My aim today is to undertake my own local Bandstand Marathon in support of the initiative run by Somerset-based Superact, which promotes the talents of young musicians using traditional bandstands.
My goal is to visit five bandstands in two hours across Somerset but an accident on the M5 quickly dashes my hopes. However, while my ambitions have to be reduced, I see no evidence of reduced ambitions on the three bandstands I am able to reach.
Blake Gardens in Bridgwater and Bishop’s Barn in Wells both host traditional town bands (Taunton Concert Band and Wells City Band respectively). Each features young players supported by more mature members and deliver something sublime and quintessentially English.
At the Collet Park bandstand in Shepton Mallet, the quality of the music and the sense of occasion remain high but the feeling is very different. Here, the bandstand has been given over to talented musicians from Ansford Community School in Castle Cary. Among the 15 or so acts populating the two-hour programme are rock bands, vocal duos and solo flautists.
Whatever the make-up, it’s like every other event held across this very special weekend in the South West – a great showcase for talented young performers and a real opportunity to put culture at the heart of the Games.