Pedalling band ready to blossom
What’s red, with two wheels and makes a lot of noise? It’s not a fire engine, but the Be There Bicycle Band, and for the first time ever, they’ll be here to help celebrate the annual Alexandra Blossom Festival. First established in 1892, the thenChristchurch Professional Bicycle Band was the first of its type in the world. Founded by Fred and Joshua Painter, the group had to be disbanded during World War I, and was not revived again until Brett Painter, great-grandson of Joshua and great-nephew of Fred, re-formed the band in 2009, along with the Pandemonium Charitable Trust. ‘‘My job was to find the people to continue the pandemonium on wheels,’’ Mr Painter said. It was no easy feat, because not only did the musicians have to play one-handed, they also had to be able to ride a bike. Luckily talent was available from the New Zealand Army Band and the Woolston Brass Band, with the new group making its debut at the Ellerslie International Flower Show and on the children’s television show What Now in 2012. Blossom festival-goers will be treated to Dixieland, war-time music and marches played by seven brass players and two percussionists. ‘‘One of the main changes from the original band was to put the bass drum and snare drum players together on a tandem bicycle, rather than having a dedicated rider on the front of the tandem bicycle for the snare drum player,’’ Mr Painter said. ‘‘The combined physical and musical demands have proven to be quite a challenge percussion section!’’ Festival co-ordinator Martin McPherson said that with the blossom festival less than three weeks away, tickets were available this week at discount prices until Friday, September 21. ‘‘The beauty of getting tickets before the event is that you can buy them for your neighbours or out-of-town friends and family, and not pay gate prices on the day.’’
On ya bike: The Be There Bicycle Band from Christchurch, will add a red splash to the Alexandra Blossom Festival for the first time this year.