Baillies Mills Accordion Band celebrate 75th annual concert

Members of the Baillies Mill Accordion Band who celebrated their 75th anniversary
Members of the Baillies Mill Accordion Band who celebrated their 75th anniversary

It was like a step back in time for the members of the Baillies Mills Accordion Band who were celebrating their 75th anniversary recently in Lisburn recently.

Members of the Folk group Bakerloo Junction who performed at the band’s first concert in 1978, came out of retirement to perform for them again at the special event held at Lagan Valley Island theatre on March 13.

Lagan Valley Island theatre was packed to capacity for a memorable night of music and entertainment.

Tickets for the event had sold out some weeks in advance.

Themed ‘Baillies Mills and Friends’, the show was hosted by the band and compered by Joe Cauley, an old friend of the band who has featured at their concerts over the past 30 years.

They were joined by Rodd Hogg, a brilliant young magician from Coleraine, who thrilled the audience with his magic illusions and witty banter.

Noel McMaster, Drew Rowan and Aubrey Campbell from the original group were joined on stage by Conal McCartney.

They had the appreciative audience singing along and finished with ‘My Lagan Softly Flowing’, the song penned by Noel which became a hit in the 1980s, and which was particularly appropriate for this venue.

During the course of the evening, Stephen Dickson, the band secretary, recounted the history of the band, and particularly referred to the recent events which had seen the band take their music beyond these shores.

The show included projected photographs relating to the band’s history and its various activities.

The audience included Robert Mackin, the last surviving founding member of the band.

Recently the band lost a friend through motor neurone disease and a donation of £500 from the proceeds of the concert was presented by Arthur Gibson of the band to Stephen Thompson of Motor Neurone Association NI.

One other recent important engagement of the band was the celebration of the 80th birthday of Bobby Mitchell, now fondly regarded as the father of the band.

A cake with the band’s crest was presented in his honour and the band made their own musical tribute to him.

The band has been in existence since 1939 when it was formed to provide music at a fete.

The band takes on engagements including their own Annual Concert, both church and public concerts, open air performances, residential homes, and fetes.

In May, 2010, the band performed for Norway’s Day of Independence Celebrations, Bergen, and in August 2011, the band attended the Battle of Flowers Parade in Jersey.