The first Pulham Market Music Day was held on Sunday 28th June 1992. Mick Jagger and the then Arts Minister, Tim Renton, came up with the idea of a National Music Day in the hope that communities everywhere would hold some form of musical event on that day. They promoted the idea in the national media.
Retired GP and founder of the Pulham Village Orchestra, Dr Pat (the Doc) Rawlence thought that Pulham Market had enough musical talent to hold such an event and set about finding someone to help him organise it. He was pointed in the direction of Ann Ford who had worked for Decca and RCA in the 1960s. Ann's teenage sons had friends who played in bands and, most importantly, had a p.a. sound system that they were willing to lend!
Using two of Farmer Blackburn’s wooden trailers as a stage, and straw bails as steps , a very successful free open air concert, lasting over six hours, was enjoyed by a large crowd on the village Green. Jazz, school and adult choirs, brass bands, rock, folk, skiffle – something for everyone. So many performers wanted to join in that an additional three hour concert was held in the Memorial Hall on the Saturday evening – from Bach to the Beatles, Mozart to Manilo – followed by a glorious ‘jam session’.
Whilst Pulham Market’s Music Day grew from strength to strength, National Music Day fizzled out after four/five years, perhaps because it took to having themed ideas instead of encouraging all comers.
Pat Rawlence’s idea was to cover all realms of music and give local, less experienced musicians a chance to perform in front of a large audience, alongside semi-professional and respected artists. During the first years we were lucky enough to have regular contributions from Pat’s friends the Yare Valley Jazz Band whose musicianship was an inspiration – Pat was invited to play his flute with them on several occasions, much to his delight.
The New Buckenham Silver Band and South Norfolk Youth Symphonic Band were very popular and helped broaden the appeal to a wider audience who might not have attended if all the music had been noisy and electronic. SNYSB, of which Pat was a founder member, supported Music Day almost every year for the first 15 years. Pulham School Choir and musicians have played all but one Music Day, with some of those who played at the first event now bringing their children back to join in! Gill Alexander brought along at least one of her jazz groups for many years.
More recently regular contributors have included blues singer Dave Thomas and his friends and Pulham Market’s own Blues Brothers, Paul and Robin. Over the years young rock/pop bands of varying noise levels and tastes have been warmly welcomed and have brought their fans with them. From the original 1992 ‘Bah Humbugs’ to Walkway, many have gone on to entertain a much wider audience. Many other performers have supported Music Day regularly – their commitment is of course the soul of Music Day.
Over the years progress has been seen by the use of a very large and secure tilt trailer as the stage which has been kindly provided every year by Kent Skips. From 2000 onwards, the employment of an excellent professional sound engineer. After years of borrowed equipment and amateur sound checks, the sound quality and management of musicians egos and frayed tempers fell into place and Steve is the most respected member of the Music Day team.
The early years of simple picnics sitting on rugs have grown into comfy chairs, barbeques and even some gazebos, strategically placed around the perimeter of The Green. The annual audience has grown to around 350 to 500 if the sun is shining (which for at least 18 of the first 20 years it did, although more recently we have not been so lucky) with approximately 600 being the biggest to date. There have been years when, legend has it, Pulham Market has been the only place in the area where it hasn’t been raining!
Music Day remains a free music event, we are kindly sponsored by local firms and over the years we have received various grants and donations to cover the running costs. Contributions from the caterers, the raffle prizes provided by local businesses and the proceeds from the raffle also help towards funding the day. Music Day is now run by a small committee and we hope that you will enjoy this year's Music Day.