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Description

Wonderbrass are an internationally acclaimed 25 piece Soul, Funk, Ska, Latin, Jazz juggernaut -- a danceaholic wall of sound -- a kick-ass brass tidal wave -- unmissable!!!!!; Wonderbrass formed in 1992 as a community street band from Pontypridd South Wales. Today they are bigger, bolder and brassier (pun intended) than ever before. Under the expert leadership of instrumentalist and composer Rob Smith and drummer extraordinaire Mark O'Connor, Wonderbrass are constantly evolving and exploring new musical challenges.

video transcript:

At the Half Marathon, standing at the top of the hill on Fairoak Road, cheering everyone along as they passed.
My first gig with Wonderbrass was in Tiny Rebel in Cardiff.
I felt like I didn’t want to let anyone down.
It’s so relaxed when we play street gigs.
It was such a good atmosphere and a great vibe; I didn’t want to get off stage.
I think it was a street gig, yes it was. I think it was one of the SWICA parades.
We played at the back of Newport somewhere for a yacht club Christmas party.
I realised then the whole gig thing was going to be a big, scary thing, very different to playing in rehearsals.
It was thrilling and scary.
It worked out really well, because we had a weekend away at Druidstone where we did workshops and practiced the
whole set.
It was good fun, it was enjoyable.
A couple of pieces were a little bit – “Sorry, what are we playing here?” ”How does this one go?!”
You get to grips with it eventually and everybody’s really encouraging and helpful so it’s good.
Having come from a much disciplined brass band type of environment. You’re used to having what you’re playing
being written down, in what order, the creativity and it’s a bit more loose.
Getting together and creating that point in time where people all feel connected, in a way.
It’s something unique with Wonderbrass.
I was there half an hour before we were due to play, and there was no sign of anybody else until about five minutes before when they appeared from the bar. I said to Anthony, “What are we playing?”and he said, &”We’ll find out now”
I found myself on stage at the Brecon Jazz Festival next to experienced trombonists, pretending I knew what I was doing. "Isn't there a set list?" He said, "No, you just play whatever Rob announces." "Oh, right, OK then."
I just love being on stage. I really enjoyed it, and walking around with a little badge that says 'musician'. I was posing a little bit, really.
And then one day Rob went around the room at rehearsals and asked if everyone was available. I was always going to say yes. I say yes to everything really. Again, another challenge, and really exciting and the build-up to that was great, and I did it.
I moved relatively quickly into my first concert. I wasn't with Wonderbrass for very long before I started. We were asked to play for the GE Summer Fete.
It was in Hawthorn Leisure Centre. - Hot, playing outdoors, which was new for me? Playing in a car park. I've played in plenty of those since.
I remember playing as we went around the leisure centre inside and outside. There were bouncy castles. Learning to bounce sounds off walls and things like that.
I remember there was no music; I didn't know any of the notes or what was going on.
I was like, "Oh, my God, how am I in this situation?", but it happened. It must have been six or eight weeks after joining.
My first gig with Wonderbrass was in dearly departed TJ's in Newport and it was amazing.
I couldn't believe it - on a stage where I'd watched loads of bands play growing up.
I just had so much fun, and then we went and had a drink afterwards. There was no pressure, people were pretty drunk at the rugby anyway, so they were throwing money at us whatever we did, and I loved it!
I probably would have played one or two tunes in Cardiff. I would have been playing percussion or something like that. On the few tunes I knew, Chris would give me the bass and I'd have played on those tunes because he was very open and happy to let me play with him.
That was really good.
It was the room above Dempsey’s that was my first gig. It wasn't Brecon Jazz or something like that, which is a really big gig and easy to get panicky about, it was a nice, local gig in Cardiff.
Get some people along from the uni course to come along and watch.
I don't remember the first gig. The band has done so much across the years.
I think we played outside in Cardiff Bay and it was really cold. We were all bundled up and we met the Cardiff Devils. We sat out of the songs we didn't know and we played the ones we did know.
Then we played a gig with King Django in Clwb Ifor Bach. We were really scared because it seemed like a really big deal. We got our friends and family along and there were T-shirts and posters.

It was scary but really fun as well.
The first gig I remember doing with them was the Roald Dahl gig in the centre of town.
Thousands upon thousands of people were there, all sorts of things going on. I just thought it was the coolest thing and it was just amazing. The audience feed you and encourage you.
It's a lovely flow and I had no idea about it. It was an experience I'll never forget.
It was an absolute carnival of music and the audience being part of the music. It wasn't a separate thing. There was no divide between Wonderbrass and the audience. Again, I was like “This is awesome”

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