We all went to the Birmingham Artfest which is the largest free arts festival in the country. Hundreds of acts play at a large number of venues around the city over 3 days and the group we were most keen to see was our old samba band Someone At The Door. SATD played their first set in the Arcadian centre in the Chinese Quarter then helped to close the festival on the main stage in Centenary Square.
SATD are currently celebrating their 10th year as a community samba band. I had always wanted to try samba drumming and after a quick search on the internet 6 years ago I was surprised to find a band based a few miles from where we lived in the Midlands. After just a couple of practice sessions in Bromsgrove I joined them for a first gig and then found myself thrown into the busy summer season of playing carnivals and festivals. Just over a year later and I found myself leading a groove at the country’s largest free arts festival, which was a real buzz. The band takes in all enthusiastic players with no experience needed and although a tutor aided the initial formation of the band they now play without a guiding samba maestre and share the leading duties. Artsfest is the highlight of their calendar and I always enjoyed playing in front of such an interested audience. It was the only time we managed to get people dancing (which is what the music is all about anyway) rather than just inconveniencing shoppers and frightening small children.
Their costume is as silly as their band name and after a couple of seasons of wearing the harlequin trousers I felt duty bound to at least learn how to make a sausage dog from a long balloon. Despite repeated protests from the female members of the band an only very slight concession to the dress code means that most of the band still look as silly as they always did.
It was great to see some of the original lineup (6 remain from the initial band) together with a few new faces. The first set in the Arcadian was okay but the distance from the centre of the city meant that the audience wasn’t that large. The second set on the main stage was much better and having played on it at previous years they were not frightened to get the audience involved. They followed Coventry’s Kombat Breakers who we’d seen recently on Britain’s got talent and had drawn quite a crowd. Pete’s Hip-hop samba fusion finally was probably the best thing I’d ever see the band play and I wished I was up there with them. Photos here