Alan McNeill (kit & percussion)
Alan began his playing career as a boy back in the 1980s with Strandtown Silver Band. He initially started on cornet in school under the tutelage of Alfie Burch, but on joining Strandtown Junior Band he was soon moved onto tuba (only because he was the oldest and biggest!). However, he quickly moved to his ‘proper’ instrument, the drums, by pestering the senior band’s drummer Roy Orr who also happened to be his brother in law. Strandtown unfortunately folded in the early 1990s, so Alan joined the newly formed Downshire Brass as its principle percussionist in 1992.
This was the start of a long and successful association with Downshire Brass which has included numerous contest wins and appearances across the UK, Ireland and abroad. Alan has always been very involved in both the playing and committee sides of the band and very rarely misses a rehearsal or engagement, including getting engaged and married to the band’s baritone player Rosie!
As a drummer Alan has enjoyed playing a wide variety of styles including marching bands, rock groups, dance bands and musical theatre. The year 2015 (the band’s 25th anniversary year) provided Alan’s playing career highlights when Downshire Brass won the Championship Section of the Brass Band League Spring Festival Competition for the first time, with Alan, Andrew and Ashley (aka the ‘A’ Team!) picking up the ‘Best Percussion’ prize. This was followed a week later with an appearance in the Challenge Section of the European Brass Band Championships in Freiburg, Germany, an experience during which Alan felt every emotion from terror, to immense pride! It also provided fabulous memories that he will cherish forever.
Nowadays Alan is often heard complaining about being “the oldest drummer in town” whilst getting grumpier by the day, but secretly he still enjoys playing and hopes to have a few years left before moving onto triangle!