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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:

I felt like I was in the band from the beginning, to be honest,

from the very first day.

Pretty much immediately really.

I joined with Jenny, Anna and Matt.

They've always been a very inclusive and welcoming bunch.

Four of us joined together, and we got welcomed straight in, like, "Oh! New blood!"

The friends I've made in Wonderbrass will be friends for life.

I felt embraced because everybody was so enthusiastic about what was happening
and about the wonderful pieces that Rob would put to us.

It was for people who enjoyed playing, regardless of their ability.

Everyone was welcome.

You were made to feel at home.

The hardest thing with getting into Wonderbrass is not the social side - that's really lovely - but learning the repertoire involved in joining the band.

That's the other side to it.

We never quite anticipate how much there is of that, and how much work there is to be done on that.

Those first few months, we had a lot of intense training.

We would all meet up and we were really eager to learn all of the repertoire between rehearsals, so we met up loads.

You learn from people.

I remember Nick, when he joined. Howard would take him to the side and he was teaching him and now he's a great saxophone player.

I joined just after I turned 17 and I remember Derek Lewis coming to my house
on my 18th birthday, because everyone had a whip round and got me a present.

In some ways, I felt part of the band straight away, because everyone was so welcoming and chatty.

I got to know everyone so quick. Everything just started to gel. I got used to the material.

I didn't have to rely on sheet music so much and then I was like, "I feel part of this now."

And I got this lovely T-shirt.

I think the moment I started doing gigs with the band, I started to feel included
and almost like family.

I guess the first time I was invited to do a gig, I then felt that I'd made it, in a way.

That was the point at which I really felt part of the band.

When I really felt part of it was the first time I went overnight with the band.

It was Fishguard Jazz and Blues Festival when we were working with Jason Yarde.

We stayed in this little hotel and there was not a lot of sleeping, to be fair. It was just really fun.

I think those experiences of going away, and perhaps also the first Druidstone weekend really cemented it.

They were notorious weekends away in Pembrokeshire, weren't they?

They were good.

They go down to a place called Druidstone, which is a big hotel overlooking a lovely beach down in West Wales.

I think that's where the bonding happens.

People get together, have a drink and a meal and they play and rehearse.

Then in the evening they're jamming all evening.

Rob wrote a fantastic piece to commemorate my 40th birthday called Dunkin' With Rich T, because my name is Richard and my surname starts with a 'T', so there's a nice pun on that. But it came from dunking in the sea at Druidstone.

I never knew that.

If you listen to the sax part, it's like the sea and like the waves, Rob told me, so there you go.

And there's me thinking it was biscuits being dunked in tea.

There's probably biscuits as well!

I felt very privileged to have that.

At my 40th birthday, the band played and that was brilliant.

I didn't know what to make of everyone at the beginning.

When I first came in, it was like, "Who are all these strange people?"

They're a weird and wonderful bunch - and I include myself in that.

But it was great. It was a really nice family to be a part of.

Everyone was just so positive and up for a good laugh.

There's nothing like freezing your proverbials off on a street gig to make you very friendly with everybody around you.

It's the warmth and the energy and the dynamic and the personalities and the fact there's a really broad spectrum of people.

They're a lovely bunch of people, from all sorts of professions.

It's a unique band really, isn't it?

Everyone brings something to the party.

You couldn't feel not part of it. It would be impossible.

I instantly felt part of the band, even the first time I went with my saxophone when I couldn't play.

It was just such a welcoming environment.

There's a lot of people in Wonderbrass that I wouldn't know, and I wouldn't be where I am now if it wasn't for the band.

It brings people together who'd never normally cross paths.

People from everywhere coming together with one common interest, to make music and have a good time.

I've never seen anything that works in the same way that Wonderbrass does to do that.

Although I've only been there for six months, I feel more part of Wonderbrass than I have in the orchestra I've been playing in for ten years.

I'd like to say a big thank you to the wonderful band which is Wonderbrass.

Once you start knowing names, and recognising faces and things like that, that's when I really truly started to bond with people and feel like I was part of
the Wonderbrass experience.

I still can't believe I get the opportunities that I do.

It still seems absolutely crazy that somebody who's an average saxophone player
can get to do all these amazing things.

My husband - basically I made him join the band as well, he took up the trombone
about five years ago.

He says, "I'm like a grade 4, 5 trombone player at best and I get to do all these things! "It's just madness."

But we keep smiling and wear the silly hats, and it seems to work.

What could I say?

It's wonderful.

They make me happy.

They make me love life.

That energy, I wish they could bottle it.

You could sell it and just make people happy all over the world.

You need happiness.

We love you.

Fantastic.

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