Monday, 27 December 2010

The Masher Reviews 2010 Part 1. Dedicated to absent friends.


It's that time of the year when, in looking forward to the New Year looming a few days a head, we all tend to look back on the year that has been. In fact without these annual reviews how on earth would the News Papers fill their pages during the first eight days of Christmas? How would the television channels fill their programme time?

The bad news for you lot is that The Mashers News Blog is no different!!!!

But first, recent activity.

Yes, The Masher was out this week, showing off his hair cut, and joining the folks that despite Christmas preparations, the freezing conditions, and being completely spent up, made their way to The Cross Keys at Handsworth to listen to some poetry, sing a few songs and listen to The Wyrd Wych doin' her stuff.

Thinking back, going out on the evening I had my hair cut may not have been such a good idea, as I suspect that is where my current head cold took grip, causing this Christmas to be a second in consecutive years to have the edge taken off it by a complete lack of taste – oh well – it sort of sums up the year.

But I would not have missed Tuesday evening for anything, a really nice evening spent with some good friends. Nothing better as a warm up for Christmas. Particularly good to see Phoebe heading up the evening in Wyrd Wych mode with a couple typically interesting sets with songs ranging from the traditional to classic rock.

In Masher mode it was also good to dig out a couple more rarely performed songs, with even Shirley being given an airing for the first time in a few years.

Just a reminder that one suspects all the usual suspects will be out in force this coming Wednesday the 29th for a Special Nellie Folk. It's going to be a special one, with an important member being given Guest of Honour Status for the evening, so if you're bored of the telly, mince pies and turkey sandwiches or simply need to escape the family for a few hours do come down and share in the fun at The Bridge. Starts around 8:45pm

Don't forget Tuesday 28th from 2:00pm for The Black Bull, Aughton all day Festive Special.

So how do I review The Mashers year? To be honest it's an impossibility. There are just so many mixed emotions.

It's just so very strange, with the year starting on a high as Myke and I finally felt that we had eventually stopped experimenting and began putting together some really positive sets that were received so well by audiences. There are two that stand out in my mind as being one's I will forever remember.

The Haiti Appeal at The Riverside on a particularly wet Tuesday night at The Riverside in Sheffield, organised by Dave Paskell would be the first. Even though the audience was limited, it was just one of those sets that we knew worked so well.

Listening back you can hear just how much we were enjoying ourselves and just how well we were beginning to work together.

It was the way I always imagined The Mashers being. Never claiming or seeking to be “pretty” in any sense our performance had to work on a message and entertainment level, and that evening at The Riverside was the first time we came off stage feeling we had achieved those twin objectives over a half hour period.

Not long after we featured on The Folk Against Fascism stage as part of the Love Music Hate Racism Carnival Day in Barnsley. Seeing the audience gather around the stage as we performed, being able to hear people joining in on the choruses, egged on by Dorothy Fryman from the side lines bashing away on her tambourine we hit the right mood of the day. 


Myke and I came off stage after that set and strangely said nothing to each other.

To the outsider it wasn't anything special, just two old buggers bashing out Political Songs with a bit of humour – there was even the moment when the wind took away my lyric sheets, whoops, Myke's script of Deliberate Mistakes, yet there was a special buzz after that performance.

We both felt it.

It was some twenty minutes later, sat in a pub, with our friends around us, that we gave each other a hug – and looking back the poignancy or even the significance of Myke saying just how much he had enjoyed the set and how good it had been, one he said he would always remember, will forever be burnt into my memory.

We were never again to play a full set together.

Yet we were to have an almost private sing together. Due to play The Handsworth Folk Club we ventured out to test a few of our old songs out at what we thought was an Open Mic at The Butchers Arms at Braithwell. Playing to a very intimate audience, we played and sang our songs, digging deep into the bottom of the song book it was a fun evening.

It was our last.

During the Saturday night / Sunday Morning of the 16th May Myke moved on to find a new audience for his music.

It as Sunday I shall never forget. Even now it all seems unreal.

The next few weeks are a blur, yet so clear in my mind. The Mashers set on the 18th May at The Cross Keys went ahead as planned with A Masher performing with his unseen friend beside him. What an evening that was!! So many friends packing the bar out and contributing to an exceptional evening of music to honour Myke.

And to perform “Dance On the Grave of Mrs Thatcher” with John McCullagh, the writer, who was visiting from Australia will forever be a musical highlight.

Myke's Funeral................. well that still chokes me. The finale which I had the honour of delivering will I hope remain with all those who attended for years to come. The cheer, the standing ovation to a true troubadour is something I shall remember. If you've not shared it yet you'll find it HERE

And of course fittingly there was a fantastic wake, with so many of Myke's friends, old and new, contributing to an emotional day I shall never forget.

And of course Myke's Birthday Bash in July, launching the Myke Barritt Music Trust, set up with the general aim of raising money from Myke's personal collections, and fund raising activities to reinvest so as to encourage the local music scene. MORE DETAIL HERE Another stand out music event.

At the time I wasn't sure if the Birthday Bash was going to mark the end of The Rawmarsh Mashers, I didn't know if I'd be able to find the energy or the will to keep the concept running. Perhaps it's a tribute to Myke that while it took a lot of thinking about, and let's be honest, still does, that I soon realised that I cannot escape The Rawmarsh Mashers. Wherever, I play, I will always be a Masher.

So I went into a series of gigs Myke and I had planned basically solo. However, I was both surprised and grateful when out of the blue a couple of mates stepped forward to give me a hand.

Helping me at The Worcester Music Festival was my mate of many years Gary Emms who unfortunately lives in the South and so can only help if I cross that Southern boarder. What a Saturday we had at the Festival, with Gary being thrown into two sets after only a few minutes practice.

It was great fun taking our songs to two new audiences. And it was two completely different types of audience, with our afternoon set being made up of a Folk audience and the evening being a typical Worcester City Saturday night out crowd. Even better when it seemed that they enjoyed our efforts.

Above all though it was great to be part of such a fantastic Festival. So a big thank you to Worcester and I hope we'll be invited again.

Up North I was joined by Phillip Hartley. With Phillip The Mashers played the local Rawmarsh Star Festival for the Children's Charity When You Wish Upon a Star, a new Acoustic Festival at Topcliffe, The Wirksworth Village Street Music Festival and a rather strange Open Mic session at The Winter Gardens in Sheffield for Sheffield Live. All great fun, even if I rather irritated Phillip by occasionally calling him Myke, habit can sometimes be a bad thing.

Ideally I'd love to find a new permanent Masher. But this is easier said than done. The identity of The Mashers being so well defined now that some people who have expressed an interest are scarred off. If it's to be, so it will come to pass, but until then it's The Rawmarsh Masher that will be out and about again in the New Year.

Same songs – same humour – but with even less clever bits............. and so far Gigs at Bootstraps, Wakefield in January and alongside my old mates Cracktown in Hull for February already on the books. Something to look forward to.


Our little local contest with Jack's Rake for the Number One spot on the local Reverbnation Folk Charts has continued for much of the year. The Mashers enjoyed the odd weeks as number one, while Jack's Rake for 2010 has sort of won out............... except someone from Wakefield is currently keeping both of us in our place at the moment. Always great fun the Reverb Charts, no one knows how they calculated and for over a month not one act in the top 25 has moved which suggests that they may be as reliable as Myspace. (I'm being ironic)

Myspace has simply been a nightmare. Here's a Murdock run business that deserves to fail on the basis of 2010. Change after change has been made to the service, non of it good, non of it useful, and non of it working affectively. It seems that rather than develop the new look in isolation to the working site Myspace has chosen to load the new bits without first checking if it all was working. For The Mashers this has meant that we have had to re-jig our Blogs, (we relied upon Myspace as the RSS base) and it is more difficult now to establish just how many of you are reading them. What we do know is that around 135 tuned in weekly while on weeks of high controversy or critical events the hit rate was in excess of seven or eight hundred.

The Acoustic Rotherham / Mashers Web Site has undergone major changes during the year. We've added a new section for The Myke Barritt Music Trust as well as attempting to find ways to improve the page code to allow for quicker downloading onto peoples computers. More changes are planned as we learn more about what you read and the pages you don't look at.

Acoustic Rotherham has gone from strength to strength during the year. It is fantastic that so many great acts want to come and play at The Queen's and so many want to return. The audiences have varied during the year, always appreciative of the artists, the overall numbers have been slightly disappointing. However, I have to accept that Post May I have been just a little distracted and hope that in 2011 we can actually build on the basic foundation we have.

The next Acoustic is Rotherham is the 30th January 2011, with some super acts coming our way. You can check the full listing HERE

We do rely upon your help to get the Acoustic Rotherham word out there and to round up the audience. It's all free folks. You can download fliers HERE to pass out at your Club or any venue you happening to be travelling to or simply join us on Facebook HERE and help propagate the word by sharing The Mashers / Acoustic Rotherham links that are frequently posted.

All communication about Acoustic Rotherham, The Myke Barritt Music Trust and The Rawmarsh Mashers come out via The Mashers News Letters you can sign up for by simply subscribing to the Weekly News Blog. This is just to keep things as simple as I can.

Finally, as previously stated, Acoustic Rotherham is free!!! We rely upon donations and the collection bucket to keep the Web Site and the events going. However, advertising, Site Servers etc.etc. Is not free and while I've managed to keep things going in 2010 I can't promise that 2011 will be the same. We're all feeling the squeeze, and the recent freeze out has made life very difficult. So please help us. Do the publicity bit and also if you're buying CDs / books or whatever via the Internet remember our Amazon links. Every little helps.

In return of course we endeavour to feature and promote local Yorkshire artists as much as we can, in addition to our supporters from further afield.

Of course non of this has really been helped by my general health in the year which has taken a little turn for the worse. But I'm still going and I'll do everything I can. I hope to be out a bit more in 2011.

But that ends Part One of our Review of 2010. Next week more of the nitty gritty stuff. And if I miss you at some point DO HAVE A HAPPY AND SUCCESSFUL 2011.

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