France 2013

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Tattoo Festival Des Musiques Militaires, 21st – 22nd September 2013

On Friday 20th September, 24 band members travelled to Ville-La-Grand, a commune in the Rhône-Alpes region of France to perform at the 6thannual Tattoo Festival Des Musiques Militaires. We had been invited after one of the organisers saw us at the 2012 Avenches Tattoo in Switzerland. The region borders both Switzerland and Italy with Lake Geneva to the north and the Mont Blanc and Aravis mountain ranges to the south and southeast.

Flying from Edinburgh we landed in Geneva, Switzerland just before 1:00pm and were then bussed down across the Border into France. Arriving swiftly at Ville-La-Grand, we were taken straight to the venue and given a hearty lunch. By 2:30pm we were in kit and doing a walk-through of our band performance in the main arena, a massive steel-framed marquee set up centre of the village. The other bands performing at the Tattoo included:Villa Grand 006

La Musique de la Légion Etrangère
Le Quadrille de Baïonnettes de la Garde Républicaine
Le Contingent des Grenadiers de Fribourg (Suisse) La Fanfare des Carabiniers du Prince de Monaco
Unitad de Musica Ejercito Del Aire Madrid (Espagne)
Le Rijnmondband (Pays-Bas)
La Musique des Forces Terrestres de Lille
Le Marching Band Sans Pistons

After a quick tune for some locals who were watching the rehearsals we walked to the town square and played for about 20 minutes outside the local school to an audience of children and their parents. Once done the majority of the band were taken to the Hotel Ibis to settle in for the evening.

Howev, a request had been submitted by Swiss TV for the band to perform a live interview, so a mini-band was driven back into Switzerland to perform live as part of a current affairs show article on the Tattoo. The band played a 4 minute set after interviews with the Ville-La-Grand Mayor and Foreign Legions social director before being driven back into France and to the hotel.

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Saturday 21st

The first Main tattoo show took place in evening and was recorded for French TV. The stands were full and an appreciative audience sat through one of the longest shows we’ve ever been part of. They still had enough enthusiasm for hearty applause as all the bands took to the arena for the Grande Finale. Afterwards, there was time for some dinner and then a few libations as the groups mingled late into the night.The following morning the band were up bright and early for a 10am parade through Ville-La-Grand before assembling with all the other bands in town square for the National Anthem ceremony. Whilst there wasn’t too much playing there was a lot of standing on parade so the band were glad to finish up and grab some lunch. Afterwards it was non-stop rehearsals with the other bands for the Tattoo finale which all came together in good time.

Sunday 22nd

The next morning, any hangovers were soon sweated out with a lengthy parade from outskirts of the town back to the tattoo venue, with Stockbridge leading the other bands along the way. It was a beautiful morning and an enjoyable preamble through the town before a swift lunch. The second Tattoo show followed as a Matinee but this was slightly less well attended that the night before despite it being the main show of the event. Still, it all went well and by the band of 5pm the Finale was over.  Villa Grand 014

There followed the customary after show party, with each band taking a turn in the large backstage marquee to entertain the others. The band played a few sets of lively tunes before orchestrating a mass Strip The Willow which the other bands eagerly joined in with (with varying amounts of skill). As the other bands took a turn, the beers flowed and the party continued on late into the night. It was a weary looking bunch who set of the next morning for the trip back to Edinburgh via Geneva.

Many thanks to the Mayor of Ville-La-Grand and the Festival Committee for inviting us and organising our stay. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed this long weekend in the Rhône-Alpes, the accommodation and food were excellent and the overall hospitality was exceptional!

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