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. 

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