The Nîmes feria in immersion: “I played from the market square to the Calade square with the Les Peillasses brass band”

The Nîmes feria in immersion: “I played from the market square to the Calade square with the Les Peillasses brass band”
The Nîmes feria in immersion: “I played from the market square to the Calade square with the Les Peillasses brass band”

To experience the feria from the inside, we put on the blue jacket of one of the best brass bands in Gard. And tried to accompany the musicians on the sax…

What’s it like to play with a marching band and be part of the party energy? The question has been running through my head for a while now, me, the Sunday saxophonist. Even if it means trying an immersion for the newspaper, it might as well be with a renowned brass band. Go for Les Peillasses! “We are probably the oldest fanfare, after the Bidochons who have just reformed, Anne, the president, tells me on the phone. We’ve been around since 1996. Well, let’s talk practical. I’ll find you a turquoise blue jacket. Put on a rock t-shirt! On the other hand, if you take your sax, try not to put our set upside down…”

“Here, it’s a family spirit”

This evening, we will meet on Boulevard Victor-Hugo. My new friends buy me beers. “Here, it’s family spirittells me Lionel, the trombonist, present since 1998. You’ll see, the fanfare is about meeting and sharing.” Les Peillasses is a multi-generational brass band, ranging from trumpeter Sacha, known as “the little” trumpeter, to Odette “Ma” on tuba. It’s also a group of friends from all professional backgrounds. “The trombonist there, he’s a doctor, he works at Castorama and I’m a financing broker!”, smiled Nicolas. Anne, the president, arrives with my jacket, turquoise blue with pompoms and gold buttons. It’s wide and I’m not very thick. Whatever. I feel like I look like a colonel from a Banana Republic.

I am informed that Jimmy, the head of the saxophone section, is absent. He’s a big guy. I hope I don’t shame the troop too much.

We leave the Victor-Hugo. The neighboring sound system is too loud, we won’t be able to be heard. This annoys Lionel a little, who finds that the fair doesn’t make enough room for street music. Head to the Market Square. We land right in front of the crocodile fountain. Thomas installs his battery, which he lugs from Montpellier. I place myself near Roger, my saxophonist and also trumpet player, who plays like me in B flat. I will try to follow them.

“Don’t leave now. We’re going to Calade, it’s the Mecca of brass bands.”

“Hallelujah!” Anne, the president, shouts to me. Cool, I know! Let’s go for Leonard Cohen’s piece, brassy version. Immediately a crowd formed around us. We continue. U2, Pierre Bachelet, Johnny. The most treacherous thing is the words! Les Peillasses revisit them. That I love you becomes I’m lazy! And With or without you “with or without you”. The audience dances and crowds together. And above all, immerse yourself in the crocodile fountain. A girl drinks the croc’s water and spits it out, some guys try to climb on the beast. When we attack Les Corons, a group (from the North?) comes running to sing with us.

The set ends, I’m in heaven. Boris, on the trombone, comes to see me, very happy: “So, did you like it?” Camille, the tuba player, warns me: “Don’t leave now. We’re going to Calade, it’s the Mecca of brass bands.” We cross the Ecusson: we look great with instruments on our backs, drums on a cart, cutting through the crowd in our blue blasers. Arriving at the square, we sit on the steps of the theater, we collect the pitchers of beer from the previous fanfare, Thomas places his cymbals, taps his drumsticks and presto! Here we go again ! The repertoire is growing. Black Eyed Peas, Maroon 5, the Corons again… Sometimes the structure is a little complex. Doudou, the wigged trumpeter, then shares a score with me. Above all, don’t screw up…

From the top of the steps, the view is extraordinary. The audience here is full of fanfare! Peillasses fans! They sing, dance, act like a caterpillar. I recognize my son’s teacher, a few friends, a former member of the Nîmes police station… In the end, I no longer have any lips. The musicians laugh. “Wait, we might do one last set a little later!” They have endurance, so… I’m getting ready to give up my colonel’s jacket. “You can keep it, it will give you a souvenir,” smiles Anne. “Are you coming back to play tomorrow?” Sacha asks me. Chick?

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NEXT Valady. Jean Couet-Guichot and Gaya Wisniewski, two artists in residence within the region