Bollywood band will add party spice

The Bollywood Brass Band is headlining the music festival in Chapelfield Gardens, Norwich, tonight as part of the Lord Mayor's Celebrations.

The Bollywood Brass Band is headlining the music festival in Chapelfield Gardens tonight.

The 10-piece band, which plays instrumental versions of Bollywood film hits, drum n' bass and bhangra tunes, has played at Glastonbury and WOMAD.

This is the second time the band has played in Norwich after a sell-out gig at the Norwich Arts Centre a few years ago.

Manager Mark Allan, who plays the baritone saxophone in the band, but is not playing tonight, said: “We are really looking forward to returning to Norwich after a couple of years away and we are expecting a really large crowd tonight.

“When we played at Norwich Arts Centre it was one of the hottest gigs on our tour and it was a really enthusiastic crowd. For two or three years the city council has been trying to book us for the Lord Mayor's Celebrations. July is rather a busy time for us as we are often on tour, but this year luckily we were able to play.

“We were thinking of headlining the Norfolk and Norwich Festival this year, but it was just too close to the CFG music festival.”

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He said the band did not know Norwich well, but one of the trumpet players Kay Charlton was a graduate of the UEA.

There will be four women and six men, including bhangra players from the Dhol Foundation in tonight's line-up.

The band, Europe's first Indian wedding band, consist of more than 10 musicians, playing saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and dhol drums, the loud and exciting drums used in bhangra music.

They are all UK citizens, but a mix of nationalities including those of Asian origin.

They are in constant demand and regularly tour the world as well as playing at Indian weddings.

Mr Allan said they would be playing a “festival set” tonight and expected lots of dancing.

“The drumming is very bhangra influenced. A lot of people think of Indian music as being sitar which people don't understand, but what we play are great melodies, the rhythms are very strong and it's very good to dance to.”

He added that some of the music had a world tinge with African and jazz influences.

“There is a much greater awareness of Bollywood nowadays,” Mr Allan said. “Lots of people have seen a Bollywood movie and it's not just Asian people that are watching them. There have been films like Bombay Dreams. I think British Asian culture has become part of British mainstream culture with things like Goodness Gracious Me and the Asian Underground music scene which has crossed over into mainstream culture.”

The Bollywood Brass Band was formed in 1992 to perform with a brass band from India at a London street festival.

But then it took off on its own and developed its unique British Asian form of music.

Norwich City Council spokeswoman Sara Martinez said: “The reason we have chosen them is because they are great. They have played at Norwich Arts Centre before and they were a sell-out. Our events people do continuous research into what kind of music people in Norwich want.”

The Bollywood Brass Band are on stage in the Chapelfield Gardens at 9.25pm and 11.30pm, with a break for fireworks in between.

The band has produced three albums.

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