An interview with Grimethorpe Colliery Band's Jamie Smith

We caught up with Jamie Smith, principal cornet player of Grimethorpe Colliery Band, ahead of his performance at Morley Town Hall on Saturday 10 February 2024 as part of Leeds Best of Brass 2023/24.

How long have you played with Grimethorpe Colliery Band and what position do you currently hold?
I’m currently the band’s Principal Cornet and have been since April 2022.

What’s the best thing about playing in a brass band?
Playing in a brass band really pushes musicians to their extremes, and is the perfect place for progression. That and the social side, of course!

What’s your highlight so far with Grimethorpe Colliery Band?
The two performances of Brassed Off Live at the Royal Albert Hall for sure!

How did you get involved with playing a brass instrument?
My brother initially started playing with his local youth band, and I followed suit (I had to be better than him!). That youth band was actually lead by Grimethorpe’s first horn player, Jim Fletcher, so there’s a nice connection there!

What was your earliest musical experience?
I always remember playing the sleigh bells in St Paul’s Hall in Huddersfield at six years old (I was the soloist!).

Who has been your biggest influence?
There are too many to count, but if there had to be one it would be Darren Stott, my first teacher, who was a very fine cornet player. He certainly gave me the best advice from a young age.

Do you enjoy practising or find it a chore?
I find practise to be the most fun when you have a goal in mind as well as a purpose. As a musician, it’s very easy to practise for the next performance. Learning how to improve is fun!

Were your parents musical?
Not at all, but they listen to it!

What piece of music do you most enjoy playing?
My favourite piece of brass band music is Blitz by Derek Bourgeois, but there’s nothing quite like playing McArthur Park at the end of a Grimethorpe concert.

What’s the best and worst things about performing?
The best thing is certainly sharing something you work very hard at with other people. The worst part is when they don’t like it!

What can the audience expect from a performance by Grimethorpe Colliery Band?
Grimethorpe is the most famous brass band in the world for a reason, its entertaining concerts. There will be a mixture of some Brassed Off favourites, some new ground-breaking repertoire as well as some of the finest soloists you will ever find. You will be entertained!