Monday, 29 March 2010

Sad News + Masher Outings + Acoustic Rotherham News

It’s been a sad week.  I have learnt of the death of two of my all-time Music heroes.   Diz Dizley and Fred Wedlock. 
Apparently Fred Wedlock died on the 4th March, so this is by way of catching up.  Fred was a master of the comic song, he was very much part of my formative years on the South Coast Folk scene, where he would ply his jokes. 
He was performing to the end, although more recently he could be found doing after dinner speaking. 
His leaving came as a bit of a surprise as he great plans for 2010, touring and with one or two projects up his sleeve.  Apparently he had gone into hospital for a few days to recover from a bout of pneumonia, only have a massive heart attack.
A naturally funny man, you just had to look at him to laugh, he’s going to be missed by many fans out there especially around his beloved Bristol. 
But he leaves a catalogue of great material all of it still available so head to his Web Site and get ordering before it’s lost forever.
At the other end of the musical spectrum, although Fred would have loved to have had his guitar playing mentioned in the same sentence as this man, is the sad news that after quite a long illness Diz Dizley has departed this World.
Personally I’m no fan of the clever guitar player, looking on with extreme envy as I do.  But Diz was different to the average clever show off, in fact he was no show off at all, he was a natural, both as musician and man – or that’s how I found him while he was working the Folk Clubs on the South Coast.  Easy to talk to, easy to get along with and one famous Christmas, easy to have a drink with.
Diz was a virtuoso of the Jazz, / blues / swing guitar.  He made it all look so effortless and easy.  I’ve seen Diz do solos where you had a feeling that the guitar was singing, almost talking, all with a smile on his face.
As he once said after a particularly brilliant blues solo at The Railway Folk Club in Southsea, “I don’t know where that came from”, that was the genius of the man.
He was an unassuming man, playing with many of the Worlds greats, most famously with Stephane Grappelli with whom he toured the World, with his band the Diz Dizley Trio. 
Diz was one of those truly international people and you can read about the man’s life and the various strands of his career here
While they will not have known it, both Fred and Diz made an impact on a very young Dickie Masher’s life.
And so to various Masher rambles during the week.
Sunday night I crawled across to my local Club to see Rawmarsh / Parkgate’s own Billy and The Boys.  Wheeled out every March as a passing gesture to St Patrick’s Day. 
I’ve seen Billy and The Boys at the Club on several occasions now and as my memory served me they had always  held the audience in.  Given the Mashers and Friends night in the same venue and our abject failure to hold the audience after the bingo was over, I was hoping to get a few pointers.
Unfortunately, this time they fared worse than the Mashers had, and one could not even point to sizzling temperatures keeping the hordes outside.   
Folk,  it seems, of any sort, is not for this Club.
Then again it might be that everyone was just Irished out, having had a week of Paddy Day  Celebrations.
For those who don’t know Billy and The boys, it’s a sort ad hoc collection of lads from the Rawmarsh / Parkgate Folk scene – sorry they are the Rawmarsh / Parkgate Folk scene, and roll themselves out annually for an extensive tour of locals and Clubs.
I’ve got to be honest, much that I love the boys and their performances as individuals, collectively for me it doesn’t work.  It might be the poor quality sound engineering, one that turns one of the classic baritone voices into one that sounds as if it’s coming from the bottom of a cast away Bake Bean tin – it could be that the session type completely loose performance style, doesn’t cut it for me in a Club environment, or simply the staid song arrangements, or the feeling that it’s not right to jump off the stage to re-fill glasses during the performance – I don’t know.  But for me the act don’t work. 
I know it does for some – and in the right place like the small snug of a pub, it has worked for me, but on the Club scene nop, nor as something that is being promoted by Pubs and Clubs as Pro entertainment.
Attention to the basics like “sound” is crucial, and some togetherness would help. 
My argument is that if you’re being paid to perform, there has to be responsibility to do some work to produce something people can listen to and I know they know about their problems with sound yet still they do nothing about it.  Just plugging everything in the right sockets and knowing that it’s coming out of the speakers is not enough.
OK – I’m being harsh – the boys are having a good time and all power to them for that.  And as individuals, we love you and really enjoy the music.
So it was onto Nellie Folk at The Bridge on Monday night.  A small yet select group gathered…… one thinks the five Monday month caught many out yet again.
A lovely evening of music with some super individual performances.  And congratulations to Sue and Barry who were celebrating their forty fifth wedding anniversary – and as if to prove that romance never dies she shared the image of her falling into the arms of a young Barry, dressed we heard in cord hot pants (not Barry)an image I’m finding hard to delete from the mind!!!   Or was it Sue shouting at the end of the night, “right let’s get you home to bed”.
And we had another great night on Friday when we went across to The Venue in Stocksbridge to join the hordes at The Last Friday Folk Club. 
Wow, what a night of top quality folk music, from contemporary to traditional with notable outstanding performances all introduced by the lovely Charlie Barker.
It’s strange, when the evening was billed as an open mic night attendance was limited, yet under the Folk Club label it has bucked all recent trends as far as we have experienced and now is packed out – and if you want a floor spot, get there early or it could be getting close to the bewitching hour before you get called.
And in October, as if to confirm the success of the Club, The Second Friday Folk Club will be launched in the same venue.
 Well done Charlie.

Onwards to the future.  Plans for both Acoustic Rotherham 7 25th April and the Festival for the 31st May are progressing.   Of the later I’m still looking for people to come on board – so if you want a spot or have something else to offer the day then please contact me at

This coming week,  The Mashers will be joining Phillip Hartley, Paul Pearson, Tina and Matt at The Riverside to support David Pascal’s Haiti Appeal evening.   It all kicks off around 8:00pm so get down to Mowbray Street Sheffield  S3 8EN and join the fun.
We’ll also be at Stainton on 6th April at The Three Tuns, helping Sue and Barry contend with the missing John, who we think may be up in Scotland on holiday, tut tut.
Those in addition to our practice on the Monday nights at The Bridge.

Don’t forget all the rest of the news and Easter fun can be found on the Acoustic Rotherham News page HERE with local and National happenings all covered.
The David Kidman Reviews can be found HERE, if you’ve not yet caught up with the Jude Cowan review etc or any of his latest thoughts now is the time.
And of course you’ll find CDs from many of Acoustic Rotherham’s artists, plus those reviewed by David in our CD Shop HERE or our Amazon connection HERE

And if you’re looking to open your wings a bit this year and take your music further afield then there is the very cheap “Making Your Musical Footprint” guide HERE and listings of Folk Clubs and Open Mic evenings in the Rotherham South Yorkshire area HERE.
Have a great Easter folks. 

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