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Standing ovations as Scilly Isles' Steam Band appear at Hall for Cornwall

By The Cornishman  |  Posted: January 24, 2014

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THE many bands that play throughout the year in Scilly indicate the islands are anything but short of musical talent.

This was emphatically endorsed last week when the Steam Band broke the fetters of obvious geographical limitations by performing to standing ovations on their biggest stage yet at Truro's Hall For Cornwall, described by an island musician "as a compete and utter one-off".

The five-piece band is Scilly's oldest continuously operating outfit.

It has a near-legendary, if insular, reputation and ensured, by daily practice sessions in an old St Mary's printworks, it would not "tank" on the biggest stage it has yet occupied.

They were there at the invitation of rock/boogie/blues musician Ben Waters who regularly visits Scilly to play and has been described by Jools Holland as his favourite pianist.

"It was absolutely wonderful," said guitarist Derek Metcalfe.

"It went as well as I think it could have. The Hall people and Ben (Waters) himself treated us wonderfully."

Nick Browning, who has followed the band from inception, said: "Everyone was completely blown away. The Steam Band were outstanding and more than delivered as the pride of Scilly."

Island supporters and, as Derek said, "loads of people who have known us over the years" (including former Duchy of Cornwall land steward Colin Sturmer ) "jammed the hall to see Scilly take the larger forum by storm".

Frontman harmonica/vocalist Terry Ward thanked the crowd "for helping us go from totally petrified to merely terrified".

The island quintet, who opened with the Rolling Stones' Jumpin' Jack Flash and did a 40-minute slot, were Terry, Steve Sherris (guitar), Derek Metcalfe (guitar), Keith Hale (bass guitar) and Roy Duncan (drums).

Terry runs a clothing business on St Mary's and is a steamship company director. Steve Sherris is an acclaimed artist. Derek, a retired council employee; Keith Hale, a flower grower, while Roy Duncan is a retired boatman, former JP and longest serving Isles of Scilly councillor.

A major part of the success, said Derek, was the rapport with the crowd of between 600 and 700 that filled the hall.

"It was one whole lot of noise," he said.

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