America: Day 3 (by Huw Morgan)

Day 3 took us from the outskirts of Fort Worth, Texas, to the college town of Manhattan, Kansas, home of K-State University and affectionately nicknamed ‘The Little Apple’.

Today’s journey – the longest of the tour

The 494 mile drive seemed at times almost interminable, the sun-scorched prairies stretching as far as the eye could see, occasionally punctured by a roadside service station. ‘Des’ (or designated driver) for the morning session was Simon, who sought redemption for a dramatic misadventure early on by proceeding to put in a sterling 5-and-a-half hour shift behind the wheel.

Not the scenic route: this was basically our view for all 7 hours

As the only member of the group without a driving licence, I’ve been condemned to the ‘hole’ at the rear of the bus, where leg-room is at a premium (though still more comfortable than American Airlines economy!) It has meant a good vantage point for the ride, however, where I’ve been continually amazed by the size and quantity of pickup trucks speeding past us on the interstate.

Morale is high at the back of the bus

The downtime on board has also given many of us the chance to catch up on movies, reading, emails, spreadsheets, score learning or arrangements, the battle bus often resembling a mobile office, littered with laptops and iPads.

Reaching Manhattan only 30 minutes before the scheduled sound check, we proceeded to check into our hotel before heading out to the performance venue.

Setting up in Manhattan, Kansas

Most players’ pre-concert routines involve a gentle warm-up, some stretching or breathing drills, but the green room at the First Presbyterian Church afforded Matt Knight and Alan the opportunity to test their table tennis skills as 7:30 approached. Matt, our resident southpaw, dominated the early exchanges, before Alan’s guile and experience came to the fore, no doubt with a little help from his tour book, Matthew Syed’s Black Box Thinking. Final score: 11-9 to Alan, and the trumpets handed a well-timed morale boost before heading onto the platform.

Warming up Septura style

The concert itself was a real success, with yet another hearty welcome and standing ovation from our friendly audience, many of whom dazzled in their purple KSU Trumpet Studio jackets.

Welsh members Huw Morgan and Simon Cox with new Septura fan Henry Law

After several post-concert pictures and CD sales, we headed downtown to the local Irish pub, accompanied by Henry Law, an enthusiastic, sociable and ever-inquisitive bass trombone student who ensured that we were well looked-after by the charming bar staff. A round (or was it two?!) later and we headed home, ready to rest our limbs before another 6-hour journey to Iowa the following morning…

Tour stats:

Concerts: 3

Standing ovations: 3

Distance travelled: 5772 miles

Time on the bus: 12 hrs 15 mins

Time on planes: 11 hrs 31 mins

Road incident near-misses: 1