A BAND frontman calls a gig with a famous North East musician, in front of 50,000 people, a 'surreal moment' as he comes back to reality.

David Hignett, founder of the Tyne Valley Big Band, was 'thrilled' to play in the extra brass section at Sam Fender's gig at St James' Park over the weekend on June 9 and 10.

David was one of many 'head hunted' to play at the gig.

"I was approached August last year with a cryptic message from Sam Fender’s Sax player Jonny "Blue Hat" Davis," David explains.

"The text said 'Hey Mr Higgers…can you keep June 9th free next year? I need your trumpet power for a very very special big gig.

Hexham Courant:

"When we worked out what it might be, he said to keep the 9th and 10th free.

"It was a big secret and was hard to keep. I  had to contain my excitement for nearly a year.

"I have known Jonny since he was 12 years old when he played in the Northumberland County Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Sage Gateshead's regional Big Band “Jambone” both of which I directed for 10 plus years.

"Mark Webb also had a hand in my performing at St James’. He is Sam’s trumpet player and he was also in these bands from an early age,  and I taught him at St Benet Biscop High School.

"It was such an honour and a very surreal moment to be on stage in front of 50,000 plus people for the biggest gigs of my life!

Hexham Courant:

"Also playing in the extra brass section were two ex-members of Northumberland County Youth Jazz Orchestra and Jambone and Prudhoe Community Wind Band, Tom Quilliam (Baritone Sax) and David Gray (Trombone).

"As well as Dave Godfrey, who is head at Valley Gardens School and one of Sam’s original trumpet players.

"It was a real reunion of Northumberland Alumni, and a tribute to the region's top musical talents!

"Back to reality for us now with the Tynedale Beer Festival this Saturday, conducting and playing at the Tyne Valley Big Band's regular visit for one of our biggest gigs of the year."