The Wokingham Paper

Twyford sax group jam with musical legend Snake Davis

Sax Bandits
Sax Bandits performing with Snake Davis

MANY of us dream of jamming with our musical heroes, but few of us get to do it for real.

Members of a Twyford-based group have done just that – and during lockdown too.

The Sax Bandits is a 70-strong band of saxophonists. Like every group across the country, the coronavirus has put rehearsals  on ice.

But Rob Digweed, who calls himself the sorcerer of sax, didn’t want his apprentices to go rusty. So he decided to create a virtual performance of the 80s hit Danger Zone. And to make it even more memorable, he enlisted the help of legendary saxophonist Snake Davis, who has performed with the likes of Take That, Paul McCartney and Ray Charles.

The end result, complete with 80s-style video effects, is a terrific performance bringing together musicians who are currently socially distanced.

Rob says: “Sax Bandits was started to cater for people who wanted to play for fun. We had eight students, now we have 100 members across three locations, and have met on a monthly basis for four years. We’ve scaled up quickly.

“We usually play in Charvil Pavilion, but lockdown has presented new challenges for people who meet in a room and play together. We’ve had to think of a way round it.”

Inspiration struck Rob after seeing choirs perform songs together and quickly set upon his song – he says not all pieces of music translate well to the sax.

“Danger Zone is a classic 80s song, there is a nostalgic element to it,” he says.

And from there, he snagged his man.

“I reached out to Snake, he was really impressed with our demo and was really up for it,” Rob says. “He’s a lovely man – he’s known as the loveliest chap in music.”

Performing was one thing, stitching it all together was another. It took several days for him to clean up the audio, and place the videos into place.

“It was a mammoth undertaking,” Rob says. “But when you see the finished product, it’s so rewarding.

“It’s amazing for the Bandits, it’s one of the biggest things we’ve done.”

It had more than 1,500 views in the first two days of going online, meaning Rob is now thinking of his difficult second video.

“We’re working on one now, asking how do I top this?” he explains. “We’re exploring a team-up with Music Made Fearless, a vocal coaching studio in Twyford. It will be a completely new thing for us, usually, the sax plays the tunes, but for this, we’ll be in the background.”

And why does Rob care so much about the tunes?

“Music is a good unifier,” he explains. “I was pondering what to do in lockdown to keep people interested. We’ve had so many nice comments from the band about the video. They’ve said to me, ‘Thank you for giving us something to focus on, it’s kept us motivated.”

The Sax Bandits welcome new members.

“We want to make sure that people who don’t think they’re good enough to play, they might be able to get involved in the next video. There will be no pressure to continue afterwards,” says Rob.

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