MPH big band hits the road

Singers Cath and Alan Fish performing Me and My Shadow.
Singers Cath and Alan Fish performing Me and My Shadow.

MpH (Music Projects Hebrides) took the Big Band out into the communities recently, presenting a newly formatted Rat Pack programme in Tarbert Community Centre on Friday, and Bernera Community Centre on Saturday.

Both events were fund-raisers for community causes. The Harris night was in aid of the Tarbert Community Centre, while in Bernera, the money is going towards the Bernera SAS (Soup and Sandwiches!) annual holiday on the mainland.

The Big Band was joined by guest singers Cath Fish and Alan Fish, Calum Watt and Sineag and Gerry Blane. The programme, which included Rat Pack staples such as I’ve Got You Under My Skin, New York! New York!, Somethin’ Stupid, Ain’t that a Kick in the Head, Mr Bojangles and My Way, was augmented by some new numbers.

Musical Director Gavin Woods said: “When we launched the Rat Pack programme at Christmas, several members of the public expressed a liking for Michael Buble. In response to this, the Big Band played “All I Do is Dream of You,” which was sung by Cath and Calum and went down very well with our audiences.

“We were also keen to incorporate more instrumental numbers, and revived two which were originally performed by the band at our WWII Glenn Miller nights – My Funny Valentine, led by senior saxophone player Rhona Johnstone, and Li’l Darlin’, which featured senior trumpet player Debbie Woods.”

Debbie also treated the Bernera crowd to a solo performance of Moonlight in Vermont – another new addition to the set.

The Harris night was attended by a mix of locals and visitors – one of whom specially extended her stay on the island by a day so she could come along! One local woman said: “We had such a good time at the Glenn Miller night last year – and tonight has been just as brilliant!” Bunovoneader resident Jarrod Tuck said: “We missed last year, and were determined to come along this time – what a brilliant night out – we’re already looking forward to next year!”

Gavin Woods added: “The Big Band has been asked to attend fund-raising events several times now and it’s a situation where everybody wins – the band receives a fee to help with costs, the charity raises money – and the public gets a great night out for their support!”

Bernera pulled out all the stops with a fantastic All-American buffet, offering guests transatlantic treats like chilli, fries, barbecue ribs, key lime cheesecake and lemon meringue pie, alongside local poached salmon and salads.

And one Bernera youngster, Alaisdair Smith, winner of a short big band quiz by Gavin Woods, was invited to conduct the closing number, New York! New York! alongside the maestro – a great moment for everyone.

The MpH Big Band’s next Rat Pack outing is scheduled for the end of July, when they will be helping the local Equestrian Society raise funds at Stornoway Golf Club.

Over the summer, the Big Band will be starting rehearsals for its next event – a programme of big band music and dance spanning the years 1920 - the present day.

Gavin Woods said: “We’re very excited about this new programme – we’re already in the planning stages, and looking forward to the premiere event.”

For more information about MpH, or to book the Big Band, contact Gavin Woods on 01851 700346, or visit the website at www.musicprojectshebrides.