On the stage with… Mike Reynolds

A bastion of music, a master of the saxophone, and an icon of Omagh, Mike Reynolds has enjoyed – and is still enjoying – a rich life filled with music.
Here, the respected member of St Eugene’s Brass Band talks of his former athletic prowess, his admiration for the late and great bandleader Glen Miller, and describes how listening to ‘Puppet On A String’ transports him back to a barge on the Danube, Germany.
And readers, if you listen closely, you can still hear the instruments purchased from Reynold’s Music shop ringing out across the landscapes of Omagh and beyond, keeping the memories of the dearly-loved store still very much alive.
When did you realise that you had a passion for music?
At a young age I was an avid listener to music on the wireless. Billy Cotton & His Band’s show, Edmundo Ross and his Latin American band, and the NDO, Northern Dance Orchestra, were tuned into for their weekly broadcasts.
How has your music taste evolved over time? 
With maturity, my taste has broadened to encompass most genres of music: Orchestral, jazz, swing, vocal and of course R&R.
What is your favourite tune to perform, and why?
I don’t have one particular favourite piece of music; I enjoy anything which is performed well.
Have you had any embarrassing moments on stage? 
Embarrassing moments happen on stage and in life, and hopefully I learn from them and move on!
Is there a piece of advice have you been given that you will never forget?
A wise person gave me a sound piece of advice when we moved to Omagh some 40 years ago. I was advised to talk in glowing terms about everyone, as most local families are related in some form or other. Good advice.
Tell us a fun or surprising fact about you that people may not know.
In my younger days, I played rugby, was a competitive swimmer, and a track event runner with the mile as a favourite event. I also cycled with club members throughout my native Yorkshire, did cross country running, and rode a horse until recently. Not a lot of people know this.
Into the groove
What are your earliest memories of music?
It was music on the radio that was an early introduction to music for me. This was followed up by learning the violin at school, performing at school assembly and rehearsing with the Yorkshire Youth Orchestra. On leaving school, I learned to play the clarinet, and finally achieved my goal to play the saxophone.
Which artists did you listen to growing up?
My teen years were in the ’60s, so a lot of Beatles, Stones, and R&R became my favourite listenings.
Give me the name of the first album that you ever bought.
Albums were what my friends had; I had singles with A&B sides. A group of us visited each other’s homes, with the latest buys as record players were a luxury.
Tell me a song that makes you feel nostalgic.
The sound of a tune being played usually stirs nostalgic thoughts, and I’m taken back in time to a place or event. As I’ve visited and performed in many countries, I have many nostalgic moments. For some reason ‘Puppet On A String’ takes my back to a barge on the Danube, near a village called Passau in Germany, where we recorded the song for a German TV station.
Who is your favourite artist currently?
Andre Rieu performing with his orchestra is a current favourite of mine, and also of the family. His music choice is not too high brow or flippant, and he adds plenty of surprises and fun to the performance.
Tell us your top five driving tracks.
We have a small collection of favourite CDs in the car, and we listen and join in with them as we tour around Ireland. C&W, The Blues Brothers, Henry McCullough, and Omagh Community Youth Choir feature a lot.
What tunes do you listen to when you want to relax?
I do listening research for new 
music for St Eugene’s Band when there is time. I can’t say it’s relaxing, but it keeps me up to date with 
current music.
Tell us your favourite feel-good tune.
A feel good piece of music for me is ‘I Feel Good’ by James Brown. It makes me smile and hearing it is like taking a tonic.
What song has made you cry?
One piece of music which makes me feel nostalgic and puts a lump in my throat is to hear Shay Turbet solo ‘What A Wonderful Word’ backed by St Eugene’s Band. It never fails.
If you could talk to any musician, alive or dead, who would you choose?
A musician and bandleader who is long gone that I would like to talk to is Glen Miller. I would like to share his musical experiences with him and his band.

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