Sunday, 26 September 2010

A Quick Update of Music Things Rotherham way

OK, let’s start with the important Parish Notices. 
Acoustic Rotherham 9, October 31st will be upon us before we know it – so Acts listed, and the list of confirmed requests can be found HERE please get your short Biog / Picture and track to me via as soon as you possibly can.  It will be appreciated.
First Friday Folk at the Princess Royal launches this coming Friday 1st October, with Special Guests Outre Manche.  Pete tells me there are still tickets available, £3 in advance, £4 on the door.  Full details HERE
There are of course other Gigs, Folk Clubs, Sessions etc. going on and you’ll find the interesting stuff HERE
After the great success of this year’s Love Music Hate Racism Carnival in Barnsley, it’s been decided to go for it again in 2011.  A planning meeting has been arranged for 4th October.  Go check the October Diary page HERE for full details.

The work on the Web Site has been continuing.  It’s starting to look a bit tidier but there’s still a bit of a way to go yet, please stay patient.

The Mashers little break from the round of music Clubs in the area continues.   I’ve started to look at some new songs but I have to be honest, I’ve not picked my guitar up in any real anger for ten days.
 I’m sure I’ll make my way to Nellies on Monday and start to push out once again soon. 

On advise received from many I was in my local WMC early on Saturday night to see what has become a band with huge local fan base, ViewFrom S62, the name coming from their Rawmarsh roots.
A five piece cover band.
Our Club was packed to the rafters; shoulder room only was available by the time the Band struck up. 
I have to say, I came away just a little disappointed.  That might seem churlish as the audience bounced and danced away to numbers originally from The Beatles, The Kaiser Chief’s and many bands in between.
Five lads having a great time musically, though by the end of the evening they had added an extra bass player and a tambourine basher to their number, is the best description I can give. 
The potential of the Band cannot be questioned, but they are in a very competitive market and there are currently many a lot better.  
But they are certainly hits in Rawmarsh – as the huge audience testified, few Bands can claim to be such a local draw.
And that was the juxta position of the night, while the Band to me were bland and lacking in punch, there can be no doubt the audience enjoyed every moment. As apparently did The Band - perhaps they have a Masher attitude to their music in which case we raise our caps, but as a main stream cover Band working the Clubs perhpas one has to offer something more.
And I’m not being snobby in my criticism, the performance lacked character and punch, and some well-known songs were rendered unrecognisable as the vocals struggled to find the melody line.  (Something that The Mashers know all about).    This may have something to do with having to put together two sets of 45 minutes + call backs, and just maybe the Band were being stretched that inch too far.  Something we all know about. 
Before making any final decisions about the Band I think I want to see them outside of their Rawmarsh comfort zone.  If they are appearing in your part of Rotherham why not pop in and check them out for yourself, if their Supporters Club travels then you will most certainly be in for an entertaining evening.

The Governments spending Revue is under full sail with all sections of Public Spending coming under scrutiny, with the promise of severe cuts to come.
With even the front line services offered by the NHS and Education coming under threat, despite Election promises the arts will no doubt become a key target of the Government.    Please take a look at the cartoon presentation and sign the petition at the links you’ll find on the News Page HERE
You’ll also find a link to the special Hope Not Hate day on 16th October, when they’re linking up with The Kick It Out Campaign.  If you can provide help at your Football Club then please contact them.

Well, The Mashers continue at No1 on the Revebnation Charts for South Yorkshire.  Always good for the ego.  If nothing else it shows we have a following, or someone is leaving their player running. 
Phil is not 100% at the moment – I think he feels very much like me – so the recording has just been shifted back a little bit – but we hope to have news very soon for you on that score.
But while The Mashers have risen Acoustic Rotherham have slipped dramatically down the Charts to below No 10, it’s lowest ever.  But people still seem to be playing the songs regularly, so we’re not sure why things have slid so far. 
Of Acoustic Rotherham plays, there’s been over 15,000 plays of Acoustic Rotherham Artist tracks.  For those interested in such things Folk on Fire currently top the plays with Lou Marriot, Florin, Owd Chyvers, Phil Graham, Barry Smith, Marzipan Moon, Rachael Barley, Barbara Helen and our Teddy making up the top 10.   There’s only one or two plays in it though so perhaps a chart like that is a little unfair.  But it shows that people are listening to your music and hopefully looking for more.

And that’s it for this week folks.  There’s plenty going on behind the scenes. 

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Late - but it's big. All the Reviews and News

Yes, I know, the News Blog is very late for this week.   Regular readers – I’m sorry. 
The past ten days have been full on for The Mashers, and Facebook followers will no doubt be wondering just how much blood has been spilt.
I’ll start off with a word about the Facebook hiatus. 
News of the end of The Mashers has been greatly exaggerated.  Sitting here on Wednesday morning I feel a bit like a “Pima Donna” as featured in one of Phillip Hartley’s songs.  It wasn’t meant that way.  My posts on Monday were quite simply yells of despair after what was one of those dreadful days that we all have from time to time.
It was so bad it really did get me questioning why oh why I do what I do, both as a Masher and with Acoustic Rotherham. 
After a day of nothing but bad news I got a couple of Emails from Music related collaborators which really did lead to me hitting a brick wall.  I know that they did not mean to be so harsh, but given circumstances that they did not know about the words they used took on extreme meanings beyond their intention.
It’s at moments like that, that I miss my mate so much.  Myke would have listened to my rant and then poured a considerable amount of cold water or beer over it all and all would have been well with the World.
But many lessons have been learnt this last forty eight hours or so.  Mainly communication.  In two separate areas of the musical side of the musical life poor communication and listening skills led to extreme positions being taken.
And do you know what, this leads to people being unintentionally hurt.  One person had essentially ignored all the Emails I had sent about an event we promoting together, only bothering to make contact when things were getting critical.
On the other hand my failure was in not managing the situation / event as I should have done, having been completely distracted by health and other Masher things.
As to the other situation.  Well, it shows that while a couple of people can spend many hours together clear understanding of what the other is doing can still get completely lost. 
And do you know what?  Essentially it all turns out alright after the wash. 

And so to the week………………………………..
Musically it started at Stainton, a wonderful little singers Club tucked away just outside of Maltby.
It meets the first Tuesday of each month, and if you’ve not paid it a visit yet, please add it to your diary, you won’t be disappointed by either the friendliness or the standard of the performers.   Making one of his surprise flying visits this month was Paul Pearson performing a few of his super roots based contemporary folk songs.  Always holding the audience brilliantly.   He’s due to play at Acoustic Rotherham 9 on 31st October and shouldn’t be missed.
It was a really nice evening thanks to John for getting it all together.
Saturday found me heading out to the launch of a new Folk Club.   Dearne Valley Folk at the Park Hotel, Wath.  
Mrs Masher thought I was dragging her out to yet another dingy Pub back room, how wrong she was.  This was Folk in Foyer.  It’s a really strange setting, but nonetheless very effective. 
The Club is the latest Charlie Barker hosted Club, bringing the success of her Friday Folk format at The Venue in Stocksbridge to another part of South Yorkshire.
We arrived just in time to see Philip Cockerain’s short set.   Now here’s an example to the budding Folk Singer wanting to make an impact on the circuit.  Philip works so hard visiting Clubs all over Yorkshire doing floor spots which then lead to bookings for a full spot.   And he just seems to get better.   It’s not easy making an impact with a two song spot – but this Phil has down to a tee, and his range of songs is just brilliant.
Doing the extended slot was Graham Rodgers playing a range of his Country based songs and an excellent slot it was to. 
So all power to Charlie long may the Club run.
Sunday found The Mashers heading off to Wirksworth, Derbyshire for the second day of their Arts and Street Music Festival.
The Mashers had been booked in for three slots starting at The Memorial Gardens. 
This event is a favourite Masher event to be a part of.  There’s just something about walking around a small Village and hearing music wherever you go, and playing to people who will never have come across you before.
And once again we were accompanied upon our travels by the complete Sutherland family – always a pleasure.
This Sunday was no different, and we impacted well at both The Memorial Gardens and Hadfield Farm drawing quite large audiences.  The set we did at Babington House was not quite such a success as far as audience was concerned.  This might have something to do with the sound.
The problem is that when playing one does not have an idea of the quality / balance of sound coming out through the PA, and this has a knock on, the performance becomes a little tense as one wonders just what the audience is hearing.
Interestingly the one set we did completely acoustic was by far the slickest.  A little memo to self. 
It was though, once again a splendid day.
You can find the photographs HERE
And so to bring things completely up to date. 
Tuesday’s Acoustic Rotherham’s joint promotion of Artisan with South Yorkshire Folk. 
This promotion had been on the books for some ten months, but as per usual with these things people are simply not prepared to commit to attending an event so far into the future, in fact people simply don’t like committing until the last minute.
Pete and I went through hoops trying to promote the event in our own ways.  Pete concentrated on the Clubs he attended and his own circle of supporters who attend his Folk Clubs at The Princess Royal and Burton Street, while I concentrated upon the online effort, and Masher Gigs / Acoustic Rotherham events and Clubs.
We weren’t helped when a delay in the publication of the latest issue of Stirrings meant that our advert will now completely miss the date of the event. 
On Monday when things got just a little fraught, only 25 tickets had been sold.  Not enough.
So was it the attraction of perhaps seeing blood on the stage during The Mashers warm up slot – or the reputation of Artisan that produced on the night a fantastic audience of well over sixty in total.
However, as I looked out to the audience there were only a few recognisable faces in place.  It again leaves me wondering just where the Folkies in the Clubs go.  More than ever I am of the belief that there are the doers – players and singers, and this is the core of the Folk Club scene, but these self-same people are not prepared to come out and listen to even a quality at like Artisan.
It’s a shame, because I know that many of the artists within Folk Clubs strive to improve their performances and there is just so much they could learn from watching true professionals at work. 
Oh, the concert itself?  It was just a dream – well after The Mashers that is, naturally.  As Artisan said you don’t find many acts like that to the pound these days. 
The sheer brilliance of Folk on Fire at their very best on the night was as ever on show.  You have to keep saying it, so young and so much talent their future is so bright, whatever they decide to do in music, and they won’t need Britain’s Got Talent or X Factor to achieve it.  Again what I like is that they are serving their apprenticeship, a very accomplished apprenticeship, but they are learning their trade and working very hard at it to. 
And yes they captured the imagination of the audience.
Top spot to Artisan though. 
This was Artisan’s final date in Yorkshire before heading back to the retirement box.  On the evidence of the freshness of their performance at the end of an extensive tour coupled with Festivals in Canada, I will not be surprised to see them embarking upon another Tour, no matter what Brian has to say about it.
Brian is the song writer, with lyrics varying from pure comedy to near tear jerking emotion, yet it’s the ladies, Jacey and Hilary, of the ensemble whose voices bring the melodies to life while Brian almost takes a back seat, contributing to the overall sound with his understated baritone harmony, so essential to the complete texture of the sound.
There really are very few acts that have the smooth professionalism and entertainment value of Artisan.  If you missed them this time around, well, you should have been paying attention, as this Re-union Tour was there first outing in five years and while we hope we might see them on the road again, there is always the nagging thought that once resettled into the various semi-retirement  roles the attraction of touring again will not be so strong. 
This was their twenty fifth year in the business, let’s hope we may celebrate their thirtieth. 
And yes Jacey, they have a new CD full details HERE
Pictures HERE

Moving on.   Masher News.  And what’s all these rumours you’ve been hearing?
Both Phillip Hartley and I have enjoyed our collaboration greatly playing the commitments made by The Mashers prior to Myke’s death.
However, as is always the way, the publicity we gave to Phillip linking up with The Mashers got just a little carried away, in the interests of positive front.
Much that Phillip would like to carry on, he cannot commit to the additional work load of The Mashers rounds and activities and practice, while also working on his own song writing and performing.  Indeed to play Wirksworth and The Artisan concert he had to sacrifice important practice time towards an important solo gig he has in Leeds this coming weekend.  Details HERE on the diary page.
It was very difficult for him to engulfed by the luggage that comes with being a Masher and even in the short time that he was working with me his identity in certain areas was being lost.  
So the good news is that we will be collaborating in the future on a new Masher CD or down load and just the occasional stage appearance to give me a bit of extra sound, watch out for him at Acoustic Rotherham 9 in October. 
As far as The Mashers are concerned, well, yes I did think about ending it, but then what would I do with all that spare time?  The fact is if I want to sing a song or go to Folk Club I will be a Masher to many people.  And so the Mashers will continue.
How and what a Masher performance will look like in the future only time will tell, and so I might not be out as much as normal over the next few weeks while I take stock.  But thee worry, “fans”, it will not be long before we hit the road again, even if it’s a Royal “we”.

As to the Web Site.  Well I’ve started work on the new look.  You can see a screen shot HERE.   I’d love to have your comments on it.  Personally I think it will be cleaner and with less flash components should reduce download times. 
I have thought about reducing the number of third party links like the players which would have huge effect on page speed,  but that would defeat the purpose of the site, which is to give maximum exposure to the talent of the acts playing at Acoustic Rotherham.  So the players and artist Reverb Badges stay.
Myke Barritt Music Trust News.  The full minutes of the First Meeting of The MBMT have been published and you can find them HERE
You can keep right up to date with everything that is going on by making regular checks to the Acoustic Rotherham News Page HERE and or course by signing up to the News Letter.
I’m not sure when the next News Blog will be posted while I start my quiet period of reflection upon the meaning of life, the Universe and everything, but be sure if there is anything important to pass on it will be up.
Finally, I have been overwhelmed – and a big thank you – The Mashers have retained their South Yorkshire Number One status in the Reverbnation Charts for a couple of weeks now for two weeks, a record for this year.  It also places us at Number 10 Nationally.  Far exceeding what our work deserves, but nonetheless gratifying.  Also all the personal messages of support I have received and Facebook comments offering support etc. in my immediate moment of crisis have helped me enormously to at least sort the immediacy out. 

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Mashers Having Fun. Topcliffe + Chapeltown + Play On. And Other Stuff

It’s a busy time for everyone as the last of the Summer Festivals and rush of Autumn activities get underway.  Locally September looks to be one of the busiest yet – just look at all the good things happening HERE.

The Mashers have been busy to.
Last week we travelled North to The Angel Inn, Topcliffe, a sleepy North Yorkshire rural very picturesque village, where Stephen Mathew’s had put together a fantastic weekend of acoustic music at The Angel, with a fantastic list of Regional artists. 

Well done to Steve.  I know what a nightmare it is to put on just a half day event, so to put on a two day event was very brave indeed.  

So it’s sad to have to say that overall attendance for the event was not as one would have hoped, given the pre-event publicity it got on Radio and in the local media.  

Of course August Bank Holiday weekend is traditionally a hard nut to crack, especially for music events.  The Leeds Festival dominating and Whitby winding down tend to drain the available music minded folks of money and enthusiasm. 

But sadly, and if we are truly honest, it’s very rare these days not to head home from one these events feeling that one has truly widened one’s audience base beyond the other artists that were appearing.
As an aside, it was sad to learn from Ian Swinburn that because audience numbers had fallen away so dramatically that the Loftus Hiring Fairs had come to an end.  It was afterall the Loftus events that gave birth to Acoustic Rotherham.  So sad news indeed. 

Here's a thought though.  I feel as artists that sometimes we let ourselves down.  We tend to take these Hiring Fair type events for granted in as far as we give little publicity to making an appearance, and in some cases turn up just in time to do our set and then once done clear off.  

Perhaps we need to give more in terms of making sure people know about an event and then making sure that we give the time to listen to the maximum number of acts and network with those taking part.
But back to The Angel and it was fantastic to meet up with so many of our Myspace / Facebook / Reverbnation friends from “up North” again, and make some new friends.  In fact for Phil with his Mr Phillip Hartley hat on the Festival was a raving success as his solo set was just amazing, showcasing his brilliant songs superbly.   “And about time!”   Said Dickie to himself.

He didn’t let himself down in his role as a Masher either as we performed a typical Masher forty minutes or so.  

The jam session was really good.  In fact for Phil the whole afternoon might have been described as one big Jam session as he was recruited into nearly every act performing at some point.  Just check out the photographs from the afternoon to see what I mean HERE.  Masher Invoices for his services will be dispatched immediately………………………….   (lol)

So well done Steve.  A fantastic weekend of music, and I know, like The Mashers, all the artists appreciated showcasing their music.   Thanks to for the amazing hospitality.

Monday found us heading for The Chapeltown Music Festival, at The Commercial, the thirteenth, according to publicity.  No Masher songs though as Dickie could not get to the event before mid-afternoon because of work commitments and a shock surprise to the format of the event. 

No change to the Singaround format upstairs where many familiar faces could be found exchanging their songs, including Dave Kidman, who is always good value for a song or two – he’s at the next Acoustic Rotherham.

But downstairs it was all change.   The popular informal open session which made the event so popular with many musicians had been changed to an Open Mic format.   

I’m not sure that this worked.   I for one couldn’t hang about, and Phil had to meet his Partner from the rail station.  I also know that this applied to a few other people, and a few instrumentalists who had come along to join in with others only to find a “showcase” type format.   

A little re-think may be required on this one.   But then, it depends what the Organisers are looking for.   But the Masher view was that it was a pity that the informal session atmosphere was lost.
Pictures from the event can be found HERE

The week ended with The Mashers heading for the Play On Club at The Fat Cat on Kelham Island.
It’s hard to put into words the strange feeling I get going to Play On.   The Club will always have the ghost of Myke within the room for me.   OK it was my second non Myke visit, but the last time I was on Myke duty, this time it was as The Mashers, and playing with a new musical partner.   Very strange.

Despite throwing an error into each of our songs, I think we managed to get through this one. 

So good to see Phoebe out, and performing again with her new musical collaborations.  And there were some other fine performances on the night.  My apologies to one or two who followed The Masher songs, I had to go outside and get some fresh air and to clear the head emotionally, unfortunately missing some people I really wanted to hear.   

It’s been pretty lively for The Mashers on the Internet to, although I don’t know how or why.  Internet traffic has generally been slow over the last couple of weeks, it always happens at this time of year as folks get out and about.   We’ve now broken the 10,000 plays barrier on Reverbnation and reclaimed the local Number One spot from our good friends Jack’s Rake for a whole week and if that were not enough our National position at number ten is very flattering, perhaps too flattering.  

On Myspace it’s hard to tell what’s going on at the moment.  There are just so many changes that it’s all getting a little complicated. 

Both The Masher and Acoustic Rotherham pages on our main Web Site are undergoing cosmetic changes and updates.  Please let me know what you think of the look and feel of the site. 
Over the coming couple of weeks or so I hope to update all The Masher and Acoustic Rotherham “Profiles” on the various sites.  

The site also hosts The Myke Barritt Music Trust.  Here, you can find all the Myke Barritt stuff – rare exclusive downloads that help boost Trust Funds and all the latest News from the Trust. 
There is a little break in Trust News at the moment as the key players are all involved in Sylvie’s move to Rotherham.  She now has a date for the move and so you can expect things to start happening again from October. 

The countdown to Artisan’s visit to Hillsborough Folk in conjunction with Acoustic Rotherham is very much on.   The good news is that the evening is going to be completely acoustic which means that we’re in for some really special performances. 
If you’ve not reserved or booked your ticket yet head off HERE.  The problem with the On line Order form has now been sorted.

Tickets are limited and are currently going like “hot cakes” so the atmosphere should be brilliant. 
If you missed it – the brilliant Folk On Fire will be supplying the main support, with The Mashers doing a short stint as hosts.  Should be fun. 

The Mashers are out again next weekend at The Wirksworth Festival.  I think there’s a problem with my Email with the Promoter so watch the update Emails for when and where notification. 

Mr Phillip Hartley – as himself - will be performing a full Concert performance at The Woodland Hotel in Leeds on the 18th September – full details HERE

And of course you can keep up to date with the latest News as it comes in HERE

That’s it for this week.