had two “official” lessons in music and they were with the learned Harold Walmsley. Prior to this as an eleven year old I joined the local brass band, not knowing how to read a note of music, but with my new love of brass bands I taught myself, note by note, key by key, learning the fingering. I bought my first record, The Morris Motors Band, this gave me the tone to achieve, I still listen to it. I also had some lessons from the pianist in the live theatre orchestra, his name was John Grey, he composed music for artists such as Shirley Bassey and Matt Monroe.
My first UK band was a local community band, Canvey Central Band. My fellow percussionist in the school orchestra informed me that he had joined a brass band. Knowing my friend had enough trouble just playing the paper and comb, I said I would come along just for a good laugh, little did I know that I was to stay while he disappeared. This is where I played my first notes.
I then moved on to the area brass band in Rayleigh Essex, this meant a step up in grade before I finally moved to Castle Point Brass Band.
Within a week of coming to Australia I joined the St John Ambulance Brigade Band, followed by Noarlunga and State Concert Bands. I am now with the Salisbury City Band, I also play in a six piece ensemble, the Barrington Six. Along the way I have played with Enfield, Para Hills, jazz bands and various groups for weddings and parties around Adelaide.
I don’t think there has been one time in my life that has shaped me as a musician. I believe the journey from the start and up until the present day has taken care of that. If I was to pinpoint one moment that would be responsible for shaping me as a musician, it would be winning my first state solo competition and receiving good feedback from some of the states finest players. I have been able to pass on my knowledge to young beginners, some of which have gone on to greater success. I started my niece Lynne on her road to playing music.
On the question of whether contesting is worth the effort?
I say yes, not only does it challenge you, it raises your playing ability.
During my playing journey I have proudly achieved various awards for my efforts. 1st in Solo BBb Tuba, 1979-80-81, 1st, 2nd and 3rd places in various party competitions. I have been awarded the SABA badge of Merit, a Queens medal for outstanding service to St John Ambulance Brigade Band and life membership of Salisbury Band.
Most certainly worth the effort.
As to preferred styles of music, I have eclectic taste, but enjoy the classical style the most, both in brass band, orchestral, traditional jazz and pop music of the 50s, 60s and 70s.
One of my favourite musicians would be Miles Davis closely followed by Kenny Ball. As to other bands, I am a great fan of Chicago and bands of the 60s-70s. There are also singers that I listen to more than others, Julie London, Shirley Bassey and Janis Joplin. Through my journey in brass banding I’ve met many bandsmen and women, so to name any one person as a favourite associate, I would have to say 1. Peter Hutchings 2. Ron Arthur.
As to doing things differently. The answer is no. After growing up with music and the experience of the theatre, there is nothing I would change. This and banding have always played a major part in my family and social life, sharing a passion with family and friends, not only at home but overseas and interstate. That in itself is worth its weight in gold.
My main interest is reading biographies, factual history and crime novels. Collecting antique money boxes is another passion of mine as well as complete DVD episodes of TV programs and the all the works of the great composers.
As to what lies ahead? The question everyone would like to know the answer to! For me I think it will be more travel and just taking every opportunity to enhance my experience of everyday living as well as playing and listening to music.
For me, being able to still play and listen to music, a thing that has been in my life since Day One, has given me things to carry into everyday life. It has taught me the value of loyalty, discipline in dress, given me the drive to try harder and aim for the top in anything I do.
When I first started in brass bands I set myself three goals,
1. Obtain the tone,
2. Become a tuba champion and
3. Play on the Albert Hall stage.
Well two out of three isn’t bad!
Music is a language that everyone understands, it’s my hope that younger people become a part of it with me.