Shearstown Brass Band has no problem catching the ear of council

By Craig Westcott/January 20, 2023

They have one of the most recognizable sounds in Newfoundland, and their bold, brassy tunes have done more to stir the pulse than perhaps even the heaviest of any rock band to play George Street. But like many volunteer groups in the wake of the pandemic, the Shearstown Brass Band is finding itself in need of a financial lift. So, it has turned to the council in Bay Roberts for help.

Mayor Walter Yetman introduced the subject at last week’s public council meeting. Reading a letter from the band, Yetman told his colleagues the outfit wants to start replacing some of its broken instruments to keep the music alive and the members appearing at special events.

The band is over 100 years and besides being a staple at many public events and celebrations, has also been called upon over the years to lend an air of excitement at the launch of political campaigns, most notably that of Port de Grave’s late son John Efford when he ran for the Liberal Party leadership in 2001, losing by just 14 votes to Roger Grimes. But the band has been hired for other campaigns too, making it a non-partisan, equal opportunity source of toe tapping energy.

Yetman noted the band especially would like to replace five of its Jupiter key valve trombones, at a cost of well over $10,000.

“So, there you have it,” said the mayor. “The Shearstown Brass Band has been around for a long time. They are a favourite at a lot of our special events, and they bring a lot of energy to our special events, and we certainly appreciate it when they do it. Saying that, does anybody have anything (dollar-wise) in mind? They are a local group, and they are community-minded, and my personal thought is that we should support them in some shape or form.”

Looking to chief administrative officer Nigel Black for confirmation, councillor Frank Deering suggested the Town donate the same amount it does for other small groups, which he reckoned is $500.

“Yes, our grant policy is for small grants of up to $500,” Black confirmed. “You can still give a bigger grant if you want, but you usually have that discussion as part of the budget discussions. We’ve just started a new (financial) year, so you do have flexibility. But $500 is usually the amount for small groups.”

Deering then made a motion to donate that amount, which was seconded by councillor Dean Franey.

Councillor Perry Bowering asked if the finance committee would be able to come up with more if it took the time to look at it.

“Why don’t we start with $500 and see if finance can take a look and come up with something else?” agreed Deputy Mayor Geoff Seymour.

Mayor Yetman said they could make that part of the motion.

“The only other thing I’d say is that I know they do functions in other communities, so I hope those other communities support them as well,” Franey interjected.

“They are a regional band. And they’re well known,” said the mayor. “We certainly appreciate everything they do. I remember them years ago at some political functions and they certainly bring a crowd to life, oh boy.”

With the motion approved, Franey closed the discussion by challenging other communities in the region to not only support the Shearstown Brass Band, but other regional community groups based in Bay Roberts as well, such as the local search and rescue brigade.

“Well said,” said the mayor.

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