Roger and Rosemarie Dewey have both decided to ‘retire’ from Phoenix at the end of the Christmas engagements having played with the band since inception.
During the recent Christmas Concert at Marlborough Town Hall, Roger and Rosemarie Dewey were presented with gifts to mark the end of thirty years with Phoenix Brass. They have both decided that it is time to pursue other hobbies and interests.
I asked them for a short history of their brass banding career, and Rosemarie provided the following:
“When we lived in Bristol our sons were having piano lessons. So when we moved to Hungerford they both started additional instruments. Daniel chose the clarinet and eventually went to play with a wind band in Reading and took his grade 7 exam and passed. Aaron started Bb Cornet and was taught by David Watson and joined Phoenix Brass and eventually took his grade 8 exam and passed.
So I was beginning to think I would like to try and learn a brass instrument. I had played recorder and learnt violin at senior school for 3 years. So I began having lessons with David Watson at the youth wing of John O’Gaunt School and eventually David said I could start going to senior band. I went to rehearsals on a Tuesday and Thursday evening in our band room, the people were always friendly and helpful if you were struggling. To begin with I couldn’t hear my own instrument when I played but eventually you gain experience in playing with other instruments around you.
Then when Roger was 50 years old he started lessons with David to learn how to read music and play the tenor horn in the youth wing of John O’Gaunt. After about 6months David said he could come to band rehearsals. He was a little nervous and said he probably played only one or two notes of each piece but David told him well next week you will blow a few more. After a while he got used to hearing the different instruments and settled in with the other players. So now there were both playing in a band with our son which a proud moment for us.
Roger being a CPO in the Royal Navy for 14 years marching was second nature to him. So when we were playing for the Marlborough Remembrance Parade he literally just took it in his stride. With a bit of help I finally got it too. (We had always attended the Remembrance Parade in Bristol and myself as a child and later when Roger was stationed at HMS Flying Fox in Bristol where he carried a rifle on parade.
Soon Roger and I were playing at fetes, concerts and band contests in different parts of the country. The contests were quite nerve racking and involved a lot practising but good. Phoenix Brass for many years ran a band contest for other bands to attend and organising these events needed lots of people to all pull together, which I think we did very well. Playing in Pewsey Church Christmas Day was always lovely seeing all the families together and the band members all playing and wishing each other Christmas Greetings.
When HMS Marlborough was given the freedom of Marlborough town they needed a brass band to play so Phoenix Brass was asked. This developed into a strong bond with the Captain and we got asked to play at Plymouth Navy Days where we travelled in a National Express Coach with our band name on the back, we stayed in a hotel. David was asked if our band would join the Royal Marines Band as they were a few players short so we marched into an arena and played with them.
We also played at Portsmouth Navy Days on the deck of HMS. Marlborough and with the Field Gun Crew at Whale Island which was pretty special, it took Roger and I back to times when he was in the Royal Navy.
We also went for a week to Malta where the band stayed in a hotel and did several concerts around the island. Also we played for the arrival of the Queen Elizabeth 2nd for the opening of the Newbury Mencap Centre. David told us that when we played the National Anthem it had to be timed to finish exactly the same time as the car stopped. We did it.
These venues we have played have been very wide ranging from the back of a trailer in the middle of a windy and cold wet field to the relative luxury of a warm theatre in various locations throughout the country.
Because of the band we have met and made friends with lots of people, some in the band and some in the audience, but all with a love of brass band music. Both of us have enjoyed playing our musical instruments over the years and hopefully most of our audiences went home with a warm feeling and thinking “We thoroughly enjoyed that” as we enjoyed playing for them”.
Below is a selection of photos from the archive.