Reading Accordion Group was formed in 1987 from pupils of the Reading Studio Accorde Accordion School, musical director Mike Rackley. RAG was originally known as the Reading Studio Accorde Accordion Club and Orchestra and soon created a demand for entertaining at retirement clubs, day centres and residential homes in the Reading area.
In 1991 the leader, Tony Banks LBCA, took over as musical director. Demand for their services increased, as did number of players. At one time there were 15 members in the orchestra and they gave charity concerts, took part in Accordion Festivals and a number of music competitions in addition to regular entertainment in local venues. The photo to the left was taken in 1993
The photos below are of RAG at Liberty of Earleigh retirement home, 2009.
The numbers in the group have declined in recent years. With the retirement of Joan Owen, who, along with another former member Nancy Eades, played in the Marie Hyde band during WWII, and who was a long standing member of the group and the death of Bob Brown (our General Secretary and founder member) in 2011 the group was down to just 5 regular playing members. However we have had one or two accordionists join us for short periods, and utilised the vocal skills of local singers and other musicians to add variety to the music.
RAG at the Sonning Show, July 2011
RAG at the Charvil Senior Citizens party, Mar 2012
In 2012 after several successful visits to entertain at retirement and care homes we held our first Charity Concert for several years in April. Called the Voices and Bellows concert we joined forces with Charvil Voices, a local ladies choir. The concert raised funds for Macmillan cancer support. We followed this up with a repeat Voices & Bellows in March 2013 with Launchpad, a local housing charity, as our beneficiary.
Since then we have performed in further charity concerts in support of Christian Aid (May 2013 with The Tuesday Singers and May 2014 and 2015 with The High Voltage Singers, 2016 with The Barberettes), all as part of the Twyford LEP Christian Aid Week of fundraising. We found that combining with other musical groups, especially choirs, provides a good balanced entertainment and we are always looking for other opportunities to partner with music groups. Since our first foray back into the concert scene in 2012 we have raised money at charity concerts for both Launchpad (again with the High Voltage Singers) and for People to Places (with the Newlands School Choir). We even were famous for 15 seconds on South Today when, as part of the Henley Living Advent Calendar, we were broadcast playing carols.
In 2016, we again performed at the Twyford LEP Christian Aid concert partnering with the Barberettes, and we supported them at their 40th anniversary concert (Divalicious) at Garth Hill College in Bracknell. In addition we had a full programme of entertainment at retirement homes and clubs. At the time of writing we are about to partner the High Voltage Singers in a charity concert in aid of CRY (Care and Relief for the Young)
2017, 2018 & 2019 have seen us continuing to entertain, we usually do about 15 gigs a year including at least one charity fundraising concert for the likes of Christian Aid and Yeldall Manor, the Christian drug rehabilitation centre in Wargrave.
We have a full range of music to cater for all tastes, see our repertoire spreadsheet for details
We are still active, ever practising and developing our repertoire. if you want to join us you'd be most welcome, and if you would like to book us just contact the secretary.